The Pastoral Epistles in Ignatius, Part I

[This post is part of a series on The Pastoral Epistles in the Apostolic Fathers. RWB]


There are several points of contact between Ign. Eph. 14.1; 20.1; Magn. 8.1 and 1Ti 1.3-5.


Ign. Eph. 14.1; 20.1; Magn. 8.1 || 1Ti 1.3-5



14.1 Ὧν οὐδὲν λανθάνει ὑμᾶς, ἐὰν τελείως εἰς Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν ἔχητε τὴν πίστιν καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην· ἥτις ἐστὶν ἀρχὴ ζωῆς καὶ τέλος· ἀρχὴ μὲν πίστις, τέλος δὲ ἀγάπη· τὰ δὲ δύο ἐν ἑνότητι γενόμενα θεός ἐστιν, τὰ δὲ ἄλλα πάντα εἰς καλοκαγαθίαν ἀκόλουθά ἐστιν.
14.1 None of these things escapes your notice, if you have perfect faith and love toward Jesus Christ. For these are the beginning and end of life: faith is the beginning, and love is the end, and the two, when they exist in unity, are God. Everything else that contributes to excellence follows from them.
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (144, 145). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


20.1 Ἐάν με καταξιώσῃ Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς ἐν τῇ προσευχῇ ὑμῶν, καὶ θέλημα ᾖ, ἐν τῷ δευτέρῳ βιβλιδίῳ ὃ μέλλω γράφειν ὑμῖν, προσδηλώσω ὑμῖν ἧς ἠρξάμην οἰκονομίας εἰς τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ πίστει καὶ ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ ἀγάπῃ, ἐν πάθει αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναστάσει,
20.1 If Jesus Christ, in response to your prayer, should reckon me worthy, and if it is his will, in a second letter which I intend to write to you I will further explain to you the subject about which I have begun to speak, namely, the divine plan with respect to the new man Jesus Christ, involving faith in him and love for him, his suffering and resurrection,
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (148, 149). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


8.1 Μὴ πλανᾶσθε ταῖς ἑτεροδοξίαις μηδὲ μυθεύμασιν τοῖς παλαιοῖς ἀνωφελέσιν οὖσιν· εἰ γὰρ μέχρι νῦν κατὰ Ἰουδαϊσμὸν ζῶμεν, ὁμολογοῦμεν χάριν μὴ εἰληφέναι.
8.1 Do not be deceived by strange doctrines or antiquated myths, since they are worthless. For if we continue to live in accordance with Judaism, we admit that we have not received grace.
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (154, 155). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


3 Καθὼς παρεκάλεσά σε προσμεῖναι ἐν Ἐφέσῳ πορευόμενος εἰς Μακεδονίαν, ἵνα παραγγείλῃς τισὶν μὴ ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν 4 μηδὲ προσέχειν μύθοις καὶ γενεαλογίαις ἀπεράντοις, αἵτινες ἐκζητήσεις παρέχουσιν μᾶλλον ἢ οἰκονομίαν θεοῦ τὴν ἐν πίστει. 5 τὸ δὲ τέλος τῆς παραγγελίας ἐστὶν ἀγάπη ἐκ καθαρᾶς καρδίας καὶ συνειδήσεως ἀγαθῆς καὶ πίστεως ἀνυποκρίτου, (1Ti 1.3-5, NA27)
3 As I urged you while I was on my way to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach contrary doctrine, 4 nor to cling to myths and endless genealogies—which give rise to useless speculations rather than administration from God that is by faith. 5 The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned. (1Ti 1.3-5, my own translation)


Three excerpts from Ignatius’ letters, each of which have differing points of contact with the opening verses (after the salutation) of First Timothy. I’ll handle each point of contact individually below, plus add one of my own.


Ign. Eph. 14.1 || 1Ti 1.5



14.1 … ἀρχὴ μὲν πίστις, τέλος δὲ ἀγάπη· …
14.1 … faith is the beginning, and love is the end, …


5 τὸ δὲ τέλος τῆς παραγγελίας ἐστὶν ἀγάπη ἐκ καθαρᾶς καρδίας καὶ συνειδήσεως ἀγαθῆς καὶ πίστεως ἀνυποκρίτου, (1Ti 1.3-5, NA27)
5 The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned. (1Ti 1.3-5, my own translation)


Here the similarity is based on a juxtaposition of terms: τελος (end/goal) and αγαπη (love), where love is the end or goal. These occuring with πιστις (faith) in such a close context, and where faith and love are tied together.


