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The Epistle of Polycarp to the Smyrnaeans

The Epistle of Polycarp to the Smyrnaeans

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Published by Kelvin Wilson

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Published by: Kelvin Wilson on Jun 28, 2012
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12/02/2012

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1
THE EPISTLE OF POLYCARP TO THE
SMYRNAEANS
PROLOGUEhe church of God which so- journeth at Smyrna to theChurch of God which so- journeth in Philomelium and to allthe brotherhoods of the holy anduniversal Church sojourning inevery place; mercy and peace andlove from God the Father and ourLord Jesus Christ be multiplied.CHAPTER 1
1
We write unto you, brethren, anaccount of what befell those thatsuffered martyrdom and especiallythe blessed Polycarp, who stayedthe persecution, having as it wereset his seal upon it by his martyr-dom. For nearly all the foregoingevents came to pass that the Lordmight show us once more an exam-ple of martyrdom which is conform-able to the Gospel
2
For he lingered that he might bedelivered up, even as the Lord did,to the end that we too might be im-itators of him, not lookingonly tothat which concerneth ourselves, butalso to that which concerneth ourneighbors. For it is the office of true and steadfast love, not only todesire that oneself be saved, but allthe brethren also.CHAPTER 2
1
Blessed therefore and noble areall the martyrdoms which have tak-en place according to the will of God (for it behoveth us to be veryscrupulous and to assign to God thepower over all things).
2
For who could fail to admire theirnobleness and patient endurance andloyalty to the Master? seeing thatwhen they were so torn by lashesthat the mechanism of their fleshwas visible even as far as the in-ward veins and arteries, they en-dured patiently, so that the verybystanders had pity and wept; whilethey themselves reached such apitch of bravery that none of themuttered a cry or a groan, thus show-ing to us all that at that hour themartyrs of Christ being torturedwere absent from the flesh, or ratherthat the Lord was standing by andconversing with them.
3
And giving heed unto the grace of Christ they despised the tortures of this world, purchasing at the cost of one hour a release from eternal pu-nishment. And they found the fire of their inhuman torturers cold: forthey set before their eyes the escapefrom the eternal fire which is neverquenched; while with the eyes of their heart they gazed upon the goodthings which are reserved for thosethat endure patiently, things whichneither ear hath heard nor eye hathseen, neither have they entered intothe heart of man, but were shown bythe Lord to them, for they were nolonger men but angels already.
4
And in like manner also thosethat were condemned to the wildbeasts endured fearful punishments,being made to lie on sharp shellsand buffeted with other forms of manifold tortures, that the devilmight, if possible, by the persis-tence of the punishment bring themto a denial; for he tried many wiles
T
 
