In the second century there was a steady growth of Gentile Christianity but as would be expected, Christianity in those times (as is the case today) had its critics. This criticism gave rise to a group of Christian writers called the Apologists. These writers set out to defend their faith by; developing theological ideas and/or arguments to justify Christianity, to appeal to the authorities to treat Christians justly, to present the Christian “way of life” in a correct and unbiased manner and to attack Pagan religious beliefs and practices. As a consequence of these writings, Christians throughout the ages have been given an understanding of what the second century church believed.
Justin was arguably the greatest of these Apologists and in this essay I hope to give a summary of his life and work and show based on his writings what Christian practices and beliefs were prevalent in the 2nd Century Church. The church in the 21st Century can also learn from this early church father and I will present a section to hopefully demonstrate how aspects and outcomes of his life and work are applicable for the Christian Church today.
Justin was born at the beginning of the second century at around 100 AD. He was born to Greek-speaking parents who lived in Flavius Neapolis, formerly named Shechem in Samaria. Today this town is called Nablus and is located in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank.
Most of what we know about him is as result of his own writings. From early on he dedicated his life to finding intellectual peace and satisfaction through the study of philosophy. He studied all of the great philosophies of the day. His first tutor was a Stoic but he soon moved on to Aristotelianism. Here he was disappointed with his new tutor’s anxiety over being paid for his services, which Justin thought was unbecoming for a philosopher, so he moved onto Pythagorean philosophy. This too did not satisfy his thirst for finding intellectual peace... [continues]
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