The Martyrdom of Polycarp

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The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp,
Bishop of Smyrna

In the article, "The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna," there are two main concerns that are brought to our attention: the original writer and the translators, and the martyrdom of Polycarp. In the opening paragraph, we can see the greeting presented to the Church of God in Philomelium from the Church of God in Smyrna. To the reader, this letter might appear to be similar to letters we find in Romans, Corinthians, Thessalonians, etc.

This particular replica of the manuscript was copied by Pionius, who is later arrested on the anniversary of Polycarp's martyrdom. It is first called to our attention, however, in section XXII of the manuscript that the original author of this letter is Irenaeus, who was a disciple of Polycarp. Later Gaius, who lived with Irenaeus, copies it for himself. Irenaeus had searched for this document because Polycarp had shown it to him in a dream. He later finds the document, worn from age, and copies it.

We first meet Polycarp in his final days. He went from farm to farm in an attempt to hide from the government officials. Finally, he is turned in by the betrayal of a slave who confessed while being tortured. When the officials came to arrest him, he asked for one hour to pray. Here, I get the impression that these officials were very trustworthy towards Polycarp. This made me wonder if they knew he would not try to flee. But after he had prayed for an hour, they took him into the city riding a donkey. This was the perfect picture of Christ. Polycarp probably knew that he was far from being Christ, but he surrendered just as humbly as Christ did.

As they take Polycarp into the arena to be killed, they give him another chance to deny Christ, and his response was incredible. This response was one that showed Polycarp's selflessness. His martyrdom is the second greatest (Christ's being the greatest) of all the martyrs. Polycarp knew that more would...
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