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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

THE MARTYRDOM OF POLYCARP

This revision was taken from this website.

Prologue
The church of God which sojourns (temporarily lives) at Smyrna to the Church of God which sojourns in Philomelium and to all the brotherhoods of the holy and universal Church sojourning in every place; mercy and peace and love from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be multiplied.

1:1
We write unto you, brethren, an account of what befell those that suffered martyrdom and especially the blessed Polycarp, who stayed the persecution, having as it were set his seal upon it by his martyrdom. For nearly all the foregoing events came to pass that the Lord might show us once more an example of martyrdom which is conformable to the Gospel.

1:2
For he lingered that he might be delivered up, even as the Lord did, to the end that we too might be imitators of him, not looking only to that which concerns ourselves, but also to that which concerns our neighbors. For it is the office of true and steadfast love, not only to desire that oneself be saved, but all the brethren also.

2:1
Blessed therefore and noble are all the martyrdoms which have taken place according to the will of God (for it behooves us to be very scrupulous and to assign to God the power over all things).

2:2
For who could fail to admire their nobility and patient endurance and loyalty to the Master? Seeing that when they were so torn by lashes that even as far as the veins and arteries and inward mechanism of their flesh were visible, they endured patiently, so that the very bystanders had pity and wept; while they themselves reached such a pitch of bravery that none of them uttered a cry or a groan, thus showing to us all that at that hour the martyrs of Christ being tortured were absent from the flesh, or rather that the Lord was standing by and conversing with them.

2:3
And giving heed unto the grace of Christ they despised the tortures of this world, purchasing at the cost of one hour a release from eternal punishment. And they found the fire of their inhuman torturers cold: for they set before their eyes the escape from the eternal fire which is never quenched; while with the eyes of their heart they gazed upon the good things which are reserved for those that endure patiently, things which neither ear has heard nor eye has seen, neither have they entered into the heart of man, but were shown by the Lord to them, for they were no longer men but angels already.

2:4
And in like manner also those that were condemned to the wild beasts endured fearful punishments, being made to lie on sharp shells and buffeted with other forms of manifold tortures, that the devil might, if possible, by the persistence of the punishment bring them to a denial; for he tried many wiles against them.

3:1
But thanks be to God; for He truly prevailed against all. For the right noble Germanicus encouraged their timorousness through the constancy which was in him; and he fought with the wild beasts in a signal way. For when the proconsul wished to prevail upon him and bade him have pity on his youth, he used violence and dragged the wild beast towards him, desiring the more speedily to obtain a release from their unrighteous and lawless life.

3:2
So after this all the multitude, marveling at the bravery of the God-beloved and God-fearing people of the Christians, raised a cry, "Away with the atheists; let search be made for Polycarp."

4:1
But one man, Quintus by name, a Phrygian newly arrived from Phrygia, when he saw the wild beasts, turned coward. He it was who had forced himself and some others to come forward of their own free will (and recant their faith). The proconsul by much entreaty persuaded this man to swear the oath and to offer incense. For this cause therefore, brethren, we praise not those who volunteer to recant, since the Gospel does not so teach us.

5:1
Now the glorious Polycarp at the first, when he heard it, so far from being dismayed, wanted to remain in town; but the greater part persuaded him to withdraw. So he withdrew to a farm not far distant from the city, and there he stayed with a few companions, doing nothing else night and day but praying for all men and for the churches throughout the world, for this was his constant habit.

5:2
And while praying he fell into a trance three days before his arrest, and he saw his pillow burning with fire. He turned and said to those that were with him: "It must needs be that I shall be burned alive."

6:1
Since those that were in search of him persisted, he departed to another farm. Immediately they who were in search of him came up, and not finding him, they seized two slave lads, one of whom confessed under torture;

6:2
for it was impossible for him to lie concealed, seeing that the very persons who betrayed him were people of his own household. And the captain of the police, who chanced to have the very name, being called Herod, was eager to bring him into the stadium, that he might fulfill his appointed lot, being made a partaker with Christ, while they -- his betrayers -- underwent the punishment of Judas himself.

