In all probability the church at Smyrna was founded by Paul during his third missionary journey AD 53-56 (Acts 19:10). History tell us of one called Polycarp was bishop of the church at Smyran mentioned in (Revelation 2:8-11). Polycarp was a pupil of the Apostle John, faithful till death, this venerable leader was burned at the stake in the year AD 155.

The story goes something like this: Polycarp was persuaded by his friends to leave the city and conceal himself in a farm-house, there he was said to spend much time in prayer," After arising from prayer he turned and said unto those that were with him, 'it must needs be that I shall be burned alive.' When his pursuers were on his track he went to another farm-house. Finding him gone they put two slave boys to the torture, and one of them betrayed his place of concealment.

Escape was still possible, but the old man refused to flee, saying, "the will of God be done. He came down to meet his pursuers, conversed affably with them, and ordered food to be set before them. While they were eating he continued in prayer. Then he was led away. {if thy enemies are hungry feed them} On his way, his captors urged him to say, ‘Caesar is Lord', but refused. Brought to the stadium the proconsul urged him, saying, ‘Swear, and I will set thee at liberty, reproach Christ.' Polycarp answered, "Fourscore and six years have I served Him, and he has done me no harm. How then can I curse my King that saved me."

When the proconsul again pressed him, the old man answered, "Since thou are vainly urgent that .... I should swear by the fortune of Caesar, and pretendest not to know who and what I am, hear me declare with boldness, I am a Christian" .... A little later the proconsul answered, ‘I have wild beast at hand; to these I will cast thee, except thou repent..'

When the proconsul had done with the prisoner it was too late to throw him to the beasts, for the sports were closed. It was decided, therefore, to burn him alive. But Polycarp responded, "Thou threatenest me with fire that burneth for an hour, and after a little is extinguished, but are ignorant of the fire of the coming judgement and of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why tarriest thou? Bring forth what thou wilt."

The crowd therefore took it upon itself to collect fuel, "the Jews (of the synagogue of Satan) more especially assisting in this with zeal, as is their wont" Understand, these were the actual conditions which existed in the churches during the first and second century. And it is to It is to this church , Smyrna, that Christ addresses Himself as follows, "These things declares the First and the Last, who became dead, yet lived" Revelation 2:8

For The Glory Of His Name
Whether By Life Or Death


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