Question: "Who was Quadratus of Athens?"
Answer: Quadratus of Athens, or Saint Quadratus of Athens, was a pastor in the early church, supposedly in Athens, Greece. He is mentioned in the writings of church historians Eusebius and Jerome. Most of the writings of Quadratus of Athens are lost today, but we do know he wrote an apologetic argument for Christ’s deity to the Roman Emperor Hadrian, c. AD 124. Eusebius records that Quadratus of Athens was a disciple of the original apostles and that, after Publius, leader of the church at Athens, was martyred, Quadratus took his place and brought spiritual comfort to the Christians there. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have canonized Quadratus of Athens. The Eastern Church also considers him one of the seventy (or seventy-two) disciples mentioned in Luke 10:1.
Quadratus of Athens is best known for standing before Emperor Hadrian and presenting his defense of Christianity. Quadratus’ letter to Hadrian has earned Quadratus the title “the first apologist.” His defense of the deity of Christ was a rational one; it was an example of a Greek using the cultural thinking and philosophy of his people to defend the Christian faith, something that was been repeated many times since in Western culture
The argument Quadratus presented went something like this: first, we all know that Christ performed miracles because we have either seen them with our own eyes or know someone who has seen the miracles or has experienced them firsthand. Second, we know that these miracles and healings were not mere “magic” or tricks by “wonder workers” because the effects have lasted. Those who were healed or raised from the dead continued on in good health for many years—some were still alive during Quadratus’ lifetime. Knowing then that the miracles are genuine, we know that the Savior is genuine. Jesus said, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves” (John 14:11).
Eusebius recorded that Hadrian was moved by Quadratus of Athens’ argument and issued an edict in favor of the Christians; other sources claim that the emperor had a different response. In any case, the meeting between Quadratus of Athens (who was by that time the leader of the church in Athens) and Emperor Hadrian did occur, as confirmed by Jerome in his Illustrious Men.
Quadratus of Athens seems to have been a courageous and trustworthy man in the faith. History describes him as a true pastor, willing and able to take the place of the martyred Publius (a dangerous position), and successful in reviving the frightened flock at Athens. He was possibly an eyewitness to Christ’s activities, and was definitely a firm believer who could stand before the Roman Emperor, an enemy to Christ, and boldly proclaim the truth of God.