Polycarp of Smyrna: Why Christians should know more about him

“Martyrdom of Polycarp”


Today’s recommended sermon for many in the Continuing Church of God is  Polycarp of Smyrna: Why Christians should know more about him.

Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John. In the late 1st century (or the early second century) he was put in charge of the Church of God in Smyrna. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox revere him as a saint (as do some Protestants). We in the Continuing Church of God primarily trace our early history from Peter, Paul, and John through Polycarp (we also trace our history through other areas that had faithful Christians for a while, such as Jerusalem).

Do you know much about him?

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

  • Polycarp is the only possible second century direct apostolic successor considered by any church I am aware that there is preserved at least one letter that was written to him while he was alive.
  • Polycarp is the only possible direct apostolic successor considered by any church I am aware that to have written any document that we still possess to this day (there is a letter claimed to have been written by Clement of Rome, however, it does not say that he wrote it, nor is Clement considered to be the direct successor of any apostle–the Roman Catholic Church claims that Linus was Peter’s direct successor; there are also letters written by Ignatius of Antioch, but the two Antiochian Churches I am aware of claim that Evodius, not Ignatius, was Peter’s direct successor).
  • Polycarp is the only possible direct apostolic successor considered by any church I am aware that to have any document written about him within a few weeks of his death.

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).

Almost everyone associated with Christendom considers that Polycarp was a true and faithful Christian leader.

Yet, he and the faithful Christians in Asia Minor held to many beliefs and practices that the Greco-Roman churches now condemn.

Here is a summary of some of Polycarp’s beliefs and practices:

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.
The canon of the New Testament was known by Polycarp as he seemed to refer to all the books it in the famous Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians.
Christmas was not observed by Polycarp nor any professing Christ prior to the third century, or ever by those holding to early teachings.
Deification of Christians after the resurrection 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 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 Continuing Church of God claims they are in.

The Continuing Church of God has all of the same beliefs and practices as Polycarp.

Furthermore, 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… 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.

Since Polycarp really was a saint that was placed in charge by Christ’s apostles–which he was–shouldn’t you have the same beliefs and practices?

Several articles of possibly related interest may include:

Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter Polycarp was the successor of the Apostle John and a major leader in Asia Minor. Do you know much about what he taught? Does the Continuing Church of God or the Church of Rome more faithfully follow his teachings and practices?
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.”
“Pope” Anicetus (155-166) Bishop Anicetus (perhaps the first clear “bishop of Rome”, none were called popes until the late fourth century) was a collaborator with the heretic Justin, and ineffective against the heretics Marcion and Valentinus.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians Did Polycarp refer to all the books in the New Testament? 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. It is also annotated with scriptures to demonstrate that Polycarp did have the New Testament canon.
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?
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Why Should American Catholics Should Fear Unity with the Orthodox? Are the current ecumenical meetings a good thing or will they result in disaster? Is doctrinal compromise good?
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?

Get news like the above sent to you on a daily basis

Your email will not be shared. You may unsubscribe at anytime.