Martyr Justin.

The first apology of Justin Martyr, addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius : prefaced by some account of the writings and opinions of Justin Martyr online

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pleasures that belong to it.

LXXV. Another prime agent for the kingdom of darkness,
whom these spirits of wickedness brought upon this stage, was
one Marcion of Pontus, whom I have already mentioned.
This fellow now teaches his followers to deny God, the Maker
of heaven and earth, and His Son Christ proclaimed by the
prophets, and preaches up another god besides the Creator,

The First Apology of Justin Martyr. {^^ \^

and another son besides His Christ, upon whom abundance of
people pin their faith as the only teacher of the truth, and make
a mock at us, without so much as offering us a proof of their
own assertions ; but are blindly carried off like lambs by a wolf,
and made a prey to his wicked doctrines, and to the devils,
the contrivers of them. For the only prize these same spirits
contend for is to seduce mankind from God the Creator, and
from the First-begotten Christ. And such grovelling minds as
cannot lift themselves from earth, they did and do fasten to
earthen gods, gods made with hands, and fitted to the minds
of the worshippers ; but upon men of a more exalted genius,
and enured to divine contemplations, they practise more slyly ;
and if they are not persons of sound judgment, and pious
lives, and disengaged from passion, they throw them down
from their speculations into very gross impieties.

LXXVI. But to let you see that not only your poets, but
Plato himself, borrowed from our Master (I mean from the
Logos Who spake by the prophets), I must tell you that what
he teaches concerning God's creating the world out of a chaos
of rude matter is none of his own ; for, hear the express
words of Moses aforesaid, the greatest of prophets, and older
than any of the Grecian writers, by whom the prophetic Spirit,
showing how, and out of what sort of matter God made the
world in the beginning, thus speaks : " In the beginning God
created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without
form, and void ; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said. Let there be light : and there was light." And
that this chaos, first mentioned by Moses, was the subject-
matter out of which the Logos of God made the world, both
Plato and his followers and we are agreed ; and you your-
selves may soon be satisfied as to this point. And what your
poets call Erebus, or hell, is spoken of by Moses also. (Deut.

XXxii. 2 2.)

(72) The First Apology of Justin Martyr.

LXXVII. And whereas Plato, in his Timceus, philosophising
about the Son of God, says, " He expressed Him upon the
universe in the figure of the letter X ; " ^ he evidently took
the hint from Moses ; for in the Mosaic writings it is related
that after the Israelites went out of Egypt, and were in the
desert, they were set upon and destroyed by venomous beasts,
vipers, asps, and all sorts of serpents, and that Moses there-
upon, by particular inspiration from God, took brass and made
the sign of the cross, and placed it by the holy tabernacle,
and declared that " if people would look upon that cross, and
believe, they should be saved ; " ^ upon which he writes that
the serpents died, and by this means the people were saved.
Plato upon reading this passage, and not knowing it to be a
type of the cross, and having only the idea of the letter X in
his mind, said, that the next power to the Supreme God was
decussated or figured in the shape of a cross upon the uni-
verse ; and finding by Moses " that the Spirit of God moved
upon the face of the waters," he likewise mentions a third, for
he gives the second place to the Logos of God decussated
upon the world ; and the third place he assigns to the Spirit,
which is said to " move upon the face of the waters," thus
expressing himself, "The third about the third." ^ And how
the prophetic Spirit has foretold the general conflagration by
the mouth of Moses, you may perceive from these words :
" An everlasting fire shall descend and burn unto the lowest
hell " (Deut. xxxii. 22).

LXXVHI.* It is not therefore we who take our opinions

1 See Sylburg upon this place at the end of Dr. Grabe's edition.

^ 'Eav 'PTpotr^xi'T'/jTi. These words of Moses are not extant in Holy
Scripture, though the sense is, Num. xxi. 9 ; nor are those of the author
of the Epistle to the Hebrews (xii. 21); and so perhaps both quoted
out of the same Apocryphal Book of Moses which might be then extant.

^ See Dr. Grabe's notes upon this passage of Plato.

* This section alone I think sufficient to vindicate our Justin from the
aspersions of Daniel Zuicker and others, who charge him with Platonizing

TJie First Apology of Justin Martyr. {'Ji)

from others, but others take theirs from us \ for you may hear
and learn these things from such among us as are not able to
distinguish a letter : rude indeed, and barbarous in speech,
but in mind wise and faithful, and some of them lame and
blind ; and from hence you might plainly see that Christianity
is not owing to human wisdom, but to the power of God.

