St Ignatius of Antioch's letter to the Magnesians
|United in one prayer and one hope, in joy and holiness|
Since I have met the persons I have just mentioned and seeing and embracing them I have seen and embraced your whole congregation, I exhort you — be zealous to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God, and the presbyters in the place of the Council of the Apostles, and the deacons, who are most dear to me, entrusted with the service of Jesus Christ, who was from eternity with the Father and was made manifest at the end of time. Be all in conformity with God, and respect one another, and let no man judge his neighbour according to the flesh, but in everything love one another in Jesus Christ. Let there be nothing in you which can divide you, but be united with the bishop and with those who preside over you as an example and lesson of immortality.
Just as the Lord was united to the Father and did nothing without him, neither by himself nor through the Apostles, so you also must do nothing without the bishop and the presbyters. Do not attempt to make anything appear right for you by yourselves, but let there be in common one prayer, one supplication, one mind, one hope in love, in the joy which is without fault, the joy that is Jesus Christ, than whom there is nothing better. Hasten all to come together as to one temple of God, as to one altar, to one Jesus Christ, who came from the one Father, and is with one Father, and returned to one Father.
Do not let yourselves be seduced by foreign teachings or by old and worthless fables. If we continue to live according to Jewish law then we are simply showing that we have not received grace. Look at their holy prophets: their lives were filled with Jesus Christ and inspired by his grace to teach doubters that there is one God, and for this they were persecuted. That one God manifested himself through Jesus Christ his son, who is his Word proceeding from silence and in all respects was well-pleasing to the One who sent him.
You see how the followers of the ancient customs have come to a new hope. They no longer rule their lives by the Sabbath but by the Lord’s Day, which is our day also, the day on which also our life sprang up through him and his death. Though some deny it, it is by this mystery that we received faith, and for this reason also we suffer, that we may be found to be true disciples of Jesus Christ our only teacher. If all this is true, how can we possibly not give him a place in our lives, since even the prophets were his disciples in the Spirit and looked forward to him as their teacher? They waited for him in righteousness, and when he came he raised them from the dead.