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Disciple of Apostle John on Jesus followers practicing Judaism and observing Torah

February 9, 2014

IgnatiusIgnatius of Antioch, who lived between 35 CE and 107 CE, is a famous Apostolic Church father. What makes him so special for followers of Jesus today is that he was one of the five earliest church fathers. However, what makes Ignatius even more special than just being a mere “church father” is that he, along with Polycarp, was a disciple of Apostle John himself. Yes, the very same apostle who is reputed to have authored the Gospel of John, a man who is widely considered to be the disciple whom Jesus loved the most. This historical proximity to Jesus’ inner circle is precisely what makes Ignatius of Antioch, a man who was intimately acquainted with Apostle John and his teachings, a veritable portal into the earliest history of the Christian religion. We get a glimpse into the time when Christianity was gaining a stronghold on the Roman world, while Judaism itself was under attack on all fronts. So, what can this student of Jesus’ own beloved disciple teach us? What did Ignatius learn about Judaism and Torah from his teacher, John, a man who saw and knew Jesus in person?

Be not seduced by strange doctrines nor by antiquated fables, which are profitless. For if even unto this day we live after the manner of Judaism, we avow that we have not received grace.… If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer observing Sabbaths but fashioning their lives after the Lord’s day, on which our life also arose through Him and through His death which some men deny … how shall we be able to live apart from Him? … It is monstrous to talk of Jesus Christ and to practice Judaism. For Christianity did not believe in Judaism, but Judaism in Christianity. (Ignatius to the Magnesians 8:1, 9:1-2, 10:3, Lightfoot translation.)

I wonder what would this disciple of Apostle John have thought of today’s Messianic Movement and its attempt at amalgamation of Judaism and Christianity? Would Ignatius’ own teacher, the Apostle John himself, approve?

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