Hippolytus of Rome: The Seventy (11-20)

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Hippolytus of Rome: The Seventy (11-20)

And He was saying to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Luke 10:2

Hippolytus of Rome gives us the oldest extant list of the 70 (Luke 10:1-7). Today’s post highlights his account of 11-20.

“11. Parmenas, bishop of Soli.

12. Nicolaus, bishop of Samaria.

13. Barnabas, bishop of Milan.

14. Mark the evangelist, bishop of Alexandria.

15. Luke the evangelist.

These two belonged to the seventy disciples who were scattered by the offence of the word which Christ spoke, “Except a man eat my flesh, and drink my blood, he is not worthy of me.” But the one being induced to return to the Lord by Peter’s instrumentality, and the other by Paul’s, they were honored to preach that Gospel on account of which they also suffered martyrdom, the one being burned, and the other being crucified on an olive tree.

16. Silas, bishop of Corinth.

17. Silvanus, bishop of Thessalonica.

18. Crisces (Crescens), bishop of Carchedon in Gaul.

19. Epaenetus, bishop of Carthage.

20. Andronicus, bishop of Pannonia.”

Hippolytus of Rome in On the End of the World, 49.

At first glance, we see a pattern developing as 9 of 10 would serve in the role of “bishop” and oversee God’s Church in a city. They appear as one team with each one playing a regional role.

From my GTP travels to Alexandria, Egypt, I have found that Mark’s presence is still felt and his impact continues to be celebrated. The church is about 2,000 years old there too!

In our GTP meetings in Mexico City, we are starting to map faithful activities we will ask regional workers to do. Pray with us for unity of the Spirit to continue to bind us together as one team.

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Hippolytus of Rome: The Seventy (1-10)

Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. Luke 10:1

 Hippolytus of Rome gives us the oldest extant list of the 70 (Luke 10:1-7). Today’s post highlights his account of 1-10.

“1. James the Lord’s brother, bishop of Jerusalem.

2. Cleopas, bishop of Jerusalem.

3. Matthias, who supplied the vacant place in the number of the twelve apostles.

4. Thaddeus, who conveyed the epistle to Augarus.

5. Ananias, who baptized Paul, and was bishop of Damascus.

6. Stephen, the first martyr.

7. Philip, who baptized the eunuch.

8. Prochorus, bishop of Nicomedia, who also was the first that departed, believing together with his daughters.

9. Nicanor died when Stephen was martyred.

10. Timon, bishop of Bostra.”

Hippolytus of Rome in On the End of the World, 49.

What struck you in this first list? One filled “a vacant place” while another “conveyed an epistle.” Five are overseers or bishops. That tells me that board members matter!

One of these 10 was martyred. His story inspired everyone. Two baptized key people. Their lives influenced those they touched personally. Imagine if your role is to inspire others to be worldchangers?

In our GTP meetings in Mexico City we are mentioning the names of many ministry workers in South and Central America, much like the 70. Each one has influence to multiply stewards and help ministries follow standards.

Pray specifically for us to discern where God is working and how to mobilize them to collaborate. God, please guide our service to them by the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

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Hippolytus of Rome: The Twelve

And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. Luke 9:1-6

If we follow the path of our current research, Jesus discipled John. John discipled Polycarp of Smyrna whose martyrdom got the church fired up. Polycarp discipled Irenaeus of Lyons. Yesterday we noted that he went to Rome to refute many heresies. There, he discipled Hippolytus of Rome.

Hippolytus gives a striking summary of the 12 in baker’s dozen style (Luke 9:1-6). He adds Paul to the list to make it 13. He also provides for us the oldest extant list of the 70 (Luke 10:1-7). Today’s post we will see his comments on the Twelve Apostles. Then, on 7 days after that, while I am in meetings in Mexico City discussing the role of key people serving with us 2×2 in Central and South America, look to learn about 10 per day.

“Hippolytus on the Twelve Apostles: where each of them preached, and where he met his end.

