Copyright
James Hastings.

Dictionary of the apostolic church (Volume 1) online

. (page 194 of 234)
Online LibraryJames HastingsDictionary of the apostolic church (Volume 1) → online text (page 194 of 234)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


(oirep Kal effTLv). The expression 9ebs TJ/JLUV does not
give God a purely subjective value. Again, Jesus
Christ is not only our God or God for us, He is very
God : ' I give glory to Jesus Christ the God who
bestowed such wisdom upon you' (Sofdfw 'Irj<rovv
Xpurrbv rbv 6ebv rbv ovrws i!>Aias ffo<piffavra, Smyrn. i.
1) ; cf. Trail, vii. 1 and Smyrn. x. 1, where the
designation 0e6s is given to Christ absolutely. We
shall omit Smyrn. vi. 1, where a gloss has been
inserted in the text.

The work of Christ consisted in giving man a
knowledge of God. Jesus Christ is the \6yos of
God, come forth from the silence of God (Magn.
viii. 2). He is the mouth which lieth not, and in
which the Father hath spoken truly (rb dij/evdes
<rr6fj.a iv $ b irarTjp iXdXricrev d\Tj9>$, Rom. viii. 2).
He is the knowledge of God : ' wherefore do we
not all walk prudently, receiving the knowledge
of God, which is Jesus Christ' (Xa/J<Wey OeoDyvu<nv,
6 tffTiv'Irjo-ovs XpioreSs, Eph. xvii. 2; cf. iii. 2). The
teaching of Christ is a doctrine of incorruptibility
(dtSaxh d<j>0apfflas, Magn. vi. 2). The incorrupti-
bility is not the fruit of the diSax^ but the fruit of
the Death and Resurrection of Christ. The Cross,
' which is a stumbling-block to them that are un-
believers, is to us salvation and life eternal ' (<rw-
rrjpia Kal fw^ alwvios, Eph. xviii. 1). God became
manifest in the flesh to prove the newness of im-
perishable life, and the destruction of death (Kaiv6-
Trjra dl'diov fai)$ . . . Gavdrov KardXvcriv, xix. 3).
The Passion of Christ and His blood shed for us
are an earnest of this renewal of humanity ; it is
what Ignatius calls olKovofiias e/y rbv Kcuvbv avOpuirov
'lyffovv Xpi<rr6v, iv ry avrov iricrrei Kal 4v Ty a&rov dydiry,
iv irddei avrov Kal dvacrraffei (xx. 1). Ignatius gives
no explanation of this mystery either of the
virtue of Christ's Passion or of the manner in
which this virtue is communicated to the believing.
But he lays great stress on the Passion of Christ
and on the a<j>Qapala. it procures an insistence
which is explained when we remember not only that
he was refuting Docetism but also that this tenet of
Pauline theology was for him one of fundamental
importance.

That the Spirit stands in opposition to the flesh
we have already gathered from many examples.
This was a familiar article of faith to Ignatius :
the flesh is man, the Spirit is a principle which
comes from God and acts in man (ri> irvevfj.a . . .
awb deov 6v) searching out his closest secrets (Philad.
vii. 1). The prophets were the disciples of the
Spirit (Magn. ix. 2). The Spirit inspires the
spiritual man, and Ignatius is conscious of being
so inspired : ' It was the preaching of the Spirit
who spoke on this wise ' [by my mouth] (rb irvev/j.a
iK-f)pv<r<rev \tyov rdde, Philad. vii. 2). On this point
Swete shrewdly observes : ' It is interesting to
observe that Ignatius can combine a claim to pro-
phetic inspiration with a passionate zeal for a
regular and fully organized ministry' (The Holy
Spirit in the Ancient Church, London, 1912, p. 14).

The believers are the ' building of God the
Father' (olKo5o/j.ty 0eoD Trar/xJy), 'hoisted up to the
heights through the engine of Jesus Christ (utjxavris
'Ii]<rov Xpio-roO), which is the Cross, and using for a
rope the Holy Spirit ' (o~x.oivl<f xp^f^" 01 T V vevfj-an
rif ayty, Eph. ix. 1). Ignatius adjures the Mag-
nesians to remain united in flesh and spirit (<rapKl
Kal wvevnaTi), by faith and love, in the Son, the
Father, and the Spirit (iv vl<? Kal irarpl Kal iv irvev-
fj.an, Magn. xiii. 1). The Spirit is named along
with the Logos (iv a^uiM? irve^/nari Kal \6yif) deov,
Smyrn. inscr.). The apostles were obedient T<?
Xpurry Kal T<$ irarpi Kal T$ irvevfiari (Magn. xiii. 2 ;
it is difficult not to regard this as an example of



IGNATIUS



IGNATIUS



603



the trinitarian baptismal formula [Harnack, Dog-
mengesch.* i. 175]).

