Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter

By COGwriter

Who was Polycarp of Smyrna? Why should you know about him? If this faithful Christian leader were alive today, would he support the any of the Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox churches or instead be part of a group like the Continuing Church of God?

This article will try to help answer those questions and more. In addition to using the commonly known ancient sources, this article also including information found in the discovery of the Harris Fragments, which many who have heard of Polycarp are unfamiliar with.

This article contains materials that will shock some, so please be like the Bereans of old and "search the scriptures" and valid historical sources to demonstrate what if what is stated here is true (cf. Acts 17:10-11).

Here is a link to a YouTube video sermon you can watch about him titled Polycarp of Smyrna: Why Christians should know more about him. Here is a link to a free book on Christian history titled Continuing History of the Church of God.

Background on Polycarp

Based upon information related to when he apparently died and certain ancient records, it appears that Polycarp was born around 52 A.D. His names is Greek, hence he is believed to have been a Gentile.

From the records of history, we know that Polycarp lived, and later was martyred, in Asia Minor. This area, at the time, was basically an area dominated by Greeks and Greek speakers.

Irenaeus of Lyon c. 170 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).

Papias was a Church of God leader who lived in the late first century until apparently the early second century A.D. Statements from Papias tie the Apostle John to Polycarp:

Now testimony is borne to these things in writing by Papias, an ancient man, who was a hearer of John, and a friend of Polycarp, in the fourth of his books. (Fragments of Papias, From the Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord)

The Apostle John is believed to have lived as late as 100/102 A.D. Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John. Polycarp became the bishop/pastor of Smyrna from apostolic anointing. He led the Churches of God, in at least the Asia Minor area, for decades in the second century.

Around 155 A.D., Polycarp went to Rome to fight against various heresies that were there.

Polycarp himself lived until his was martyred around 156 A.D. Although the Church of Rome and Eastern Orthodox consider him to be a saint, as this article will help prove, he held doctrines much more consistent with those of the Continuing Church of God. Polycarp was not a traditional Greco-Roman leader, but a Church of God leader.

Polycarp is also unique among any claimed to be a direct successor to any of the apostles:

Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians contains a lot of information about what he believed and taught (Note: the linked version of Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians has been corrected by me due to omissions certain 19th century translators made). There was also a letter written about his martyrdom by the Smyrnaeans which gives some insight into him. He is also discussed in writing by such early writers as Ignatius who write an entire letter to him (circa 108 A.D.), Irenaeus who claimed Polycarp was faithful (circa 170 A.D.), Polycrates who claimed that Polycarp was faithful (circa 190 A.D.), Tertullian who claimed that the true Christian church could be traced through him (circa 200 A.D.), and Eusebius who wrote that Polycarp was faithful to the apostolic traditions (circa 330 A.D.).

Here is some of what Ignatius wrote:

Ignatius...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…Do not let those who appear to be trustworthy yet who teach strange doctrines baffle you.  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).

Ignatius...to the Church of God...which is at Smyrna, in Asia...See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles...(Ignatius.  Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Chapters 1,8. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0109.htm>)

The Ephesians from Smyrna (whence I also write to you), who are here for the glory of God, as you also are, who have in all things refreshed me, salute you, along with Polycarp, the bishop of the Smyrnæans. (Ignatius.  Letter to the Magnesians, Chapter 15. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0105.htm>)

My soul be for yours and theirs whom, for the honour of God, you have sent to Smyrna; whence also I write to you, giving thanks unto the Lord, and loving Polycarp even as I do you. (Ignatius.  Letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 21. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0104.htm>)

So, unlike many in the early Church of God, Polycarp has several mentions in letters in surviving literature while he was alive. He also had several mentions in early literature after his death.

From Irenaeus and Tertullian

Irenaeus, considered to be a saint by Church of Rome and Eastern Orthodox, claimed to have met Polycarp and recorded this about Polycarp (c. 180 A.D.):

But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna…always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time...There is also a very powerful Epistle of Polycarp written to the Philippians, from which those who choose to do so, and are anxious about their salvation, can learn the character of his faith, and the preaching of the truth (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 3, Verse 4).

Notice that Irenaeus is claiming that Polycarp was appointed bishop (pastor/overseer) of the Church in Smyrna by the apostles in Asia (which would most likely have been John and Philip and perhaps some others) and that his Letter to the Philippians taught the true faith. Notice also that Irenaeus is claiming that there was a list of men who have succeeded Polycarp until the late 2nd century and that they held to the teaching of the apostles. There is simply no reliable record of such transfer occurring in Rome or the other so-called "sees" of the Eastern Orthodox. Thus the only documented (and essentially universally accepted) apostle to “bishop” transfer of leadership for the 1st and 2nd centuries that continued until at least the end of the 2nd century was through Polycarp of Smyrna (more on "apostolic succession" can be found in the article simply titled Apostolic Succession).

Notice that we have from this early Roman Catholic source that Polycarp and his successors in Asia Minor (at least until the time that Irenaeus wrote this, around 180 A.D.) practiced the true teachings that they learned from the apostles (it should be noted that these churches had several doctrines that significantly differ from those currently held by the Roman Church, some of which are documented in the article Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome).

This is also later (maybe 20 years later) essentially confirmed by Tertullian:

Anyhow the heresies are at best novelties, and have no continuity with the teaching of Christ. Perhaps some heretics may claim Apostolic antiquity: we reply: Let them publish the origins of their churches and unroll the catalogue of their bishops till now from the Apostles or from some bishop appointed by the Apostles, as the Smyrnaeans count from Polycarp and John, and the Romans from Clement and Peter; let heretics invent something to match this (Tertullian. Liber de praescriptione haereticorum. Circa 200 A.D. as cited in Chapman J. Transcribed by Lucy Tobin. Tertullian. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

It is probable that Tertullian was aware of bishops of Rome prior to Clement (as Irenaeus wrote prior to him), as well as bishops of Smyrna prior to Polycarp, but that Tertullian felt that the apostolic succession could only have gone through Polycarp (who he listed first) or Clement. It must be understood that Tertullian's writing above, according The Catholic Encyclopedia, is one of the most important writings regarding the Catholic Church. Specifically the Catholic Church teaches:

Among the writings of the Fathers, the following are the principal works which bear on the doctrine of the Church: ST. IRENÆUS, Adv. Hereses in P.G., VII; TERTULLIAN, De Prescriptionibus in P. L... (Joyce G.H. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. The Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus Catholics themselves must recognize the importance of these statements by Tertullian (as well as Irenaeus)--there were two churches with proper apostolic claims as far as he was concerned. And not just Rome--but one in Asia Minor that had been led by the Apostle John through Polycarp and his descendants.

Interestingly, although he is not in the list of Bishops of Rome (since he was not Roman, that is logical), Polycarp is mentioned in the article on titled Hierarchy of the Early Church in The Catholic Encyclopedia:

A. Mention of Bishops by Polycrates

In a synodal letter written by Polycrates of Ephesus about the year 190 this bishop, sixty-five years of age, speaks of seven of his relatives who had been bishops before him. Besides these he mentions Polycarp and Papirius of Smyrna, Thraseas of Eumenea, Sagaris of Laodicea and Melito of Sardes (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccles.", v, 24, 2 sq.) (Borkowski S. De Dunin. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Hierarchy of the Early Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Even The Catholic Encyclopedia recognize that the Smyrnaeans were a faithful church:

Smyrna...Christianity was preached to the inhabitants at an early date. As early as the year 93, there existed a Christian community directed by a bishop for whom St. John in the Apocalypse (i, II; ii, 8-11) has only words of praise…There were other Christians in the vicinity of the city and dependent on it to whom St. Polycarp wrote letters (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl.", V, xxiv). When Polycarp was martyred…the Church of Smyrna sent an encyclical concerning his death to the Church of Philomelium and others (Vailhe’ S. Transcribed by Lucia Tobin. Smyrna. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Many of these quotes, suggest, to me at least, that the Roman Catholics at least indirectly acknowledge that there was a hierarchy of faithful succession in the church in Asia Minor.

