|« Prev||Text||Next »|
An Anonymous Sermon,
Commonly Called Clement's Second
Letter to the Corinthians
1 Brothers, we ought to think of Jesus Christ as we do of God—as the "judge of the living and the dead."557557Acts 10:42. And we ought not to belittle our salvation. 2For when we belittle him, we hope to get but little; and they that listen as to a trifling matter, do wrong.558558The expression is characteristically loose and implies an audience listening to a sermon on salvation, and treating it lightly. And we too do wrong when we fail to realize whence and by whom and into what circumstances we were called, and how much suffering Jesus Christ endured for us. 3How, then, shall we repay him, or what return is worthy of his gift to us? How many blessings we owe to him! 4For he has given us light; as a Father he has called us sons; he has rescued us when we were perishing. 5How, then, shall we praise him, or how repay him for what we have received? 6Our minds were impaired; we worshiped stone and wood and gold and silver and brass, the works of men; and our whole life was nothing else but death. So when we were wrapped in darkness and our eyes were full of such mist, by his will we recovered our sight and put off the cloud which infolded us. 7For he took pity on us and in his tenderness saved us, since he saw our great error and ruin, and that we had no hope of salvation unless it came from him. 8For he called us when we were nothing, and willed our existence from nothing.
2 "Rejoice, you who are barren and childless; cry out and shout, you who were never in labor; for the desolate woman has many more children than the one with the husband."559559Isa. 54:1; Gal.4:27. When he says, "Rejoice, you who are barren and childless,"194 he refers to us; for our Church was barren before it was given children. 2And when he says, "Shout, you who were never in labor," this is what he means: we should offer our prayers to God with sincerity, and not lose heart like women in labor. 3And he says, "The desolate woman has many more children than the one with the husband," because our people seemed to be abandoned by God. But now that we believe, we have become more numerous than those who seemed to have God. 4And another Scripture says, "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."560560Matt. 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32. This is the earliest example of a New Testament passage being cited as "Scripture." 5This means that those perishing must be saved. 6Yes, a great and wonderful thing it is to support, not things which are standing, but those which are collapsing. 7Thus it was that the Christ willed to save what was perishing; and he saved many when he came and called us who were actually perishing.
3 Seeing, then, that he has had such pity on us, firstly, in that we who are alive do not sacrifice to dead gods or worship them, but through him have come to know the Father of truth—what is knowledge in reference to him, save refusing to deny him through whom we came to know the Father? 2He himself says, "He who acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge before my Father."561561Matt. 10:32; Luke 12:8. 3This, then, is our reward, if we acknowledge him through whom we are saved. 4But how do we acknowledge him? By doing what he says and not disobeying his commands; by honoring him not only with our lips, but with all our heart and mind.562562Cf. Mark 12:30. And he says in Isaiah as well, "This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me."563563Isa. 29:13; cf. Matt. 15:8; Mark 7:6.
4 Let us not merely call him Lord, for that will not save us. 2For he says, "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will be saved, but he who does what is right."564564Matt. 7:21. 3Thus, brothers, let us acknowledge him by our actions, by loving one another, by refraining from adultery, backbiting, and jealousy, and by being self-controlled, compassionate, kind. We ought to have sympathy for one another and not to be avaricious. Let us acknowledge him by acting in this way and not by doing the opposite. 4We ought not to have greater fear of men than of God. 5That is why, if you act in this way, the Lord said, "If you are gathered with me in my bosom and do not keep my195commands, I will cast you out and will say to you: 'Depart from me. I do not know whence you come, you workers of iniquity.'"565565Source unknown, possibly the Gospel of the Egyptians.
