Early Church history – Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Gnosticism, and a little Origen

Christian Apologists (Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Origen) and early Heresies – by Dr. Ryan Reeves

See also his entire church history series – excellent!

For Gnosticism and Irenaeus: 

“Three Threats, Three Apologists (Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Irenaeus) and three early church fathers” (Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp) – the 2nd & early 200s AD – early church by Bruce Gore

Tertullian and various others around same time by James White

Tertullian, around 196-206 AD, gave one of the clearest early statements that a person needs to first understand and repent and believe before baptism (along with Justin Martyr earlier; died in 165 AD, see below); the earliest clear statement that seems to show that the earliest church history denies infant baptism as a practice.

Tertullian and baptism in the early church, by James White

James White gives several quotes from Tertullian that show he affirmed believer’s baptism (and not infant baptism), but I did not hear Dr. White quote this one: (Maybe I missed it.)

“Let them “come,” then, while they are growing up; let them “come” while they are learning, while they are learning whither to come; let them become Christians when they have become able to know Christ.”

Tertullian, On Baptism 18


Justin Martyr, First Apology, chapter 61:1

Chapter LXI.—Christian baptism.

“I will also relate the manner in which we dedicated ourselves to God when we had been made new through Christ; lest, if we omit this, we seem to be unfair in the explanation we are making. As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. “

Justin Martyr, First Apology, 61:1.  (he was martyred in 165 AD)

See also Tim Kauffman’s interesting series that shows evidence against baptismal regeneration in the earliest centuries. 

See my earlier article on baptismal regeneration in the early church and Tim Kauffman’s series.


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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