The Book of Revelation may have been written around A.D. If, Polycarp would have been the Church of God leader in charge of Smyrna when the Apostle John recorded the following words of Jesus:

8 "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, 'These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 9 "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death."' (Revelation 2:8-11)

Therefore, while the words were also prophetic, they commended the Church of God under the human leadership of Polycarp as faithful. Partially because of this, all true Christians should follow the teachings of Polycarp as he followed those of Jesus, the Bible, and the Apostles (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:11).

Of the seven Churches of Revelation 2 & 3, only the Church of God in Smyrna and the Church of God in Philadelphia received no condemnation from Jesus, just praise, caution, and exhortation.

The "Apostolic Fathers" and Polycarp

The term "apostolic fathers" is used by Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants alike to describe writings believed to have been written by those who knew personally or nearly personally, one or more of the original apostles. These writings probably begin after John finished with the Book of Revelation, and continued through about 156 A.D. (the last document probably being the letter of The Martyrdom of Polycarp or the Epistle to Diognetus--which could have been much later). These documents essentially were preserved by supporters of the Roman Catholic Church and it is unclear if they are exactly as originally written.

Traditionally, within the Greco-Roman churches, the 23rd of February is the "Feast of Polycarp." The idea of the festival of Polycarp then is based on a belief of some that Polycarp was martyred on February 23rd. Some Protestants also consider February 23 as the feast of Polycarp.

Here is what the Roman Church teaches about the writings known as the "Apostolic Fathers":

The Apostolic Fathers Christian writers of the first and second 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. Though restricted by some to those who were actually disciples of the Apostles, the term applies by extension to certain writers who were previously believed to have been such, and virtually embraces all the remains of primitive Christian literature antedating the great apologies of the second century, and forming the link of tradition that binds these latter writings to those of the New Testament...The period of time covered by these writings extends from the last two decades of the first century for the Didache (80-100), Clement (c. 97), and probably Pseudo-Barnabas (96-98), through the first half of the second century, the approximate chronology being Ignatius, 110-117; Polycarp, 110-120; Hermas, in its present form, c.150; Papias, c.150. Geographically, Rome is represented by Clement and Hermas; Polycarp wrote from Smyrna, whence also Ignatius sent four of the seven epistles which he wrote on his way from Antioch through Asia Minor; Papias was Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia; the Didache was written in Egypt or Syria; the letter of Barnabas in Alexandria (Peterson J.B. Transcribed by Nicolette Ormsbee. The Apostolic Fathers. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

What is most interesting is that although the letter often ascribed to Clement mentions Apollos and Cephas (Peter, Chapter 47--which only says that Paul wrote about Cephas and Apollos), Paul (many times), and some messengers (Chapter 65), he never mentions Linus, Cletus, (the so-called 'bishops of Rome before him) nor anyone who became known as "the bishop of Rome" after him.

Although Ignatius mentions some local bishops in his letters, he also never mentions Linus, Cletus, or anyone who became "the bishop of Rome"--and his most praise is for Polycarp of Smyrna (see Ignatius' Letter to Polycarp).

Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians is one of the writings of the so-called Apostolic Fathers, but he also never mentions Linus, Cletus, or anyone who became known as the bishop of Rome--but it does mention "the Church of God."

The letter titled The Martyrdom of Polycarp is basically all about the killing of Polycarp who had been in "the Church of God which sojourns in Smyrna," and it too never mentions Linus, Cletus, or anyone who became known as the bishop of Rome. And this is true about all the other "Apostolic Father" writings--they never mention anyone who became known as the bishop of Rome.

In other words, all the currently generally accepted writings by Roman Catholics from the period from the death of John, to shortly after Polycarp's martyrdom (100-156 A.D.), never mention any alleged "bishop of Rome" by name or by title. However, they repeatedly do mention and praise Polycarp.

Did Polycarp Have the Complete Bible?

Although many who do not believe they should live by every word of God claim that the Christian church did not have the complete Bible until towards the end of the fourth century, many of those that do believe the Bible do realize that the early Church had the entire Old and New Testaments. This is discussed in detail in the articles the Old Testament Canon and the New Testament Canon.

But for this article's sake, let me state that the Apostle John was apparently the last of the original apostles to die, as well as the last one to write any books of the Bible. John died in Ephesus of Asia Minor. It makes complete sense that he would pass the knowledge of what books constituted the Bible to those he taught. Polycarp of Smyrna (another city in Asia Minor) was trained directly (according to most sources, some say it was indirectly) by the Apostle John. And the Church in Asia Minor had the complete Bible.

How do we know?

There are several reasons, as well as historical evidence.

Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians (circa 108-135 A.D.) is written in the manner of one quite familiar with the New Testament as it starts out similar to some of Paul's writings. And according to the portion of Charles Leach's book, Our Bible: How We Got It (1898) where he discusses Polycarp's epistle,

In the whole Epistle, which occupies but ten minutes to read, we find the language of Matthew, Luke, John, and the Acts of the Apostles; of the Epistle of Peter; and of Paul's Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Thessalonians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Timothy, and Titus. Here, then, we get a link in our chain which connects us to the actual writers of the New Testament, and assures us, beyond all possibility of doubt, that the contents of our New Testament were in the hands of the men who lived before the last of the Apostles were dead.

This has been confirmed by other scholars as well (see Holmes MW, ed. The Apostolic Fathers Greek Texts and English Translations. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 3rd printing 2004, pp. 202-204). Actually, an annotated version of Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians lists scriptural references that I put together is at the second half of the link to Epistle to the Philippians--and I believe it shows that Polycarp either quoted from or alluded to all 27 books of the New Testament.

The idea that Polycarp of Asia Minor had the complete canon is not unique to me. Other scholars, such as the late James Moffatt, have recognized that the church in Asia Minor had the canon first:

Was not the Apostolic Canon of scripture first formed...in Asia Minor? Was not Asia Minor ahead of Rome in the formation of the Apostolic, Episcopal, ministry?...The real thinking upon vital Christianity for centuries was done outside the Roman Church (Excerpt of James Moffatt's review, p.292. In: Bauer W. Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, 2nd ed. Sigler Press Edition, Mifflinown (PA), 1996).

(An article of related interest may be The New Testament Canon - From the Bible and History.)

Furthermore, notice that Polycarp wrote:

For I trust that ye are well versed in the Sacred Scriptures (Polycarp, Chapter XII. Letter to the Philippians. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

By writing that to the Philippians, Polycarp is confirming that they indeed must have actually had the scriptures (including the New Testament which he quotes extensively). And this seem to be an admonition for future Christians to be well-versed in them as well. To the best of my knowledge, other than certain heretical scholars, all non-Gnostic groups that profess Christianity accept the same books of the New Testament. The same books that Polycarp alluded and made reference to.

Notice a relatively recently found and translated ancient document (c. third century) that supports the view that Polycarp logically would have had the canon:

Polycarp...continued to walk [i]n the canons which he had learned from his youth from John the a[p]ostle. (Weidman, Frederick W.  Polycarp and John: The Harris Fragments and Their Challenge to Literary Traditions.  University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame (IL), 1999, pp. 43,44).

So, John is shown to have taught Polycarp. Notice that John passed the canons to Polycarp, this would seem to mean (at that time in history) the books of the Bible (John wrote the last several and would have known which of the other books were divinely inspired) and/or the way of real Christianity.

A colleague of Polycarp's was Melito of Sardis. Around 170 A.D. Melito has a writing in what has been titled FROM THE BOOK OF EXTRACTS where he lists the books in the Old Testament used by most Jews, Protestants, and those in the Churches of God (COGs) (the Roman and Orthodox Catholics use those same books as well, but have added others).

