Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Selections from Justin Martyr

Justin Martyr (100–165 AD) was a philosophically astute church father and apologist who was well-versed in the writings of Plato and others. These are some significant passages I highlighted while reading through his writings. I’m noting these passages simply for their significance; not because I agree with everything in them.

On the Lord’s supper:
“And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [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.” – First Apology, ch. 66 
“And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.” – First Apology, ch. 65
Nowadays it isn’t uncommon to see the supper marginalized to the point of being treated as an optional add-on in the worship service, for those who are into that sort of thing. Contrast this with Justin’s day, when deacons would labor to ensure that even those who were absent had an opportunity to partake.

On baptism:
“And the devils, indeed, having heard this washing [of baptism] published by the prophet, instigated those who enter their temples, and are about to approach them with libations and burnt-offerings, also to sprinkle themselves.” – First Apology, ch. 62
“God bids you be washed in this laver, and be circumcised with the true circumcision.” – Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 18 
“What need, then, have I of circumcision, who have been witnessed to by God? What need have I of that other baptism, who have been baptized with the Holy Ghost?” – Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 29
A few things to note here: (1) Justin speaks of the sprinklings performed in pagan temples as imitations of Christian baptism, which is telling as to how he understood the mode of baptism. (2) Justin conceptually relates baptism to circumcision. This theological connection is not a later invention of paedobaptists. It’s a very early idea, presumably based on Colossians 2:11–12.

On the Trinity in Genesis 1-3:
“These are the words: ‘And God said, Behold, Adam has become as one of us, to know good and evil.’ In saying, therefore, ‘as one of us,’ [Moses] has declared that [there is a certain] number of persons associated with one another, and that they are at least two.” – Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 62
This trinitarian interpretation of the first-person plural language used of God in Genesis 1-3 is sometimes viewed as passé today. But it’s significant to note that it’s a very early Christian interpretation.

On the Old Testament as Christian Scripture:
“For these words have neither been prepared by me, nor embellished by the art of man; but David sung them, Isaiah preached them, Zechariah proclaimed them, and Moses wrote them. Are you acquainted with them, Trypho? They are contained in your Scriptures, or rather not yours, but ours. For we believe them; but you, though you read them, do not catch the spirit that is in them.” – Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 29
A wonderful jab at Jewish pride. The Old Testament doesn’t belong to Jews; it belongs to Christians. Jews don’t even understand the Scriptures they profess to revere.

On pagan philosophy:
“And so, too, Plato, when he says, ‘The blame is his who chooses, and God is blameless,’ took this from the prophet Moses and uttered it. For Moses is more ancient than all the Greek writers. And whatever both philosophers and poets have said concerning the immortality of the soul, or punishments after death, or contemplation of things heavenly, or doctrines of the like kind, they have received such suggestions from the prophets as have enabled them to understand and interpret these things.” – First Apology, ch. 44 
“For no one trusted in Socrates so as to die for this doctrine, but in Christ, who was partially known even by Socrates (for He was and is the Word who is in every man, and who foretold the things that were to come to pass both through the prophets and in His own person when He was made of like passions, and taught these things), not only philosophers and scholars believed, but also artisans and people entirely uneducated, despising both glory, and fear, and death.” – Second Apology, ch. 10 
“Whatever things were rightly said among all men, are the property of us Christians.” – Second Apology, ch. 13
“To God, nothing is secular, not even the world itself, for it is His workmanship.” – Fragments on the Resurrection, ch. 5 
I do love those last two lines. In all reality, it’s the secular worldview that’s mythical. Secularists believe in fairy tales.

On Christ’s second coming:
“There would be two advents of His,—one in which He was pierced by you; a second, when you shall know Him whom you have pierced.” – Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 32
This struck me as a chilling statement.

On the new covenant:
“Moreover, by the works and by the attendant miracles, it is possible for all to understand that He is the new law, and the new covenant, and the expectation of those who out of every people wait for the good things of God. For the true spiritual Israel, and descendants of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham (who in uncircumcision was approved of and blessed by God on account of his faith, and called the father of many nations), are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ, as shall be demonstrated while we proceed.” – Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 11 
“Even so we, who have been quarried out from the bowels of Christ, are the true Israelitic race.” – Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 85
 On the Lord’s day:
“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits.” – First Apology, ch. 67
“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, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.” – First Apology, ch. 67
On faith and reason:
“By means of the rational faculties He has Himself endowed us with, He both persuades us and leads us to faith.” – First Apology, ch. 10 
On marriage and gender:
“But whether we marry, it is only that we may bring up children.” – First Apology, ch. 29
“What seemliness is there in a woman’s girding herself with armour, or in a man’s decorating himself with cymbals, and garlands, and female attire, and accompanied by a herd of bacchanalian women?” – Discourse to the Greeks, ch. 2
On guardian angels:
“God, when He had made the whole world, and subjected things earthly to man, and arranged the heavenly elements for the increase of fruits and rotation of the seasons, and appointed this divine law—for these things also He evidently made for man—committed the care of men and of all things under heaven to angels whom He appointed over them.” – Second Apology, ch. 5
On Christian martyrdom:
“For it is plain that, though beheaded, and crucified, and thrown to wild beasts, and chains, and fire, and all other kinds of torture, we do not give up our confession; but the more such things happen, the more do others and in larger numbers become faithful, and worshippers of God through the name of Jesus.” – Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 110

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