The 1st Apology by Justin Martyr and Real Presence


**Please: this is not a general debate on Real Presence (or even less on Transubstantiation). **

Chapter 66. Of the Eucharist.
"And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined.
For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.
For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do in remembrance of Me, Luke 22:19 this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. " …

        From "First Apology",  by Justin Martyr (ca 100 - 165)

My questions are for Christians who hold to symbolic interpretations of Eucharist ( or the way they prefer to call it).

  1. Were Justin’s words, in themselves and leaving aside other early Fathers, a stumbling block in keeping (or adopting) such a belief ? Or were they easily disposed of by you ?

  2. In both cases, what is now your view of the quoted passage ?



…and witnesses by those for whom Justin Martyr was anyhow instrumental in changing their views about Eucharist towards a real presence understanding, would also be highly appreciated. :slight_smile:


An important passage, it was written as a witness to what was known and accepted in the very beginnings of the Church.

I’ve had many a fundamentalist jaw drop to the table with a clunk when I’ve pointed out that passage to them. It will be interesting to see the responses.




Not in the least.

Justin was a form of literalist. I know many literalists today as well.

Their beliefs are not stumbling blocks either.

Or were they easily disposed of by you ?

I don’t “dispose” of anything. I just weigh it against the Scriptural and historical witness.

  1. In both cases, what is now your view of the quoted passage ?

A great testimony of Justin’s beliefs and the practices of his church. A nice addition to the entire witness we have at our hands.


That is so sad because that really plays on the ignorance of others.

You basically shatter their false assumptions by merely offering them others.


The quote below is taken from a footnote on this passage found in the Edinburgh edition of the translation of the Ante-Nicene Fathers by the Rev. Alexander Roberts, D.D. and James Donaldson, LL.D. The remarks in square brackets, added to the American reprint, are by A. Cleveland Coxe D.D.:
This passage is claimed alike by Calvinists, Lutherans, and Romanists and, indeed, the language is so inexact, that each party may plausibly maintain that their own opinion is advocated by it. [But the same might be said of the words of our Lord himself; and, if such widely separated Christians can all adopt this passage, who can be sorry?] The expression, “the prayer of His word,” or of the word we have from Him, seems to signify the prayer pronounced over the elements, in imitation of our Lord’s thanksgiving before breaking the bread. *


Hi Atemi.

Your approach appears basically a “So what ?”. Let’s explore
then a little, this “So what ?”.

You know many literalists today. Here we are not speaking about opinions of our fellow Christians of our time. We are not speaking of a testimony from AD 1500, or 1000, or even 500. We are speaking about a testimony dated about 150.
So what ?

This brilliant thinker had become christian around 130 AD.
So what ?

He is not giving personal opinions. He is not telling Christians what to believe and what to do. He is describing, as scrupolously as possible, for roman authorities, practices and beliefs of Christianity of his time (130-150 AD) , as a matter of fact .

  • So what ?*

Is that belief about Eucharist a development which can be
ascribed to Justin’s generation ? The text is clear about that: “we have been tought that the food…is the flesh and the blood of that Jesus who was made flesh”. He witnesses to a tradition, transmitted by the generations lived before 130 AD.
So what ?

Could it be that the during the two generations between the Apostolic Time and Justin’s conversion a tradition of men was created about this essential point ? We have to suppose that:

  • Sometime between 70 and 130 ( for sure not just after 70 and not just before 130, let’s say around 90 or 100), some guys
    ( where ? who ?) invent this strange abominable novelty ( for such it would be, had it not come from the Apostles).
  • The novelty is successful ( why ?), it passes during the years from local Church to local Church ( without causing recorded tensions in them).
  • Eventually that becomes a majority view, and is made official
    ( without any general or regional Council to debate about that)
  • There is no apologist of the original view, no epistular debate (or any testimony to that gets lost )
  • No church leader resists this abomination, even if commanded by the Apostles to guard the whole deposit of the faith ( or testimony to that gets lost)
  • This novelty is so victorious, it is so deeply absorbed in the whole Church ( or almost the whole, allowing for a few scattered communities of true believers ?), that a phylosophical, inquiring mind as Justin was, finds no record of what has just happened , and believes, coming to the faith around 130, that what he and his generation are taught, is Sacred Tradition. No old believer testifies for them to the true apostolic faith, who had been still unchallenged only some 30 or 40 years before. Noone. An essential point of the faith simply reversed and erased, in one generation or so.
    So what ?

Isn’t it manifest that this fiction is leading us beyond the limits of what is plausible, even from a strictly sociological point of view ? :shrug:

But naturally I agree: let’s weigh that “against (the rest of) historical witness”.

Please. You have the floor.




And let us all guess the Roman Catholic response to every ECF that held and taught a different doctrine than they do today?

So what?

What of the fact that Justin denies the exact sacrificial nature of the Eucharist which is the very purpose for the RC Mass today?

What of the fact that Justin denies that anyone was sinless beside Jesus Christ alone?

To hold Justin as the epitome of correct Christian doctrine (on one tiny point), basically immune from all conceivable error (on one tiny point), is to judge yourself everywhere else you do not give such passes.

Do you treat every doctrine by every ECF and document the same exact way?


When you do is when your criticism may have a point.




Basically, don’t mention the obvious.


Where did I state or imply that Justin should be “basically immune from all conceivable error” ?

You made that very case here:

Like your position states: how could he possibly be wrong?

If you know that Justin’s picture about how early Christians would consider Eucharist is completely wrong, because ( eg ) he had an agenda … share please your point of view on that and its motivations.


LOL, no.