Hence between these writings, as well as the records from scripture (as documented in the articles the Old Testament Canon and the New Testament Canon), it is clear that Polycarp and those in Asia Minor had the complete Bible as those in the COGs and Protestants understand it.

What Did Polycarp Teach About the Duties of Elders/Pastors?

Polycarp wrote:

And let the presbyters be compassionate and merciful to all, bringing back those that wander, visiting all the sick, and not neglecting the widow, the orphan, or the poor, but always "providing for that which is becoming in the sight of God and man ; " abstaining from all wrath, respect of persons, and unjust judgment; keeping far off from . all covetousness, not quickly crediting [an evil re port] against any one, not severe in judgment, as knowing that we are all under a debt of sin. If then we entreat the Lord to forgive us, we ought also ourselves to forgive; for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God, and "we must all appear at the judgment-seat of Christ, and must every one give an account of himself." Let us then serve Him in fear, and with all reverence, even as He Himself has commanded us, and as the apostles who preached the Gospel unto us, and the prophets who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Lord [have alike taught us]. Let us be zealous in the pursuit of that which is good, keeping ourselves from causes of offence, from false brethren, and from those who in hypocrisy bear the name of the Lord, and draw away vain men into error (Polycarp, Chapter VI. Letter to the Philippians. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

It may be of interest to note that the term sacraments is not part of Polycarp's description (nor is it in the New Testament). This does not mean that elders and pastors did not baptize or perform marriages (which took a relatively small part of their time) for example, but does indicate that sacramental duties were not the focus of church leaders in the first and second centuries (more on this subject can be found in the article Duties of Elders/Pastors).

Easter and Polycarp

Easter per se was not observed by the second century Christians in Asia Minor, such as Polycarp. He and others observed Passover.

However, beginning with possibly the Roman Bishop Sixtus (there are no contemporaneous records, only a report 5-6 decades later written by Irenaeus), what is now called Easter began to be observed. First, it was apparently a change in date of Passover from the 14th of Nisan to a Sunday (other changes happened over time). This is believed to have originally happened in Rome because there was a rebellion by Jews and that any distancing between Jews and Christians seemed physically advantageous (at least to some in Rome).

Irenaeus claimed that Anicetus of Rome (who argued with Polycarp) was simply following previous Roman bishops, beginning with Sixtus, as Irenaeus around 180 A.D. wrote:

And the presbyters preceding Sorer in the government of the Church which thou dost now rule--I mean, Anicetus and Pius, Hyginus and Telesphorus, and Sixtus--did neither themselves observe it [after that fashion], nor permit those with them to do so (Irenaeus. FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST WRITINGS OF IRENAEUS. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc).

Around 155 A.D. Polycarp of Smyrna went to Rome to deal with various heretics there and he tried to persuade the bishop not to switch Passover to Easter Sunday. Irenaeus records this:

And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome in the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain other points…For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [in his own way], inasmuch as these things had been always observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetus to keep [the observance in his way], for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other; and Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the Church the celebration of the Eucharist, by way of showing him respect (Irenaeus. FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST WRITINGS OF IRENAEUS. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc).

Polycarp told what many now consider to have been “the pope” no.  This also shows that Rome did not have dominion over the faithful as many now act like that it did.  And while this also shows that Anicetus would not accept the authority of Polycarp who was appointed as Christian leader by the apostles, we in the Continuing Church of God do not consider that Anicetus was a saint, yet we and the Church of Rome do consider that Polycarp was one.

Over time, instead of being a holy day in memorial to Christ's sacrifice, the Greco-Roman Easter became a resurrection holiday for the Romans and those who followed their lead.

But Easter-Sunday was simply not part of the faith of the true second century Christians in Asia Minor, including Polycarp, as Polycrates testified. The last words of his response to Roman bishop Victor about changing the date of Passover to what became Easter Sunday was:

I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ' We ought to obey God rather than man.' (Polycrates. Letter to Victor. As quoted by Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 24).

More information is included in the article Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter?

From what appears to have happened in the mid-2nd century, Polycarp left Rome. And Polycarp was probably disgusted with Rome. This may be why he why or his associate Papias (Holmes, p. 560) is credited for being Irenaeus' source for items such as that the term 666 may mean Roman man (Irenaeus himself says he did the calculation based on what those who knew John said). Irenaeus wrote:

1. Such, then, being the state of the case, and this number being found in all the most approved and ancient copies [of the Apocalypse], and those men who saw John face to face bearing their testimony [to it]; while reason also leads us to conclude that the number of the name of the beast, [if reckoned] according to the Greek mode of calculation by the [value of] the letters contained in it, will amount to six hundred and sixty and six . . .

3. Lateinos (Lateinos) has the number six hundred and sixty-six; and it is a very probable [solution], this being the name of the last kingdom" (Irenaeus. Against Heresies. Book V, Chapter XXX, verses 1,3).

I do not believe that Polycarp was at all pleased with the Roman Bishop Anicetus when he left Rome as Irenaeus suggested earlier. I believe this was passed on the the leadership in Asia Minor which is why they sided with Polycrates against Bishop Victor on the Sunday Passover proposal. (More information can be found in the article Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome. Other articles of possible interest may be What Does Rome Actually Teach About Early Church History and Doctrines of Antichrist; Here is a link to a free book on Christian history titled Continuing History of the Church of God.)

Polycarp's position on the 'Easter Sunday" is markedly different from that of most Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox churches or instead is more consistent with that of the Continuing Church of God.

For more details, please see the article Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter?; there is also a detailed YouTube video available title Why Easter?

Polycarp was a Heretic Fighter

At risk of repeating statements that are in other portions of this article, since they are basically intended to stand alone, I would like to discuss Polycarp and his role in trying to stop heretics.

Polycarp was an old man when he finally visited Rome. It took months to get there from Smyrna at that time, and this would have been a physically difficult trip for Polycarp.

However, there were apparently so many heresies originating in Rome, that he felt that as the senior leader of the true Church, that he needed to personally try to deal with them. In the late 2nd Century, the Catholic historian Irenaeus recorded that the Bishops of Rome had problems with them and that both John and Polycarp strongly renounced the Gnostic heretics:

Valentinus came to Rome in the time of Hyginus, flourished under Pius, and remained until Anicetus. Cerdon, too…Marcion, then, succeeding him, flourished under Anicetus.

But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna…always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time -- a man who was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles... John, the disciple of the Lord…exclaiming, "Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within." And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, "Dost thou know me?" "I do know thee, the first-born of Satan" (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 4, Verse 3 and Chapter 3, Verse 4).

Valentinus, Cerinthus, and Marcion are considered by Catholics and others to have been Gnostic heretics, while Hyginus, Pius, and Anicetus were claimed bishops of Rome. Thus these quotes from Irenaeus show that the supposed Roman bishops did not have a higher leadership role than Polycarp of Smyrna had, because it apparently took the stature of the visiting Polycarp to turn many Romans away from the Gnostic heretics. The other reality is that according to Tertullian, it took the Church of Rome decades before they got rid of those heretics (Tertullian. The Prescription against Heretics, Chapter 30. Translated by Peter Holmes. Electronic Version Copyright © 2006 by Kevin Knight. All rights reserved), thus suggesting that Rome tolerated heresies much more than Polycarp did.

Cerinthus taught allegorizing of scripture, taught that non-biblical tradition was more important than scripture, blended Gnostic teachings with the Bible, implemented improper festivals, claimed to be an apostle, and claimed that angels gave him messages. Although the Apostle John denounced him, many of his teachings eventually found their way into the Church of Rome. More on Cerinthus can be found in the article Cerinthus: An early heretic.

