Into which many desire to enter; knowing that by grace ye are saved; not by works, but by the will of God through Jesus Christ.
Continuing Early Christian Martyrs,
our selection from Letter to the Phillipians by Polycarp published in 140. The selection is presented in 2 easy five minute installments.
Previously in Early Christian Martyrs.
Place: Rome and Smyrna, Turkey
Polycarp, and the presbyters that are with him, to the Church of God which is at Philippi: mercy unto you and peace from God Almighty and the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, be multiplied. I rejoiced greatly with you in our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye received the images of a true love, and accompanied, as it is behooved you, those who were in bonds, becoming saints; which are the crowns of such as are truly chosen by God and our Lord: as also that the root of the faith which was preached from ancient times remains firm in you to this day; and brings forth fruit to our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered himself to be brought even to the death for our sins. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death; whom, having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Into which many desire to enter; knowing that by grace ye are saved; not by works, but by the will of God through Jesus Christ. Wherefore girding up the loins of your minds, serve the Lord with fear and in truth; laying aside all empty and vain speech, and the error of many; believing in him that raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and hath given him glory and a throne at his right hand. To whom all things are made subject, both that are in heaven and that are in earth; whom every living creature shall worship; who shall come to be the judge of the quick and dead: whose blood God shall require of them that believe in him.
But he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also raise up us in like manner, if we do his will and walk according to his commandments; and love those things which he loved; abstaining from all unrighteousness, inordinate affection, and love of money; from evil speaking; false witness; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, or striking for striking, or cursing for cursing. But remembering what the Lord has taught us, saying, Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; forgive and ye shall be forgiven; be merciful, and ye shall obtain mercy; for with the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again. And again, that blessed are the poor and they that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of God.
These things, my brethren, I took not the liberty of myself to write unto you concerning righteousness, but you yourselves before encouraged me to it. For neither can I, nor any other such as I am, come up to the wisdom of the blessed and renowned Paul: who, being himself in person with those who then lived, did with all exactness and soundness teach the word of truth; and being gone from you wrote an epistle to you. Into which, if you look, you will be able to edify yourselves in the faith that has been delivered unto you; which is the mother of us all; being followed with hope, and led on by a general love, both toward God and toward Christ and toward our neighbor.
For if any man has these things he has fulfilled the law of righteousness: for he that has charity is far from all sin. But the love of money is the root of all evil. Knowing therefore that as we brought nothing into this world, so neither may we carry anything out; let us arm ourselves with the armor of righteousness. And teach ourselves first to walk according to the commandments of the Lord; and then your wives to walk likewise according to the faith that is given to them; in charity, and in purity; loving their own husbands with all sincerity, and all others alike with all temperance; and to bring up their children in the instruction and fear of the Lord. The widows likewise teach that they be sober as to what concerns the faith of the Lord: praying always for all men; being far from all detraction, evil speaking, false witness; from covetousness, and from all evil. Knowing that they are the altars of God, who sees all blemishes, and from whom nothing is hid; who searches out the very reasonings, and thoughts, and secrets of our hearts.
Knowing, therefore, that God is not mocked, we ought to walk worthy both of his command and of his glory. Also the deacons must be blameless before him, as the ministers of God in Christ, and not of men. Not false accusers; not double — tongued; not lovers of money; but moderate in all things, compassionate, careful; walking according to the truth of the Lord, who was the servant of all. Whom if we please in this present world we shall also be made partakers of that which is to come, according as he has promised to us, that he will raise us from the dead; and that if we shall walk worthy of him, we shall also reign together with him, if we believe.
In like manner the younger men must be unblamable in all things; above all, taking care of their purity, and to restrain themselves from all evil. For it is good to be cut off from the lusts that are in the world, because every such lust warreth against the Spirit; and neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, shall inherit the kingdom of God; nor they who do such things as are foolish and unreasonable. Wherefore ye must needs abstain from all these things, being subject to the priests and deacons, as unto God and Christ. The virgins admonish to walk in a spotless and pure conscience. And let the elders be compassionate and merciful toward all; turning them from their errors; seeking out those that are weak; not forgetting the widows, the fatherless, and the poor; but always providing what is good both in the sight of God and man. Abstaining from all wrath, respect of persons, and unrighteous judgment; and especially being free from all covetousness. Not easy to believe anything against any; not severe in judgment; knowing that we are all debtors in point of sin.
If, therefore, we pray to the Lord that he would forgive us, we ought also to forgive others; for we are all in the sight of our Lord and God; and must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ; and shall every one give an account of himself. Let us, therefore, serve him in fear, and with all reverence as both himself hath commanded, and as the apostles who have preached the gospel unto us, and the prophets who have foretold the coming of our Lord have taught us. Being zealous of what is good; abstaining from all offence, and from false brethren; and from those who bear the name of Christ in hypocrisy; who deceive vain men.
For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, he is antichrist; and whoever does not confess his suffering upon the cross is from the devil. And whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts, and says that there shall neither be any resurrection, nor judgment, he is the first — born of Satan. Wherefore, leaving the vanity of many and their false doctrines, let us return to the word that was delivered to us from the beginning. Watching unto prayer, and persevering in fasting. With supplication beseeching the all — seeing God not to lead us into temptation; as the Lord hath said, The spirit is truly willing, but the flesh is weak. Let us, therefore, without ceasing hold steadfastly to him who is our hope, and the earnest of our righteousness, even Jesus Christ; who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. But suffered all for us that we might live through him. Let us, therefore, imitate his patience; and if we suffer for his name, let us glorify him; for this example he has given us by himself, and so have we believed.
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