Daily Reading for February 23 • Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr of Smyrna, 156
Let us then persevere unceasingly in our hope, and in the pledge of our righteousness, that is in Christ Jesus, “who bare our sins in his own body on the tree, who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth,” but for our sakes, that we might live in him, he endured all things. Let us then be imitators of his endurance, and if we suffer for his name’s sake let us glorify him. For this is the example which he gave us in himself, and this is what we have believed.
Now I beseech you all to obey the word of righteousness, and to endure with all the endurance which you also saw before your eyes, not only in the blessed Ignatius, and Zosimus, and Rufus, but also in others among yourselves, and in Paul himself, and in the other Apostles; being persuaded that all of these “ran not in vain,” but in faith and righteousness, and that they are with the Lord in the “place which is their due,” with whom they also suffered. For they did not “love this present world” but him who died on our behalf, and was raised by God for our sakes.
Stand fast therefore in these things and follow the example of the Lord, “firm and unchangeable in faith, loving the brotherhood, affectionate to one another,” joined together in the truth, forestalling one another in the gentleness of the Lord, despising no man. When you can do good defer it not, “for almsgiving sets free from death; be ye all subject one to the other, having your conversation blameless among the Gentiles,” that you may receive praise “for your good works” and that the Lord be not blasphemed in you. “But woe to him through whom the name of the Lord is blasphemed.” Therefore teach sobriety to all and show it forth in your own lives.
From Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians, in Apostolic Fathers, translated by Kirsopp Lake (Loeb Classical Library, 1912).