I know that the bishop obtained a ministry (which is for the whole community) not by his own efforts or through people or out of vanity but in the love of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I am impressed by his forbearance; he accomplishes more through silence than others do by talking. For he is attuned to the commandments as a harp to its strings. Therefore my soul blesses his godly mind (well aware that it is virtuous and perfect), his steadfast character, and his lack of anger, as one living with all godly gentleness. Therefore, as children of the light of truth, flee from division and false teaching. Where the shepherd is, there follow like sheep. For many seemingly trustworthy wolves attempt, by means of wicked pleasure, to take captive the runners in God’s race; but in your unity they will find no opportunity. Stay away from the evil plants, which are not cultivated by Jesus Christ, because they are not the Father’s planting. Not that I found any division among you: instead, I found that there had been a purification. For all those who belong to God and Jesus Christ are with the bishop, and all those who repent and enter into the unity of the church will belong to God, so that they may be living in accordance with Jesus Christ. Do not be misled, my brothers and sisters: if any follow a schismatic, they will not inherit the kingdom of God. If any hold to alien views, they disassociate themselves from the passion. Take care, therefore, to participate in one Eucharist (for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup that leads to unity through his blood; there is one altar, just as there is one bishop, together with the council of presbyters and the deacons, my fellow servants), in order that whatever you do, you do in accordance with God. My brothers and sisters, I am overflowing with love for you, and greatly rejoice as I watch out for your safety—yet not I, but Jesus Christ. Though I am in chains for his sake, I am all the more afraid, because I am still imperfect. But your prayer to God will make me perfect, so that I may attain the fate by which I have received mercy, since I have taken refuge in the gospel as the flesh of Jesus and in the apostles as the council of presbyters of the church.
Letter of Ignatius of Antioch To The Church in Philadelphia