Polycarp belongs to that rare breed of early Christian, born during the Apostolic Age but killed as one of the generation who followed the Apostles, in fact, though perhaps not the first, his is the first recorded martyrdom of the second generation Church.
Born a few years after the deaths of Peter and Paul, tradition has him as a disciple of John and possibly appointed bishop by him or one of the other surviving apostles.
By no means a scholar, if that tradition is correct then his opposition to Gnosticism comes directly from knowledge gained from the Apostles, a simple and direct means of transmission of the Truth for a foundational teaching that we still hold today.
His one surviving letter to the Church at Phillipi, written sometime in the early 2nd century contains Scripture references we still recognize today and reflects many of the teachings of Paul and the Apostles exhorting them to remember the teachings they have already received. He is truly a bridge between the Apostles and the 2nd generation Church, maintaining the Faith rather than innovating. We are, as were they, the beneficiaries of his simple, direct style of teaching. The Church we are today is built upon his efforts and martyrdom.
But the One who raised Christ from the dead will raise us also, if we do his will, walk in his commandments, love what he loved, and keep ourselves from all unrighteousness, greed, love of money, evil speaking, and lies. In addition, we must not return evil for evil, accusation for accusation, blow for blow, nor curse for curse. Instead keep in mind what the Lord said in his teaching: "Do not judge, so that you are not judged; forgive, and you will be forgiven; show mercy, so that you may obtain mercy; for as you portion it out to others, so it will be apportioned back to you." And in addition: The poor are blessed, as well as those that are persecuted because of righteousness, because the kingdom of God belongs to them.
-- From the Letter to the Philippians
Things to Think About