The First Apology | Justin Martyr | 2

15. What Christ himself taught

Concerning chastity, He uttered such sentiments as these:

"Whosoever looks upon a woman to lust after her, has committed adultery with her already in his heart before God." And,

"If your right eye offend you, cut it out; for it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of heaven with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into everlasting fire."

And, "Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced from another husband, commits adultery."

And, "There are some who have been made eunuchs of men, and some who were born eunuchs, and some who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake; but all cannot receive this saying." Matthew 19:12

So that all who, by human law, are twice married, are in the eye of our Master sinners, and those who look upon a woman to lust after her.

For not only he who in act commits adultery is rejected by Him, but also he who desires to commit adultery: since not only our works, but also our thoughts, are open before God.

And many, both men and women, who have been Christ's disciples from childhood, remain pure at the age of sixty or seventy years; and I boast that I could produce such from every race of men.

For what shall I say, too, of the countless multitudes of those who have reformed intemperate habits, and learned these things?

For Christ called not the just nor the chaste to repentance, but the ungodly, and the licentious, and the unjust; His words being, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Matthew 9:13

For the heavenly Father desires rather the repentance than the punishment of the sinner.

And of our love to all, He taught thus:

"If you love them that love you, what new thing are you doing? For even fornicators do this. But I say unto you, Pray for your enemies, and love them that hate you, and bless them that curse you, and pray for them that despitefully use you." Matthew 5:46, 44; Luke 6:28

And that we should communicate to the needy, and do nothing for glory, He said:

"Give to him that asks, and from him that would borrow turn not away; for if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what new thing are you doing? Even the publicans do this.

Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where robbers break through; but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt.

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for it? Lay up treasure, therefore, in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt."

And, "Be kind and merciful, as your Father also is kind and merciful, and makes His sun to rise on sinners, and the righteous, and the wicked.

Take no thought what you shall eat, or what you shall put on: are you not better than the birds and the beasts? And God feeds them.

Take no thought, therefore, what you shall eat, or what you shall put on; for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of these things.

But seek the kingdom of heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you. For where his treasure is, there also is the mind of a man."

And, "Do not these things to be seen of men; otherwise you have no reward from your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 6:1

16. Concerning patience and swearing

And concerning our being patient of injuries, and ready to serve all, and free from anger, this is what He said:

"To him that smites you on the one cheek, offer also the other; and him that takes away your cloak or coat, forbid not. And whosoever shall be angry, is in danger of the fire. And every one that compels you 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 comes of evil." Matthew 5:34, 27

And that we ought to worship God alone, He thus persuaded us:

"The greatest commandment is, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve, with all your heart, and with all your strength, the Lord God that made you." Mark 12:30

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." Matthew 19:6, 17

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 everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven. For whosoever hears Me, and does My sayings, hears Him that sent Me.

And many will say unto Me, Lord, Lord, have we not eaten and drunk in Your name, and done wonders? And then will I say unto them, Depart from Me, you 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 you shall know them. And every tree that brings 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.

17. Christ taught civil obedience

And everywhere we, more readily than all men, endeavour to pay to those appointed by you the taxes both ordinary and extraordinary, as we have been taught by Him;

for at that time some came to Him and asked Him, if one ought to pay tribute to Cesar; and He answered, "Tell Me, whose image does the coin bear?" And they said, "Cesar's." And again He answered them, "Render therefore to Cesar the things that are Cesar's, and to God the things that are God's."

Whence to God alone we render worship, but in other things we gladly serve you, acknowledging you as kings and rulers of men, and praying that with your kingly power you be found to possess also sound judgment.

But if you pay no regard to our prayers and frank explanations, we shall suffer no loss, since we believe (or rather, indeed, are persuaded) that every man will suffer punishment in eternal fire according to the merit of his deed,

and will render account according to the power he has received from God, as Christ intimated when He said, "To whom God has given more, of him shall more be required." Luke 12:48

18. Proof of immortality and the resurrection

Reflect upon the end of each of the preceding kings, how they died the death common to all, which, if it issued in insensibility, would be a godsend to all the wicked.

But since sensation remains to all who have ever lived, and eternal punishment is laid up (i.e., for the wicked), see that you neglect not to be convinced, and to hold as your belief, that these things are true.