Marcion was possibly the first heretic to attempt to do away with the Sabbath. Valentinus of Rome, who Polycarp denounced, who 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 alleged persons of God. But notice that the Church of Rome tolerated them both for decades, yet Polycarp denounced them.

Irenaeus also reported:

And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome in the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain other points…For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [in his own way], inasmuch as these things had been always observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetus to keep [the observance in his way], for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other; and Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the Church the celebration of the Eucharist, by way of showing him respect; so that they parted in peace one from the other, maintaining peace with the whole Church, both those who did observe [this custom] and those who did not Irenaeus. (FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST WRITINGS OF IRENAEUS. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc.).

Apparently Anicetus conceded enough (such as about Polycarp’s position on that and probably about Marcion—who Anicetus agreed was a heretic) that no recorded major ‘blowup’ between the two survived. It appears that Anicetus, tried to satisfy Polycarp to some degree, and tried to appear not to be a complete heretic.

But were the churches in Asia Minor and Rome truly in peace after that?

The Catholic monk Epiphanius wrote:

For long ago, even from the earliest days, the Passover was celebrated at different times in the church…In the time of Polycarp and Victor, the east was at odds with the west and they would not accept letters of commendation from each other (Epiphanius. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80), De Fide). Section VI, Verse 9,7. Translated by Frank Williams. EJ Brill, New York, 1994, p.411).

It appears likely that Polycarp, when he returned to Asia Minor, would have told the Christians there that he was successful in turning some away from heretics such as Marcion and Valentinus. He probably was so disgusted by his Roman experience that he let those in Asia Minor know that they should not receive doctrine or other instruction from any in Rome--he also specifically would not change Passover observance to Sunday. This seems to be confirmed by Polycrates' writings a few decades later.

What these writings in this section seem to show is that the aged Polycarp went to Rome to primarily deal with Gnostic heretics that claimed to be Christian. It was Polycarp, and no "bishop of Rome," who was successful in turning Christians away from these heretics. It was Polycarp, and no Roman bishop, who was the faithful "heretic fighter" in the second century.

Furthermore, Polycarp himself wrote that “many”(which likely included many in Rome) were following vain/false forms of Christianity:

“For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is antichrist,” and whosoever does not confess the testimony of the cross, is of the devil; and whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts, and says that there is neither a resurrection nor a judgment, he is the first-born of Satan. Wherefore, forsaking the vanity of many, and their false doctrines, let us return to the word which has been handed down to us from the beginning (Polycarp.  Letter to the Philippians, Chapter VII).

Like the Continuing Church of God, Polycarp apparently felt that the true church would be a “little flock” (Luke 12:32) or “remnant” (Romans 9:27; 11:5) since he warned about “the vanity of many.” Thus, it should be of little surprise that the true church would be small throughout history.

Sadly, most of "the many" who claim that Polycarp was a saint of their faith do not have the same teachings or practices that Polycarp did. Nor will they keep "the word which has been handed down to us from the beginning" (cf. Jude 3).

Polycarp Did Not Teach that the Holy Spirit Was God

Where did the idea of the Holy Spirit being one hypostasis of a trinity come from?

It did not come from Polycarp. It actually came from the famous heretic Valentinus in the early to mid 2nd century (note that Valentinus is considered to be a heretic by Catholics, Orthodox, Protestant, and Church of God adherents).

Here is what it is recorded that a one-time 4th century Catholic bishop named Marcellus of Ancyra wrote about Valentinus' writings, which appears to be discussing perhaps the earliest citation about the Holy Spirit extant (other than scriptural references or references that make no specific claims):

Now with the heresy of the Ariomaniacs, which has corrupted the Church of God...These then teach three hypostases, just as Valentinus the heresiarch first invented in the book entitled by him 'On the Three Natures'.  For he was the first to invent three hypostases and three persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he is discovered to have filched this from Hermes and Plato (Source: Logan A. Marcellus of Ancyra (Pseudo-Anthimus), 'On the Holy Church': Text, Translation and Commentary. Verses 8-9.  Journal of Theological Studies, NS, Volume 51, Pt. 1, April 2000, p.95).

Hence the idea of the Holy Spirit as one of three hypostasis, while it did appear in the 2nd century, was developed by a heretic.

Regarding that heretic, the Catholic historian Irenaeus (c. 180 A.D.) noted that Polycarp had to go to Rome to stop people from listening to his teachings:

To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time -- a man who was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles...(Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 3, Verse 4).

Also, Polycarp called the Father God and Jesus God, he never referred to the Holy Spirit that way (see Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians). Here is the only extant direct quote from Polycarp that clearly mentions the Holy Spirit:

I bless you because you have considered me worthy of this day and hour, that I might receive a place among the number of martyrs in the cup of your Christ, to the resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received among them in your presence today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as you have prepared and revealed beforehand, and have now accomplished, you who are the faithful and true God. For this reason, indeed for all things, I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly High-priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom to you with him and the Holy Spirit be glory both now and for the ages to come. Amen (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 14:2-3. In Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers, Greek Texts and English Translations. Baker Books, Grand Rapids (MI), 2004, p.239).

More historical and scriptural information on the Holy Spirit can be found in the article Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity?

More historical and scriptural information on the Godhead can be found in the article Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning.

Polycarp Was A 'Binitarian' Who Taught that the Father was God and that Jesus Was God

Polycarp was a binitarian (a type of Semi-Arian) as he taught that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, and also God and that the Father was God; but he did not teach that about the Holy Spirit.

Polycarp of Smyrna wrote:

But may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Son of God, and our everlasting High Priest, build you up in faith and truth, and in all meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, forbearance, and purity; and may He bestow on you a lot and portion among His saints, and on us with you, and on all that are under heaven, who shall believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ, and in His Father, who "raised Him from the dead (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).

For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is antichrist (Polycarp, Chapter VII. Letter to the Philippians. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

Him who died for us, and for our sakes was raised again by God from the dead (Polycarp, Chapter IX. Letter to the Philippians. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

These statements from Polycarp are consistent with the apparent positions of all groups that I am aware of that profess any form of Christianity, except those that are unitarian or affiliated with the Jehovah's Witnesses. More information can be found in the article Did Early Christians Consider that Jesus was God? The deity of the Father is the apparent position of all groups that I am aware of that profess any form of Christianity. However, more information can be found in the article Is The Father God?

Now although trinitarians would agree with those statements from Polycarp, there is no proof that Polycarp believed the heretical Valentinus who taught that God was three hypostases. Valentinus was a heretic that Polycarp denounced (an article of related interest may be Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?.

Much more historical and scriptural information on the Godhead can be found in the article Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning.

Polycarp Taught About the Kingdom of God

Polycarp taught about the Kingdom of God:

"Blessed are the poor, and those that are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God" (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter II. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

Knowing, then, that "God is not mocked," we ought to walk worthy of His commandment and glory ...For it is well that they should be cut off from the lusts that are in the world, since "every lust warreth against the spirit; " and "neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, shall inherit the kingdom of God," nor those who do things inconsistent and unbecoming (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter V. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

More information can be found in the article What Did Early Christians Teach About the Kingdom of God?

Polycarp and Military Service

Those in the early church, such as Polycarp, did not endorse it or participate in military service.

Polycarp wrote:

But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, falsewitness; "not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing," or blow for blow, or cursing for cursing (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter II. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

It would be impossible to love what Jesus loved and to kill people. The admonition to not retaliate blow by blow could be seen as a stance as supporting the concept that the second century church was against military service.

More information, including the related scriptures, can be found in the article Military Service and the COGs

Polycarp Kept the Passover on the 14th of Nisan

Sometime in the second century, some leader in Rome decided to change the date of Passover (see Easter). However, the faithful leaders in Asia Minor would not accept that.

