EARLY CHRISTIANITY: Polycarp of Smyrna – Martyred for His Faith


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The Epistle to the Hebrews PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 160 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

The thousands, who surrounded him in the arena, viewed him as a godless man who was causing their countrymen to abandon their worship, believing that this man worked toward the destruction of their gods. The crowd’s stares were of malicious hatred, as they despised his very presence. The governor called him forward; this dignified man of 86 years of age stepped into the open and acknowledged his identity. His name was Polycarp.

  1. But as Polycarp entered the stadium, there came a voice from heaven: “Be strong, Polycarp, and act like a man.” And no one saw the speaker, but those of our people who were present heard the voice. And then, as he was brought forward, there was a great tumult when they heard that Polycarp had been arrested. (2) Therefore, when he was brought before him, the proconsul asked if he were Polycarp.[1] And when he confessed that he was, the proconsul tried to persuade him to recant, saying, “Have respect for your age,” and other such things as they are accustomed to say: “Swear by the Genius[2] of Caesar; repent; say, ‘Away with the atheists!’” So, Polycarp solemnly looked at the whole crowd of lawless heathen who were in the stadium, motioned toward them with his hand, and then (groaning as he looked up to heaven) said, “Away with the atheists!” (3) But when the magistrate persisted and said, “Swear the oath, and I will release you; revile Christ,” Polycarp replied, “For eighty-six years I have been his servant,[3] and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”[4]

You, the reader, are likely asking why this 86-year-old man is on trial? Who exactly was Polycarp? And what was it that brought him to this point in his life, to be standing in a Roman Colosseum facing certain execution, to be burned alive?

The Life of Polycarp

Polycarp was born to Christian parents about 69 C.E. in Asia Minor, at Smyrna. As he grew into a man, he was known for his kindness, self-discipline, compassionate treatment of others, and thorough study of God’s Word. Soon enough, he became an elder in the Christian congregation at Smyrna.

Polycarp was very fortunate to live in a time where he could learn from the apostles themselves. In fact, the apostle John was one of his teachers. Listen to Irenaeus’[5] own words about Polycarp:

Polycarp was not only instructed by apostles and conversant with many who had seen the Lord but was appointed by apostles to serve in Asia as Bishop of Smyrna. I myself saw him in my early years, for he lived a long time and was very old indeed when he laid down his life by a glorious and most splendid martyrdom. At all times, he taught the things which he had learnt from the apostles, which the Church transmits, which alone are true. These facts are attested by all the churches of Asia and the successors of Polycarp to this day—and he was a much more trustworthy and dependable witness to the truth than Valentinus and Marcion and all other wrong–headed persons. In the time of Anicetus he stayed for a while in Rome, where he won over many from the camp of these heretics in the Church of God, proclaiming that the one and only truth he had received from the apostles was the truth transmitted by the Church. And there are people who heard him describe how John, the Lord’s disciple, when at Ephesus went to take a bath, but seeing Cerinthus inside rushed out of the building without taking a bath, crying: “Let us get out of here, for fear the place falls in, now that Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is inside!” Polycarp himself on one occasion came face to face with Marcion, and when Marcion said, “Don’t you recognize me?” he replied: “I do indeed: I recognize the firstborn of Satan!” So careful were the apostles and their disciples to avoid even exchanging words with any falsifier of the truth, in obedience to the Pauline injunction: “If a man remains heretical after more than one warning, have no more to do with him, recognizing that a person of that type is a perverted sinner, self–condemned.[6]


A Witness to the Truth

Fortunately, Polycarp received the training that he did from the apostles, especially John. He was entering the beginning of the time period of the foretold apostasy [rebellion, falling away]: 

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Now we request you, brothers, with regard to the coming[7] of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a word or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive[8] you in any way, for it will not come unless the apostasy[9] [rebellion, falling away] comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy [rebellion, falling away] comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.

Polycarp was often moved to go out of his way to be there for others. For example, when Ignatius of Antioch, Syria, on the way to his martyrdom in Rome, asked the Philippians to send a letter to his congregation, Polycarp of Smyrna made sure it was delivered.

In Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians, we can appreciate the truths he shares with his readers.

  1. I greatly rejoice with you in our Lord Jesus Christ, because you welcomed the representations of the true love[10] and, as was proper for you,[11] helped on their way those men confined by chains suitable for saints, which are the diadems of those who are truly chosen by God and our Lord; (2) and because your firmly rooted faith, renowned from the earliest times, still perseveres and bears fruit to our Lord Jesus Christ, who endured for our sins, facing even death, “whom God raised up, having loosed the pangs of Hades.”[12] (3) “Though you have not seen him, you believe in him with an inexpressible and glorious joy”[13] (which many desire to experience), knowing that “by grace you have been saved, not because of works,”[14] but by the will of God through Jesus Christ.
  2. “Therefore prepare for action and serve God in fear”[15] and truth, leaving behind the empty and meaningless talk and the error of the crowd, and “believing in him who raised” our Lord Jesus Christ “from the dead and gave him glory”[16] and a throne at his right hand; to whom all things in heaven and on earth were subjected,[17] whom every breathing creature serves, who is coming as “Judge of the living and the dead,”[18] for whose blood God will hold responsible those who disobey him.[19] (2) But “he who raised him from the dead will raise us also,”[20] if we do his will and follow his commandments and love the things he loved, while avoiding every kind of unrighteousness, greed, love of money, slander and false testimony; “not repaying evil for evil or insult for insult”[21] or blow for blow or curse for curse, (3) but instead remembering what the Lord said as he taught: “Do not judge, that you may not be judged; forgive, and you will be forgiven; show mercy, that you may be shown mercy; with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you”;[22] and “blessed are the poor and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”[23]―Luke 6:20 and Matt. 5:10; cf. Matt. 5:3.

