Justin Martyr: Saint, Heretic, or Apostate?

By COGwriter

 

The philosopher Justin Martyr is often cited as one of the most influential figures in early Christianity. There is no doubt that he had a great amount of influence in the 2nd Century and beyond. While Catholics, Orthodox, and many Protestants consider him to have been a true saint (and an important one), those in the Churches of God (COGs) have not seen him that way.

Certain Protestant historians go so far as to say this about him,

The subapostolic age begins with the first Christian author,-the founder of theological literature...It is the mission of Justin to be a star in the West, leading its Wise Men to the cradle of Bethlehem...We know that he was some time in Ephesus, and he must have lived for a considerable period in Rome. Probably he settled in Rome as a Christian teacher....The writings of Justin Martyr are among the most important that have come down to us from the second century (Roberts and Donaldson. INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO THE FIRST APOLOGY OF JUSTIN MARTYR. Text edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and first published in Edinburgh, 1867. Additional introductionary material and notes provided for the American edition by A. Cleveland Coxe 1886. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprint 2001).

With another Protestant writing,

In dying, Justin, son of Priscus, acquired a new name--Justin Martyr. Today Justin is recognized as the greatest of the early apologists...From him, such leaders as Irenaeus and Tertullian of the next generation borrowed copiously (Hefley JC. Heroes of the Faith. Moody Press, Chicago, 1963, p.24).

Yet, a COG evangelist wrote,

Justin Martyr (ca. 95–167AD) and Irenaeus (ca. 130–202AD), while maintaining some truths they had learned under Polycarp, also sought to accommodate themselves to the new direction of Roman theology in the name of "church unity"...Justin also molded the thinking of Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons...He believed that the God of Plato was also the God of the Bible (Ogwyn J. God's Church Through the Ages. Charlotte, 2003).

The Orthodox teach,

St. Justin Martyr describes the liturgical worship of the Church, centered on the Eucharist" (A Timeline of Church History: Tracing the birth and continuity of the Orthodox Church from Pentecost to present, 3rd edition printed in Canada. Concilliar Press, Ben Lomond (CA), 1996). An Orthodox arch-priest, quoting Jack Sparks Ph.D., wrote, "...what early Christian worship was like. The source most always considered first is the record of St. Justin Martyr (in his First Apology), written around 150 A.D., where he put down on paper for the emperor, the pattern of Christian worship (Gilquist P. Becoming Orthodox. Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Brentwood (TN), 1989, p.36).

The 4th Century Catholic historian Eusebius noted,

And in Rome ...Anicetus assumed the leadership of the Christians there... But Justin was especially prominent in those days" (Eusebius Church History. Book IV, Chapter 11).

The Catholic Encyclopedia states,

The role of St. Justin may be summed up in one word: it is that of a witness. We behold in him one of the highest and purest pagan souls of his time in contact with Christianity (Lebreton J. Transcribed by Stephen William Shackelford. St. Justin Martyr. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Justin was so prominent that he helped change what became known as the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Churches. However, was his teaching so pure that his influence promoted true Christianity?

Was Justin Martyr the saint most consider him to be or was he an apostate?

This article will review certain aspects of his life and teaching to attempt to answer those questions.

Who Was Justin Martyr?

Justin was an educated philosopher. According to The Catholic Encyclopedia he was:

...born at Flavia Neapolis, about A.D. 100, converted to Christianity about A.D. 130, taught and defended the Christian religion in Asia Minor and at Rome, where he suffered martyrdom about the year 165. Two "Apologies" bearing his name and his "Dialogue with the Jew Tryphon" have come down to us...The date of his birth is uncertain, but would seem to fall in the first years of the second century. He received a good education in philosophy...the works of Justin seem to show just such a philosophic development as is here described, Eclectic, but owing much to Stoicism and more to Platonism. He was still under the charm of the Platonistic philosophy when, as he walked one day along the seashore, he met a mysterious old man; the conclusion of their long discussion was that the 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" (Lebreton. St. Justin Martyr).

Whether or nor it was the true Christian religion he converted to and defended will be discussed later.

Justin is known for his speaking, but mainly from his writings:

Many of Justin's writings have perished. Those works which have come to us bearing his name have been divided into three classes. The first class embraces those which are unquestionably genuine, viz. the two Apologies, and the Dialogue with Trypho. Some critics have urged objections against Justin's authorship of the Dialogue; but the objections are regarded now as possessing no weight. The second class consists of those works which are regarded by some critics as Justin's, and by others as not his. They are: 1. An Address to the Greeks; 2. A Hortatory Address to the Greeks; 3. On the Sole Government of God; 4. An Epistle to Diognetus; 5. Fragments from a work on the Resurrection; 6. And other Fragments. Whatever difficulty there may be in settling the authorship of these treatises, there is but one opinion as to their earliness. The latest of them, in all probability, was not written later than the third century. The third class consists of those that are unquestionably not the works of Justin. These are: 1. An Exposition of the True Faith; 2. Replies to the Orthodox; 3. Christian Questions to Gentiles; 4. Gentile Questions to Christians; 5. Epistle to Zenas and Serenus; and 6. A Refutation of certain Doctrines of Aristotle. There is no clue to the date of the two last. There can be no doubt that the others were written after the Council of Nicaea, though, immediately after the Reformation, Calvin and others appealed to the first as a genuine writing of Justin's" (Roberts and Donaldson. Introductory Note).

Note: This article is based on quotes of Justin from the three writings that are considered to have been authentic, as well as one recorded by his contemporary Irenaeus.

 

Many Positive Statements

 

There are many statements that Justin wrote that tend to be remembered favorably (even if they could have benefited from some editing).

 

Perhaps the ones best regarded are some of those in what has been called The First Apology (note: the term apology means defense in this sense; thus a religious apologist was historically one who defended one's faith), which is addressed to the Roman Emperor and the Senate. Justin does a decent job of trying to explain why Christians in general (and him in particular) should not be killed simply for believing in Christ.

 

Here is how it starts off,

I, Justin, the son of Priscus and grandson of Bacchius, natives of Flavia Neapolis in Palestine, present this address and petition in behalf of those of all nations who are unjustly hated and wantonly abused, myself being one of them...For we have come, not to flatter you by this writing, nor please you by our address, but to beg that you pass judgment, after an accurate and searching investigation, not flattered by prejudice or by a desire of pleasing superstitious men, nor induced by irrational impulse or evil rumours which have long been prevalent, to give a decision which will prove to be against yourselves. For as for us, we reckon that no evil can be done us, unless we be convicted as evil-doers or be proved to be wicked men; and you, you can kill, but not hurt us... (Justin Martyr. The First Apology. Chapters I, II. Note: All quotes in this paper from Justin Martyr are from Roberts and Donaldson's translation unless otherwise noted--Note: I have edited out any of the added footnotes as Justin did not write them--primarily they were excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson, American Edition, 1885, Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Justin also used this type of defense in what is called The Second Apology,

But when we are examined, we make no denial, because we are not conscious of any evil, but count it impious not to speak the truth in all things, which also we know is pleasing to God, and because we are also now very desirous to deliver you from an unjust prejudice" (Justin Martyr. The Second Apology. Chapter IV).

Not Really Atheists

One of the charges against those that professed Christ was that they were atheists. Justin tries to counter that by writing,

And we confess that we are atheists, so far as gods of this sort are concerned, but not with respect to the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues, who is free from all impurity" (The First Apology. Chapter VI).

 

And neither do we honour with many sacrifices and garlands of flowers such deities as men have formed and set in shrines and called gods; since we see that these are soulless and dead, and have not the form of God (for we do not consider that God has such a form as some say that they imitate to His honour), but have the names and forms of those wicked demons which have appeared. For why need we tell you who already know, into what forms the craftsmen, carving and cutting, casting and hammering, fashion the materials? And often out of vessels of dishonour, by merely changing the form, and making an image of the requisite shape, they make what they call a god; which we consider not only senseless, but to be even insulting to God, who, having ineffable glory and form, thus gets His name attached to things that are corruptible, and require constant service (The First Apology. Chapter IX). 

What sober-minded man, then, will not acknowledge that we are not atheists, worshipping as we do the Maker of this universe, and declaring, as we have been taught, that He has no need of streams of blood and libations and incense; whom we praise to the utmost of our power by the exercise of prayer and thanksgiving for all things wherewith we are supplied (The First Apology. Chapter XIII).

The fact that Justin denounced idols, shrines, and incense should give those in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches reason to question their view of him, as they embrace those things.

