Chap. XII. — Praise of the Ephesians.

“Ye are initiated into the mysteries of the Gospel with Paul, the holy. they martyred. inasmuch he was a “chosen vessel”.

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I know both who I am, and to whom I write. I am the very insignificant Ignatius, who have my lot with those who are exposed to danger and condemnation. But ye have been the objects of mercy, and are established in Christ. I am one delivered over [to death], but the least of all those that have been cut off for the sake of Christ, “from the blood of righteous Abel” (Mat_23:35) to the blood of Ignatius. Ye are initiated into the mysteries of the Gospel with Paul, the holy, the martyred, inasmuch as he was “a chosen vessel;” (Act_9:15) at whose feet may I be found, and at the feet of the rest of the saints, when I shall attain to Jesus Christ, who is always mindful of you in His prayers.

~Ignatius- Epistle to Ephesians Book II Vol. 1

XI. — These Things Are Worthy to Be Known and Believed.

XI. The revelation was only taught to those who were worthy to hear them and those who couldn’t understand the mysteries were the unbelievers. The revelation is the tradition of the Apostles and grace is the things that the Word revealed to them.
XII. Knowledge without true doctrine is referenced to “Knowledge puffed up, but love edified”, so to the Early Church love is true doctrine. They make a clear distinction between knowledge and revelation.

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I do not speak of things strange to me, nor do I aim at anything inconsistent with right reason; but having been a disciple of the Apostles, I am become a teacher of the Gentiles. I minister the things delivered to me to those that are disciples worthy of the truth. For who that is rightly taught and begotten by the loving Word, would not seek to learn accurately the things which have been clearly shown by the Word to His disciples, to whom the Word being manifested has revealed them, speaking plainly [to them], not understood indeed by the unbelieving, but conversing with the disciples, who, being esteemed faithful by Him, acquired a knowledge of the mysteries of the Father? For which reason He sent the Word, that He might be manifested to the world; and He, being despised by the people [of the Jews], was, when preached by the Apostles, believed on by the Gentiles. ([Comp. 1Ti_3:16.]) This is He who was from the beginning, who appeared as if new, and was found old, and yet who is ever born afresh in the hearts of the saints. This is He who, being from everlasting, is to-day called the Son; through whom the Church is enriched, and grace, widely spread, increases in the saints. Furnishing understanding, revealing mysteries, announcing times, rejoicing over the faithful. Giving to those that seek, by whom the limits of faith are not broken through, nor the boundaries set by the fathers passed over. Then the fear of the law is chanted, and the grace of the prophets is known, and the faith of the gospels is established, and the tradition of the Apostles is preserved, and the grace of the Church exults; which grace if you grieve not, you shall know those things which the Word teaches, by whom He wills, and when He pleases. For whatever things we are moved to utter by the will of the Word commanding us, we communicate to you with pains, and from a love of the things that have been revealed to us.

 


 

XII. — The Importance of Knowledge to True Spiritual Life.

 

When you have read and carefully listened to these things, you shall know what God bestows on such as rightly love Him, being made [as ye are] a paradise of delight, presenting in yourselves a tree bearing all kinds of produce and flourishing well, being adorned with various fruits. For in this place the tree of knowledge and the tree of life have been planted; but it is not the tree of knowledge that destroys — it is disobedience that proves destructive. Nor truly are those words without significance which are written, how God from the beginning planted the tree of life in the midst of paradise, revealing through knowledge the way to life, and when those who were first formed did not use this [knowledge] properly, they were, through the fraud of the Serpent, stripped naked. For neither can life exist without knowledge, nor is knowledge secure without life.

 

Wherefore both were planted close together. The Apostle, perceiving the force [of this conjunction], and blaming that knowledge which, without true doctrine, is admitted to influence life, declares, “Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth.” For he who thinks he knows anything without true knowledge, and such as is witnessed to by life, knows nothing, but is deceived by the Serpent, as not loving life. But he who combines knowledge with fear, and seeks after life, plants in hope, looking for fruit. Let your heart be your wisdom; and let your life be true knowledge inwardly received. Bearing this tree and displaying its fruit, thou shalt always gather in those things which are desired by God, which the Serpent cannot reach, and to which deception does not approach; nor is Eve then corrupted, but is trusted as a virgin; and salvation is manifested, and the Apostles are filled with understanding, and the Passover of the Lord advances, and the choirs are gathered together, and are arranged in proper order, and the Word rejoices in teaching the saints, — by whom the Father is glorified: to whom be glory forever. Amen.

