JUSTIN'S DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO THE JEW
Justin's Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, dated about 160 A.D., also offers
evidence of what the early Church believed. It is interesting as a seemingly
transitional work. The dialogue apparently took place shortly after the Bar
Kokhba Rebellion of 132-135 A.D., but was not written down for at least
Justin points to the desolation of Israel and says to Trypho, "And therefore all this has happened to you rightly and well. For ye slew the Just One and His prophets before Him, and now ye reject, and, as far as in you lies,
dishonour those that set their hope on Him, and God Almighty and Maker of the
universe who sent Him, cursing in your synagogues them that believe on
Christ. For you have not authority to raise your own hands against us,
because of them who are now supreme. But as often as you could, this also ye
Justin believed that the Church was the true Israel, but not in the
replacement sense later adopted. "For we are the true and spiritual
Israelitish nation, and the race of Judah and of Jacob and Isaac and Abraham,
who when he was still uncircumcised received witness from God for his faith,
and was blessed, and was called father of many nations - we, I say, are all
this, who were brought nigh to God by Him who was crucified, even Christ..."
"As therefore from that one Jacob, who was also surnamed Israel, your whole nation was addressed as Jacob and Israel, so also we who keep the
commandments of Christ, are, by virtue of Christ who begat us unto God, both
called and in fact are, Jacob and Israel and Judah and Joseph and David, and
true children of God."3
Justin maintains that Gentiles "who keep the commandments of Christ, are, by virtue of Christ" also full members of Israel. He does not seem to believe
that the Church has replaced the Jews, but rather that Gentile Christians have been grafted into Israel through Jesus. "When therefore God blesses, and calls this people Israel, and cries aloud that it is His inheritance, how is it that you do not repent, both for deceiving yourselves as though you alone were Israel, and for cursing the people that is blessed of God?" 4
"Trypho said: Do you indeed intend to say that none of us shall inherit
anything in the holy mountain of God?
"And I replied: I do not mean that. But they who persecuted Christ, and
still persecute Him, and do not repent, shall not inherit anything in the holy mountain. While the nations [Gentiles] that have believed on Him, and have repented for all the sins they have committed - they shall inherit, with all the patriarchs and the prophets and the righteous men that have been born of Israel." 5
According to Justin, it is not Jews only who are now Israel, but also Gentiles who believe in Jesus. For Justin, because the Gentiles who believe in Jesus are now part of Israel, they also, along with the righteous Jews, will inherit what God has promised Israel.
As for the nature of that inheritance, Trypho pointedly asks, " 'do you
acknowledge of a truth that this place Jerusalem will be rebuilt, and expect
that your people will be gathered together and rejoice with Christ, together
with the patriarchs and the prophets, and the saints of our race, or even of
them who became proselytes, before your Christ came...?'
"[Justin replies,] 'I have acknowledged to you earlier that I and many others do hold this opinion, even as you also know well that this is to take place.
But I also informed you that even many Christians of pure and godly mind do
not accept it. For I made it clear to you that those who are Christians in
name, but in reality are godless and impious heretics, teach in all respects
what is blasphemous and godless and foolish....For it is not men, or the
doctrines of men, that I choose to follow, but God and the doctrines that
come from Him.
"For even if you yourselves have ever met with some so-called Christians, who yet do not acknowledge this, but even dare to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob... But I, and all other entirely orthodox Christians, know that there will be a resurrection of the flesh, and also a thousand years in a Jerusalem built up and adorned and enlarged, as
the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah, and all the rest, acknowledge.'"6 "And, further, a man among us named John, one of the apostles of Christ, prophesied in a Revelation made to him that they who have believed our Christ will spend a thousand years in Jerusalem, and that afterwards the universal, and, in one word, eternal resurrection of all at once, will take place, and also the judgment." 7
For Justin, "all entirely orthodox Christians" believed that Jesus would
reign on the earth for a thousand years in a glorified Jerusalem. Those
"so-called Christians who yet do not acknowledge this...in reality are
godless and impious heretics" who "dare to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and
the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."
1. Justin Martyr, The Dialogue with Trypho, translated by A. Lukyn Williams,
S.P.C.K., London, 1930, Pp.33-34, Sec. 16.4
2. ibid., P.24, Sec. 11.5
3. ibid., Pp.256-257, Sec. 123.7-9
4. ibid., P.255, Sec. 123.6
5. ibid., P.52, Sec. 25.6-26.1
6. ibid., P.169, Sec. 80.1-5
7. ibid., P.172, Sec. 81.4
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