Christ the Word

He correctly identified Christ as the Word,

And His Son, who alone is properly called Son, the Word…is called Christ, in reference to His being anointed and God's ordering all things through Him; this name itself also containing an unknown significance; as also the appellation (Justin Martyr. The Second Apology. Chapter VI).

Some of Christ's Teaching on Sexual Issues

Justin also correctly wrote about some of Christ's teaching on sexual issues,

Concerning chastity, He uttered such sentiments as these: "Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart before God." And, "If thy right eye offend thee, cut it out; for it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of heaven with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into everlasting fire." And, "Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced from another husband, committeth adultery" And, "There are some who have been made eunuchs of men, and some who were born eunuchs, and some who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake; but all cannot receive this saying" (The First Apology. Chapter XV).

Not Seeking a Human Kingdom

To counter arguments that professing Christians want to take over the government, Justin wrote,

And when you hear that we look for a kingdom, you suppose, without making any inquiry, that we speak of a human kingdom; whereas we speak of that which is with God, as appears also from the confession of their faith made by those who are charged with being Christians, though they know that death is the punishment awarded to him who so confesses. For if we looked for a human kingdom, we should also deny our Christ, that we might not be slain; and we should strive to escape detection, that we might obtain what we expect. But since our thoughts are not fixed on the present, we are not concerned when men cut us off; since also death is a debt which must at all events be paid (The First Apology. Chapter XI).

A related article of interest may be Did the Early Church Teach About the Kingdom of God?

Christians Do Not Participate in War

Justin correctly wrote that followers of Christ do not participate in warfare:

For from Jerusalem there went out into the world, men, twelve in number, and these illiterate, of no ability in speaking: but by the power of God they proclaimed to every race of men that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the word of God; and we who formerly used to murder one another do not only now refrain from making war upon our enemies, but also, that we may not lie nor deceive our examiners, willingly die confessing Christ (Justin. First Apology, Chapter 39).

O unreasoning men! understanding not what has been proved by all these passages, that two advents of Christ have been announced: the one, in which He is set forth as suffering, inglorious, dishonoured, and crucified; but the other, in which He shall come from heaven with glory, when the man of apostasy, who speaks strange things against the Most High, shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us the Christians, who, having learned the true worship of God from the law, and the word which went forth from Jerusalem by means of the apostles of Jesus, have fled for safety to the God of Jacob and God of Israel; and we who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every wickedness, have each through the whole earth changed our warlike weapons,--our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into implements of tillage,--and we cultivate piety, righteousness, philanthropy, faith, and hope, which we have from the Father Himself through Him who was crucified; and sitting each under his vine (Dialogue, Chapter 110).

A related article of interest may be Military Service and the COGs: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare?

Christ Taught Not to Swear

Justin correctly wrote,

And with regard to our not swearing at all, and always speaking the truth, He enjoined as follows: "Swear not at all; but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil" (The First Apology. Chapter XVI).

God's Punishment is Just, But Not All Doctrines Are Good

Justin noted,

And that no one may say what is said by those who are deemed philosophers, that our assertions that the wicked are punished in eternal fire are big words and bugbears, and that we wish men to live virtuously through fear, and not because such a life is good and pleasant; I will briefly reply to this, that if this be not so, God does not exist; or, if He exists, He cares not for men and neither virtue nor vice is anything, and, as we said before, lawgivers unjustly punish those who transgress good commandments. But since these are not unjust, and their Father teaches them by the word to do the same things as Him self, they who agree with them are not unjust. And if one object that the laws of men are diverse, and say that with some, one thing is considered good, another evil, while with others what seemed bad to the former is esteemed good, and what seemed good is esteemed bad, let him listen to what we say to this...and the right Reason, when He came, proved that not all opinions nor all doctrines are good, but that some are evil, while others are good (Justin Martyr. The Second Apology. Chapter IX).

There Were Two

Although he elsewhere made a possibly trinitarian statement, Justin wrote,

When Scripture says,' The Lord rained fire from the Lord out of heaven,' the prophetic word indicates that there were two in number: One upon the earth, who, it says, descended to behold the cry of Sodom; Another in heaven, who also is Lord of the Lord on earth, as He is Father and God; the cause of His power and of His being Lord and God. Again, when the Scripture records that God said in the beginning, 'Behold, Adam has become like one of Us,' this phrase, 'like one of Us,' is also indicative of number; and the words do not admit of a figurative meaning, as the sophists endeavor to affix on them, who are able neither to tell nor to understand the truth (Dialogue. Chapter CXXIX).

Hence, Justin may have had some type of binitarian concept. Justin never called the 'Spirit' God--he usually referred to it as "the prophetic Spirit".

 

Resurrection And Predestination

Justin wrote this, which may be correct,

And that God the Father of all would bring Christ to heaven after He had raised Him from the dead, and would keep Him there until He has subdued His enemies the devils, and until the number of those who are foreknown by Him as good and virtuous is complete, on whose account He has still delayed the consummation--hear what was said by the prophet David. These are his words: "The Lord said unto My Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. The Lord shall send to Thee the rod of power out of Jerusalem; and rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies. With Thee is the government in the day of Thy power, in the beauties of Thy saints" (The First Apology. Chapter XLV).

A related article of interest may be The Resurrection in the Early Church.

Against Marcion

Like Polycarp, Justin also was against the teachings of the heretic Marcion,

And, as we said before, the devils put forward Marcion of Pontus, who is even now teaching men to deny that God is the maker of all things in heaven and on earth, and that the Christ predicted by the prophets is His Son, and preaches another god besides the Creator of all, and likewise another son. And this man many have believed, as if he alone knew the truth, and laugh at us, though they have no proof of what they say, but are carried away irrationally as lambs by a wolf, and become the prey of atheistical doctrines, and of devils (The First Apology. Chapter LV).

Yet later, Justin taught in favor (Dialogue. Chapter XVIII) of one of Marcion's heretical teachings, disregard for the law (Tertullian. Against Marcion. Book IV, Chapter 12).

Millennial Teaching

Justin taught,

But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare (Dialogue. Chapter 80).

Thus, Justin is teaching that those who do not teach a thousand year millennial reign, are not right-minded Christians. This millennial reign is taught in the Bible,

Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-5).

This passage in Revelation shows that there will be a thousand year reign and a first resurrection. The fact that the rest of the dead did not live again until after the thousand years were finished suggests that those in the first resurrection were not living until they were resurrected. This appears to differ from positions taken by the Catholics, Orthodox, and most Protestants.

Justin also taught,

For Isaiah spake thus concerning this space of a thousand years: 'For there shall be the new heaven and the new earth, and the former shall not be remembered, or come into their heart; but they shall find joy and gladness in it, which things I create'...For as Adam was told that in the day he ate of the tree he would die, we know that he did not complete a thousand years. We have perceived, moreover, that the expression, 'The day of the Lord is as a thousand years,' is connected with this subject. And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place (Dialogue. Chapter 81).

An article of related interest may be What Did the Early Church Teach About Millenarianism?.

Soul Not Immortal

Justin wrote the following (but without the names, which are shown for clarity below in italics):

Trypho: "'Therefore souls neither see God nor trans-migrate into other bodies; for they would know that so they are punished, and they would be afraid to commit even the most trivial sin afterwards. But that they can perceive that God exists, and that righteousness and piety are honourable, I also quite agree with you,' said he.

Justin: "'You are right,' I replied.

Trypho: "'These philosophers know nothing, then, about these things; for they cannot tell what a soul is.'

Justin: "'It does not appear so.'

Trypho:"'Nor ought it to be called immortal; for if it is immortal, it is plainly unbegotten.' ...

Justin: "God alone is unbegotten and incorruptible, and therefore He is God, but all other things after Him are created and corruptible. For this reason souls both die and are punished: since, if they were unbegotten, they would neither sin, nor be filled with folly, nor be cowardly, and again ferocious; nor would they willingly transform into swine, and serpents, and dogs and it would not indeed be just to compel them, if they be unbegotten" (Dialogue. Chapter 4-5).

In the preceding part of the Dialogue, it was necessary to insert the names of the speakers for clarification.

Justin also stated, "For I choose to follow not men or men's doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians" (Dialogue. Chapter 80).

While those in the COGs would agree that souls die (Ezekiel 18:4) and are not taken to heaven upon death (Job:14:14; John 3:13), those in the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches would seem to disagree with Justin here.

Justin is clearly stating that those who believe that souls are taken to heaven when they die are not Christians. Therefore, it is surprising that any in Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches would consider Justin to be a saint, since he teaches that none of them can be.

