Who were the Apostolic Fathers?

Bishop's Encyclopedia of Religion, Society and Philosophy

Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 4.13.16 PMImage: Ancient Christian Studies, Shawn White, 2017

The Apostolic Fathers were members of the early church who bridged the New Testament era with the beginning of the Christian era following the lives of the apostles. Some are known by name while others are anonymous. Their works date to the late 1st and early 2nd centuries, and provide valuable historical insight into the Christian movement, heretical teachings, and persecutions facing the Christian community during the period. Some of them were acquainted and taught by the apostles of Christ, notably the three principle Apostolic Fathers: Clement of Rome (30-100 AD), Ignatius of Antioch (35-108 AD), and Polycarp of Smyrna (69-155 AD).

Clement of Rome was the third bishop of the church in Rome thought to be consecrated by the disciple Peter. It is possible, although not certain, that he is the Clement mentioned in the New Testament text of Philippians 4:3 (if…

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