The Pastoral Epistles in Ignatius, Part V

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


Ign. Eph. 2.1; Ign. Smyrn. 10.2 || 2Ti 1.16



(1) Περὶ δὲ τοῦ συνδούλου μου Βούρρου, τοῦ κατὰ θεὸν διακόνου ὑμῶν ἐν πᾶσιν εὐλογημένου, εὔχομαι παραμεῖναι αὐτὸν εἰς τιμὴν ὑμῶν καὶ τοῦ ἐπισκόπου· καὶ Κρόκος δέ, ὁ θεοῦ ἄξιος καὶ ὑμῶν, ὃν ἐξεμπλάριον τῆς ἀφʼ ὑμῶν ἀγάπης ἀπέλαβον, κατὰ πάντα με ἀνέπαυσεν· ὡς καὶ αὐτὸν ὁ πατὴρ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἀναψύξαι, ἅμα Ὀνησίμῳ καὶ Βούρρῳ καὶ Εὔπλῳ και Φρόντωνι, διʼ ὧν πάντας ὑμᾶς κατὰ ἀγάπην εἶδον. (Ign. Eph. 2.1)
(1) Now concerning my fellow servant Burrhus, who is by God’s will your deacon, blessed in every respect, I pray that he might remain with me both for your honor and the bishop’s. And Crocus also, who is worthy of God and of you, whom I received as a living example of your love, has refreshed me in every way; may the Father of Jesus Christ likewise refresh him, together with Onesimus, Burrhus, Euplus, and Fronto, in whom I saw all of you with respect to love. (Ign. Eph. 2.1)
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (138, 139). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


(2) ἀντίψυχον ὑμῶν τὸ πνεῦμά μου, καὶ τὰ δεσμά μου, ἃ οὐχ ὑπερηφανήσατε οὐδὲ ἐπῃσχύνθητε. οὐδὲ ὑμᾶς ἐπαισχυνθήσεται ἡ τελεία ἐλπίς, Ἰησοῦς Χριστός. (Ign. Smyrn. 10.2)
(2) May my spirit be a ransom on your behalf, and my bonds as well, which you did not despise, nor were you ashamed of them. Nor will the perfect hope, Jesus Christ, be ashamed of you. (Ign. Smyrn. 10.2)
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (190, 191). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


16 δῴη ἔλεος ὁ κύριος τῷ Ὀνησιφόρου οἴκῳ, ὅτι πολλάκις με ἀνέψυξεν καὶ τὴν ἅλυσίν μου οὐκ ἐπαισχύνθη, (2Ti 1.16, NA27)
16 The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, because many times he refreshed me and he was not afraid of my chains,  (2Ti 1.16, my own translation)


About these passages, the Oxford committe only notes: “These two passages seem to be reminiscences of the same context in 2 Timothy.” (p. 72). The apparent similarity has to do with the occurrence of two concepts, that of being “refreshed” (ἀναψύχω) and that of being “ashamed/afraid” (ἐπαισχύνομαι).


In this case, the similarity is lexical; relying on co-occurrence of words. But the ties are thin; two otherwise unrelated passages in two separate letters pointing back to one passage in 2 Timothy? Each case must be argued separately unless there is a reason to combine them. No reason for combination is evident.


The first lexical similarity, then, is that of ἀναψύχω. 2Ti 1.16 is the only NT occurrence of the word (though BDAG reports a variant uses the word in Ro 15.32). Similarly, Ignatius is the only source of the word in the Apostolic Fathers, though he uses it twice (also in Ign. Trall. 12.2). But use of a seemingly rare word cannot establish dependence; the word is also used at least seven times in the LXX (Ex 23.12; Jdg 15.19; 1Sa 16.23; 2Sa 16.14; Ps 38.14; 2Ma 4.46; 13.11) and also occurs in Josephus.


But the similarity isn’t only lexical, it is also contextual. In Ign. Eph. 2.1, Ignatius is acknowledging that while in custody he has been “refreshed” by Crocus. The situation is very similar to that of 2Ti 1.16, where Onesiphorus “refreshed” Paul during his time in prison. Thus the similarity here has to do with use of a relatively rare word (ἀναψύχω) in a relatively similar context (“refreshing” the author of a letter while in prison/custody). The tie seems tentative but plausible, though one wishes for more prison letters from alternate sources to see if similar language is used to describe visits of friends.


The second lexical similarity is that of ἐπαισχύνομαι. This word, however, is not an NT hapax. It occurs 3x in 2Ti 1 and a handful of times elsewhere in the New Testament. It also appears in the Shepherd of Hermas. But again, there is other reason to consider these passages as similar outside of sharing an instance of a word. In 2Ti 1.16, Onesiphorus is “not ashamed” of Paul’s “chains”. In Ign. Smyrn. 10.2, the Smyrnaeans are commended for not being ashamed of Ignatius’ “bonds”. So, not only is the verb the same, there is similarity in the object of the verb and in the negation of the verb: not being ashamed of the [letter-writer’s] status as prisoner.


Again, it would be helpful to be able to examine other contemporary letters with similar settings; where the letter-writer is in custody or prison, and understand how the letter-writer refers to those who visit him. Are these standard ways of saying these things, or are Paul’s sentiments relatively unique and thus Ignatius’ similar sentiments an echo of Paul?


My conclusion? Ignatius shows probable influence from 2Ti 1.16 in these two passages, but a larger study of contemporary prison letters (which I’m not planning on doing) may provide light on whether or not these are standard forms or uniquely Pauline.


Next up: Ign. Poly. 6.2 || 2Ti 2.4





Also notable in Ign. Smyrn. 10.2 is similarity with Mk 8.38 (and || Lk 9.26). Compare these passages (here only in English):



For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (Mk 8.38)


May my spirit be a ransom on your behalf, and my bonds as well, which you did not despise, nor were you ashamed of them. Nor will the perfect hope, Jesus Christ, be ashamed of you. (Ign. Smyrn. 10.2)