Thursday Book Review – First Apology by Justin Martyr

Today I’m going to review the First Apology by Justin Martyr. Justin was born in Samaria in 100 AD and was martyred in Rome in 165 AD. This means it’s highly likely Justin new personally, or at least new of, Polycarp. Polycarp was personally disciples by John, so you can see the line of faithful men carrying the Gospel from generation to generation. Justin studied philosophy but was unfulfilled by what he learned, until he heard the Gospel. 


His works, like his first and second apology, were aimed at forming a legal defense to stop the extreme persecution of his Christian brothers and sisters. The First Apology of Justin Martyr, written to the Emperor of Rome, is as important for the church to read as the Pilgrims Progress, in my opinion. Not just for the apologetic aspect, but the historical content. It’s not just a blessing to read how our spiritual fathers lived, and died for Christ, but it also gives us a glimpse into the early church practices. 

In other words, beloved, I recommend this book to everyone! It’s almost 1900 years old, so it’s in the public domain. This means you can download a free PDF version, listen to a free audio version, or purchase an inexpensive Kindle version. I hope you’ll be edified by this book, dear brethren, and as always be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

The First Apology of Justin Martyr PDF
The First Apology of Justin Martyr Kindle Version

Author: lnhereford

I am a Christian, wife, mother, podcaster and homeschooler currently traveling the United States with my loving husband and darling daughter!

27 thoughts on “Thursday Book Review – First Apology by Justin Martyr”

  1. Oh honey. No, no, no!

    100 BC is AFTER 165 BC! You have Mr. Martyr being killed 65 years before his birth! BCE (before common era; equivalent to BC (before Christ)) works exactly like negative numbers on a number line. So, 165 BCE is 165 years before Christ’s birth (year 0000), so like year -0165; while year 100 BCE is 100 years before year 0000 (-0100).

    Judaism uses a completely different start date for their calendar years, which is why they’re in the year 5778 right now.

    Since Jesus died in approximately 33 CE, 133 years after you have Justin being born and 198 years after you have him die, he DEFINITELY never heard the Gospel since Christ didn’t exist yet to teach ANYONE the Gospel!

    So, your analysis is in a lot of trouble before you even really begin!

    I looked up Mr. Martyr and he was born in 100CE and died in 165CE. I’m sure you will try to pass this off as a simple typo, but I find that hard to believe.

    Merely knowing that BCE years exist implies having knowledge of how they work. As a Christian scholar and teacher, you most likely prefer using BC and AD, which is fine except that it makes it even more criminal for you to misappropriate these terms! BC=Before Christ, so you should have immediately realized your error when you have Justin responding to things that happened after Christ’s death (AD=After Death).

    Ironically, if you had left off the BCs, AD is the default assumption and you would have been fine.

    If you want to be taken seriously as a scholar, you HAVE to get your facts right!

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    1. Hey, thank you Catherine. I appreciate you correcting me on this. I was in such a hurry this morning that I missed that, I should have been more careful.

      I’m not real sure why you think this isn’t a typo…that’s a very strange assessment. However, your belief in whether or not I made a simple mistake is irrelevant. Your mistake about whether or not God is sovereign, and will one day judge you for your sins, is relevant.

      I did make a mistake here, but getting a BC or and AD right or wrong doesn’t make someone a scholar. And if your placing your trust in scholars you’ll find yourself let down every time. Everyone makes mistakes, the greatest mistake is refusing to humble yourself, repent of your sins, and put your faith in Christ. Catherine, this is the only way any of us will ever be considered right. To be right with dates? Not nearly as important to be right with God.

      I also hope that I’ve never given anyone the impression that I’m a Christian scholar or teacher. I love having this blog, and being given an opportunity to encourage and edify the church. On the rare occasion that I get to use this to share the Gospel with the lost, I’m humbled by that opportunity as well. I’m actually just an ordinary house wife. I do teach, my seven-year-old, within our homeschooling regimen. I doubt that would ever qualify me to be considered a scholar. Actually I’ve made mistakes in the past, and I’ve been graciously corrected by some of my brothers in Christ. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes in the future. If you want someone who will never fail, look to the one I hope to point to in every post, God the Father who sent His only Son to pay a penalty you never wanted to, or could, pay.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. This literally just cleared lots of confusion for me; so I had to jump in here. I didn’t realize that is what AD stood for. This is so helpful, and that book is going on my to-read list. 😉

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I’d like to as well, I just read through it quickly for this review. Some of the chapters that detail the pagan practices of the times were really hard to read though. Those chapters aside, I’d love to slowly take my time and try to better understand where he was coming from. It’s easy to read it as someone from the 21st century, but I’m sure there’s richer meaning when taken from the point of view of massive persecution. One of these days, when my little family stops traveling nonstop, Kindle won’t be my only library! God bless you brother, grace and peace from God the Father!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hey I,

    I just wanted to ask you a question? You do know St. Justin was a Catholic, don’t you? When he spoke of philosophy what his intent with this word was, the love of wisdom.