The Father is plenitude (x\^w/ia, Eph. inscr.).
The Son is the Logos of God (Magn. viii. 2), the
thought of God (yvupri Oeov, Eph. iii. 2), and the
knowledge of God (yv&<ris Oeov, xvii. 2). The Spirit
is the x&P t(r f J - a f Christ (TO -xdpio-fj-a ireiro/*(j>v
d\r)dws 6 Kvpios, ib.), and in this sense the Spirit is
the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Philad. inscr. ), although
one cannot identify Christ and the Holy Spirit in
any way, as Harnack would have us do (Dogmen-
gesch.* i. 214), basing his argument on Magn. xv.,
where d8idKpirov irvevfj-a is a synonym of opdvoia and
not of ayiov irvev/j.0.. The Word and the Spirit are
not known except by their missions in time.

Christianity, in opposition to Judaism, is the
life of Christ in us ('I^troCs Xpiyrbs TO dX-^Otvbv im&v
ftp, Smyrn. iv. 1 ; cf. Eph. iii. 2, xi. 1, Magn. i. 2,
ix. 2), which is manifested through faith and love
(Eph. xiv. 1 ; cf. Smyrn. vi. 1, Philad. ix. 2). This
life is the fruit of the Spirit; it is the Spirit in
contrast with the flesh. ' The <ra.pKi.Kol cannot do
ra wvevfjLaTiKa, neither can the irvevfj-ariKol do TO.
o-apKiKd ' (Eph. viii. 2), and Ignatius even goes the
length of saying, ' No man professing faith sinneth '
(oi;5eis irtcrTiv tTrayye\\6fjt'os a/juiprdvei, Eph. xiv. 2).

As Christ is joined to the Father so the Church
is ipined to Christ (Eph. v. 1), for Christ is in every
believer (xv. 3). He ' breathes incorruption upon
the Church' (xvii. 1). He is the High Priest to
whom is committed the holy of holies; to Him
alone the secrets of God are confided, He is the
door of the Father through which Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob, the Prophets, the Apostles, and the
Church enter in (Philad. i. 9).

The time of the end is at hand ('These are the last
times,' to-xaroi Kaipot, Eph. xi. 1). All those who be-
lieve in Christ will rise again (Trail, ix. 2). The
believers are members of Christ through His Cross
and Passion, and the Head cannot exist apart from
the members, so that in the end there will be unity,
God Himself being Unity (TOV Oeov evw<nv 4irayye\-
\o/j^vov, 3j tffTiv ai5r6s, Trail, xi. 2). We find no
trace of millennarianism and no apocalyptical
imagery. The things of heaven (TO. eirovpdvta) are
mentioned only in the abstract (Trail, v. 2), and
with them the angelical orders (raj ToiroOeo-las, TOS
dyyeXixds, rds ffwrdcreis, rds dpxovriicds : terms which
seem to foreshadow Gnosticism). Cf. Potyc. ii. 2 :
'And as for the invisible things, pray thou that
they may be revealed unto thee (TO. 31 d6para afrei
'iva ffoi (pavepuOrj).

This short analysis of the theologoumena of
Ignatius will have shown the justice of F. Loofs'
verdict (Leitfaden zum Studium der Dogmenge-
schichte*, Halle, 1906, p. 102) that ' Johannine and
Pauline thoughts ring through the theology of
Ignatius ' ; but it is not correct to say that his
theology is 'a theology of Asia Minor' distinct
from ' ordinary Gentile Christianity ' (cf. Harnack,
Dogmengesch.* i. 168). It is rather the theology of
the presbyters quoted by Irenaeus; his theology,
as Harnack says (op. cit. i. 241) is of the same
nature as that of Melito and Irenaeus, ' whose pre-
decessor he is ' ; it is the tutiorist theology of
tradition which afterwards triumphantly withstood
the Gnostic crisis ; it was not brought into being
by that crisis, but must certainly have existed
prior to it although later than the monarchical
episcopate. Ignatius has no creative genius, but,
as Sanday aptly says, ' the striking thing about
him is the way in which he seems to anticipate
the spirit of the later theology ; the way in which
he singles out as central the points which it made
central, and the just balance and proportion
which he observes between them' (Christoloqies,
p. 10 f.).