5 Therefore, brothers, ceasing to tarry in this world, let us do the will of Him who called us, and let us not be afraid to leave this world. 2For the Lord said, "You will be like lambs among wolves."566566Ibid. 3But Peter replied by saying, "What if the wolves tear the lambs to pieces?" 4Jesus said to Peter: "After their death the lambs should not fear the wolves, nor should you fear those who kill you and can do nothing more to you. But fear him who, when you are dead, has power over soul and body to cast them into the flames of hell." 5You must realize, brothers, that our stay in this world of the flesh is slight and short, but Christ's promise is great and wonderful, and means rest in the coming Kingdom and in eternal life. 6What, then, must we do to get these things, except to lead a holy and upright life and to regard these things of the world as alien to us and not to desire them? 7For in wanting to obtain these things we fall from the right way.
6 The Lord says, "No servant can serve two masters."567567Luke 16:13; Matt. 6:24. If we want to serve both God and money, it will do us no good. 2"For what good does it do a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?"568568Matt. 16:26; Mark 8:36; Luke 9:25. 3This world and the world to come are two enemies. 4This one means adultery, corruption, avarice, and deceit, while the other gives them up. 5We cannot, then, be friends of both. To get the one, we must give the other up. 6We think that it is better to hate what is here, for it is trifling, transitory, and perishable, and to value what is there—things good and imperishable. 7Yes, if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest, but if not, nothing will save us from eternal punishment, if we fail to heed his commands. 8Furthermore, the Scripture also says in Ezekiel, "Though Noah and Job and Daniel should rise, they shall not save their children in captivity."569569Ezek. 14:14–20. 9If even such upright men as these cannot save their children by their uprightness, what assurance have we that we shall enter God's Kingdom if we fail to keep our baptism pure and undefiled? Or who will plead for us if we are not found to have holy and upright deeds?
7 So, my brothers, let us enter the contest, recognizing that it is at hand and that, while many come by sea to corruptible 196 contests, not all win laurels, but only those who have struggled hard and competed well. 2Let us, then, compete so that we may all be crowned. 3Let us run the straight race, the incorruptible contest; and let many of us sail to it and enter it, so that we too may be crowned. And if we cannot all be crowned, let us at least come close to it. 4We must realize that if a contestant in a corruptible contest is caught cheating, he is flogged, removed, and driven from the course. 5 What do you think? What shall be done with the man who cheats in the contest for the incorruptible? 6For in reference to those who have not guarded the seal,570570The reference is to preserving the seal of one's baptism from defilement. Cf. ch. 6:9. it says, "Their worm shall not die and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be a spectacle to all flesh."571571Isa. 66:24; Mark 9:48.
8 So while we are on earth, let us repent. For we are like clay in a workman's hands. 2If a potter makes a vessel and it gets out of shape or breaks in his hands, he molds it over again; but if he has once thrown it into the flames of the furnace, he can do nothing more with it. Similarly, while we are in this world, let us too repent with our whole heart of the evil we have done in the flesh, so that we may be saved by the Lord while we have a chance to repent. 3For once we have departed this world we can no longer confess there or repent any more. 4Thus, brothers, by doing the Father's will and by keeping the flesh pure and by abiding by the Lord's commands, we shall obtain eternal life. 5For the Lord says in the Gospel: "If you fail to guard what is small, who will give you what is great? For I tell you that he who is faithful in a very little, is faithful also in much."572572Luke 16:10–12. 6This, then, is what he means: keep the flesh pure and the seal undefiled, so that we may obtain eternal life.
9 Moreover, let none of you say that this flesh will not be judged or rise again. 2Consider this: In what state were you saved? In what state did you regain your sight, if it was not while you were in this flesh? 3Therefore we should guard the flesh as God's temple. 4For just as you were called in the flesh, you will come in the flesh. 5If Christ the Lord who saved us was made flesh though he was at first spirit, and called us in this way, in the same way we too in this very flesh will receive our reward. 6Let us, then, love one another, so that we may all come to God's Kingdom. 7While we have an opportunity to be healed, let us give ourselves over to God, the physician, and pay him in return. 8How? By repenting with a sincere heart. 9For he 197foreknows everything, and realizes what is in our hearts. 10Let us then praise him, not with the mouth only, but from the heart, so that he may accept us as sons. 11For the Lord said, "My brothers are those who do the will of my Father."573573Matt. 12:50; Mark 3:35; Luke 8:21.
