An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


(c. 35-c. 115). Bishop, patristic theologian, and martyr. Very little is known about the life of Ignatius. He was the second, or possibly third, Bishop of Antioch. He was serving as Bishop of Antioch by the year 100. Ignatius is the most significant of the Apostolic Fathers. He is remembered for his contributions to the development of the episcopate and the threefold orders of deacon, presbyter, and bishop; his contributions to the development of the eucharist; his orthodox defenses against heresies, especially Ebionism and Docetism; and his enthusiastic martyrdom. He is one of the most important figures in the early church, a period when the church was developing from its infant NT roots and moving in the direction of an organized, defined, and catholic religion. Ignatius was the first person to use the term “Catholic Church” and the first advocate of episcopacy. More than any other person he stressed the role of a single bishop, or monoepiscopacy. Prior to his time, each church was governed by groups of bishops or elders (presbyters), terms which were virtually synonymous. He insisted that there should be one bishop who presided over presbyters and deacons. Ignatius argued that a strong episcopate was needed for the order and unity of the church, and for the defense and continuity of church doctrine. He was arrested and taken to Rome for execution. On the way he wrote seven letters, which contain much information about the early church. He died in Rome. Ignatius is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on Oct. 17. See Ebionites; see Docetism.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.