Polycarp replied, “For eighty-six years I have been His servant, and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”
Polycarp was dramatically executed at age 86 at Smyrna, one of the Seven Churches of Revelation that we will visit the summer of 2015. Polycarp was a friend of the Apostle John and was known widely for his many discussions with those who had spoken with and had seen Jesus Christ. We will visit the cave where he was tortured and visit the site where they will rebuild the theatre where he was executed. Polycarp was being forced to renounce Christ and “Swear by the genius of Caesar”. Even as they continued to stab him they persisted if he were to “Swear the oath of allegiance to Caesar” that he would be released. At the time of his execution he was the Bishop of Smyrna. First, he was ordered to be burned at the stake but miraculously the flames were prevented from consuming him, so his executioner was then ordered to stab him with a dagger. His death was widely recorded because he was so loved by the Early Christian church. Not only was Polycarp martyred, but many other early believers. The name Smyrna is even identical to the Greek word for the sweet smelling spice which is used to cover the smell of the dead. Join us on either our June 2015 or August 2015 Footsteps of Paul itineraries to learn more.