The Pastoral Epistles in Ignatius, Part IX

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


Ign. Rom 2.2 || 2Ti 4.6



(2) πλέον δέ μοι μὴ παράσχησθε τοῦ σπονδισθῆναι θεῷ, ὡς ἔτι θυσιαστήριον ἕτοιμόν ἐστιν, ἵνα ἐν ἀγάπῃ χορὸς γενόμενοι ᾄσητε τῷ πατρὶ ἐν Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ, ὅτι τὸν ἐπίσκοπον Συρίας κατηξίωσεν ὁ θεὸς εὑρεθῆναι εἰς δύσιν ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς μεταπεμψάμενος. καλὸν τὸ δῦναι ἀπὸ κόσμου πρὸς θεόν, ἵνα εἰς αὐτὸν ἀνατείλω. (Ign. Rom 2.2)
(2) Grant me nothing more than to be poured out as an offering to God while there is still an altar ready, so that in love you may form a chorus and sing to the Father in Jesus Christ, because God has judged the bishop from Syria worthy to be found in the West, having summoned him from the East. It is good to be setting from the world to God, in order that I may rise to him. (Ign. Rom 2.2)
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (168, 169). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


6 Ἐγὼ γὰρ ἤδη σπένδομαι, καὶ ὁ καιρὸς τῆς ἀναλύσεώς μου ἐφέστηκεν. (2Ti 4.6, NA27)
6 For I am already poured out as a drink offering, and the season of my departure is imminent. (2Ti 4.6, my own translation)


The concept of “pouring out” (σπονδίζω / σπένδω) is clearly similar, but the same word is not used. BDAG clears this up with its note on the entry for σπονδίζω regarding their relationship, “derivative of σπονδή; =earlier Gk. σπένδω” (BDAG 939).


These instances of “poured out” language, while similar, refer to slightly different things. Ignatius is clearly referring to his impending martyr’s death. Paul, still alive, considers himself already poured out. He is at the end of his earthly pilgrimage referring to his ministry.


Perhaps the more clear NT parallel to Ignatius is Php 2.17:



17 Ἀλλὰ εἰ καὶ σπένδομαι ἐπὶ τῇ θυσίᾳ καὶ λειτουργίᾳ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν, χαίρω καὶ συγχαίρω πᾶσιν ὑμῖν· (Php 2.17, NA27)
17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. (Php 2.17, ESV)


Here Paul is referring to his future death, not to his work as an apostle. It aligns more clearly with the intent of Ignatius’ remark and should be considered the more likely NT parallel.


But is this sort of language common? BDAG cites a few other sources that speak of being “poured out like a drink offering”. One is in Philo, On Drunkenness, 152, which speaks of the mind being an offering (σπονδὴν) offered and consecrated (σπένδεσθαι) to God:



(152) And from this it results that the mind which is filled with unmixed sobriety is of itself a complete and entire libation, and is offered as such to and consecrated (σπένδεσθαι) to God. For what is the meaning of the expression, “I will pour out my soul before the Lord,” but “I will consecrate it entirely to him?” Having broken all the chains by which it was formerly bound, which all the empty anxieties of mortal life fastened around it, and having led it forth and emancipated it from them, he has stretched, and extended, and diffused it to such a degree that it reaches even the extreme boundaries of the universe, and is borne onwards to the beautiful and glorious sight of the uncreate God.
Philo, o. A., & Yonge, C. D. (1996, c1993). The works of Philo : Complete and unabridged (220). Peabody: Hendrickson.


In Philo, the offering is clearly not one’s death but instead one’s mental activity. Other instances in other literature (e.g. Josephus, Ant. 6.22) involve the normal use of the word, as making a drink offering. However, the sense of offering up one’s life as a sacrifice to one’s God is not completely foreign; a 2nd century AD reference is noted in BDAG’s entry for σπένδω:



In the Apollonaretal., Berl. Gr. Pap. 11 517 [II a.d.]: Her 55, 1920, 188–95 ln. 26, the putting to death of a prophet of Apollo who was true to his god appears as a σπονδή. (BDAG 937)


If Ignatius gets his equation of death and martyrdom as “being poured out as a drink offering” from anywhere, he likely gets it from Paul. But he likely gets it from Php 2.17 and perhaps some supplemental force from 2Ti 4.6; but he likely did not get it only from influence of 2Ti 4.6.


Next up: Ign. Magn. 8.1 || Titus 1.14, 3.9