Justin Martyr (A.D. c100-c167) is known as one of the greatest early Christian apologists and philosophers. His Apology is especially helpful to study considering he had an extensive knowledge of the Greek philosophy of his day and in that work he discusses how Greek philosophy compares to Christian philosophy. As Greek philosophy claims its roots are grounded in reason, Justin’s Apology employs sound reason to defend Christianity to a group of intellectuals which include Caesar Augustus, his two sons (both of whom were philosophers), and the Greek Senate.
Contents of the Apology
Justin’s Apology can be divided into three parts: 1) a refutation of misunderstood charges against Christians along with a call for fair trials; 2) the claim that biblical philosophy is much older than that of the Greeks, with Greek similarities being stolen from biblical doctrines and perverted by demons; and 3) a discussion of the history and theology of the early church.
The Rational Structure of Justin’s Argument
As to the structure of Justin’s Apology, one has to be impressed with his rational presentation and the flow of his argument. Justin begins his letter by invoking the pious to pursue justice based on truth rather than on opinions. From there, he argues against charges of atheism and presents a solid argument for the existence of one true God rather than worthless idols. Various analogies of the popular Greek philosophical and poetical thought are captured and compared to Christian beliefs- a point Justin skillfully chips away at in an attempt to persuade his readers that the historical Jesus Christ is the superior fulfillment of their beliefs.
Unlike Pagan Myths, the Deity of Christ is proven by Fulfillment of Prophecy
Justin later appeals to the ancient prophecies of various prophets including Moses and Isaiah concerning the Christ. Special emphasis is given to the mode of prophecy being presented in the Bible as utterances of God the Father, the person of Christ, and the Spirit of prophecy. In a summary of the fulfillment of such a great many prophecies, Justin again appeals to reason as the basis of his arguments. The prophecies were written long before their respective fulfillment. Unlike pagan myths, proof of the Deity of Christ has been handed down through the prophets.
In summary, Justin Martyr’s Apology is a must-read for Christians who wish to rationally defend their beliefs against those who claim Jesus Christ is a myth.