Bishop and Martyr|
St. Polycarp (c. 69 – c.155) was possibly one of the last living links to the Apostles. Polycarp was according to Irenaeus, who heard him speak in his youth, and by Tertullian, that he had been a disciple of John the Apostle. His contemporaries at the time were Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp is regarded as one of three chief Apostolic Fathers. A companion of Polycarp was Pappias of Hierapolis. Tradition believes that not only was Papias considered a “hearer of John”, but that he may have shared in Polycarp’s martyrdom. Being a “hearer of John”, it is possible that he may have read some of Paul’s writings, As Paul is mentioned in Polycarp’s only surviving writing, his Letter to the Philippians. In his letter, Polycarp gives advice on how to lead a virtuous life, to remain strong in their faith and to flee from materialism. But of particular interest to me is his advice for the Deacon, “In 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.” (Polycarp 5:2).
Polycarp was recognized as one of the early combatants of Christian heresies. He is known for working against two major heretical schools of thought. The first being Docetism, the belief that Jesus only seemed to become man. Polycarp came out against this in his letter to the Philippians and the heretic Valens. Polycarp stated “For every one who shall not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is antichrist: and...