Buy me a coffeeBuy me a coffee

Support via Patreon | Subscribe

Day Thirteen: St. Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 12-23

Who: Justin Martyr was a Philosopher who converted to Christianity and became a tireless evangelist and apologist. Justin wrote more Christianity than any other person prior to his time. He is classified herein as Eastern, since he a native of Samaria and his thought patterns were Eastern. However, he spent the last years of his life in Rome, where he was executed as a martyr (c. 165).

What: An apologetic (defence) essay to explain what Christians believe and do.

Why: Justin is demanding the Emperor to investigate accusations and unjust persecution against Christians so that they at least may face a fair trial.

Advertisement

When: Around 156 AD

Each chapter or so in this apology deals with a different area of Christian doctrine, with succinct compact arguments for the reality of what is believed and accepted. I’m going to try and summarise as much as I can and pull out any points which stand out.

Living Righteously

Chapter twelve kicks off straight into a long dialogue about the righteousness of Christians and how they are the Emperor's “helpers and allies in promoting peace” due to their very nature and lifestyle in following Christ. Everyone is under God's watchful eye, Justin argues, no one can “escape the notice of God”, and because of this, “each man goes to everlasting punishment or salvation according to the value of his actions”.

The point he's trying to make is that if everyone understood this, they should be more inclined to live a virtuous life before God, and that is what the Christians preach. They are not wrongdoers, but rather are trying to counter that behaviour, and if the Emperor honestly valued the truth and wanted to uphold his reputation for “piety and philosophy” he would act reasonably, unless of course he, “like the foolish, prefer custom to truth”! Justin didn't mince his words at all.

A Rational Faith

Advertisement

Continuing with the argument for acting rationally towards Christians, Justin outlines how the faith in which they profess, is in actuality, a rational faith.

Before giving an explanation for this, he outlines the history of Christ; that he born for a purpose and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and how they learned he was the Son of God to be worshipped.

…we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove. For they proclaim our madness to consist in this, that we give to a crucified man a place second to the unchangeable and eternal God, the Creator of all

Demonic Influences

This is the start of misunderstanding, and Justin goes on to explain how it is the demons he previously mentioned (see yesterday's reading) that go about misrepresenting the Christian faith, but in reality, Christians are changed people and the evil and wicked things they once did and loved, they now do the opposite of:

…we who formerly delighted in fornication, but now embrace chastity alone … we who valued above all things the acquisition of wealth and possessions, now bring what we have into a common stock…

But in case it would seem that he is “reasoning sophistically”, Justin wants to present quotes from Christ's teaching to prove that “He was no sophist, but His word was the power of God”!

For clarity, since words have changed meaning over time or fallen into disuse, being a “sophist” and speaking “sophistically” was a form of teaching and arguing in Greek philosophy and was a way of reasoning with clever, but false arguments, that just sounded good – whether or not they were accurate was besides the point.

The Teachings of Jesus

Justin lists out a whole page full of quotes from Jesus, all of which we’d recognise from the Gospels, from his teachings on looking at a women with lust, to divorce, to praying for your enemies to not worrying about life. It’s a nice summary of Jesus’ moral teachings on the way in which we should strive to live, which Justin then follows on from with more of Jesus’ teaching on responding to violence and in swearing oaths saying, “[Jesus] has exhorted us to lead all men, by patience and gentleness, from shame and the love of evil” by which it is proved because many men who were like the Emperor “have changed their violent and tyrannical disposition” because of the examples of Christians.

Advertisement

After all of this, Justin then seeks to clarify the difference between those who are Christians in name only, to those who really are followers of Jesus by quoting Matthew 7:21-23 and saying, “let those who are not found living as He taught, be understood to be no Christians” and in an unexpected turn, he rounds off this section by essentially giving the Emperor permission, actually demanding, to punish those who “are not living pursuant to these His teachings, and are Christians only in name”!

Civil Obedience

Quoting more from Jesus, Justin makes the point that “everywhere we, more readily than all men, endeavour to pay to those appointed by you the taxes both ordinary and extraordinary, as we have been taught by Him (Jesus)”, quoting Matthew 22:19-21 to back up the point and goes on to say that as well, Jesus taught them to pray for their rulers, which they do, but that if those rulers “pay no regard to our prayers and frank explanations”, then it’s no loss to the Christians since they are convinced that the wicked will suffer eternal consequences.

