Bishop Papias (AD 60-135) (Hierapolis, modern Pamukkale, Turkey)

Papias was born in Hierapolis around 60. He was twenty years old when the apostle Philip was martyred, and he possibly witnessed the event.

Papias was a disciple of the apostle John, and a ministry colleague of bishop Ignatius of Antioch, bishop Polycarp, and Irenaeus of Smyrna. Papias became bishop of Hierapolis shortly after Philip’s martyrdom. If Papias became bishop at the age of thirty, he would have served as bishop for forty-five years, from 90 to 135.

Papias was succeeded by Abercius, who served as bishop for thirty-two years, from 135 to 167. This means that two successive bishops served a total of eighty years, which would have provided tremendous stability to the church of Hierapolis during the second century.

As a Christian historian, Papias became an important resource for the early church historian Eusebius, who wrote Ecclesiastical History in the 300s.

Papias wrote a five-volume work called the Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord. He claimed to have collected the sayings from the disciples of Jesus. Papias also provides us insightful information concerning the writing of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. He tells us that Peter gave material to Mark for the writing of his Gospel.

Papias died around 135 during the reign of emperor Hadrian (117–138). A funerary inscription dated to the 100s was discovered in the neighboring city of Laodicea (modern Denizli) that refers to a person named Papias. He is de- scribed as a pastor (shepherd) and Christian (Chrestos).

Today, you can see this inscription in the Hierapolis (Pamukkale) Museum.