The differences, however, are notable. In Ign. Eph., faith and love are a spectrum, with faith at the beginning and love at the end. The same word is used for end (τελος) but is the semantic sense the same? In Ign. Eph. the logical translation is end due to the contrast with beginning. But there is no such order implied in 1Ti 1.5. And there are three items in a list, not two things forming a spectrum.  And the two items that the passages share are in a different order (faith … love in Ign., love … faith in 1Ti).


All the same, the lexical correlation, particularly that of τελος and αγαπη, are interesting. Ignatius could be influenced in his construction by First Timothy, but it could just be coincidence.


Ign. Eph. 20.1 || 1Ti 1.4



20.1 … προσδηλώσω ὑμῖν ἧς ἠρξάμην οἰκονομίας …
20.1 … I will further explain to you the subject about which I have begun to speak, namely, the divine plan …


… οἰκονομίαν θεοῦ τὴν ἐν πίστει. 
4 … administration from God that is by faith.


Here it seems as if the similarity is based on the one word, οικονομια, in both instances having to do with divine guidance or plan. But it seems to me as if Ign. Eph. 18.2 would be the better passage to posit similarity here:



(2) ὁ γὰρ θεὸς ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦς ὁ Χριστὸς ἐκυοφορήθη ὑπὸ Μαρίας κατʼ οἰκονομίαν θεοῦ, ἐκ σπέρματος μὲν Δαυίδ πνεύματος δὲ ἁγίου· ὃς ἐγεννήθη καὶ ἐβαπτίσθη ἵνα τῷ πάθει τὸ ὕδωρ καθαρίσῃ. (Ign. Eph. 18.2)
(2) For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary according to God’s plan, both from the seed of David and of the Holy Spirit. He was born and was baptized in order that by his suffering he might cleanse the water. (Ign. Eph. 18.2)
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (148, 149). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


In Ign. Eph. 18.2, the lexical similarity is exact: οἰκονομίαν θεοῦ. It may even be that οἰκονομίας in 20.1 is a reference back to 18.2, where the discussion of “God’s plan” began. (NB: I would need to re-read Ign. Eph. to confirm that suggestion; note οικονομια is also used in 6.2). Note Col. 1.25, which uses the same terminology:



25 ἧς ἐγενόμην ἐγὼ διάκονος κατὰ τὴν οἰκονομίαν τοῦ θεοῦ τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι εἰς ὑμᾶς πληρῶσαι τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, (Col 1.25, NA27)
25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, (Col 1.25, ESV)


As regards NT writings, only Paul juxtaposes these two words (cf. also 1Co 9.17). In the AF, only Ignatius does it. I think it is possible that Paul’s writings, particularly 1Ti, may have influenced Ignatius here.


Ign. Magn. 8.1 || 1Ti 1.4



8.1 Μὴ πλανᾶσθε ταῖς ἑτεροδοξίαις μηδὲ μυθεύμασιν τοῖς παλαιοῖς ἀνωφελέσιν οὖσιν· εἰ γὰρ μέχρι νῦν κατὰ Ἰουδαϊσμὸν ζῶμεν, ὁμολογοῦμεν χάριν μὴ εἰληφέναι.
8.1 Do not be deceived by strange doctrines or antiquated myths, since they are worthless. For if we continue to live in accordance with Judaism, we admit that we have not received grace.


4 μηδὲ προσέχειν μύθοις καὶ γενεαλογίαις ἀπεράντοις, αἵτινες ἐκζητήσεις παρέχουσιν μᾶλλον ἢ οἰκονομίαν θεοῦ τὴν ἐν πίστει.
4 nor to cling to myths and endless genealogies—which give rise to useless speculations rather than administration from God that is by faith.


Here the similarity is topical, on the futility of “myths”; the similarity is not lexical. It appears that Ign. Magn. is dealing with Judaizers (cf. Ign. Magn. 9 as well as the end of 8.1) though the same cannot be as easily said about the myths in First Timothy, where the myths are vague and could be in reference to a few different practices. Perhaps the better influence for Ignatius in this instance is Titus 1.14, which explicilty notes “Jewish myths” (Ἰουδαϊκοῖς μύθοις).


Conclusion


That so many different portions of Ignatius (indeed, more than have been listed by the committee, as the above shows) have some lexical or topical contact with this one portion of First Timothy is curious. Actually, it is more than curious, particularly because the lexical points of contact (apart from αγαπη and πιστις in the first example) are not frequently-occurring words in either writer’s letters. Dependence cannot be proven, but the frequency centered on this one area leads me to lean toward the notion that Ignatius knew of First Timothy. Perhaps other possible points of contact (there are several more) will strengthen or weaken my views.