中文 | The Seraphim Files
The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians


1. He acknowledges the coming of their bishop. 5. Commends them for their subjection to their bishop, priests, and deacons; and exhorts them to continue it. 15. He is afraid even of his overly great desire to suffer, lest it should be prejudicial to him.

1. Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the holy church which is at Tralles in Asia: beloved of God the Father of Jesus Christ, elect and worthy of God, having peace through the flesh and blood and passion and resurrection of our hope Jesus Christ, I salute in its fullness. Continuing in the apostolic character, I wish all joy and happiness to it.
2. I have heard of your blameless and constant disposition through patience, which not only appears in your outward manner of life, but is naturally rooted and grounded in you.

A variant reading is "which you have not according to use, but according to possession."

3. So Polybius your bishop has declared to me. By the will of God and Jesus Christ he came to me at Smyrna, and so rejoiced together with me in my bonds for Jesus Christ that in effect I saw your whole church in him.
4. After I received his testimony of your good will towards me for God's sake, I discovered you to be the followers of God, just as I had already heard.
5. Because as you are subject to your bishop as to Jesus Christ, you appear to me to live not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that believing in his death, you might escape death.
6. As you are subject to your bishop, it is therefore necessary you should do nothing without your bishop; also be subject to your presbyters, as to the Apostles of Jesus Christ our hope, in whom if we walk, we shall be found in him.

That is, do nothing in the church without the approval of the bishop and the presbytery (priests).

7. The deacons also, as being the ministers of the mysteries of Jesus Christ, must by all means please you. For they are not the ministers of meat and drink, but of the church of God. For that reason they must avoid all offenses, as they would avoid fire.

Deacons as "ministers of the mysteries" means they assisted the bishop and presbytery by administering the prepared bread and wine to the people in the Eucharist.

Compare with: "Likewise [must] the deacons [be] grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being [found] blameless. Even so [must their] wives [be] grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." (1 Timothy 4:8-13)

8. In the same manner let us reverence the deacons as we do Jesus Christ, and the bishop as a father, like Jesus Christ the Son of the Father, and the presbyters as the Sanhedrin of God and college of the Apostles.
9. Without these there is no church. Concerning all which I am persuaded that you think after the very same manner; for I have received, and even now have the pattern of your love with me in your bishop.

"Without these there is no church" means without these a church is not called, commissioned, or properly constituted. This is the unanimous position of the Church Fathers.

10. Whose very look is instructive and whose mildness powerful, whom I am persuaded the very atheists themselves cannot but reverence.

Again, Ignatius is impressed with the quality of the bishops who greet him on his journey to Rome. The instructive look of Polybius can be translated "his habit of body is great instruction."

11. But because I have a love towards you, I will not write any more sharply to you about this matter, though I very well might; but now I have done so with the fear that being a condemned man, I should seem to prescribe to you as an Apostle.
12. I understand many things in God, but I measure myself for fear that I should perish in my boasting.
13. For now I ought to fear more and not pay attention to those that would puff me up.

See New Testament warnings about being puffed up, or inflated by flattery: 1 Corinthians 4:6, 7, 18, 19, 8:1, 13:4; Colossians 2:18.

14. For they that speak to praise me, chasten me.
15. For I indeed desire to suffer, but I cannot tell whether I am worthy so to do.
16. And this desire, though it does not appear to others, yet to myself it is for that very reason the more violent. I have, therefore, need of moderation, by which the prince of this world is destroyed.

The prince of this world is Satan.

17. Am I not able to write to you of heavenly things? But I fear I could harm you who are yet but babes in Christ (excuse me this concern), because if you are not able to receive them, you might be choked by them.

Recent converts were referred to as babes in Christ. Compare with: "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, [even as] unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able [to bear it], neither yet now are ye able." (1 Corinthians 3:1); "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord [is] gracious." (1 Peter 2:2, 3)

18. For even I myself, although I am in bonds, yet am not therefore able to understand heavenly things:
19. Such as the places of the angels, and the several companies of them under their respective princes, or of things visible and invisible, for of these I am still learning.
20. For many things are lacking to us, so that we do not come short of God.

That is, because we know so little, we must rely on God. Compare with: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5); "Who [is] a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom." (James 3:13)


1. He warns them against heretics, 4. exhorts them to humility and unity, 10. briefly sets before them the true doctrine concerning Christ.

1. I exhort you therefore, or rather not I, but the love of Jesus Christ, that you use none but Christian nourishment, and abstain from pasture which is of another kind: I mean heresy.
2. For they who are heretics, while they seem worthy of belief, confound together the doctrine of Jesus Christ with their own poison,
3. As men give a deadly potion mixed with sweet wine so that with treacherous pleasure he who drinks of it, sweetly drinks in his own death.

