Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

The Epistle of Polycarp

An excellent reminder for all believers.

Written early in the second century, this brief epistle (14 chapters), from the Bishop of Smyrna to the churches in Philippi, emphasizes the importance of Christians living their faith in emulation of the apostles and Christ Himself. If doing so means they must become prisoners for the Lord, then they should know that “chains” are “the fitting ornaments of saints” (ch. 1).
 
So let them be diligent to believe in Jesus and “do His will, and walk in his commandments, and love what He loved” (ch. 2). Christians need to arm themselves “with the armour of righteousness” and “walk in the commandments of the Lord (ch. 4). Thus they will glorify God (ch. 5), especially those who are deacons (ch. 5) and elders (ch. 6).
 
He urges all church leaders to “be zealous in the pursuit of that which is good, keeping ourselves from causes of offence, from false brethren, and from those who in hypocrisy bear the name of the Lord, and draw away vain men into error” (ch. 6).
 
All Christians must persevere in hope and righteousness, looking to Jesus (ch 8). They must be patient (ch. 9) and ready at every opportunity to do good works (ch. 10). Grounding in Scripture is essential for fulfilling our calling as saints (ch 12), so that we may be built up in faith and truth and in all meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, forbearance, and purity (ch. 12).
 
In addition, believers should read the letters of acknowledged church leaders and transmit them on to other believers (ch. 13). 
 
Thus, in times when heresies were arising and persecution was a continuing threat, Christians were urged to grow deep in the Word, to hear and heed sound instruction from orthodox leaders, to insist their church leaders be exemplary in every way, and to work out their own salvation in righteousness and good works, looking to Jesus in everything. This is timeless advice from one who himself would die in the flames at the age of 86, his heart still on fire for Jesus.

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