In a fellowship I attend called The Young Lions of the Reformation, one of the brother’s named Joe brought up a name that is not familiar to many Christians today, a man named Aristedes.
It is a part of a defense of Christians and Christianity from Marcianus Aristedes the Philosopher of Athens written around 125 A.D. to Caesar Titus Hadrianus Antoninus.
During of time of the unjust persecution it is a powerful testimony of the lives of Christians who obeyed the Word. He desired those that accused the Christians falsely that accused the Christians to be silent and let the Christians speak the truth and worship the one true God, Jesus the Messiah who was going to bring awful judgment upon the human race. He said says concerning their beliefs, prayers and worship, ”Whatever is spoken in the mouth of the Christians is of God; and their doctrine is the gateway of light..and to me there is no doubt but that the earth abides through the supplication of the Christians…and assuredly the race of the Christians is more blessed than all the men who are upon the face of the earth and verily, this is a new people, and there is something divine… in the midst of them.”
Why does he says these things with such confidence?
He states to Caesar: “Wherefore they do not commit adultery nor fornication, nor bear false witness, nor embezzle what is held in pledge, nor covet what is not theirs. They honour father and mother, and show kindness to those near to them; and whenever they are judges, they judge uprightly…Falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another, and from widows they do not turn away their esteem; and they deliver the orphan from him who treats him harshly. And he, who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their homes and rejoice over him as a very brother; for they do not call them brethren after the flesh, but brethren after the spirit and in God… And if they hear that one of their number is imprisoned or afflicted on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them anxiously minister to his necessity, and if it is possible to redeem him they set him free. And if there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food. They observe the precepts of their Messiah with much care, living justly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them.”
…Such, O King, is the commandment of the law of the Christians, and such is their manner of life. As men who know God, they ask from Him petitions which are fitting for Him to grant and for them to receive. And thus they employ their whole lifetime. And since they know the loving-kindnesses of God toward them, behold! for their sake the glorious things which are in the world flow forth to view. And verily, they are those who found the truth when they went about and made search for it; and from what we considered, we learned that they alone come near to a knowledge of the truth. And they do not proclaim in the ears of the multitude the kind deeds they do, but are careful that no one should notice them; and they conceal their giving just as he who finds a treasure and conceals it… Now the Greeks, O King, as they follow base practises in intercourse with males, and a mother and a sister and a daughter, impute their monstrous impurity in turn to the Christians. But the Christians are just and good, and the truth is set before their eyes, and their spirit is long-suffering; and, therefore, though they know the error of these (the Greeks), and are persecuted by them, they bear and endure it; and for the most part they have compassion on them, as men who are destitute of knowledge.
J.G. pointed out that Aristedes made clear that such “is the commandment of the law of the Christians, and such is their manner of life.” Not only were their beliefs correct but they lived what they preached. It is wonderful testimony of the grace of God that this man places before Caesar. May it be what people can say of us in this day of hypocrisy and double standards.
Translation of the apology of Aristedes was done by D.M. Kay B.Sc., B.D., assistant to the professor of the semitic langauges of the university of Edinburgh.