Apostolic Fathers of the Church

Catholic Christians believe that the promise of the Spirit of Truth to guide believers in truth is found in the constant faith of the Church preserved in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. The term "Apostolic Fathers" applies to certain disciples and successors of the twelve apostles. In a more restricted sense, the term is applied to a group of Greek-language writers who were among the martyrs and major figures of the 1st and 2nd centuries in the Christian Church.

Clement I, St. (Clement of Rome)

4th Bishop of Rome
Place and dates
r. 92 - 101
I Clement or Letter to the Corinthians (c. 96): earliest piece of literature outside the NT historically attested; addressed disputes in the Church at Corinth;
II Clement (a sermon)(c. 140): Clementine authorship disputed

Ignatius of Antioch, St.

Martyr for the faith
Disciple of John the Evangelist
Condemned to die by wild beasts in Rome
Brought from Antioch to Rome and wrote seven letters to churches and individuals along the way
Place and dates
d. 110
Letter to Ephesians
Letter to Magnesians
Letter to Tralles
Letter to Philadelphians
Letter to Smyrnans
Letter to Polycarp of Smryna
Letter to Romans
These contain warnings against heretical doctrines; contain detailed summaries of doctrines; and a picture of Church organization with bishops, presbyters (elders) and deacons
First to stress Virgin Birth and to use the term "catholic church"

Polycarp of Symrna, St.

Received a visit and letter from Ignatius
Represented the Church of Asia Minor in meetings with Pope Anicetus
Dating of Easter
A teacher of Irenaeus
Knew John the Evangelist and other apostles
Was a disciple of John the Evangelist
Place and dates
Polycarp to the Philipians
Martyrdom of Polycarp (about him)

Unknown Author of the Didache

Place and dates
(Syria) 70-110?
Didache ("Teaching"):
A compendium of moral precepts, instructions on organization of church communities, liturgical worship and regulation.
It contains oldest Eucharistic prayer, directions on Baptism, fasting, prayer, treatment of bishops, deacons, prophets


Surname of Joseph, a member of the early Christian church in Jerusalem (Acts 4:36)
Companion of Paul
Did missionary work with Mark (Acts 15:39)
Place and dates
c. 130
Letter of Barnabas
Allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament

Papias of Hierapolis

Contemporary of Polycarp
Knew of a collection of the "sayings of the Lord" to have been written in Aramaic or Hebrew by Matthew
Place and dates
(Phrygia) 120?
Five Books of Exegeses of the Dominical Oracles:
Quoted by Irenaeus
Witness to the existence of Jewish Christianity


Little known
Place and dates
(Rome) 140?
The Shepherd: a vivid description of early Christianity

Previous Chapter Previous Section Next Section Next Chapter

Beginning of Chapter Table of Contents Book Home Page

By Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl.
Catholic Biblical Apologetics, © Copyright 1985-1997, Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture texts are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Email comments to pdflan@catholicapologetics.org

Last Updated: January 3, 1997