As you can see from the footnotes, Polycarp quoted abundantly from the Scriptures. In his letter to the Philippians, he referred to Matthew, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 1 Peter, to mention just a few. This sets an excellent example for us to follow and should help us to appreciate that the apologist, who lived right after the death of the last apostle, John, used the Scriptures to defend the truth as they understood it.

Polycarp in Smyrna

Smyrna was an ancient coastal city of Asia Minor, on the Aegean shore of what is now Asiatic Turkey. It was full of activity and a flourishing trading center. It had a temple of Tiberius Caesar and so sponsored emperor worship. In addition, Roman emperors were presented importantly as deities on coins and in inscriptions. Pagan religious philosophies were endorsed by royal authority.

Regardless of the wealth flowing into Smyrna, many of those within the Christian congregation was materially poor. However, in the time of the apostle John (c. 96 C.E.), they were commended for being spiritually rich.

Revelation 2:8-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Message to Smyrna

“And to the angel of the congregation in Smyrna write:

These are the things the first and the last says, who was dead and came to life:

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the blasphemy[24] of those who say that they are Jews and are not but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Look, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto 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 congregations. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’


We can attribute this spiritual maturity among the Christians in Smyrna, to the hard work of the elders, like Polycarp. Throughout the time of Polycarp’s serving as an overseer in the congregation, these ones lived through one difficult religious struggle after another. There was pressure from the Roman government, the fleshly non-Christian Jews, and conflicting creeds and cults. The community they had to go into to spread the gospel was widespread with demonic practices, such as sorcery and astrology, and thus the atmosphere was one of godlessness. The martyrdom of Polycarp took place on February 23, 155 C.E., where extremist Jews apparently helped with the gathering of firewood. They did this even though the execution took place on a great Sabbath day!

The Godless

After withdrawing from the city, Polycarp is hunted by a police captain named Herod and betrayed by young slaves who belong to his own house (6:2). He is arrested late in the evening in an “upper room” by police armed as if advancing against a robber (7:1; cf. Mt. 26:55). He refuses to flee, but like Jesus in Gethsemane says, “the will of God be done.” After a long prayer (7:3) he is taken back to the city riding on an ass on a “great Sabbath day” (8:1). [25]

Back in the arena, Polycarp was standing before the governor and an enormous crowd, looking for blood. The governor continued to push him to profess worshipful honor to Caesar:

  1. But as he continued to insist, saying, “Swear by the Genius of Caesar,” he answered: “If you vainly suppose that I will swear by the Genius of Caesar, as you request, and pretend not to know who I am, listen carefully: I am a Christian. Now if you want to learn the doctrine of Christianity, name a day and give me a hearing.” (2) The proconsul said: “Persuade the people.” But Polycarp said: “You I might have considered worthy of a reply, for we have been taught to pay proper respect to rulers and authorities appointed by God, as long as it does us no harm; but as for these, I do not think they are worthy, that I should have to defend myself before them.”[26]

Just moments later, Polycarp was burned to death because he would not forsake Jesus Christ.


1 The Epistle of Polycarp was written in reply to a communication from the Philippians. They had invited him to address words of exhortation to them (§ 3); they had requested him to forward by his own messenger the letter which they had addressed to the Syrian Church (§ 13); and they had asked him to send them any epistles of Ignatius which he might have in his hands (ib.).

This epistle is intimately connected with the letters and martyrdom of Ignatius himself. The Philippians had recently welcomed and escorted on their way certain saints who were in bonds (§ 1). From a later notice in the epistle it appears that Ignatius was one of these (§ 9). Two others besides are mentioned by name, Zosimus and Rufus (ib.). A not improbable conjecture makes these persons Bithynian Christians who had been sent by Pliny to Rome to be tried there and had joined Ignatius at Philippi. In this case they would be placed under the same escort with Ignatius, and proceed with him to Rome in the custody of the ‘ten leopards’ (Ign. Rom. 5). It is clear that Ignatius—probably by word of mouth—had given to the Philippians the same injunction which he gave to the churches generally (Philad. 10, Smyrn. 11, Polyc. 7), that they should send letters, and (where possible) representatives also, to congratulate the Church of Antioch on the restoration of peace. Hence the request of the Philippians, seconded by Ignatius himself, that Polycarp would forward their letter to Syria. It is plain likewise, that they had heard, either from Ignatius himself or from those about him, of the epistles which he had addressed to the Churches of Asia Minor, more especially to Smyrna. Hence their further petition that Polycarp would send them such of these letters as were in his possession. The visit of Ignatius had been recent—so recent indeed, that Polycarp, though he assumes that the saint has suffered martyrdom, is yet without any certain knowledge of the fact. He therefore asks the Philippians, who are some stages nearer to Rome than Smyrna, to communicate to him any information which they may have received respecting the saint and his companions (§ 13).

Beyond these references to Ignatius there is not much of personal matter in the letter. Polycarp refers to S. Paul’s communications with the Philippians, both written and oral (§§ 3, 11). He mentions the fame of the Philippian Church in the primitive days of the Gospel, and he congratulates them on sustaining their early reputation (§§ 1, 11). Incidentally he states that the Philippians were converted to the Gospel before the Smyrnæans (§ 11)—a statement which entirely accords with the notices of the two churches in the New Testament.