For let even necromancy, and the divinations you practise by immaculate children, and the evoking of departed human souls, and those who are called among the magi, Dream-senders and Assistant-spirits (Familiars), and all that is done by those who are skilled in such matters — let these persuade you that even after death souls are in a state of sensation;

and those who are seized and cast about by the spirits of the dead, whom all call demoniacs or madmen; and what you repute as oracles, both of Amphilochus, Dodana, Pytho, and as many other such as exist;

and the opinions of your authors, Empedocles and Pythagoras, Plato and Socrates, and the pit of Homer, and the descent of Ulysses to inspect these things, and all that has been uttered of a like kind.

Such favour as you grant to these, grant also to us, who not less but more firmly than they believe in God; since we expect to receive again our own bodies, though they be dead and cast into the earth, for we maintain that with God nothing is impossible.

19. The resurrection possible

And to any thoughtful person would anything appear more incredible, than, if we were not in the body and someone were to say that it was possible that from a small drop of human seed bones and sinews and flesh be formed into a shape such as we see?

For let this now be said hypothetically:

if you yourselves were not such as you now are, and born of such parents [and causes], and one were to show you human seed and a picture of a man, and were to say with confidence that from such a substance such a being could be produced, would you believe before you saw the actual production?

No one will dare to deny [that such a statement would surpass belief]. In the same way, then, you are now incredulous because you have never seen a dead man rise again.

But as at first you would not have believed it possible that such persons could be produced from the small drop, and yet now you see them thus produced,

so also judge that it is not impossible that the bodies of men, after they have been dissolved, and like seeds resolved into earth, should in God's appointed time rise again and put on incorruption.

For what power worthy of God those imagine who say, that each thing returns to that from which it was produced, and that beyond this not even God Himself can do anything, we are unable to conceive;

but this we see clearly, that they would not have believed it possible that they could have become such and produced from such materials, as they now see both themselves and the whole world to be.

And that it is better to believe even what is impossible to our own nature and to men, than to be unbelieving like the rest of the world, we have learned;

for we know that our Master Jesus Christ said, that "what is impossible with men is possible with God," Matthew 19:26

and, "Fear not them that kill you, and after that can do no more; but fear Him who after death is able to cast both soul and body into hell." Matthew 10:28

And hell is a place where those are to be punished who have lived wickedly, and who do not believe that those things which God has taught us by Christ will come to pass.

20. Heathen analogies to Christian doctrine

And the Sibyl and Hystaspes said that there should be dissolution by God of things corruptible.

And the philosophers called Stoics teach that even God Himself shall be resolved into fire, and they say that the world is to be formed anew by this revolution; but we understand that God, the Creator of all things, is superior to the things that are to be changed.

If, therefore, on some points we teach the same things as the poets and philosophers whom you honour, and on other points are fuller and more divine in our teaching, and if we alone afford proof of what we assert, why are we unjustly hated more than all others?

For while we say that all things have been produced and arranged into a world by God, we shall seem to utter the doctrine of Plato; and while we say that there will be a burning up of all, we shall seem to utter the doctrine of the Stoics:

and while we affirm that the souls of the wicked, being endowed with sensation even after death, are punished, and that those of the good being delivered from punishment spend a blessed existence,

we shall seem to say the same things as the poets and philosophers;

and while we maintain that men ought not to worship the works of their hands, we say the very things which have been said by the comic poet Menander, and other similar writers, for they have declared that the workman is greater than the work.

21. Analogies to the history of Christ

And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter.

For you know how many sons your esteemed writers ascribed to Jupiter:

Mercury, the interpreting word and teacher of all; Æsculapius, who, though he was a great physician, was struck by a thunderbolt, and so ascended to heaven;

and Bacchus too, after he had been torn limb from limb; and Hercules, when he had committed himself to the flames to escape his toils;

and the sons of Leda, and Dioscuri; and Perseus, son of Danae; and Bellerophon, who, though sprung from mortals, rose to heaven on the horse Pegasus.

For what shall I say of Ariadne, and those who, like her, have been declared to be set among the stars?

And what of the emperors who die among yourselves, whom you deem worthy of deification, and in whose behalf you produce someone who swears he has seen the burning Cesar rise to heaven from the funeral pyre?

And what kinds of deeds are recorded of each of these reputed sons of Jupiter, it is needless to tell to those who already know.

This only shall be said, that they are written for the advantage and encouragement of youthful scholars; for all reckon it an honourable thing to imitate the gods.

