Justin Martyr's Church, Church History & Eschatology

This follows from the gospel narrative as known from Justin Martyr's writings

The purpose of this table is to present a clear overview of what the mid-second century Justin Martyr appears to believe and understand about the Church, Christianity, Heresy and Eschatology.

Many detailed studies have been made of what Justin knew of the Sayings of Jesus but there have been fewer works discussing his understanding of the narrative of Jesus and the Church up till his own time. Since so many of the Sayings of Jesus fit well enough with the Sayings found in the Canonical gospels, and since there appear to be also a few narrative overlaps, it is widely held as a given that Justin knew of the canonical gospels.

I have doubts about this assumption: my previous table also demonstrates that Justin placed the last supper or eucharist AFTER the resurrection of Jesus; says Jesus experienced sickness; knows nothing of any Judas; understands the disciples fled after the crucifixion (not the arrest) of Jesus; knew only of a genealogy of Joseph and explicitly repeated that Jesus himself had no genealogy; and that he was crucified on Herod's (not Pilate's) orders (in the time of Pilate, not by Pilate); among other variants from the canonical gospels.

This table continues an outline of Justin's understanding of Christianity and the Church up till his own time, as well as giving some idea of his beliefs about the future.


FA=First Apology
DT=Dial with Trypho


(by no means complete)

1. Gentiles only heard about Christ after:

the apostles
set out from Jerusalem
to preach about him


Contrast Acts where Peter then Paul (from Antioch, not Jerusalem) only are responsible for the conversion of the gentiles

2. Called Christians:

after the “name” Christ;
gentile believers
who are called to forget their ancestral customs
are “one soul, one synagogue, one church.


First called Christians in Antioch according to Acts

3. The Church is known as a House of Prayer and Adoration


4. Christ is now in heaven with authority over demons


5. Christ is now in heaven until the pre-ordained number of righteous is complete


Compare Paul in Romans.

6. The prophecy of the Law going out from Jerusalem:

was begun from the day of the resurrection of Jesus
when he sent out the Twelve
to every race

(DT39,53,109,110; FA39,42,45)

Acts denies this. Apostles remained in Jerusalem and only Peter, then Paul later, went out to gentiles.

7. The Twelve:

were illiterate, with no speaking ability,
went out from Jerusalem
to all races
announcing they had been sent by Christ
to teach everyone the word of God and righteous living.


Acts agrees they were illiterate. But only later Church tradition agrees the 12 went out to all nations, but not Acts.

8. After this:

Judea was captured by Rome
and no more prophets arose;
the land lay waste.
Thus Herod, who ordered the execution of Christ, was the last king.


Gospels claim Pilate, not Herod, ordered the crucifixion. Acts allows for kings after Herod – e.g. King Agrippa. Acts does not see the destruction of Jerusalem or the conquest by the Romans at all.

9. Jerusalem and land of the Jews:

was laid waste as predicted
and the Temple became a curse
so none could inhabit the land as Isaiah predicted.
The Death penalty was ordered for the Jews who try to enter the land.

(FA47; DT16,25,92,135)

Acts does not know of this event. Yet to Justin this event coincides with the resurrection of Jesus and the beginning of the preaching to the gentiles by the Twelve apostles.

10. Gentile Christians:

are greater in numbers and truth than Jewish and Samaritan (Israelite) Christians,
and this is the result of the preaching of the apostles;
hence the Twelve (including Peter?) preached primarily to the gentiles.

And Judea is desolate at this time.


Orthodox doctrine has Paul preaching to the gentiles and Peter to the Jews.

11. Christianity is now world-wide


12. The world believes because:

it has heard the message from the apostles
and the message was promulgated by prophets


13. There is persecution

(FA45,57; DT34,35,110)

14. The Jews' response to Christianity:

they knew Jesus was resurrected
they therefore selected and sent out chosen men through all the land
to malign Christianity.

They claimed the disciples stole Jesus' body from tomb,
that Christianity was a lawless and godless heresy,
and that Jesus was a Galilean deceiver.

They spread all these lies, continuing to reject Jesus, even when their land was desolate.


