View Article  Apologia I 23-29

Justin continues to argue that Christians should not be persecuted for what they believe, carrying the argument into the pagans’ camp by observing that various people worship “mice and cats and crocodiles,” and tells the Emperor, “you very well know that the same animals are with some esteemed gods, with others wild beasts, and with others sacrificial victims.”  Then he criticized Simon the Samaritan, who a century ago was considered a god by the Samaritans and had a statute built to him in Rome – “to Simon the Holy God” – and Marcion of Pontus, who is accused of teaching his disciples “to believe in some god greater than the Creator.”  Simon is probably the same Simon mentioned in Acts 8:9-24, although the story in Acts doesn’t seem consistent with Justin’s version, and Marcion is certainly the heretic who argued that the Yahweh of the Hebrew Bible and the God of the Christians were not the same god, and further than the only true Scripture was Luke-Acts and 10 epistles.  Considering that Justin had just quoted half of the Sermon on the Mount, and what he quoted had very little overlap with Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, it’s not surprising he considered Marcion to be aided by “the devils.” 


Justin then argues against the practice of exposing children, which surprised us; it’s not something we’ve attributed to the Romans.  He thinks abandoned children are mostly picked up and raised as prostitutes, rather than being left to die.  In this section, he makes reference to “Felix the governor in Alexandria,” either now or a short time ago.  Felix was named as prefect in a surviving Roman document as of 151, which goes a long way toward dating the First Apology.  

View Article  Apologia 16-22

 Justin Martyr, First Apology, Ch. 16-22


In Chapter 16 and 17 Justin continued to quote scripture, first from the Sermon on the Mount (as in Chapter 15) and then from elsewhere in Matthew and also Mark and Luke, including one or two sentences that are not in the Bible, which last has been important to some commentators.  The quotations are intended to explain why Christians behave as they do; Justin seems to believe that the behavior of Christians is more important than doctrine in persuading non-Christians to convert.  So far, so good.  Then he switches to comparing Christianity to other religions, arguing that every miracle attributed to Christ or God can be found in the Roman state religion, often attributed to Jupiter.  Justin’s basic argument is that Christians should not be persecuted for what they believe, but should be held responsible for what they do – what Christians believe isn’t unique to them.  But at the same time he doesn’t think much of the behavior of the gods (especially Jupiter, who was the chief Roman god and was not celebrated for monogamy), and he seems rather scornful of the evidence that emperors are resurrected, and rise to heaven from their funeral pyre.  His attitude and language can hardly have appealed to Antoninus Pius, who forced a reluctant Senate to deify his predecessor.

-- John Weicher

View Article  Apologia 7-15

Justin Martyr, First Apology, Ch. 7-15    led by John Weicher


Justin continued his argument that Christians should not be punished simply because they were Christians, broadening it to talk about what Christians believe and how they behave.  In Ch. 15 he begins to tell the emperors “What Christ Taught,” quoting liberally from The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), specifically the latter part.  This is written around 150 A.D., before there was agreement as to what constituted the New Testament.  He quotes quite a bit more, from other books of the Bible, as the Apology continues.  This is some of the earliest evidence of what Christians were reading and hearing.