The fair fame of the Philippian Church however had been sullied by the sin of one unworthy couple. Valens and his wife—the Ananias and Sapphira of the Philippian community—had been guilty of some act of greed, perhaps of fraud and dishonesty. Valens was one of their presbyters, and thus the church was more directly responsible for his crime. Polycarp expresses himself much grieved. Though the incident itself is only mentioned in one passage, it has plainly made a deep impression on him. The sin of avarice is denounced again and again in the body of the letter (§§ 2, 4, 6, 11).

The letter is sent by the hand of one Crescens. The sister of Crescens also, who purposes visiting Philippi, is commended to them (§ 14).

2 The authorities for the text are as follows.

(1) Greek Manuscripts (G). These are nine in number (Vaticanus 859 [v], Ottobonianus 348 [o], Florentinus Laur. vii. 21 [f], Parisiensis Graec. 937 [p], Casanatensis g. v. 14 [c], Theatinus [t], Neapolitanus Mus. Nat. 11. a. 17 [n], Salmasianus [s], Andrius [a]), and all belong to the same family, as appears from the fact that the Epistle of Polycarp runs on continuously into the Epistle of Barnabas without any break, the mutilated ending of Polycarp § 9 ἀποθανότα καὶ διʼ ἡμᾶς ὑπὸ being followed by the mutilated beginning of Barnabas § 5 τὸν λαὸν τὸν καινὸν κ.τ.λ. Within this family however the mss fall into two subdivisions: (1) vopf, all mss in which the Epistle of Polycarp is attached to the pseudo-Ignatian letters; and (2) ctna (to which we may probably add s), where it stands alone. In the first subdivision, opf have no independent authority, being derived directly or indirectly from v. Of the two subdivisions the former is slightly superior to the latter.

(2) Latin Version (L). In the earlier part of the epistle this version is sometimes useful for correcting the text of the extant Greek mss; for, though very paraphrastic, it was made from an older form of the Greek than these. But the two are closely allied, as appears from the fact that this version is always found in connexion with the Latin of the pseudo-Ignatian letters and seems to have been translated from the same volume which contained them. For the latter part of the epistle, from § 10 onward, it is the sole authority; with the exception of portions of § 12, which are preserved in Syriac in passages of Timotheus and Severus or elsewhere, and nearly the whole of § 13, which is given by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History. The mss of which collations have been made for this part either by myself or by others are nine in number (Reginensis 81 [r], Trecensis 412 [t], Parisiensis 1639, formerly Colbertinus 1039 [c], Bruxellensis 5510 [b], Oxon. Balliolensis 229 [o], Palatinus 150 [p], Florentinus Laur. xxiii. 20 [f], Vindobonensis 1068 [v], Oxon. Magdalenensis 78 [m]).

It will have been seen that, so far as regards the Greek and Latin mss, the Epistle of Polycarp is closely connected with the Long Recension of the Ignatian Epistles. This fact, if it had stood by itself, would have thrown some discredit on the integrity of the text. It might have been suspected that the same hand which interpolated the Ignatian Epistles had tampered with this also. But the internal evidence, and especially the allusiveness of the references to the Ignatian Epistles, is decisive in favour of its genuineness. As regards external evidence, not only does Irenæus, a pupil of Polycarp, allude to ‘the very adequate epistle of Polycarp written to the Philippians,’ but the quotations of Eusebius, Timotheus, and Severus, with the other Syriac fragments, are a highly important testimony. They show that, wherever we have opportunity of testing the text of the Greek and Latin copies, its general integrity is vindicated.


Polycarp and the presbyters that are with him unto the Church of God which sojourneth at Philippi; mercy unto you and peace from God Almighty and Jesus Christ our Saviour be multiplied.