~Mathetes (Disciple of Apostle Paul)- Epistle to Diognetus Vol. 1

I. — Pearls Before Swine.

Clement gives an account of how the Apostle Peter would witness to a crowd of mixture. Concerned for throwing his pearls before swine, which are people of unworthy ears to hear these teachings, he uses a form of speech that only those who were worthy to hear it could understand the teaching. The church guarded the revelation dearly.

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Meantime Peter, rising at the crowing of the cock, and wishing to rouse us, found us awake, the evening light still burning; and when, according to custom, he had saluted us, and we had all sat down, he thus began. “Nothing is more difficult, thy brethren, than to reason concerning the truth in the presence of a mixed multitude of people. For that which is may not be spoken to all as it is, on account of those who hear wickedly and treacherously; yet it is not proper to deceive, on account of those who desire to hear the truth sincerely. What, then, shall he do who has to address a mixed multitude? Shall he conceal what is true? How, then, shall he instruct those who are worthy? But if he set forth pure truth to those who do not desire to obtain salvation, he does injury to Him by whom he has been sent, and from whom he has received commandment not to throw the pearls of His words before swine and dogs, (Mat_7:6) who, striving against them with arguments and sophisms, roll them in the mud of carnal understanding, and by their barking’s and base answers break and weary the preachers of God’s word. Wherefore I also, for the most part, by using a certain circumlocution, endeavor to avoid publishing the chief knowledge concerning the Supreme Divinity to unworthy ears.” Then, beginning from the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, he briefly and plainly expounded to us, so that all of us hearing him wondered that men have forsaken the truth, and have turned themselves to vanity.

~Clement- Book III Vol. 8

X. - The Opinion of the Apostles on Veiling the Mysteries of the Faith.

Grace was the Father revealing the mysteries to the apostles and that is what they instructed the perfect with. The mysteries in the old testament were hid until the time of the apostles for them to unveil it. This revealed knowledge wasn’t for everyone, only for the sincere in heart. There was also knowledge that was passed down from the apostles that they didn’t write down as the Hebrews did the same thing. This is called apostolic tradition as referenced in 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

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Rightly, therefore, the divine apostle says, “By revelation the mystery was made known to me (as I wrote before in brief, in accordance with which, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets.” (Eph_3:3-5) For there is an instruction of the perfect, of which, writing to the Colossians, he says, “We cease not to pray for you, and beseech that ye may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye may walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing; being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might according to the glory of His power.” (Col_1:9-11) And again he says, “According to the disposition of the grace of God which is given me, that ye may fulfil the word of God; the mystery which has been hid from ages and generations, which now is manifested to His saints: to whom God wished to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations.” (Col_1:25-27) So that, on the one hand, then, are the mysteries which were hid till the time of the apostles, and were delivered by them as they received from the Lord, and, concealed in the Old Testament, were manifested to the saints. And, on the other hand, there is “the riches of the glory of the mystery in the Gentiles,” which is faith and hope in Christ; which in another place he has called the “foundation.” (Col_1:27) And again, as if in eagerness to divulge this knowledge, he thus writes: “Warning every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man (the whole man) perfect in Christ;” not every man simply, since no one would be unbelieving. Nor does he call every man who believes in Christ perfect; but he says all the man, as if he said the whole man, as if purified in body and soul. For that the knowledge does not appertain to all, he expressly adds: “Being knit together in love, and unto all the riches of the full assurance of knowledge, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God in Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge.” (Col_2:2, Col_2:3) “Continue in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving.” (Col_4:2) And thanksgiving has place not for the soul and spiritual blessings alone, but also for the body, and for the good things of the body. And he still more clearly reveals that knowledge belongs not to all, by adding: “Praying at the same time for you that God would open to us a door to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am bound; that I may make it known as I ought to speak.”

(Col_4:3, Col_4:4) For there were certainly, among the Hebrews, some things delivered unwritten.