The Resurrection

This one is interesting as Justin contrasts the spiritual powers that the Emperor will be familiar with from his own divinations, oracles, magi and “Dream-senders and Assistant-spirits (Familiars)” to prove the point that “even after death souls are in a state of sensation” and thus there is an afterlife worth considering. He goes on to say that because these practitioners of divinations etc are granted favours, that the Christians should also be granted the same because they “more firmly” believe in God, “since we expect to receive again our own bodies”.

The resurrection is something which seems to be a sticking point to accept, but they “maintain that with God nothing is impossible” and goes on to contrast the way in which they will be planted like seeds in the ground through death, so that in the future they will come up with new bodies. To try and explain this concept even more, the resurrection is contrasted with “human seed” (ie. sperm);

[If I] were to show you human seed and a picture of a man, and were to say with confidence that from such a substance such a being could be produced, would you believe before you saw the actual production?

Basically, if you’d never known human growth, and someone showed you a drop of fluid and a photo of an adult and said one produced the other, would you believe it if you hadn’t already witnessed it to be true? In the same way then, the resurrection happens, and it can only be accepted by those who are willing to believe something which seems impossible, and then “in God's appointed time [they will] rise again and put on incorruption”.

Elements of Truth in Greek Philosophy and Poetry

Now, Justin lists out a few known poets and philosophers of which the Emperor would be familiar with, saying that even these people teach certain aspects which are similar to Christian doctrine; such as, the world was created and arranged by God, as Plato taught; that the souls of the departed are conscious and the wicked ones punished, which the righteous rewarded, they say similar to the poets and philosophers etc. So now he asks that if “on some points we teach the same things as the poets and philosophers whom you honour”, and in some cases go beyond what they say to greater things, “why are we unjustly hated more than all others?”.

Further to this argument, Justin then contrasts the history and life of Christ with the Roman gods, such as Jupiter and Mercury, to say that in those accounts the Romans accepts such wonders like virgin births and miraculous healing, so then why should it be so hard to accept that Jesus, though born a man, was in fact the begotten Son of God, the Word (logos) made flesh?

Advertisement

Justin closes off his argument to prove that Jesus is superior to these other gods because “what has been taught us by Christ, and by the prophets who preceded Him, are alone true, and are older than all the writers who have existed” which was proven by the Word becoming a man to teach these things “for the conversion and restoration of the human race”.

He again mentions about the demonic influences which have had their way through the Greek poets to slander the Christian name and doctrines, to which he will defend next in the following chapters. This is what we will look at tomorrow!

 

Contribute on Patreon

Enjoying this? Consider contributing regular gifts for this content on Patreon.
* Patreon is a way to join your favorite creator's community and pay them for making the stuff you love. You can simply pay a few pounds per month or per post that a creator makes, and in return receive some perks!

Subscribe to Updates
Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to:

Have something to say? Leave a comment below.

Leave a comment   Like   Back to Top   Seen 226 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates and join over 126 subscribers today!

Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to Blog updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS RSS

‹ Return to Blog

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

Is The Rapture Biblical?

| 21st September 2020 | Eschatology

Is The Rapture Biblical?

Most people have some idea about what the rapture is – or do they? Generally there is an idea or concept of a form of escapism from the world when Jesus returns, which happens pre, mid or post tribulation and in some connection to the millenium. Now, if you understood any of those terms, you are most likely on, or aware of, the Dispensationalism side of things. There’s a lot of doctrine all bundled together in “end times” beliefs, and a fair bit of speculation around “the rapture” with its timing and logistics etc. which makes the whole thing a but murky, but nonetheless, it’s pretty much taken for granted as a staple belief within the Evangelical world. But has this always been so, and does it have any biblical basis? In short: sort of. What is The Rapture? This is the primary verse where the doctrine finds its footing: …then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. — 1 Thessalonians 4:17 On the face of it, that is a pretty obscure (and short) text, yet so much has been written on and speculated about around this event.  I’m not going to cover every aspect of rapture doctrine here, but rather want to just highlight the context of this verse and its parallels in Paul’s other letters, as this seems to get lost under centuries of doctrinal baggage, which, incidentally, also the leads to the next point to look at: is the rapture biblical? The origin of The Rapture The word “rapture” itself comes from the Latin word rapere, which means: “to seize” or “to abduct”. It is a translation from the Greek word that is rendered as “caught up” (ἁρπάζω / harpázō) in our English Bibles today. For many, asking if this belief is biblical is a non-starter because it is assumed so based on 1 Thess. 4 so obviously it is. But this is a presupposition, reading the modern ideas of what “the rapture” means into the text. The modern idea being that Jesus comes back briefly (and maybe secretly), whooses all the Christians into the sky and takes them to heaven, away from all the troubles on the earth, before coming back later to do a proper “second coming”. John Nelson Darby, a 19th-century theologian, is often credited with creating this premillennial rapture doctrine, followed closely by C.I. Scofield who wrote a best-selling annotated Bible which promoted Darby’s rapture views in its footnote commentary. This particular Bible became wildly popular across America in the early 1900s and ended up solidifying the futurist dispensational viewpoint for generations to come within Evangelicalism. Despite the popularity of Scofield’s Bible, what it (and Darby) taught was a novel idea which had not been seen nor heard of before in the previous 1800 years of Church History, yet many Christians accepted it without hesitation, likely due to it being part of the exposition alongside the Scripture they were reading, and therefore a seeming authority. I realise there is somewhat of an irony here in that I’m acting similarly like an authority telling you that this belief is wrong whereas Scofield was writing as though it were accurate, but in an even more ironic twist, just a handful of verses later, the same letter to the Thessalonians says to “test everything; hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). This is what I would invite you to do: don’t just take my word for it, test everything and see if what I say is accurate. The context of The Rapture So what is the context of these verses, if not about being whisked away into the sky with Jesus? A couple of things, but one slightly more obvious than the other, though still overlooked by people, I’ve noticed; the other requires knowing some more about the ancient Greco-Roman culture of the time. Firstly, we only need go back a few verses to see what Paul is writing about here: he begins the passage in verse 13 by say...

