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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and yet he as plainly says in many places that there is only one God.

** Justin's arguments in this chapter arise from the following remark of
Trypho, who said to him, ' You are attempting to demonstrate a thing
which is incredible and almost impossible, that God submitted to be born,
and to become man.' Justin, however, acknowledges the proposition, and
proceeds to demonstrate it."

In the above statement there are several particulars in which I must be
permitted to dissent from the learned author. I cannot allow that the
Jews ought to be the best interpreters of their own prophecies : if so, we
Christians are sadly in error. But perhaps the learned author meant to say
that the Jews ought to be the best interpreters of the meaning which they
the?nselves affixed to their own prophecies. Again, I cannot allow that,
according to Justin's representation of the opinions of the Jews in his day,
the humble cojidition of Jestis was not an obstacle to their believing Him
to be the Messiah. In p. 249 B is the following passage : KaJ Tpv(puv,
•ravffxfiivov fiov, uTiv, u civ^pwri, avrai hf^xi cti 'ypa,(pa.) »x) Toiocvrxt ivoo^ay
xu) fiiyav avaf/.ivsiv, rov 'Tccpx rov ^aXxtoZ ruv Tifupcuv u; viov at^pcoTov ■rctpx-
Xafjcfhavovroc, rhv uluviav (ieciriXiiccv, avwyxd^ouirtv' outo; oi vf^iripos XiyofMVi;
XpiffTo; SiTifio; Ktx.) cc^o^o; ytyovtv, us xai rn Itry^^urri xaroipa rri Iv vm vo(/,m tou
esou -^ipi-riinTv iffTavpcoSyi yap. "And Trypho, when I concluded, said,
these and similar passages of Scripture compel us to look for a glorious
and great personage, who, as the Son of man, is to receive an eternal
kingdom from the Ancient of Days : whereas He whom you call Christ was
unhonoured and inglorious, so as even to fall under the extreme curse of the
law ; for He was crucified." Justin, in answer to this objection, proceeds
to show at considerable length that the prophets speak of two Advents of
the Messiah ; the one in humiliation, the other in gloiy. Surely he might
have spared himself this trouble, if he had not supposed that the humble
condition of Jesus was an obstacle to His being received by the Jews as
their Messiah.

Lastly, notwithstanding the ler.rned author's statement, I must still

2 2 Some Account of the

One argument urged by Trypho,^ in order to prove that Jesus
was not the Messiah, is that EHas, who, according to the pro-
adhere to the opinion expressed by Allix, ' ' that Trypho, " whom Justin brings
forward as representing the Jews of his day, "did not believe that the Messiah
was to be any other than a mere man." I observe that Justin takes con-
siderable pains to prove that the ancient prophets have applied the titles of
God and Lord of hosts to the future Messiah (see p. 254 E, et sequ. ).
This was surely an unnecessary waste of time and labour, if the prevalent
belief of the Jews of his day was that the Messiah, who was to co?ne, was
God. To what purpose does Trypho quote Isa. xlii. 8 (p. 289 B), but in
order to prove the absolute unity of God, in opposition to Justin's assertions
respecting the divinity of the Messiah? But to remove all doubt on the subject,
let us consider the whole passage from which the sentence at the commence-
ment of this note is an extract. Trypho thus addresses Justin, ocvctXafhuv
ovv K. T. »., p. 267 A. " Finish your argument, -taking it up from the point
where you left off; for to me it appears strange and wholly incapable of
proof." (May I suggest to the learned author, on whose remark I am
commenting, the propriety of reconsidering the translation of this sentence
in p. 39 N, 27 ? I observe that it is allowed in his second edition, p. 45.)
" For that you should say that this Christ existed, being God, before all
ages, and then submitted to be born and to become a man, and that He
was not a man born of man, appears to me not only strange, but foolish."
Justin replies, '* I know that this doctrine appears strange, and especially
to those of your race, who, as God Himself exclaims, were never willing
either to understand or do what God prescribes, but listen only to your
own teachers. But, even if I cannot show that this Jesus pre-existed,
being God, the Son of the Maker of the universe, and became man born
of the Virgin, even then it does not follow that He is not the Christ of
God. But as I have shown that He, whoever He may be, is the Christ of
God, though I may not have shown that He pre-existed and submitted, in
compliance with the will of His Father, to be born a man, subject to like
passions with us, and having flesh, you ought to say that I am mistaken
only in this (latter) respect, but ought not to deny that He is the Christ,
(even) if He appears as a man born of men, and is proved to be elected to
the office of the Messiah." If Justin thought that he was addressing men
who believed that the Messiah, who was to come, was God, he must be
allowed to be most unfortunate in the selection of his arguments. Then