But far be such a thought concerning the gods from every well-conditioned soul, as to believe that Jupiter himself, the governor and creator of all things, was both a parricide and the son of a parricide,

and that being overcome by the love of base and shameful pleasures, he came in to Ganymede and those many women whom he had violated and that his sons did like actions.

But, as we said above, wicked devils perpetrated these things.

And we have learned that those only are deified who have lived near to God in holiness and virtue; and we believe that those who live wickedly and do not repent are punished in everlasting fire.

22. Analogies to the sonship of Christ

Moreover, the Son of God called Jesus, even if only a man by ordinary generation, yet, on account of His wisdom, is worthy to be called the Son of God; for all writers call God the Father of men and gods.

And if we assert that the Word of God was born of God in a peculiar manner, different from ordinary generation, let this, as said above, be no extraordinary thing to you, who say that Mercury is the angelic word of God.

But if anyone objects that He was crucified, in this also He is on a par with those reputed sons of Jupiter of yours, who suffered as we have now enumerated.

For their sufferings at death are recorded to have been not all alike, but diverse; so that not even by the peculiarity of His sufferings does He seem to be inferior to them;

but, on the contrary, as we promised in the preceding part of this discourse, we will now prove Him superior— or rather have already proved Him to be so— for the superior is revealed by His actions.

And if we even affirm that He was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you accept of Perseus.

And in that we say that He made whole the lame, the paralytic, and those born blind, we seem to say what is very similar to the deeds said to have been done by Æsculapius.

23. The argument

And that this may now become evident to you—

(firstly ) that whatever we assert in conformity with what has been taught us by Christ, and by the prophets who preceded Him, are alone true, and are older than all the writers who have existed;

that we claim to be acknowledged, not because we say the same things as these writers said, but because we say true things:

and (secondly) that Jesus Christ is the only proper Son who has been begotten by God, being His Word and first-begotten, and power; and, becoming man according to His will, He taught us these things for the conversion and restoration of the human race:

and (thirdly) that before He became a man among men, some, influenced by the demons before mentioned, related beforehand, through the instrumentality of the poets, those circumstances as having really happened,

which, having fictitiously devised, they narrated, in the same manner as they have caused to be fabricated the scandalous reports against us of infamous and impious actions, of which there is neither witness nor proof— we shall bring forward the following proof.

24. Varieties of heathen worship

In the first place [we furnish proof], because, though we say things similar to what the Greeks say, we only are hated on account of the name of Christ, and though we do no wrong, are put to death as sinners;

other men in other places worshipping trees and rivers, and mice and cats and crocodiles, and many irrational animals.

Nor are the same animals esteemed by all; but in one place one is worshipped, and another in another, so that all are profane in the judgment of one another, on account of their not worshipping the same objects.

And this is the sole accusation you bring against us, that we do not reverence the same gods as you do, nor offer to the dead libations and the savour of fat, and crowns for their statues, and sacrifices.

For you very well know that the same animals are with some esteemed gods, with others wild beasts, and with others sacrificial victims.

25. False Gods abandoned by Christians

And, secondly, because we— who, out of every race of men, used to worship Bacchus the son of Semele, and Apollo the son of Latona (who in their loves with men did such things as it is shameful even to mention),

and Proserpine and Venus (who were maddened with love of Adonis, and whose mysteries also you celebrate), or Æsculapius, or someone or other of those who are called gods—

have now, through Jesus Christ, learned to despise these, though we be threatened with death for it, and have dedicated ourselves to the unbegotten and impossible God;

of whom we are persuaded that never was he goaded by lust of Antiope, or such other women, or of Ganymede, nor was rescued by that hundred-handed giant whose aid was obtained through Thetis, nor was anxious on this account that her son Achilles should destroy many of the Greeks because of his concubine Briseis.

Those who believe these things we pity and those who invented them we know to be devils.

26. Magicians not trusted by Christians

And, thirdly, because after Christ's ascension into heaven the devils put forward certain men who said that they themselves were gods; and they were not only not persecuted by you, but even deemed worthy of honours.

There was a Samaritan, Simon, a native of the village called Gitto, who in the reign of Claudius Cesar, and in your royal city of Rome, did mighty acts of magic, by virtue of the art of the devils operating in him.

