Thursday, February 22, 2018

Student Paper on Polycarp

January 20, 2018 by  
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Here is an example of a recent paper written by one of our students we are working with at Faith Christian Ministries.  To learn more about our services for your child, contact us today at 828-435-0670 or email pcates@att.net  

Polycarp 1/19/18 by Daniel M. 

Many people have died for their faith in Christ, but among these brave martyrs is a man whom I feel is one of the greatest, Polycarp.  Polycarp was born in 69 A.D. during the Age of the Apostles and died in 155 A.D. during the Age of the Church Fathers.  The Roman Empire was expanding, and the leader of Smyrna (present-day Turkey) at that time was Lucius Statius Quadratus.  Polycarp is believed to be a disciple of John, one of the followers of Christ, who had appointed Polycarp to be bishop of Smyrna.  He is the first martyr in post-New Testament church history.  He fought against heresy in the church, and he personally confronted Marcion, an influential heretic who rejected the Old Testament, calling him “the firstborn of Satan.” 

To this day, no one knows why at age 86 he was all of a sudden subject to arrest. (Christians were not sought out, but if they refused to worship the gods, they were punished.)  When word came to him that he was being sought after, his friends encouraged him to flee.  He went to a small estate outside of town, and while there he received a vision.  We don’t know what he saw or heard in this vision, but after seeing it, he told his friends, “I must be burned alive.”  When the officials came to arrest him, he not only submitted, but also offered them food and drink.  The only thing he asked for was an hour to pray, and he prayed so earnestly and full of the grace of God that not only did he pray for two hours, but when he prayed, some of the people who had come against him began to repent. 

Polycarp was then taken to an arena, and when he entered the arena, there came a voice from heaven proclaiming, “Be strong, Polycarp!  Play the man!”  No one saw anything.  However, those next to him heard the voice, even over the angry mob shouting.   He then stood before the emperor, who told him that if he renounced Christ, he would be let go.  Polycarp refused saying, “Eighty-six years I have served Christ, and He has done me no wrong.  How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?” The emperor responded by telling Polycarp that if he didn’t say, “Caesar is Lord” then he had wild beasts ready to destroy Polycarp.  Polycarp refused.  The emperor then insisted on burning Polycarp at the stake. 

When they came to nail Polycarp to the wood, he said that it wasn’t necessary because God would give him the grace to stand there.  Instead, they decided to tie him up with a rope.  As they lit the flames, he stood there and prayed, thanking God that He counted him worthy to be among the martyrs.  When he prayed, something miraculous happened.  The fire swirled around him, but he didn’t burn.   Also, witnesses say it didn’t smell like smoke; instead, it smelled like bread baking or incense.  The people around him were amazed that he did not burn, but when the emperor saw that he was still alive, he demanded that a sword be plunged into Polycarp.  It is said that so much blood flowed from his body that it extinguished the flames around him. 

Polycarp’s death reflects Christ in so many ways.  He remained faithful, unfazed by those who came to do him harm.   He was humble and grateful that God counted him worthy to be among the martyrs.   I hope that if I ever have the privilege of dying for my faith, I will be as brave as Polycarp was and have the faith that God gave him to stand strong, even in the face of death.

 

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