Apostolic Fathers


Christian writers of the 1st and 2nd centuries who are known, or are considered, to have had personal relations with some of the Apostles, or to have been so influenced by them that their writings may be held as echoes of genuine Apostolic teaching. The term virtually embraces all the remains of primitive Christian literature antedating the great apologies of the 2nd century and forming the link of tradition that binds these latter writings to those of the New Testament. Chief in importance among the Apostolic Fathers are the three 1st-century bishops

There are also the two 1st-century writers

By extension of the term to comprise the extant extra-canonical literature of the sub-Apostolic age, it is made to include

  • the Shepherd of Hermas, the New Testament prophet who was probably a brother of Pope Pius I
  • fragments of the Expositions of the Discourses of the Lord, by Papias
  • the Letter to Diognetus, by an unknown author

The period of time covered by these writings extends from the last two decades of the 1st century through the first half of the 2nd century. They are generally epistolary in form and were written for the greater part for the guidance of individuals or local churches in some passing need.

MLA Citation

  • “Apostolic Fathers”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 27 October 2018. Web. 17 January 2021. <>