1. Peter preached the Gospel in Pontus, and Galatia, and Cappadocia, and Betania, and Italy, and Asia, and was afterwards crucified by Nero in Rome with his head downward, as he had himself desired to suffer in that manner.

2. Andrew preached to the Scythians and Thracians, and was crucified, suspended on an olive tree, at Patrae, a town of Achaia; and there too he was buried.

3. John, again, in Asia, was banished by Domitian the king to the isle of Patmos, in which also he wrote his Gospel and saw the apocalyptic vision; and in Trajan’s time he fell asleep at Ephesus, where his remains were sought for, but could not be found.

4. James, his brother, when preaching in Judea, was cut off with the sword by Herod the tetrarch, and was buried there.

5. Philip preached in Phrygia, and was crucified in Hierapolis with his head downward in the time of Domitian, and was buried there.

6. Bartholomew, again, preached to the Indians, to whom he also gave the Gospel according to Matthew, and was crucified with his head downward, and was buried in Allanum, a town of the great Armenia.

7. And Matthew wrote the Gospel in the Hebrew tongue, and published it at Jerusalem, and fell asleep at Hierees, a town of Parthia.

8. And Thomas preached to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and Margians, and was thrust through in the four members of his body with a pine spears at Calamene, the city of India, and was buried there.

9. And James the son of Alphaeus, when preaching in Jerusalem. was stoned to death by the Jews, and was buried there beside the temple.

10. Jude, who is also called Lebbaeus, preached. to the people of Edessa, and to all Mesopotamia, and fell asleep at Berytus, and was buried there.

11. Simon the Zealot, the son of Clopas, who is also called Jude, became bishop of Jerusalem after James the Just, and fell asleep and was buried there at the age of 120 years.

12. And Matthias, who was one of the seventy, was numbered along with the eleven apostles, and preached in Jerusalem, and fell asleep and was buried there.

13. And Paul entered into the apostleship a year after the assumption of Christ; and beginning at Jerusalem, he advanced as far as Illyricum, and Italy, and Spain, preaching the Gospel for five-and-thirty years. And in the time of Nero he was beheaded at Rome, and was buried there.”

Hippolytus of Rome in On the End of the World, 49.

Undoubtedly you recognized the names. What touched you? If look up the cities and/or regions where they ministered on a first century map of the Mediterranean world, what do you discover?

I see the impact a person can make when working as part of a team to advance a larger movement. Every person matters. We can change the world if we do our part in a region by living out our part in God’s bigger story.

Today in Mexico City our GTP team starts with fasting, reading Scripture to confess our dependence on God to guide us, and praying for the Spirit to guide our discernment retreat. Pray for us please.

And consider what part you will play in God’s bigger story.

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Irenaeus of Lyons: Strength in Thee and Avoid Heresy

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesusso that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Timothy 1:3-5

“Wherefore I do also call upon Thee, Lord God of Abraham, and God of Isaac, and God of Jacob and Israel, who art the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of Thy mercy, hast had a favor towards us, that we should know Thee, who hast made heaven and earth, who rulest over all, who art the only and the true God, above whom there is none other God; grant, by our Lord Jesus Christ, the governing power of the Holy Spirit; give to every reader of this book to know Thee, that Thou art God alone, to be strengthened in Thee, and to avoid every heretical, and godless, and impious doctrine.”

Irenaeus of Lyons in Against Heresies 3.6.4.

Polycarp discipled Irenaeus. When the persecution arose in Lyons he sent Irenaeus there to serve. He became bishop. Later, he was sent to Rome because of “the rising pestilence of heresy.” His most famous work, which we have to this day is a five-volume set called, Against Heresies.

This excerpt from the spiritual grandson of John the disciple of Jesus reminds us why he wrote. He wanted people to avoid attaching to a counterfeit and to find their strength in Jesus alone. He also wanted them to avoid heretical, godless, and impious doctrine. This is true for every generation.