He was considered a god, and as a god was honoured by you with a statue, which statue was erected on the river Tiber, between the two bridges, and bore this inscription, in the language of Rome:— "Simoni Deo Sancto," "To Simon the holy God."

And almost all the Samaritans, and a few even of other nations, worship him, and acknowledge him as the first god; and a woman, Helena, who went about with him at that time, and had formerly been a prostitute, they say is the first idea generated by him.

And a man, Menander, also a Samaritan, of the town Capparetæa, a disciple of Simon, and inspired by devils, we know to have deceived many while he was in Antioch by his magical art.

He persuaded those who adhered to him that they should never die, and even now there are some living who hold this opinion of his.

And there is Marcion, a man of Pontus, who is even at this day alive, and teaching his disciples to believe in some other god greater than the Creator.

And he, by the aid of the devils, has caused many of every nation to speak blasphemies, and to deny that God is the maker of this universe, and to assert that some other being, greater than He, has done greater works.

All who take their opinions from these men are, as we before said, called Christians; just as also those who do not agree with the philosophers in their doctrines, have yet in common with them the name of philosophers given to them.

And whether they perpetrate those fabulous and shameful deeds — the upsetting of the lamp, and promiscuous intercourse, and eating human flesh— we know not;

but we do know that they are neither persecuted nor put to death by you, at least on account of their opinions. But I have a treatise against all the heresies that have existed already composed, which, if you wish to read it, I will give you.

27. Guilt of exposing children

But as for us, we have been taught that to expose newly-born children is the part of wicked men; and this we have been taught lest we should do anyone an injury,

and lest we should sin against God, first, because we see that almost all so exposed (not only the girls, but also the males) are brought up to prostitution.

And as the ancients are said to have reared herds of oxen, or goats, or sheep, or grazing horses, so now we see you rear children only for this shameful use;

and for this pollution a multitude of females and hermaphrodites, and those who commit unmentionable iniquities, are found in every nation. And you receive the hire of these, and duty and taxes from them, whom you ought to exterminate from your realm.

And anyone who uses such persons, besides the godless and infamous and impure intercourse, may possibly be having intercourse with his own child, or relative, or brother.

And there are some who prostitute even their own children and wives, and some are openly mutilated for the purpose of sodomy;

and they refer these mysteries to the mother of the gods, and along with each of those whom you esteem gods there is painted a serpent, a great symbol and mystery.

Indeed, the things which you do openly and with applause, as if the divine light were overturned and extinguished, these you lay to our charge;

which, in truth, does no harm to us who shrink from doing any such things, but only to those who do them and bear false witness against us.

28. God's care for men

For among us the prince of the wicked spirits is called the serpent, and Satan, and the devil, as you can learn by looking into our writings.

And that he would be sent into the fire with his host, and the men who follow him, and would be punished for an endless duration, Christ foretold.

For the reason why God has delayed to do this, is His regard for the human race. For He foreknows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are perhaps not yet born.

In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative.

And if any one disbelieves that God cares for these things, he will thereby either insinuate that God does not exist, or he will assert that though He exists He delights in vice,

or exists like a stone, and that neither virtue nor vice are anything, but only in the opinion of men these things are reckoned good or evil. And this is the greatest profanity and wickedness.

29. Continence of Christians

And again [we fear to expose children], lest some of them be not picked up, but die, and we become murderers. But whether we marry, it is only that we may bring up children; or whether we decline marriage, we live continently.

And that you may understand that promiscuous intercourse is not one of our mysteries, one of our number a short time ago presented to Felix the governor in Alexandria a petition,

craving that permission might be given to a surgeon to make him an eunuch. For, the surgeons there said that they were forbidden to do this without the permission of the governor.

And when Felix absolutely refused to sign such permission, the youth remained single, and was satisfied with his own approving conscience, and the approval of those who thought as he did.

And it is not out of place, we think, to mention here Antinous, who was alive but lately, and whom all were prompt, through fear, to worship as a god, though they knew both who he was and what was his origin.

30. Was Christ not a magician?

But lest anyone should meet us with the question, What should prevent that He whom we call Christ, being a man born of men, performed what we call His mighty works by magical art, and by this appeared to be the Son of God?

We will now offer proof, not trusting mere assertions, but being of necessity persuaded by those who prophesied [of Him] before these things came to pass,

for with our own eyes we behold things that have happened and are happening just as they were predicted; and this will, we think appear even to you the strongest and truest evidence.