What has given authority to Ignatius' letters is



his martyrdom. His letters, written in an abrupt
and nervous style, overloaded with metaphors,
incoherent, popular, and lacking every Hellenic
grace, are yet endowed with such pathetic faith
and such passionate joy in martyrdom, with such
overwhelming love of Christ, that they are one
of the finest expressions of the Christianity of the
2nd century.

6. Special points raised by the Epistle to the
Romans. Some special questions raised by the
Letter to the Romans, whose authenticity we
assume as beyond question, have been reserved for
separate treatment.

Ignatius says that he has been most eager to
see the 'godly countenances' of the Christians of
Rome, and he hopes to salute them ' for wearing
bonds in Christ Jesus' (Bom. i. 1). He implores
them to do nothing to save him from martyrdom ;
he dreads their very love ; for ' it is easy for them
to do what they will' (vfuv -yd/) et/xepes tffriv, 6 ffeXere
voirjo-ai, i. 2), i.e. the Romans were in a position
to ensure Ignatius' liberation. As Harnack says
(Dogmengesch.* i. 486 ; cf. Lightfoot, p. 196),
' Ignatius presupposes great influence on the part
of the separate members of the community in the
higher ruling circles.' The insistence with which
Ignatius endeavours to dissuade the Romans from
any possible intervention on his behalf would seem
to indicate that the Romans had some definite plan
in hand and that he had been informed of it.

Again, in the Letter to the Romans (iii. 1) we
find : ' Ye never grudged any one ; ye were the
instructors of others (4\Xouj iSiSd^are). And my
desire is that those lessons shall hold good which
as teachers ye enjoin ' (^ycJ) Si 0Aw 'iva Kdiceiva pefiaia

a fM.6r)reijovTes vT\\eff8e). The word ^aOtireveiv
means ' to make disciples,' as nadtrreveo-Oai means
'to be a disciple' (Eph. iii. 1). Thus the Romans
gave instruction, made disciples, and laid down
precepts. Ignatius is here probably thinking of
such documents as 1 Clement, where the Church
of Rome instructs other churches in their duty (so
Duchesne, Eglises stpartes, Paris, 1896, p. 129 ;
Harnack, loc. cit. ; and Batiffol, Eglise naissante,
Paris, 1909, p. 170), or he may have had in mind
practical examples of martyrdom in the Church of
Rome (in Eph. i. 2 he hopes to be able to follow
the heroic example of these martyrs [Iva e'-a-iTvxe'iv
SvvijOQ paOTjTT}* elvai ; cf. Magn. ix. 2, Mom. iv. 2,
v. 3]). The second interpretation perhaps suits
the context better (cf. Lightfoot, ii. 202).

In Horn. iv. 3 Ignatius says : ' I do not enjoin
you, as Peter and Paul did. They were Apostles,

1 am a convict.' The word Kard/cptros (condemnatus)
is difficult to explain ; but it may at any rate be

Kpression of Ignatius' humility such



taken as an exj

as is found in Trail, iii. 3 : '"I did not think myself
competent for this, that being a convict I should
order you as though I were an apostle ' ('iva &v /card-
KpiTOS (>s diroffTO\os iifuv Siardcrcrco/icu). The apostles
were, after Jesus Christ, the authorities of most
account. ' I do not command you, as though I were
somewhat' (ov 5iard<r<ro/j.ai iifuv u>s &v rw), writes
Ignatius to the Ephesians (iii. 1 ; cf. 1 Co 7 17 ). In
the quotation from Rom. iv. 3 given above Ignatius
mentions St. Peter and St. Paul because they alone
of all the disciples had any dealings with the
Romans : ' they had been at Rome and had given
commandments to the Roman Church ' (Lightfoot,
ii. 209). This allusion to St. Peter is generally
taken as evidence of the fact that St. Peter went
to Rome (cf. F. Sieftert, art. ' Petrus' in PRE* xv.
[1904] 200; F. H. Chase, art. 'Peter (Simon)' in
HDB iii. [1900] 769).

While Ignatius is still in Asia, Christians of
Antioch go directly before him from Syria to Rome
' unto the glory of God.' Ignatius is aware of this
fact, and he writes to the Romans (x. 2) : ' they are



604



IGNATIUS



IGNATIUS



all worthy of God and of you, and it becometh you
to refresh them in all tilings.'

