On October 4, churches that adhere to the Julian liturgical calendar celebrate the memory of Saint Quadratus (+130). He was the first apologist, that is, the defender of the Christian faith from the wrath of pagan emperors. He had prophetic gifts and preached the Gospel.
Tradition calls Quadratus the Apostle of the Seventy. The Gospel of Luke speaks about the election of the Seventy Apostles: “After this the Lord chose seventy other disciples, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself wanted to go and said to them: The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:1-2). It is known that the Apostles from the 70s were the Evangelists Mark and Luke.
An exact list of all seventy Apostles has not survived. As time passed, some early Christian preachers and disciples of the Twelve Apostles began to be counted among them. Information about Quadratus has come to us thanks to the “Ecclesiastical History” of Eusebius of Caesarea (270–339). Eusebius writes that the Apology of Quadratus in his time was very common and “was available to most of the brothers.”
“The works of our Savior were always obvious, for they were real. The people whom He healed, whom He raised, were seen not only at the moment of their healing or resurrection; but they were always visible to our eyes, not only when the Savior was on earth, but also lived long enough even after His Resurrection, some have survived to our time,” Eusebius quotes the Apology of Quadratus (IV, 3, 2).
Of these great witnesses of Christ’s benefits, tradition has preserved for us the life of Righteous Lazarus, resurrected by the Savior. Quadratus testified that there were quite a lot of these people. Those who slandered the good name of Christ’s disciples could also see them. Apparently, the entire Apology was built around this visible evidence of the benefits of Christianity for humanity and all of God’s creation (cf. Rom. 8:22).
Quadratus emphasizes that those healed by Christ were visible and lived long. Thus, he insists that Christianity is not a myth, nor a philosophy, not an idea or a concept, but the Gospel is true history. Unfortunately, of the entire text of the Apology, only this quotation has reached us.
The words preserved by Eusebius, as well as the few precious information about his biography, testify to him as a direct witness to the life of the first apostolic generations.
“Quadratus, like the daughter of Philip (in the Book of Acts), was distinguished by the gift of prophecy. Many other of their contemporaries are also known - a number of men who came to replace the Apostles,” Eusebius wrote about him (3:37,1). He also mentions Quadratus as equal to, or even belonging to, the number of “New Testament and Old Testament prophets.” Eusebius writes about his “intelligence and apostolic orthodoxy.”
According to Tradition, Quadratus preached Christianity in Asia Minor. At that time, Christians often suffered from unfair accusations from the crowd and the powers that be.
Christianity was considered a new religion, and therefore, according to the laws of the Empire, it was not permitted. Around the year 125, when Emperor Hadrian (117–138) was in Asia Minor, Quadratus himself turned to him with an apology. This was the name given to a written appeal in the form of a letter or treatise, in which the author defended the good name of Christians and Christianity.
Quadratus became the first apologist in history. By the Holy Spirit, he conveyed the courage of witness to Christ to the apologists of the Christian faith who replaced the Apostles.
Following his example, in subsequent decades, Theophilus of Antioch (+183), Tatian (120-180), Athenagoras (133–190), Tertullian (150–220), and other apologists appealed to the Roman authorities with a demand to stop unjust persecution.
The contribution of apologists to the preaching and spread of Orthodox Christianity was enormous. Thus, it is to Theophilus that we owe the origin of the term “Trinity”, to Tatian for the first symphony of the text of the Four Gospels, to Tertullian for the birth of Latin theology. From the works of apologists, many aphorisms, precious testimonies about the past and famous quotes have come down to us. “I believe, because it is absurd,” let us remember the words of Tertullian. Each of the apologists placed special emphasis in their Apologies.
The apologists not only defended the good name of Christ’s disciples in the face of the powers that be, but, like Justin the Philosopher (100–165), they confirmed their testimony with martyrdom. The works of apologists not only saved the reputation of Christianity from slander, but also saved many from innocent murder.
The inherently biblical dialectic of martyrdom and survival has been always critically important. When the balance between these two poles of the pilgrimage of the Body of Christ in history was disturbed, local churches, like Carthage, Asia Minor, and many others, were wiped out from the face of the earth. Others were enslaved by those in power and circumstances.
The example of Quadratus teaches us to study theology to gain the ability to defend the faith and practice of the Church with rational words; read Scripture; be courageous; and, most importantly, to preserve the apocalyptic name of the Disciples of Christ written on our foreheads in every place and in every matter (cf. Rev. 3:12). Only impeccability has the right to write an apology.
Finally, perhaps the most important thing in Quadratus’ memory is that at the time of the apologists there were extremely few Christians on earth. Largely thanks to him and other defenders of the faith, Christianity did not end in history. It continued to exist. The living faith of the Living God, after almost two millennia, has reached us.