A Martyr For The King, Polycarp

PolycarpPolycarp (c 69-155 A.D.), a leader of the early church in Smyrna, gave the memorable answer when commanded to [curse the name of Jesus Christ and] worship Caesar. “Eighty-six years I have served Him [Christ] and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King, who saved me?” To the end Polycarp...disdained to defend himself before the mob. He was threatened with the wild beasts and then with the fire, but he did not flinch. Once again his answer was memorable, as well as moving: “You threaten me with fire that burns for an hour and in a little while is put out, for you do not know about the fire of the judgment to come, and the fire of eternal punishment reserved for the ungodly. But why are you waiting? Bring what you will.” And so they did. He was burned alive. The issues were clear to Polycarp and [other] Christians: “It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out” (Mark 9:43). Immediately after Polycarp's martyrdom, the local church wrote a letter describing the events, so eager were they for a neighbouring church to know of their leader's joyful and glorious end. To them and to the [non-Christians] around them, such faithfulness was the best possible testimony to the truth of the gospel.

(The Footsteps of God, by John Legg, Evangelical Press, 1986, page 19)