Monday Mornings with The Early Church Fathers: What Authentic Christianity Looked Like- Justin Martyr

Do you ever grow weary of all the new fads and techniques the modern church creates? I do! What is important to us, may not have been important to those who were personally discipled by Jesus Christ and those whom they disicpled.

I am continually challenged when I read the history and the writings of the early church. I am drawn to them over and over again because of how close they were in time to the Apostles. Their writings are not scripture, but neither are the writings of Luther, Calvin or John Stott. These writings shed tremendous light on how the Apostles and the early church viewed the Christ event and the implications of it. Anyone who wants to follow Jesus Christ faithfully owes it to themselves to read the writings of these Godly men.

Today, I have posted a quote from Justin Martyr as well as the quote in context.  It deals with identifying real Christians and is from his First Apology, chapter 16.  Justin lived from 100 AD to 165 AD.  He was a philosopher who was converted to Christianity and became a tireless evangelist and apologist.  He was executed for his faith sometime around AD 165.

“Let it be understood that those who are not found living as He taught are not Christians even though they profess with the lips the teaching of Christ…”


And concerning our being patient of injuries, and ready to serve all, and free from anger, this is what He said: “To him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak or coat, forbid not. And whosoever shall be angry, is in danger of the fire. And every one that compelleth thee to go with him a mile, follow him two. And let your good works shine before men, that they, seeing them, may glorify your Father which is in heaven.” For we ought not to strive; neither has He desired us to be imitators of wicked men, but He has exhorted us to lead all men, by patience and gentleness, from shame and the love of evil. And this indeed is proved in the case of many who once were of your way of thinking, but have changed their violent and tyrannical disposition, being overcome either by the constancy which they have witnessed in their neighbours’ lives, or by the extraordinary forbearance they have observed in their fellow-travellers when defrauded, or by the honesty of those with whom they have transacted business.

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.” And that we ought to worship God alone, He thus persuaded us: “The greatest commandment is, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shall thou serve, with all thy heart, and with all thy strength, the Lord God that made thee.” And when a certain man came to Him and said, “Good Master,” He answered and said, “There is none good but God only, who made all things.” And let those who are not found living as He taught, be understood to be no Christians, even though they profess with the lip the precepts of Christ; for not those who make profession, but those who do the works, shall be saved, according to His word:

“Not every one who saith to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. For whosoever heareth Me, and doeth My sayings, heareth Him that sent Me. And many will say unto Me, Lord, Lord, have we not eaten and drunk in Thy name, and done wonders? And then will I say unto them, Depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity. Then shall there be wailing and gnashing of teeth, when the righteous shall shine as the sun, and the wicked are sent into everlasting fire. For many shall come in My name, clothed outwardly in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly being ravening wolves. By their works ye shall know them. And every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire.”

And as to those who are not living pursuant to these His teachings, and are Christians only in name, we demand that all such be punished by you.”  (written to the Roman Emperor)

Follow this link to read more of the Early Church Fathers

About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the American Evangelical church. It is a place for people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on December 19, 2011, in Christianity, Early Church History, The Christian Life, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Difficult post to leave a response to, Jim. I agree that we’re missing the advantage of a great resource by not examining the lives and writings of these men. With little effort (for our generation) Justin Martyr’s words are available to us. In reading through some of his ‘apologies’ last night, I found it interesting that he heard the words of Jesus, took them in their simplest and most literal meaning, and obeyed. He didn’t take those difficult (again, for our generation and culture) passages and explain them away as ‘what’s in your heart’ and a proper ‘mindset.’ He saw obedience as an action, proven by fruit.

    The last line in your post leaves JM sounding angry and vengeful, yet he was anything but. He practiced an amazing resolve to love even his worst enemies (the enemies who were killing Christians). What made him angry? For the cross of Christ to be made cheap by those who professed to be of the faith, and didn’t live by Jesus’ commands.

    I am very grateful for your posts Jim. I think we all know exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “Except you forsake everything…” We just tend to allow those itching ears of ours to convince our hearts and minds that He meant much less.


    • Very good observation and I am glad you shared it. I thought about taking that last line out of the quote, feeling that without an even larger context, readers might misunderstand him. But you nailed it right on the head.


  1. Pingback: Justin Martyr on Authentic Christianity | Resting in His Grace

Don't just stare at the screen, join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: