For the Christians are distinguished from other men – The Epistle to Diognetus

It has been speculated that the writer of this Epistle was Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. I am not sure it is or not, however, it does add a special touch to it if he is indeed the writer. What we must remember in this time of politics, is that Christians are commanded not to be apart of this world and not to entangle ourselves in the affairs of this world. The Christians during the time of the writing of this epistle (125) took those commandments to heart. I believe that it is a healthy reminder that Christians are not supposed to entangle the sanctity of the Cross with the sin of man.

For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not cast away fetuses. They  have a common table, but not a common bed.They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven.They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.

Post By Joel Watts (10,058 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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12 thoughts on For the Christians are distinguished from other men – The Epistle to Diognetus

  1. Polycarp was a first century ‘Father’, a disciple of the Apostle John and the Bishop of the city of Smyrna. They burned it at the stake when he refuse to swear allegiance to the Emperor of Rome. I found Diognetus, my constant friend, a few years ago when reading some Church Fathers. His entire work is magnificent. Also, one recent author has theorized that the writer of this epistle was Polycarp.

    Polycarp was also known as a heresy hunter…

  2. After I read the above letter, I went on Wikipedia and read a little about Polycarp. I had never heard of him. It’s always exciting to learn something new! Thanks!

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