As mentioned before, around 155 A.D. Polycarp of Smyrna went to Rome to deal with various heretics and he tried to persuade the Anicetus not to change Passover to an Easter Sunday holiday (Irenaeus. FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST WRITINGS OF IRENAEUS. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc).

The Catholic writer Eusebius recorded that Polycrates of Ephesus, around 195 A.D. wrote the following to the Roman Bishop Victor who wanted all who professed Christ to change Passover from the 14th of Nisan to Sunday:

We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead ? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ' We ought to obey God rather than man'...I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XXIV, Verses 2-7 . Translated by A. Cushman McGiffert. Digireads.com Publishing, Stilwell (KS), 2005, p. 114)

Hence it is clear that throughout the second century, that Polycarp and the churches in Asia Minor continued to observe the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, unlike the Romans.

Polycarp's position on the Passover is markedly different from that of most Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox churches or instead is more consistent with that of the Continuing Church of God.

For more details, please see the article Passover and the Early Church; there is also a detailed YouTube video available titled History of the Christian Passover.

Polycarp Taught the Resurrection

Polycarp taught the resurrection of the dead as he wrote:

But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter II. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1 as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

Polycarp taught that the body and soul were to be resurrected, hence he taught against the immortality of the soul doctrine (see also Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?):

I bless you for because you have considered me worthy of this day and hour, that I might receive a place among the number of martyrs in the cup of your Christ, to the resurrection to eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 14:2. In Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers, Greek Texts and English Translations. Baker Books, Grand Rapids (MI), 2004, p.239).

But not everyone will be pleased with the resurrection as Polycarp also taught the following:

Polycarp said; 'Thou threatenest that fire which burneth for a season and after a little while is quenched: for thou art ignorant of the fire of the future judgment and eternal punishment, which is reserved for the ungodly (The Martyrdom of Polycarp 11:2).

Polycarp's position on the resurrection tends to differ from that of Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox churches or instead is more consistent with that of the Continuing Church of God.

More on this subject can be found in the article What Did the Early Church Teach About the Resurrection?

Polycarp Kept the Sabbath and Has Been Called a Nazarene

Polycarp kept the seventh day Sabbath.

How do we now this?

There are at least four reasons:

  1. He endorsed the commandments of God, and the Sabbath is one of them.
  2. He objected to changing the date of Passover to a Sunday, whereas Sunday observers accepted this change.
  3. His church reported about him and the Sabbath.
  4. Sabbath-keeping was still happening in his Asia Minor region until at least the fifth century.

According to the letter The Martyrdom of Polycarp by the Smyrnaeans:

"on the day of the preparation, at the hour of dinner, there came out pursuers and horsemen" and Polycarp was killed "on the day of the great Sabbath (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Verses 7.1 & 8.1. Charles H. Hoole's 1885 translation. © 2001 Peter Kirby).

The use of these two expressions ("day of the preparation" and "the day of the great Sabbath") strongly indicates that those in Polycarp's area were still keeping the Sabbath in the latter portion of the 2nd century. Otherwise, since Asia Minor (including Smyrna) was a Gentile area, the terms preparation and Sabbath would not have been relevant.

Furthermore, since when Polycarp visited Rome, he confronted the heretic Marcion. It should be noted that Marcion was may have been the first who professed Christianity to write against Sabbath observance. And according to Irenaeus, Polycarp turned Christians away from the heretic Marcion (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 3, Verse 4).

The 17th century historian William Cave reported that the early Christians in Asia Minor (which he called "the Eastern parts"), kept the Sabbath. Notice his report:

...the Sabbath or Saturday (for so the word sabbatum is constantly used in the writings of the fathers, when speaking of it as it relates to Christians) was held by them in great veneration, and especially in the Eastern parts honoured with all the public solemnities of religion...This is plain, not only from some passages in Ignatius and Clemens's Constitutions, but from writers of more unquestionable credit and authority. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, tells us, that they assembled on Saturdays, not that they were infected with Judaism, but only to worship Jesus Christ, the Lord of the sabbath (Cave William, D.D. Primitive Christianity: or the Religion of the Ancient Christians in the First Ages of the Gospel. 1840 edition revised by H. Cary. Oxford, London, pp. 84,85).

Sozomen, in the mid-fifth century reported:

The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria (Sozomen. THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF SOZOMEN. Comprising a History of the Church, from a.d. 323 to a.d. 425. Book VII, Chapter XIX. Translated from the Greek. Revised by Chester D. Hartranft, Hartford Theological Seminary UNDER THE EDITORIAL SUPERVISION OF PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D., AND HENRY WACE, D.D., Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Seminary, New York. Principal of King's College, London. T&T CLARK, EDINBURGH, circa 1846).

This shows that Sabbath keeping continued in parts of Asia Minor through the time of Sardis and into what is sometimes considered to be the Pergamos era, but that Rome and Alexandria were only observing Sunday (even though they observed the Sabbath until at least the early second century).

For the fifth reason (which is why I wrote "at least four"), please see the section of this paper titled The Life of Polycarp.

It may be of interest to note that a Jewish Rabbi Ifaac in the 15th century considered that Polycarp was a Nazarene as he wrote:

Polycarp…Born late in the reign of Nero, he became a Nazarene (Hoffman , David. Chronicles from Cartaphilus: The Wandering Jew. Published by T. Bosworth, 1853. Original from the University of Michigan. Digitized Sep 7, 2007, p. 636)

Although Ifaac has the wrong birth time (Polycarp appears to have been born in the reign of Claudius), the fact is that Polycarp had the beliefs and practices of various ones called Nazarenes. The Apostle Paul was called a Nazarene (Acts 24:5) and most account of Nazarenes show that they held to practices like Sabbath-keeping (see Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes?).

Polycarp Taught About Salvation and Against Homosexuality

Polycarp taught:

In whom, though now ye see Him not, ye believe, and believing, rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; " into which joy many desire to enter, knowing that "by grace ye are saved, not of works," but by the will of God through Jesus Christ (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter I. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

Although we are not saved by works, Polycarp taught that violating the commandments, and behaviors like engaging in homosexuality, meant that one would not inherit the Kingdom of God:

Knowing, then, that "God is not mocked," we ought to walk worthy of His commandment and glory ...For it is well that they should be cut off from the lusts that are in the world, since "every lust warreth against the spirit; " and "neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, shall inherit the kingdom of God," nor those who do things inconsistent and unbecoming (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter V. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

Of course, The Bible Condemns Homosexuality and other sins as did Polycarp.

Polycarp Had a Sense of Humor Facing Death

The letter called The Martyrdom of Polycarp contains some quotes from Polycarp when he was facing death. I personally thought that Polycarp had quite a sense of humor during this ordeal, as the following details:

9:1 But as Polycarp entered into the stadium, a voice came to him from heaven; 'Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man.' And no one saw the speaker, but those of our people who were present heard the voice. And at length, when he was brought up, there was a great tumult, for they heard that Polycarp had been apprehended.

9:2 When then he was brought before him, the proconsul enquired whether he were the man. And on his confessing that he was, he tried to persuade him to a denial saying, 'Have respect to thine age,' and other things in accordance therewith, as it is their wont to say; 'Swear by the genius of Caesar; repent and say, Away with the atheists.' Then Polycarp with solemn countenance looked upon the whole multitude of lawless heathen that were in the stadium, and waved his hand to them; and groaning and looking up to heaven he said, 'Away with the atheists.'

Polycarp, of course, did not consider that he or other Christians were atheists, which is why I thought the above account was humorous. The complete account can be found in the letter called The Martyrdom of Polycarp.