An article of related interest may be Did the Early Church Teach Human Immortality?.

Yet Many Statements Inconsistent With the Bible

While Justin made a variety of positive statements, to determine whether or not he was a saint, heretic, or an apostate, it would be best to see if he made claims that clearly were non-biblical and/or statements that contradict clear biblical teachings.

And Justin made a variety of conflicting and anti-biblical statements.

One writer noted:

Most scholars agree that Justin was verbose, confused, inconsistent and often not convincing in his arguments (Bradshaw R. Justin Martyr. http://www.earlychurch.org.uk/justin.php 5/14/06).

Fasting for Remission of Sins?

Although he does not discuss the manner of baptism, Justin suggests that after believing, that water is used,  

As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water (The First Apology. Chapter LXI).

This seems to contradict Acts 2:38 which teaches,

Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

While Jesus encouraged prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21, He never taught that fasting led to the remission of sins. Jesus did teach that His blood was " shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:28).

It is possible that Justin may have gleaned his statement from Stoic or other philosophers as it is not taught that way in the Bible.

Jews Eliminated Portions of Scripture?

The Catholic Encyclopedia states,

St. Justin Martyr is the first to note that the Church has a set of Old Testament Scriptures different from the Jews' (Reid GJ. Canon of the Old Testament. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

Specifically, Justin stated,

And I wish you to observe, that they have altogether taken away many Scriptures from the translations effected by those seventy elders who were with Ptolemy...Trypho remarked, "Whether[or not] the rulers of the people have erased any portion of the Scriptures, as you affirm, God knows; but it seems incredible." "Assuredly," said I, "it does seem incredible" (Justin Martyr. Dialogue with Trypho, Chapters 71,73).

Justin seemed to teach that Jewish leaders removed passages from the Bible though it is not clear that he taught that books were missing (Ibid. Chapters 71-73). Catholics actually use Justin's statements to partially justify why they should add books to the Old Testament (see article on the Old Testament Canon) even though Justin never referred to those additional books (Reid. Canon of the Old Testament).

Justin's assertions are clearly not correct.

It was the Jews to whom the oracles of God were committed:

This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us (Acts 7:38, NKJV unless otherwise noted).

What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God (Romans 3:1-2, NIV).

The Greek word translated as oracles or 'very words' in those passages is::

logion (log'-ee-on); neuter of NT:3052; an utterance (of God) (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.).

In other words, scripture was entrusted to the Jews. Note that Paul credits them for that, and does not blame them for losing parts of it.

Furthermore, Jesus did not criticize the Jews for losing parts of the Bible, because they had not done so (actually He suggested otherwise, Matthew 5:18;24:35).

If "Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35), how can Justin claim parts were lost?

Additionally, Paul specifically told Timothy,

...from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete" (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

Those Holy Scriptures were entrusted to the Jews, and could not have been lost or the man of God could not be complete. Yet Justin seems to be arguing that the Holy Scriptures were corrupted, hence the Jews no longer possessed the ability to become complete.

It should be noted, that unless Justin was referring to deuterocanonical stories such as "Bel and the Dragon" (which he never seemed to), the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles simply do not add verses back to the Hebrew Bible--hence neither of those faiths would seem to be supportive of Justin's statements. Nor by the way, would the Protestants, who use the same Old Testament books that those in the COGs do.

Prophets in 5000 B.C.?

Concerning Christ, Justin inaccurately taught,

And He was predicted before He appeared, first 5000 years before, and again 3000, then 2000, then 1000, and yet again 800; for in the succession of generations prophets after prophets arose (The First Apology. Chapter XXXI).

This is inaccurate, because according to the timetables in the Bible, there were no people created as we now know them, much less prophets sent, 5000 years before Christ.

While mistakes can be made, and this may have simply been one, the above shows that Justin apparently was not that familiar with the timetable of the Old Testament. For biblically-based calculations, please see the article Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?

Claimed Jesus Was Born in a Cave

It may be interesting to note that since Mithras was believed to have been born out of a rock/cavern, that Justin claimed that the followers of Mithras got this from Isaiah.

Notice what Justin taught:

And when those who record the mysteries of Mithras say that he was begotten of a rock, and call the place where those who believe in him are initiated a cave...they have attempted likewise to imitate the whole of Isaiah's words?...'he shall dwell in the lofty cave of the strong rock. Bread shall be given to him, and his water [shall be] sure...' (Trypho, Chapter 70).

But when the Child was born in Bethlehem, since Joseph could not find a lodging in that village, he took up his quarters in a certain cave near the village; and while they were there Mary brought forth the Christ and placed Him in a manger, and here the Magi who came from Arabia found Him. I have repeated to you what Isaiah foretold about the sign which foreshadowed the cave (Trypho, Chapter 78).

It should be noted that Justin's reference to Isaiah 33:16 does not in any way point to the birth of Jesus in a cave (it is actually a reference to God's promise to protect His most faithful in the time of the end, see There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra). This is also obvious by the context in Isaiah as the expression "who among us" (Isaiah 33:14, KJV) is a discussion of the plural. Furthermore, while it has been claimed Jesus was born in a cave below ground, even the Douay OT translates a portion of Isaiah 33:16 as "He shall dwell on high, the fortifications of rocks shall be his highness", thus this eliminates a below ground cave --which is what Helena, mother of Constantine, selected as Jesus' birth site (Kitto J, Taylor J.  The popular cyclopadia of Biblical literature: condensed from the larger work.  Gould and Lincoln, 1854. Original from Harvard University, Digitized Oct 23, 2007, p. 150).

Jesus was not born in the grotto of the nativity (for details, please see Was Jesus Born in the Grotto of the Nativity?).

It would seem that Justin, who had been influenced, in my view by one who had exposure to Mithraism, was looking for justification of a position that someone had told him (which he had believed). Justin was apparently trying to claim that the followers of Mithras claimed a cave because of Isaiah--yet those scriptures would clearly disagree with him here.

It would seem that Justin, who had been influenced, in my view by one who had exposure to Mithraism, was looking for justification of a position that someone had told him (which he had believed). Justin was apparently trying to claim that the followers of Mithras claimed a cave because of Isaiah--and I would have to disagree with him here (for more details, please see the article Was Jesus Born in the Grotto of the Nativity?).

It strongly appears that Justin's initial exposures to "Christianity" came from some who had a distant tie to Mithraism as Justin often claims as "Christian" beliefs that are not found in the Bible (the Bible nowhere, for example, states that Jesus was born in a cave), but instead have a basis in Mithraism.

Justin is claimed as the earliest post-New Testament source for such doctrines as Sunday worship, Jesus being born in a cave, calling the newly baptized "illuminated", and other positions that are not in the Bible.

Satan Did Not Blaspheme or Know His Fate Until Christ Came to Earth?

Irenaeus, not too long after Justin's death related this,

Truly has Justin remarked: That before the Lord's appearance Satan never dared to blaspheme God, inasmuch as he did not yet know his own sentence, because it was contained in parables and allegories; but that after the Lord's appearance, when he had clearly ascertained from the words of Christ and His apostles that eternal fire has been prepared for him as he apostatized from God of his own free-will, and likewise for all who unrepentant continue in the apostasy, he now blasphemes, by means of such men, the Lord who brings judgment [upon him] as being already condemned, and imputes the guilt of his apostasy to his Maker, not to his own voluntary disposition (Against Heresies. Book 5, Chapter XXVI).

This is NOT biblical. Since the Satan knew scripture (e.g. Matthew 4), he would have known Psalm 9:17,

The wicked shall be turned back unto Sheol" (ASV)

And Isaiah 14:12-15 which states,

How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit (NKJV).

Satan also deliberately encouraged blaspheming centuries before Christ,

...stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face! (Job 1:11)

...stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face! (Job 2:5).

The fact that he rebelled against God also shows Satan's blasphemous nature.

To claim Satan did not blaspheme or know his fate before Christ was an outrageous claim on Justin's part.

Plato Knew the God of Moses? God Made All Things Through Unformed Matter?

Justin also taught,

And we have been taught that He in the beginning did of His goodness, for man's sake, create all things out of unformed matter...And that you may learn that it was from our teachers--we mean the account given through the prophets--that Plato borrowed his statement that God, having altered matter which was shapeless, made the world, hear the very words spoken through Moses, who, as above shown, was the first prophet, and of greater antiquity than the Greek writers (The First Apology. Chapters X, LIX).

Yet. the Bible teaches,

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth (Psalm 33:6)

All things were made through Him (John 1:3).

