Day Sixteen: St. Justin Martyr: First Apology, Chaps. 48-59
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.
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.
You can find today’s reading on page 77 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf
In these chapters today, Justin is continuing with his long exposition of the prophecies concerning Christ, covering every aspect of the life, ministry and death of Jesus. He quotes Scripture at length in order to fully prove his points in order to show the Emperor, to whom he writes, and indeed any of us reading his works today, the undeniable reality that Jesus was the expected and long-awaited Messiah.
I won’t quote massive amounts of these chapters, since it would be redundant, so I’ll just highlight each prophecy and give the Scriptural references which are used in Apology as proofs for Jesus's Messiahship. Finding the actual quotes is sometimes difficult because Justin has a habit of combining various verses from different chapter of the same prophet into one sentence!
Christ’s Life and Death Foretold
Jesus’ life and ministry foretold from a combination of Isa 35:5-6, Isa 32:4 and Isa 26:19 –
“At His coming the lame shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerer shall be clear speaking: the blind shall see, and the lepers shall be cleansed; and the dead shall rise, and walk about.”
And his death from Isaiah 57:1
“Behold now the righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and just men are taken away, and no man considereth. From the presence of wickedness is the righteous man taken, and his burial shall be in peace: he is taken from our midst.”
His Rejection by the Jews Foretold
And the words are spoken as from the person of Christ; and they are these "I was manifest to them that asked not for Me; I was found of them that sought Me not: I said, Behold Me, to a nation that called not on My name. I spread out My hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people, to those who walked in a way that is not good, but follow after their own sins; a people that provoketh Me to anger to My face." For the Jews having the prophecies, and being always in expectation of the Christ to come, did not recognise Him; and not only so, but even treated Him shamefully.
His Humiliation Predicted
Isaiah 52:13-15, Isaiah 53:1-8
Because they delivered His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, He has borne the sin of many, and shall make intercession for the transgressors. For, behold, My Servant shall deal prudently, and shall be exalted, and shall be greatly extolled. As many were astonished at Thee, so marred shall Thy form be before men, and so hidden from them Thy glory; so shall many nations wonder, and the kings shall shut their mouths at Him. For they to whom it was not told concerning Him, and they who have not heard, shall understand. O Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? We have declared before Him as a child, as a root in a dry ground. He had no form, nor glory; and we saw Him, and there was no form nor comeliness: but His form was dishonoured and marred more than the sons of men. A man under the stroke, and knowing how to bear infirmity, because His face was turned away: He was despised, and of no reputation. It is He who bears our sins, and is afflicted for us; yet we did esteem Him smitten, stricken, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of peace was upon Him, by His stripes we are healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray; every man has wandered in his own way. And He delivered Him for our sins; and He opened not His mouth for all His affliction. He was brought as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth. In His humiliation, His judgment was taken away.
The Majesty of Christ
His generation who shall declare? Because His life is cut off from the earth: for their transgressions He comes to death. And I will give the wicked for His burial, and the rich for His death; because He did no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth. And the Lord is pleased to cleanse Him from the stripe. If He be given for sin, your soul shall see His seed prolonged in days. And the Lord is pleased to deliver His soul from grief, to show Him light, and to form Him with knowledge, to justify the righteous who richly serves many. And He shall bear our iniquities. Therefore He shall inherit many, and He shall divide the spoil of the strong; because His soul was delivered to death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bore the sins of many, and He was delivered up for their transgressions.
The Ascension of Christ
Lift up the gates of heaven; be opened, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty.
From this point on, Justin argues that since he has proven that the prophecies of old have come to pass, then it follows that those which “are yet to come to pass, shall certainly happen”.
The General Resurrection and Punishments
Ezekiel 37:7-8; Isaiah 45:24
Joint shall be joined to joint, and bone to bone, and flesh shall grow again; and every knee shall bow to the Lord, and every tongue shall confess Him.
Their worm shall not rest, and their fire shall not b quenched
The closing chapters of this section deal mostly with an argument against the Roman god Jupiter and how that even though it is related to the people that some are called “sons of Jupiter” by the poets, this is done without any such proof as has been presented about Jesus, yet people believe.
“For with what reason should we believe of a crucified man”, Justin argues, “unless we had found testimonies concerning Him published before He came and was born as man” and had seen those things fulfilled.
Using the argument that these other gods were inspired by demons, but not simply to randomness, but using the ancient prophecies about Christ as a source to include a seed of truth within. This was done in order to deceive, though the demons, misunderstanding the symbolism of the cross, never made any of their false gods die from crucifixion; and people like Plato who alluded to a divine entity being placed “crosswise” at the centre of the universe didn't understand it either and was in fact borrowing from Moses who wrote these things long before any of the Greek or Roman gods and prophets came along.
There is a lot of doctrine and theology contained in these chapters, a lot which is still very relevant for apologetics today, some which might serve as a starting point. I’d recommend everyone take some time to read these, and the preceding, chapters carefully.