When we come to Ignatius, we come an odd-ball textual situation. All of his letters exist in at least two different version, and in the case of three of his letters, three or versions (counting the Syriac, Armenian, and Arabic translations). With the fairly recent discovery of these other versions, however, it has become clearer (as it was not in the days of Roberts/Donaldson) that the shorter version published in Schaff’s set is the more reliable, and that the longer versions contain interpolations from other letters that are now usually regarded as not from Ignatius. Take a look at the excellent article on the subject in the Anchor Bible Dictionary, the important part of which was published here. The Anchor Bible entry is at the bottom of the page. The links at the bottom of the first list apply to the Ephesian letter. Unfortunately, no Greek exists on that website. This website, however, has it in a beautiful Greek font. For all you diehards (who may constitute an entire category of, like, 1 person, or may even be a null set!) who want it in the PG series, all of Ignatius’ letters are in volume 5. The Ephesian letter starts on column 643.
The letter to the Ephesians is not terrifically exciting. It consists mainly of praise of the Ephesians alongside exhortations. The outline is as follows (I will be quoting only the shorter version): I. Praise of the Ephesians (chapters 1-4); II. Praise of and exhortation to unity (chapters 5-6); III. False teachers (chapters 7-10); IV. Various exhortations (chapters 11-15); V. False teachers again (chapters 16-17); VI. The Gospel (chapters 18-19); VII. Conclusion (chapters 20-21).
Some interesting points: I liked this quotation from chapter 14: “None of these things is hid from you, if ye perfectly possess that faith and love towards Christ Jesus which are the beginning and the end of life. for the beginning is faith, and the end is love.” Also, his stern rebuke against false doctrine bears repeating today when we tend to think of false doctrine as being of almost no consequence whatsoever: “Do not err, my brethren. those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If, then, those who do this as respects the flesh have suffered death, how much more shall this be the case with any one who corrupts by wicked doctrine the faith of God, for which Jesus Christ was crucified! Such an one becoming defiled [in this way], shall go away into everlasting fire, and so shall every one that hearkens unto him” (the entirety of chapter 16). False doctrine is wickedness. I wonder how many people today would even think that, much less say it!
A very puzzling statement occurs in chapter 18. The context does not seem very enlightening, either. The statement itself goes thus: “For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God, conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost. He was born and baptized, that by His passion He might purify the water” (end of chapter 18). What in the world does “purify the water” mean? One would assume that baptism, correctly administered, doesn’t need purifying! Does it refer to child-bearing? But how then would His passion purify child-bearing? In the Greek, it looks like “the water” could actually be the subject (being a neuter noun, it could be either accusative or nominative case), and not the object of the verb “purify.” Thus it would be “by His passion, the water might purify,” which would be a lot clearer. Both the Lightfoot and Roberts-Donaldson translate “the water” as accusative case (object of the verb).
One final quotation, which might give too much to the Eucharist, but is still a beautiful way of describing it: “Breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ” (end of chapter 20). I just love that phrase “the medicine of immortality” to describe the Lord’s Supper.