From this we may learn that there were great
facilities for communication between Antioch or
Ephesus (x. 1) and Rome. The Christians from
Syria were most heartily welcomed at Rome, and
from that time onwards the Church of Rome was
known for its hospitality and generosity. In the
address of the Letter to the Romans, the Church of
Rome is saluted in most emphatic terms. If we
compare this with the addresses of the other letters
we shall find that this emphasis is part of Ignatius'
style (Polycarp, on the other hand, couches his
address to the Philippians in the simplest terms) ;
but, all the same, he salutes the Church of Rome
with more emphasis than the other churches, which
shows the great consideration shown at this time
by other churches (esp. the Church of Antioch) to
the Church of Rome. As Harnack says : ' However
much one tones down the exaggerated expressions
in his Letter to the Romans, so much is clear that
Ignatius assigns to the Roman community a posi-
tion of real superiority over the sister-communities
. . . the effusiveness of the address shows that he
values and salutes this community as the fore-
most in all Christendom' (Harnack, loc. cit.}.

Three of the predicates applied to the Roman
Church by Ignatius in the address may now be
considered.

(1) The believers are diroSivXio-fjievoi airb iravrbs
d\\oTptov xptipaTos, 'filtered,' 'pure,' 'free from all
polluting colouring matter ' (cf. Lightfoot, p. 193).
As we have already noted, Ignatius does not
think there are any heretics in Rome, and here he
praises the Romans for not mixing any foreign
colouring matter with the purity which befits them,
as elsewhere he expresses a wish that among the
Ephesians there may be no plant of the devil (Eph.
x. 3). In the case of the Ephesians it is a mere
wish, but with the Romans it is an accomplished
fact.

(2) The Church of Rome irpoKd6i)rai. ev r6ir<?
Xuplov'Pwfialwv. The verb n-poKdOijfj.ai is translated
praesideo, vpoKdOiffis sessio (in throno, in tribunali) j
irpoKddi)rai=' has the chief seat, presides, takes the
precedence' (Lightfoot, ii. 190). Ignatius applies
this epithet elsewhere to the bishop and the pres-
bytery (irpOKa.Oi]nvov rov eiriffKbirov els rbirov ffeov, ical
TUV irpevfivTepuv els Tfarov vvvedplov TUIV diroffr6\uv
[Magn. vi. 1] ; and again ev^dijre r$ eiriaKbiry Kal
TOIS irpoKa6i)fi4vois els rfaov Kal didaxty d<p6ap<rlas
[ib. 2]). Ignatius thus attributes to the whole
Roman Church a gravity comparable with that of
the bishop and the presbytery. Zahn thinks that
ev rbv(f is a bad reading, and suggests ev ntnrtp :
'Ecclesia igitur Romana tamquani exemplar, ab
omnibus imitandum, hominibus imperio Romano
subditis priest ' ( ' Ignatii et Polycarpi Epistulse,' p.
57). This correction has not been accepted by any
other critic, and indeed, if Ignatius had wanted to
say that, he would have written rather els rfaov,
Then again, irpoicdOrrrai is not to be taken with
xwpiov, as if Ignatius were saying that the Roman
Church presided over the Roman region and ' the
suburbicarian bishops' (Lightfoot, ii. 190); but it
is to be understood absolutely, and ev rbirtp xuplov
'Pw/jialuv designates the place where the Church
presides. The curious tautology ev rbirtf xuplw must
be equivalent to ev rbirtf % xwplif), and thus signifies
the town of Rome. This interpretation of Funk's
seems more objective than Lightfoot's (p. 190 f.),
who prefers to give the text a 'suburbicarian 5
meaning.

(3) The Church of Rome is called &i60eos, d^e-
iraivos, dl-ioevlrevicros, d!-tayvos Kal irpoKa67}fj.evt) rfjs
d-ydryi, xp^j^ofios, irarpdivv/j-os. This accumulation
of epithets is an example of Ignatius' emphasis ; but
the expression irpoKaOrj/ji^vt] TTJS dydinjs does have a



