Martyr Justin the Philosopher and those with him at Rome: Martyrs Justin, Chariton and his wife, Charity, Euelpistus, Hierax, Peon, Valerian, and Justus (166 A.D.). Ven. Dionysius, Abbot of Glushitsa (Vologdá—1437). Ven. Agápit, Unmercenary Physician, of the Kiev Caves (11th c.).
The Holy Martyr Justin the Philosopher was born around 114 at Sychem, an ancient city of Samaria. Justin’s parents were pagan Greeks. From his childhood the saint displayed intelligence, love for knowledge and a fervent devotion to the knowledge of Truth. When he came of age he studied the various schools of Greek philosophy: the Stoics, the Peripatetics, the Pythagoreans, the Platonists, and he concluded that none of these pagan teachings revealed the way to knowledge of the true God.
Once, when he was strolling in a solitary place beyond the city and pondering about where to seek the way to the knowledge of Truth, he met an old man. In the ensuing conversation he revealed to Justin the essential nature of the Christian teaching and advised him to seek the answers to all the questions of life in the books of Holy Scripture. “But before anything else,” said the holy Elder, “pray diligently to God, so that He might open to you the doors of Light. No one is able to comprehend Truth, unless he is granted understanding from God Himself, Who reveals it to each one who seeks Him in prayer and in love.”
In his thirtieth year, Justin accepted holy Baptism (between the years 133 and 137). From this time Saint Justin devoted his talents and vast philosophical knowledge to preaching the Gospel among the pagans. He began to journey throughout the Roman Empire, sowing the seeds of faith. “Whosoever is able to proclaim Truth and does not proclaim it will be condemned by God,” he wrote.
Justin opened a school of Christian philosophy. Saint Justin subsequently defended the truth of Christian teaching, persuasively confuting pagan sophistry (in a debate with the Cynic philosopher Crescentius) and heretical distortions of Christianity. He also spoke out against the teachings of the Gnostic Marcian.
In the year 155, when the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) started a persecution against Christians, Saint Justin personally gave him an Apology in defense of two Christians innocently condemned to execution, Ptolemy and Lucias. The name of the third remains unknown.
In the Apology he demonstrated the falseness of the slander against Christians accused unjustly for merely having the name of Christians. The Apology had such a favorable effect upon the emperor that he ceased the persecution. Saint Justin journeyed, by decision of the emperor, to Asia Minor where they were persecuting Christians with particular severity. He proclaimed the joyous message of the imperial edict throughout the surrounding cities and countryside.
The debate of Saint Justin with the Rabbi Trypho took place at Ephesus. The Orthodox philosopher demonstrated the truth of the Christian teaching of faith on the basis of the Old Testament prophetic writings. Saint Justin gave an account of this debate in his work Dialogue with Trypho the Jew.
A second Apology of Saint Justin was addressed to the Roman Senate. It was written in the year 161, soon after Marcus Aurelius (161-180) ascended the throne.
When he returned to Italy, Saint Justin, like the Apostles, preached the Gospel everywhere, converting many to the Christian Faith. When the saint arrived at Rome, the envious Crescentius, whom Justin always defeated in debate, brought many false accusations against him before the Roman court. Saint Justin was put under guard, subjected to torture and suffered martyrdom in 165. The relics of Saint Justin the Philosopher rest in Rome.
Troparion of the saint, tone 4
O Justin, teacher of divine knowledge, / You shone with the radiance of true philosophy. / You were wisely armed against the enemy. / Confessing the truth you contended alongside the martyrs, / With them, ever entreat Christ our God to save our souls!
Kontakion of the saint, tone 2
The whole Church of God is adorned with the wisdom of your divine words, O Justin; / the world is enlightened by the radiance of your life. / By the shedding of your blood, you have received a crown. / As you stand before Christ with the angels, pray unceasingly for us all!
Acts 15:35-41 (Epistle)
- Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
- Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.”
- Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark.
- But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work.
- Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus;
- but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God.
- And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
John 10:27-38 (Gospel)
- My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
- And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
- My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
- I and My Father are one.”
- Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.
- Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”
- The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”
- Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’’?
- If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),
- do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?
- If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;
- but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”