20 Facts About Polycarp


Polycarp is regarded as a saint and Church Father in the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches.


In On Illustrious Men, Jerome writes that Polycarp was a disciple of John the Apostle and that John had ordained him as a bishop of Smyrna.


Polycarp is regarded as one of three chief Apostolic Fathers, along with Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch.


Irenaeus reports that Polycarp was converted to Christianity by apostles, was consecrated a presbyter, and communicated with many who had seen Jesus.


Polycarp writes that he had had the good fortune, when young, to know Polycarp, who was then far advanced in years.


Polycarp followed the Eastern practice of celebrating the feast on the 14th of Nisan, the day of the Jewish Passover, regardless of the day of the week on which it fell, while Anicetus followed the Western practice of celebrating the feast on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox.


Anicetus allowed Polycarp to celebrate the Eucharist in his own church, which was regarded by the Romans as a great honor.


Polycarp occupies an important place in the history of the early Christian Church, was called "the most admirable Polycarp one of these [elect], in whose times among us he showed himself an apostolic and prophetic teacher and bishop of the Catholic Church in Smyrna" by his contemporaries.


Jerome wrote that Polycarp was a "disciple of the apostle John and by him ordained presbyter of Smyrna".


Polycarp was an elder of an important congregation that was a large contributor to the founding of the Christian Church.


Polycarp is from an era whose orthodoxy is widely accepted by Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches, Church of God groups, Sabbatarian groups, mainstream Protestants and Catholics alike.


Polycarp's role was to authenticate orthodox teachings through his connection with the apostle John: "a high value was attached to the witness Polycarp could give as to the genuine tradition of old apostolic doctrine" "his testimony condemning as offensive novelties the figments of the heretical teachers".


Polycarp's soteriology is not clear; he does cite Ephesians 2:8 to say salvation is by grace rather than works, though later exhorts his readers to do good works.


Polycarp could have believed that works are mere results of saving grace or that they are necessary to keep salvation and that they have meritorious value, thus we cannot know if he was a monergist or a synergist.


Polycarp outright denied the teachings of Marcion, claiming he was the firstborn of Satan.


Polycarp refers to multiple books of the New Testament as scripture, including: Matthew, Acts, 1 John, Philippians, Jude, 1 Peter, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Romans and others.


Polycarp appears to make heresy a more serious issue than immorality.


Polycarp calls immoral people to repent but called the false teachers "firstborn of Satan".


Polycarp stated, "I have served him eighty-six years and in no way has he dealt unjustly with me".


Proponents of infant baptism have argued that this quote shows Polycarp being baptized as an infant, the argument being that if Polycarp was a servant of Christ for 86 years, he would have been a servant of Christ from infancy, suggesting infant baptism.