Justin Martyr was Trinitarian

In regard to the video by Dale Tuggy (a Unitarian) that Yahya Snow (a Muslim) put up; (over at Paul “Bilal” Williams’ blog, Paul is also a Muslim, a British Muslim who had an evangelical experience before becoming a Muslim, but started studying and believing liberal theology and that really messed him up.  If a person is truly converted, liberal theology would not bother them so much as to cause them to give up their faith in Christ; and they would not convert to Islam.  As 2 Peter 2:22 points out, the nature of that person was not changed.  Jesus said one can claim to know God and call Jesus “Lord, “Lord”, but it is possible that they never knew the Lord truly and genuinely. Matthew 7:21-23; see also 1 John 2:19)  The first step of Satan’s temptation to Eve was to subtly doubt and question God’s word, “Did God really say . . . ?”  (Genesis 3:1-8) That is what liberal theology and liberal scholarship does; it starts slowly with doubts about God’s Word, the Scriptures.  But a true believer can read and study liberals and be vigilant against their subtle lies and attacks and find victory as long as one is also truly regenerated (John 3:1-10), and has a hearty devotional life in the Word and by submission to God each day, trusting in God’s sovereignty and wisdom and goodness.

In regard to this video by Dale Tuggy, who is a Unitarian and has dedicated himself to attacking the doctrine of the Trinity; Tuggy claims that Justin Martyr was not a Trinitarian. Justin Martyr is one of the earliest Christian writers after the NT was completed.  He lived from around 100 AD to 165 AD.  He was executed by Rome for his faith in 165 AD.

Dale Tuggy quoted one passage in that video.  Even that passage can be taken as affirming the divine triad of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and distinguishing between the persons, even if he did not use the word “person” or other terms for the same substance in the oneness of God between the persons. (like Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14)

There is a lot more in Justin Martyr’s writings that show he indeed was Trinitarian, and distinguished between the Father and the Son and yet also understood that the Son is the same nature as the Father. The passage that Dale Tuggy quoted shows that Justin Martyr understood the three persons in a triad of some kind of equality in power and status and nature and worship, which even Dale Tuggy admitted; even without the words like “homo-ousias” and “persons” (hupostasis) – The concept of the Trinity is communicated even without using the words, “Trinity” or “homo-sousias” (same substance) and hupostasis (person).

There is much more than this, but this is sufficient for now; as I don’t have time to type up more, etc.

“And Jesus the Christ, because the Jews knew not what the Father was, and what the Son, in like manner accused them; and Himself said, “No one knoweth the Father, but the Son; nor the Son, but the Father, and they to whom the Son revealeth Him.” [Matthew 11:27 – shows a high Christology in Matthew] Now the Word of God is His Son, as we have before said.” [ shows Justin Martyr knows John 1:1 and the teaching of the whole Gospel]

[My comments in brackets]

“The Jews, accordingly, being throughout of opinion that it was the Father of the universe who spake to Moses, though He who spake to him was indeed the Son of God, who is called both Angel and Apostle, are justly charged, both by the Spirit of prophecy and by Christ Himself, with knowing neither the Father nor the Son. For they who affirm that the Son is the Father, [against modalism] are proved neither to have become acquainted with the Father, nor to know that the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God.”

Justin Martyr, First Apology, 63

See at
https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.ii.lxiii.html

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About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
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2 Responses to Justin Martyr was Trinitarian

  1. David Waltz says:

    Hi Ken,

    I am with you on this: Justin was a Trinitarian. With that said, his form of Trinitarianism raises some ‘red-flags’ for those who reject the Monarchy of God the Father and the related doctrine of eternal generation.

