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April 28, 2011

The Influential Church Leaders: The Apostolic Fathers

The church was tested by fire because of the heresy and the persecution that occurred during the early church. And just like in any test, God raises men and women who would help carry the gospel to their generation. This blog is dedicated to some of the great men of our faith:


These are the men characterized by their close relationship with the apostles of the Bible.

1. Clement of Rome was the apostle Paul’s fellow worker mentioned in Philippians 4:3

3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Clement is best known for his epistle to the Corinthians.

One story about Clement is that he was put to death by being tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea. Accordingly, he is often depicted with an anchor, and many churches in port towns intended to minister chiefly to mariners are named for him.

The Epistle of Clement To the Corinthians (also called I Clement) can be found in collections of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, such as the Penguin Paperback Early Christian Writings, translated by Maxwell Staniforth. The letter is commonly dated around 96 Ad, but recently an earlier date has been suggested.

2. Ignatius of Antioch was a pupil of John, and the bishop of Antioch. Trajan sentenced him to be thrown to the lions at Rome. On his way to Rome, he wrote important letters to the churches.

Saint Ignatius’s most famous quotation, however, comes from his letter to the Romans:

I am writing to all the Churches and I enjoin all, that I am dying willingly for God’s sake, if only you do not prevent it. I beg you, do not do me an untimely kindness. Allow me to be eaten by the beasts, which are my way of reaching to God. I am God’s wheat, and I am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts, so that I may become the pure bread of Christ.— Letter to the Romans

3. Polycarp was a disciple of John. Arrested as an old man, he was sentenced to be burned at stake. When given an opportunity to recant he responded, ” Eighty six years I have served Him and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

ps: Polycarp, can I just say when I grow up I want to be just like you!!!