  1. I rejoiced with you greatly in our Lord Jesus Christ, for that ye received the followers of the true Love and escorted them on their way, as befitted you—those men encircled in saintly bonds which are the diadems of them that be truly chosen of God and our Lord; 2and that the stedfast root of your faith which was famed from primitive times abideth until now and beareth fruit unto our Lord Jesus Christ, who endured to face even death for our sins, whom God raised, having loosed the pangs of Hades; on whom, 3though ye saw Him not, ye believe with joy unutterable and full of glory; unto which joy many desire to enter in; forasmuch as ye know that it is by grace ye are saved, not of works, but by the will of God through Jesus Christ.
  2. Wherefore gird up your loins and serve God in fear and truth, forsaking the vain and empty talking and the error of the many, for that ye have believed on Him that raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and gave unto Him glory and a throne on His right hand; unto whom all things were made subject that are in heaven and that are on the earth; to whom every creature that hath breath doeth service; who cometh as judge of quick and dead; whose blood God will require of them that are disobedient unto Him. 2Now He that raised Him from the dead will raise us also; if we do His will and walk in His commandments and love the things which He loved, abstaining from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false witness; not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing or blow for blow or cursing for cursing; 3but remembering the words which the Lord spake, as He taught; Judge not that ye be not judged. Forgive, and it shall be forgiven to you. Have mercy that ye may receive mercy. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again; and again Blessed are the poor and they that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.
  3. These things, brethren, I write unto you concerning righteousness, not because I laid this charge upon myself, but because ye invited me. 2For neither am I, nor is any other like unto me, able to follow the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who when he came among you taught face to face with the men of that day the word which concerneth truth carefully and surely; who also, when he was absent, wrote a letter unto you, into the which if ye look diligently, ye shall be able to be builded up unto the faith given to you, 3which is the mother of us all, while hope followeth after and love goeth before—love toward God and Christ and toward our neighbour. For if any man be occupied with these, he hath fulfilled the commandment of righteousness; for he that hath love is far from all sin.
  4. But the love of money is the beginning of all troubles. Knowing therefore that we brought nothing into the world neither can we carry anything out, let us arm ourselves with the armour of righteousness, and let us teach ourselves first to walk in the commandment of the Lord; 2and then our wives also, to walk in the faith that hath been given unto them and in love and purity, cherishing their own husbands in all truth and loving all men equally in all chastity, and to train their children in the training of the fear of God. 3Our widows must be sober-minded as touching the faith of the Lord, making intercession without ceasing for all men, abstaining from all calumny, evil speaking, false witness, love of money, and every evil thing, knowing that they are God’s altar, and that all sacrifices are carefully inspected, and nothing escapeth Him either of their thoughts or intents or any of the secret things of the heart.
  5. Knowing then that God is not mocked, we ought to walk worthily of His commandment and His glory. 2In like manner deacons should be blameless in the presence of His righteousness, as deacons of God and Christ and not of men; not calumniators, not double-tongued, not lovers of money, temperate in all things, compassionate, diligent, walking according to the truth of the Lord who became a minister (deacon) of all. For if we be well pleasing unto Him in this present world, we shall receive the future world also, according as He promised us to raise us from the dead, and that if we conduct ourselves worthily of Him we shall also reign with Him, if indeed we have faith. 3In like manner also the younger men must be blameless in all things, caring for purity before everything and curbing themselves from every evil. For it is a good thing to refrain from lusts in the world, for every lust warreth against the Spirit, and neither whoremongers nor effeminate persons nor defilers of themselves with men shall inherit the kingdom of God, neither they that do untoward things. Wherefore it is right to abstain from all these things, submitting yourselves to the presbyters and deacons as to God and Christ. The virgins must walk in a blameless and pure conscience.
  6. And the presbyters also must be compassionate, merciful towards all men, turning back the sheep that are gone astray, visiting all the infirm, not neglecting a widow or an orphan or a poor man: but providing always for that which is honorable in the sight of God and of men, abstaining from all anger, respect of persons, unrighteous judgment, being far from all love of money, not quick to believe anything against any man, not hasty in judgment, knowing that we all are debtors of sin. 2If then we entreat the Lord that He would forgive us, we also ought to forgive: for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God, and we must all stand at the judgment-seat of Christ, and each man must give an account of himself. 3Let us therefore so serve Him with fear and all reverence, as He himself gave commandment and the Apostles who preached the Gospel to us and the prophets who proclaimed beforehand the coming of our Lord; being zealous as touching that which is good, abstaining from offences and from the false brethren and from them that bear the name of the Lord in hypocrisy, who lead foolish men astray.
  7. For every one who shall not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is antichrist: and whosoever shall not confess the testimony of the Cross, is of the devil; and whosoever shall pervert the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts and say that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, that man is the first-born of Satan. 2Wherefore let us forsake the vain doing of the many and their false teachings, and turn unto the word which was delivered unto us from the beginning, being sober unto prayer and constant in fastings, entreating the all-seeing God with supplications that He bring us not into temptation, according as the Lord said, The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
  8. Let us therefore without ceasing hold fast by our hope and by the earnest of our righteousness, which is Jesus Christ who took up our sins in His own body upon the tree, who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth, but for our sakes He endured all things, that we might live in Him. 2Let us therefore become imitators of His endurance; and if we should suffer for His name’s sake, let us glorify Him. For He gave this example to us in His own person, and we believed this.
  9. I exhort you all therefore to be obedient unto the word of righteousness and to practise all endurance, which also ye saw with your own eyes in the blessed Ignatius and Zosimus and Rufus, yea and in others also who came from among yourselves, as well as in Paul himself and the rest of the Apostles; 2being persuaded that all these ran not in vain but in faith and righteousness, and that they are in their due place in the presence of the Lord, with whom also they suffered. For they loved not the present world, but Him that died for our sakes and was raised by God for us.
  10. Stand fast therefore in these things and follow the example of the Lord, being firm in the faith and immovable, in love of the brotherhood kindly affectioned one to another, partners with the truth, forestalling one another in the gentleness of the Lord, despising no man. 2When ye are able to do good, defer it not, for Pitifulness delivereth from death. Be ye all subject one to another, having your conversation unblameable among the Gentiles, that from your good works both ye may receive praise and the Lord may not be blasphemed in you. 3But woe to him through whom the name of the Lord is blasphemed. Therefore teach all men soberness, in which ye yourselves also walk.
  11. I was exceedingly grieved for Valens, who aforetime was a presbyter among you, because he is so ignorant of the office which was given unto him. I warn you therefore that ye refrain from covetousness, and that ye be pure and truthful. Refrain from all evil. 2But he who cannot govern himself in these things, how doth he enjoin this upon another? If a man refrain not from covetousness, he shall be defiled by idolatry, and shall be judged as one of the Gentiles who know not the judgment of the Lord. Nay, know we not, that the saints shall judge the world, as Paul teacheth? 3But I have not found any such thing in you, neither have heard thereof, among whom the blessed Paul laboured, who were his letters in the beginning. For he boasteth of you in all those churches which alone at that time knew God; for we knew Him not as yet. 4Therefore I am exceedingly grieved for him and for his wife, unto whom may the Lord grant true repentance. Be ye therefore yourselves also sober herein, and hold not such as enemies, but restore them as frail and erring members, that ye may save the whole body of you. For so doing, ye do edify one another.
  12. For I am persuaded that ye are well trained in the sacred writings, and nothing is hidden from you. But to myself this is not granted. Only, as it is said in these scriptures, Be ye angry and sin not, and Let not the sun set on your wrath. Blessed is he that remembereth this; and I trust that this is in you. 2Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal High-priest Himself, the [Son of] God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth, and in all gentleness and in all avoidance of wrath and in forbearance and long suffering and in patient endurance and in purity; and may He grant unto you a lot and portion among His saints, and to us with you, and to all that are under heaven, who shall believe on our Lord and God Jesus Christ and on His Father that raised Him from the dead. 3Pray for all the saints. Pray also for kings and powers and princes, and for them that persecute and hate you, and for the enemies of the cross, that your fruit may be manifest among all men, that ye may be perfect in Him.
  13. Ye wrote to me, both ye yourselves and Ignatius, asking that if any one should go to Syria he might carry thither the letters from you. And this I will do, if I get a fit opportunity, either I myself, or he whom I shall send to be ambassador on your behalf also. 2The letters of Ignatius which were sent to us by him, and others as many as we had by us, we send unto you, according as ye gave charge; the which are subjoined to this letter; from which ye will be able to gain great advantage. For they comprise faith and endurance and every kind of edification, which pertaineth unto our Lord. Moreover concerning Ignatius himself and those that were with him, if ye have any sure tidings, certify us.
  14. I write these things to you by Crescens, whom I commended to you recently and now commend unto you: for he hath walked blamelessly with us; and I believe also with you in like manner. But ye shall have his sister commended, when she shall come to you. Fare ye well in the Lord Jesus Christ in grace, ye and all yours. Amen.