    Do you remember the following from THIS OLD THREAD at AF:

    In the comment section of the recent thread, Apologetics against inferior opponents, our Reformed brother in Christ, Ken Temple, expressed a certain skepticism concerning subordinationism in the writings of the ante-Nicene Church Fathers. While reading a quote from John Thiel’s, Senses of Tradition, which I had cited in THIS THREAD, Ken noticed that Dr. Thiel had not provided references for certain deductions he had made from the writings of Justin Martyr, Theophilus, Tertullian, and Origen. I suspect that Dr. Thiel was of the opinion that his readers would be conversant enough with the literature he was drawing from, that he did not see a need to provide references. Such speculation aside, I shall now remedy Dr. Thiel’s neglect.

    First, Justin Martyr, of whom he wrote, “whose reliance on the Middle Platonism of his day led him to portray Christ as a ‘second God’”.

    Justin did not actually use the exact phrase “second God” (Gr. deuteros theos) in reference to Jesus. However, he did use a couple of equivalents: “another God and Lord” (Gr. theos kai kurios etepos), and “second place” (Gr. deutera chōra).

    Then I replied, “I shall attempt to persuade you, since you have understood the Scriptures, [of the truth] of what I say, that there is, and that there is said to be, another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things; who is also called an Angel, because He announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all things — above whom there is no other God — wishes to announce to them.” (Dialogue With Trypho, ch. 56 – ANF 1.223.)

    Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judaea, in the times of Tiberius Caesar; and that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove. For they proclaim our madness to consist in this, that we give to a crucified man a place second to the unchangeable and eternal God, the Creator of all; for they do not discern the mystery that is herein, to which, as we make it plain to you, we pray you to give heed. (First Apology, ch. 13 – ANF 1.166, 167; see also ch. 60.)

    Grace and peace,

    David

  2. Ken,

    Here is what I wrote to another unitarian heretic, particularly a JW, who also tried to butcher Justin’s words in order to portray him as being a non-Trinitarian.

    Speaking of Justin, let’s see what he meant by Angel and what he really believed about Jesus:

    Chapter 56. GOD WHO APPEARED TO MOSES is distinguished from God the Father

    Justin: Moses, then, the blessed and faithful servant of God, declares that He who appeared to Abraham under the oak in Mamre IS GOD, sent with the two angels in His company to judge Sodom BY ANOTHER WHO REMAINS EVER IN SUPERCELESTIAL PLACES, invisible to all men, holding personal intercourse with none, whom we believe to be Maker and Father of all things; for he speaks thus: ‘God appeared to him under the oak in Mamre, as he sat at his tent-door at noontide. And lifting up his eyes, he saw, and behold, three men stood before him; and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the door of his tent; and he bowed himself toward the ground, and said . . .’ Genesis 18:1-2 ‘Abraham went up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord: and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrha, and toward the adjacent country, and beheld, and, lo, a flame went up from the earth, like the smoke of a furnace.’

    And when I had made an end of quoting these words, I asked them if they had understood them. And they said they had understood them, but that the passages adduced brought forward no proof that there is any other God or Lord, or that the Holy Spirit says so, besides the Maker of all things.

    Justin: I shall attempt to persuade you, since you have understood the Scriptures, [of the truth] of what I say, that there is, AND THERE IS TO BE, ANOTHER GOD AND LORD subject to the Maker of all things; WHO IS ALSO CALLED AN ANGEL, BECAUSE HE ANNOUNCES TO MEN WHATSOEVER the Maker of all things—above whom there is no other God—WISHES TO ANNOUNCE TO THEM…

    Justin: If I could not have proved to you from the Scriptures that one of those three IS GOD, AND IS CALLED ANGEL, BECAUSE, AS I ALREADY SAID, HE BRINGS MESSAGES TO THOSE WHOM God the Maker of all things WISHES [messages to be brought], then in regard to Him who appeared to Abraham on earth in human form in like manner as the two angels who came with Him, AND WHO WAS GOD EVEN BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD, it were reasonable for you to entertain the same belief as is entertained by the whole of your nation…

    Justin: Reverting to the Scriptures, I shall endeavour to persuade you, that He who is said TO HAVE APPEARED TO ABRAHAM, AND TO JACOB, AND TO MOSES AND WHO IS CALLED GOD, is distinct from Him who made all things—numerically, I mean, not [distinct] in will. For I affirm that He has never at any time done anything which He who made the world—above whom there is no other God—has not wished Him both to do and to engage Himself with…