Yesterday at Annunciation Catholic Church in downtown Denver (pictured above), a dear friend of mine, Randy Kipp (the “mobile monk” who prays for me daily gives me airport rides), did his vows to be a Franciscan (third order secular). In short, he vowed to follow Jesus in the steps of Francis of Assisi for the rest of his life.

People tend embrace a cultural of thinking that sounds go0d, but when you look closely, it’s inconsistent with Jesus. Irenaeus wanted people to live consistent with Christ. Generosity is making sure your life matches with the teachings of Jesus, not with what anyone else. Do this with love, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

And pray for me, and GTP staff members, Ereny, and Paula. Ereny had difficulty getting out of Cairo last night. Because of COVID, she could not travel through Frankfurt and the USA. We had to re-route her through London, direct to Mexico City. Pray Ereny, Paula, Nydia, and I can convene tonight in Mexico City. Thanks.

God must have big plans for these meetings as the opposition seems great. Our trust is in the mercy and favor of the God of Abraham and Isaac, the God of Polycarp and Irenaeus, the God of Francis and Randy. Father, guide, direct, and bless our meetings by the Holy Spirit for your glory we ask in Jesus name. Amen.

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Polycarp of Smyrna: Walk and Write

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel. Philippians 1:27

“We bid you Godspeed, brethren, while ye walk by the word of Jesus Christ which is according to the Gospel; with whom be glory to God for the salvation of His holy elect; even as the blessed Polycarp suffered martyrdom, in whose footsteps may it be our lot to be found in the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

This account Gaius copied from the papers of Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp. The same also lived with Irenaeus.

And I Socrates wrote it down in Corinth from the copy of Gaius. Grace be with all men.

And I Pionius again wrote it down from the aforementioned copy, having searched it out (for the blessed Polycarp showed me in a revelation, as I will declare in the sequel), gathering it together when it was now well nigh worn out by age, that the Lord Jesus Christ may gather me also with His elect into His heavenly kingdom; to whom be the glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.”

Polycarp of Smyrna in Martyrdom of Polycarp 22.1-4, translated by J.B. Lightfoot.

For some people this is might sound like a boring ending to the story. For me, it may be the best part for at least two reasons summed up with the terms, walk and write.

Anyone who hears the story of Polycarp is inspired to “walk by the word of Jesus Christ.” Don’t just get warm fuzzy feelings in reading it or say you believe. Follow His instructions to the letter.

Notice also the most generous contribution of these saints of old. Each one passed it on. They wrote it down. They followed in the footsteps of the one who discipled them at any cost.

What will it look like for you to “walk by the word of Jesus Christ” today? What story are you writing for the next generation? Decide today. Live a legacy of generosity and sacrifice. Godspeed.

And pray for a safe journey for me and two GTP colleagues, Ereny Monir (Egypt) and Paula Mendoza (Guatemala). We are flying to Mexico City tomorrow for a week of meetings. More details to follow.

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Polycarp of Smyrna: Acceptable Sacrifice

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1

“So they did not nail him, but tied him. Then he, placing his hands behind him and being bound to the stake, like a noble ram out of a great flock for an offering, a burnt sacrifice made ready and acceptable to God, looking up to heaven said; ‘O Lord God Almighty, the Father of Thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge of Thee, the God of angels and powers and of all creation and of the whole race of the righteous, who live in Thy presence; I bless Thee for that Thou hast granted me this day and hour, that I might receive a portion amongst the number of martyrs in the cup of [Thy] Christ unto resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received among these in Thy presence this day, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as Thou didst prepare and reveal it beforehand, and hast accomplished it, Thou that art the faithful and true God. For this cause, yea and for all things, I praise Thee, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, through the eternal and heavenly High-priest, Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, through whom with Him and the Holy Spirit be glory both now [and ever] and for the ages to come. Amen.'”

Polycarp of Smyrna in Martyrdom of Polycarp 14.1-3, translated by J.B. Lightfoot.

