Justin is mentioned with admiration by many of the ancients. Tatian, his pupil (according to Irenaeus), was fond of Justin. We learn from Tertullian that he was martyred for his advocacy for Christianity. Eusebius of Caesarea, the first church historian, who was himself an apologist, has much to say about Justin.
While Justin is revered as both an apologist and a martyr, his theology is generally given shorter shrift in modern analysis. These types of criticism can be traced back (at least) to Flacius (1520-1575 C.E.), who discovered "blemishes" in Justin's theology and attributed them to the influence of pagan philosophers. In modern times, Johann Semler and S.G. Lange have made him out to be a thorough Hellene, while Semisch and Otto defend him from this charge. In opposition to the school of Ferdinand Christian Baur, who considered him a Jewish Christian, Albrecht Ritschl has pointed out that it was precisely because he was a Gentile Christian that he did not fully understand the Old Testament foundation of Paul's teaching, and explained in this way the modified character of his Paulism and his legal mode of thought. M. von Engelhardt has attempted to extend this line of treatment to Justin's entire theology, and to show that his conceptions of God, of free will and righteousness, of redemption, grace, and merit prove the influence of the cultivated Greek pagan world of the second century, dominated by the Platonic and Stoic philosophy. But he admits that Justin is a Christian in his unquestioning adherence to the Church and its faith, his unqualified recognition of the Old Testament, and his faith in Christ as the Son of God the Creator, made manifest in the flesh, crucified, and risen, through which belief he succeeds in getting away from the dualism of pagan and also of Gnostic philosophy. While the specific valuations vary, it can definitively be said that Justin was not primarily honored for his skills as a theologian.
That Christianity was no mere philosophy, but an organized way of life.That the Church was a highly structured institution, headed by bishops as successors of the Apostles.That among the churches, the Church of Rome exercised a true primacy in the Christian world.That Jesus Christ was recognized and loved as the living God in human flesh and blood.That the Holy Eucharist was worshipped and received as the Real Presence of Christ on earth.That the spiritual life of the faithful was centered on the person of Christ, sothat Christians were literally "Christ-bearers" for whose lives the Savior was the guiding inspiration.That the beginning of this spiritual life was faith in Jesus Christ, and its end orconsummation was charity, or the selfless love of others out of selfless love for God.That the Church founded by Christ is the Catholic Church. Ignatius was the first touse the expression "Catholic Church", a term that was to have such a glorious future. No one has improved on his statement that "Where Jesus is, there is theCatholic [universal] Church."Thatworst enemies of God are heretics, whom Ignatius describes in words that soundstrange to our ears. They are "ferocious beasts, ravenous wolves, maddogs, cowardly bites, animals with human faces, tombs and the columns ofsepulchres, weeds of the devil, parasitical plants that have not been sent bythe Father, and ready for Eternal Fire." The false doctrines they teachare "the stench of the devil."That our life on earth is only a preparation and training time for life in heaven with God.That the secret of happiness, even in this life, is the total submission of self to the will of God revealed by Christ.There is a remarkablesimilarity of style in the seven letters of St. Ignatius. The first three, tothe faithful at Ephesus, Magnesia, and Tralles, center on two main themes:loyalty to the bishops and avoidance of heretics and their agents. In the nextletter the Philadelphians are urged to resist the dissidents and to preservepeace and unity in the Church. The faithful at Smyrna are especially warnedagainst the errors of those who would reduce Christ's humanity to an illusionand the Real Presence to mere symbolism. In his letter to Polycarp, Bishop ofSmyrna, Ignatius told the young prelate to be a true shepherd to his flock. Ina class by itself is the letter to the Romans. It breathes the spirit of thefirst Christians, whose deep love of Christ made them eager to proclaim theMaster to their pagan contemporaries and positively hungry for the crown ofmartyrdom. 1e1e36bf2d