1 The document which gives an account of Polycarp’s martyrdom is in the form of a letter addressed by the Church of Smyrna to the Church of Philomelium. It was however intended for much wider circulation, and at the close (§ 20) directions are given to secure its being so circulated. The letter seems to have been written shortly after the martyrdom itself, which happened a. d. 155 or 156. It consists of two parts, (1) the main body of the letter ending with the twentieth chapter, and (2) a number of supplementary paragraphs, comprising the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters. In point of form these supplementary paragraphs are separable from the rest of the letter. Indeed, as Eusebius, our chief witness to the genuineness of the documents, ends his quotations and paraphrases before he reaches the close of the main body of the letter, we cannot say confidently whether he had or had not the supplementary paragraphs. The genuineness of the two parts therefore must be considered separately.

For the genuineness of the main document there is abundant evidence. A quarter of a century after the occurrence Irenæus and a little later Polycrates bear testimony to the fact of Polycarp’s martyrdom. Further the Letter of the Gallican Churches (c. a.d. 177) presents striking coincidences with the language of the Letter of the Smyrnæans, and unless several points of resemblance are accidental, Lucian in his account of Peregrinus Proteus (c. a.d. 165) must have been acquainted with the document. At the beginning of the fourth century Eusebius directly refers to it in his Chronicon, and again in his Ecclesiastical History (iv. 15), where he quotes and paraphrases nearly the whole of it, intimating that it was the earliest written record of a martyrdom with which he was acquainted. At the close of the same century the author of the Pionian Life of Polycarp inserts the letter in his work. The internal evidence likewise is clearly in favour of the genuineness; and the adverse argument based upon the miraculous element in the story falls to the ground when the incident of the dove (§ 16) is proved to be a later interpolation.

The supplementary paragraphs present a more difficult problem. They fall into three parts, separate in form the one from the other, and not improbably written by different hands; (i) The Chronological Appendix (§ 21); (ii) The Commendatory Postscript (§ 22. 1); (iii) The History of the Transmission (§ 22. 2, 3).

The first of these closes with a paragraph which is copied from the close of the Epistle of S. Clement, just as the opening of the Smyrnæan Letter is modelled on the opening of S. Clement’s Epistle. The obligation being the same in kind at the beginning and at the end of the letter, the obvious inference is that they were penned by the same hand. And when the historical references contained in this appendix are found upon examination not only not to contradict history, but, as in the case of Philip the Trallian, to be confirmed by fresh accessions to our knowledge of the archæology and chronology of the age, the conclusion becomes irresistible that § 21 formed part of the original document.

The Commendatory Postscript is omitted in the Moscow ms and in the Latin version, but it may well have been a postscript added by the Philomelian Church, when they forwarded copies of the letter, as they were charged to do (§ 20), to churches more distant from Smyrna than themselves.

The History of the Transmission occurs in an expanded form in the Moscow ms, but in each edition it ends with a note purporting to be written by one Pionius. He tells us that he copied it from the transcript of the last-mentioned transcriber, and that Polycarp revealed its locality to him in a vision of which he promises to give an account in the sequel. Now the Acts are extant of a Pionius who was martyred under Decius (a.d. 250) while celebrating the birthday of Polycarp. There is also a Life of Polycarp extant (incorporating this very Letter of the Smyrnæans), which purports to have been written by this Pionius, but is manifestly the work of a forger of the fifth century. This life is incomplete, otherwise doubtless it would have contained the account of the vision of Pionius promised in the sequel. The writer of the Pionian Life is therefore the author of the History of the Transmission. One further fact remains to be recorded. Not only do the Pionian Life and the History of the Transmission appeal without scruple to ancient documents which have no existence. They abound largely in the supernatural. Now our extant mss of the Smyrnæan Epistle have the Pionian postscript and therefore represent the Pionian edition of that Letter. Eusebius alone of all extant authorities is prior to the false Pionius and gives an independent text. Now our spurious Pionius was before all things a miracle-monger. Among other miracles he relates that on the eve of Polycarp’s appointment to the episcopate a dove hovered round his head. So also in the Letter of the Smyrnæans a dove is found leaving his body when his spirit is wafted to heaven (§ 16). But this miracle appears only in the Pionian copies, not in Eusebius. Moreover, by the abruptness of its appearance an interpolation is suggested. Is it not the same dove which appears on the two occasions, and was it not uncaged and let fly by the same hand? We cannot resist the suspicion that our spurious Pionius was responsible for both these appearances.