This is the penultimate (second to last) post from this classic story. Rather than spoil what happens after this scene, here’s the only clue I will offer. It’s the prayer of Polycarp before they attempted to burn him at the stake.

Click to read it to read what happened next.

And reflect on this prayer of a man who was ready to give His life for God. God graciously revealed his end to him. Rather than run from it, he made himself a ready and acceptable sacrifice.

What about you? Would you embrace such a cup of suffering? Are you, in the words of the Apostle Paul, a living sacrifice that is pleasing to God like Polycarp?

Generosity comes into view as Polycarp embracing the privilege of offering His life as a rich and acceptable sacrifice to glorify the One who gave His life for him.

God, help us go and do likewise.


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Polycarp of Smyrna: Ungovernable wrath and the vision that should be fulfilled

When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23

“Saying these things and more besides, he was inspired with courage and joy, and his countenance was filled with grace, so that not only did it not drop in dismay at the things which were said to him, but on the contrary the proconsul was astounded and sent his own herald to proclaim three times in the midst of the stadium, ‘Polycarp hath confessed himself to be a Christian.’

When this was proclaimed by the herald, the whole multitude both of Gentiles and of Jews who dwelt in Smyrna cried out with ungovernable wrath and with a loud shout, ‘This is the teacher of Asia, the father of the Christians, the puller down of our gods, who teacheth numbers not to sacrifice nor worship.’ Saying these things, they shouted aloud and asked the Asiarch Philip to let a lion loose upon Polycarp. But he said that it was not lawful for him, since he had brought the sports to a close.

Then they thought fit to shout out with one accord that Polycarp should be burned alive. For it must needs be that the matter of the vision should be fulfilled, which was shown him concerning his pillow, when he saw it on fire while praying, and turning round he said prophetically to the faithful who were with him, ‘I must needs be burned alive.’”

Polycarp of Smyrna in Martyrdom of Polycarp 12.1-3, translated by J.B. Lightfoot.

Today marks day three of finding inspiration from this classic story (and I promise not to reveal the ending). You must needs read it for yourself.

Disciples in the early church who identified with Christ had to be willing to face “ungovernable wrath.” Are you? What do you do when the going gets tough?

As GTP staff, board, and regional facilitators have reported the challenges associated with professing, like Polycarp, to be “Christian,” I marvel at how their stories match this one.

Their generosity is limitless. Their faith is fearless. And their confidence, in the face of “ungovernable wrath” is governed by the Father.

Jesus, help us hold nothing back and be willing to sacrifice everything so that the world will know You are the greatest treasure of all. Amen.

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Polycarp of Smyrna: Be strong and play the man!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Ephesians 6:10

“But when at length he brought his prayer to an end, after remembering all who at any time had come in his way, small and great, high and low, and all the universal Church throughout the world, the hour of departure being come, they seated him on an ass and brought him into the city, it being a high Sabbath.

And he was met by Herod the captain of police and his father Nicetes, who also removed him to their carriage and tried to prevail upon him, seating themselves by his side and saying, ‘Why what harm is there in saying, Caesar is Lord, and offering incense’, with more to this effect, ‘and saving thyself?’ But he at first gave them no answer. When however they persisted, he said, ‘I am not going to do what ye counsel me.’

Then they, failing to persuade him, uttered threatening words and made him dismount with speed, so that he bruised his shin, as he got down from the carriage. And without even turning round, he went on his way promptly and with speed, as if nothing had happened to him, being taken to the stadium; there being such a tumult in the stadium that no man’s voice could be so much as heard.

But as Polycarp entered into the stadium, a voice came to him from heaven; ‘Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man.’ And no one saw the speaker, but those of our people who were present heard the voice. And at length, when he was brought up, there was a great tumult, for they heard that Polycarp had been apprehended.”

Polycarp of Smyrna in Martyrdom of Polycarp 8.1-9.1, translated by J.B. Lightfoot.

“Be strong!” These words ring through Scripture. They are God’s generous gift to those willing to live by faith and entrust their lives to His matchless care.

