Justin Martyr: On Christian Worship
(Written: 150 A.D.)
This is the earliest post Biblical description of Christian worship; containing very much detail; that we have.
Justin Martyr was born in Flavia Neapolis circa 100 A.D., and converted to Christianity sometime around 130 A.D. A Christian apologist, he taught and defended Christianity in Asia Minor and at Rome. He suffered martyrdom in Rome about 165 A.D.
Justin Martyr's "First Apology" is the oldest (non-New Testament) record we have of how early Christian worship was conducted (Liturgy).
Excerpts from "First Apology" by Justin Martyr:
Note: In Chapter 62. it is implied that Christians removed their footwear before worship.
Chapter 65. Administration of the sacraments.
Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands.
And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to γEνοιτο (so be it).
And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.
Chapter 67. Weekly worship of the Christians.
And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things.
And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost.
And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.
Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.
And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.
But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.
For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration. _________________________________________________________
Excerpt from the "Acts of the Martyrdom of Saint Justin and his Companions"
saints were seized and brought before the prefect of Rome, whose name
was Rusticus. As they stood before the judgment seat, Rusticus
the prefect said to Justin, "Above all, have faith in the
gods and obey the emperors."
God, the holy martyrs were beheaded, and so fulfilled their witness of
martyrdom in confessing their faith in their Savior.
Text of Justin Martyr's "First Apology" is in the Public Domain. Source: "Acts of the Martyrdom of Saint Justin and his Companions" (Text is in the Public Domain).
"Our Comments On the Text" and Layout: Copyright © 2007 S.G.P. All Rights Reserved.
Photo of Skellig Michael Copyright © Irish Tourist Board. __________________________________________________________
Ca. 100 - Ca. 165 A.D.
Our Comments On the Text:
Footwear was in former times removed before worship. Out of doors, homes, and Catacombs were used as early places of Christian worship.
Later, when Church buildings came into use for Christian worship, footwear was removed upon entering. This was observed at least up through the beginning of Islamic times (632 A.D.).
Islam still observes this practice, which they copied from the early Christians, who adopted it from Jewish Temple practice (which was based on the event of Moses at the burning bush).
Our modern "peace" or "Greeting". The kiss is still observed in Middle Eastern and European Orthodox worship services.
Greek was the vernacular of the common people at this time, even in Rome, and worship services were held using it.
The Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Church officers at this time seem to consist of one Bishop/Pastor (President) and Deacons (see: Church Government: New Testament & After)
The Oldest Church buildings found to date are from 230 A.D. (about 80 years later).
Reading of the Holy Scriptures.
"Then we all rise" Were all seated during the Sermon/Teaching?
All rise for standing prayer on Sunday.
As in the New Testament, an offering is taken for the purpose of helping fellow Christians: orphans and widows, the poor and needy, prisoners, and "strangers sojourning among us". _______________