2 The authorities for the text are threefold.

  1. The Greek Manuscripts [G], five in number, viz. (1) Mosquensis 160 (now 159) [m] which omits the first paragraph § 22 and amplifies the remaining part of this same chapter. This, though of the thirteenth century, is the most important of the Greek manuscripts. (2) Barroccianus 238 [b] in the Bodleian Library, an eleventh century ms from which Ussher derived his text. (3) Paris. Bibl. Nat. Graec. 1452 [p] of the tenth century, called by Halloix Mediceus. (4) Vindob. Hist. Graec. Eccl. iii. [v] an eleventh or early twelfth century ms betraying marks of an arbitrary literary revision; and (5) S. Sep. Hierosol. 1 fol. 136 [s] a tenth century ms of the same group as bpv, discovered quite recently in the Library of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem by Professor Rendel Harris.
  2. Eusebius [E]. The extracts found in Hist. Eccl. iv. 15; not only the earliest, but also the most valuable authority.
  3. The Latin Version [L] in three forms; (a) as given in Rufinus’ translation of Eusebius, which is probably the version of the martyrdom read, as we learn from Gregory of Tours that it was read, in the Churches of Gaul; (b) an independent Latin Version very loose and paraphrastic; (c) a combination of the two preceding forms. The mss of the Latin Version are numerous.

There are also a Syriac Version and a Coptic Version in the Memphitic dialect; but both of these, like the Rufinian form, are made not from the document itself, but from the account in Eusebius. They do not therefore constitute fresh authorities.