“Be strong!” What if you knew you were walking to your death. Would you fight? Would you run? Or would you see this as your greatest moment to shine for Jesus?

As the story unfolds, God now speaks to Polycarp again. The first time He whispered that he’d be martyred by fire. The second time he receives heavenly encouragement.

Stay tuned to hear how the story unfolds. In the meantime, live your story. Hear our Lord whispering to you, “Be strong!” Give the most generous gift you can. Give your life for Jesus.

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Polycarp of Smyrna: Praying for all men

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10

“Now the glorious Polycarp at the first, when he heard it, so far from being dismayed, was desirous of remaining in town; but the greater part persuaded him to withdraw. So he withdrew to a farm not far distant from the city; and there he stayed with a few companions, doing nothing else night and day but praying for all men and for the churches throughout the world; for this was his constant habit. And while praying he falleth into a trance three days before his apprehension; and he saw his pillow burning with fire. And he turned and said unto those that were with him: ‘It must needs be that I shall be burned alive.'”

Polycarp of Smyrna in Martyrdom of Polycarp 5.1-2, translated by J.B. Lightfoot.

Over the next few days I will share excerpts of one of the greatest martydom stories in early church history. Polycarp was a disciple of John. Imagine being told that you would be martyred. Most would run. Not Polycarp. He went to a peaceful retreat to pray for people.

For the early church writings, a disciple is one willing to die for the faith. Polycarp got a vision of his fate in advance and feared not. Would we? Would you be found praying for all men? May this post not only inspire readers to finish well. Make your end worthy of remembrance!

Today the GTP board, staff, and regional facilitators gather from around the world. Each has signed a commitment form. They are all in. For many this comes at great risk. What would you do if your days were numbered? News flash. They are! Make every one count!

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Ignatius of Antioch: Habit of Righteousness and Inexpressible Love

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2

“I have become acquainted with your name, much-beloved in God, which you have acquired by the habit of righteousness, according to the faith and love in Jesus Christ our Savior. Being the followers of God, and stirring up yourselves by the blood of God, you have perfectly accomplished the work which was beseeming to you.

For, on hearing that I came bound from Syria for the common name and hope, trusting through your prayers to be permitted to fight with beasts at Rome, that so by martyrdom I may indeed become the disciple of Him who gave Himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God, you hastened to see me.

I received, therefore, your whole multitude in the name of God, through Onesimus, a man of inexpressible love, and your bishop in the flesh, whom I pray you by Jesus Christ to love, and that you would all seek to be like him. And blessed be He who has granted unto you, being worthy, to obtain such an excellent bishop.”

Ignatius of Antioch in The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 1 (dated between AD 107-110).

If we think times are hard today, listen to what Ignatius of Antioch faced. Let me set the scene. By the end of the first century, Clement, Bishop of Rome was martyred. He was ied to an anchor and tossed into the sea.

Next, Ignatius would be escorted from Syria to Rome. He would encourage saints to persevere in letters to churches along the way. In this, his letter to the Ephesians, we hear him commended them for their habit of righteousness.

Notice his willingness, even eagerness, to give his life for God. For the early church, to be a disciple was not to believe in Jesus but to give your life for Jesus. Big difference!

Remember, he’s writing the church in Ephesus. This is the same church where Paul ministered from AD 52-54, and where Timothy served after him until his martyrdom in AD 80.

But by around AD 96, when John wrote Revelation, he alerted them to return to their first love. How would their story go from there? They must have gotten the message and repented.

What matters is not how we start but how we finish. God help us finish well. Help us give our lives for Jesus and be known for a habit of righteousness, and may those who serve have a reputation of inexpressible love.

Keep praying for my GTP global gathering meetings with 29 workers from 17 countries this week. Soon the GTP annual report will be released to get to know them. For now, your prayers are appreciated.

These are disciples of Jesus, giving their lives in service to Christ with eagerness.

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