Theologian Thursday | Justin Martyr

Many clamor to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook on Thursday to reveal nostalgic old pictures of themselves and their friends. Being the reminiscent type, we at CBD would like to introduce you to some of our old friends. On Thursdays, we’ll introduce you to a theologian. These throwback posts are meant to help Christians experience the legacy that has been left to us to learn from and build upon. If you like this or learned something, let us know! 

We often lookTheologian - Justin Martyr to the early church as role models of how to be a sacrificial church. There has even been a big push in a lot of churches to get back to the early church. On the other hand we rarely look to these pillars of the church to see how they interacted with the world around them. Often because we can’t easily relate to them. This is where a dear friend named Justin Martyr can aid us.

Justin Martyr lived between 100 and 165 C.E. in Judea. He was born into his Christian heritage, in fact his parents were both pagans. He was trained in the Greek classics as a boy, Justin was well versed in the Roman way. Later in life he was extremely influenced by the piety of Christians being persecuted in his day. This lead Justin to become one of the most fierce critics of the Roman Empire.

    In Justin Martyr’s first apology he wrote to Augustus Caesar. The Church was under tremendous persecution for creating social and civil threats as far as the Romans government was concerned. Justin wrote in defense of the Christian faith, to stop the injustice and the wrongly served punishment. Justin Martyr states in his apology,

‘Hence are we called atheists. and we confess that we are atheists, so far as gods of this sort are concerned, but not with respect to the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues, who is free from all impurity. But both Him and the Son (who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and the hose of the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him), and the prophetic spirit, we worship and adore, knowing them in reason and truth, and declaring without grudging to everyone who wishes to learn, as we have been taught.’

The entire apology is bursting at the seams with theological goodness. The thing to notice is that they are not preferential doctrines either. They are ones that have built the christian faith, as taught to us by Christ, as Justin Martyr points out above. These doctrines he has brought to the Emperor’s attention are Christian distinctives. Not theistic proofs or rationalistic diagnostics. But rather he makes his defense with Christian theism, trinitarian Christianity. It is through his theological underpinnings that Justin can speak with authority on topics like justice, love and mercy. He was a great theologian and thusly a great apologist.

Justin’s insistence of proclaiming the truth eventually lead to his death, under the judgment of Marcus Aurelius. If we want to learn anything from the early church it is to suffer well, but to defend the faith diligently, with a theological foundation. We can take from Justin Martyr’s example of never erring from the truth, because Christ is forever sweeter.


  1. Dialogue with Trypho
  2. The First and Second Apologies


  1. One True Life: The Stoics and Early Christians As Rival Traditions
  2. Christian Apologetics Past & Present: A Primary Source Vol. 1 to 1500
  3. The 40 Most Influential Christians… Who Shaped What We Believe Today
  4. Early Christian Thinkers: The Lives and Legacies of Twelve Key Figures

(Note: We do not have a whole lot of info on his life, so it is hard to find biographies on his life. These are some books with chapters about him that are helpful.)


Author: Andrew Keenan

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