LXXIX. I shall now lay before you the manner of dedi-
cating ourselves to God through Christ upon our conversion ;
for should I omit this, I might seem not to deal sincerely in
this account of the Christian religion. As many therefore as
are persuaded and believe ^ that the things taught and said by

in the great doctrine of the Trinity ; they well knew the authority of this
martyr in the Christian Church, and how frequently and expressly he
asserts the divinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ; and therefore
resolved to invalidate his testimony by charging him with introducing the
Trinity from Plato's school. But hear the martyr in this place obviating
this calumny, as if he prophetically foresaw what would be charged upon
him. He had a little before said " that Plato had learned that the
world was made by the Logos, and that the Third Person in the Godhead,
viz. the Spirit, was not unknown to him;" and then adds, "that we
take not our opinion from others, but others from us." This is express,
that neither Justin nor any of the Christians derived the doctrine of the
Logos's creating the world from the Platonic writings, but they from the
writings of the prophets. Moreover, he declares before the Emperor and
Senate, that this was no singular opinion of his own, but the doctrine of the
Catholic Church ; and that this tremendous mystery was so commonly
known to every Christian, that the most illiterate amongst them, such as
could not read their alphabet, could discourse more clearly about it than
even Plato himself. And from hence he justly concludes that the Chris-
tians learned this doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity, oh ffo(piix, avSpwrita,
" not from the Platonists," etc., but 'hwa.fjtu &iou, " from the divinely-inspired
writings," and what was taught everywhere in the churches.

^ The Church, being founded by Christ as a society and corporation
distinct from that of the Commonwealth, is by the nature of its con-
stitution (had it no express warrant from Scripture) invested with an
inherent power of its own, independent of the civil magistrate, of ad-
mitting, censuring, or excluding her members, and of doing whatever
else is necessary for the peace and order of the Christian community.

(74) ^/^^ /^/W/ Apology of Justin Martyr.

us are true, and moreover take upon them to live accordingly,
are taught to pray and ask of God with fasting for forgive-
ness of their former sins, we praying together, and fasting for
and with them, and then, and not till then, they are brought
to a place of water,^ and there regenerated after the same
manner with ourselves ; for they are washed in the name of
God the Father and Lord of all, and of our Saviour Jesus
Christ ; for Christ has said, " Unless you are born again, you
cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven" (John iii. 3, 5).

Accordingly, faith and repentance are here required as necessary qualifica-
tions in persons adult before they can be admitted to church membership
by baptism ; and then, says Justin, they are brought to a place of water.
Not presently (for you are not to look upon this as an exact account of all
the particular circumstances either in baptism or the Eucharist), for the
candidates for baptism were catechised all the forty days of Lent (which
is the fasting, I believe, Justin refers to in this place), and then, upon
approbation, baptized at Easter or "Whitsuntide. These were the two
stated times of baptism ; not Easterday or Whitsunday precisely, but the
whole intermediate space of the fifty days between them were in a manner
accounted festival, and baptism administered the whole time ; not but in a
case of necessity, of sickness, and danger of death, they might be baptized
at any time. But the persons so baptized were called clinics, because Iv t?
xx/yj! ^cfrnZfifiitoi, "baptized in bed;" and this kind of baptism looked wpon
as less solemn and perfect, because it was done not by immersion but
sprinkling, and because the persons were supposed at such a time to desire
it out of a fear of death ; for which reason, if they recovered, they were
ordinarily made incapable by the Neocsesarian Council of being admitted
to the degree of presbyters in the Church. Can. 12.

^ "They were brought to a place of water." It is evident from this
place of Justin, and that of Tertullian, de Cor. Mil. c. 3, that ponds and
rivers were the only baptisteries or fonts the Church had for the first
two hundred years. After the second century, baptisteries were erected
at a little distance from churches, especially cathedrals, called therefore
baptismal churches. The catechumen, or rather the competent, being
brought to the baptistery, was placed with his face toward the west, the
symbolical representation of the prince of darkness, and then commanded
to spit at and renounce the service of his old master the devil, and was
thus interrogated, "Dost thou renounce the devil and all his works?"
etc. ; to which the party answered, " I do renounce them." '* Dost thou

The First Apology of Justin Mai^tyr. (75)