10 So, my brothers, let us do the will of the Father who called us, so that we may have life; and let our preference be the pursuit of virtue. Let us give up vice as the forerunner of our sins, and let us flee impiety, lest evils overtake us. 2For if we are eager to do good, peace will pursue us. 3This is the reason men cannot find peace.574574The text is corrupt here and "peace" is a conjecture. They give way to human fears,575575Literally, "introduce human fears." The reference is possibly to avoiding persecution by sacrificing. and prefer the pleasures of the present to the promises of the future. 4For they do not realize what great torment the pleasures of the present bring, and what delight attaches to the promises of the future. 5If they did these things by themselves, it might be tolerable. But they persist in teaching evil to innocent souls, and do not realize that they and their followers will have their sentence doubled.
11 Let us therefore serve God with a pure heart and we shall be upright. But if, by not believing in God's promises; we do not serve him, we shall be wretched. 2For the word of the prophet says, "Wretched are the double-minded, those who doubt in their soul and say, `We have heard these things long ago, even in our fathers’ times, and day after day we have waited and have seen none of them.' 3You fools! Compare yourselves to a tree. Take a vine: first it sheds its leaves, then comes a bud, and after this a sour grape, then a ripe bunch. 4So my people too has had turmoils and troubles; but after that it will receive good things."576576Source unknown. The same passage is also quoted as Scripture by I Clem. 23:3, though our text adds the final sentence. The prophecy may possibly be the lost book of Eldad and Modat, referred to by Hermas, Vis. II. 3:4. 5So, my brothers, we must not be double-minded. Rather must we patiently hold out in hope so that we may also gain our reward. 6For "he can be trusted who promised"577577Heb. 10:23. to pay each one the wages due for his work. 7If, then, we have done what is right in God's eyes, we shall enter his Kingdom and receive the promises "which ear has not heard or eye seen, or which man's heart has not entertained."578578I Cor. 2:9.
12 Loving and doing what is right, we must be on the watch for God's Kingdom hour by hour, since we do not know the day 198when God will appear. 2For when someone asked the Lord when his Kingdom was going to come, he said, "When the two shall be one, and the outside like the inside, and the male with the female, neither male nor female."579579Source unknown, probably the Gospel of the Egyptians. Both Clement of Alexandria (Strom. III. 13:92, citing Julius Cassianus) and the Oxyrhynchus papyri (ed. Grenfell and Hunt, Vol. IV, pp. 22 f.) have a similar saying. Clement directly attributes it to the Gospel of the Egyptians. 3Now "the two" are "one" when we tell each other the truth and two bodies harbor a single mind with no deception. 4"The outside like the inside" means this: "the inside" means the soul and "the outside" means the body. Just as your body is visible, so make your soul evident by your good deeds. 5Furthermore "the male with the female, neither male nor female," means this: that when a brother sees a sister580580The terms refer, not to family, but to Christian, relations. he should not think of her sex, any more than she should think of his. 6When you do these things, he says, my Father's Kingdom will come.
13 Right now, my brothers, we must repent, and be alert for the good, for we are full of much stupidity and wickedness. We must wipe off from us our former sins and by heartfelt repentance be saved. And we must not seek to please men or desire to please only ourselves, but by doing what is right to please even outsiders, so that the Name581581I.e., the name "Christian." may not be scoffed at on our account. 2For the Lord says, "My name is continually scoffed at by all peoples"582582Isa. 52:5.;and again, "Alas for him through whom my name is scoffed at!"583583Source unknown. Possibly the Gospel of the Egyptians. How is it scoffed at? By your failing to do what I want. 3For when the heathen hear God's oracles on our lips they marvel at their beauty and greatness. But afterwards, when they mark that our deeds are unworthy of the words we utter, they turn from this to scoffing, and say that it is a myth and a delusion. 4When, for instance, they hear from us that God says, "It is no credit to you if you love those who love you, but it is to your credit if you love your enemies and those who hate you,"584584Luke 6:32, 35. when they hear these things, they are amazed at such surpassing goodness. But when they see that we fail to love not only those who hate us, but even those who love us, then they mock at us and scoff at the Name.
