Ignatius usually gets a bludgeoning from various people and groups that I deal with personally, but in the end I hold that he was a solid ‘modalist’ although that word would have been foreign to him. He invented the word ‘apostolic’ which is horribly misused by Rome and oneness people. He also was among the first (if not they first) to use the term ‘catholic‘ in describing the Church, but this is not the big C Catholic that we know of today, but instead the universal Church, both Jew and Gentile, Living and Dead.
His famous quote,
Where the bishop is, there let the people gather, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic Church.
Expresses the unity of the Church, not a name or collective center such as Rome. After all, Alexandria would occupy the seat of papal authority long before Rome would. I have included a portion of Ignatius’ works, and a word of caution. One has to be cautious in discarding all of history because they are used and interpreted by the Trinitarians.
The Epistles of Ignatius (c35-110)
I have chosen to include several passages from different Epistles composed by this Bishop of Antioch, but I do so with caution. We know assuredly that this man lived and wrote extensively. We know fully that he was a Bishop of Antioch and that he was martyred for the Faith around 107 by the Romans. History, however, has given us several representations of his works. Along with most scholars, I have used only the shorter versions in which to extract doctrine. Many scholars will speak to the fact that it is plain one or the other of these versions (Shorter and Longer) exhibits a corrupt text, and scholars have for the most part agreed to accept the shorter form as representing the genuine letters of Ignatius, but that theory is not without its faults. I will hold to that theory, but with the rider that interpolations are known to have occurred.
The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians
Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus, in Asia, deservedly most happy, being blessed in the greatness and fullness of God the Father, and predestinated before the beginning of time, that it should be always for an enduring and unchangeable glory, being united and elected through the true passion by the will of the Father and Jesus Christ, our God: Abundant happiness through Jesus Christ, and His undefiled grace.
Let my spirit be counted as nothing for the sake of the cross, which is a stumbling-block to those that do not believe, but to us salvation and life eternal. “Where is the wise man? where the disputer?” Where is the boasting of those who are styled prudent? For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God, conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost. He was born and baptized, that by His passion He might purify the water.
Hence every kind of magic was destroyed, and every bond of wickedness disappeared; ignorance was removed, and the old kingdom abolished, God Himself being manifested in human form for the renewal of eternal life. And now that took a beginning which had been prepared by God.
The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians
The Ephesians from Smyrna (whence I also write to you), who are here for the glory of God, as ye also are, who have in all things refreshed me, salute you, along with Polycarp, the bishop of the Smyrnæans. The rest of the Churches, in honour of Jesus Christ, also salute you. Fare ye well in the harmony of God, ye who have obtained the inseparable Spirit, who is Jesus Christ.
Epistle to the Trallians
Be on your guard, therefore, against such persons. And this will be the case with you if you are not puffed up, and continue in intimate union with Jesus Christ our God, and the bishop, and the enactments of the apostles. He that is within the altar is pure, but he that is without is not pure; that is, he who does anything apart from the bishop, and presbytery, and deacons, such a man is not pure in his conscience.
Epistle to the Romans
Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which has obtained mercy, through the majesty of the Most High Father, and Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son; the Church which is beloved and enlightened by the will of Him that willeth all things which are according to the love of Jesus Christ our God, which also presides in the place of the region of the Romans, worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of obtaining her every desire, worthy of being deemed holy, and which presides over love, is named from Christ, and from the Father, which I also salute in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father: to those who are united, both according to the flesh and spirit, to every one of His commandments; who are filled inseparably with the grace of God, and are purified from every strange taint, abundance of happiness unblameably, in Jesus Christ our God.
For our God, Jesus Christ, now that He is in the Father, is all the more revealed . Christianity is not a thing of silence only, but also of greatness.
Epistle to the Church at Smyrna
I Glorify God, even Jesus Christ, who has given you such wisdom
Ye have done well in receiving Philo and Pheus Agathopus as servants of Christ our God who have followed me for the sake of GOd, and who give thanks to the Lord in your behalf, because ye have in every way refreshed them. None of these things shall be lost to you.