But you all know it is impossible to enter a second time into
our mother's womb. And in allusion to this, the prophet Isaiah,
in the words below cited, speaks, when he prescribes the method
by which repenting sinners may avoid the consequence of their
sins : " Wash ye, make you clean ; put away the evil of your
doings ; learn to do well ; judge the fatherless, and plead for
the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the
Lord : though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white
as snow ; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as

renounce the world and all its pomps and vanities?" Answer, " I do
renounce them," Anibr. de Sacram. 1. i. c. 2, torn. 4, p. 429 ; Hier. in
Amos vi. Agreeable to this is that in the Apostolical Constitutions^ lib. vii.
* A.voru.ivaftat ru ictravei Koi rals 'ipyoii avTov^ etc. Next he made an open
confession of the faith, the bishop asking, "Dost thou believe in God?"
etc. ; to which the person answered, "I do believe." And this form of
interrogation is the apostle thought to refer to when he styles baptism
" The answer of a good conscience towards God." And our own Office of
Baptism does exactly agree in this with the primitive practice. Then was
he stripped of his garments, intimating thereby "the putting off the old
man," and thrice plunged under water at the naming of the Three Persons
in the blessed Trinity. The ancients carefully observed this trine immer-
sion, as being so expressive a ceremony of the Three Persons in the
Godhead ; insomuch that by the Canons Apostolical, either bishop or
presbyter who baptized without it was deposed from the ministry. Can.
50. Though this trine immersion, not being of absolute necessity, was
laid aside in Spain by the Church, that they might not seem to gratify the
Arians, who made use of it to denote the Persons in the Trinity to be
three distinct substances, and gloried that the Catholics used it to denote
the same. The person baptized, being come out of the water, was clothed
with a white garment, hence that expression of putting on Christ ; and from
these white garments our Whitsunday. The putting on this white vesture,
the exorcism, and the unction, are all in the Liturgy of Edward the Sixth,
according to the custom of the ancients. Though we find none of these,
nor many other things mentioned here by Justin, no not the cross in
baptism, which we are sure was a constant ceremony ; for Tertullian says
that the devil signed his soldiers in the forehead, in imitation of the
Christians, " Mithra signat illic in frontibus milites suos," Ter. de Fmscri/>.
c. 40. And St. Augustin says that the cross and baptism were never parted,
"Semper enim cruci baptismusjungitur," .J //0-. Temp. Ser. loi.

(76) The First Apology of Jitstin Alartyr,

wool. But if you refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with
the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it" (Isa.
i. 16-20).

LXXX. The reason of this we have from the apostles ; for
having nothing to do in our first birth, but being begotten by
necessity, or without our own consent, and trained up also in
vicious customs and company, to the end therefore we might
continue no longer the children of necessity and ignorance,
but of freedom and knowledge, and obtain remission of our
past sins by virtue of this water, the penitent, who now makes
his second birth an act of his own choice, has called over him
the name of God the Father and Lord of all things ; (when
we conduct the person to be baptized to the place of baptism
we call God by no other name, because we have not any
appellation for the ineffable majesty of God that can explain
His nature ; and if any man pretends to that, we think him mad
in the highest degree. This baptism is called illumination,^
because the minds of the catechumens who are thus washed
are illuminated ;) and moreover the person baptized and illu-
minated is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, Who was

^ "Illumination." Baptism was called by many names, as ;^«^/«-|«a,
Pia.'T'rt'rfAa., ^ A(p6a,p<riu! 'ivdufza, Aovrpov ^roikiyyewnffieiS) '2<Ppx'yi^a, ^eorifffiov, etc.
Grace, baptism, the vestment of incorruption, the laver of regeneration,
the seal, illumination, etc., Nazian. de Baptis. ; the great variety of these
denominations flowing from the several benefits occurring thereby. The
most noble of these is what Justin calls here #«T/<r^ov, or Illumination, to
which the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (vi. 4) is thought to refer
in the word " enlightened," It is styled illumination, first, as Justin says,
because the understandings of those who are catechised antecedent to it are
enlightened. Secondly, Because it is our first entrance into Christianity,
and Christ is ro <p^;, that supereminent Light " which lighteth every man
that Cometh into the world," those especially who are born again by
baptism ; He being, as Nazianzen calls Him, " the same to the intellect
as the sun to the sense." And, thirdly, because the prince of darkness
was usually driven out by exorcism to make way for Christ, " the true

The First Apology of Jitstin Martyr, {jy)

crucified under Pontius Pilate,^ and in the name of the Holy
Ghost, Who spake by the prophets, and foretold everything
concerning Christ.