He was only relaying what he believed…just like during those points where he denies modern RC doctrine.

You do not apply your standard in the link above to where Justin holds contrary opinions, but you do so only for this point. Like I said, I have to look at the whole picture, not arbitrarily chosen, cherry-picked snippets.

Having been on the forum for quite long a time, you certainly know
that the catholic view is that you cannot build a doctrine on an
isolated ECF.

The Catholic view is that you do not build a doctrine on any ECFs. That is irrelevant.

Precisely because none of them was “basically immune from all conceivable error”.

Except on the points that seem to agree with modern RC doctrines. You made an amazing case that believing Justin was possibly in error cannot be taken seriously.

Here we are just exploring the importance of the passage by Justin proposed in the OP for different people. If your point of view about it is basically a “So what ?”, and ( and that was the only point of my reply) you are aware what your “So what ?” is about, so be it.


So what?

The fact that you think it is not a “So what?” is disconcerting as the Catholic apologist does not do so in every such case. Consistency is key.



This is just too bad to label.

St. Justin recorded what was known and accepted in the early years of the church – from the beginning. He is a witness, not a theologian.

And Mr., this forum has rules. Watch with the "you"s in your posts, and talk to the points, not the people. If you are looking for people to abuse with impunity through ad hominem attacks, rather than discussing points in posts, you haven’t found one. :mad:





And Mr., this forum has rules. Watch with the "you"s in your posts, and talk to the points, not the people. If you are looking for people to abuse with impunity through ad hominem attacks, rather than discussing points in posts, you haven’t found one. :mad:

Oh get over yourself.

“You” was not talking to you but generally speaking. If you are looking for an opportunity to play victim, you haven’t found one. Seek that game elsewhere.


Of the essence, in fact. It is history that must clearly be twisted or ignored in denying the truth taught by the Church.

A victim? :rotfl: :rotfl:

Is that what a witness to abuse is, a victim? On what planet, or by what logic, the same logic that denies historical witness, perhaps?




Dear Atemi,

        was your first post about  the precision and the reliability 

of this testimony by Justin ? Or was that about its importance ?


The latter is generally dictated by the former.

Did you propose to consider the reliability or the overall importance of the quoted testimony ?
So my reply was about that. I am sure we agree that the importance of a witness and his reliability ( or even infallibility) are two different issues.

Not when discerning correct doctrine.

Where can you read “how could he possibly be wrong ?”, in my post illustrating the importance of the testimony, its meaning ?

Your post was awash in the sentiment.

Other readers can discern that for themselves. I can only speak from my experience.

I even did imply he could be wrong, by asking to show the weigh of contrary “historical evidence”.

Contrary historical evidence is not the litmus for error.

Please, do show that evidence if you want.

Last time I tried to offer contrary evidence to your argument you told me to start another thread.

I guess I can’t win for losing.

As explained, here there was simply no standard about reliability. But if you mind that this is the crux, so let me ask: “is this testimony by Justin not reliable ? Why ?”

Reliable to what end?

How do you know BTW my “standard” about any other passage by Justin ?

If you are a faithful Roman Catholic, this is self explanatory.

And BTW, if you imagine that this "snippet"
is just the favourite by all catholic apologists throughout the ECFs, consider that it is regarded by some as not being in favor of the transubstantiation understanding of Real Presence ( which is a completely different debate from ours).


This text does not favor the later-coming doctrine of Transubstantiation, but it still remains a favorite of RC apologists because it has the words “flesh” and “blood” in it.

Again ! What I do consider remarkable is that anyone can know that testimony, and, without pointing to any reason why that should not be considered as reliable ( was that probably a forgery ?), can choose to ignore it.

I can say the same of Justin’s testimony on other points that does not agree with modernist RC doctrine.

That is my point. There is no consistency.

You are amazed that anyone can walk away from Justin’s testimony on one point as unreliable, yet faithful Catholics have no problem walking away for other doctrines Justin teaches with just as much ease.

No consistent position is to be found.

If you are stating, as I can get it, that there existed someone, in the history of catholic apologetics throughout the centuries that, confronted with a specific passage by an ECF, could reply “So what ? '”, then I guess you’re probably right.

Every day, all the time.



St. Justin Martyr’s testimony regarding the true nature of the Eucharist had a powerful impact on me. When I first heard this quote from his “First Apology” (about two years ago), it was comparable to having a bomb fall on my house. :eek:

It was SUCH a shock to me, with all my reformed Presbyterian sensibilities, to hear Justin describe the Real Presence. He leaves NO room for anyone to mince or parse his words, to wit: " … the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, IS the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh."

Justin was one of those who sped me on my way to realizing the entire heritage of Protestantism was as stable as a house of cards. St. Justin Martyr, St. Polycarp, St. Ignatius … these and other Early Church Fathers show all of us again and again that the early Church is still in our midst today: it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Anyway … the more I was exposed to the beliefs of the ECFs, the more I was challenged to compare my own beliefs with theirs. God was balancing me in the scales against them, so to speak … and, like old King Belshazzar, I was the one who was found wanting. I could clearly see God’s writing on the wall, and knew what I had to do. This is why I am no longer Protestant, and am now a devout Catholic.

St. Justin Martyr is going to have a VERY long line of admirers waiting to meet him in heaven. I do not mind awaiting my turn to speak to him, since we will have all eternity ahead of us. :thumbsup:


What a beatiful testimony !

Thanks. :slight_smile:


Here’s the 1st Apology in its entirety:

Where does Justin deny the sacrificial nature of the Mass?

What part of Justin’s testimony contradicts Catholic teaching today?

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