“Be Thou Faithful unto Death” Rev 2:8-11
This epistle has a new pathos and significance if we connect it with “the blessed Polycarp,” who almost certainly was the angel or chief minister of the church in Smyrna. He was the disciple of John. Irenaeus who lived a generation later, tells how, in early boyhood, he had heard from the lips of Polycarp what John had told him of our Lord’s person, converse, and earthly ministry.
How sweet the comfort of this epistle must have been to him in the closing scene of his life, when, at eighty-six, he was sentenced to be burned! Notice how every line of it had a message for him, as for all who are called to follow in his steps. The Savior reminded him that beyond the suffering of this brief life a crown awaited him, which would abundantly reward his fidelity.
What music there is in those inspiring words! Even Peter’s crown of glory and Paul’s crown of righteousness seem to fade in comparison with this “crown of life.” The thought of it enabled Polycarp to say at the stake, “I give thee hearty thanks that thou hast brought me to this hour, that I may have my part in the cup of thy Christ, unto the resurrection of eternal life, through the operation of thy Holy Spirit.”