    He also, in consistent with the Didaches, the Book of Revelations, and the report of Pliny, held that the sacrifices of ancient Israel were Old Testament “types” the foreshadowed a New Testament fulfillment in the sacrifice of the Mass.

    Again, like the Didaches, (the earliest Christian writings, came before Scripture) and with St. Ignatius, for Justin the Mass was the only perfect and acceptable sacrifice. He got this from the Book of Malachi, who foretold an age when perfect sacrifice would be offered continually everywhere on earth. What he meant with this, is the Eucharist.

    I can go into much more on him, but I just wanted to let you know he was a Catholic. I did so knowing how you feel about us and the Church. God Bless, SR

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    1. Hello again, SR. I know how difficult it is to understand tone with online discussion, so before I refute what you’ve said I hope you’ll understand that I do so in love.

      It’s important to remember that words change meaning over time. For instance, the word catholic originally meant ‘the universal church’ so it was a term used by the early church to refer to the entire body of believers. It’s the same with the term ‘orthodox’ which was adopted by the Greek Orthodox Church in the same way the Roman Catholic Church adopted the word catholic.

      Also, just because the Catholic Church ‘saints’ someone hundreds of years after they’ve died doesn’t make that person a Roman Catholic. Any church could claim him, if they wanted to revise history. But it’s inaccurate, we shouldn’t twist history to fit our church. We should strive to look logically at these men and what they said.

      Thankfully, Justin Martyr gave an explicit explanation of what church was like during his time. You can read it for yourself, it was absolutely nothing like the Roman Catholic Church mass. No where in his writings does he suggest that the Eucharist was Christ’s literal body brought down by a priest to be resacrificed through transubstantiation. He also explicitly cites that everyone in the church participated with the wine and bread. Or as he calls it the ‘love feast’. He never mentioned mass, the ‘perfect and acceptable sacrifice’ was Christ crucified, and as it explains clearly in Hebrews 9, Christ only suffered once for all. Once. Not continually as the priests of the Old Covenant did.

      Also, Justin Martyr, like other early church fathers, clearly taught salvation through grace by faith in Christ alone. None of them prayed to Mary or saw her as a mediator between them and Christ or God, in fact Justin details the way they prayed during their meetings, you’ll find it’s nothing like the Catholic Church today.

      Here is the real problem, SR, just because the Catholic Church says something does not make it true. No church told me what Justin Martyr believed, I read it for myself, without preconceived notions. It’s fanciful, and maybe encouraging, to hear that your church goes back to Peter, but it’s been clearly refuted historically. If you only listen to the Catholic Churches views I’m sure it’s easy to be convinced, but why not consider that the Catholic Church is full of failable men with their own sinful nature? Why not read for yourself, and see if it stands?

      Another important thing to consider is that, according to the scriptures, a person who repents of their sins, puts their faith is Jesus Christ, and becomes a new creature, is a saint. Anyone, all who truly come to Him, are saints. I don’t need a church to give me that title, Gods Word gave me that title. Teaching the opposite to that is calling the Word of God insufficient at best, and inaccurate at worst. The same can be said about a using merit from others to get into Heaven, it’s not Biblical. It’s worse than not Biblical, it’s calling the Word of God inaccurate. Paul said it’s appointed once for a man to die, and then judgment. To be absent from the body is to be present before the Lord. There is only one way to the Father, that’s through the Son.

      Lastly, there is something very important for you to understand about how I ‘feel’ about you and the Roman Catholic Church. I pray for you every single night, that God in His sovereign grace, for His glory, would have mercy on you. When I consider Catholics, all the millions who think they can get out of hell and into heaven through some sort of ‘donation’ from a living loved one, or merit from Mary or anyone else, my heart breaks. You can’t earn you way to heaven, you can’t merit your way out of hell. There is none who are righteous, no not one. Salvation is by grace, and that not of anything we’ve done to deserve it, so that no man boasts. That’s how I feel about you, and other Catholics, like my heart will never cease from its aching. How do I feel about the Catholic Church? The same way I feel about any and every church who teaches a false gospel, righteously angry.