Interestingly, even though Irenaeus liked Justin, Irenaeus wrote this about the Gnostic heretics like the Valentinians,

This opinion, too, that they hold the Creator formed the world out of previously existing matter, both Anaxagoras, Empedocles, and Plato expressed before them; as, forsooth, we learn they also do under the inspiration of their Mother (Irenaeus. Against Heresies. Book II, Chapter 14).

Hence it is appears that Justin was, once again, providing more of a Plato philosophical, and not biblical, view of religious-related events.

Adopted Plato's Cross

Justin picked up some ideas about the cross from Plato:

Labarum...The two great circles of the heavens, the equator and the ecliptic, which, by intersecting each other form a sort of recumbent chi and about which the whole dome of the starry heavens swings in a wondrous rhythm, became for the Christian eye a heavenly cross."Of Plato's image in Timaeus, Justin Martyr, the Christian apologist writing in the second century, found a prefiguration of the Cross (Robert Grigg, "Symphōnian Aeidō tēs Basileias": An Image of Imperial Harmony on the Base of the Column of Arcadius" The Art Bulletin 59.4 (December 1977:469-482) p. 477, note 42. Cited at Wikipedia, Labarum).

Here is what Justin wrote:

And the physiological discussion concerning the Son of God in the Timæus of Plato, where he says, He placed him crosswise in the universe, he borrowed in like manner from Moses; for in the writings of Moses it is related how at that time , when the Israelites went out of Egypt and were in the wilderness, they fell in with poisonous beasts, both vipers and asps , and every kind of serpent, which slew the people; and that Moses, by the inspiration and influence of God, took brass, and made it into the figure of a cross , and set it in the holy tabernacle , and said to the people, If you look to this figure, and believe, you shall be saved thereby. And when this was done, it is recorded that the serpents died, and it is handed down that the people thus escaped death. Which things Plato reading, and not accurately understanding, and not apprehending that it was the figure of the cross, but taking it to be a placing crosswise , he said that the power next to the first God was placed crosswise in the universe. And as to his speaking of a third, he did this because he read, as we said above, that which was spoken by Moses, that the Spirit of God moved over the waters. For he gives the second place to the Logos which is with God, who he said was placed crosswise in the universe; and the third place to the Spirit who was said to be borne upon the water, saying, And the third around the third. And hear how the Spirit of prophecy signified through Moses that there should be a conflagration. He spoke thus: Everlasting fire shall descend, and shall devour to the pit beneath (First Apology, Chapter 60).

I do not believe that the Bible shows that Moses intended for the serpent symbol to be a cross, or that Plato got his ideas from Moses. Furthermore, when some Israelites did treat the serpent symbol like many today treat the cross, King Hezekiah had it destroyed (2 Kings 18:4). One claimed to be as educated as Justin should have known that.

Sadly, the particular cross symbol that Plato endorsed became the symbol of the murderous Emperor Constantine who adopted it (see Europa, the Beast, and the Book of Revelation). It may be of interest to note that at least one Catholic writer has written that the particular Labarum cross may be the mark of the beasts in Revelation 13:

Priest P. Huchedé (19th century): What this sign shall be time alone will reveal. Yet there are some {Catholic} commentators of the Holt Writ, who, according to a special revelation pretend to say that it shall be formed out of the Greek letters X and P, interlaced...which resembles the number of Christ. (Cornelius a Lapide in Epis. 2 to Thes.). No one can either buy or sell without that…(Huchedé, P.  Translated by JBD. History of Antichrist.  Imprimatur: Edward Charles Fabre, Bishop of Montreal.  English edition 1884, Reprint 1976.  TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 24).

If some type of cross is a symbol of the future Antichrist/Beast power as Priest P. Huchedé claims it may be (and it is in a book with an official imprimatur), perhaps those who come from faiths descended from Emperor Constantine should be concerned about their religion now--before it becomes even further removed from the original faith. The Bible indicates that the true Christians will NOT have the symbol/mark needed to buy or sell when the two beasts of Revelation 13 are in power, but only those that will follow those beasts will (Revelation 13:16-17)--and while crosses may not necessarily be required everywhere, other Catholic writings suggest that in certain places, they will be (see Persecutions by Church and State).

The earliest faithful Christians did NOT use the cross as a symbol. The cross does not start to appear on any churches until the time of Constantine. But Justin's reliance on a pagan philosopher (Plato) over the Bible (2 Kings 18:4), is disturbing and is one of the justification that some use even today for crosses.

Fire Kindled in the Jordan?

Justin inaccurately claimed,

And then, when Jesus had gone to the river Jordan, where John was baptizing, and when He had stepped into the water, a fire was kindled in the Jordan (Dialogue. Chapter LXXXVIII).

There is no fire in mentioned in any biblical account of Jesus' baptism (see Matthew 3:1-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-34). Justin simply is teaching this without biblical support.

The Bible teaches,

Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD deceitfully (Jeremiah 48:10).

Justin is falsely claiming teachings from the Bible that were not so.

Circumcision, Sabbaths, and Feasts Due to Jews Hardness of Heart?

Justin actually wrote,

For we too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the Sabbaths, and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they were enjoined you,--namely, on account of your transgressions and the hardness of your hearts (Dialogue. Chapter XVIII).

This appears not only to be anti-Semitic, but also biblically inaccurate. Actually, this is totally false.

First let's look to see what the Bible says about the beginnings of fleshy circumcision,

For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness"...How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised (Romans 4:3,10-12).

Thus Justin's statement clearly contradicts the biblical teaching about circumcision.

The Sabbath was made by God (Genesis 2) for man (not just the Jews) according to Jesus (Mark 2:27). The Bible says God gave the children of Israel his "Holy Sabbath" along with other laws (Nehemiah 9:13-14).

If the Sabbath was due to the hardness of the Jews, why would God have also have inspired Isaiah to record the following,

And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the LORD honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth" (Isaiah 58:13-14).

Notice the other reason that God said He gave the Sabbaths,

Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them...hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God (Ezekiel 20:12,20).

Even the Catholic translation of Hebrews (The Original and True Rheims New Testament of Anno Domini 1582) chapter 4 teaches that the Sabbath remains:

4. For he said in a certain place of the seventh day, thus: And God rested the seventh day from all his works.
5. And again in this, If they shall enter into my rest.
6. Because then it remaineth that certain enter into it, and they to whom first it was preached, did not enter because of incredulity:
7. Again he limiteth a certain day: Today, in David saying, after so long time, as it above said, Today if you shall hear his voice: do not obdurate your hearts.
8. For if Jesus had given them rest: he would never speak of another day afterward.
9. Therefore there is left a sabbatisme for the people of God.
10. For he that is entered into his rest, the same also hath rested from his works, as God from his.
11. Let us hasten therefore to enter into that rest: that no man fall into the same example
of incredulity.

Clearly, Justin did not properly understand the origin or purpose of the Sabbath. Interestingly, it was the heretic Marcion (and he is considered to be a heretic by Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, and those in the COGs) that indicated that the Sabbath was done away for believers (Tertullian. Against Marcion. Book IV, Chapter 12) and made several anti-sabbatarian arguments that Justin alludes to in various places.

And the Feasts? The first was Passover. God states,

...It is the LORD's Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment (Exodus 12:11-12).

God did not say He instituted this to punish the Israelites. Furthermore, in Leviticus 23:2 God states,

The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.

If the Feasts are bad, then why did Paul write, "For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast" (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)?

And even though Justin understood that Christ was the Passover lamb (Dialogue. Chapter XL), he still did not apparently understand that the Holy Days were part of God's plan for human kind. (Also see the article Passover and the Early Church which documents that those early leaders in the Church in Asia Minor kept the Passover on the original date even though the Roman bishops held a different position.)

Perpetual Sabbath? A New Law?

Justin also wrote,

The new law requires you to keep perpetual sabbath, and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious, not discerning why this has been commanded you: and if you eat unleavened bread, you say the will of God has been fulfilled. The Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances: if there is any perjured person or a thief among you, let him cease to be so; if any adulterer, let him repent; then he has kept the sweet and true sabbaths of God (Dialogue. Chapter XII).

Neither Catholics, Orthodox, nor COG members teach that we are to live a perpetual Sabbath, as opposed to observing one day per week (as the Bible commands; Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5). It is this author's understanding that the Jehovah's Witnesses (and some Protestants) teach this concept similarly to that of Justin Martyr.

As far as when the Sabbath actually is for Christians, the New Testament teaches (we will use the Protestant NIV this time, as we used the Catholic approved translation the last time):

Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest." It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience...