'' P. 268 A. Justin's answer to Trypho's inquiry, " How the spirit of
Elias could be in John ? " deserves notice, p. 269 A.

Writings of J its tin Martyr. 23

phets, was to be the precursor of the Messiah, had not appeared.
Justin answers that the prophecies concerning EHas had, with

follows a passage which has furnished ample matter for discussion ; con-
taining an admission on the part of Justin that there were persons in his
day who confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, but said that He was a
mere man. To this reasoning of Justin, Trypho replies in the following
manner : IfJi-oi (uv ooKovffiv ol Xiyovn? avSpwrov yiyovivai avrov, ku) kut tKXoyhv
tci^piffSoii, xxi Xpiffrov yiyovivui, <7n6a.vuripov vy.uv Xiyitv, tuv toXitoi. ccTtp ((in;
ktyovTuv XKt yap Tavrig yifnT; rov Xpitr-Tov uv^pcoTov l| om&pcv'T/uv Tpoadoxuf^iv
ytv^fftr^eti, XXI Tov HX/«v ^p'ktch uvrov iXSovrcc iocv ol ovto; ^a/vjjra/ eov o
'X.piffTos, SivipctiTrov f/.\v \\ ocvSpwTrwv yivo/u.ivov \x ^avrog iTterTenr^cii ou' ix ol tov
finTi 'HXixv iXtikv^^ivai oijH tovtov uT/xpcuvefiai itvui. " What they say, who
affirm that He was born a man, and was selected to be anointed, and thus
became Christ, appears to me more credible than what is said by them who
talk as you do. For we all expect that the Christ will be born a man from
human parents, and that Elias will come and anoint Him. If, therefore,
this (Jesus) appears to be the Christ, be assured that He was a man born
of men ; but as Elias has not yet come, I affirm that He was not the
Christ." We must either say that Trypho does not express the opinion of
the Jews of his day, or that their belief was not i/ia^ the Messiah^ ivho was
to come^ was God.

But what are we to say to the passage produced by Dr. Burton ? Let
us examine it in connexion with the context. As Dr. Burton observes,
Trypho had said to Justin, '* You are attempting to demonstrate a thing,
which is incredible and almost impossible, that God submitted to be born
and became man," p. 292 D. Justin answers that, if he had endeavoured
to establish this point by appealing to human authority, Trypho might have
justly been indignant ; but he had rested the proof entirely on the autho-
rity of Scripture. Justin subsequently asks Trypho, " Do you understand
that in the Sacred Scriptures any other person is proposed as an object of
worship, and is called Lord and God, besides Him who made this universe,
and Christ, who has been proved by so many quotations from Scripture to
have been born a man? " Trypho rejoins, " How can we admit it, when
this lengthened discussion has turned upon the inquiry whether there is
another (God) besides the Father only?" Justin then quotes Isa. hii. 8 :
"Who shall declare His generation?" to prove that the Messiah was not
to be the seed of the race of man. " How then," replies Trypho, " was it
said to David that God should take to Himself a Son out of his (David's)
loins, etc. ? " Justin endeavours to explain this seeming contradiction ;
and then proceeds to charge the Jewish teachers, firstly, with saying that
those passages in the Septuagint translation which were directly opposed

