Ignatius knew persecution, as did the flock of believers he shepherded in Antioch. His steadfast faith against the howls of the adversary stirred the people in his church to strengthen their own inner being against the day of agony.
Ignatius is one of the few early Christian leaders considered to be an Apostolic father of the church in that he had a direct connection with the Apostles of Jesus, differentiating him from fathers of the church that were one or more generations removed from the Apostles.
He is a unique link in the Christian heritage because he lived and had his greatest influence during that formative moment in church history when the Apostles had all died and the church was in the hands of the next generation of believers, tying it to future centuries of Christians.
Facing death, he is reported to have said: “I am God’s grain, to be ground between the teeth of wild beasts, so that I may become a holy loaf for the Lord.”