SMYRNAEANS
2
against them.CHAPTER 3
 1
But thanks be to God; for He ve-rily prevailed against all. For theright noble Germanicus encouragedtheir timorousness through the con-stancy which was in him; and hefought with the wild beasts in a sig-nal way. For when the proconsulwished to prevail upon him and badehim have pity on his youth, he usedviolence and dragged the wild beasttowards him, desiring the morespeedily to obtain a release fromtheir unrighteous and lawless life.
2
So after this all the multitude,marvelling at the bravery of theGod-beloved and God-fearingpeople of the Christians, raised acry, 'Away with the atheists; letsearch be made for Polycarp.'CHAPTER 4
 1
But one man, Quintus by name, aPhrygian newly arrived from Phry-gia, when he saw the wild beasts,turned coward. He it was who hadforced himself and some others tocome forward of their own free will.This man the proconsul by much en-treaty persuaded to swear the oathand to offer incense. For this causetherefore, brethren, we praise notthose who deliver themselves up,since the Gospel doth not so teachus.CHAPTER 5
 1
Now the glorious Polycarp at thefirst, when he heard it, so far frombeing dismayed, was desirous of remaining in town; but the greaterpart persuaded him to withdraw. Sohe withdrew to a farm not far dis-tant from the city; and there hestayed with a few companions,doing nothing else night and day butpraying for all men and for thechurches throughout the world; forthis was his constant habit.
2
And while praying he falleth intoa trance three days before his ap-prehension; and he saw his pillowburning with fire. And he turned andsaid unto those that were with him:'It must needs be that I shall beburned alive.'CHAPTER 6
 1
And as those that were in searchof him persisted, he departed toanother farm; and forthwith theythat were in search of him came up;and not finding him, they seized twoslave lads, one of whom confessedunder torture;
2
for it was impossible for him tolie concealed, seeing that the verypersons who betrayed him werepeople of his own household. Andthe captain of the police, whochanced to have the very name, be-ing called Herod, was eager to bringhim into the stadium, that he him-self might fulfill his appointed lot,being made a partaker with Christ,while they
 — 
his betrayers
 — 
underwent the punishment of Judashimself.CHAPTER 7
 1
So taking the lad with them, onthe Friday about the supper hour,the gendarmes and horsemen wentforth with their accustomed arms,hastening as against a robber. Andcoming up in a body late in theevening, they found the man himself in bed in an upper chamber in a cer-tain cottage; and though he mighthave departed thence to another
 
SMYRNAEANS
3
place, he would not, saying, Thewill of God be done.
2
So when he heard that they werecome, he went down and conversedwith them, the bystanders marvel-ling at his age and his constancy,and wondering how there should beso much eagerness for the apprehen-sion of an old man like him. The-reupon forthwith he gave orders thata table should be spread for them toeat and drink at that hour, as muchas they desired. And he persuadedthem to grant him an hour that hemight pray unmolested;
3
and on their consenting, he stoodup and prayed, being so full of thegrace of God, that for two hours hecould not hold his peace, and thosethat heard were amazed, and manyrepented that they had come againstsuch a venerable old man.CHAPTER 8
 1
But when at length he brought hisprayer to an end, after rememberingall who at any time had come in hisway, small and great, high and low,and all the universal Churchthroughout the world, the hour of departure being come, they seatedhim on an ass and brought him intothe city, it being a high Sabbath.
2
And he was met by Herod thecaptain of police and his father Ni-cetes, who also removed him totheir carriage and tried to prevailupon him, seating themselves by hisside and saying, 'Why what harm isthere in saying, Caesar is Lord, andoffering incense', with more to thiseffect, 'and saving thyself?' But heat first gave them no answer. Whenhowever they persisted, he said, 'Iam not going to do what ye counselme.'
3
Then they, failing to persuadehim, uttered threatening words andmade him dismount with speed, sothat he bruised his shin, as he gotdown from the carriage. And with-out even turning round, he went onhis way promptly and with speed, asif nothing had happened to him, be-ing taken to the stadium; there beingsuch a tumult in the stadium that noman's voice could be so much asheard.CHAPTER 9
 1
But as Polycarp entered into thestadium, a voice came to him fromheaven; 'Be strong, Polycarp, andplay the man.' And no one saw thespeaker, but those of our peoplewho were present heard the voice.And at length, when he was broughtup, there was a great tumult, forthey heard that Polycarp had beenapprehended.
2
When then he was brought beforehim, the proconsul enquired whetherhe were the man. And on his con-fessing that he was, he tried to per-suade him to a denial saying, 'Haverespect to thine age,' and otherthings in accordance therewith, as itis their wont to say; 'Swear by thegenius of Caesar; repent and say,Away with the atheists.' Then Poly-carp with solemn countenancelooked upon the whole multitude of lawless heathen that were in the sta-dium, and waved his hand to them;and groaning and looking up to hea-ven he said, 'Away with the athe-ists.'
3
But when the magistrate pressedhim hard and said, 'Swear the oath,and I will release thee; revile theChrist,' Polycarp said, 'Fourscoreand six years have I been His ser-

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