Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325, “Chapter 13. Ecclesiastical Literature of the Ante-Nicene Age, and Biographical Sketches of the Church Fathers.” sec. 159-204.
§ 166. Polycarp of Smyrna.
After a brief bibliography, Schaff identifies “Polycarp, born about A.D. 69 or earlier, a disciple of the apostle John, a younger friend of Ignatius, and the teacher of Irenaeus (between 130 and 140), presided as presbyter-bishop over the church of Smyrna in Asia in the first half of the second century; made a journey to Rome about the year 154, to adjust the Easter dispute; and died at the stake in the persecution under Antoninus Pius A.D. 155, at a great age, having served the Lord six and eighty years” (Schaff 2014, 20851). He was spoken of very favorably by Irenaeus. Polycarp was known for holding very firmly to the Christian faith against all opponents.
Though Polycarp apparently wrote numerous letters to congregations, the only one we have was to the Philippians (Schaff 2014, 20865). Schaff notes not only a strong influence of John but also of Paul and the Synoptic Gospels in Polycarp, who does consider faith and salvation as gifts of grace (Schaff 2014, 20880).
The martyrdom text, mostly included in Eusebius, and published completely by Ussher in 1647, describes some of the events in away Schaff considers “legendary poesy” (Schaff 2014, 20887).
Schaff illustrates Polycarp’s style by reprinting the first four chapters of his letter to the Philippians (Schaff 2014, 20895). The text is packed full of allusions to and quotations from the New Testament. Schaff then continues by quoting the answer of Polycarp when asked to renounce Christ (Schaff 2014, 20925), as well as his prayer recorded as the flames approached to kill him. His desire was to remain faithful to the end and be a worthy sacrifice for his Lord.