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Wrong Translation

The letter from Ignatius in all likelihood is translated incorrectly. The 19th century bible scholar John Kitto translated part of the letter as the "Lord's 'Way'" not the "Lord's 'Day.'"

Thus it appears to be arguing to honor the Sabbath as the Lord would have done so. Not as the religious teachers of the day taught. I would say if anything the letter by Ignatius does not one way or another resolve the Sabbath issue.

(Also, I would remove any reference made to Barnabas. Most scholars I have read argue that a gnostic penned his writings)

Comments for Wrong Translation

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Dec 28, 2010
One final thing ...
by: Paul Pavao

A couple additional points:

_Sabbath to Sunday_ isn't a very reliable source for what's in a manuscript. It's a dishonest book. The person who wrote it either never read the pre-Nicene Christians himself or, if he did, then he's purposely trying to deceive people. Simple as that.

You'll have to give specific examples of Ignatius being pro-law. Just linking to his letter to the Smyrneans won't do, as he's pretty negative about keeping the Jewish law in his other letters, saying such things as, "It is absurd to profess Christ and Judaize" (Magnesians 10).

Dec 28, 2010
Missing the Point
by: Paul Pavao

The Epistle of Barnabas is not being used as "an authority to justify a Biblical position."

It is being used as evidence for a historical position, which is that the 2nd century church--certainly Gentiles, but apparently also converted Jews--did not keep a physical Sabbath, but a spiritual one.

As for your comment that it is unreliable because it teaches baptismal regeneration, then every Christian writing up to and including the 16th century is unreliable because they all teach that ... without exception. Hmm. Now that I think about it, it makes me wonder if maybe OUR interpretation of the verses on baptism might be wrong, since we have to explain away almost every one of them, while the Christians of the first 16 centuries didn't have to explain anything--the verses on baptism already said those things at face value.

Dec 27, 2010
Reply to comment
by: Anonymous

Even if the Epistle of Barnabas contains some orthodox teachings in it, its overall unreliability should prevent it from being used as any sort of authority to justify a biblical position. Examples of its unreliability include its teaching that water baptism saves the soul (, and its rejection from NT canon due to the gnostic undertones that can be seen through its use of numerology. (
But if you can overlook those things then feel free to use it with impunity.

As for the letter from Ignatius. I was incorrect when I said that the most likely translation was the "Lord's Way" because the most likely translation is actually "Lord's life." In fact, in the actual Greek the word for "day" is not even in the letter ( By removing the word "day", which is not even present in the original Greek, the letter could be argued to be suggesting that the Sabbath should not be kept according to the traditions of men, but rather in that manner in which God Himself kept it. This is more likely the case considering that in other letters Ignatius showed a high regard for the Law of Moses.(
At any rate, I do not think the letter should be used to argue for or against the Sabbath being on Saturday considering the questions surrounding it.

Dec 26, 2010
Thank you, but ...
by: Paul Pavao

I am glad for the feedback. I do like having discussion happening, but ...

Changing Ignatius' words to the Lord's "way" wouldn't change anything. It would still say:

"If those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in observance of the Lord's way, on which also our life has sprung up again by him and by his death ... how shall we be able to live apart from him?"

If you put "way" in there, Ignatius is still saying that even the converted Jews are not keeping the Sabbath. Worse, it makes the passage nonsense, because there's a "on which" that refers back. It's not on the Lord's way that our life sprung up, but on on the Lord's day.

"Day" makes sense; "way" doesn't; and as pointed out, even if it did make sense Ignatius would still be saying the same thing.

Finally, the Letter of Barnabas is the antithesis of 2nd century gnosticism, emphasizing that the God of the Jews sent his Son to bring in a new way. Gnostics rejected the God of the Jews. If the Letter of Barnabas is gnostic, it's remarkably orthodox in its teachings! (I've read it repeatedly; it's like all other writings of its time.)

Further, its inclusion in the Codex Sinaiticus with the Shepherd of Hermas after the NT shows that the church of the 4th century considered it orthodox. It was considered Scripture in the church in Alexandria in the late 2nd and 3rd centuries.

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