more precise meaning. This time irpoi<a9rinevr) is not
to be taken absolutely but construed along with
dydirtjs : the Roman Church presides over love.
Lightfoot (p. 192) takes the meaning to be : ' the
Church of Rome, as it is first in rank, is first also in
love,' but it is doubtful if dydir-ns has this causative
sense of dydiry or ev dydiry. The Latin version of
the interpolated Letters of Ignatius translates the
words ' fundatur in dilectione et lege Christi,'
but the verb irpotcdOijfMi has not this meaning in
Ignatius. Harnack's interpretation ' procuratrix
fraterni amoris' is not exact either. The verb
TrpoKd6rj/j.ai with the genitive implies presidency
over a city or a region : ticeivos roiyapovv 6 O^IOTOS Kal
fj-eyiffros Zetis, 6 irpoKad-finevos TTJS \afjiir pordrris V/J.&V
ir6\eus writes the Emperor Maximin Daia in a letter
to the people of Tyre (Euseb. HE IX. vii. 7). Funk
(Patr. apost. i. 253) quotes from Theodoret the
expression applied to Rome : rrjs olKov^v-rjs irpoKo.-
0i}fj.evri ; and from John Malalas that applied to
Antioch : irpoKaOwevriv TTJS dvaroXrjs. We may com-
pare also Philostorgius representing Constantino
irpoKa0t]fj^voij TUV eiriffKlnruv (HE vii. 6 [ed. Bidez,
1913, p. 85]). Thus the word dydirrj must be a meta-
phorical word for some collectivity, which cannot
be the Church of Rome, because here the Church
of Rome is the subject of which irpoKaOij/dvT] is the
epithet. It would be very extraordinary if dyd-irq
meant the Christian communities near Rome, or
even the Christian communities of Italy, for that
would be limiting arbitrarily the meaning of the
word dydv-q. We are left then with the explana-
tion that dydirr) is that in which the distant churches
like Antioch and Ephesus are united to the Church
of Rome. Ignatius writes to the Trallians (xiii. 1) :
dffirdfeTai fytas i) dydtrrj 'Zfjivpvaluv Kal ' Efaffiwv ; and
to the Romans (ix. 3) : dffTrdferat fytas. . . ij dydirrj TWV
eKK\rj<nuv TWV 8eafjievuv fj.e (cf. Philad. xi. 2 and
Smyrn. xii. 1 : dinrdfeTai fyxas i) dydirrj T&V dde\<pu>t>
TUV ev fpuddt). Just as the collectivity of the
believers of one church is designated by the
expression dydirri rCiv dde\<J>uv, and two or three
churches are designated by the phrase dydiri} TUV
KK\I)<TI&V, so it is natural that irpoKa6rijj.^vij rrft
dydirrjs should mean irpOKaOrjfdvi) TTJS dydirijs TUV
eKK\-ri<nuv, ' president of the love or collectivity
of the churches.'

The Letter to the Romans presents one difficulty
formulated by J. Wordsworth (Ministry of Grace,
London, 1901, p. 126) in these words: Ignatius
' twice speaks of himself as " Bishop of Syria" or
" of the Church of Syria" (chs. 2 and 9) : but he is
entirely silent as to any such office in the Church
of Rome. . . . If then, Clement, or any other single
Church officer, had been " Bishop of Rome," in the
sense that Ignatius was "Bishop of Syria," the
language of the latter in writing to Rome would be
almost inexplicable' (cf. also J. Reville, Origines
de Vtpiscopat, p. 510). If we take the trouble to
read the etter to the Romans carefully, we shall
find still more extraordinary facts, viz. that
Ignatius does not speak of presbyters or deacons
either, so that if the objection of Wordsworth and
Reville is valid, we should have to say that the
Church of Rome, at the time of Ignatius' Letter,
had no hierarchy, no deacons, no presbytery, no
bishop. As a matter of fact, Ignatius regarded
each church as having its unity in its totality, and
his letters are addressed to churches, to each church
as such (exc. the Epistle to Polycarp), just as the
Epistle of Clement does not bear the name of
Clement, but is addressed by ' the Church of God
which sojourneth in Rome to the Church of God
which sojourneth in Corinth.' It is very probable
that Clement was irpoKaO-ft^evos, although in his
time the line of demarcation between episcopate
and presbytery was still blurred. It is difficult to
say when the monarchical episcopate strictly began



IGNORANCE



ILLYKICUM



605



in Rome, bnt the episcopal lists of Rome, Antioch,
Corinth, etc., must have been nothing hut forgeries
if there was not early in the communities a
primus inter pares, at the head of the presbytery,
such as Clement was when he wrote to the Church
of Corinth (Harnack, Entstehung und Entvrickel-
ung, p. 72). Thus the silence of Ignatius in his
Letter to the Romans cannot be taken as a proof
that Rome had no hierarchy at the time at which
it was written. On Ignatius and the Roman
primacy see A. Harnack, ' Das Zeugnis des Ignatius
iiber das Ansehen der rOmischen Gemeinde,' in
SBA W, 1896, pp. 111-131 ; J. Chapman, in Eevue
Benedictine, 1896, pp. 385-400; Funk, Kirchen-
geschichtL Abhandlungen, i. [Paderborn, 1897],
pp. 1-23.

