St Ignatius of Antioch's letter to the Magnesians
|You have Jesus Christ within you|
Let us not fail to be moved by his goodness, for if he were ever to imitate the way we behave ourselves, we would be truly lost. Now that we are his disciples let us learn to lead Christian lives. Whoever does not take the name of Christian does not belong to God. Put aside the old worn-out leaven which has grown old and sour, and turn to the new leaven, which is Jesus Christ. Be preserved by the salt of Christ so that you do not decay; for it is by your odour that you will be judged. It is monstrous to talk of Jesus Christ and to practise Judaism. For the Christian faith does not look to Judaism, but Judaism looks to Christianity, in which everyone who believes in God has been brought together.
Now I say this, beloved, not because I know that there are any of you that are thus, but because I wish to warn you, though I am less than you, not to fall into the snare of vain doctrine. Be convinced of the birth and passion and resurrection which took place at the time of the procuratorship of Pontius Pilate; for these things were truly and certainly done by Jesus Christ, our hope, from which God grant that none of you be turned aside.
My desire is to enjoy every happiness in you, if only I can be found worthy. Even though I am in chains and you are not, I am still unfit to be compared to you. I know that you are free from pride, for you have Jesus Christ in yourselves. Even when I praise you, you are not proud but embarrassed. As Scripture says, The righteous man is his own accuser.
Do your utmost to stand firm in the precepts of the Lord and the Apostles, so that you may prosper in all that you do in the flesh and in the spirit, in faith and love, in the Son and the Father and the Spirit, at the beginning and at the end, together with your revered bishop and with your clergy (that beautifully woven spiritual crown) and with the godly deacons. Be subject to the bishop and to one another, even as Jesus Christ was subject to the Father, and the Apostles were subject to Christ and to the Father, so that there may be complete unity of both flesh and spirit.
I have kept my exhortation brief because I know how God fills you. Remember me in your prayers, so that I may win through to God, and remember the Church in Syria, of which I am not worthy to be called a member. For I need your united prayers and love in God so that the Church in Syria may draw refreshment from the dew of your Church.
I am writing this from Smyrna and the Ephesians here send you their greeting. They, like you, are here for the glory of God and have in all things given me comfort, as has Polycarp, the bishop of the Smyrnaeans. The other Churches also greet you in honour of Jesus Christ.
Farewell. See that there is a godly unity among you and an unhesitating spirit; for this is Jesus Christ.