The Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, 33–38

Clement  translated by Kirsopp Lake

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33What shall we do, then, brethren? Shall we be slothful in well-doing and cease from love? May the Master forbid that this should happen, at least to us, but let us be zealous to accomplish every good deed with energy and readiness. 2For the Creator and Master of the universe himself rejoices in his works. 3For by his infinitely great might did he establish the heavens, and by his incomprehensible understanding did he order them; and he separated the earth from the water that surrounds it, and fixed it upon the secure foundation of his own will; and the animals that move in it did he command to exist by his own decree; the sea and the living things in it did he make ready, and enclosed by his own power. 4Above all, man, the most excellent and from his intellect the greatest of his creatures, did he form in the likeness of his own image by his sacred and faultless hands.[19] 5For God spake thus: “Let us make man according to our image and likeness; and God made man, male and female made he them.” 6So when he had finished all these things he praised them and blessed them and said, “Increase and multiply.” 7Let us observe that all the righteous have been adorned with good works; and the Lord himself adorned himself with good works and rejoiced. 8Having therefore this pattern let us follow his will without delay, let us work the work of righteousness with all our strength.

34The good workman receives the bread of his labour with boldness; the lazy and careless cannot look his employer in the face. 2Therefore we must be prompt in well-doing: for all things are from him. 3For he warns us: “Behold the Lord cometh, and his reward is before his face, to pay to each according to his work.” 4He exhorts us therefore if we believe on him with our whole heart not to be lazy or careless “in every good work.” 5Let our glorying and confidence be in him; let us be subject to his will; let us consider the whole multitude of his angels, how they stand ready and minister to his will. 6For the Scripture says “Ten thousand times ten thousand stood by him, and thou sand thousands ministered to him, and they cried Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Sabaoth, the whole creation is full of his glory.” 7Therefore, we too must gather together with concord in our conscience[20] and cry earnestly to him, as it were with one mouth, that we may share in his great and glorious promises, 8for he says: “Eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard, and it hath not entered into the heart of man, what things the Lord hath pre pared for them that wait for him.”

35How blessed and wonderful, beloved, are the gifts of God! 2Life in immortality, splendour in righteousness, truth in boldness, faith in confidence, continence in holiness: and all these things are submitted to our understanding. 3What, then, are the things which are being prepared for those who wait for him? The Creator and Father of the ages, the All-holy one, himself knows their greatness and beauty. 4Let us then strive to be found among the number of those that wait, that we may receive a share of the promised gifts. 5But how shall this be, beloved? If our understanding be fixed faithfully on God; if we seek the things which are well-pleasing and acceptable to him; if we fulfil the things which are in harmony with his faultless will, and follow the way of truth, casting away from ourselves all iniquity and wickedness, covetousness, strife, malice and fraud, gossiping and evil speaking, hatred of God, pride and arrogance, vain-glory and inhospitality. 6For those who do these things are hateful to God, and “not only those who do them, but also those who take pleasure in them.” 7For the Scripture says: “But to the sinner said God: Wherefore dost thou declare my ordinances, and takest my covenant in thy mouth? 8Thou hast hated instruction, and cast my words behind thee. If thou sawest a thief thou didst run with him, and thou didst make thy portion with the adulterers. Thy mouth hath multiplied iniquity, and thy tongue did weave deceit. Thou didst sit to speak evil against thy brother, and thou didst lay a stumbling-block in the way of thy mother’s son. 9Thou hast done these things and I kept silent; thou didst suppose, O wicked one, that I shall be like unto thee. 10I will reprove thee and set thyself before thy face.[21] 11Understand then these things, ye who forget God, lest he seize you as doth a lion, and there be none to deliver. 12The sacrifice of praise shall glorify me, and therein is a way in which I will show to him the salvation of God.”

36This is the way, beloved, in which we found our salvation, Jesus Christ, the high priest of our offerings, the defender and helper of our weakness. 2Through him we fix our gaze on the heights of heaven, through him we see the reflection of his faultless and lofty countenance, through him the eyes of our hearts were opened, through him our foolish and darkened understanding blossoms towards the light, through him the Master willed that we should taste the immortal knowledge; “who, being the brightness of his majesty is by so much greater than angels as he hath inherited a more excellent name.” 3For it is written thus “Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.” 4But of his son the Master said thus “Thou art my son: to-day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession.” 5And again he says to him “Sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies a footstool of thy feet.” 6Who then are the enemies? Those who are wicked and oppose his will.

37Let us then serve in our army, brethren, with all earnestness, following his faultless commands. 2Let us consider those who serve our generals, with what good order, habitual readiness, and submissiveness they perform their commands. 3Not all are prefects, nor tribunes, nor centurions, nor in charge of fifty men, or the like, but each carries out in his own rank the commands of the emperor and of the generals. 4The great cannot exist without the small, nor the small without the great; there is a certain mixture among all, and herein lies the advantage. 5Let us take our body; the head is nothing without the feet, likewise the feet are nothing with out the head; the smallest members of our body are necessary and valuable to the whole body, but all work together and are united in a common subjection to preserve the whole body.

38Let, therefore, our whole body be preserved in Christ Jesus, and let each be subject to his neighbour, according to the position granted to him. 2Let the strong care for the weak and let the weak reverence the strong. Let the rich man bestow help on the poor and let the poor give thanks to God, that he gave him one to supply his needs; let the wise manifest his wisdom not in words but in good deeds; let him who is humble-minded not testify to his own humility, but let him leave it to others to bear him witness; let not him who is pure in the flesh be boastful, knowing that it is another who bestows on him his continence. 3Let us consider, then, brethren, of what matter we were formed, who we are, and with what nature we came into the world, and how he who formed and created us brought us into his world from the darkness of a grave, and prepared his benefits for us before we were born. 4Since, therefore, we have everything from him we ought in everything to give him thanks, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

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  • [19] Or perhaps "did he form in accordance with his intellect."

  • [20] Others translate "in concord and a good conscience;" but it is not certain that συνεἱδησις can be the synonym of ἀγαθή συνείδησις.

  • [21] The Syriac reads "Set thy sins before thy face." This is no doubt a guess, but it gives the meaning.