St. Polycarp Church

July 07, 2014

From the balcony of my hotel room in Izmir, I can barely see the roof of St. Polycarp Church. Yesterday, I walked over to the church named for an early Christian leader and martyr. Considered one of the three main apostolic fathers in the 1st and 2nd Centuries, Polycarp served as bishop of Smyrna (now known as Izmir). One of the seven cities in Revelation, the city continued to serve as a key Christian site during the early church period. Irenaeus, another early Christian leader, was likely born in Smyrna. Recognizing Polycarp's importance, the church was named for him. The current building dates to its 1620 reconstruction, and it is the oldest church in Izmir since it survived a devastating city fire in 1922.

The only surviving work by Polycarp is his Letter to the Philippians. Here are a couple of highlights from his letter:
He who raised him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do his will, and walk in his commandments, and love what he loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false witness; "not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing," or blow for blow, or cursing for cursing, but being mindful of what the Lord said in his teaching: "Judge not, that ye be not judged; forgive, and it shall be forgiven unto you; be merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; with what measure ye measure out, it shall be measured to you again"; and once more, "Blessed are the poor, and those that are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs in the kingdom of God." 
... Wherefore, forsaking the vanity of many, and their false doctrines, let us return to the word which has been handed down to us all from the beginning; "watching unto prayer," and preserving in fasting; beseeching in our supplications the all-seeing God to "not lead us into temptation." As the Lord has said: "The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak."  
... Pray for all the saints. Pray also for kings, and potentates, and princes, and for all those that persecute and hate you, and for all enemies of the cross, that your fruit may be manifest to all, and that ye may be perfect in him."
In the letter, Polycarp also praised Paul and urged those in Philippi to "carefully study" Paul's letter. Believed to have been a student of John, the influence of both John and Paul seem evident in the short text.


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