Reading History: John Chrysostom on Ignatius of Antioch

John Chrysostom (347-407) was an influential Christian leader during the fourth century. He was known as an eloquent speaker and writer. His “last name” means “golden mouthed” and in 392 was included in Jerome’s collection On Illustrious Men (link #129). That would essentially make him a “legend in his own time”. He served as a leader in Antioch (~386-397), under bishop Flavian, until he was kidnapped and taken to Constantinople to become its arch-bishop (link).

In Antioch a day was set aside to to commemorate their hero Ignatius. On one of these occasions, John Chrysostom gave a noteworthy homily that we still have today (link). As John gave this speech, he and those who heard him enjoyed “deep peace on all sides”. This was in contrast to Ignatius and the early Christians who faced “precipices and pitfalls, and wars, and fightings, and dangers” during the first two centuries of its existence. This was also a time when the Arian controversy, which has consumed nearly a century of debate and the attention of two ecumenical councils, has finally started to fizzle out.

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Antioch, envisioned as the whole world

This speech, as much as it is about remembering Ignatius, is also reminding people about the place that Antioch holds. In commending Ignatius, John lauds the size and history of the city in which he is speaking. Continue reading

Reading History: Ignatius of Antioch

Some of the earliest extant writings of the church, after the apostles, were written by Ignatius of Antioch. Unfortunately very little is known about him. At least not with much certainty.
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We can, with reasonable confidence, know that he lived in the first and second centuries during the reign of Trajan (98-117). This is based on the following set of evidence:

  • Polycarp, a contemporary of Ignatius, is a recipient of one of the extant letters written by Ignatius. Writing his own Letter to the Philippians, Polycarp mentions Ignatius as a role model (chap 9). With this letter, Polycarp also attaches some of Ignatius’ letters, esteeming them because they explore “faith and patience, and all things that tend to edification in our Lord” (chap 13).
  • Irenaeus, writing in the late second century, anonymously quotes a portion of Ignatius’ Letter to the Romans (chap 4) in Ad Haer (V.28.4).
  • Origen, writing in the third century, quotes Letter to the Romans (chap 7) and Letter to the Ephesians (chap 19) in two of his commentaries. [1]

Martyrdom for the Faith

Ignatius is remembered for his courage as he faced martyrdom for his faith in Christ, sometime between 105 and 115 AD. He was arrested, taken into military custody, and taken from Syria across Asia Minor to Rome. In Rome he would be executed, being torn apart by wild beasts. It is on this journey that he wrote the letters that we have in our possession today. Continue reading

John Owen on Preaching the Gospel to those whom Christ did not die for

This is part 5 of a series of blog posts examining the arguments John Owen makes for and against a limited/particular atonement in his extensive work on the subject: The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. 

John Owen was well aware of the arguments against limited atonement regarding the preaching of the gospel. Particularly that the gospel, preached to the non-elect (or reprobate), was vain and useless. Opponents make this claim, Owen rightly admits, because it asks people to believe something that was not true; specifically that Christ died for them.

our adversaries pretending that if Christ died not for all, then in vain are they exhorted to believe, there being, indeed, no proper object for the faith of innumerable, because Christ did not die for them; (Bk IV chap 1)

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Preaching to all is not in vain

Owen will argue that “this offer [of the gospel] is neither vain nor fruitless” when presented to those whom Christ did not die for. Why, you might be asking, should I accept Owen’s premise.

And if any ask, What it is of the mind and will of God that is declared and made known when men are commanded to believe for whom Christ did not die?

Owen provides several reasons in answer to the question (his words in italic).

  1. every man may conclude his own duty, which is to believe in Christ even if it is not God’s purpose to do, or his decree that it should be done
  2. every man may know the sufficiency of salvation that is in Jesus Christ to all that believe on him
  3. every man may know the certain, infallible, inviolable connection that is between faith and salvation (or put more simply that salvation is conditioned on faith)
  4. every man may know that whosoever performs the one [faith] shall surely enjoy the other [salvation]

Continue reading