Justin Martyr was born to pagan parents c. 100 AD, in Samaria (modern-day Nablus, West Bank.) He had an active and searching mind that sought the true meaning of life. The philosophies of his day brought great disappointment. He pursued many teachers: a Stoic who “knew nothing of God and did not even think knowledge of Him to be necessary”; a Peripatetic (itinerant philosopher), whose primary interest was collecting fees; a Pythagorean, requiring courses in geometry, astronomy and music, none of which interested Justin; and a teacher of Platonism, intellectually demanding but no food for Justin’s empty heart.
Around the age of thirty, Justin happened upon an old man, reportedly a Syrian Christian. They talked about God, and the elder praised the reliability of the prophets and their testimony. Justin records that, “A fire was suddenly kindled in my soul. I fell in love with the prophets and these men who loved Christ; I reflected on all their words and found this philosophy alone was true and profitable. That is how and why I became a philosopher. And I wish that everyone felt the same way that I do.”
He was so moved by this aged man, he renounced his former religion and philosophical background. Dressed in a philosopher’s cloak, he traveled the land teaching, interpreting Scripture, and spreading the love of Christ as the one and only “true philosophy.”
165, in Rome, Italy, Justin and his disciples were arrested and ordered to sacrifice to the Roman Gods. Justin replied with the words, “No one in his right mind gives up piety for impiety.” When the prefect threated torture without mercy, Justin gave this reply, “If we are punished for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, we hope to be saved.” All were taken out and beheaded, giving their lives for the true philosophy.