Was St. Ignatius a student of St. John?

Was he? I think I’ve read on some sites that he was, but on others I’ve read that he was likely a student of St. John.

So do we know for sure?

I don’t know that its positive but probable as his time line and St Johns seem to intersect. It seems many sights use this New Advent link as a reference. Perhaps there is something concrete I have missed though.


My understanding was that St. Polycarp was taught directly by St. John the Evangelist, and that St. Ignatius was a friend of St. Polycarp. That Smyrna under St. Polycarp was the only Church mentioned in the Apocalypse in which no fault was found.

From the Cath. Encyc.:

From the Roman Church, representing all the churches, the writer then passes on to two Churches, that of Smyrna, in which, in the person of Polycarp, the sub-Apostolic Age had been carried down to a time still within living memory, and the Church of Ephesus, where, in the person of St. John, the Apostolic Age had been prolonged till “the time of Trajan”. Of Polycarp he says, “he was not only taught by the Apostles, and lived in familiar intercourse with many that had seen Christ, but also received his appointment in Asia from the Apostles as Bishop in the Church of Smyrna”. He then goes on to speak of his own personal acquaintance with Polycarp, his martyrdom, and his visit to Rome, where he converted many heretics. He then continues, "there are those who heard him tell how John, the disciple of the Lord, when he went to take a bath in Ephesus, and saw Cerinthus within, rushed away from the room without bathing, with the words ‘Let us flee lest the room should fall in, for Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within’. Yea, and Polycarp himself, also, when on one occasion Marcion confronted him and said ‘Recognise us’, replied, ‘Ay, ay, I recognise the first-born of Satan’ ".

Polycarp wrote of sitting at the foot of John the Apostle, hearing his voice and learning directly from him.


So Polycarp-Smyrna 69-AD was the hearer of the Apostle, same as who one of the seven letters is addressed by Ignatius as mentioned.

Polycarp- Letter to the Philippians is preserved and from his hand. It dates between the time immediately before St Ignatius arrived in Rome (ca 110-AD) and at the end of Tragan’s reign (AD-118)

His letter is the cover letter to the St Ignatius letters which Polycarp forwarded to the Philippians, the earlier date is considered most accurate.

Here’s the letter’s there is actually two with chapter 13 and 14 being in regards to above, and 1-12 in the text tradition date at 135-AD


Irenaeus mentions Polycarp in Adv. Haer., III.3.4.

But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true.

Irenaeus also mentions Polycarp in his letter to Florinus. fragment preserved by Eusebius is his history of the Church.

These opinions, Florinus, that I may speak in mild terms, are not of sound doctrine; these opinions are not consonant to the Church, and involve their votaries in the utmost impiety; these opinions, even the heretics beyond the Church’s pale have never ventured to broach; these opinions, those presbyters who preceded us, and who were conversant with the apostles, did not hand down to thee. For, while I was yet a boy, I saw thee in Lower Asia with Polycarp, distinguishing thyself in the royal court, and endeavouring to gain his approbation. For I have a more vivid recollection of what occurred at that time than of recent events (inasmuch as the experiences of childhood, keeping pace with the growth of the soul, become incorporated with it); so that I can even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and discourse-his going out, too, and his coming in-his general mode of life and personal appearance, together with the discourses which he delivered to the people; also how he would speak of his familiar intercourse with John, and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord; and how he would call their words to remembrance. Whatsoever things he had heard from them respecting the Lord, both with regard to His miracles and His teaching, Polycarp having thus received [information] from the eye-witnesses of the Word of life, would recount them all in harmony with the Scriptures.

Irenaeus also mentions Polycarp in his letter to Pope Victor.


Thank you for the replies!

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