Summary: The Romans consider the Christians of their day to be Atheists. This sermon considers Polycarp and his stand.
“Though you do not see Him, you believe, and in believing there is unspeakable joy.”
“He who raised Him [Jesus] from the dead will raise us, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved.”
“The person that has love is far from all sin.”
“Forsaking…false doctrines, let us return to the word which has been handed down to us from the beginning.”
“Keep looking forward in prayer, and persevering in fasting; beseeching in supplications the all-seeing God to lead us away from temptation.”
Let’s consider Polycarp:
-Polycarp was born around 52 A.D. His name is Greek; therefore he is believed to have been a Gentile.
-Polycarp start living for God about the age of 18 and died by martyrdom about the age of 104.
-Irenaeus (170 A.D.) wrote: “For when I was a boy, I saw thee in lower Asia with Polycarp...I can describe the very place in which the Blessed Polycarp used to sit when he discoursed ... his personal appearance ... and how he would describe his intercourse with John and with the rest who had seen the Lord, and how he would relate their words.” (Eusebius. The History of the Church. Book V, Chapter XX, verses 5-6. Digireads, Stilwel (KS), p. 112).
-Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John (John is believed to have lived as late as 100/102 A.D.).
-Polycarp became the bishop/pastor of Smyrna.
- Eusebius who wrote that Polycarp was faithful to the apostolic traditions (circa 330 A.D.).
- Ignatius wrote to Polycarp, bishop of the Smyrnaeans - ”So approving am I of your godly mind, which is as it were, grounded upon an unmovable rock, that my praise exceeds all bounds… Stand firm, like an anvil…Grace will be…always…with Polycarp.”(Ignatius: Letter to Polycarp. In Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers, Greek Texts and English Translations. Baker Books, Grand Rapids (MI), 2004, p. 194-201).
-Around 155 A.D., Polycarp went to Rome to fight against various heresies that were there.
- Valentinus of Rome, who Polycarp denounced, is believed to have been the first affiliated with Christianity to teach the Trinitarian concept of three hypostasis or make any clear statement of ‘equality’ regarding three persons of God.
-Polycarp wrote: “…who shall believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ…” (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Chapter 12 modified by B. Thiel to correct omission in translation).
- Polycarp’s Adversaries said when he was about to be martyred:
"This is the teacher of Asia, the father of the Christians, the destroyer of our gods, who teaches many not to sacrifice or worship!" (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 12:2. In Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers, Greek Texts and English Translations. Baker Books, Grand Rapids (MI), 2004, p.236).
-In 156 A.D. while in Rome Polycarp got wind that he was to be brought before the Roman Proconsul to stand in judgment for being a Christian (leader), he did not try to flee.