Feast of Clement of Rome (November 23)   Leave a comment

Clement of Rome

Bishop of Rome; Martyr; died circa 100

The text of Clement’s epistle to the Corinthian Church, rediscovered by the Western Church in 1628, reveals the late First Century C.E. state of that congregation, to which Paul had written, also.  They had not followed Paul’s advice.

My favorite portion of the First Epistle of Clement follows:


Let us consider, beloved, how the Lord continually proves to us that there shall be a future resurrection, of which He has rendered the Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits by raising Him from the dead. Let us contemplate, beloved, the resurrection which is at all times taking place. Day and night declare to us a resurrection. The night sinks to sleep, and the day arises; the day [again] departs, and the night comes on. Let us behold the fruits [of the earth], how the sowing of grain takes place. The sower goes forth, and casts it into the ground; and the seed being thus scattered, though dry and naked when it fell upon the earth, is gradually dissolved. Then out of its dissolution the mighty power of the providence of the Lord raises it up again, and from one seed many arise and bring forth fruit.


Let us consider that wonderful sign [of the resurrection] which takes place in Eastern lands, that is, in Arabia and the countries round about. There is a certain bird which is called a phoenix. This is the only one of its kind, and lives five hundred years. And when the time of its dissolution draws near that it must die, it builds itself a nest of frankincense, and myrrh, and other spices, into which, when the time is fulfilled, it enters and dies. But as the flesh decays a certain kind of worm is produced, which, being nourished by the juices of the dead bird, brings forth feathers. Then, when it has acquired strength, it takes up that nest in which are the bones of its parent, and bearing these it passes from the land of Arabia into Egypt, to the city called Heliopolis. And, in open day, flying in the sight of all men, it places them on the altar of the sun, and having done this, hastens back to its former abode. The priests then inspect the registers of the dates, and find that it has returned exactly as the five hundredth year was completed.


Do we then deem it any great and wonderful thing for the Maker of all things to raise up again those who have piously served Him in the assurance of a good faith, when even by a bird He shows us the mightiness of His power to fulfil His promise? For [the Scripture] says in a certain place, “You shall raise me up, and I shall confess to You;” and again, “I laid down, and slept; I awaked, because You are with me;” and again, Job says, “you shall raise up this flesh of mine, which has suffered all these things.”


Having then this hope, let our souls be bound to Him who is faithful in His promises, and just in His judgments. He who has commanded us not to lie, shall much more Himself not lie; for nothing is impossible with God, except to lie. Let His faith therefore be stirred up again within us, and let us consider that all things are nigh unto Him. By the word of His might He established all things, and by His word He can overthrow them. “Who shall say to Him, What have you done? or, Who shall resist the power of His strength?” When and as He pleases He will do all things, and none of the things determined by Him shall pass away? All things are open before Him, and nothing can be hidden from His counsel. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handy-work. Day to day utters speech, and night to night shows knowledge. And there are no words or speeches of which the voices are not heard.”



Now, for his biography from the New Zealand Anglicans:

We know from the New Testament of some of the troubles that Paul had with the church in Corinth. The church there suffered from further troubles towards the end of the first century, and the church in Rome wrote to Corinth about 96 in an effort to resolve the issue. The letter known as 1 Clement was sent by Clement in the name of the church in Rome.

Clement by later tradition is reckoned as the third or fourth bishop of Rome. At that time, on evidence from 1 Clement, the church in Rome appears to have been controlled by a group of presbyter-bishops, for whom Clement was the spokesman. Church order as it later developed with a single bishop in each centre was not yet the norm in Rome. Other than his position as a bishop in Rome, we know almost nothing about Clement.

The actual trouble in Corinth concerned a group of young Christian leaders who had usurped the proper position of the respected elders of the community. Clement writes at some length in an effort to restore peace in the church. The letter is much more than a call to order in the church in Corinth. Clement sets out a picture of the church as an orderly body under God, with authority vested in the duly appointed leaders. Variously designated “bishops” or “presbyters”, they are the ones who are to lead the worship and preside over the church’s life. The attitude of the younger members of the church in Corinth is, therefore, not just a problem of youthful exuberance, but a challenge to the duly ordained divine order of things.

The first letter of Clement was widely read in the early church, giving as it did very clear support to a hierarchical view of things at a time when the church was searching for appropriate lines of authority to combat some of the more radical views springing up. Some ancient manuscripts include 1 Clement as part of the New Testament, along with 2 Clement, which is an anonymous second century homily.

For Liturgical Use

Clement was a bishop in Rome at the end of the first century. About 96 he wrote a letter known as 1 Clement. It was sent in the name of the church in Rome to Corinth to settle a dispute there caused by some of the younger members of the church. Clement strongly upheld the notion of hierarchical authority divinely instituted in the church. These views were influential in the growth of episcopacy, and 1 Clement was highly regarded by the early church.


Almighty God, you chose your servant Clement of Rome to recall the Church in Corinth to obedience and stability; Grant that your Church may be grounded and settled in your truth by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; reveal to it what is not yet known; fill up what is lacking; confirm what has already been revealed; and keep it blameless in your service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Chronicles 23:28-32

Psalm 78:3-7

2 Timothy 2:1-7

Luke 6:37-45


Posted September 13, 2009 by neatnik2009 in November, Saints of 29-199 C.E.

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