Polycarp (c. 155-56) - “How can I blaspheme against my King and Saviour?”
To the angel of the church in Smyrna write…. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. Revelation 2:8a, 10
Polycarp was a disciple of the apostle John, and became bishop to the Christians in Smyrna, a city on the western coast of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), whose persecution was prophesied in the Bible (Revelation 2:8-11).
He was betrayed at the end of his life and given into the hands of the Roman authorities, who were in that period of history extremely hostile to Christians. Polycarp was brought before the Roman proconsul, who asked him to renounce his faith. He replied, “For 86 years I have been His servant and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme against my King and Saviour?”
He was bound, stabbed with a sword and burnt at the stake. Polycarp’s martyrdom was the first to be regularly commemorated by the early Church.
Let us therefore become imitators of His endurance; and if we should suffer for His name’s sake, let us glorify Him. For He gave this example to us in His own person, and we believed this.
Polycarp (martyred c. 155-56)
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
Originally appeared on Isaac Publishing