      I hope you’ll look more into this subject, SR, and come to your own conclusions. I was held in the throws of a false gospel, I believed everything I was told, I never questioned anything out loud, but on the inside I knew something was wrong. When those thoughts would creep up on me I would push them back down. Don’t do that today, SR. When you see the belief you hold does not match up with God’s Word, choose Gods Word. I knew when I heard 1 John that I was not saved, that I was pretending to be saved so I could look like the church folks. When salvation came it changed everything. I became a new creature, old things passed away. The sin I loved I now hate. The pride of life, I use to love to tell people how much I knew about the Bible! I loved to think about how knowledgeable I was. I was always learning, and never coming to the truth. I pray that you will come to the Truth. You believe in God? That’s good! The demons do as well, and tremble in fear. The most frightening sentence in the Bible is ‘turn away from me, for I never knew you.’ Eternity is worth a closer look.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your reply. I am trying to get you to see the truth about St. Justin. First the word “saint” should give you a clue that he was Catholic. They do not get that title unless they are Catholic. Now another thing is, there was no other Church until after Martin Luther, Henry the VIII, etc… and that was not until the 1500’s. When did you say St. Justin died? So the timeline here does not even fit.

    To give to you a quote regarding Mass after Baptism:
    “The food (bread and wine) we call the Eucharist, and no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that our doctrines are true, who has been washed with the bath (baptism) for the remission of sins and rebirth, and who is living as Christ commanded.” (This is Catholic teaching.)

    “We do not receive these as common bread and drink. For Jesus Christ our Savior, made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation. Likewise, we have been taught that the food blessed by the prayer of his word, and from which our own blood and flesh are nourished and changed is the flesh and blood of Jesus who was made flesh.” (The Eucharist)

    The apostles in the memoirs they composed called Gospels, have passed on to us what was given to them. (The Eucharist)

    He is speaking of the Mass here. Where else do you see the word Eucharist other then in Catholic writings? This is the Mass of the early Christians. St. John in the Gospel held Mass, there are records of his last Mass.

    Please quit preaching to me. I am not going to change my Church. I do however thank you for your prayers.

    My comment was about your post. I have no desire to get into all the other. I just wanted to let you know St. Justin according to all he wrote and believed, was a Catholic. Yes, I know Catholic means universal, I am one.

    No matter what anyone says, it was the Eucharist which was celebrated by our Church fathers in the Mass. When in Rome and they had to have Mass underground. Trust me I know my Church history and the early fathers, and who they were, and how they worshipped and where.

    Along with St. Justin, you have St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, for a few. They all celebrated the Mass. When you see the word “Eucharist” in their writings that is none other than Catholic, no matter what anyone says. This is the belief that Jesus is in the Bread and Wine. As St. Justin said, “What has been handed to us by the apostles. He should of known better than anyone.

    It is one thing to believe what you want, but how you can deny these people were Catholic and did not celebrate the Mass, when according to their own teachings and writings, that is exactly what they did, is beyond me? God Bless, SR

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    1. If you do not want to hear me preach to you Christ, and Christ crucified I suggest you not comment on my blog. The false gospel being taught in the Catholic Church is salvation through works, and merit of others applied after death. That is a salvation that can not save. I will not here, or in any other place, stop speaking the truth of the Gospel. Christ, and Christ alone can save. Faith in Him, by the grace of God, so that no man can boast. No Mary, no treasure chest of merit, no donations for the dead, Christ and Christ alone.

      You’ve spoken illogically, particularly when it comes to saints, which I explained already is a Biblical term for believers. How does calling someone a saint hundreds of years after they’ve dead make them a Catholic? The church didn’t begin to lead from Rome until several hundred years after Justin died. One man, in Rome, decided his opinion was more important than the other church leaders. They disagreed, said all the church leaders were equal, and there was a split. That was the beginning of Rome being the ‘Roman Catholic Church’. Where do you see any of the church fathers, or the apostles, or Christ Himself teach that the bread of Christ’s body is Him being literally sacrificed over and over again? You don’t, because it was a symbolic act to celebrate and remember Christ’s actual sacrifice.

      You said more than once ‘no matter what anyone says’. There is a hinderance to learning, and that’s the belief that you already know. You answer and argument before you hear it, and that’s foolish according to Proverbs. You have faith in the wrong place, SR. You’ve placed your faith in the Catholic Church, it had roots and that’s what you wanted. That is why this topic is so serious to you. If I say, rightly and historically so, that the Catholic Church did not start with Peter, Polycarp, Justin, or Ignatius, than those roots disappear. Those roots never beloved to the Catholic Church, and the history you’ve been taught by the Catholic Church has long been known as revisionist history.

      You can learn that truth, it’s not hard to find, or you can continue to say ‘no matter what anyone says’. The difference is between truth, and lies. That’s an important distinction. You see, it does matter what some say, it matters what historians say, it matters what the church fathers say. Read their actual words, not what Catholic scholars tell you they said. I can take anyone out of context and believe what I want, that’s not a hard thing to do. But to have the integrity to read it, and be honest with myself about what I read? That might be more difficult.

