St. Justin Martyr
Our best guess is that he was born around 114 in Shechem, which corresponds to Nablus, Palestine. His parents were pagan Greeks. As he grew up, it was clear that St. Justin loved knowledge and constantly searched for the truth. This love led him to the various schools of Greek philosophy, but he concluded that none of them revealed the knowledge of the true God.
Once, when he was strolling in a solitary place beyond the city and pondering about where to seek the way to the knowledge of Truth, he met an old man. In the ensuing conversation he revealed to Justin the essential nature of the Christian teaching and advised him to seek the answers to all the questions of life in the books of Holy Scripture. “But before anything else,” said the holy Elder, “pray diligently to God, so that He might open to you the doors of Light. No one is able to comprehend Truth, unless he is granted understanding from God Himself, Who reveals it to each one who seeks Him in prayer and in love.” There is something wonderful in this dialogue, because it reminds us that the only way to find the truth is through prayer. In our time, we are surrounded by people who try to find God and the meaning of life with their minds and logic only, but this is never enough. The old man reminded St. Justin—and he reminds all of us, as well—that God reveals Himself only to those who open their hearts and reach out to Him in prayer and love.
When he was 30, St. Justin was baptized and began a life of preaching the Gospel among the pagan Greeks. He is the one who said, “Whosoever is able to proclaim Truth and does not proclaim it will be condemned by God.” He opened a school of Christian philosophy and defended the truth of Christian teaching by debating pagan Greeks. We will speak more about this a little bit later.
As a result of winning his debates, St. Justin’s enemies brought accusations against him before the imperial court. He was subjected to torture around 165 and martyred by beheading for the sake of Christ along with seven other men. Before his martyrdom, the Roman prefect asked St. Justin whether he really thought that, after undergoing tortures, he would go to heaven and receive a reward from God. St. Justin answered, “Not only do I think this, but I know and am fully assured of it.”
Writings of St. Justin Martyr