24 Some Account of the

respect to Christ's first coming, been accomplished in John the
Baptist ; and that before Christ's second Advent, EHas would

to their own opinions, were not extant in the original ; secondly, with
affirming that those predictions which could in any way be accommodated
to events in the time of Solomon, Hezekiah, etc., were intended to refer to
those monarchSj and not to the Messiah ; and thirdly, when they were
compelled to confess that there were passages in Scripture which clearly
spoke of the Messiah as suffering, and as an object of worship, and as God,
with taking refuge in the cavil that this (Jesus) was not the Messiah ;
though they admitted that the Messiah was to come, and to suffer, and to
reign, and to be worshipped as God. *'And we bring those scriptures
before them which prove clearly that Christ was both liable to sufiFering,
and was to be worshipped, and was God, which also we set before you,
which things they necessarily agree to be said of Christ, but they dare
to say that this is not Christ. But they confess that He is to come,
and to suffer, and to reign, and to be worshipped as God, which is
ridiculous and foolish, as I will show." «? ^' av xiyuijuv a.lro7s ypcupa.? «?
diee.pp*idt]v tov 'Kpiirrov xoci tcc^'/jtov zat 7rpoff>cvv'/ircv xai @iov aTooiiKvvoufftv, a; xai
Tpoxvi<r7op'/iira, v/mv, TauToci lis XpiffTov ^£v upritr^ui ava.yy.oc.^of/.ivoi (rvvrl^ivTUi,
ToZrov 01 f/,Y) iivui Tov Xpitrro)! ToXfAuffi Xiyiiv. Ikivcntr^oit ^i xoci <TcihTv, xoi)
(iaffikivcrai, xat •^poffKuvnTov ytvitrSxi @iov o/ucoXoyoviriv, oTip ytXoTov xa) avonrov, o
of/,oia>s KTTohii^u (p. 294 C, the passage translated by Dr. Burton). This
passage, therefore, taken in connexion with the context, far from proving
the belief of the Jews in Justin's time to have been thai the Messiah, uOio
was to come, was God, proves, on the contrary, that Trypho and his com-
panions entered upon the inquiry, not only not entertaining such a belief,
but most unwilling to entertain it ; and that it was only by compulsion, as
as it were, av^yxa^fl^sva/ — because they could not elude the force of the
express declarations of Scripture — that they admitted the prophetic descrip-
tions of the Messiah to imply that He was God. In confirmation of this
interpretation, I would refer the reader to the admission made by Tiypho,
p. 302 C, which Allix has noticed.

If any reliance can be placed on Justin's authority, the Jews of his day,
as Allix expresses himself, did not believe that the Messiah was to be any
other than a mere man, who was to be selected from the rest of His
countrymen on account of His strict observance of the Mosaic law, pp.
291 B, E, 267 D. They suspected that the time fixed for His coming
by the prophets had passed, but affirmed that He was living in a state
of obscurity, and would remain ignorant of His high character and destina-
tion, until He should be anointed and made manifest by Elias, pp. 226 B,
336 D.

WiH tings of Justin Martyr. 25

himselt appear. Justin further contends that the Messiah
must have already come/ because, after John the Baptist, no
prophet had arisen among the Jews ; and they had lost their
national independence agreeably to the prediction of Jacob.^
Trypho now calls upon Justin to show that in the Old Testa-
ment mention is ever made of another God, strictly so called,
besides the Creator of the universe.^ Justin answers that,
whenever in Scripture God is said to appear to man, we must
understand the appearance to be of the Son, not of the Father ;
as when God appeared to Abraham at the oak of Mamre,* to
Lot,^ to Jacob,^ feo Moses out of the burning bush/ and to

■^ P. 270 E. In p. 314 A, Justin says that the spiritual gifts, formerly
conferred singly upon the Jewish kings and prophets, were all united in
Christ, agreeably to Isa. xi., on which Trypho had founded an argument
against Christ's divinity.