Paul met Jewish opposition before the destruction of the temple.

15. Christians are unjustly accused of atheism


16. Having the name of Christ (being known as a “Christian”?) is cause for condemnation


17. Christians were persecuted by the Jews in the Bar Khoba war


18. The Jews had anathematized Christians in their synagogues.


19. History of apostasy:

Simon from Gitto in Samaria
in the time of Claudius Caesar
performed magic in Rome
and had a statue “To Simon the Holy God”.
Almost all Samaritans worship him
As do some from other nations,
as the first god.
And his consort Helena,
formerly a prostitute,
was the first Idea generated by him.

Meander, Simon's disciple,
from Capparetaea in Samaria,
deceived many in Antioch
with his magic arts.
He persuaded followers he would never die.
There are still some alive today who hold his ideas.

Marcion of Pontus is still alive
and teaches about a Greater God than the Creator.
He has caused many from every nation
to follow and believe in a greater god than the creator god
and who performs greater works
and Christ is the son of this greater god.

All the followers of these three are called “Christians”

Among “our false brethren” calling themselves Christians are:
Valentinians, Basilidians, Saturnilians, and others by other names.

Some of these heretical Christians eat meats sacrificed to idols.

(FA26; See also FA58 & DT120,35)

Is it worth pursuing the fact that the first gospel, Mark, portrays Simon, the only known married apostle, as the one chiefly confused over the true message of Jesus? And another Simon as being drafted into assisting with the execution of Jesus? And another Simon as being an unclean leper in whose house the followers of Jesus turned against him?

20. Other Christians:

some keep the Mosaic law (sabbath, circumcision, months, washing and touchings)
yet these are still acceptable Christians,
although weakminded,
and we may fellowship with them,
but not if they try to convert others to their ways.


Is it also worth following up that the next gospel, Matthew, endorses the Mosaic law and restores Simon to being the Rock, the head of the church, as opposed to the “rocky ground” from which nothing lasting grew?

21. Other Christians:

some deny the millennium
some deny the resurrection, saying souls go to heaven at their death instead


Compare Paul in I Corinthians 15; and Revelation.

22. Way of Life:

The Holy books from the Jews (Alexandria – LXX) prophecy of Christ.

Chastity (rejection of fornication)
Rejection of magic arts
Common pool of resources and distribution to the needy (rejecting accumulation of private wealth)
Live acceptingly with different races and cultures
Praying for enemies
Reject hate, pray for enemies, try to win converts
Many among all races today are Christians from childhood and still pure at ages 60-70
(FA 29)
Marriage is only to produce children. (One youth requested state permission to be made a eunuch.)
Civil disobedience
Don't expose children
Baptism of repentance,
born again,
an illumination .....
fasting, washing.....

a president administers the bread and wine with water via deacons,
thanks, etc.

Eucharist is for those who believe and are worthy, knowing the meaning of the bread and wine
Weekly Sunday worship;
wealthy give to the needy;
read the Old Testament (Prophets) and/or Memoirs of the Apostles;
common store.

Gifts of prophecy
(Second Apology 6, 8)
Exorcisms are equated with healing
(Christians are more successful in this than others who use incantations and drugs.)

No miracles today
(though Christ himself healed the lame and maimed, the deaf and bind, and raised the dead, being accused of being a magician at the time)
Miracles will appear again at the time of the resurrection.

Justin demands that Rome punish all false Christians!

Compare epistles and Acts which paint a scenario of a time when miracles are no longer common.

23. Eschatology

Man of Sin is soon to appear
Then when all his enemies (i.e. the demons) are subdued by Him
He will return and this will be the consummation of all.
(FA51,52. DT31)
Jesus will return in glory with the angels in the clouds
Those who persecute today ill be eternally punished by fire
(FA52,20. DT117,118)
Wicked are to be punished with the demons forever; all are to be burned in the final judgment.
Jesus is to be the judge to consign them to this punishment.
Then will begin the Millennium and the restoration.

Compare 2 Thessalonians, which is generally held among scholars to be a non-genuine “Pauline” letter written by an opponent of the message expressed in 1 Thessalonians.


Neil Godfrey (2006)

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