22: Justin Martyr

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 10:9

During the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD), a more notable event occurred than the wall in northern England, which immortalised his memory. Hadrian in living for time, ruled, built and sought to secure a legacy. Today his greatest work is ruined like the great empire he represented.

Unknown to Hadrian the silent, powerful work of the Holy Spirit was convicting and converting a young man called Justin from Samaria, during his reign. As a result of the witness of a Christian man, while walking by the seashore, Justin became convinced that the truth was in Jesus. Justin would proceed to write mighty apologies defending the Christian Faith against the pagan Romans. Justin is remembered in history as the most influential Christian of the second century. He neither had Hadrian’s riches nor his power but the truth he advocated has outlived Rome’s greatest achievements.

Justin’s writings give us an insight into the life of Christian Church in the mid 2nd Century AD. Exercising practices strikingly similar to the Church today he described believers gathering on the Lord’s Day, worshipping with song, reading the Scriptures, hearing a sermon and offering prayer. They also greeted each other with the kiss of peace and collected alms for the poor.

Justin was martyred during the reign of Marcus Aurelius in 165 AD. It is recorded that another believer who was martyred with Justin made this confession:

I am a Christian, having been freed by Christ, and by the grace of Christ I partake of the same hope

Sketches from Church History, SM Houghton, Banner of Truth Trust
Let us crown with deathless fame
Those who scorn'd and hated fell;
Martyrs met contempt and shame,
Fearing nought but sin and hell.

Hannah More

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