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience (Hebrews 4:3-6,9-11, NIV).

When did God Himself rest? Genesis 2:2-3 states,

And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Justin also taught,

But if some, through weak-mindedness, wish to observe such institutions as were given by Moses, from which they expect some virtue, but which we believe were appointed by reason of the hardness of the people's hearts, along with their hope in this Christ, and [wish to perform] the eternal and natural acts of righteousness and piety, yet choose to live with the Christians and the faithful, as I said before, not inducing them either to be circumcised like themselves, or to keep the Sabbath, or to observe any other such ceremonies, then I hold that we ought to join ourselves to such, and associate with them in all things as kinsmen and brethren...But I believe that even those, who have been persuaded by them to observe the legal dispensation along with their confession of God in Christ, shall probably be saved (Dialogue. Chapter 47).

Apparently Justin considers that those who keep the Sabbath are weak-minded, but that they can be Christians as long as they do not believe others need to keep the Sabbath, but yet others they persuade may still be Christians. (The issue of the Sabbath being given by reason of hardness was addressed earlier.) Thus Justin seems to be contradicting himself (as well as scripture).

Furthermore, by taking this position, Justin is clearly showing that he did was not truly part of the church that Polycarp, Thraseas, Sagaris, Papirius, Melito, Polycrates, and probably Apollonius of Ephesus claimed to be in as they did observe certain cermonies associated with the law of Moses.

Eighth Day?

Justin wrote,

Now, sirs," I said, "it is possible for us to show how the eighth day possessed a certain mysterious import, which the seventh day did not possess, and which was promulgated by God through these rites...there is now another covenant, and another law has gone forth from Zion. Jesus Christ circumcises all who will--as was declared above--with knives of stone; that they may be a righteous nation, a people keeping faith, holding to the truth, and maintaining peace" (Dialogue. Chapter XXIV).

For, tell me, did God wish the priests to sin when they offer the sacrifices on the Sabbaths? or those to sin, who are circumcised and do circumcise on the Sabbaths; since He commands that on the eighth day--even though it happen to be a Sabbath--those who are born shall be always circumcised? or could not the infants be operated upon one day previous or one day subsequent to the Sabbath, if He knew that it is a sinful act upon the Sabbaths? Or why did He not teach those--who are called righteous and pleasing to Him, who lived before Moses and Abraham, who were not circumcised in their foreskin, and observed no Sabbaths--to keep these institutions? (Dialogue. Chapter XXVII).

The command of circumcision, again, bidding [them] always circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision, by which we are circumcised from deceit and iniquity through Him who rose from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath, [namely through] our Lord Jesus Christ. For the first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first of all the days, is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and [yet] remains the first (Dialogue. Chapter XLI).

It probably should not astound me that certain second century writers consider that the eighth day is somehow the first day of the week. But what astounds me more, is that later theologians accept the first day of the week, knowing full well it was originally introduced to Christians by way of an eighth day.

There is no Bible that mentions anything about a law that new covenant requires the eighth day for anything. The only times the expression "eighth day" occur in the New Testament are when Jesus (Luke 1:59), Isaac (Acts 7:8), and Paul (Philippians 3:5) are mentioned as being circumcised on the eighth day. No law, nor commandment, is given in the New Testament about that day. This mysterious import Justin is claiming is so mysterious that it is illogical to find it in the Bible. The eighth day was a Gnostic concept called the Ogdoad that pagan philosophers advocated. As a philosopher this may be part of where Justin got his eighth day preference (more the eighth day is in Sunday and Christianity).

The eighth day of circumcision had nothing to do with any day of the week--its was the eighth day of a male baby's life. There is NOTHING in the entire Bible that ties the circumcising on the eighth day of life to the seventh day Sabbath-rest. There are a couple of places in the Old Testament about the eighth day being a Sabbath (Leviticus 23:39; Nehemiah 8:18), but this is the eighth day associated with the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles (a Feast/Holy Day that Justin does not support) and it also has NOTHING to do with a day of the week.

It should be noted that Justin (in another writing) was the first writer to specifically discuss worship on Sunday,

But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter (The First Apology. Chapter LXVII).

According to most scholars, this writing occurred in 150 A.D. The Greek expression he used was τῇ τοῦ Ηλίου λεγομένη ἡμέρᾳ which literally seems to mean "on the day said to be Helios" (Helios was the name of the Greek sun god).

It should also be noted that the Bible and even Justin state that God made a change in darkness on the first day of the week and not the eighth--which is the day Justin says has a mysterious import that the seventh day does not have. Light changed darkness on the first day:

Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day (Genesis 1:3-5).

The Bible clearly says that the reason for the seventh day is the whole creation,

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it (Exodus 20:11).

Hence, to argue that the beginning of the creation endorses Sunday is a clear contradiction to what God taught. While it is true that Abraham was the first to receive the instruction about circumcision, Justin has no proof that no one before Abraham kept the Sabbath. The seventh day rest was instituted in Genesis Chapter 2 by God Himself, and in Exodus 20:8 people are told to "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy"--you can only remember something if you should have known it.

There is no verse in the Bible that changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. But this may be a good time to briefly address the issue of Paul and the Sabbath and the first day of the week.

Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ." And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas (Acts 17:2-4).

Note that it was Paul's regular practice to teach Gentiles on the Sabbath.

But didn't the Bible once show that Paul taught on the first day of the week?

Yes so let's look at that,

Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together (Acts 20:7-8).

This passage shows that on Saturday evening when the disciples got together to eat their evening meal, that Paul decided to speak to them because he was going to travel on Sunday. This shows that Paul considered Sunday to be a normal travel day (unlike the Sabbath), and it does not show that the Sundays were the usual time for Christian worship services in the New Testament.

Perhaps it should be mentioned here that the first references to alleged Christians meeting on the "eighth day" of the week come from an obscure document, the so-called Epistle of Barnabas (so-called because no reliable scholar accepts that Barnabas wrote it) which has many heretical statements (several statements from Justin seem to support those in the Epistle of Barnabas, as opposed to those in the Bible).

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes this, "The Epistle of Barnabas contains no clue to its author nor to those for whom it was intended. Its aim is to impart to its readers the perfect wisdom (gnosis)...The epistle is characterized by the use of exaggerated allegory...According to many scholars he teaches that it was never intended that the precepts of the Law should be observed in their literal sense, that the Jews never had a covenant with God, that circumcision was the work of the Devil, etc...according to him, the Jews never received the divine covenant because they never understood its nature" (Ladeuze P. Epistle of Barnabas).

In other words, Barnabas was apparently a biblically-inaccurate gnostic writing.

Where did the gnostics get the idea that eight was better than seven? Apparently from Greek philosophers, whom Justin would have been familiar with, as well as inaccurate astronomers.

Alan Knight explains,

From its beginning in seventh and sixth century Greece, the Ptolemaic system prevailed for more than 1500 years...Between the earth and the stars there were believed to be seven planets...Planets and stars were believed to revolve around the earth in concentric orbits...The realm of the stars is the outermost and eighth sphere, frequently symbolized by the number eight. The number seven symbolized the realm of the seven planets which mark the descent from heaven to earth...Seven came to represent evil because it symbolized descent into the world of matter. In contrast, eight symbolized the peaceful order and goodness of the heavens...Gnosticism began inside the apostolic church in the first Century...Gnostic Christians were passionately opposed to the Old Testament and the Hebrew religion...The theology of the Eighth Day was tailor made of Gnostic Christians because it insisted on trashing Hebrew religion and the Old Testament...Notice that Hellenistic Roman Christianity never fully adopted the 'grace alone' antinomianism of Gnosticism (Knight A. Primitive Christianity in Crisis, 2nd ed. A.R.K. Research, Antioch (CA), 2003, pp.8-9,38,39,50).

The gnostic Clement of Alexandria (not to be confused with Clement, bishop of Rome), in the mid/late second century proved much of Alan Knight's point as he wrote,

And the Lord's day Plato prophetically speaks of in the tenth book of the Republic, in these words: "And when seven days have passed to each of them in the meadow, on the eighth they are to set out and arrive in four days." By the meadow is to be understood the fixed sphere, as being a mild and genial spot, and the locality of the pious; and by the seven days each motion of the seven planets, and the whole practical art which speeds to the end of rest. But after the wandering orbs the journey leads to heaven, that is, to the eighth motion and day... (Clement of Alexandria. Roberts-Donaldson English Translation: The Stromata, or Miscellanies. Book V. Chapter XIV).