7:1
So taking the lad with them, on the Friday about the supper hour, the police and horsemen went forth with their accustomed weapons, hurrying as against a robber. And coming up in a troop late in the evening, they found the man himself (Polycarp) in bed in an upper chamber in a certain cottage; and though he might have departed from there to another place, he would not, saying, "The will of God be done."

7:2
So when he heard that they were come, he went down and conversed with them, the bystanders marveling at his age and his constancy, and wondering why there should be so much eagerness for the apprehension of an old man like him. At that, he immediately gave orders that a table should be spread for them to eat and drink at that hour, as much as they desired. And he persuaded them to grant him an hour so he might pray unmolested;

7:3
and on their consenting, he stood up and prayed, being so full of the grace of God, that for two hours he could not hold his peace, and those that heard were amazed, and many repented that they had come against such a venerable old man.

8:1
But when at length he brought his prayer to an end, after remembering all who at any time had come in his way, small and great, high and low, and all the universal Church throughout the world, the hour of departure being come, they seated him on a donkey and brought him into the city, it being a high Sabbath.

8:2
And he was met by Herod the captain of police and his father Nicetes, who also removed him to their carriage and tried to prevail upon him, seating themselves by his side and saying, "Why, what harm is there in saying, Caesar is Lord, and offering incense," with more to this effect, "and saving yourself?" But he at first gave them no answer. When however they persisted, he said, "I am not going to do what you counsel me."

8:3
Then they, failing to persuade him, uttered threatening words and made him dismount with speed, so that he bruised his shin, as he got down from the carriage. And without even turning round, he went on his way promptly and with speed, as if nothing had happened to him, being taken to the stadium; there being such a tumult in the stadium that no man's voice could be so much as heard.

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 asked whether he were the man. And on his confessing that he was, he tried to persuade him to a denial saying, "Have respect to your age," and other things in accordance therewith, as it is their habit 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."

9:3
But when the magistrate pressed him hard and said, "Swear the oath, and I will release you; revile the Christ," Polycarp said, "Eighty-six years have I been His servant, and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?"

10:1
But on his persisting again and saying, "Swear by the genius of Caesar," he answered, "If you suppose vainly that I will swear by the genius of Caesar, as you say, and feign that you are ignorant who I am, hear you plainly: I am a Christian. But if you would learn the doctrine of Christianity, assign a day and give me a hearing."

10:2
The proconsul said, "Prevail upon the people." But Polycarp said, "As for yourself, I should have held you worthy of discourse; for we have been taught to render, as is proper, to princes and authorities appointed by God such honor as does us no harm; but as for these, I do not hold them worthy, that I should defend myself before them."

11:1
Whereupon the proconsul said: "I have wild beasts here and I will throw you to them, except you repent." But he said, "Call for them, for the repentance from better to worse is a change not permitted to us; but it is a noble thing to change from that which is improper to righteousness."

11:2
Then he said to him again, "If you despise the wild beasts, I will cause you to be consumed by fire, unless you repent." But Polycarp said: "You threaten that fire which burns for a season and after a little while is quenched: for you are ignorant of the fire of the future judgment and eternal punishment, which is reserved for the ungodly. But why do you delay? Come, do what you will."

12:1
Saying these things and more besides, he was inspired with courage and joy, and his countenance was filled with grace, so that not only did it not drop in dismay at the things which were said to him, but on the contrary the proconsul was astounded and sent his own herald to proclaim three times in the midst of the stadium, "Polycarp has confessed himself to be a Christian."

12:2
When this was proclaimed by the herald, the whole multitude both of Gentiles and of Jews who dwelt in Smyrna cried out with ungovernable wrath and with a loud shout, "This is the teacher of Asia, the father of the Christians, the puller down of our gods, who teaches multitudes not to sacrifice nor worship." Saying these things, they shouted aloud and asked the Asiarch Philip to let a lion loose upon Polycarp. But he said that it was not lawful for him, since he had brought the sports to a close.

12:3
Then they thought fit to shout out with one accord that Polycarp should be burned alive. For it must needs be that the matter of the vision should be fulfilled, which was shown him concerning his pillow, when he saw it on fire while praying, and turning round he said prophetically to the faithful who were with him, "I must needs be burned alive."



To read the rest, please go to the webpage.





JNORM888

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