Second Clement has been called "the oldest complete Christian sermon that has survived" (Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004, p. 102). While there are one or two unusual statements in this document, it does give clues to beliefs held in the early 2nd century (100-140 A.D.) among those who professed Christ. It is not, of course, on par with scripture.
The sermon is believed to be from the early second century and no one, including Roman Catholic supporters, believes that Clement wrote it (he was dead by that time).
Actually here is some of what The Catholic Encyclopedia says about it,
"An ancient homily by an anonymous author has come down to us...The matter of the sermon is a very general exhortation, and there is no definite plan or sequence" (Chapman J. Transcribed by Gerard Haffner. Pope St. Clement 1. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).
The following version is my slightly edited version of Dr. Lightfoot's translation of it (Lightfoot J.B. Edited and completed by J.R. Hammer. The Apostolic Fathers: Revised Texts with Short Introductions and English Translations. Macmillan, London, 1891. With any Greek retranslated was based the Greek text as shown in Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004).
Any words in italics are missing from that extant Greek text. There are a few notes at the end to clarify some points.
Ancient Christian Sermon (sometimes called 2 Clement)
1:1 Brethren, we ought so to think of Jesus Christ, as of God, as of the "Judge of the living and dead".
1:2 And we ought not to think mean things of our Salvation: for when we think mean things of Him, we expect also to receive mean things. And they that listen as concerning mean things do wrong; and we ourselves do wrong, not knowing whence and by whom and unto what place we were called, and how many things Jesus Christ endured to suffer for our sakes.
1:3 What recompense then will we give unto Him? Or what fruit worthy of His own gift to us? And how many mercies do we owe to Him!
1:4 For He bestowed the light upon us; He spoke to us, as a father to his sons; He saved us, when we were perishing.
1:5 What praise then will we give to Him? Or what payment of recompense for those things which we received?
1:6 We who were maimed in our understanding, and worshipped stocks and stones and gold and silver and bronze, the works of men; and our whole life was nothing else but death. While then we were thus wrapped in darkness and oppressed with this thick mist in our vision, we recovered our sight, putting off by His will the cloud wherein we were wrapped.
1:7 For He had mercy on us, and in His compassion saved us, having beheld in us much error and perdition, even when we had no hope of salvation, save that which came from Him.
1:8 For He called us, when we were not, and from not being He willed us to be.
2:1 "Rejoice, thou barren that barest not. Break out and cry, thou that travailest not; for more are the children of the desolate than of her that has the husband". In that He said "Rejoice, thou barren that barest not", He spoke of us: for our Church was barren, before that children were given unto her.
2:2 And in that He said, "Cry aloud, thou that travailest not", He means this; Let us not, like women in travail, grow weary of offering up our prayers with simplicity to God.
2:3 Again, in that He said, "For the children of the desolate are more than of her that has the husband", He so spoke, because our people seemed desolate and forsaken of God, whereas now, having believed, we have become more than those who seemed to have God.
2:4 Again another scripture says, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners".
2:5 He means this; that it is right to save them that are perishing.
2:6 For this indeed is a great and marvelous work, to establish, not those things which stand, but those which are falling.
2:7 So also Christ willed to save the things which were perishing And He saved many, coming and calling us when we were even now perishing.
3:1 Seeing then that He bestowed so great mercy on us; first of all, that we, who are living, do not sacrifice to these dead gods, neither worship them, but through Him have known the Father of truth. What else is this knowledge to Himward, but not to deny Him through whom we have known Him?
3:2 Yes, He Himself says, "Whoso confesseth Me, Him will I confess before the Father".
3:3 This then is our reward, if verily we will confess Him through whom we were saved.
3:4 But wherein do we confess Him? When we do that which He says and are not disobedient unto His commandments, and not only honor Him with our lips, but with our whole heart and with our whole mind.
3:5 Now He says also in Isaiah, "This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me".
4:1 Let us therefore not only call Him Lord, for this will not save us:
4:2 for He says, "Not every one that says unto Me, Lord, will be saved, but he that does righteousness".
4:3 So then, brethren, let us confess Him in our works, by loving one another, by not committing adultery nor speaking evil one against another nor envying, but being temperate, merciful, kindly. And we ought to have fellow-feeling one with another and not to be covetous. By these works let us confess Him, and not by the contrary.
4:4 And we ought not rather to fear men but God.
4:5 For this cause, if you do these things, the Lord said, "Though you be gathered together with Me in My bosom, and do not My commandments, I will cast you away and will say unto you, Depart from Me, I know you not whence you are, you workers of iniquity".
5:1 Wherefore, brethren, let us forsake our sojourn in this world and do the will of Him that called us, and let us not be afraid to depart out of this world.
5:2 For the Lord says, "You will be as lambs in the midst of wolves".
