Beloved, let’s go way back for this week and nexts weeks book review. There’s a particular joy I get from reading the writings of men who sat under Apostolic teaching. I’m not referring to the nonsense today from vain men who claim to be ‘Apostles’. As brother Justin Peters likes to say “that jobs been filled”. These men are the Patristic Fathers, Polycarp of Smyrna, in particular, is who I want to talk about today.
Polycarp (69 – 155) was disciples specifically by John. He was friends with Ignatius, whose work we’ll review next Thursday.
Throughout his letter multiple verses from the New Testament are quoted. In fact, it’s been said that you could reconstruct the entirety of the New Testament with the quotes in the Patristic writings. This is fantastic news for the believer who has been questioned on the validity of the Bible. It wasn’t put together hundreds of years after the fact by a counsel. It was widely spread throughout the body of believers, however later heresies would cause a counsel to gather and make clear their stance on what was canonical and what was not.
This letter from Polycarp is short, but a wonderful connection for Christians to their historical roots. Church history doesn’t die with John only to be reborn with Luther. True, converted, believers can be seen fighting heresies throughout history, often times being martyred for their defense of the Gospel. Polycarp, himself, was martyred for his faith.
Another important thing we see repeated in the Patristic writings is the historical form of church service. Polycarp gives brief descriptions of how they fellowshipped, as does Justin the Martyr . Although we have to remember that these writings are not Holy Spirit inspired, they are written by the brethren who came before us. They gave their lives for the truth, that we are saved by Gods grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. I recommend this book to all believers, and history lovers. It’s a great resource for homeschooling families as well. It’s in the public domain, so it can be read as a free pdf, audio book, or a fairly inexpensive kindle version. It would also make a wonderful gift this season for any of your Pastors.
Grace and peace to you, beloved brethren! As always, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.