PART THREE of three POLYCARP (65 - 155/6 A.D.) Polycarp was Overseer of Bishop of Smyrna. His own statement that he had served the Lord for 86 years indicates that he was a Christian from his childhood. It is known that he was a close associate of the Apostle John and was mentioned in the writings of Ireneaus as having been appointed by the apostles as Bishop of Smyrna (most likely John). Towards the close of his life Polycarp visited Rome to discuss important church matters with Anicetus, Bishop of Rome. There was a controversy over which date should be kept to remember Christ's death. The Roman church was keeping one appointed Sunday per year, whereas the Eastern churches were actually keeping the Passover day. While neither agreed to change, there was no break in fellowship and before leaving Rome, Polycarp celebrated the Communion meal with them as was their custom as the weekly meeting. They separated in agreement that each would keep to their own traditions. They both took to heart the words of Paul in Col 2:16 and Romans 14. This letter was written to the church at Philomelium about how their beloved Polycarp was arrested, tried and martyred. THE MARTYRDOM OF POLYCARP "What harm is there to say 'Lord Caesar' and to offer incense and all that sort of thing, and to same yourself?.....I shall have you consumed with fire, if you despise the wild beasts, unless you change your mind'. But Polycarp said: 'The fire you threaten burns but an hour and is quenched after a little; for you do not know the fire of the coming judgement and everlasting punishment that is laid up for the impious. But why do you delay? Come, do what you will......." "They do not know that we can never forsake Christ, who suffered for the salvation of the whole world of those who are saved, the faultless for the sinners, nor can we ever worship any other. For we worship this One as Son of God....." Polycarp, a first generation Christian, and a disciple of the Apostle John, believed that it was perfectly scriptural to worship the Lord Jesus Christ. CLEMENT (Written about 96 A.D.) Clement was Overseer of Bishop of Rome at the time of writing his letter. For many years the letter was so highly esteemed that it was reckoned as part of the canon (New Testament) in Egypt and Syria and was read publicly in the Corinthian Church on Sundays (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. IV, 23:11). It formed part of the Codex Alexandrinus (one of the ancient Biblical Greek texts). Clement is mention in the writings of Ireneaus (quoted later in this chapter) as having been the third Overseer of Rome, having been appointed by Linus (second overseer), who in turn had been appointed by Paul. In this letter we find Clement talking about the apostles Peter and Paul receiving their reward upon their death. TO THE CHURCH IN CORINTH "Peter, ........bearing his witness, went to the glorious place which he merited. .....Paul showed how to win the prize for patient endurence...And so, released from this world, he was taken up into the holy place and became the greatest example of patient endurence." Here Clement is speaking about how Peter and Paul were martyred for their faith and taken immediately into the "glorious place" and the "holy place". This indicates that Christians living in John the Apostle's lifetime believed that there was continuing existence after death. This is NOT negating the resurrection of the physical body, which all Christians now and then, believed would occur at the second coming of Christ. IRENAEUS - (c. 130 - 200 A.D.) Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp in his youth and was appointed Overseer or Bishop of Lyons. It was his generation of Christians who were to take the stand for the faith against heresy. His works are one of the first in-depth discussion of doctrine which were designed to refute heresy. It was during his lifetime that Justin and Athenagoras wrote their explanations of Christian beliefs. Justin wrote his to a Jew; Athenagoras to the Emporer of Rome. Irenaeus, in his refutation of heresy, went so far as to even name the Overseers or Bishops in the various churches in their line of succession from the apostles. Christians were warned not to follow the doctrines of anyone who did not sit under the teachings of these men. As he points out, it was to these men the truths taught by the Apostles were handed down, and it was these men who were the keepers of the letters written by the apostles. IRENAEUS AGAINST HERESIES THE NAME OF GOD "The name of God or Lord is given only to him who is God and Lord of all; who said to Moses 'My name is I AM. And you shall say to the Israelites, 'HE WHO IS has sent me to you' The name of God and Lord is given also to His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who makes men the sons of God if they believe in his name. And the Son said to Moses, 'I have come down to rescue this people'. For it is the Son who descended and ascended for the salvation of men. Thus through the Son who is in the Father, and has the Father in Himself, HE WHO IS has been revealed. The Father bears witness to the Son; The Son proclaims the Father. So Isaiah says, 'I am witness says the Lord God, and so is the child whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe and understand that I AM.`" "Since, therefore, the Father is truly LORD, and the Son truly LORD, the Holy Spirit has fitly designated them both by the title LORD.....And this (test following) does declare that same truth; 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; The sceptre of your kingdom is a right sceptre. You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity: Therefore, God, your God, has anointed you.' For the Spirit designated both (of them) by the name of God - both him who is designated as Son and him who does anoint, that is the Father." Ireneaus is teaching that the Father and the Son have the same name, HE WHO IS or YHWH, and that it was the Son who was the complete revelation of God to man.