Slavery in the Bible – Does God Condone Slavery?

| 15th September 2020 | Slavery

Slavery in the Bible – Does God Condone Slavery?

This is a guest post by Joshua Spaulding from eternalanswers.org. The views are that of the author and don't necessarily reflect the views of That Ancient Faith. As you read through the Scriptures, you will come across some passages that seem to suggest that slavery is not condemned by God. Some who think this to be the case are sincerely seeking truth, while others are only looking for reasons to discount the Bible. Some of the passages in question are Exodus 21:2-6, Deuteronomy 15:12-15, Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 4:1 which provide instruction on the treatment of slaves. In light of these Scriptures, does God condone slavery? Before diving too deep into the topic, there is one very important thing we must understand before we can rightly interpret these Scriptures, and others. Forced slavery, like that which was ended in the U.S. in modern-day history, is not always the same as the slavery mentioned in the Bible. This is significant! (Just a side note: there are still to this day an estimated 21-36 million people¹ in slavery across the world.) Additionally, seeing something such as forced slavery in the Bible does not necessarily mean God approves of it. The Bible consists of legal, historical, poetic, and prophetic books. The historical books are historical accounts of times past and sinful things are not excluded. God knows the heart of man. The laws He gave in regards to slavery were given as grace for those in slavery.We see at least two forms of slavery in the Bible and God gives guidelines, seemingly approving of one of those forms of slavery. We see the type of forced slavery that the Jews, God’s own people, were forced into (Exodus 1:13-14). The Lord delivered Israel from that slavery. So we know that this type of slavery certainly does not have God’s approval (Exodus 6:6). God would not need to “deliver” a people from something that is not sinful and wrong. So God gives guidelines on one from of slavery, seemingly approving of it to a certain extent, while condemning another form of slavery and delivering His people from it. Herein lies the seed of the confusion. Some innocently read the Bible and don’t realize this, but most who bring this topic up are skeptics just looking for a reason to discredit the Bible. They do not realize, or willingly suppress the fact, that the type of slavery that God gives guidelines for, and seemingly approves of to a certain extent, is not the same type of slavery that God clearly condemns. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33) and God’s Word does not contradict God’s Word. In Bible times (1st century Greco-Roman times and prior) slavery was not exclusive to any one particular race or language, nor were slaves segregated². They were just like everyone else. These slaves were willing bond-servants. They were often times very well educated contributors to society. Their servitude was rarely for life, but sometimes they willingly agreed to it out of love for their master. These servants were not kidnapped and forced into slavery, which God condemns (Deuteronomy 24:7, 1 Timothy 1:9-1:11). These servants were willing bond-slaves. There is even a book (actually a letter) in the Bible (Philemon) that was written by the Apostle Paul to Philemon (a slave master) emphasizing the fact that all who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of their sin should be treated in the same way … with the same love and respect. What about Leviticus 25:44-46? It is true that God specifically made room for forced slavery, as seen in Lev. 25:44-46. However, this passage should not be seen in the same context as other passages we have considered when dealing with the moral implications of slavery. The reason being that this slavery was a form of judgement by Holy God on a paganistic, rebellious people. It was actually mercy that the Lord allowed them to live in slavery, rather than to be destroyed for their extreme rebellion against God in embr...