LXXXL The devils no sooner heard of this baptism spoken

^ 'E-rova^a^sra/ oVo^a, just before the parenthesis, and eir' ovofixros Xovirai,
just after, are expressions which import the same. Now that which I
remark from this passage of Justin Martyr is, that the very form of baptism
instituted by our Lord Himself is here enlarged, for thus it runs — i-r ovof^K-
7o; rod TIxtoo; oXtiv xu) ^iff^oTov hou, not.) l*i(rov Kpifrov, rov ffruvpohvroi ivt
TiovTi'ot/ Tl'tXarov xxi tviv/iaktos * Ayiov o ^la, Ilpo(f)>iTMv Tpotxinpu^i toc x«t« tov
^Uffovv ?r«yra : " In the name of the Father of all things, the Lord God,
and of Jesus Christ, Who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and of the
Holy Ghost, Who foretold by the prophets all things concerning Christ.",
In the Clementine Constitutions the form of baptism stands thus, W
ovofJUKTOi Tov u<TOffriiXeivro; Ilxrpog, tov IX^ovros Xpta-rov, rov fixpruptja-ivro;
nxptxKkvrov, Clem. Constit. lib. vii., "In the name of the Father, Who sent ;
of Christ, Who came ; and of the Comforter, Who bore witness." Now as
different heresies arose, so they gave occasion for different paraphrases and
enlargements, both in the form of baptism and the Creed. And this is
the true reason why the Apostles' Creed is the simplest and shortest of
any ; for it is evident that the Simonians, Cerinthians, Ebionites, etc. ,
scattered their heresies not at Rome, but in the East, and mostly in Asia.
And accordingly Ignatius, in his epistles to the Asiatic Churches, does
everywhere almost inveigh against the heretics, but commends the Romans
for the purity of their faith. And Tertullian, in his Prcescription^ c. 36,
calls the Roman Church "Statu faelicem Ecclesiam." From thence I
cannot but take notice of the reasons of some great men against the
antiquity of that which is commonly called the Apostles' Creed. They
say, "That none of the first writers agree in delivering their faith in a
certain form of words, and that therefore from thence it is clear that there
was no common form delivered to all the Churches ; and if there had been
any tradition after the times of the Council of Nice, of such a Creed com-
posed by the apostles, the Arians had certainly put the chief strength of
their cause on this, that they adhered to the Apostles' Creed in opposition
to the innovations of the Nicene Fathers. And that there is no reason
therefore to believe that this Creed was prepared by the apostles, or that
it was of any great antiquity." The same sort of reasoning has Vossius
made use of, de tryb. Symbol. But now it is confessed on all sides that in
St. Paul's time there M'as a settled form in most Churches, which he calls

(78) The First Apology of Justin Mai'tyr.

of by the prophet,^ but they too set up their baptisms, and
made such as go to their temples, and officiate in their Hba-
tions and meat-offerings, first sprinkle themselves with water
by way of lustration : ^ and they have now brought it to such
a pass that the worshippers are washed from head to foot
before they approach the sacred place where their images are
kept. And whereas their adorers are commanded by priests
to put off their shoes before they presume to enter the temples

'* the form of doctrine that was delivered " (Rom. vi. 17), and in another
place, " the form of sound words" {2 Tim. i. 13). It is certain also, that
the Primitive Church, not far distant from the apostolic age, had a Creed
resembling this, which passes for the Apostles', as to most particulars,
and the substance of the articles, though with some variation, as is evident
from Tertullian's Regula Fidei. Vide Tertul. de vel. virg. et Cypr.
Epist. 7 and Epist. 70. And if we consider the manner of the Fathers,
and Justin in particular, in citing even canonical Scripture, which was
not always to consult the originals, but often to deliver it in such words
as their memory suggested, provided they preserved the sense entire,
we may conclude that from the same liberty in citing the Confession of
Faith arose the diversity in creeds. And with all submission, I think that
the men who argue against the antiquity of the Apostles' Creed from
the variations among the Fathers, may as well argue against a set form
in baptism from this variation in Justin Martyr. As heresies grew, so
did the Creed, and the Fathers may with as good reason be presumed to
enlarge the Apostles' Creed with explanatory additions only, as here we
find the form of baptism, fixed by Christ Himself, enlarged in the time of
this martyr ; but the form is the same in substance or essentials ; and the
great Creed is called the Nicene, though many things were added to it by
the Council of Constantinople, and some things since.

^ Ezek. xxxvi. 25.