    Justin: The Scripture just quoted by me will make this plain to you. It is thus: ‘The sun was risen on the earth, and Lot entered into Segor (Zoar); and the Lord rained on Sodom sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and overthrew these cities and all the neighbourhood.’ Genesis 19:23…

    Justin: (After another pause.) And now have you not perceived, my friends, that one of the three, WHO IS BOTH GOD AND LORD, and ministers to Him who is in the heavens, is Lord of the two angels? For when [the angels] proceeded to Sodom, He remained behind, and communed with Abraham in the words recorded by Moses; and when He departed after the conversation, Abraham went back to his place. And when he came [to Sodom], the two angels no longer conversed with Lot, but Himself, as the Scripture makes evident; AND HE IS THE LORD WHO RECEIVED COMMISSION FROM THE LORD WHO [remains] IN THE HEAVENS, i.e., the Maker of all things, to inflict upon Sodom and Gomorrha the [judgments] which the Scripture describes in these terms: ‘The Lord rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrha sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.’ (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/01285.htm)

    Here Justin explains that Jesus is called Angel because he delivers messages from God the Father, NOT BECAUSE HE IS A CREATED SPIRIT CREATURE NAMED MICHAEL! He then proceeds to quote Genesis 18:1-33 and 19:1-29 to prove that Jesus is the God and Jehovah who appeared to Abraham as a man along with two other angels, and who brought fire down from another who is said be Jehovah in the heavens.

    Here are some more nuggets from Justin Martyr. In these next quotes you will see Justin identifying Jesus as the God of Abraham and the Jehovah of hosts of the Hebrew Bible:

    Chapter 36. HE PROVES THAT CHRIST IS CALLED LORD OF HOSTS

    Trypho: Let these things be so as you say—namely, that it was foretold Christ would suffer, and be called a stone; and after His first appearance, in which it had been announced He would suffer, would come in glory, and be Judge finally of all, and eternal King and Priest. Now show if this man be He of whom these prophecies were made.

    Justin: As you wish, Trypho, I shall come to these proofs which you seek in the fitting place; but now you will permit me first to recount the prophecies, which I wish to do in order to prove THAT CHRIST IS CALLED BOTH GOD AND LORD OF HOSTS, and Jacob, in parable by the Holy Spirit; and your interpreters, as God says, are foolish, since they say that reference is made to Solomon and not to Christ, when he bore the ark of testimony into the temple which he built. The Psalm of David is this:

    The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and all that dwell therein. He has rounded it upon the seas, and prepared it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that is clean of hands and pure of heart: who has not received his soul in vain, and has not sworn guilefully to his neighbour: he shall receive blessing from the Lord, and mercy from God his Saviour. This is the generation of them that seek the Lord, that seek the face of the God of Jacob. Lift up your gates, you rulers; and be lifted up, you everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty in battle. Lift up your gates, you rulers; and be lifted up, you everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.

    Accordingly, it is shown that Solomon is not the Lord of hosts; but when our Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, the rulers in heaven, under appointment of God, are commanded to open the gates of heaven, THAT HE WHO IS KING OF GLORY may enter in, and having ascended, may sit on the right hand of the Father until He make the enemies His footstool, as has been made manifest by another Psalm. For when the rulers of heaven saw Him of uncomely and dishonoured appearance, and inglorious, not recognising Him, they inquired, ‘Who is this King of glory?’ And the Holy Spirit, either from the person of His Father, or from His own person, answers them, ‘The Lord of hosts, He is this King of glory.’ For every one will confess that not one of those who presided over the gates of the temple at Jerusalem would venture to say concerning Solomon, though he was so glorious a king, or concerning the ark of testimony, ‘Who is this King of glory?’

