Read the Fathers

Join a world-wide community in reading the church fathers daily.

Reading for Dec. 24, 2012

Author: Justin Martyr

Reading: 1 Apology, ch. 42–61

Pages: ANF 1:176–183


  1. Having a hard time fully understanding this quote – “So that what we say about future events being foretold, we do not say it as if they came about by a fatal necessity; but God foreknowing all that shall be done by all men, and it being His decree that the future actions of men shall all be recompensed according to their several value, He foretells by the Spirit of prophecy that He will bestow meet rewards according to the merit of the actions done, always urging the human race to effort and recollection, showing that He cares and provides for men. But by the agency of the devils death has been decreed against those who read the books of Hystaspes, or of the Sibyl, or of the prophets, that through fear they may prevent men who read them from receiving the knowledge of the good, and may retain them in slavery to themselves; which, however, they could not always effect.”

    Need to know what the phrase “several value” means.

    • Craig—sorry for the delay in replying.

      Justin is arguing against the idea that prophecy constrains people to act in certain ways (i.e., fatalism), and therefore obviates them of moral responsibility. To the contrary, Justin says, people are responsible for what they do, and God has foreordained (cf. to prophecy) that they will be judged according to the good or evil that they do. I think Justin has in mind passages like Romans 2:6-11 and 1 Corinthians 3:12-15.

      It might be (pardon me if the guess is wrong) that your question about “several value” is driven by a concern for justification by faith alone. If so, I think it’s worth keeping in mind that Justin is dealing with the question of moral responsibility and prophecy, and the question of works versus faith is not a live question for him. And it’s worth keeping in mind that Paul, who writes that people are “justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law,” can also write without equivocation:

      “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who oby patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury” (Romans 2:6-8).

Leave a Reply

© 2018 Read the Fathers

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