2 That such mock-baptisms were set up by the contrivance of the devil
in the Gentile world, we find not only asserted by Justin, but all the
primitive writers, and particularly by Tertullian, de Baptisnw, c. 5, " Certe
ludis Apollinaribus et Eleusiniis tinguntur, idque se in regenerationem et
impunitatem perjuriorum suorum agere proesumunt." Thus were men
initiated into the mysteries of Eleusis, and he who initiated them was
called *t1fa.voi, the waterer ; 'T^^«v^'; "kyviirryis tm» 'EXtvcrmuv, Hesych. Thus
again we learn from Tertullian that they initiated men into the rites of Isis
and Mithra, " Nam et sacris quibusdam per lavacrum initiantur Isidis

The First Apology of Justin Martyr, (79)

to worship these demons,^ this is evidently done to mimic what
they found commanded the prophet Moses ; for while Moses
was feeding the sheep of his father-in-law in Arabia, he was
commanded to go down into Egypt, and to bring out the
people of Israel ; and our Christ talked with him out of the
bush in the appearance of fire, and said, " Put off thy shoes,
and come and hear " (Ex. iii. 5). And accordingly he put off
his shoes, and went and heard that he was to go down into
Egypt, and conduct the Israelites from thence ; and being
appointed with prodigious power by that Christ Who conversed
with him out of the bush of fire, he went and brought the
people out, doing great and astonishing actions ; the particulars
of which, if you have a mind to it, you may exactly see in his
own writings.

LXXXII. But all the modern Jews teach that it was the
unnameable God who thus conversed with Moses, upon which
account the prophetic Spirit, by the mouth of the prophet
Isaiah, reprehends them in these words already quoted, " The
ox knoweth the owner, and the ass his master's crib ; but Israel
doth not know me, My people hath not understood me "
(Isa. i. 3). And because the Jews were ignorant what the
Father and the Son were, Jesus Christ Himself thus corrects
them, " No man knoweth the Father but the Son, nor the
Son, but them to whom the Son will reveal Him " (Matt.
xi. 27). But as I have said, the Logos of God is His Son, and
is also called Angel and Apostle ; for He Himself did deliver,

alicujus et Mithras," de Bapt. c. 5 ; the chief priest of that goddess (as
Apuleius describes his own initiation), Milesi. II. citat. a Seldeno de
success, ad leg, Hczbr. c. 26, leading the party to be initiated to the next
bath, where having first delivered him to the usual washing, and asked
pardon of the goddess, he sprinkled him all about, and bringing him back
to the temple, after two parts of the day were spent, placed him before
the feet of the goddess. See more on this subject in Grotius upon Matt.
xxviii. 19.

^ Vid. Tertul. Apol. c. 40.

(8o) The First Apology of Justin Martyr.

as an angel or messenger/ what the world was to know, and
acted as an apostle, as one sent to interpret the divine will, as
our Lord Himself has testified, " He that heareth me, heareth
Him that sent me " (Matt. x. 40). The same is also evident
from the Mosaic writings, where we have these words, "And
the angel of God spake unto Moses in a flame of fire out of
the midst of a bush, and said, I Am that I Am, the God of
Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God
of your fathers ; go down into Egypt, and bring up My people
from thence" (Ex. iii. 2, 14, 15). If you are desirous of
knowing what follows, I must refer you to the Scriptures them-
selves, for it is not possible to transcribe all into a discourse of
this nature.

LXXXIII. But these words were spoken to demonstrate the
Son of God and Apostle to be our Jesus Christ, who is the
pre-existing Logos ; Who appeared sometimes in the form of
fire, sometimes in the likeness of angels, and in these last days
was made man by the will of God for the salvation of man-
kind, and was contented to suffer what the devils could inflict
upon Him by the infatuated Jews ; who, notwithstanding they
have these express words in the writings of Moses, "And the
angel of the Lord spake with Moses in a flame of fire out of
the bush, and said, I Am that I Am, the Self-existent, the God
of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob ; "
notwithstanding this, I say, they affirm these words to be
spoken by God the Father and Maker of all things. For
which oversight the prophetic Spirit thus charges them, " Israel
hath not known me, My people have not understood me ; "
and as I have said, Jesus taxed them again for the same thing
while He was amongst them, " No man hath know^n the

1 Christ is called the Angel (Exod. iii. 2), but nowhere the Apostle (as

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Online LibraryMartyr JustinThe first apology of Justin Martyr, addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius : prefaced by some account of the writings and opinions of Justin Martyr → online text (page 22 of 24)