Polycarp's letter to the Philippians

The Letter to the Philippians (often simply called To the Philippians) is an epistle composed around AD 110 to 140[1] by Polycarp of Smyrna, one of the Apostolic Fathers, from Antioch[2] to the early Christian church in Philippi. The letter is described by Irenaeus as follows:

There is also a forceful epistle written by Polycarp to the Philippians, from which those who wish to do so, and are anxious about their salvation, can learn the character of his faith, and the preaching of the truth.[3]

The letter is one of a number believed to have been written by Polycarp, but is the only extant document.[4] The letter was composed in Greek, but the Greek text has not been preserved in its entirety. There is also a Latin translation of the letter, and a few quotations of it preserved in Syriac.[5]


The letter warns against a number of disorders in the church and against apostasy, and encourages the Christians to persevere in good works. It also acted as a covering letter for a collection of writings by Ignatius of Antioch, whose works were being collected by the church at Philippi after Ignatius' visit there.[4][6]

This is one quote from the epistle:

"Stand fast, therefore, in this conduct and follow the example of the Lord, 'firm and unchangeable in faith, lovers of the brotherhood, loving each other, united in truth,' helping each other with the mildness of the Lord, despising no man."

One of the letter's more important features is its use and citation of other early Christian writings, many of which later came to be part of the New Testament.[6]

External links

Wikisource has original text related to this article:


  1. Early Christian Writings on Polycarp. Raymond Brown (Introduction to the New Testament, 1997) p. 665 estimates 120-30.
  2. Catholic Encyclopedia: St Polycarp
  3. James Stevenson, A new Eusebius (London: SPCK, 1965), p. 120
  4. 1 2 Kirsopp Lake The Apostolic Fathers Volume 1. (London: Heinemann, 1912), pp. 280-281.
  5. Timothy B. Sailors, "Quotations of Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians Preserved in Syriac," The Harp: A Review of Syriac, Oriental and Ecumenical Studies 27 (2012) pp. 335-342
  6. 1 2 Glenn Davis, The Development of the Canon of the New Testament
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