Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch (about 100 a.d.)
Ignatius is a prisoner chained to Roman guards and taken to Rome to face the wild beasts in the arena because of his testimony as a Christian. On the way Christians hear the news and come to meet him and offer their support. While on his journey Ignatius writes letters to churches and individuals. Copies of seven were preserved. In these letters certain themes recur. He is deeply concerned for the unity of the church. He urges the believers to “stay united and pray for one another.” He also emphasizes the important role of the bishop in the local church. The church is to be “as closely tied to the bishop as the strings to a harp.”
Ignatius urges that the believers in their love for him do not interfere and try to get him released. He understandably has his self-doubts and fears he may falter as he faces the end. So he wants it to be over without delays. His martyrdom will mean not defeat but going to the presence of the Lord. “Let me be fodder for wild beasts–that is how I can get to God,” he exclaimed at the beginning of the quote above. The great Chrysostom called him a “soul seething with the divine eros.” Bishop Ignatius to the Ephesians has a more modest estimate of himself, writing, ” I am only beginning to be a disciple, so I address you as my fellow students.” He met the wild beasts and his death at Rome under the reign of emperor Trajan (AD 98-117).