Polycarp declared, "Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never did me injury. How can I blaspheme my King and Savior?'' (Polycarp, Martyrdom of Polycarp 9, c. AD 156) I read this and was curious to the validity of it and or your thoughts on it. Now, it is documented that The Martyrdom of Polycarp was written the year after the saint's execution, and so the quote above is extremely reliable. Therefore, if the saint claims to have served Jesus for 86 years, it therefore follows that he was baptized as an infant. And, in another place, we are told that Polycarp was baptized by none other than the Apostle John! Therefore, at least in the case of John, we might show conclusively that the apostles baptized infants.--Jason Reichert (Atlanta)
I am not aware of any scholars who believe any apostle baptized babies. (Perhaps there is one, but that strange view has never risen to meet my eyes in all my reading.)
It is certainly possible that Polycarp was baptized at, say, age 15, and was martyred when he was 100 years of age or older. I think it more likely, as most students of church history reason, that Polycarp is projecting his service of the Lord back to the beginning of his life. This is exactly what the psalmist did in Psalm 22:9, 71:6, etc; it is a psychological projection of present devotion back to the earliest possible moment. We still speak this way today: "I have been serving the Lord all my life." This manner of speaking does not necessarily mean we literally claim Christian commitment from infancy--but it certainly feels like we have been Christians that long, as far back as we can remember.
If Polycarp died at age 86, having served the Lord most of his life (70 years? 60 years?), then we might suppose he was baptized around 85 AD. If he meant to indicate the literal number of years he followed the Lord, then his baptism would have been about 70 AD. Either date works, placing his baptism within the lifetime of John.
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