And the Alexandria Clement also wrote,

Whether, then, the time be that which through the seven periods enumerated returns to the chiefest rest, or the seven heavens, which some reckon one above the other; or whether also the fixed sphere which borders on the intellectual world be called the eighth, the expression denotes that the Gnostic ought to rise out of the sphere of creation and of sin" (Ibid. Book IV. Chapter XXV).

Note what The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions,

Alexandria was, in addition, one of the chief seats of that peculiar mixed pagan and Christian speculation known as Gnosticism. Basilides and Valentinus taught there. It is no matter of surprise, therefore, to find some of the Christians affected in turn by the scientific spirit. At an uncertain date, in the latter half of the second century, "a school of oral instruction" was founded. Lectures were given to which pagan hearers were admitted, and advanced teaching to Christians separately. It was an official institution of the Church. Pantaenus is the earliest teacher whose name has been preserved. Clement first assisted and then succeeded Pantaenus in the direction of the school, about A.D. 190...Pope Gelasius in the catalogue attributed to him mentions Clement's works, but adds, "they are in no case to be received amongst us" (Havey FP. Clement of Alexandria).

Thus, the Catholic Church admits that Clement of Alexandria taught Gnosticism, that it was a mixture of pagan and Christian speculation, and that at least one pope concluded that Clement's works were not to be accepted. Since Justin Martyr was apparently teaching the same things, certainly his writings should be avoided by those who do not wish to mix pagan philosophy with outward professions of Christianity.

As a time of weekly worship, the eighth day is never endorsed anywhere in the Bible. Should Christians rely on a teaching developed first by a Greek view of the universe that was later modified by those now known as Gnostics, and then became known as tradition? Should Christians rely on The Bible or Tradition?

Mithra-Like Practices

The "god" Helios is actually also called "Mithra Helios". And Justin had practices that were similar to those employed by the followers of the sun-god Mithra:

For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water...And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings (First Apology 61).

And this food is called among us Εύχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished...Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn (First Apology 66).

Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly (First Apology 67).

Lest anyone think that he did not, notice what the historian and scholar K. Latourette observed:

One of the earliest descriptions of the Eucharist, that by Justin Martyr, not far from the middle of the second century, recognizes the similarity to what was seen in one the mystery cults, Mithraism...it has been repeatedly asserted that in baptism and the Eucharist Christians borrowed from the mysteries and that Christianity was simply another one of these cults...The similarity is striking (Latourette KS. A History of Christianity, Volume 1: to A.D. 1500. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1975, p. 198).

Of course, true Christianity could not "borrow" from the sun-cults, but Justin and those that follow his examples apparently have.

It should be understood that while Justin calls the newly baptized "illuminated" the Bible does not.

Are you aware that one objective of mystery religions like Mithraism was to become illuminated? Notice the following:

FOR more than three centuries Mithraism was practised in the remotest provinces of the Roman empire and under the most diverse conditions...the promise of complete illumination, long withheld, fed the ardor of faith with the fascinating allurements of mystery...The gods were everywhere, and they mingled in every act of life; the fire that cooked the food and warmed the bodies of the faithful, the water that allayed their thirst and cleansed their persons, the very air that they breathed, and the light that illuminated their paths, were the objects of their adoration. Perhaps no other religion ever offered to its sectaries in a higher degree than Mithraism opportunities for prayer and motives for veneration (Cumont, Franz. Translated from the second revised French edition by Thomas J. McCormack. The Mysteries of Mithra. Chicago, Open Court [1903] pp. 104,120,149).

I suspect that some who had some connection with Mithraism professed Christ and that those ceremonies got picked up by apostates who Justin apparently distantly came into contact with. And even though Justin is attempting to state that Mithraism copied "Christian" ceremonies, the fact is that the Mithra ceremonies, including Sunday worship, were in existence prior to Jesus coming. Jesus, of course, kept Saturday for the Sabbath.

Hence it would appear that those who practiced Sunday, called baptized persons "illuminated" (a term indicating "light", such as sunlight) and the mystic eucharistic ceremonies were following non-Christian influences as it obviously did not happen the other way around with these practices.

Sadly, however, it seems that many non-biblical practices slowly became part of the Greco-Roman churches. And while this apparently was not intentional on the part of people like Justin, the relatively early acceptance of such non-biblical practices seems to have led to additional ones being added later.

Worship of the Prophetic Spirit?

In his First Apology he mentioned,

...the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore (The First Apology. Chapter VI).

He gives no additional explanation.

The term "prophetic Spirit" is not found in any Bible. Justin apparently could have come up with that term from 2 Peter 1:21 which states,

For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

There is no indication there or in other parts of the Bible about either worshipping or adoring a prophetic Spirit or the Holy Spirit--Justin's writing may be the first showing worship and adoration of the Spirit. (An article of related interest may be Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity?)

Was Christ Cursed?

One concern that Trypho had was,

But whether Christ should be so shamefully crucified, this we are in doubt about. For whosoever is crucified is said in the law to be accursed, so that I am exceedingly incredulous on this point (Dialogue. Chapter 89).

Ultimately, Justin responded with,

Therefore our suffering and crucified Christ was not cursed by the law, but made it manifest that He alone would save those who do not depart from His faith (Dialogue. Chapter 111).

This seems to conflict with what Paul wrote in Galatians 3:13,

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree").

Thus, it appears that Justin somewhat contradicted this scripture. Instead, Justin perhaps should have simply quoted the entire section in Galatians 2:10-14 where Paul appears to address this particular concern.

Who is the Supreme Pontiff and the Father? Is the Roman Senate Sacred?

Justin addressed his First Apology to the Emperor and  "to the sacred Senate" (The First Apology. Chapter I).

And in his conclusion mentioned,

The Emperor Caesar Titus AElius Adrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, Supreme Pontiff, in the fifteenth year of his tribuneship, Consul for the third time, Father of the fatherland, to the Common Assembly of Asia, greeting (The First Apology. Chapter LXVIII).

The ultimate "Father of the fatherland" would seem to be God the Father, though it is likely that Justin is simply trying a bit too hard to be polite here.

Catholics may have been surprised to learn that when addressing the Supreme Pontiff in Rome, Justin was referring to the Emperor (the bishop of Rome did not take this title to himself until the late 4th Century). Pontiff is a term that seems to mean bridge builder and has historically, in a religious context, has suggested being the bridge between the Chief God (Jupiter for the Romans, or the Father for the Catholics) and man. Or essentially, a mediator.

The Bible teaches this, "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5). It is also not likely that God would consider that the assembly of the Roman Senate was sacred (e.g. Amos 5:21).

There Were Two Significant Professing Christian Groups in Justin's Time

Perhaps one of the most important points that needs to be emphasized was that there were two main groups of professing Christians during Justin's time (plus the various known gnostic and other heretical groups).

Paul told those in Ephesus,

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk… (Ephesians 4:17). 

Yet certain ones, like Justin, did not heed this. 

In Ephesus, Justin Martyr wrote, in response to a Jew named Trypho,

But if, Trypho, some of your race, who say they believe in this Christ, compel those Gentiles who believe in this Christ to live in all respects according to the law given by Moses, or choose not to associate so intimately with them, I in like manner do not approve of them (Justin.  Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 47. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Thus, Justin admits that there were two groups in Ephesus, one that kept all the law and the other that did not. He also admits that he did not approve of those who kept the law.

Justin Martyr records this accusation from Trypho,

But this is what we are most at a loss about: that you, professing to be pious, and supposing yourselves better than others, are not in any particular separated from them, and do not alter your mode of living from the nations, in that you observe no festivals or Sabbaths…you do not obey His commandments (Justin Martyr.  Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter 10. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc.).    

While the Christians in Ephesus were told to live differently than the other Gentiles in whose nation they co-existed with (Ephesians 4:17), those with Justin Martyr could not be distinguished. It is interesting to note that Trypho expected that Justin would have kept the Sabbath--this is because that was the common practice of those that professed Christ in Asia Minor.

It is believed that the discourse between Trypho and Justin Martyr took place in Ephesus, though Justin Martyr later ended up in Rome (Lebreton J.  St. Justin Martyr )--which may have been when he adopted or further pushed Sunday on Rome.