Polycarp Taught the Ten Commandments

Polycarp wrote:

But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, falsewitness; "not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing," or blow for blow, or cursing for cursing (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter II. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

"But the love of money is the root of all evils." Knowing, therefore, that "as we brought nothing into the world, so we can carry nothing out," let us arm ourselves with the armour of righteousness; and let us teach, first of all, ourselves to walk in the commandments of the Lord. Next, [teach] your wives [to walk] in the faith given to them, and in love and purity tenderly loving their own husbands in all truth, and loving all [others] equally in all chastity; and to train up their children in the knowledge and fear of God. Teach the widows to be discreet as respects the faith of the Lord, praying continually for all, being far from all slandering, evil-speaking, false-witnessing, love of money, and every kind of evil (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter IV. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

Knowing, then, that "God is not mocked," we ought to walk worthy of His commandment and glory ...For it is well that they should be cut off from the lusts that are in the world, since "every lust warreth against the spirit; " and "neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, shall inherit the kingdom of God," nor those who do things inconsistent and unbecoming (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter V. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

I exhort you, therefore, that ye abstain from covetousness, and that ye be chaste and truthful. "Abstain from every form of evil." For if a man cannot govern himself in such matters, how shall he enjoin them on others ? If a man does not keep himself from covetousness, he shall be defiled by idolatry, and shall be judged as one of the heathen. But who of us are ignorant of the judgment of the Lord ? (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter XI. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

In the above, Polycarp referred to at least seven commandments (numbers 1,2,3,5,7,9,10). And probably nine (6,8), related to murder (plus Polycarp said not to repay "blow for blow") and stealing (and he wrote against the "love of money" which can lead to stealing).

Furthermore, since in Polycarp's area, when reporting his martyrdom, the Smyrnaeans referred to Friday as the "day of preparation" and mentioned "the great Sabbath", it is obvious that the fourth commandment about the Sabbath was also kept. Also, he kept the Sabbath according to certain sources, such as the Life of Polycarp.

Related articles of interest may be:

What Did Jesus Teach About the Ten Commandments? This article quotes what Jesus actually said about them (His words are in red).
Were the Ten Commandments Nailed to the Cross? Some have said so. This article provides some biblical quotes to answer this important question.
What Did Paul Actually Teach About the Ten Commandments? Many say Paul taught against the ten commandments. Is this true? This article quotes Paul with his words in green.

Are the Ten Commandment Still in Effect? This article quotes the ten commandments and combines some of the previous articles into one article about the ten commandments. The commandments are shown at Mount Sinai, before Mount Sinai, in the teachings of Jesus, after the crucifixion, and in the teachings of Paul. It addresses the most common "traditions of men" regarding them as well.
Were the Pharisees Condemned for Keeping the Law? Many believe that, but what does your Bible say? If they were not condemned for that, what were they condemned for?

The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil Some feel that the ten commandments are a burden. Is that what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John taught?
Was the Commandment to Love the Only Command? Some have stated that John's writings teach this, but is that what the Bible really says?

The Ten Commandments and the Early Church Did Jesus and the Early Church keep the ten commandments? What order were they in? Here are quotes from the Bible and early writings.

What Did His Adversaries Say About Polycarp?

When Polycarp was about to be martyred, notice what his critics said:

When this was proclaimed by the herald, the entire, Gentiles as well as Jews living in Smyrna cried out with uncontrollable wrath with a loud shout: "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).

They referred to Polycarp as the father of the Christians. Thus, Polycarp was considered by various ones to have been the main Christian leader and main teacher at that time. This was not reported about any claimed early 'bishop of Rome.'

It is also of interest to note that since the Jews and the Gentiles objected to Polycarp teaching that physical sacrifices should not be continued, this demonstrates Polycarp had read that in New Testament (specifically the Book of Hebrews).

Polycarp and Infant Baptism

Now, perhaps it should be mentioned here that Polycarp is sometimes used as proof that infant baptism was used by the early true Church. This is false. But here is one such claim/tradition that supposedly proves infant baptism (I have read similar claims from other Catholic writers.  Note: Any bolding is in the source):

St. Polycarp, who was the disciple of the Apostle John himself (as well as an associate of the Apostle Philip). And, in AD 155, St. Polycarp said this at his execution:

"Polycarp declared, 'Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me injury. How can I blaspheme my King and Savior?" (Polycarp, Martyrdom of Polycarp 9 c. AD 156)

Now, it is well documented that "The Martyrdom of Polycarp" was written the year after the saint's execution; and so the quote above is extremely reliable. It is also well documented that Polycarp was 86 years old at the time of his death. Therefore, if the saint claims to have served Jesus for 86 years, it therefore follows that he was Baptized as an infant. And, in another place, we are told that Polycarp was Baptized by none other than the Apostle John! :-) Therefore, at least in the case of St. John, we can show conclusively that the Apostles Baptized infants (Bonocore MJ. Infant Baptism.  Apolonio’s Catholic Apologetics. http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/a26.htm viewed 10/06/08).

Now while the above may sound plausible, the truth is that the above claim is based upon two assumptions: 1) That Polycarp claimed to have been baptized as an infant--which he did not; and 2) that he was claiming he was 86, which he never actually said). Here are some translated quotes from the Harris Fragments, with one addition from me in {}:

Polycarp...He was… {an} old man, being one hundred and f[our] of age.  He continued to walk [i]n the canons which he had learned from his youth from John the a[p]ostle. (Weidman, Frederick W.  Polycarp and John: The Harris Fragments and Their Challenge to Literary Traditions.  University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame (IL), 1999, pp. 43,44).

Thus, if Polycarp lived to be 104, then he was baptized at age 18, and not baptized as an infant.

Polycarp had to have been older than 86 when he died to have possibly been appointed a bishop by any of the original apostles, especially if this happened when Polycarp was around age forty. Notice what Coptic Orthodox Bishop Youssef has claimed

Polycarp...Appointed to be Bishop of the See of Smyrna by the Apostles themselves, at the age of 40, he provides us with an important link in our long historical chain of Orthodox tradition clasping together the Apostles and the Second Century Church. (Youssef HG, Bishop. St. Polycarp the Blessed Peacemaker. Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States. http://suscopts.org/resources/literature/174/st-polycarp-the-beloved-peacemaker/ viewed 12/01/2012.)

If Polycarp only lived to age 86, all the original apostles would have been dead by then (an 86 year-long life, would have made Polycarp 40 around 116 A.D. and John seems to have died over a decade prior). But if Polycarp lived to 104, he would have been 40 in 92 A.D. and the Apostle John (who was alive then), and possibly others such as Philip could have ordained him then.

Perhaps it may be of interest to mention that in 1821, “Cler. Gloc.” wrote that Polycarp was placed in charge of the “See of Smyrna” for around seventy years, that he calculated that Polycarp probably lived around 100 years based upon other historical records, and that the idea Polycarp died at age 86 was a “misconception”(Gloc. C. Letter to the Remembrancer, August 1821. As shown in Scott W. Garden F. Mozely JB. The Christian remembrancer. Printed for F.C. & J. Rivington, 1821. Original from the New York Public Library, Digitized Nov 21, 2007, p. 454).

More on the subject of baptism can be found in the article Baptism and the Early Church.

"The Life of Polycarp"

There is a partially questionable book called The Life of Polycarp that is of some interest. This book, which seems to somewhat based on some truths in the second century, was changed--at least slightly--in or by the fourth century. Yet, the Life of Polycarp contains some possibly helpful information about Polycarp.

