One of the most inspirational figures of the early church is Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. Scholars believe that this faithful believer was born around A.D. 69, and may have been converted by the apostle John. At this time, Christians in western Asia (modern Turkey) experienced increased persecution. In A.D. 156, Polycarp was dragged before a jeering crowd and told to renounce his faith, or he would be burned at the stake. Polycarp's beautiful response was as follows: "For eighty and six years I have been His servant and He has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my king who has saved me?" With that, Polycarp was martyred.

Today in the Word, Dec. 2003, p.36