St. Justin Martyr (100-165) vs. “Faith Alone” (Sola Fide)

St. Justin Martyr (100-165) vs. “Faith Alone” (Sola Fide) April 1, 2024

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. . . impelled by the desire of the eternal and pure life, we seek the abode that is with God, the Father and Creator of all, and hasten to confess our faith, persuaded and convinced as we are that they who have proved to God by their works that they followed Him, and loved to abide with Him where there is no sin to cause disturbance, can obtain these things. (First Apology, ch. 8)

. . . if men by their works show themselves worthy of this His design, they are deemed worthy, and so we have received — of reigning in company with Him, being delivered from corruption and suffering. (First Apology, ch. 10)

. . . each man goes to everlasting punishment or salvation according to the value of his actions. For if all men knew this, no one would choose wickedness even for a little, knowing that he goes to the everlasting punishment of fire; but would by all means restrain himself, and adorn himself with virtue, that he might obtain the good gifts of God, and escape the punishments. (First Apology, ch. 12)

And let those who are not found living as He taught, be understood to be no Christians, even though they profess with the lip the precepts of Christ; for not those who make profession, but those who do the works, shall be saved, according to His wordNot every one who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven. For whosoever hears Me, and does My sayings, hears Him that sent Me. And many will say unto Me, Lord, Lord, have we not eaten and drunk in Your name, and done wonders? And then will I say unto them, Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity. Then shall there be wailing and gnashing of teeth, when the righteous shall shine as the sun, and the wicked are sent into everlasting fire. For many shall come in My name, clothed outwardly in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly being ravening wolves. By their works you shall know them. And every tree that brings not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire. (First Apology, ch. 16)

. . . that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. (First Apology, ch. 65)

. . . each one, . . . shall be saved by his own righteousness, . . . those who regulated their lives by the law of Moses would in like manner be saved. For what in the law of Moses is naturally good, and pious, and righteous, and has been prescribed to be done by those who obey it; and what was appointed to be performed by reason of the hardness of the people’s hearts; was similarly recorded, and done also by those who were under the law. Since those who did that which is universally, naturally, and eternally good are pleasing to God, they shall be saved through this Christ in the resurrection equally with those righteous men who were before them, namely Noah, and Enoch, and Jacob, . . . at the second coming of the Christ Himself, those who believe in Him and live acceptably . . . (Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 45)

But since the Scripture is true, God is always willing that such even as you be neither foolish nor lovers of yourselves, in order that you may obtain the salvation of Christ, . . . (Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 92)

For He exhorted His disciples to surpass the pharisaic way of living, with the warning, that if they did not, they might be sure they could not be saved; and these words are recorded in the memoirs: ‘Unless your righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ [Matthew 5:20] (Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 105)

Jesus the Son of God has promised again to deliver us, and invest us with prepared garments, if we do His commandments; and has undertaken to provide an eternal kingdom [for us]. (Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 116)

And besides, they beguile themselves and you, supposing that the everlasting kingdom will be assuredly given to those of the dispersion who are of Abraham after the flesh, although they be sinners, and faithless, and disobedient towards God, which the Scriptures have proved is not the case. . . . Ezekiel: . . . ‘But neither shall the father perish for the son, nor the son for the father; but every one for his own sin, and each shall be saved for his own righteousness.’ [Ezekiel 18:20] (Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 140)

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Photo credit: St. Justin Martyr (c. 1546), by Theophanes the Cretan (1490-1559) and his son Symeon [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

Summary: I document how Justin Martyr (d. 165) rejected “faith alone” and thought that good works were a contributing cause of salvation (i.e., merit and infused justification).

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