The church of god which sojourneth at Smyrna to the Church of God which sojourneth 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. We write unto you, brethren, an account of what befel 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. 2For 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 concerneth ourselves, but also to that which concerneth our neighbours. For it is the office of true and stedfast love, not only to desire that oneself be saved, but all the brethren also.
  2. Blessed therefore and noble are all the martyrdoms which have taken place according to the will of God (for it behoveth us to be very scrupulous and to assign to God the power over all things). 2For who could fail to admire their nobleness and patient endurance and loyalty to the Master? seeing that when they were so torn by lashes that the mechanism of their flesh was visible even as far as the inward veins and arteries, 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. 3And 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 hath heard nor eye hath 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. 4And 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. But thanks be to God; for He verily 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. 2So after this all the multitude, marvelling 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. 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. This man the proconsul by much entreaty persuaded to swear the oath and to offer incense. For this cause therefore, brethren, we praise not those who deliver themselves up, since the Gospel doth not so teach us.
  5. Now the glorious Polycarp at the first, when he heard it, so far from being dismayed, was desirous of remaining 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. 2And while praying he falleth into a trance three days before his apprehension; and he saw his pillow burning with fire. And he turned and said unto those that were with him: ‘It must needs be that I shall be burned alive.’
  6. And as those that were in search of him persisted, he departed to another farm; and forthwith they that were in search of him came up; and not finding him, they seized two slave lads, one of whom confessed under torture; 2for 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 himself might fulfil his appointed lot, being made a partaker with Christ, while they—his betrayers—underwent the punishment of Judas himself.
  7. So taking the lad with them, on the Friday about the supper hour, the gendarmes and horsemen went forth with their accustomed arms, hastening as against a robber. And coming up in a body late in the evening, they found the man himself in bed in an upper chamber in a certain cottage; and though he might have departed thence to another place, he would not, saying, The will of God be done. 2So when he heard that they were come, he went down and conversed with them, the bystanders marvelling at his age and his constancy, and wondering how there should be so much eagerness for the apprehension of an old man like him. Thereupon forthwith he 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 that he might pray unmolested; 3and 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. 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 an ass and brought him into the city, it being a high sabbath. 2And 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, Cæsar is Lord, and offering incense’, with more to this effect, ‘and saving thyself?’ But he at first gave them no answer. When however they persisted, he said, ‘I am not going to do what ye counsel me.’ 3Then 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. 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. 2When 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 Cæsar; 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.’ 3But when the magistrate pressed him hard and said, ‘Swear the oath, and I will release thee; revile the Christ,’ Polycarp said, ‘Fourscore and six years have I been His servant, and He hath done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?’
  10. But on his persisting again and saying, ‘Swear by the genius of Cæsar,’ he answered, ‘If thou supposest vainly that I will swear by the genius of Cæsar, as thou sayest, and feignest that thou art ignorant who I am, hear thou plainly, I am a Christian. But if thou wouldest learn the doctrine of Christianity, assign a day and give me a hearing.’ 2The proconsul said; ‘Prevail upon the people.’ But Polycarp said; ‘As for thyself, I should have held thee worthy of discourse; for we have been taught to render, as is meet, to princes and authorities appointed by God such honour as does us no harm; but as for these, I do not hold them worthy, that I should defend myself before them.’
  11. Whereupon the proconsul said; ‘I have wild beasts here and I will throw thee to them, except thou 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 untowardness to righteousness.’ 2Then he said to him again, ‘I will cause thee to be consumed by fire, if thou despisest the wild beasts, unless thou repent.’ But 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. But why delayest thou? Come, do what thou wilt.’
  12. 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 hath confessed himself to be a Christian.’ 2When 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 teacheth numbers 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. 3Then 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.’
  13. These things then happened with so great speed, quicker than words could tell, the crowds forthwith collecting from the workshops and baths timber and faggots, and the Jews more especially assisting in this with zeal, as is their wont. 2But when the pile was made ready, divesting himself of all his upper garments and loosing his girdle, he endeavoured also to take off his shoes, though not in the habit of doing this before, because all the faithful at all times vied eagerly who should soonest touch his flesh. For he had been treated with all honour for his holy life even before his gray hairs came. 3Forthwith then the instruments that were prepared for the pile were placed about him; and as they were going likewise to nail him to the stake, he said; ‘Leave me as I am; for He that hath granted me to endure the fire will grant me also to remain at the pile unmoved, even without the security which ye seek from the nails.’
  14. So they did not nail him, but tied him. Then he, placing his hands behind him and being bound to the stake, like a noble ram out of a great flock for an offering, a burnt sacrifice made ready and acceptable to God, looking up to heaven said; ‘O Lord God Almighty, the Father of Thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge of Thee, the God of angels and powers and of all creation and of the whole race of the righteous, who live in Thy presence; 2I bless Thee for that Thou hast granted me this day and hour, that I might receive a portion amongst the number of martyrs in the cup of [Thy] Christ unto resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received among these in Thy presence this day, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as Thou didst prepare and reveal it beforehand, and hast accomplished it, Thou that art the faithful and true God. 3For this cause, yea and for all things, I praise Thee, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, through the eternal and heavenly High-priest, Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, through whom with Him and the Holy Spirit be glory both now [and ever] and for the ages to come. Amen.’
  15. When he had offered up the Amen and finished his prayer, the firemen lighted the fire. And, a mighty flame flashing forth, we to whom it was given to see, saw a marvel, yea and we were preserved that we might relate to the rest what happened. 2The fire, making the appearance of a vault, like the sail of a vessel filled by the wind, made a wall round about the body of the martyr; and it was there in the midst, not like flesh burning, but like [a loaf in the oven or like] gold and silver refined in a furnace. For we perceived such a fragrant smell, as if it were the wafted odour of frankincense or some other precious spice.
  16. So at length the lawless men, seeing that his body could not be consumed by the fire, ordered an executioner to go up to him and stab him with a dagger. And when he had done this, there came forth [a dove and] a quantity of blood, so that it extinguished the fire; and all the multitude marvelled that there should be so great a difference between the unbelievers and the elect. 2In the number of these was this man, the glorious martyr Polycarp, who was found an apostolic and prophetic teacher in our own time, a bishop of the holy Church which is in Smyrna. For every word which he uttered from his mouth was accomplished and will be accomplished.
  17. But the jealous and envious Evil One, the adversary of the family of the righteous, having seen the greatness of his martyrdom and his blameless life from the beginning, and how he was crowned with the crown of immortality and had won a reward which none could gainsay, managed that not even his poor body should be taken away by us, although many desired to do this and to touch his holy flesh. 2So he put forward Nicetes, the father of Herod and brother of Alce, to plead with the magistrate not to give up his body, ‘lest,’ so it was said, ‘they should abandon the crucified one and begin to worship this man’—this being done at the instigation and urgent entreaty of the Jews, who also watched when we were about to take it from the fire, not knowing that it will be impossible for us either to forsake at any time the Christ who suffered for the salvation of the whole world of those that are saved—suffered though faultless for sinners—nor to worship any other. 3For Him, being the Son of God, we adore, but the martyrs as disciples and imitators of the Lord we cherish as they deserve for their matchless affection towards their own King and Teacher. May it be our lot also to be found partakers and fellow-disciples with them.
  18. The centurion therefore, seeing the opposition raised on the part of the Jews, set him in the midst and burnt him after their custom. 2And so we afterwards took up his bones which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place; 3where the Lord will permit us to gather ourselves together, as we are able, in gladness and joy, and to celebrate the birth-day of his martyrdom for the commemoration of those that have already fought in the contest, and for the training and preparation of those that shall do so hereafter.
  19. So it befel the blessed Polycarp, who having with those from Philadelphia suffered martyrdom in Smyrna—twelve in all—is especially remembered more than the others by all men, so that he is talked of even by the heathen in every place: for he showed himself not only a notable teacher, but also a distinguished martyr, whose martyrdom all desire to imitate, seeing that it was after the pattern of the Gospel of Christ. 2Having by his endurance overcome the unrighteous ruler in the conflict and so received the crown of immortality, he rejoiceth in company with the Apostles and all righteous men, and glorifieth the Almighty God and Father, and blesseth our Lord Jesus Christ, the saviour of our souls and helmsman of our bodies and shepherd of the universal Church which is throughout the world.
  20. Ye indeed required that the things which happened should be shown unto you at greater length: but we for the present have certified you as it were in a summary through our brother Marcianus. When then ye have informed yourselves of these things, send the letter about likewise to the brethren which are farther off, that they also may glorify the Lord, who maketh election from His own servants. 2Now unto Him that is able to bring us all by His grace and bounty unto His eternal kingdom, through His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, be glory, honour, power, and greatness for ever. Salute all the saints. They that are with us salute you, and Euarestus, who wrote the letter, with his whole house.
  21. Now the blessed Polycarp was martyred on the second day of the first part of the month Xanthicus, on the seventh before the kalends of March, on a great sabbath, at the eighth hour. He was apprehended by Herodes, when Philip of Tralles was high-priest, in the proconsulship of Statius Quadratus, but in the reign of the Eternal King Jesus Christ. To whom be the glory, honour, greatness, and eternal throne, from generation to generation. Amen.
  22. (1) We bid you God speed, brethren, while ye walk by the word of Jesus Christ which is according to the Gospel; with whom be glory to God for the salvation of His holy elect; even as the blessed Polycarp suffered martyrdom, in whose footsteps may it be our lot to be found in the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