LITERATURE. This has been cited throughout the article.
For general bibliography see O. Bardenhewer, Gesch. der
altlnrchl. Litteratur, L, Freiburg i. B. f 1902, pp. 119-145,
and M. Rackl, Christologie des hefligen Ignatius, do. 1914,
pp. xv-xxxii. The best modern critical editions are those of
T. Zahn (' Ignatii et Polycarpi Epistulae ' in Pair, apostol. opera,
ii., Leipzig, 1876) ; F. X. Funk (in Opera patr. apostolicorum,
Tubingen, 1878 ff.); J. B. Lightfoot (Apostolic Fathers^, pt. ii.
vol. ii., London, 1889). See also A. Lelong, Ignace d'Antioche,
Paris, 1910. P. BATIFFOL.

IGNORANCE. As the apostolic writers dealt
mostly with moral and spiritual matters, they
usually spoke of ignorance in a sense that was not
merely intellectual. Thus (Eph 4 18 ) the ignorance
of the Gentiles was associated with vanity of mind,
darkening of understanding, alienation from God,
and hardening of heart, in a way that linked it to
the deeper faculties of the soul. Even vovs is the
faculty for recognizing moral good as well as in-
tellectual truth, and didvoia includes feeling and
desiring as well as understanding. Ignorance
arose, according to the apostles, as much from the
condition of the conscience and the spirit as from
the state of the mind (cf. 2 Ti 3 7 ). Holding this
conception, the apostles taught that ignorance
sprang either from the state of the heart or from
lack of the Christian revelation. The latter condi-
tion was much dwelt upon, for to all the apostles
the Coming of Jesus Christ was the shedding forth
of so great a light that all who had not seen that
light dwelt in darkness, while they insisted also
that light sufficient was given in the world to learn
about God, if only men had not been led away by
evil desires (Ro I 2 "). Thus arose the ignorance of
God (Ac 17 23 ), the yielding to lusts (1 P I 14 ), the
rejection of Jesus of Nazareth (Ac 3 17 ), and, in St.
Paul's own experience, the persecution of the
followers of Jesus Christ (Ac 26 9 ).

The double source of these sins of ignorance led
to God's method of dealing with them. As they
arose from evil in men, they were not left un-
punished by God (Ro I 28 ) ; but, as they were done
in ignorance of the full revelation, they were
' winked at ' or ' overlooked ' by God (Ac 17 30 ), or
in the forbearance of God were passed over (Ro 3 20 ).
This passing over (irdpeffts) did not exclude punish-
ment, and was not equivalent to forgiveness
(d^eo-ts) ; but it prepared the way for repentance
(Ac 3 19 ) and for the receiving of the mercy of God
in Christ Jesus (1 Ti l u ).

The densest ignorance came to those who had
heard the gospel of Christ and had persisted in
rejecting it, for on them the curse foretold by
Isaiah was abiding (Ac 2S 26 ). Such people, what-
ever their superficial knowledge might be, were
walking in such darkness that they were content
to live in sin and to be guilty of hatred of their
brothers (1 Jn 3 6 2 11 ).

Even in the experience of those who had come
to a knowledge of Christ as Saviour and Lord
there existed much ignorance.

(1) If Christ Himself knew not the day of the



Great Appearing, it was not to be wondered at
that the times and the seasons for the coming of
God's Kingdom in glory were hid from His disciples
(Ac I 7 ). It is evident from some of the apostolic
writings (cf. 1 Thess.) that many believed that the
Great Day was to come almost immediately, and
were totally ignorant of the delay that was to ensue.

(2) Another subject of which there was much
ignorance was the state of the dead. The apostles
in their eschatology did little to dispel the dark-
ness connected with the present condition of the
dead. Sometimes they referred to the blessedness
of those ' with Christ ' (Ph I 23 ), sometimes to their
quiescence in a state of sleep (1 Co 15 20 ), and some-
times to the activities carried on (1 P 4 6 ), but the
intermediate state was comparatively uninterest-
ing to the Apostolic Age, as their main thought
centred in the Resurrection and the Parousia.
Even with regard to these great events of the
future there was not always assured knowledge;
disciples of Christ were not only doubtful of the
Resurrection, but even opposea to its teaching,
and St. Paul laboured to dispel their ignorance ;



Online LibraryJames HastingsDictionary of the apostolic church (Volume 1) → online text (page 194 of 234)