For example, it specifically mentions the Sabbath, Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and the Last Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles. And it endorses keeping them:

In the days of unleavened bread Paul, coming down from Galatia, arrived in Asia, considering the repose among the faithful in Smyrna to be a great refreshment in Christ Jesus after his severe toil, and intending afterwards to depart to Jerusalem. So in Smyrna he went to visit Strataeas, who had been his hearer in Pamphylia, being a son of Eunice the daughter of Lois. These are they of whom he makes mention when writing to Timothy, saying; Of the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and in thy mother Eunice; whence we find that Strataeas was a brother of Timothy. Paul then, entering his house and gathering together the faithful there, speaks to them concerning the Passover and the Pentecost, reminding them of the New Covenant of the offering of bread and the cup; how that they ought most assuredly to celebrate it during the days of unleavened bread, but to hold fast the new mystery of the Passion and Resurrection. For here the Apostle plainly teaches that we ought neither to keep it outside the season of unleavened bread, as the heretics do, especially the Phrygians...but named the days of unleavened bread, the Passover, and the Pentecost, thus ratifying the Gospel (Pionius. Life of Polycarp, Chapter 2. Translated by J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, 1889, pp.488-506).

What must one say, when even He that was gentler than all men so appeals and cries out at the feast of Tabernacles? For it is written; And on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirsteth, let him come to Me and drink (Chapter 19).

And on the sabbath, when prayer had been made long time on bended knee, he, as was his custom, got up to read; and every eye was fixed upon him. Now the lesson was the Epistles of Paul to Timothy and to Titus, in which he says what manner of man a bishop ought to be. And he was so well fitted for the office that the hearers said one to another that he lacked none of those qualities which Paul requires in one who has the care of a church. When then, after the reading and the instruction of the bishops and the discourses of the presbyters, the deacons were sent to the laity to enquire whom they would have, they said with one accord, 'Let Polycarp be our pastor and teacher' (Chapter 22).

And on the following sabbath he said; 'Hear ye my exhortation, beloved children of God...' (Chapter 24).

Hence, there is an ancient document that claims that Polycarp did keep the Sabbath and the Holy Days (of course, other ancient documents, as shown in this article, support this). And there would have been no reason for Greco-Roman supporters in the 4th century to change the document to indicate that he did so, hence The Life of Polycarp does claim that Polycarp kept the Sabbath and the Holy Days (yet, there are reasons to believe that one or more added information about Sunday, hence that is one reason that I consider that The Life of Polycarp was tampered with).

The Life of Polycarp also shows that Polycarp believed, studied, and used the Scriptures:

Polycarp advanced greatly in the faith that is in Christ and that pursues a virtuous life. And in his untiring diligence, he from his Eastern stock bore (if one may so say) blossom as a token of good fruit hereafter to come. For the men who dwell in the East are distinguished before all others for their love of learning and their attachment to the divine Scriptures...Thus reflecting on this with a godly delight he offered himself day and night wholly and entirely as a consecrated sacrifice to God, exercising himself in the oracles contained in the divine Scriptures and in continual services of prayer and in devotion to all those who needed either attention or relief and in contentment of living (Chapter 6).

Such was his behaviour towards those from whom no benefit could be got. But bad men he avoided as mad dogs or wild beasts or venomous serpents; for he remembered the Scripture (Chapter 7).

...proving this from all the Scriptures (Chapter 13).

For he would extend his discourse to great length on diverse subjects, and from the actual Scripture which was read he would furnish edification with all demonstration and conviction (Chapter 18).

So also he pursued the reading of the Scriptures from childhood to old age, himself reading in church; and he recommended it to others, saying that the reading of the law and the prophets was the forerunner of grace, preparing and making straight the ways of the Lord, that is the hearts, which are like tablets whereon certain harsh beliefs and conceptions that were written before perfect knowledge came, are through the inculcation of the Old Testament, and the correct interpretation following thereupon, first smoothed and levelled, that, when the Holy Spirit comes as a pen, the grace and joy of the voice of the Gospel and of the doctrine of the immortal and heavenly Christ may be inscribed on them (Chapter 19).

The wealth of the grace given by Christ to Polycarp has led us on, while recording his course of life, to explain in turn the character of his teaching likewise. How he used to interpret the Scriptures, we will defer relating till another time, setting it forth in order and showing our successors also how to minister correct instruction in the holy and inspired Scriptures (Chapter 19).

And all things whatsoever being taught of God ye know, when ye search the inspired Scriptures, engrave with the pen of the Holy Spirit on your hearts, that the commandments may abide in you indelible.' Thus speaking in this way from time to time, and being persistent in his teaching, he edified and saved both himself and his hearers (Chapters 24-25).

The Life of Polycarp also shows that Polycarp believed in proper church governance:

And without any delay, not many days after, gathering together bishops from the cities round about and making preparations for the reception of the visitors, they took measures for the appointment of a successor to preside over the Church...When then, after the reading and the instruction of the bishops and the discourses of the presbyters, the deacons were sent to the laity to enquire whom they would have, they said with one accord, 'Let Polycarp be our pastor and teacher'...then having assented, they appointed him {Polycarp}... (Chapters 21,22).

Now among others whom Polycarp appointed deacons was one named Camerius, who also became bishop the third in succession from him and next after Papirius. This man Polycarp took with him and went into the country, for he was careful to superintend the churches scattered through the villages also (Chapter 27).

Thus, according to The Life of Polycarp, Polycarp was an original believer in keeping Judaeo-Christian practices, emphasized scripture (not tradition), and believed in proper church governance (for more on governance, please see The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government).

{An odd part of The Life of Polycarp, though is that it does not mention the apostles, and most other sources indicate that John and/or other apostles placed Polycarp in charge (though technically they could have been part of the bishops/presbyters that The Life of Polycarp mentions, as John called himself a presbyter in both 2 John 1 and 3 John 1).}

There is also a writing that may have been written by Polycarp know as Polycarp, Fragments from Victor of Capua. Basically, because it tells about the Apostle John being saved from boiling oil in Rome, allegedly before he was exiled to Patmos (Revelation 1:9), some dispute that Polycarp wrote it. In that Fragments from Victor of Capua book, directly or indirectly, all four Gospel accounts are referenced.

What Do the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Teach About Polycarp?

With all these doctrines and positions from Polycarp that disagree with the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, one would think they would not like him, but the opposite is true. Both consider Polycarp to have been a faithful saint.

The Orthodox Church claims Polycarp as a successor to the Apostles

As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, thou foundest discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision. Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, thou didst also contest for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Polycarp...This apostolic and prophetic man, and model of faith and truth, was a disciple of John the Evangelist (Polycarp the Holy Martyr & Bishop of Smyrna. Greek Archdiocese of America. http://www.goarch.org/en/chapel/saints.asp?contentid=439 8/27/05).

Christianity spread far and wide throughout the known world, but the Good News of Christ aroused intense opposition, and the first three centuries of the Church were characterized by sporadic, but bloody, persecutions. Church tradition is full of the lives of these early martyrs for the faith, and one cannot but admire the courage and perseverance of these heroes who willingly gave up their lives rather than denounce Christ. Among these were...Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, burned at the stake when over eighty years old (from "These Truths We Hold - The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life and Teachings." Compiled and Edited by A Monk of St. Tikhon's Monastery. Copyright 1986 by the St. Tikhon's Seminary Press, South Canaan, Pennsylvania 18459).

You've got Polycarp...He was Bishop of Smyrna by about 100 A.D. Early writers like Irenaeus tell us he was the spiritual son of the Apostle John" (Gillquist PE. Becoming Orthodox. Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Brentwood (TN), 1989, p.39).

