Born c. 69, Polycarp was a central figure in the Early Church. A disciple of the evangelist John, he linked the first generation of believers to later Christians. After serving for many years as bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp was arrested, tried, and executed for his faith on February 23, c. 156. An eyewitness narrative of his death, The Martyrdom of Polycarp, continues to encourage believers in times of persecution. (LCMS.org/worship)
PRAYER: O God, the maker of heaven and earth, You gave boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Savior and steadfastness to die for the faith to Your venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp. Grant us grace to follow his example in sharing the cup of Christ’s suffering so that we may also share in His glorious resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. (Treasury of Daily Prayer:1150)
Polycarp to the Philippians:
If 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.
Let 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 offenses and from the false brethren and from them that bear the name of the Lord in hypocrisy, who lead foolish men astray.
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 firstborn of Satan.
Wherefore 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 is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak. (THE EPISTLE OF POLYCARP, Translated by J.B. Lightfoot; 6:2–7:3)