71. Twelve Pious Christians
Twelve Pious Christians, Who Had Come From Philadelphia To Smyrna, Put To Death On The Same Day, With Polycarp, The Aforementioned Martyr, A. D. 168
In the letter which the Holy Ghost directed John to write to the angel of the church at Smyrna, which we mentioned above, it is indicated, that not only the teacher, who is called an angel, namely Polycarp, but also some of the church, would have to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ. We read: “Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried” (Rev. 2:10). This was also fulfilled in truth. For it is stated, that not only Polycarp, the leader of the church at Smyrna, but with him also twelve members of the church, who had come from Philadelphia, were put to death for the same reason and in the same manner.
The words of Eusebius concerning these martyrs from Philadelphia, taken from the Smyrna letter, are, according to A. Mellinus, as follows: “These are the particulars of the martyrdom of Polycarp, who had come from Philadelphia to Smyrna, together with twelve others, who willingly suffered death in the same manner with him; whose names are not mentioned, that of Polycarp alone being given, because, not only among the Christians, but even among the Jews and the heathen, he was famous far and wide for his extraordinary godliness. These testimonies are finished and sealed with the precious blood of the Christians. At the time of the fourth persecution; under the Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Virus, about in the seventeenth year of their reign, coinciding with the 168th year of our Saviour.”
This is what we have found concerning these twelve pious witnesses of Jesus Christ, who, as the twelve celestial signs, shone forth in faith as well as in virtue, but especially in steadfastness; wherefore the Lord, who is a rewarder unto His faithful servants, will hereafter crown and reward them with the unfading crown of glory. See, concerning this, Abr. MeU. 1st book of the Hist., fol. 42, col. 2, from Euseb., lib. 4.
Thieleman J. Van Braght (1625-1664) was an Anabaptist who is best known for writing a history of the Christian witness throughout the centuries entitled “The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians who baptized only upon confession of faith, and who suffered and died for the testimony of Jesus, their Saviour, from the time of Christ to the year A.D. 1660” (1660).