^ P. 271 E. Gen. xlix. lo. According to Justin, Gen. xlix. ii and
Zech. ix. 9 were prophetic of the calling of the Gentiles, pp. 272 C, D,
273 A. But Gen. xlix. ii contained other predictions. The words,
"he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of the
grape," were prophetic of the washing of the sins of mankind by Christ's
blood, inasmuch as true believers are His garments. Since, also, the
blood of the grape is the gift of God, not the produce of human
labour, this verse predicted that Christ was to have blood, but not
blood derived from a human source, pp. 273 E, 2S6 D, 301 C; See
ApoL i. p. 74 B (p. 41).

^ P. 274 B. Trypho admits that the word God is often used in a lower
signification, as when God is called the "God of gods." See also pp.
269 B, 293 C.

^ P. 275 A. Gen. xviii. 340 D, 356 A. According to Trypho, the
Jews understood that God the Father appeared in the first instance, and
then three angels in human form, two of whom were sent to destroy
Sodom, the third to announce to Sarah that she would have a son. See
p. 342 A.

^ Pp. 236 D, 277 A. Gen. xix.

6 P. 280 D. Gen. xxviii., xxxii., xxxv. Pp. 313 A, 354 D, 355 E.

7 Pp. 282 C, 340 D, 357 E. Ex. iii. 2. Trypho says that an angel
appeared to Moses, though God the Father conversed with him. See
ApoL i. pp. 95 B (72), 96 C (79).

26 Some Accotmt of the

Joshua.^ Justin also appeals to Ps. ex. and xlv. to show that
David speaks of another Lord and God besides the Creator
of the universe ; and quotes Prov. viii. and Gen. i. 26, iii. 22,
to prove the pre-existence of Christ.-

After these digressions Justin resumes his proof that the
Messiah was to be born of a virgin, and quotes Isa. liii. 8,
Ps. xlv. 7.^ Trypho, however, interrupts him, and says that
although Jesus might be recognised as the Lord, and Messiah,
and God by the Gentiles, the Jews, who were the worshippers
of God, Who made Him as well as them, were not bound to
recognise or worship Him.'* Justin, in answer, quotes Ps. xcix.
and Ixxii. to show that, even among the Jews, they who
obtained salvation obtained it only through Christ. But what,
rejoins Trypho, are we to say to the words which the prophet
Isaiah speaks in the name of God Himself, " I am the Lord
God ; that is My name : I will not give My glory to another " ? ^
Justin replies, that Scripture cannot contradict itself If we
are unable to reconcile, entirely to our satisfaction, those
passages in which God declares His absolute unity with those
in which He speaks of Christ as God, we ought to rest assured
that they are reconcileable, though our imperfect faculties may
be unequal to the task. In this case, however, the context
plainly shows that God meant to say that He would give His
glory only to Him Who was to be the Light of the Gentiles, —
that is, to Christ.

Justin now returns once more to Isa. vii.,^ and to the proof
that the Messiah was to be born of a virgin, but is interrupted
by Trypho, who tells him that he ought to be ashamed of

1 P. 286 A.

2 p. 285 A. In Gen. i. 26 the Jews contended that God addressed the
words " Let us make man," etc., either to Himself or to the elements.

3 Pp. 286 C, 301 B. * P. 287 C.
° Isa. xlii. 8, p. 289 B. « P. 290 D.

W^dtings of Justin Martyr. 27

narrating stories respecting the birth of Christ which could
only be compared to the fables 1 current among the heathen
respecting the birth of Perseus from Danse, and the descent of
Jupiter under the appearance of a shower of gold. It would
be better at once to say that the Messiah was a mere man,
elected to the office on account of His exact compliance with
the Mosaic law, than to hazard the incredible assertion that
God Himself submitted to be born and to become a man.^
Justin, in answer, again quotes Isa. liii. 8,^ in order to prove
that the Messiah was not to be born after the ordinary manner
of men; and asserts that when Isaiah, vii. 14, said, " A virgin
shall conceive," etc., he intended to interpret the promise made
mystically to David in Ps. cxxxii. 11, which had been alleged
by Trypho to show that the Messiah was to descend, in the
natural course of generation, from David. In this part of the
Dialogue, Justin observes that in some instances the Jews
denied the genuineness of the passages which directly confuted
their opinions; in others, applied passages, manifestly pro-
phetic of the events of the Messiah's life, to the actions of
mere men; and when they were obliged to confess that a
passage did apply to the Messiah, they took refuge in the
assertion that Jesus was not that Messiah; but- that the
Messiah was still to come, and to suffer, and to reign, and to
be adored as God. Justin quotes also Isa. xxxv. to show that
the Messiah was to effect miraculous cures. ^ After charging