14 So, my brothers, by doing the will of God our Father we shall belong to the first Church, the spiritual one, which was created 199before the sun and the moon. But if we fail to do the Lord's will, that passage of Scripture will apply to us which says, "My house has become a robber's den."585585Jer. 7:11; cf. Matt. 21:13. So, then, we must choose to belong to the Church of life in order to be saved. 2I do not suppose that you are ignorant that the living "Church is the body of Christ."586586Eph. 1:22, 23. For Scripture says, "God made man male and female."587587Gen. 1:27. The male is Christ; the female is the Church. The Bible,588588I.e., the sacred books of the Old Testament. moreover, and the Apostles589589I.e., the Apostolic Writings, or the New Testament. say that the Church is not limited to the present, but existed from the beginning. For it was spiritual, as was our Jesus, and was590590It is possible that the author means, "Jesus was made manifest in the last days to save us." Cf. I Peter 1:20. But the construction favors the translation given. Cf Did. 10:2, where the vine revealed through Jesus may refer to the Church. made manifest in the last days to save us. 3Indeed, the Church which is spiritual was made manifest in the flesh of Christ, and so indicates to us that if any of us guard it in the flesh591591I.e., by keeping his flesh from defilement. and do not corrupt it, he will get it in return by the Holy Spirit.592592The idea is not too clear but seems to be this: By giving up lustful passions the Christian gets the spiritual Church in return, through participating in the Holy Spirit. For this flesh is the antitype of the spirit. Consequently, no one who has corrupted the antitype will share in the reality. This, then, is what it means, brothers: Guard the flesh so that you may share in the spirit. 4Now, if we say that the Church is the flesh and the Christ is the spirit, then he who does violence to the flesh, does violence to the Church. Such a person, then, will not share in the spirit, which is Christ. 5This flesh is able to share in so great a life and immortality, because the Holy Spirit cleaves to it. Nor can one express or tell "what things the Lord has prepared"593593I Cor. 2:9. for his chosen ones.594594This whole chapter is based on the Platonic distinction between immaterial reality ("spirit") and the copies of it ("flesh") in the phenomenal world.
15 The advice I have given about continence is not, I think, unimportant; and if a man acts on it, he will not regret it, but will save himself as well as me who advised him. For no small reward attaches to converting an errant and perishing soul, so that it may be saved. 2For this is how we can pay back God who created us, if the one who speaks and the one who 200hears do so with faith and love. 3Consequently, we must remain true to our faith and be upright and holy, so that we may petition God in confidence, who says, "Even while you are speaking, I will say, 'See, here I am.'"595595Isa. 58:9. 4Surely this saying betokens a great promise; for the Lord says of himself that he is more ready to give than we to ask. 5Let us, then, take our share of such great kindness and not begrudge ourselves the obtaining of such great blessings. For these sayings hold as much pleasure in store for those who act on them, as they do condemnation for those who disregard them.
16 So, brothers, since we have been given no small opportunity to repent, let us take the occasion to turn to God who has called us, while we still have One to accept us. 2For if we renounce these pleasures and master our souls by avoiding their evil lusts, we shall share in Jesus’ mercy. 3Understand that "the day" of judgment is already "on its way like a furnace ablaze,"596596Mal. 4:1. and "the powers597597Emendation by Lightfoot. The Greek reads, "Some of the heavens." of heaven will dissolve"598598Isa. 34:4. and the whole earth will be like lead melting in fire. Then men's secret and overt actions will be made clear. 4Charity, then, like repentance from sin, is a good thing. But fasting is better than prayer, and charity than both. "Love covers a multitude of sins,"599599Prov. 10:12; I Peter 4:8. and prayer, arising from a good conscience, "rescues from death."600600James 5:20. Blessed is everyone who abounds in these things, for charity lightens sin.
