Church History, Part 9: Polycarp

The Rev. Adam Young teaches through the history of the church in this video.

“Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna is one of the most important of the Apostolic Father. Living to be 86 years old at the time of his martyrdom in A.D. 156, he straddled the changing priorities of the church from discussions about leadership and Judaism to Roman persecution and heresy. Intimately connected with the Apostle John, Ignatius, Papius, Irenaeus and others he had a wide spread impact upon the church. His letter to the Philippians, written within weeks if not days or Ignatius’ martyrdom, express the importance of personal righteousness whilst being firm on the gospel of our righteousness being in Christ. The letter “The Martyrdom of Polycarp”, written in A.D. 156 or shortly afterwards, recounts in dramatic fashion the martyrdom of the bishop and the Christians taking of his bones. Here we see the beginnings of hagiolatry and the cults of the saints and martyrs begin to take form — a movement which would have deep and lasting impact upon the church.


  • Adam Young

    Adam Young is Associate Minister at All Saints' Church in North Ferriby, England, and Padre to the Yorkshire North & West Army Cadet Force. He has a Master in Applied Theology from Oxford University. In his spare time, he enjoys weightlifting, trail running, painting miniatures, and reading theology.