Justin's writings prove that there would have had to be two very different professing Christian groups in Ephesus. Justin Martyr specifically claimed his group did not observe the Sabbath, keep the Feasts, or eat unleavened bread (Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter 18)—yet, according to the Catholic historian Eusebius, Polycrates later confirmed that Passover was continually kept on the 14th and unleavened bread was still eaten annually by the Christians who were the followers of Polycarp and John in Ephesus (Eusebius.  Church History. Book V, Chapter 24--see quote in Appendix A).  Yet, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox claim both Polycarp and Justin as saints--the two were too different for both to have been saints. To determine which of the two could have been, please read this article completely and also read the article Polycarp of Smyrna.

Perhaps it should be noted that in the famous letter The Martyrdom of Polycarp it is clear that those in Polycarp's area, which included Ephesus, still kept the Sabbath (Verse 8.1. Holmes MW, ed.  As translated in The Apostolic Fathers Greek Texts and English Translations. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 3rd printing 2004, p. 231) (more can information can be found in the article Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, & Rome).

It is possible that the reason that Justin Martyr decided to leave Ephesus and go to Rome was because the true Christians in Ephesus (and nearby Smyrna) would not accept him or his teachings.

According to a variety of Catholic accepted writings, there were both true and false Christians in Rome when Justin would have been there. It should be noted that the Catholic Church recognized that Passover was binding upon Christians (even though it disagrees with the date and how it is to be kept). Specifically, in the late 4th Century, one of its writers, Epiphanius wrote this about the Council of Nicea,

...an ecumenical council of 318 bishops...decreed in regard to the Passover that there must be one unanimous concord of the celebration of God's holy and supremely excellent day" (Epiphanius. Translated by Frank Williams. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III. Section V, 11,1. E.J. Brill, New York, 1994, p.331).

Note: In many societies, the term Easter is now used, even though Passover was the original term--and while Passover shows the body and blood of Christ, the Bible never shows that it was a resurrection holy day. Yet although Justin recognized that "the passover was Christ' (Dialogue. Chapter CXI), he also seems to have suggested that the passover was "low", not important (Ibid. Chapter CXII).

Lest any readers conclude that no one else has noticed that Justin admitted that there were two groups, look at the following from Wheaton College Graduate School on this subject:

The description of the divisions among Hebrew Christianity given in the second century Dialogue with Trypho, A Jew by Justin Martyr (d. ca. A.D. 165) [98] brings us to the close of our survey. It deserves separate, extended treatment by itself. It confirms the continuing existence of Jewish Christianity and provides valuable information about the status and beliefs of Jewish Christians. We will also focus on what Justin reveals about divisions among Hebrew Christians.

The Dialogue reveals a number of divisions among Jewish Christians caused by differences of opinion about Christology and Torah (Law). (1) Justin refers to those "of our race [i.e., Christians], who admit that He [Jesus] is Messiah, while holding him to be man of men" (chap. 47). Trypho clarifies that they believe Jesus "to have been a man, and to have been appointed by election, and then to have become Messiah" (chap. 45). Evidently these Jewish Christians who were a part of the Larger Church. They accepted the view, frequently affirmed by Justin, that Jesus is the Messiah, the pre-existent, virgin born, Son of God (cf. chaps. 43, 48). Also presumably they with Justin, rejecting the Law as having present relevance, did not observe its provisions. They (a) believe Jesus is the Messiah, the pre-existent, virgin born, Son of God; (b) reject the Law as having present relevance, and do not observe its provisions; [99] (c) for there sake the nation was not completely destroyed."Jesus (chaps. 43, 48).

(3) A third group of second century Jewish Christians affirmed that: (a) Jesus is the Messiah of God who was crucified, the absolute Judge of all to whom belongs the everlasting kingdom; (b) recognize that the Law contributes nothing to righteousness but at the same time wish to observe the institutions of Torah (cf. chaps. 46, 47). Justin does "not approved" [100] of this group try to persuade others, particularly Gentile Christians, to observe the Law. [101]

Justin also speaks of (4) Hebrew Christians who "through weak-mindedness," [102] keep the Law but do not seek to persuade others to do so. Justin believes that these will be saved and that other Christians "ought to join ourselves to such, and associate with them in all things as kinsmen and brethren" (chap. 47). However, he acknowledges that there were some Christians who believed that these Hebrew Christians who observed the Law without attempting to compel others to do so would not be saved and refused to have Christian fellowship with them.

Thus Justin confirms that Jewish Christianity existed into the second century. His description of some of the same sort of divisions which are evident in the Book of Acts supports a continuity with the pre-AD 70 church. He shows that in addition to Jewish Christians whose Christology was not acceptable to Church as a whole, there were also those whose belief about Jesus was in harmony with Christianity as a whole. Furthermore, he confirms that the place and role of the Jewish law in Christianity was, for several (but not all) Jewish groups, was a matter of continuing concern (Scott JJ. GLIMPSES OF JEWISH CHRISTIANITY FROM THE END OF ACTS TO JUSTIN MARTYR (A.D. 62-150). Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, IL 60187, 3/18/98; corrected 1/11/99;http://www.wheaton.edu/DistanceLearning/Post-70.htm 6/5/06).

And it is the third group (according to J.J. Scott) that Justin refers to, that I believe were the true Christians--yet Justin did not approve of them. And, that group had to include those that were claimed to hold to the teachings of the Apostle John--the last of the original Apostles to die. And that group clearly included early leaders who are still recognized as Christian leaders by the Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, the true Church of God, and most Protestants such as Polycarp, Thraseas, Sagaris, Papirius, Melito, Polycrates, and probably Apollonius of Ephesus.

Ten Commandments And Roman Catholics Stating that Justin Was Not "Wholly Ficticious"

When responding to Trypho about the ten commandments, Justin Martyr also stated,

For the law promulgated on Horeb is now old, and belongs to yourselves alone; but this is for all universally…an eternal and final law--namely, Christ--has been given to us, and the covenant is trustworthy, after which there shall be no law, no commandment, no ordinance (Dialogue. CHAPTER XI).  

Justin apparently had this in common with the original so-called gnostic heretic Simon Magus,

In morals Simon was probably Antinomian, an enemy of Old Testament law (Kirsch JP. Simon Magus. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

But look at what John, the last apostle in Ephesus wrote,

He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:4).

Perhaps it should be noted that the Roman Church teaches that Justin may have been less than truthful. The Catholic Encyclopedia states this about Justin,

In both "Apologies" and in his "Dialogue" he gives many personal details, e.g. about his studies in philosophy and his conversion; they are not, however, an autobiography, but are partly idealized, and it is necessary to distinguish in them between poetry and truth…He received a good education in philosophy, an account of which he gives us at the beginning of his "Dialogue with the Jew Tryphon"…This account cannot be taken too literally; the facts seem to be arranged with a view…This interview is evidently not described exactly as it took place, and yet the account cannot be wholly fictitious.

Is not lying being partially fictitious?

The Catholic Encyclopedia, in another article concerning a different writing from Justin, states:

Justin says further that Simon came to Rome during the reign of the Emperor Claudius and by his magic arts won many followers so that these erected on the island in the Tiber a statue to him as a divinity with the inscription "Simon the Holy God". The statue, however, that Justin took for one dedicated to Simon was undoubtedly one of the old Sabine divinity Semo Sancus. Statues of this early god with similar inscriptions have been found on the island in the Tiber and elsewhere in Rome. It is plain that the interchange of e and i in the Roman characters led Justin or the Roman Christians before him, to look upon the statue of the early Sabine deity, of whom they knew nothing, as a statue of the magician. Whether Justin's opinion that Simon Magus came to Rome rests only on the fact that he believed Roman followers had erected this statue to him, or whether he had other information on this point, cannot now be positively determined. His testimony cannot, therefore, be verified and so remains doubtful. The later anti-heretical writers who report Simon's residence at Rome, take Justin and the apocryphal Acts of Peter as their authority, so that their testimony is of no value… Simon plays an important part in the "Pseudo-Clementines". He appears here as the chief antagonist of the apostle Peter, by whom he is everywhere followed and opposed. The alleged magical arts of the magician and Peter's efforts against him are described in a way that is absolutely imaginary. The entire account lacks all historical basis (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Joseph E. O'Connor. Simon Magus. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

One Catholic writer wrote this about Justin,

There is no doubt that Justin understood that the whole law was abrogated (ceremonial and moral), since Horeb was the place Israel received the whole Law (Deut 5:2f) (Pogorzelski F. Works of the Law. http://www.catholicevangelism.org/truth-works3.shtml 8/17/05 © 2002-2005 Frederick Pogorzelski).

