St. Ignatius of Antioch was the third bishop of Antioch after St. Peter and St. Evodius, having been appointed by Peter himself. He was a disciple of St. John the Apostle along with his friend St. Polycarp. On his way to his martyrdom in Rome in 107 he wrote letters to various churches along the way. He will be our guest blogger this day.
What it comes to is that we ought not just to have the name of Christians, but to be so in reality; not like some persons who will address a man as bishop, but in practice take no notice of him. I do not see how people of that kind can be acting in good conscience, seeing that the meetings they hold can have no sort of valid authority. (Magnesians)
Thus at the time I was with you, I cried out, speaking with a loud voice - the very voice of God - 'Be loyal to your bishop and clergy and deacons'. Some who were there suspected me of saying this because I already knew of certain dissensions among you; but He whose prisoner I am will bear me witness that no such information ever reached me from human lips. No; that was the preaching of the Spirit itself, telling you never to act in independence of the bishop, to keep your bodies as a temple of God, to cherish unity and shun divisions, and to be imitators of Jesus Christ as He was of the Father. (Philadelphians)
As children of the light of truth, therefore, see that you hold aloof from all disunion and misguided teaching; and where your bishop is, there follow him like sheep. There are plausible wolves in plenty seeking to entrap the runners in God's race with their perilous allurements; but so long as there is solidarity among you, they will find no room for themselves. Have nothing to do with such poisonous weeds; they are none of the Father's planting, nor have they Jesus Christ for their husbandman. Every man who belongs to God and Jesus Christ stands by his bishop. (Philadelphians)
Abjure all factions, for they are the beginning of evils. Follow your bishop, every one of you, as obediently as Jesus Christ followed the Father. Obey your clergy too, as you would the Apostles; give your deacons the same reverence that you would to a command from God. Make sure that no step affecting the church is ever taken without the bishop's sanction. (Smyrnaeans)