by John Barnett

Building A Healthy Body - Ten Ways
John Barnett
I Thessalonians 4:18

One thing for sure, the early church knew how to be comforting and encouraging one another. They faced such a hostile world united against them, they had no where to turn but to God and no one to lean on but each other! A notable example of this is the death of Polycarp a man led to Christ by the Apostle John and living into the 2nd century church as a leader and pastor.

The Martyrdom of Polycarp is one of the better-known stories from the pages of early Christian history. We have no idea who the original author was, but we know Polycarp himself rather well. He was apparently a disciple of the apostle John who served as bishop (or pastor) of the Church at Smyrna, not far from Ephesus. We have a letter he wrote to the Philippian church, but over the years Christians have remembered him most often as the steadfast martyr who dared to defy the Roman authorities in the year 155 or 156.

When riots against Christians first broke out in Smyrna, Polycarp's friends urged him to withdraw to a farm outside the city. He did. But when members of his own household disclosed his hideout, police came to arrest him and delivered him to the proconsul at the city arena, which was crowded with spectators awaiting the execution of the notorious leader of the Christians.

When he entered the arena...[the] proconsul gave him the choice of cursing the name of Christ and making sacrifice to Caesar or death. Eighty and six years have I served Him said Polycarp, and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me? The proconsul threatened him with burning, and Polycarp replied: You threaten me with the fire that burns for a time and is quickly quenched, for you do no know the fire that awaits the wicked in the judgment to come and in everlasting punishment. Why are you waiting? Come, do what you will.

But the proconsul was insistent and said: "Take the oath, and I shall release ...

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