The Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, 39–45

Clement  translated by Kirsopp Lake

« I Clem. 33–38 | I Clem. 39–45 | I Clem. 46–61 | About This Work »

39Foolish, imprudent, silly, and uninstructed men mock and deride us, wishing to exalt themselves in their own conceits. 2For what can mortal man do, or what is the strength of him who is a child of earth? 3For it is written “There was no shape before mine eyes, but I heard a sound and a voice. 4What then? Shall a mortal be pure before the Lord? Or shall a man be blameless in his deeds, seeing that he believeth not in his servants, and hath noted perversity in his angels? 5Yea, the heaven is not pure before him. Away then, ye who inhabit houses of clay, of which, even of the same clay, we ourselves were made. He smote them as a moth, and from morning until evening they do not endure; they perished, without being able to help themselves. 6He breathed on them and they died because they had no wisdom. 7But call now, if any shall answer thee, or if thou shalt see any of the holy angels; for wrath destroyeth the foolish, and envy putteth to death him that is in error. 8I have seen the foolish taking root, but t heir habitation was presently consumed. 9Let their sons be far from safety; let them be mocked in the gates of those less than they, with none to deliver; for what was prepared for them the righteous shall eat, and they themselves shall not be delivered from evil.”

40Since then these things are manifest to us, and we have looked into the depths of the divine knowledge, we ought to do in order all things which the Master commanded us to perform at appointed times. 2He commanded us to celebrate sacrifices and services, and that it should not be thoughtlessly or disorderly, but at fixed times and hours. 3He has himself fixed by his supreme will the places and persons whom he desires for these celebrations, in order that all things may be done piously according to his good pleasure, and be acceptable to his will. 4So then those who offer their oblations at the appointed seasons are acceptable and blessed, for they follow the laws of the Master and do no sin. 5For to the High Priest his proper ministrations are allotted, and to the priests the proper place has been appointed, and on Levites their proper services have been imposed. The layman is bound by the ordinances for the laity.

41Let each one of us, brethren, be well pleasing to God in his own rank, and have a good conscience, not transgressing the appointed rules of his ministration, with, all reverence. 2Not in every place, my brethren, are the daily sacrifices offered or the free-will offerings,[22] or the sin-offerings and trespass-offerings, but only in Jerusalem; and there also the offering is not made in every place, but before the shrine, at the altar, and the offering is first inspected by the High Priest and the ministers already mentioned. 3Those therefore who do any thing contrary to that which is agreeable to his will suffer the penalty of death. 4You see, brethren, that the more knowledge we have been entrusted with, the greater risk do we incur.

42The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus the Christ was sent from God. 2The Christ therefore is from God and the Apostles from the Christ. In both ways,[23] then, they were in accordance with the appointed order of God’s will. 3Having therefore received their commands, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with faith confirmed by the word of God, they went forth in the assurance of the Holy Spirit preaching the good news that the Kingdom of God is coming. 4They preached from district to district, and from city to city, and they appointed their first converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of the future believers. 5And this was no new method, for many years before had bishops and Jeacons been written of; for the scripture says thus in one place “I will establish their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith.”

43And what wonder is it if those who were in Christ, and were entrusted by God with such a duty, established those who have been mentioned? Since the blessed Moses also “A faithful servant in all his house “noted down in the sacred books all the injunctions which were given him; and the other prophets followed him, bearing witness with him to the laws which he had given. 2For when jealousy arose concerning the priesthood, and the tribes were quarrelling as to which of them was adorned with that glorious title, Moses himself commanded the rulers of the twelve tribes to bring him rods, with the name of a tribe written on each; and he took them, and bound them, and sealed them with the rings of the rulers of the tribes, and put them away in the Tabernacle of Testimony on the table of God. 3And he shut the Tabernacle, and sealed the keys, as he had done with the rods, 4and he said to them, “Brethren, of whichsoever tribe the rod shall bud, this has God chosen for his priesthood and ministry.” 5And when it was daylight he called together all Israel, six hundred thousand men, and showed the seals to the rulers of the tribes, and opened the Tabernacle of Testimony, and took forth the rods, and the rod of Aaron was found not only to have budded, but also to be bearing fruit. 6What do you think, beloved? That Moses did not know be forehand that this was going to happen? Assuredly he knew, but he acted thus that there should be no disorder in Israel, to glorify the name of the true and only God, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

44Our Apostles also knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the title of bishop. 2For this cause, therefore, since they had received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have been already mentioned, and afterwards added the codicil that if they should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed to their ministry. 3We consider therefore that it is not just to remove from their ministry those who were appointed by them, or later on by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole Church, and have ministered to the flock of Christ without blame, humbly, peaceably, and disinterestedly, and for many years have received a universally favourable testimony. 4For our sin is not small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily offered its sacrifices. 5Blessed are those Presbyters who finished their course before now, and have obtained a fruitful and perfect release in the ripeness of completed work, for they have now no fear that any shall move them from the place appointed to them. 6For we see that in spite of their good service you have removed some from the ministry which they fulfilled blamelessly.[24]

45You are contentious,[1] brethren, and zealous for the things which lead to salvation. 2You have studied the Holy Scriptures, which are true, and given by the Holy Spirit. 3You know that nothing unjust or counterfeit is written in them. You will not find that the righteous have been cast out by holy men. 4The righteous were persecuted; but it was by the wicked. They were put in prison; but it was by the unholy. They were stoned by law-breakers, they were killed by men who had conceived foul and unrighteous envy. 5These things they suffered, and gained glory by their endurance. 6For what shall we say, brethren? Was Daniel cast into the lions’ den by those who feared God? 7Or were Ananias, Azarias, and Misael shut up in the fiery furnace by those who ministered to the great and glorious worship of the Most High? God forbid that this be so. Who then were they who did these things? Hateful men, full of all iniquity, were roused to such a pitch of fury, that they inflicted torture on those who served God with a holy and faultless purpose, not knowing that the Most High is the defender and protector of those who serve his excellent name with a pure conscience, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. But they who endured in confidence obtained the inheritance of glory and honour; they were exalted, and were enrolled by God in his memorial for ever and ever. Amen.

« I Clem. 33–38 | I Clem. 39–45 | I Clem. 46–61 | About This Work »


  • [22] If the reading of C be adopted, "Sacrifices of prayers."

  • [23] ἁμφότερα "both" is probably adverbial rather than the subject of ἐγένοντο.

  • [24] It is doubtful if this translation is right, and the Greek is perhaps corrupt. Lightfoot emends τετιμημένης to τετηρημένης "which they preserved." The translation given is supported by L facto (probably a corruption of functo).

  • [25] Or possibly, "Be contentious."