Bring What Thou Wilt

bibles12

Polycarp (c. 69 – c. 156),1 Bishop of Smyrna, was one of the foremost leaders of the Church in the second century. He studied under the Apostle John and, with Ignatius of Antioch, was one of the vital links between the apostolic and patristic periods. A strong defender of orthodoxy, he opposed such heretical groups as the Marcionites and the Valentinians. When Ignatius was being taken to Rome to be put to death, he wrote of Polycarp being clothed “with the garment of grace.” Polycarp was himself arrested by Roman officials in Smyrna soon after returning from a trip to Rome to discuss the date for Easter and was martyred.

His defense against the Roman proconsul contained a clear and courageous witness to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of fearing “those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul,” Polycarp feared God “who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28 ESV). Polycarp’s gospel courage sprang from his gospel clarity.

Eighty and six years have I served him, and he hath done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?2

Thou threatenest the fire that burns for an hour and in a little while is quenched; for thou knowest not of the fire of the judgement to come, and the fire of the eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why delayest thou? Bring what thou wilt.3

Footnotes:

1 There is some dispute about the date of his death; Eusebius of Caesarea places the year at 167 or 168, meaning it would have fallen in the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

2 “The Martyrdom of Polycarp,” c.IX, cited in H. Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church, 2nd ed., (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963), 14.

3 Ibid, c.XI, 15.

Share this article on…

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
More Articles

Our Basic Need

In her first novel, Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor says of her character Hazel Motes that “there was a deep, black, wordless conviction in him that

Read More »

Models of the Church

When I was in seminary, Professor Rick Lints made a memorable statement. After lecturing on the Reformation’s conception of salvation, he asserted that “This generation

Read More »

The Crux of Gospel Preaching

The acclaimed Italian operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti was a nervous wreck before every performance. Perhaps this would be the day that he would finally fail?

Read More »