1 Tp. 291 B, 297 B. Justin contends that this fable, and others of a
similar nature,— as the stories of Bacchus, Hercules, ^sculapius,— were
mere corruptions of the predictions of the Old Testament respecting the
Messiah, put forth by the devil for the purpose of deluding mankind. He
makes the same observation respecting certain ceremonies introduced into
the mysteries of Mithras, pp. 294 E, 296 B, 304 B.

2 P. 291 C. '^ Bp. 293 D, 301 B.

'* P. 295 E. In p. 308 C, Justin contends that Jesus was the Messiah,
because the predictions which He delivered respecting the rise of heresies
after His ascension, and the sufferings which His followers would undergo,
had been exactly fulfilled. See pp. 254 A, 271 B.

2 8 Sojue Account of the

the Jewish teachers with having expunged from the Septuagint
version several passages clearly prophetic of the Messiah, ^ and
quoting portions of Scripture, some of which he had before
alleged, to prove that the Messiah was not to be born after the
ordinary manner of men, he proceeds to show that Isa. vii.
could not apply to Hezekiah, but was fulfilled in Jesus.^

Trypho now inquires of Justin whether he really believed
that Jerusalem would be rebuilt, and all the Gentiles, as well
as the Jews and proselytes, collected there under the govern-
ment of the Messiah ; or whether he merely professed such a
belief, in order to conciliate the Jews.^ Justin, in answer,
admits that this belief was not universal among the orthodox
Christians; but that he himself maintained that the dead
would rise again in the body and live for a thousand years
in Jerusalem, which would be rebuilt, and beautified, and
enlarged : he appeals in support of his opinion to Isaiah, and
to the Apocalypse, which he ascribes to John, one of Christ's

Justin having produced several passages from the Old Testa-
ment * in which he finds allusions, sufficiently fanciful, to the
particular mode of the Messiah's death, and to the Cross,
Trypho rejoins, "The whole Jewish nation expects the Messiah.
1 also admit that the passages of Scripture 'which you have
quoted apply to Him ; and the name of Jesus or Joshua, given
to the son of Nun, inclines me somewhat to the opinion that
your Jesus is the Messiah. The Scriptures, moreover, mani-

^ P. 297 E. - P. 302 C.

^ P. 306 B. See also pp. 312 C, 368 A, 369 A. In p. 346 B, Justin
says that the sacrifices which will then be offered to God will be the
spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise.

* Pp. 312 E, 316 E, 259 C, 338 B. The Jews seem to have been at a
loss to understand why Moses, who forbade them to make any likeness of
any creature, set up the brazen serpent, pp. 322 B, 339 A. Compare
Apol i. p. 90 B (68).

Writings of Justin Alar^tyr. 29

festly predict a suffering Messiah ; but tliat He should suffer
death upon the Cross, the death of those who are pronounced
accursed by the law, fills me with perplexity." Justin answers,
that the curse applied only to those who were crucified on
account of their transgressions; whereas Christ was sinless,
and submitted to this ignominious death, in obedience to the
will of His Father, in order that He might rescue the human
race from the penalty due to their sins.^ After quoting Ps.
iii. 5, Isa. Ixv. 2 and liii. 9, as prophetic of the Messiah's
crucifixion and resurrection, Justin shows at considerable
length that Ps. xxii. is descriptive of the perfect humanity, — of
the sufferings, death, and resurrection of the Messiah. ^

Justin comes at last to speak of the conversion of the
Gentiles;^ and contends that the Christians are the true
people of God, inasmuch as they fulfil the spiritual meaning of
the law, and do not merely conform, like the Jews, to the
letter. They have the true circumcision of the heart ; •* they
are the true race of priests dedicated to God,^ and typified by
Jesus the High Priest in the prophecy of Zechariah ; ^ they
offer the true spiritual sacrifices which are pleasing to God,
agreeably to the prophecy of Malachi ; ^ they are the seed pro-

^ Compare p. 338 13.

