Sometime during the second decade of the second century CE, Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, was conveyed under guard to Rome where he expected to leave this world through the mouths of the beasts in the arena. Along his journey he stopped at Philadelphia and Smyrna. At each stop he received visitors from a number of churches in the area. He, in turn, wrote letters to those churches and to the church at Rome. The letters of Ignatius have been the subject of scholarly investigation for over a century. The authenticity of the middle recension of those letters is almost universally acknowledged. These letters have been studied for the light they can shed on church structure in Asia Minor at the beginning of the second century, the theology of Ignatius within its historical context, and the distinctive personality of Ignatius. One aspect of these documents which has implications for all other interests has not been satisfactorily explained, namely, how Ignatius understood his own letter writing activity. What gave Ignatius the audacity to interfere in the life of churches outside of Syria, and what kind of authority did he expect the admonitions contained in his letters to carry?