Day Fourteen: St. Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 24-35

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 somewhat 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, though not necessarily cover everything written in each chapter.

Persecution and false gods

Mark 13:13
...and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

This next part of the apology really shows the truth of Jesus's words here. Justin continues on from the thought in the previous chapter (yesterday’s reading) about how the things which Christians believe are not far off from what the Greek say and believe, yet despite this, they are still “hated on account of the name of Christ”. Even though the Greeks worship some animals which others will hunt and eat, and that there is no consensus on which animals are gods and which are food, these people can still worship freely without fear, but Christians are persecuted and threatened with death simply for being called as such.

Advertisement

He then goes on to outline the various different gods and magicians that the Greeks believed in and how in all their various and blasphemous ways, yet all under one name or doctrine, they are still free from threat. But even in spite of death, Christians will still worship Jesus because through him they have learned to despise and reject these false gods and demons.

Guilt of harming children

Justin condemns the practices of “exposing children” – which in this context seems to mean sexually abusing them. He explains that Christians have “been taught that to expose newly-born children is the part of wicked men” and to harm any child is to sin against God himself. As the people of old would herd cattle and raise animals for a purpose, so these children “are brought up to prostitution”; like animals they “rear children only for this shameful use”!

Justin paints a terrible sounding picture of his contemporary society, in which the people “commit unmentionable iniquities” and in their lust, “may possibly be having intercourse with his own child, or relative, or brother”. The level of prostitution sounds like it is in connection with the temples and worship of false gods, which they were selling the children and own wives into. He mentions that those “whom you esteem gods there is painted a serpent” which Justin uses to lead into his next point that “the prince of the wicked spirits is called the serpent, and Satan, and the devil” bolstering his previous arguments that the “gods” are in fact demons.

Proofs of Christ’s power and status from prophecy

This chapter, and the ones that follow, aim to defend the true power and status of Christ, and dismiss the claim that Jesus performed his “mighty works by magical art, and by this appeared to be the Son of God”, and was thus only a mere man empowered by demons.

Advertisement

To do this, Justin gives a very brief look at the prophets of old who foretold of this coming, healing power and that he would die and rise again, saying that He was foretold by all the major prophets down through the generations, and specifically prophesied about coming by Moses, “the first of the prophets”. After giving a brief overview of Jesus’ birth and how it fulfills the Isaiah prophecy (Isa. 7:14), it is explained, quite strongly, that the virgin conceived a child not through any such lust (as the Greek god Jupiter did), but by the power of God that “overshadowed” Mary got her pregnant.

The explanations make me think about the time Jesus opened the minds of his disciples to all of the Scriptures and prophecies concerning him:

Luke 24:27
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

Citing more prophecies, Justin goes on to tell how even the place where Jesus would be born was predicted and offers an interesting tidbit of historical proof by telling the Emperor that he “can ascertain also from the registers of the taxing made under Cyrenius” that Jesus was, in fact, born in Bethlehem.

Advertisement

Closing his argument and proofs for Jesus being the true Son of God, the incarnate Word, and not simply a man, Justin quotes from Isaiah again, and also the Psalms, to show that even Jesus’ death was predicted, down to the nails in his hands and feet (Ps 22:16). Interestingly, as further proof to this claim, he tells the Emperor that he can look up the facts of the crucifixion and see “that these things did happen” because he “can ascertain from the Acts of Pontius Pilate” what took place. What’s intriguing about this is that this book which is referenced is known to of spurious origins, with various later forgeries created to discredit Christians even! If you’re interested, you can read the scholarly debate in brief in the intro text to the book itself here: earlychristianwritings.com/actspilate.html.


Come back tomorrow where Justin continues with the theme of prophecy to further show proofs for Christ being the true manifest Word of God.

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 237 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates and join over 119 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

‹ 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

An Examination of Conditional Immortality (Part 1)

| 7 days ago | 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! ...

What are the Seraphim, and was the devil one of them?

| 23rd April 2020 | Angels

What are the Seraphim, and was the devil one of them?

