Justin & Justin: First Apology XI-XX
Justin continues to defend Christianity to the Roman Caesars in chapters 11-20. The bulk of this section is dedicated to clearing up exactly what Jesus taught and how these teachings dovetail with good, Roman citizenship. Justin mentions Christ teachings on lust, divorce, patience, not entering into oaths, and even civil obedience. All of these teachings are from the Gospels, especially Matthew. It is clear that Justin had access to the writings of the Evangelist and considered them trustworthy. This is very helpful in our defense of the scripture today against those (e.g. Ehrman, Dan Brown, and others). Very early on, the Christian church took the Gospels as true and valid.
Justin also begins his defense of resurrection in these chapters. He makes an argument from nature and an argument from common religion. He draws data in from a couple of sources to make his point.
By far, the most interesting part of this section is found in chapter XI. In this chapter Justin answers the charge against Christians that they are seditious. The early persecutors accused Christians of wanting to overthrow Rome and establish another kingdom. Justin does an excellent job defending Christians and in doing so, gives a great lesson to the modern church.
Justin’s response to the charge of sedition is this: If we were truly seeking to overthrow Rome, why would we gladly be martyred in the name of Christ? This is certainly not the way of the subversive and seditious. If the Christians were seeking political upheaval, they should have denied Christ and continued to work behind the scenes to bring Rome down. Only they didn’t deny Christ. They gladly gave their bodies to the flames.
This is instructive for many believers today. We have confused the idea of Christ Kingdom coming to this earth with our efforts to make our nation look like Christ Kingdom. We are seeking a different, better city. One whose foundation is not made by human hands. This doesn’t mean that we retreat from the world, but it also does mean that when things don’t go our way politically, we are still OK. God is still sovereign, just as he was when Justin was defending Christians against the Roman Government, bent on persecution.