New Testament Bible Class

Justin Martyr

Justin, Martyr

·         2nd Century:  Justin was born around 100 AD (both his birth and death dates are approximate) at Flavia Neapolis (ancient Shechem, modern Nablus) in Samaria (the middle portion of Israel, between Galilee and Judea) of pagan Greek parents.  (The Book of Revelations was written about 95AD.)

·         Among the Fathers of the second century his life is the best known, and from the most authentic documents.

·         a pagan origin (polytheism of the Roman times)

·         He was brought up with a good education in rhetoric, poetry, and history. He studied various schools of philosophy in Alexandria and Ephesus , joining himself first to Stoicism, then Pythagoreanism, then Platonism, looking for answers to his questions.

·         he walked one day along the seashore at Ephesus he met a mysterious old man who pointed out the weaknesses of the Platonic system, He showed Justin how the Old Testament predicted the coming of Christ; but it was seeing the courage of the Christian martyrs that finally convinced him, the conclusion of their long discussion was that he soul could not arrive through human knowledge at the idea of God, but that it needed to be instructed by the Prophets who, inspired by the Holy Ghost, had known God and could make Him known

·         “When I was a disciple of Plato”, he writes, “hearing the accusations made against the Christians and seeing them intrepid in the face of death and of all that men fear, I said to myself that it was impossible that they should be living in evil and in the love of pleasure” (incest – called each other “brother and sister”, cannibalism – body and blood of Christ, atheists – not accepted by Jews, accused of creating a God to avoid the Roman gods).

·         Converted: two aspects of Christianity that most strongly influenced St. Justin;

o        its moral beauty and its truth.

o        “Straightway a flame was kindled in my soul,” he writes, “and a love of the prophets and those who are friends of Christ possessed me.”

·         a lay missionary and teacher (continued to wear the robe that was the characteristic uniform of the professional teacher of philosophy.), preaching the doctrine of Christ and defending it as the highest and safest philosophy. He used philosophy as a tool to spread orthodox Christianity

·         An apologist (defender of the faith)

o        Explain the Christian faith (he was convinced that they were persecuted because they were not understood)

o        Convince pagans that Christian is the true religion

o        Convince Jews that Christ is the Messiah

o        Much of what we know of early liturgical practice comes from Justin.

o        His position was that pagan philosophy, especially Platonism, is not simply wrong, but is a partial grasp of the truth, and serves as “a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.”

·         St. Justin was arrested on the charge of practicing an unauthorized religion. condemned to death by the prefect, Rusticus, towards A.D. 165, with six companions, during the persecution of Christians by Marcus Aurelius

o        We still have the authentic account of their martyrdom from the official Roman court proceedings of his trial before Rusticus, a Roman prelate, document his confession of faith.  The account of his martyrdom became a source of great encouragement to the early Christian community.

“The Prefect Rusticus says: Approach and sacrifice, all of you, to the gods. Justin says: No one in his right mind gives up piety for impiety. The Prefect Rusticus says: If you do not obey, you will be tortured without mercy. Justin replies: That is our desire, to be tortured for Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and so to be saved, for that will give us salvation and firm confidence at the more terrible universal tribunal of Our Lord and Saviour. And all the martyrs said: Do as you wish; for we are Christians, and we do not sacrifice to idols. The Prefect Rusticus read the sentence: Those who do not wish to sacrifice to the gods and to obey the emperor will be scourged and beheaded according to the laws. The holy martyrs glorifying God betook themselves to the customary place, where they were beheaded and consummated their martyrdom confessing their Saviour.”

Catholic Encyclopedia:


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