Justin Martyr: Give All Diligence

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But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

“Then Trypho, after a little delay, said, ‘You see that it was not intentionally that we came to discuss these points. And I confess that I have been particularly pleased with the conference; and I think that these are of quite the same opinion as myself. For we have found more than we expected, and more than it was possible to have expected. And if we could do this more frequently, we should be much helped in the searching of the Scriptures themselves. But since,’ he said, ‘you are on the eve of departure, and expect daily to set sail, do not hesitate to remember us as friends when you are gone.’

‘For my part,’ I replied, ‘if I had remained, I would have wished to do the same thing daily. But now, since I expect, with God’s will and aid, to set sail, I exhort you to give all diligence in this very great struggle for your own salvation, and to be earnest in setting a higher value on the Christ of the Almighty God than on your own teachers.’ After this they left me, wishing me safety in my voyage, and from every misfortune. And I, praying for them, said, ‘I can wish no better thing for you, sirs, than this, that, recognising in this way that intelligence is given to every man, you may be of the same opinion as ourselves, and believe that Jesus is the Christ of God.'”

Dialogue with Trypho (c. 155-160) CXLII (translated by Roberts and Donaldson). Scholars locate the scene of this interchange between Justin Martyr and Trypho as Ephesus.

In today’s Scripture, the generosity in view relates to giving an answer and a reason with gentleness and respect. This is true in every generation. It is especially relevant in seasons of life when people are searching for answers and looking for reasons. It is not easy for people like me. Perhaps you have the same challenge?

You know something is true so you try to convince people to believe it and so, in your well-intentioned zeal, you exhibit neither gentleness nor respect. The best form of generosity we can practice as we interact with searching people is a listening ear and a loving tone. God help us all.

Trypho is a Jew who has been influenced by the moral philosophers. Justin Martyr has come to faith in Jesus and ranks among the Christians. In their dialogue, Trypho cites many faults of Christians (and we hear this today, too). Justin replies to each one and points back to the Old Testament which Trypho knows.

As their conference concludes, Justin is departing from the harbor and urges him to give all diligence to further study for his own salvation because each one can discover that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) of God. His humility here is a example for me, and I hope a lesson to all readers today.

May each us give all diligence to searching the Scriptures for our own salvation!