17 Let us, then, repent with our whole heart, so that none of us will be lost. For if we have been commanded to do this too—to draw men away from idols and instruct them—how much more is it wrong for the soul which already knows God to perish? 2Consequently we must help one another and bring back those weak in goodness, so that we may all be saved; and convert and admonish one another.
3Not only at this moment, while the presbyters are preaching to us, should we appear believing and attentive. But when we have gone home, we should bear in mind the Lord's commands and not be diverted by worldly passions. Rather should we strive to come here more often and advance in the Lord's commands, so that "with a common mind"601601Rom. 12:16. we may all be gathered together to gain life. 4For the Lord said, "I am coming to gather together all peoples, clans, and tongues."602602Isa. 66:18. This refers 201 to the day of his appearing, when he will come to redeem us, each according to his deeds. 5And "unbelievers will see his glory" and power,603603Ibid. and they will be surprised to see the sovereignty of the world given to Jesus, and they will say, "Alas for us, for you really existed, and we neither recognized it nor believed, and we did not obey the presbyters who preached to us our salvation." And "their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched, and they will be a spectacle to all flesh."604604Isa. 66:24; Mark 9:44. 6He refers to that day of judgment when men will see those who were ungodly among us and who perverted the commands of Jesus Christ. 7But the upright who have done good and patiently endured tortures and hated the pleasures of the soul, when they see those who have done amiss and denied Jesus in word and act being punished with dreadful torments and undying fire, will give "glory to their God"605605Rev. 11:13. and say, "There is hope for him who has served God with his whole heart."
18 Consequently we too must be of the number of those who give thanks and have served God, and not of the ungodly who are sentenced. 2For myself, I too am a grave sinner, and have not yet escaped temptation. I am still surrounded by the devil's devices, though I am anxious to pursue righteousness. My aim is to manage at least to approach it, for I am afraid of the judgment to come.
19 So, my brothers and sisters, after God's truth606606Literally, "after the God of truth," i.e., the Scripture lesson which may possibly have come from Isa., ch. 54; see ch. 2. I am reading you an exhortation to heed what was there written, so that you may save yourselves and your reader. For compensation I beg you to repent with all your heart, granting yourselves salvation and life. By doing this we will set a goal for all the young who want to be active in the cause of religion and of God's goodness. 2We should not, moreover, be so stupid as to be displeased and vexed when anyone admonishes us and converts us from wickedness to righteousness. There are times when we do wrong unconsciously because of the double-mindedness and unbelief in our hearts, and "our understanding is darkened"607607Eph. 4:18. by empty desires. 3Let us, then, do what is right so that we may finally be saved. Blessed are they who observe these injunctions; though they suffer briefly in this world,608608Cf. I Peter 5:10. they will gather the immortal fruit of the resurrection. 4A religious man must not 202be downcast if he is miserable in the present. A time of blessedness awaits him. He will live again in heaven with his forefathers, and will rejoice in an eternity that knows no sorrow.
20 But you must not be troubled in mind by the fact that we see the wicked in affluence while God's slaves are in straitened circumstances. 2Brothers and sisters, we must have faith. We are engaged in the contest of the living God and are being trained by the present life in order to win laurels in the life to come. 3None of the upright has obtained his reward quickly, but he waits for it. 4For were God to give the righteous their reward at once, our training would straightway be in commerce and not in piety, since we would give an appearance of uprightness, when pursuing, not religion, but gain. That is why the divine judgment punishes609609The aorist may be gnomic, or else the passage refers to Satan's fall. a spirit which is not upright, and loads it with chains.
5"To the only invisible God,"610610I Tim. 1:17. the Father of truth, who dispatched to us the Saviour and prince of immortality, through whom he also disclosed to us the truth and the heavenly life—to him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
|« Prev||Text||Next »|