Have you ever wondered about what the devil is — or was, pre-Fall? You’ve probably been told that he used to be an angel with God, so then why is he often described as a snake, serpent or dragon? Though there isn’t a great deal given away in Scripture as to the nature of angels, or the heavenly realms in general, we get some glimpses from the visions of the prophets. But what we can also look at is the words which the Bible uses; some of which aren’t translated and so lose their original meaning in English. The Seraphim The word “seraphim” is a transliteration of a Hebrew word, rather than a translation, so in English we often will miss the meaning the original hearers and readers would have understood that word to mean. A transliteration, for those unfamiliar with the term, simply means that a foreign word has been converted into its English equivalent of letters, rather than its meaning being used. A relevant example of this would be for the word “satan”. Although it’s come to be used as a name, it’s actually a transliteration of the Hebrew word for “adversary” (שָׂטָן). You can see a few examples of the word usage here as an adversary: 1 Samuel 29:4; 1 Kings 11:14 and as a name in Job 1:6 (The Adversary if translated). So what does seraphim mean if it were translated? Basically “fiery serpents”! The Hebrew word has obscure etymological roots related to burning (literally), which may explain why translators choose to transliterate rather than translate it. There are some links with the root word to Babylonian fire-gods and also in Egypt there are eagle-lion-shaped figures referred to as seref which is where we get our English term (and concept) for the “griffin” from. There’s also the possibility that “fiery snakes” is a reference to the venom in a bite, which has allusions to the “fiery darts” of the enemy in Eph 6:16 — though this could just be more about symbolism with Roman soldiers and their weapons than anything else. The seraphim are one of, if not the highest order of angelic beings, often depicted close to the throne of God singing praises. We first see them in Isaiah 6:2–3 and then briefly again in verses 6 and 7 where one puts a coal on Isaiah’s lips. Isaiah 6:2–3Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;the whole earth is full of his glory.” As we see from Isaiah’s description of the seraphim, they have wings, faces and feet, and in verses six and seven, they must have hands of some sort to be able to hold tongues and give coal to Isaiah. We don’t really hear from the seraphim again until we get an inference in John’s Revelation, where they are called “living creatures” in a similar scene that Isaiah saw, described very much in the same way, except with the terrifying visual addition that they are covered in eyes: Revelation 4:8And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing,“Holy, holy, holy,the Lord God the Almighty,who was and is and is to come.” That Ancient Serpent How does this all relate to the devil? As you probably know, one of the recurring themes for Satan in Scripture is that of a snake, serpent or dragon. The word used in Genesis 3 for the serpent isn’t the same as the word for seraphim — it uses the word nachash [נָחָשׁ] for serpent instead. But looking through the word usage between saraph and nachash the two can get translated in similar ways, though the latter word seems to get the most used, even in conjunction with “fiery serpents” as well as being translated as “fleeing serpents”, and it also has implications towards the Leviathan mentioned in Isaiah 27. Interestingly too, the word nachash also has insta...

Lent, Lament and Lockdown

| 03rd April 2020 | Coronavirus

Lent, Lament and Lockdown

Lent is a time of self denial and of giving things up, and also a period of lament in the lead up to Easter where we remember the Passion and death of Christ before we celebrated the glorious resurrection.  Often this is a personal affair on the discipline side of things, even if it's a practice shared within your church community, but this year has been so very different. With the outbreak of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, the whole world has slowly gone into lockdown country by country, creating a strange sort of global “Lent” where everyone is having to practice self control and self denial. This has been underpinned with a sense of lament at the way things were, the way things should be, and all of the things—and people—we've lost.  I don't think it's coincidental that the most isolating part of this pandemic happened during the Lenten season, causing us all, Christian or otherwise, to stop, step back and reflect on life. While it can feel a little gloomy of late with all the isolation and lack of social and religious meetings, we mustn't think that God has abandoned us—likewise we also shouldn't lose faith.   The Bible isn't a stranger to times of lament and distress, and we see it often in the Psalms. At times like this of limited food and resources and job loss, we can probably relate to David when he wrote things like this: Psalms 86:1 Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Psalms 102:1-2 Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you. Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call. And such poetic sadness from the book dedicated to lament; Lamentations 3:16-18 He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “Gone is my glory, and all that I had hoped for from the LORD.”   Hope in the face of darkness As we look forward to the end of this pandemic with hope like a light at the end of a tunnel, in the meantime we just learn to live in the darkness as the Apostles did on those gloomy days between the crucifixion and the resurrection; when their world ended but was then reborn better than ever expected! They only had to wait a couple of days to see their hope realised, whereas we have no idea how long this will last. How long will we go without seeing friends and family, meeting up at restaurants or going to church again? Only time will tell, but in the midst of this, we shouldn't worry but rather cling onto the hope of God as the Psalmist did, as the Apostles did and so many others before us.  And in the words of the author of Lamentations: “...the Lord will not reject forever … for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.” (Lamentations 3:31,33).  There is always light at the end of darkness if we put our hope in Christ.  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)...