St Polycarp's letter to the Philippians
|Let us run in faith and holiness|
Now I beseech you all to obey the word of righteousness, and to endure with all the endurance which you also saw before your eyes, not only in the blessed Ignatius, and Zosimus, and Rufus, but also in others among yourselves, and in Paul himself, and in the other Apostles. Be certain that all of these did not run in vain but in faith and righteousness, and that they are with the Lord, with whom they suffered, in the place which is their due. They did not love this present world but they loved him who died on our behalf and was raised by God for our sakes.
Therefore stand fast in these things and follow the example of the Lord, firm and unchangeable in faith, loving the brotherhood, affectionate to one another, joined together in the truth, rivaling one another in the gentleness of the Lord, despising no man. When you can do good do not defer it, for almsgiving sets free from death. Let each of you be subject to the others so that the Gentiles find no fault in your behavior. Let your good works earn you praise and ensure that the Lord is not blasphemed in you. As Scripture says, Woe to him through whom the name of the Lord is blasphemed. Teach sobriety to all and be an example of it in your own lives.
I am deeply sorry that Valens, who was at one time one of your clergy, so little understands the place which was given to him. His example makes me warn you to keep from avarice and be pure and truthful. Keep yourselves from all evil. For how may he who cannot attain self-control in these matters enjoin it on another? If any man does not abstain from avarice he will be defiled by idolatry and considered as one of the Gentiles who know nothing of God’s judgement. As Paul says, Do we not know that it is God’s people who will judge the world?
I have not seen or heard any other errors of this sort among you — you with whom the blessed Paul labored, you whom he praised in the beginning of his Epistle. He boasted of you in all the Churches who at that time knew the Lord, (for we ourselves had not yet come to know him).
So, brethren, I am deeply sorry for Valens and his wife and I pray that the Lord may grant them true repentance. Be moderate yourselves in this matter and do not regard these people as enemies but call them back as fallible and straying parts of your own body, that you may make that body whole again. By doing this you will build up your own spiritual strength.