ANF – Papias

I was disappointed in the very rudimentary and fragmentary material we have from Papias, which  consists primarily of other writers quoting from his writings, while his writings themselves have been lost to history (at least so far).

Papias is believed to have lived from the latter part of the first century to perhaps the middle of the second century, with alternate sources indicating his death in 155 AD or 163 AD, martyred either in Rome or Pergamus.  He is said to have known St. John the Apostle personally, and to have heard firsthand from others who were direct witnesses of the life of Jesus.  He served as Bishop of Hierapolis (in modern Turkey).  He is quoted by Eusebius and Irenaeus, who indicate that Papias composed a 5-volume work, Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord.

What little we know of Papias’ writings is due to Eusebius and Irenaeus quoting from them.  Some of the more interesting aspects of these brief mentions are as follows:

  • Papias claims (or claims Jesus said) there are various levels of divine reward depending on the faith and lives of Jesus’ followers.  Some will go to heaven and dweell in Jesus’ presence, others will go to Paradise, and others will go to the divine city (likely as per Revelation 21-22).  He ties this to Jesus’ teachings of different fruitfulness levels in Matthew 13 and Mark 4
  • Papias relates stories about Philip (Acts 8) as told by his daughters
  • Papias teaches a literal thousand year reign of Christ
  • Papias affirms Mark’s Gospel was the teaching of Peter, and that Matthew aimed his Gospel at the Jewish people

It is difficult to make sense of some of these claims  without actually being able to read Papias himself.  The church has long argued against millenial interpretations of Scripture, so it would be interesting to see the context which Papias places his understandings of these things.



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