2 P. 324 C. The Jews denied that this Psalm was prophetic of the
Messiah. The mode in which Justin explains an expression in the Psalm,
from which it might be inferred that Christ was ignorant of His own fate,
is worthy of attention, p. 326 B.

' P. 335 E. The Jews appear to have applied some of the passages
which predict the conversion of the Gentiles to the proselytes, as Isa.
xlix. 6, p. 350 C.

* P. 342 A.

^ " We are the true priestly race of God " {uf>x,'ii>o!.riKiv to uXn^ivov y'tm
i<riu,h rod BioZ), p. 344 C. " We are the true spiritual Israelites " {'l<rpcc»x,Ti-
xov ryap 70 aXn^tvov -rnv/^aTtx-ov. x. r. I.), p. 228 E. "We are a holy
people " {kxo'; Hyios e<r^sv), pp. 347 B, 365 D, 353 B, and 366 A.

^ iii. I, pp. 342 C and 344 C.

7 i. 10. The meaning affixed to this prediction by the Jews was that

30 Sojjie Account of the

mised to Abraham,^ because they are actuated by the same,
principle of faith which actuated Abraham, — they are, in a
word, the true Israel.^

Justin concludes with enumerating the benefits conferred
upon the Jews by God, and reproaching them with their ingrati-
tude.^ They had at last filled up the measure of their
iniquities by crucifying His only-begotten Son ; and they still
persecuted His disciples, although it was evident that the
capture of Jerusalem,^ and the destruction of their temple by
the Romans, was a punishment inflicted on them for their
rejection of Jesus, and for that only, since they were no longer
addicted to the idolatrous practices which had drawn down the
vengeance of the Almighty on their forefathers. Their only
hope, therefore, of safety lay in repenting of their transgressions,
renouncing the errors of their teachers, and cordially embracing

Although I am far from wishing to deny that there are in
this Treatise many weak and inconclusive arguments, many
trifling applications and erroneous interpretations of Scripture,
many attempts to extract meanings which never entered into
the mind of the Sacred writer, yet I cannot think it deserving
of the contempt with which some later critics have spoken of
it. It proves at least that the state of the controversy was not
essentially different in the days of Justin from its present state;
that after the lapse of seventeen hundred years the difficulties.
to be encountered in disputing with the Jews, the objections

God rejected the sacrifices offered by those who then inhabited Jerusalem,
but accepted, as sacrifices, the prayers of the Jews who were dispersed by
the Captivity, p. 344 E.

' P. 347 C. 2 Pp. 349 E, 352 E, 355 B, 359 1^-

3 P. 360 D ad fin.

* The application of the prophecy of Noah to the Jews and Romans
deserves attention, p. 368 B.

Writings of Justin Martyr. 3 1

to be answered, the prejudices to be overcome, are nearly the
same. It supplies us also incidentally with some curious facts,
illustrative of the spirit by which the Jews and Christians were
mutually actuated towards each other. With respect to the
sentiments entertained by the Christians towards the Jews, we
find Trypho, p. 263 C, inquiring whether they who lived
according to the Mosaic law would be saved. Justin answers,
that as the Mosaic law comprehended the unchangeable and
fundamental principles of morality, they who had lived up to
it before the coming of Christ would be saved through Him ;
and after His coming they also would be saved who observed
the whole law, both moral and ceremonial, provided that
they believed the crucified Jesus to be the Christ of God, and
did not attempt to force the observance of the ritual law upon
others. He admits, however, that many thought otherwise,
and contended that the observance of the Mosaic rites was
incompatible with the profession of Christianity. Thus the

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