While the Roman Catholics teach:

St. Polycarp Martyr (A.D. 69-155)...Four out of the seven genuine epistles of St. Ignatius were written from Smyrna. In two of these -- Magnesians and Ephesians -- he speaks of Polycarp. The seventh Epistle was addressed to Polycarp. It contains little or nothing of historical interest in connexion with St. Polycarp...The Epistle of St. Polycarp was a reply to one from the Philippians, in which they had asked St. Polycarp to address them some words of exhortation; to forward by his own messenger a letter addressed by them to the Church of Antioch...Polycarp's Epistle sentence after sentence is frequently made up of passages from the Evangelical and Apostolic writings...In St. Irenaeus, Polycarp comes before us preeminently as a link with the past...The Asiatic Christians differed from the rest of the Church in their manner of observing Easter. While the other Churches kept the feast on a Sunday, the Asiatics celebrated it on the 14th of Nisan, whatever day of the week this might fall on...In Asia the Apostolic Age lingered on till St. John died about A.D. 100; and the sub-Apostolic Age till 155, when St. Polycarp was martyred...Of Polycarp he says, "he was not only taught by the Apostles, and lived in familiar intercourse with many that had seen Christ, but also received his appointment in Asia from the Apostles as Bishop in the Church of Smyrna". (Bacchus F.J. Transcribed by Marie Jutras. St. Polycarp. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XII. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

By "Easter" the Roman Catholics originally meant Passover, as it was not called Easter for quite some time later. (Please see the article Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter?).

Even in the 21st century, the Roman Catholic Church claims Polycarp as a successor to the Apostles:

Polycarp was the bishop of Smyrna, today the city of Izmir, on the west coast of Turkey. He was part of the generation of church leaders who succeeded the apostles. According to one tradition, he was taught by the apostle John and was appointed to his office by the apostles himself...This indeed was one of God's chosen ones--the amazing martyr, Polycarp, an apostolic and prophetic teacher...(Zanchettin L, ed. The Martyrdom of Polycarp: Who would have thought the old man had so much courage? the WORD among us--The #1 Monthly Devotional for Catholics. 2006; Volume 25, Number 4, pp. 69,74).

But it is clear from both the above quotes that the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches considered that Polycarp was a saint, faithful to the original apostolic teachings.

Of course:

A Binitarian view, that acknowledged the Holy Spirit, was held by the apostolic and post-apostolic true Christian leaders, like Polycarp.
Hierarchical  church governance was advocated by Polycarp.
Christmas was not observed by Polycarp nor any professing Christ prior to the third century, or ever by those holding to early teachings.
Deification for Christians was taught by the early leaders of the Church, including Polycarp.
Easter per se was not observed by the apostolic church, and Polycarp fought against it.
The Fall Holy Days were observed by true early Christians, including Polycarp.
The Father was considered to be God by all early professing Christians, including Polycarp.
Polycarp taught against idols (and that would include icons).
Polycarp taught against the immortality of the soul.
Jesus was considered to be God by the true Christians, including Polycarp.
The Kingdom of God was taught by Polycarp.
Leavened Bread was removed from the homes of early Christians like Polycarp.
Lent was not observed by Polycarp.
Limbo was not taught by Polycarp.
Military Service was not allowed for true early Christians like Polycarp.
Millenarianism (a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth, often called the millennium) was taught by the early Christians who succeeded Polycarp.
Passover was kept on the 14th of Nisan by Polycarp.
Purgatory was not taught by Polycarp.
The Resurrection of the dead was taught Polycarp.
The Sabbath was observed on Saturday by Polycarp.
The Ten Commandments were observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians, including Polycarp–and in the order that the genuine Church of God claims they are in.

We of the Continuing Church of God have the same beliefs and practices (see also Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God).

Notice what one of the writings in the so-called Apostolic Fathers reported about Polycarp:

…the elect, of whom this most admirable Polycarp was one, having in our own times been an apostolic and prophetic teacher, and bishop of the Catholic Church which is in Smyrna. (The Smyrnaeans. The Encyclical Epistle of the Church at Smyrna Concerning the Martyrdom of the Holy Polycarp, 16.2. In Ante-Nicene Fathers by Roberts and Donaldson, Volume 4, 1885. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), printing 1999, p. 42)

It is interesting to note that the "bishop of the Catholic Church" is in Smyrna, not Rome. And even if the term should be translated as "Holy Church" instead of "Catholic Church," Catholics tend to believe it that "Catholic" is the correct term here. Note: this is the second time the term 'catholic church' is found in the literature, and the first time was also in a reference to the Church of God in Smyrna (Ignatius. Letter to the Smyrnæans, Chapter 8). The fact is that the same is never said of Rome in this period of time (they took the term later).

Furthermore, if Polycarp is a saint to the Greco-Romans, why do they not have the same teachings and practices?

Conclusions About Polycarp

Polycarp was a disciple of the apostles and successor to John in Asia Minor. Polycarp was in the "Church of God." He stood fast to the doctrines of the Bible, and fought a variety of heretics in Rome. Even in the face of death, he refused to compromise. Polycarp held and taught doctrines that are taught in the Continuing Church of God today. We in the Continuing Church of God trace our succession from Peter through John through Polycarp, etc. through present (Dr. Thiel) (here is a link to a free book on Christian history titled Continuing History of the Church of God).

Polycarp believed the Bible and taught according to what it said. The Gentile Polycarp kept the Sabbath and the biblical Holy Days. Polycarp stood up against heretics in Rome.

Unlike many alleged Roman "bishops," Polycarp's words are preserved for us today. And it is Polycarp, and not one single so-called Roman bishop, who is written about repeatedly in the writings of the so-called Apostolic Fathers. God preserved much about Polycarp so that those who were interested in the truth about the early Christian church could find it, if they were more interested in the truth than in traditions of men.

Polycarp wrote and told the church:

Stand fast, therefore, in these things, and follow the example of the Lord, being firm and unchangeable in the faith, loving the brotherhood, and being attached to one another, joined together in the truth, exhibiting the meekness of the Lord in your intercourse with one another, and despising no one (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter X. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

And apparently, according to even Roman Catholic sources, Polycarp and the Smyrnaeans did just that.

In these end times, the Church of Rome, the Eastern Orthodox, and even some Protestant leaders still claim that Polycarp was an important and faithful saint. Yet, they do not follow certain of his biblical teachings.

We in the Continuing Church of God are continuing in the teachings and practices of the faithful in Asia Minor.

So, why should YOU know about Polycarp?

Because Polycarp's life, faithfulness, and writings are proof that the original Christian Church was Church of God, not Church of Rome, Protestant, or Eastern Orthodox. And that historically, the Church of God in Smyrna kept the same apostolic teachings that we in the Continuing Church of God continue to have, continue to teach, continue to practice, and continue to proclaim.

If Polycarp was truly a Christian saint who was ordained by the apostles and was faithful until he was martyred, should not that tell you to support the Church that still has the same beliefs and practices?

Do you really wish to support original, biblical Christianity? If so, the Polycarp's faithfulness, life, and writings are proof that the original Christian Church was not like the world's churches, but instead like those of the Continuing Church of God.

Some articles of possible interest may include:

Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians Did Polycarp refer to all the books of the New Testament in the early 2nd century? This is Roberts and Donaldson's translation, corrected by me in one place, where they made a small error in translating Latin by omitting one word.
Polycarp of Smyrna: Why Christians should know more about him The Church of Rome, Eastern Orthodox, Continuing Church of God, and various Protestants consider that Polycarp of Smyrna was a saint and a significant Christian leader in Asia Minor in the second century. What is unique about Polycarp? Was he really a successor to the apostles? What did he teach? Does he prove infant baptism? How old was he when he was martyred? Did he and his successors hold Church of God or Church of Rome doctrines?  This is a YouTube video sermon.
The Martyrdom of Polycarp This was written shortly after Polycarp died; likely involving Papirius. A mistranslation is corrected in this version.
Polycarp, Fragments from Victor of Capua This may have been written by Polycarp or "pseudo-Polycarp."
The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014.
The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like the beliefs held of the Continuing Church of God.

Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim "saints" from both? "Saints" that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God. And the group that truly teaches and practices what the Apostle John, Polycarp, and their faithful followers taught.

Thiel, B. Ph.D. Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter. www.cogwriter.com 2006/2007/2008/ 2009/2010/2011/2012/2013/2014 0820

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