“For when ye ought to be teachers for the time,” it is said, as if they had grown old in the Old Testament, “ye have again need that one teach you which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. For everyone that partaketh of milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe, being instructed with the first lessons. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, who by reason of use have their senses exercised so as to distinguish between good and evil. Wherefore, leaving the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection.” (Heb_5:12, Heb_5:13, Heb_5:14, Heb_6:1) Barnabas, too, who in person preached the word along with the apostle in the ministry of the Gentiles, says, “I write to you most simply, that ye may understand.” Then below, exhibiting already a clearer trace of gnostic tradition, he says, “What says the other prophet Moses to them? Lo, thus saith the Lord God, enter ye into the good land which the Lord God swore, the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and ye received for an inheritance that land, flowing with milk and honey. (Exo_33:1; Lev_20:24. S.) What says knowledge? Learn, hope, it says, in Jesus, who is to be manifested to you in the flesh. For man is the suffering land; for from the face of the ground was the formation of Adam. What, then, does it say in reference to the good land, flowing with milk and honey? Blessed be our Lord, brethren, who has put into our hearts wisdom, and the understanding of His secrets. For the prophet says, “Who shall understand the Lord’s parable but the wise and understanding, and he that loves his Lord?” It is but for few to comprehend these things. For it is not in the way of envy that the Lord announced in a Gospel, “My mystery is to me, and to the sons of my house;” placing the election in safety, and beyond anxiety; so that the things pertaining to what it has chosen and taken may be above the reach of envy. For he who has not the knowledge of good is wicked: for there is one good, the Father; and to be ignorant of the Father is death, as to know Him is eternal life, through participation in the power of the incorrupt One. And to be incorruptible is to participate in divinity; but revolt from the knowledge of God brings corruption. Again, the prophet says: “And I will give thee treasures, concealed, dark, and unseen; that they may know that I am the Lord.” (Isa_14:3) Similarly David sings: “For, lo, thou hast loved truth; the obscure and hidden things of wisdom hast Thou showed me.” (Ps_51:6, LXX) “Day utters speech today” (Psa_19:2, Psa_19:3) (what is clearly written), “and night to night proclaims knowledge” (which is hidden in a mystic veil);

“and there are no words or utterances whose voices shall not be heard” by God, who said, “Shall one do what is secret, and I shall not see him?”

 

Wherefore instruction, which reveals hidden things, is called illumination, as it is the teacher only who uncovers the lid of the ark, contrary to what the poets say, that “Zeus stops up the jar of good things, but opens that of evil.” “For I know,” says the apostle, “that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ;” (Rom_15:29) designating the spiritual gift, and the gnostic communication, which being present he desires to impart to them present as “the fullness of Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery sealed in the ages of eternity, but now manifested by the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God, made known to all the nations, in order to the obedience of faith,” that is, those of the nations who believe that it is. But only to a few of them is shown what those things are which are contained in the mystery.

 

Rightly then, Plato, in the Epistles, treating of God, says: “We must speak in enigmas; that should the tablet come by any mischance on its leaves either by sea or land, he who reads may remain ignorant.” For the God of the universe, who is above all speech, all conception, all thought, can never be committed to writing, being inexpressible even by His own power. And this too Plato showed, by saying: “Considering, then, these things, take care lest some time or other you repent on account of the present things, departing in a manner unworthy. The greatest safeguard is not to write, but learn; for it is utterly impossible that what is written will not vanish.”

 

Akin to this is what the holy Apostle Paul says, preserving the prophetic and truly ancient secret from which the teachings that were good were derived by the Greeks: “Howbeit we speak wisdom among them who are perfect; but not the wisdom of this world, or of the princes of this world, that come to naught; but we speak the wisdom of God hidden in a mystery.” (1Co_2:6, 1Co_2:7) Then proceeding, he thus inculcates the caution against the divulging of his words to the multitude in the following terms: “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even to babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, not with meat: for ye were not yet able; neither are ye now able. For ye are yet carnal.” (1Co_3:1-3)

 

If, then, “the milk” is said by the apostle to belong to the babes, and “meat” to be the food of the full-grown, milk will be understood to be catechetical instruction – the first food, as it were, of the soul. And meat is the mystic contemplation; for this is the flesh and the blood of the Word, that is, the comprehension of the divine power and essence. “Taste and see that the Lord is Christ,” it is said. For so He imparts of Himself to those who partake of such food in a more spiritual manner; when now the soul nourishes itself, according to the truth-loving Plato. For the knowledge of the divine essence is the meat and drink of the divine Word. Wherefore also Plato says, in the second book of the Republic, “It is those that sacrifice not a sow, but some great and difficult sacrifice,” who ought to inquire respecting God. And the apostle writes, “Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us;” (1Cor_5:7) – a sacrifice hard to procure, in truth3, the Son of God consecrated for us.

~Clement- Stromata Book V Vol. 2