Yet, it is clear that Justin's position on the ten commandments was not universally held by those who professed Christ at that time. For example, a decade or so after Justin's death, Theophilus, the apparent leader of Christians in Antioch wrote,

Of this divine law, then, Moses, who also was God's servant, was made the minister both to all the world, and chiefly to the Hebrews...Of this great and wonderful law, which tends to all righteousness, the ten heads are such as we have already rehearsed" (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book III, Chapter IX. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

The ten heads Theophilus referred to are what we know as the ten commandments. This is more proof that there were at least two major types of believers at that time, those who believed they had to obey all of the Ten Commandments, and those that believed that they did not (an article of related interest may be The Ten Commandments and the Early Church).

Even though the Catholics have embraced Justin, The Catholic Encyclopedia correctly claims,

The Ten Commandments are precepts bearing on the fundamental obligations of religion and morality and embodying the revealed expression of the Creator's will in relation to man's whole duty to God and to his fellow-creatures. They are found twice recorded in the Pentateuch, in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5...Christ resumed these Commandments in the double precept of charity--love of God and of the neighbour; He proclaimed them as binding under the New Law in Matthew 19 and in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5)...These Divine mandates are regarded as binding on every human creature, and their violation, with sufficient reflection and consent of the will, if the matter be grave, is considered a grievous or mortal offense against God" (Stapleton JH. Commandments of God).

Interestingly, Jesus commends the Church at Ephesus because, "you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars" (Revelation 2:2)--in other words, the Church at Ephesus had the ability to know who the true leaders of the Christian church actually were. 

 

And those true leaders could not have included the anti-commandment teaching Justin Martyr--he must have been part of the other, the heretical/apostate, group in Ephesus (also see Polycrates' Letter below).

What is a Saint?

Let's look at a couple passages from the Bible that provide some insights as to who are saints:

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them (Ephesians 5:3-7).

Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12).

So saints keep the commandments AND the faith of Jesus--this clearly disqualifies Justin. Saints are not deceived by those teaching otherwise. These are clearly referring to the ten commandments of God and not merely any separate commandments of Jesus Christ.

How can you be sure of that?

Because Christ, Himself, in the gospel accounts, never specifically taught the law against idolatry.

It is interesting that Jesus does condemn eating foods offered to idols in Revelation 2:14,20, which shows that this is something the Churches should have known from the ten commandments. Although one could argue that the commands in the New Testament against idolatry from John and Paul are numerous, it was the law of Christ specifically that Justin claimed he needed to keep and NOT those known as the ten commandments (Justin did not, for example, claim that Christians only needed to keep the commands recorded by Paul or John--he said Christ).

What is a Heretic?

Justin clearly taught many things contrary to the Bible (this article has left many of his inaccurate claims out for brevity's sake, there are also a variety of contradictions in his comments)--but was he a heretic?

According to The Catholic Encyclopedia,

The term heresy connotes, etymologically, both a choice and the thing chosen, the meaning being, however, narrowed to the selection of religious or political doctrines, adhesion to parties in Church or State. ...St. Thomas (II-II:11:1) defines heresy: "a species of infidelity in men who, having professed the faith of Christ, corrupt its dogmas." The right Christian faith consists in giving one's voluntary assent to Christ in all that truly belongs to His teaching. There are, therefore, two ways of deviating from Christianity: the one by refusing to believe in Christ Himself, which is the way of infidelity, common to Pagans and Jews; the other by restricting belief to certain points of Christ's doctrine selected and fashioned at pleasure, which is the way of heretics...The believer accepts the whole deposit as proposed by the Church; the heretic accepts only such parts of it as commend themselves to his own approval...Pertinacious adhesion to a doctrine contradictory to a point of faith clearly defined by the Church is heresy pure and simple, heresy in the first degree (Wilhelm J. Heresy).

Since the official teaching on the Catholic Church is that Christians are to keep the ten commandments, it is clear from this definition that Catholics should consider Justin, not to be a saint, but a clearly a heretic and possibly (as will be discussed next) an apostate.

What is an Apostate?

Also according to The Catholic Encyclopedia,

APOSTASY A FIDE, or PERFIDIÆ Perfidiæ is the complete and voluntary abandonment of the Christian religion, whether the apostate embraces another religion such as Paganism, Judaism, Mohammedanism, etc., or merely makes profession of Naturalism, Rationalism, etc. The heretic differs from the apostate in that he only denies one or more of the doctrines of revealed religion, whereas the apostate denies the religion itself, a sin which has always been looked upon as one of the most grievous (Van Hove A. Apostasy).

Since I believe that Justin intentionally misrepresented biblical teachings, knowingly advocated not keeping the commandments, and embraced some form of philosophical rationalism, that, to me, makes him an apostate.

Recall also that John warned, “He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4). Why would any Christian leader wish to base any significant theology on the teachings of Justin?

Polycrates Letter to Victor, Bishop of Rome

Here is the Catholic historian Eusebius' comments along with the letter from Polycrates to the Roman Bishop Victor:

But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. He himself, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the church of Rome, set forth in the following words the tradition which had come down to him: "We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead ? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ' We ought to obey God rather than man.' " He then writes of all the bishops who were present with him and thought as he did. His words are as follows: "I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus (Eusebius. Church History, Book V, Chapter 24. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

In other words, those Church leaders in Asian Minor (including Ephesus--Polycrates was from Ephesus) claim that they always kept Passover on the 14th of Nisan (the same as the Jews), kept the Days of Unleavened Bread (the same as the Jews), and that this was in accordance with the Gospel and John's teachings. This letter also showed that those in Ephesus did not believe they needed to heed any changes from any bishop of Rome. Since Justin Martyr was in Ephesus during the time of Polycarp and did not observe these things, this demonstrates that he was NOT in the Church that John, Philip, Polycarp, Melito, and others were leaders of.

It should be noted that The Catholic Encyclopedia identifies John, Philip, Thraseas, Melito, and Polycarp, as saints. Thus Justin Martyr was NOT acting like the saints in his area were when he had his dialogue with Trypho. Justin Martyr was clearly not a true and faithful saint.

I believe that the reason that Justin left Ephesus and moved back to Rome is that he and his teachings were NOT acceptable to the true Church, which appears to have been headquartered in Asia Minor during Justin's day. Rome, however, had accepted Sunday for Passover by Justin's day, hence Justin would have a more receptive audience there. Sadly, his influence within the Roman church was too strong and Justin helped turn the Roman Church (and those descended from it) even more away from the truth.

More can information on the early Church can be found in the article Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, & Rome.

Concluding Comments

Justin Martyr was a philosopher, wore the clothing of a philosopher, and was publicly identified as a philosopher (Dialogue. Chapter I). Although some of his writings contained true teachings, he frequently and clearly misrepresented a variety of biblical teachings, as he apparently supported some type of gnosticism. While Justin apparently was killed for his faith, so were other so-called gnostic heretics (even Simon Magus allegedly died for his faith--there are varying accounts of that though).

Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants (and any who were influenced by Justin's teachings) all should realize the danger in heavily relying on one who was so steeped in the philosophy of his day--especially since they can easily verify the falsity of many of his statements. And while it is commendable that Justin attempted some break away from pagan philosophy and towards the acceptance of Christ, his writings should not be accepted as the historical basis of what the true Church believed (though he did get some points correct).

By nearly all known standards of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches (and most of the Protestant ones), Justin was a semi-gnostic heretic and an apostate. Furthermore, Justin clearly taught that those who accept certain teachings of those groups (specifically that the soul after death goes to heaven, as one example) are not Christians--so how could any Catholic or Orthodox believe that Justin was a true saint as he teachings show that he believed that none of them could actually be Christian?

It is actually from Justin that we have the first record of weekly Sunday, as opposed to weekly Sabbath (Saturday), worship services for any who professed Christ. It is actually because of this point that Justin is truly revered as he is THE earliest proof of weekly Sunday services (an article of possible interest may be Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath). A review of his writings should show any who are interested in the truth that he is not one that should be relied on as he apparently had ties to Mithraism (see also Do You Practice Mithraism?), though perhaps unknowingly so. Is the philosopher Justin truly one that any who wish to believe the Bible would base doctrine upon?

The Book of Revelation clearly shows that saints not only have the testimony of Christ, but also keep God's commandments. Justin, not only did not keep those commandments, he taught against them. Justin was not a biblical saint, and clearly did not repent (Acts 2:38) to the point of becoming part of the true Christian Church.

The Apostle Paul once warned, "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ" (Colossians 2:8).

Sadly any who consider that the philosopher Justin was a true saint and who believe any of the untruths he promulgated have not heeded Paul's warning. Please insure that you heed Paul's warnings and the true teachings from the Bible.

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