Verses 2 and 3 give a perfect analysis of all heresies as some truth mixed with a little, but spiritually fatal, falsehood.

4. Therefore guard yourselves against such persons. And that you will do if you are not puffed up, but continue inseparable from Jesus Christ our God, and from your bishop, and from the commands of the Apostles.
5. He that is within the altar is pure, but he that is without, that is, that does anything without the bishop, the presbyters, and deacons, is not pure in his conscience.
6. Not that I know there is anything of this nature among you; but I forearm you, as being greatly beloved by me, foreseeing the snares of the devil.
7. Put on meekness and renew yourselves in faith, that is, the flesh of the Lord, and in charity, that is, the blood of Jesus Christ.

See "be clothed with humility," 1 Peter 5:5.

8. Let no man have any grudge against his neighbor. Give no occasion to the Gentiles, for fear that by means of a few foolish men, the whole congregation of God will be evil spoken of.

Compare with: "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." (Mark 11:25); "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." (Matthew 5:23, 24); note the difference between these two verses: one speaks of our grudge against someone, and the other of someone's grudge against us.

"Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God." (1 Corinthians 10:32)

9. For woe to that man through whose vanity my name is blasphemed by any.

Compare with: "For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written." (Romans 2:24); "...my name continually every day [is] blasphemed" (Isaiah 52:5; the Septuagint reads: "On account of you my name is continually blasphemed among the Gentiles"). "...the foolish people have blasphemed thy name" (Psalm 74:18)"...for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went." (Ezekiel 36:22)

10. Stop up your ears therefore, as often as anyone speaks contrary to Jesus Christ, who was of the race of David and of the Virgin Mary.
11. Who was truly born and did eat and drink, was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and dead, and both those in heaven on earth were spectators of it.
12. Who was also truly raised from the dead by his Father, after the same manner as he will also raise up us who believe in him by Christ Jesus, without whom we have no true life.
13. But if, as some who are atheists, that is to say infidels, pretend that he only seemed to suffer, (they themselves only seeming to exist) why then am I bound? Why do I desire to fight with beasts? Therefore I would die in vain; therefore I will not speak falsely against the Lord.

Ignatius is not beating the air when he emphasizes that Jesus truly was born, truly ate and drank, truly suffered, truly died, and truly rose again: some heresies suggested these events only appeared to happen, that Jesus was a sort of phantasm, etc. Ignatius sarcastically points out that their view of reality was such that they believed all things, even themselves, were illusory.

14. Flee therefore these evil plants which bring forth deadly fruit, of which if anyone taste, he shall presently die.
15. For these are not the plants of the Father; for if they were, they would appear to be the branches of the cross, and their fruit would be incorruptible; it is through his passion he invites you who are members of him.
16. For the head cannot be without its members, God having promised a union, that is, with himself.

For the Church as the body of Christ with many members and him as its head, see Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 1:22, 23, 4:12; Colossians 1:24, 2:19.


He again exhorts them to unity and desires their prayers for himself and for his church at Antioch.

1. I salute you from Smyrna, together with the churches of God that are present with me, who have refreshed me in all things, both in the flesh and in the spirit.
2. My bonds, which I carry about me for the sake of Christ, (beseeching him that I may attain to God) exhort you, that you continue in concord among yourselves, and in prayer with one another.
3. For it is appropriate for every one of you, especially the presbyters, to refresh the bishop, to the honor of the Father of Jesus Christ and of the Apostles.
4. I beseech you, that you hearken to me in love, that I may not by those things which I write, rise up in witness against you.
5. Pray also for me, who through the mercy of God stand in need of your prayers, that I may be worthy of the portion which I am about to obtain, and that I be not found a reprobate.

He asks for their prayers, not to be delivered from martyrdom, but to fulfill it.

6. The love of those who are at Smyrna and Ephesus salute you. Remember in your prayers the church of Syria, from which I am not worthy to be called, being one of the least of it.
7. Farewell in Jesus Christ. Be subject to your bishop as to the command of God, and likewise to the presbytery.
8. Love everyone his brother with an unfeigned heart. My soul be your expiation, not only now, but when I shall have attained to God; for I am yet under danger.

Apparently the only "danger" he feared was to waver in faith and fall short of sharing Christ's martyrdom.

9. But the Father is faithful in Jesus Christ to fulfil both mine and your petition, in whom may you be found unblamable.