    Chapter 37. The same is proved from other Psalms

    Justin: Moreover, in the diapsalm of the forty-sixth Psalm, REFERENCE IS THUS MADE TO CHRIST: ‘GOD WENT UP WITH A SHOUT, THE LORD WITH THE SOUND OF A TRUMPET. Sing to OUR GOD, sing: sing to our King, sing; for God is King of all the earth: sing with understanding. God has ruled over the nations. God sits upon His holy throne. The rulers of the nations were assembled along with THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, for the strong ones of God are greatly exalted on the earth.’ And in the ninety-eighth Psalm, the Holy SpiriT reproaches you, AND PREDICTS HIM WHOM YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE KING TO BE KING AND LORD, both of Samuel, and of Aaron, and of Moses, and, in short, of all the others. And the words of the Psalm are these:

    The Lord has reigned, let the nations be angry: [it is] He who sits upon the cherubim, let the earth be shaken. The Lord is great in Zion, and He is high above all the nations. Let them confess Your great name, for it is fearful and holy, and the honour of the King loves judgment. You have prepared equity; judgment and righteousness have You performed in Jacob. Exalt the Lord our God, and worship the footstool of His feet; for He is holy. Moses and Aaron among His priests, and Samuel among those who call upon His name. They called (says the Scripture) on the Lord, and He heard them. In the pillar of the cloud He spoke to them; for they kept His testimonies, and the commandment which he gave them. O Lord our God, You heard them: O God, You were propitious to them, and [yet] taking vengeance on all their inventions. Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy. (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/01283.htm)

    Justin applies Psalm 24, 47 and 99 to Jesus in order to identify him as Jehovah of hosts, Jehovah our God whom believers are to worship at his footstool, the Jehovah who sits enthroned upon the cherubim, and the God of Abraham.

    Now seeing that Justin identified Jesus as the Jehovah God Almighty who appeared to the OT saints such as Abraham and Moses, and seeing that Jehovah is uncreated by nature, this conclusively proves that Justin DID NOT think that Jesus is a part of creation, but is uncreated by nature. This is precisely what we find Justin saying:

    Chapter 61. Wisdom is begotten of the Father, as fire from fire

    Justin: I shall give you another testimony, my friends, from the Scriptures, that God begot BEFORE ALL CREATURES a Beginning, [who was] a certain rational power [proceeding] FROM HIMSELF, WHO IS CALLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW THE GLORY OF THE LORD, NOW THE SON, AGAIN WISDOM, AGAIN AN ANGEL, THEN GOD, AND THEN LORD AND LOGOS; AND ON ANOTHER OCCASION HE CALLS HIMSELF CAPTAIN, WHEN HE APPEARED IN HuMAN FORM TO JOSHUA THE SON OF NAVE (NUN). For He can be called by all those names, since He ministers to the Father’s will, and since He was begotten of the Father by an act of will; just as we see happening among ourselves: for when we give out some word, we beget the word; yet not by abscission, so as to lessen the word [which remains] in us, when we give it out: and just as we see also happening in the case of a fire, which is not lessened when it has kindled [another], but remains the same; and that which has been kindled by it likewise appears to exist by itself, not diminishing that from which it was kindled. The Word of Wisdom, WHO IS HIMSELF THIS GOD BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER OF ALL THINGS, and Word, and Wisdom, and Power, and the Glory of the Begetter, will bear evidence to me, when He speaks by Solomon the following:

    Note that Justin does not believe that Jesus was created from nothing but that he proceeded from the Father himself without ever severing from him, and therefore is separate from all creation, which is why he can say that Christ was begotten before all creatures. Clearly then, for Justin Jesus is not a part of the creation which the Father made out of nothing, but is the eternal Logos of the Father who resided within him in eternity and was then brought forth at the point in which the Father decided to bring all creation into being by that very Word/Wisdom that he eternally possessed. So much for the JW’s abuse and misuse of Justin since now JW would agree that Justin was correct in identifying Jesus as the Jehovah God Almighty of the OT who appeared to all the OT prophets and saints.

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