Ignatius To The Ephesians Pt 4

We continue our discussion of Ignatius’ epistle to the Ephesians with our fourth installment today. For a little context, see the last post, part 3 in the series.

2:1 Now concerning my fellow servant Burrhus, your deacon according to God, who is blessed in all things, I pray that he will remain (a deacon) unto your honor and (the honor of) the bishop. And indeed Crocus, worthy of God and of you, whom I received as an example of your love, he refreshed me in all things. May the Father of Jesus Christ also refresh him, together Onesimus and Burrhus and Euplos and Phrontonis, through whom I have seen the love of all of you. 2:2 May I always have joy in you, if I am worthy. Therefore it is fitting in every way to glorify Jesus Christ who glorified you, in order that being prepared in one submission, submitting to the bishop and to the presbytery, you might be sanctified in every way.

There are a few very interesting things about this paragraph in terms of Greek. First is the ως + infinitive construction in 2:1. What does ως...αναψυξαι mean? See my extended discussion of this in another post. In short, it is a request of sorts, "...may the Father...refresh." Working out that one took some time. Second, note the plethora of πας in this chapter. In just these two verses is occurs six times, always as the object of a preposition (εν πασιν, κατα παντα - thrice, δια παντος) except once (δι ων παντας υμας κατα αγαπην ειδον). The first, εν πασιν, is a typical way of saying "in all things." The second, κατα παντα, is an example of the distributive use of κατα (see BDAG B.1.d). I have always found that usage of κατα interesting, perhaps because it is so different from the typical "according to" definition we learn for κατα + accusative. The third, δια παντος, is temporal, and is another way of saying "always".

Leaving the world of grammar and idiom, what is interesting here? Well, I find four things really interesting. First, the honor of deacons. Deacons often get a bad rap, especially in baptist churches. In some cases it is wholly justified. But, ideally, if you have a deacon, you should be able to say this about them if they are really worthy of being a deacon: "worthy of God and of you". In a certain sense no one is worthy of God, but in another sense God makes us worthy. A deacon must be one who is considered worthy to be in that office.

Second, I find here at least a four-fold division within the church in Ephesus: bishop, elders, deacons, and laity. We do not yet get much of a mention of the function of these, but they are at least recognized here. The only "function" is that of deacon Burrhus, an "example of your love."

Third, not unlike Rom 8, Ignatius speaks of the believers as being glorified. This seems odd in the sense that we obviously still all sin. But in a sense we are already raised up (Eph 2:6), are we not? This is sometimes very hard to remember.

The last sentence is really a transition into chapter 3, where Ignatius begins his discussion of obedience to the bishop in earnest. Do note here, though, that he points out submission to both bishop and elders, but not deacons. If the function of the deacon is to serve, not lead the church, so this makes sense. This idea would probably be considered quite radical in some baptist churches :)