      That’s what happens when you fail to take the full counsel of Gods Word, and begin to listen to man instead. It’s the same as when the Muslims claim Yewah and Allah are the same, and that their fathers are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They’ve revised the true history to fit their religion. It’s wrong no matter who does it, we should all care about the truth above our institutions. A building is just a building, it can’t save. Catholic…that’s just a word…it can’t save. Christ alone can save.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I never intended to return in the first place. I just saw that and wanted to let you know. Leaving it is my pleasure.

        You need to ask yourself, “Who made me the authority over everyone else?”

        I do not mind you speaking of Christ to me. It is when you set yourself so high above others with your judgment of hell and damnation that gets me.

        I did this in the first place out of kindness to you. Kindness to me, is something which is so foreign to you.

        So be honest with yourself about your self. You do not have authority over me or my soul.

        You say “you found Christ,” then let Him be Christ.

        If I am going to speak of Christ to anyone, it is going to be about His love for us all.

        You do not understand what you do to others, and what is even worse you do not care. That to me is not a Christian.

        You do not know my heart, only God does. In this, my heart was, I knew what you believed about Catholics, I knew what St. Justin taught, and I wanted to let you know.

        What makes your books anymore correct then Catholic teachings? They all contain history.

        One can reach out their hand to you, and you bite it. That is the truth about yourself.

        I do not mean to be cruel, but you do not realize you turn more people away from Christ then you bring them to Him. I know you do not mean to do this, but there is never any stopping with you. It is an obsession with you, a very uncontrollable obsession. We have to have “discipline” in all things. One of them is control over that tongue.

        You wrote a post. I commented on your post about your post. The next thing I knew, you just took it off the charts. Yet, you are always kind to those who agree with you, only.

        You have got to find some balance in your Christian walk. If our lives as Christians do not have balance in all things that is not of God.

        Again, I gladly leave. I just thought for once you could have a civil conversation with me, and quit our continual damnation of my soul. That gets just sickening after awhile.

        Let God and me take care of my soul. It is none of your business. I am sick of you saying, “Jesus is not going to know me.” You are not Jesus, and you have no idea what He is going to say to me.

        For every person you hurt, you yourself are going to have to give an account for. As St. Paul said, “I came to you gentle.” You need to get that.

        I say this, “Because I love you.” Now does that sound like it? That is how you come across.

        Thank you for your prayers. God Bless, SR

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  4. I am sorry I was not coming back but I wanted to relate something to you that I just thought about. Have you read the accounts of the children who grew up with parents with these same beliefs and parents that carried them out in the way you do. I have.

    These are what they said, “I have PTSD.” “I no longer believe in God.” “My parents made me feel worthless and useless because I am such a sinner.” “I was never allowed to have dreams because that was being selfish.” “I am suicidal and have tried to take my life many times.” “I just decided to become gay because no matter what I do, I am a worthless sinner according to my parents.” “I live under a cloud of depression.” “I deserve nothing in life, because my parents told me I am deserving of nothing.” “I am on anti-depression medication.”

    I just thought I would let you know what this continual brow-beating does to others. They said a lot more.

    These are kids who grew up in this sort of environment who are now adults. God Bless, SR

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    1. Ok, first of all, SR, I don’t speak to my 7 year old like I do a grown adult. Any parent who tells their children they’re worthless in the eyes of God have not read the full scriptures. There’s only one commandment in the Bible for children, and it’s the only one that comes with a promise. I think that’s pretty beautiful. It’s to obey your parents, and it comes with the promise of long life. I have taught her responsibility, hard work, charity, kindness, consideration, and love. You don’t know me, you don’t know my family, and you clearly don’t know my God. Yes, He is a God of justice. Yes, I care more about your soul than your feelings, especially since you came and gave me the opportunity to share that Gospel with you again. The truth only offends those who insist on living in a lie.

      Secondly, anyone on the planet could go here, where you’ve clearly went, to child abuse, with the whole of the Catholic Church. That might be a subject, in the future, that you’d show more class by avoiding.

      Thirdly, and lastly, the least loving thing I can do as an individual is not share the Gospel. Why? Because hell is real, Jesus Christ spoke more on hell then anyone else in the Bible. I follow in His footsteps when I warn others like He did. That’s the full counsel of Gods Word, not the feel good stuff but all of it.

      You believe yourself to be a true believer? You just accused your brethren of a horrible amount of child abuse then. 1 John clearly lays out that believers don’t treat one another like that. Never once, in our conversation, did I attack you personally. This now, you have taken way to far. I’ve never blocked anyone before, I never wanted to have to. I’m going to have to block you, what you’ve said is too offensive to allow you to continue commenting. Especially because my beautiful, sweet, daughter has a blog of her own to help her with sentence structure and internet safety lessons. If she saw this…I couldn’t imagine what she would think. She would probably wonder how a grown adult could be so cruel to someone else just trying to share the Gospel. I’ll continue praying for you, and hopefully someone else can share the Gospel with you in the future.

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