by Dan Graves at Christian History Institute
Warned that his arrest is impending, elderly Bishop Polycarp has left Smyrna and hidden in a farmhouse. The threat on his life is real; Smyrnans have recently executed several Christians for their faith. Now a pagan mob is demanding the bishop's life. Smyrnans are fiercely loyal to Rome and to the old gods. "Kill the church leader," they reason, "and his church will die."
They haul Polycarp in. When he nears the city, a heathen magistrate approaches in a chariot and takes Polycarp into it. The magistrate tries to persuade the Christian to sacrifice to the gods, but finding that he can make no headway with him, pushes him out of the conveyance so roughly that he falls and scrapes open the flesh on his shin. Showing as little pain as possible, the elderly bishop limps behind the soldiers into the amphitheatre where great numbers of people are gathered.
At sight of him, the mob sets up loud cries of rage and savage delight, but Polycarp hears a voice telling him, "Be strong and play the man!" Consequently, he does not allow the spite of the crowd to trouble him. The governor asks him to deny Christ and promises that if he will, his life will be spared. But the faithful bishop answers, "Fourscore and six years have I served him, and he has never done me injury; how then can I now blaspheme my King and Savior?"
The entire post can be read here.