Death, Christian attitude towards

I write to all the churches, and I bid all men know, that of my own free will I die for God, unless you should hinder me. I exhort you, be you not an unseasonable kindness to me. Let me be given to the wild beasts, for through them I can attain unto God. I am God's wheat, and I am ground by the teeth of wild beasts that I may be found pure bread [of Christ]. Rather entice the wild beasts, that they may become my sepulcher and may leave no part of my body behind, so that I may not, when I am fallen asleep, be burdensome to any one. Ignatius: to the Romans (A.D. 35-105) ch.4

[For] I write to you in the midst of life, yet lusting after death. My lust has been crucified, and there is no fire of material longing in me, but only water living speaking in me, saying within me, Come to the Father…I desire no longer to live after the manner of men. Ignatius: to the Romans (A.D. 35-105) ch.7

And why then have I delivered myself over to death, unto fire, unto sword, unto wild beasts? But near to the sword, near to God; in company with wild beasts, in company with God. Only let it be in the name of Jesus Christ, so that we may suffer together with Him. Ignatius: to the Smyrnaeans (A.D. 35-105) ch.4

…When you shall despise the apparent death which is here on earth, when you shall fear the real death, which is reserved for those that shall be condemned to the eternal fire that shall punish those delivered over to it unto the end. Then shall you admire those who endure for righteousness' sake the fire that is for a season, and shall count them blessed when you perceive that fire ... Letter to Diognetus (A.D. 125-200) ch.10

And if you also read these words in a hostile spirit, you can do no more, as I said before, than kill us; which indeed does no harm to us, but to you and all who unjustly hate us, and do not repent, brings eternal punishment by fire. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.178

For we do not fear death, since it is acknowledged we must surely die; and there is nothing new, but all things continue the same in this administration of things; and if satiety overtakes those who enjoy even one year of these things, they ought to give heed to our doctrines, that they may live eternally free both from suffering and from want. But if they believe that there is nothing after death, but declare that those who die pass into insensibility, then they become our benefactors when they set us free from sufferings and necessities of this life, and prove themselves to be wicked, and inhuman, and bigoted. For they kill us with no intention of delivering us, but cut us off that we may be deprived of life and pleasure. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.182

But lest some one say to us, "Go then all or you and kill yourselves, and pass even now to God, and do not trouble us," I will tell you why we do not so, but why, when examined, we fearlessly confess…. If, then, we all kill ourselves, we shall become the cause, as far as in us lies, why no one should be born, or instructed in the divine doctrines, or even why the human race should not exist; and we shall, if we so act, be ourselves acting in opposition to the will of God. But when we are examined, we make no denial, because we are not conscious of any evil, but count it impious not to speak the truth in all things, which also we know is pleasing to God, and because we are also now very desirous to deliver you from an unjust prejudice. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.189

But neither should we be put to death, nor would wicked men and devils be more powerful than we, were not death a debt due by every man that is born. Wherefore we give thanks when we pay this debt. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.192

For I myself, too, when I was delighting in the doctrines of Plato, and heard the Christians slandered, and saw them fearless of death, and of all other things which are counted fearful, perceived that it was impossible that they could be living in wickedness and pleasure. For what sensual or intemperate man, or who that counts it good to feast on human flesh, could welcome death that he might be deprived of his enjoyments, and would not rather continue always the present life, and attempt to escape the observation of the rulers; and much less would he denounce himself when the consequence would be death? Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.192

So that, when we arrive at the end of life, we may ask the same petition from God, who is able to turn away every shameless evil angel from taking our souls. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.252

Wherefore also He drove him out of Paradise, and removed him far from the tree of life, not because He envied him the tree of life, as some venture to assert, but because He pitied him, [and did not desire] that he should continue a sinner for ever, nor that the sin which surrounded him should be immortal, and evil interminable and irremediable. But He set a bound to his [state of] sin, by interposing death, and thus causing sin to cease, putting an end to it by the dissolution of the flesh, which should take place in the earth, so that man, ceasing at length to live to sin, and dying to it, might begin to live to God. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 457

Die to the world, repudiating the madness that is in it. Live to God, and by apprehending Him lay aside your old nature. We were not created to die, but we die by our own fault. Our free-will has destroyed us; we who were free have become slaves; we have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God; we ourselves have manifested wickedness; but we, who have manifested it, are able again to reject it. Tatian (A.D.160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.69-70

And, therefore, God invented death for our sakes, that He might destroy sin, lest rising up in us immortals, as I said, it should be immortal. When the apostle says, “for I know that in me - that is, in my flesh - dwells no good thing,” by which words he means to indicate that sin dwells in us, from the transgression, through lust; out of which, like young shoots, the imaginations of pleasure rise around us. Methodius (A.D. 311) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.6 pg. 372