2(2) This account Gaius copied from the papers of Irenæus, a disciple of Polycarp. The same also lived with Irenæus.

3(3) And I Socrates wrote it down in Corinth from the copy of Gaius. Grace be with all men.

4(4) And I Pionius again wrote it down from the aforementioned copy, having searched it out (for the blessed Polycarp showed me in a revelation, as I will declare in the sequel), gathering it together when it was now well nigh worn out by age, that the Lord Jesus Christ may gather me also with His elect into His heavenly kingdom; to whom be the glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

The three preceding paragraphs as read in the Moscow MS.

2(2) This account Gaius copied from the papers of Irenæus. The same lived with Irenæus who had been a disciple of the holy Polycarp. For this Irenæus, being in Rome at the time of the martyrdom of the bishop Polycarp, instructed many; and many most excellent and orthodox treatises by him are in circulation. In these he makes mention of Polycarp, saying that he was taught by him. And he ably refuted every heresy, and handed down the catholic rule of the Church just as he had received it from the saint. He mentions this fact also, that when Marcion, after whom the Marcionites are called, met the holy Polycarp on one occasion, and said ‘Recognize us, Polycarp,’ he said in reply to Marcion, ‘Yes indeed, I recognize the firstborn of Satan.’ The following statement also is made in the writings of Irenæus, that on the very day and hour when Polycarp was martyred in Smyrna Irenæus being in the city of the Romans heard a voice as of a trumpet saying, ‘Polycarp is martyred.’

3(3) From these papers of Irenæus then, as has been stated already, Gaius made a copy, and from the copy of Gaius Isocrates made another in Corinth.

4(4) And I Pionius again wrote it down from the copy of Isocrates, having searched for it in obedience to a revelation of the holy Polycarp, gathering it together, when it was well nigh worn out by age, that the Lord Jesus Christ may gather me also with His elect into His heavenly kingdom; to whom be the glory with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.[1]

[1] Joseph Barber Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer, The Apostolic Fathers (London: Macmillan and Co., 1891), 163–211.



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[1] Polycarp: so gE; m (followed by Lightfoot) omits.

[2] Genius: i.e., the guardian spirit.

[3] have … servant: so g; mE read have served him.

[4] Michael William Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, Third ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2007), 315, 317.

[5] Irenaeus was born between 120 C.E. and 140 C.E. in or near the city of Smyrna, who died about 200 C.E. He served as an elder in Gaul. He was an early apologist, who wrote in defense of the Christian truth as he knew it. His principal writing was The Refutation and Overthrow of the Knowledge Falsely So Called,” which was commonly referred to as “Against Heresies.”

[6] Irenaeus Against Heresies 3.3.4; Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4.14.3–8. This translation from edition cited above.

[7] Presence; Coming: (Gr. parousia) The Greek word literally means,” which is derived from para, meaning “with,” and ousia, meaning “being.” It denotes both an “arrival” and a consequent “presence with.” Depending on the context, it can mean “presence,” “arrival,” “appearance,” or “coming.” In some contexts this word is describing the presence of Jesus Christ in the last days, i.e., from his ascension in 33 C.E. up unto his second coming, with the emphasis being on his second coming, the end of the age of Satan’s reign of terror over the earth. We do not know the day nor the hours of this second coming. (Matt 24:36) It covers a marked period of time with the focus on the end of that period.–Matt. 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Cor. 15:23; 16:17; 2 Cor. 7:6-7; 10:10; Php 1:26; 2:12; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:2.

[8] Or seduce

[9] Apostasy: (Gr. apostasia) The term literally means “to stand away from” and is used to refer to ones who ‘stand away from the truth.’ It is abandonment, a rebellion, an apostasy, a refusal to accept or acknowledge true worship. In Scripture, this is used primarily concerning the one who rises up in defiance of the only true God and his people, working in opposition to the truth.–Ac 21:21; 2 Thess. 2:3.

[10] I.e., Ignatius and his companions.

[11] as … you: or possibly as you had opportunity.

[12] Acts 2:24 (Western text).

[13] 1 Pet. 1:8.

[14] Eph. 2:5, 8–9.

[15] 1 Pet. 1:13; cf. Ps. 2:11.

[16] 1 Pet. 1:21.

[17] Cf. 1 Cor. 15:28; Phil. 2:10; 3:21.

[18] Acts 10:42.

[19] Cf. Luke 11:50–51.

[20] Cf. 2 Cor. 4:14.

[21] 1 Pet. 3:9.

[22] Matt. 7:1–2 (cf. Luke 6:36–38); 1 Clem. 13:2.

[23] Michael William Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, Updated ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2007), 281, 283.

[24] I.e. slander

[25] Geoffrey W. Bromiley, vol. 1, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1988; 2002), 211.

[26] Michael William Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, Third ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2007), 315, 317.

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