Part 4
Chapter 3—Of Original Sin

Section 4—Justin. A.D. 150.

Justin Martyr held the doctrine of original sin; he says[1] that “mankind by Adam fell under death, and the deception of the serpent; that[2] amartwloi egegoneimen, ‘we are born sinners;' and that[3] we are entirely flesh, and no good thing dwells in us; he asserts the weakness and disability of men either to understand or perform spiritual things, and denies that man, by the natural sharpness of his wit, can attain to the knowledge of divine  things, or by any innate power in him save himself, and procure eternal life.” In one of his treatises, speaking of the doctrines of the Scriptures, he has these words;[4] “Ou de tar phusei onte anthropine ennoia, onto megala kai theia ginoskein anthropois dunaton, ‘for neither by nature, nor by human understanding, is it possible for men to acquire the knowledge of things so great and so divine;' but by a free gift descending from heaven upon holy men, who had no need of the art of words, nor of the contentious and vain-glorious way of speaking, but to exhibit themselves pure to the energy of the divine Spirit.” And as for himself, he could say,[5] “I do not study to show an apparatus of words by mere art alone, for I have no such power, alla charis para Theou mone eis to sunienai tas graphas auton edothe moi, but grace alone is given to me by God to understand his Scriptures.” He bids Trypho pray[6] that “above all things the gates of light might be opened to him.” for neither are they seen nor known by all, ei me to Theos do sunienai kai o Christos auton, unless God and his Christ give them to understand, them.'” And in another place he says[7]At that time being convicted by our own works that we were unworthy of life, and manifested that of ourselves, adunaton eiselthein eis ten basileian ton Theou, to duuamei ton Theou dunatoi genethomen, it was impossible to enter into the kingdom of God, by the power of God we might be made able.” And a little after he says, “Having sometime before convinced us to adunaton tea emeteras phuseos ds to tuchein zoes, of the impossibility of our nature to obtain life, hath now shown us the Savior, who is able to save that which otherwise were impossible to be saved.” It must be owned, that Justin in many places[8] asserts the free will of man; but then it is to be observed, that in all those places, even in' those which Dr. Whitby refers to,[9] in proof of his being an advocate for free will, he speaks of it as men and angels were possessed of it, thn archn “at the beginning of their creation,” when they had full power to do that which is good, and avoid that which is evil; though their natures being mutable were capable both of vice and virtue, and of being turned either way, as the event showed, and which is not denied by us. In like manner are we to understand some passages in Athenagoras[10] and Tatian[11] which the Doctor also refers to,[12] where they ascribe free will to men and angels, when created by God, who has a power of doing good and avoiding evil, which clears God from being the author of sin, or being guilty of injustice in punishing of them; for as for Tatian, he clearly asserts the corruption and weakness of human nature; he says, that at the beginning there was a spirit which lived familiar with the soul, but when it would not follow it, the spirit left it, but retaining some spark of its power, though because of the separation, that is, from the spirit, ta teleia kathoran me dunamene, ‘ it is not able to behold things that are perfect,' and seeking, after God, through error feigns many gods; he adds, that the Spirit of God is not with all men, only with such as live uprightly; yea, he plainly intimates, that  man through his free will is now become a slave; which is stating in a few words the doctrine of free will, as held by us; for he expressly says,[13] apolesen emas to autezousion, douloi gegonamen oi eleutheroi dia ten amartian emprathemen, “free will has destroyed us; we who were free are become servants, and for our sin are sold.”  Theophilus of Antioch also says,[14] that God made man possessed of free will, but then he represents him now as impotent and standing in need of the grace of God: “They that know not God, and do wickedly,” he says,[15]are like to birds who have wings, but are not able to fly; no such men creep upon the ground, and mind earthly things, katabaroumenoi upo ton amartion, ‘and being pressed down by their sins,' cannot move upward unto God.” He expresses his sense which he himself had of the need of divine grace, as well as how necessary it was to others to know the truth, and understand the mind and will of God, when he says,[16] ego di aitoumai charin para ton monou Theou, “‘I desire grace from God alone,' that I may exactly explain the whole truth according to his will; as also that thou, and every one that reads these things, odegetai upo tes aletheias kai tharitos autou, might be guided by his truth and grace.”


[1] Dialog. cum Tryph. p. 316; vide p. 327; et Epist. ad Diognet. p. 502.

[2] Dialog. p. 327.

[3] Epist. ad Zenam, p. 506.

[4] Ad Graecos, Cohort. p. 9.

[5] Dialog. cum Tryph. p. 280.

[6] Ibid. p. 225.

[7] Epist. ad Diognet. p. 500.

[8] Pro Christ. Apolog. 1, p. 45, 46; ib. 2, p. 71, 80, 81; Dialog. cum. Tryph. p. 316, 329, 370.

[9] Discourse, etc. p. 96, 345, 369, 370, 373, 381; ed. 2, 95, 336, 360, 361, 364, 371.

[10] Legat. pro Christ. p. 27.

[11] Contr. Graec. Orat. p. 146.

[12] Discourse, etc. p. 384; ed. 2. 374.

[13] Orat. p. 150.

[14] Ad Autolyc. 1. 2, p. 103.

[15] Ibid. p. 96.

[16] Ibid. 1. 3, p. 183.