An Examination of Conditional Immortality (Part 1)

| 25th May 2020 | Hell

An Examination of Conditional Immortality (Part 1)

I know this is quite a divisive topic, and one you may have come across before (sometimes referred to as “Annihilationism”); and have been told outright that it’s “heresy” or false, or that it’s an emotional argument people want to believe because it ‘sounds nicer’ than the doctrine of Eternal Conscious Torment (ECT). Or maybe you’ve never even heard of this before and you didn’t realise there were alternative interpretations and views on hell. Any discussion on “hell” is going to cover a lot of ground, and refer to many, many places throughout Scripture; so with that said, this will be a long one, so get comfy! I will do this in two parts as it will become too lengthy for one blog post. This article will just focus on the Scriptural basis for the position of Annihilationism, as opposed to ECT, but to begin with I’ll define some terms as words like “hell” have become quite loaded with extra and unbiblical meaning over the centuries. What is hell, anyway? If you read through the Old and New Testament in older translations like the KJV, you’ll see the word “hell” a lot more often than in more recent Bible translations, which will most likely transliterate the Greek words instead. Not all the words get this treatment, and some still get presented as the word hell in English, for example, the NIV and NRSV will convert the word Gehenna into “hell”, but keep the Greek word Hades as-is (see: Matt. 5:22; 11:23). The etymology of “hell” and its origins and how it became the word we know today in English, would take more time than I have space for here, but in short, there are three main Greek words which often get translated as the word “hell”, even though they are each different words with different underlying meanings: GehennaLiterally means “valley of Hinnom”, which is a place near Jerusalem where children were once sacrificed to Baal (see Jer. 19:5–6). Due to its history, it took on a more eschatological/spiritual meaning as a place of judgement and destruction. Hades (Sheol)This is the Greek form of the Hebrew Sheol found in the Old Testament, usually (and properly) translated as “grave”, or meaning the general place of the dead (similar to the place of the same name in Greek mythology). TartarusThis only appears once in the New Testament in 2 Peter 2:4 and is used in relation to the angels who sinned and were put in chains. Interestingly, it’s another word borrowed from Greek mythology, for the prison where the Titans were sent as punishment. If you are interested in how we got the word “hell” in our English language, and more importantly, into our Bibles, I highly recommend that you read this study: The Real Hell. A Case for Conditional Immortality (aka Annihilationism) We are often taught that our souls, human souls, are inherently immortal. But where does this idea come from, because it’s never actually stated in Scripture that this is so. This is an Hellenistic philosophical assumption brought into the text (mainly from Plato’s influence) which can taint our interpretations. If we look at 1 Timothy 6:16 we can see that it is God alone who is immortal: It is he [God] alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen. Any other mention of immortality or eternal life is only ever spoken of as a gift given to us by Jesus, and is often contrasted with the alternative: death, perishing and/or destruction. Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 2 Timothy 1:10…but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. John 10:28; 17:2I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. […] since you have given him authority over all people, ...

That Ancient Faith is Expanding!

| 11th May 2020 | General Interest

That Ancient Faith is Expanding!

EXCITING UPDATES! Just a quick update for you about a couple of new and exciting things I am offering now! Firstly, I have now launched a new range of faith-inspired clothing, which you can see some examples of in the image banner above. If you want to proclaim Christ and your faith via what you wear (especially in these dark times where churches are closed), head on over to: https://thatancientfaith.teemill.com     The second thing to mention, as you may gather from the logo above, is that I now have a YouTube channel! I have begun it by doing a read through of my book, 40 Days with the Fathers, through Lent, so you can listen to the whole book for free. I also plan to create videos discussing the topics I write about where I can go into things in more detail or explain some of the thinking behind the various topics which I can't always fit into the blogs. So if you enjoy watching things on YouTube, come on over and subscribe to my channel.   That's right: I have a new book in the works! It draws on some of the series and articles I've written on this site to do with Old Testament prophecy and its links into the New Testament, the Incarnation (briefly) and the Second Coming and what we have to look forward to (or worry about). Stay tuned for updates, I'll post some more information soon when there's something more solid to show. If you want to get some insider previews or maybe some advanced reading or snippets etc. then come on over to my Patreon and sign up. Members will get advanced access to any news and updates before anyone else, plus other bonuses! That's all for now, leave a comment if you have any queries or thoughts! ...