The Pastoral Epistles in Ignatius, Part VIII

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

Ign. Trall. 7.2 || 2Ti 1.3

(2) ὁ ἐντὸς θυσιαστηρίου ὢν καθαρός ἐστιν, ὁ δὲ ἐκτὸς θυσιαστηρίου ὢν οὐ καθαρός ἐστιν· τοῦτʼ ἔστιν, ὁ χωρὶς ἐπισκόπου καὶ πρεσβυτερίου καὶ διακόνων πράσσων τι, οὗτος οὐ καθαρός ἐστιν τῇ συνειδήσει. (Ign. Trall. 7.2)
(2) The one who is within the sanctuary is clean, but the one who is outside the sanctuary is not clean. That is, whoever does anything without bishop and presbytery and deacons does not have a clean conscience. (Ign. Trall. 7.2)
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (162, 163). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

3 Χάριν ἔχω τῷ θεῷ, ᾧ λατρεύω ἀπὸ προγόνων ἐν καθαρᾷ συνειδήσει, ὡς ἀδιάλειπτον ἔχω τὴν περὶ σοῦ μνείαν ἐν ταῖς δεήσεσίν μου νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας, (2Ti 1.3, NA27)
3 I thank God, whom I serve (as did my forbears) in pure conscience, as I have unceasingly remembered you in my prayers night and day, (2Ti 1.3, my own translation)

The concept of a “clean” or “pure” conscience is the link between these two passages. This concept is formed by lexical co-occurrence of the words καθαρός (pure, clean) and συνείδησις (conscience). If the simple presence of these two words in relationship with each other is enough to posit a link, then 1Ti 3.9 (speaking of deacons) should be included as well: “holding to the mystery of faith in clear conscience“.

But any link between Ign. Trall. 7.2 and 2Ti 1.3 is stretched. Ignatius uses “the bishop and presbytery and deacons” as a check against conscience; if one goes against that triad, then one cannot have a “clean conscience” in what he does. This isn’t what 2Ti 1.3 is about. In Second Timothy, the idea is that Paul serves God just like his progenitors (i.e. Jews) did, with a clean or pure conscience. He isn’t falling back on them for authority, he is identifying with his ancestors so his comments in verse 5 — about Timothy’s faithful mother and grandmother — is more effective.

While the line “clear conscience” is definitely used in both Ignatius and 2Ti (and 1Ti, as seen above) there is no reason to think the concept originated with Paul and influenced Ignatius.

Next up: Ign. Rom. 2.2 || 2Ti 4.6


  1. SJV says:


    I have an off topic and off site question concerning the differentiation between the classification of the "pastoral" epistles by a young pastor who insists that these not be referred to as "pastoral" epistles, noting that timothy, titus etc. are apostles.

    Any suggestions on how I deal with this insignificant differentiation?

    thanks for emailing me directly, sorry to clog up the message board but I cannot find how to email you directly.

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