In his First Apology, written soon after AD 150 and addressed chiefly to Emperor Antoninus Pius, Justin Martyr refers to various aspects of the life of Jesus. Referring to Jesus’ birth, it is noted that he was born of a virgin, while his physical line of descent came through the tribe of Judah and the family of Jesse.^10 Later, after mentioning the location of Jesus’ birth in the town of Bethlehem, Justin explains: Now there is a village in the land of the Jews, thirty-five stadia from Jerusalem, in which Jesus Christ was born, as you can ascertain also from the registers of the taxing made under Cyrenius, your first procurator in Judea.^11
9 Barnabas, 5.
10 Justin Martyr, First Apology, XLVII.
11 Ibid., XXXIV. Quotations from the works of Justin Martyr are taken from the Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3.
These two references state several items surrounding Jesus’ birth. (1)He was born of a virgin, (2)while he was a physical descendant of Jesse, of the tribe of Judah. (3) The village of Bethlehem was his birthplace, (4)which was located thirty-five stadia (approximately five miles) from Jerusalem. (5)The location and fact of Jesus’ birth could be verified by consulting the records of Cyrenius, the first procurator of Judea.
Justin Martyr also refers to Jesus’ public ministry and to the official documentation of his message. Earlier Justin’s reference to the Acts of Pontius Pilatewas discussed,^12 where it is asserted that Jesus’ miracles such as his healing of diseases and raising the dead could be evidenced from Pilate’s report.^13 Furthermore, in answer to the question as to whether Jesus did his miracles by magic, Justin answered in the negative, pointing to Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecy as a vindication of his claims.^14 From these texts we note (6)that Jesus did miracles which were believed to be referenced in Pilate’s report. (7)Fulfilled messianic prophecy was also taken as a further validation of his claims.