Christian worship. Justin Martyr was a pagan philosopher of the second
century who came to embrace the Christian faith and wrote vigorously as an
apologist in defense of the gospel. Notice how this selection emphasizes the
importance of the community of faith for the early 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 Spirit. 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 overseer 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 prayers
is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the overseer 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 overseer, who provides for 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 Savior on that 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.
— Justin Martyr (110-165) from "Chapter Sixty-Seven" of FIRST APOLOGY, as
collected in LIFE AND PRACTICE IN THE EARLY CHURCH: A DOCUMENTARY READER,
edited by Steven A. McKinion. New York: New York University Press, 2001, p.
46. ISBN: 0-8147-5649-2.
Have a great week.
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary