Baptism in the early church

RobertPGH1981

Puritan Board Sophomore
I was reading through some very old works and came across two interesting observations on Baptism. For example Tertullian says,

Tertullian spoke of [the sacrament of] baptism as the beginning of the militia Christi [(service to the church)] and the early church referred to baptism as the “Lords Seal.”​

When reading through some of "The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus", Irenaeus records the martyrdom of Polycarp. An interesting statement recorded was as follows:

"Then, the proconsul urging him, and saying, “Swear, and I will set thee at liberty, reproach Christ;” Polycarp declared, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour? ”

Polycarp was 86 years old when he died and it seems to indicate he was Baptized based upon how Tertullian defined Baptism. Thoughts on this interpretation? Any other tidbits that others have uncovered under the same thought processes?

God bless,
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I was reading through some very old works and came across two interesting observations on Baptism. For example Tertullian says,

Tertullian spoke of [the sacrament of] baptism as the beginning of the militia Christi [(service to the church)] and the early church referred to baptism as the “Lords Seal.”​

When reading through some of "The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus", Irenaeus records the martyrdom of Polycarp. An interesting statement recorded was as follows:

"Then, the proconsul urging him, and saying, “Swear, and I will set thee at liberty, reproach Christ;” Polycarp declared, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour? ”

Polycarp was 86 years old when he died and it seems to indicate he was Baptized based upon how Tertullian defined Baptism. Thoughts on this interpretation? Any other tidbits that others have uncovered under the same thought processes?

God bless,

Polycarp was probably baptized as an infant or young child, whereas Tertullian had in mind more mature candidates for baptism.
 

Grimmson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Irenaeus records the martyrdom of Polycarp
A couple quick things, I do not remember Irenaeus of Lyons writing the Martyrdom of Polycarp, but the text you quoted is from that work. I need to double check that point however, but I do not think we know who the author is.

Also, In Alphonsus Liguori work, Victories of the Martyrs ,there is the claim that Polycarp was a Christian from the time of an infant. Remember this is a late 18th century source.

And one more issue, John is considered to be the primary apostle that Polycarp learned under, however, Irenaeus does mention that Polycarp learned from other apostles as well, but I do not remember him giving any other names (See Adv. Haer. III, 3).
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
Polycarp may have been as old as 104 when he died (Harris Fragment), so the comment "Eighty and six years have I served Him" would place his conversion / baptism around age 18.
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
HA! I'm blind. And who have you read who believed against Harris (i.e. that Polycarp was more towards 90)?

Actually I've never seen anyone interact with the Harris Fragment.

I am not saying that Polycarp was definitely 104 when he died, I am just saying he may have been as old as 104 when he died.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Robert Godfrey says this is why it’s hard to use Polycarp one way or the other on baptism.

To think he served the Lord apart from being baptized is a strange thought. So the 86 years likely includes time since baptized. 86 exceeds the lifespan of most persons. Gives possible clue he was baptized as infant, discipleship beginning upon birth.

104, then, is highly unusual for anyone to live to, in any period of time, making it hard to think that he was baptized as a younger man.

But still, it is possible, even if quite remotely.
 

Grimmson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Here is a screenshot from the The Ante-Nicene Fathers
I think you're a little confused. The title of Volume 1 of the Ante-Nicene Fathers is "The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus." Polycarp is considered as a Apostolic Father which is why the "Martyrdom" is in the Polycarp section of the volume. Following Polycarp as a Apostolic Father is
Ignatius, which this contains a set of Ignatius' epistles. Irenæus, who is not an Apostolic Father, appears at the end of the volume 1. ANF01, does not make the claim that Irenæus wrote the "Martyrdom of Polycarp."
 
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