5:3 But Peter answered and said unto Him, "What then, if the wolves should tear the lambs?"
5:4 Jesus said unto Peter, "Let not the lambs fear the wolves after they are dead; and you also, fear you not them that kill you and are not able to do anything to you; but fear Him that after you are dead has power over soul and body, to cast them into the Gehenna of fire".
5:5 And you know, brethren, that the sojourn of this flesh in this world is mean and for a short time, but the promise of Christ is great and marvelous, even the rest of the kingdom that will be and of life eternal.
5:6 What then can we do to obtain them, but walk in holiness and righteousness, and consider these worldly things as alien to us, and not desire them?
5:7 For when we desire to obtain these things we fall away from the righteous path.
6:1 But the Lord says, "No servant can serve two masters". If we desire to serve both God and mammon, it is unprofitable for us:
6:2 "For what advantage is it, if a man gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?"
6:3 Now this age and the future are two enemies.
6:4 The one speaketh of adultery and defilement and avarice and deceit, but the other biddeth farewell to these.
6:5 We cannot therefore be friends of the two, but must bid farewell to the one and hold companionship with the other.
6:6 Let us consider that it is better to hate the things which are here, because they are mean and for a short time and perishable, and to love the things which are there, for they are good and imperishable.
6:7 For, if we do the will of Christ, we will find rest; but if otherwise, then nothing will deliver us from eternal punishment, if we should disobey His commandments.
6:8 And the scripture also says in Ezekiel, "Though Noah and Job and Daniel should rise up, they will not deliver their children" in the captivity.
6:9 But if even such righteous men as these cannot by their righteous deeds deliver their children, with what confidence will we, if we keep not our baptism pure and undefiled, enter into the kingdom of God? Or who will be our advocate, unless we be found having holy and righteous works?
7:1 So then, my brethren, let us contend, knowing that the contest is nigh at hand, and that, while many resort to the corruptible contests, yet not all are crowned, but only they that have toiled hard and contended bravely.
7:2 Let us then contend that we all may be crowned.
7:3 Wherefore let us run in the straight course, the incorruptible contest. And let us resort to it in throngs and contend, that we may also be crowned. And if we cannot all be crowned, let us at least come near to the crown.
7:4 We ought to know that he which contends in the corruptible contest, if he be found dealing corruptly with it, is first flogged. and then removed and driven out of the race course.
7:5 What think you? What will be done to him that has dealt corruptly with the contest of incorruption?
7:6 For as concerning them that have not kept the seal, He says, "Their worm will not die, and their fire will not be quenched, and they will be for a spectacle unto all flesh."
8:1 While we are on earth then, let us repent: for we are clay under the craftsman's hand.
8:2 For in like manner as the potter, if he be making a vessel, and it get twisted or crushed in his hands, reshapeth it again; but if he have once put it into the fiery oven, he will no longer mend it: so also let us, while we are in this world, repent with our whole heart of the evil things which we have done in the flesh, that we may be saved by the Lord, while we have yet time for repentance.
8:3 For after that we have departed out of the world, we can no more make confession there, or repent any more.
8:4 Wherefore, brethren, if we will have done the will of the Father and kept the flesh pure and guarded the commandments of the Lord, we will receive life eternal.
8:5 For the Lord says in the Gospel, "If you kept not that which is little, who will give unto you that which is great? For I say unto you that he which is faithful in the least, is also faithful in much."
8:6 So then He means this, Keep the flesh pure and the seal unstained, to the end that we may receive life.
9:1 And let not any one of you say that this flesh is not judged neither riseth again.
9:2 Understand you. In what were you saved? In what did you recover your sight? if you were not in this flesh.
9:3 We ought therefore to guard the flesh as a temple of God:
9:4 for in like manner as you were called in the flesh, you will come also in the flesh.
9:5 If Christ the Lord who saved us, being first spirit, then became flesh, and so called us, in like manner also will we in this flesh receive our reward.
9:6 Let us therefore love one another, that we all may come unto the kingdom of God.
9:7 While we have time to be healed, let us place ourselves in the hands of God the physician, giving Him a recompense.
9:8 What recompense? Repentance from a sincere heart.
9:9 For He discerneth all things beforehand and knoweth what is in our heart.
9:10 Let us therefore give unto Him eternal praise, not from our lips only, but also from our heart, that He may receive us as sons.
9:11 For the Lord also said, "These are my brethren, which do the will of My Father."
10:1 Wherefore, my brethren, let us do the will of the Father which called us, that we may live; and let us the rather pursue virtue, but forsake vice as the forerunner of our sins, and let us flee from ungodliness, lest evils overtake us.
10:2 For if we be diligent in doing good, peace will pursue us.
10:3 For this cause is a man unable to find peace, seeing that they call in the fears of men, preferring rather the enjoyment which is here than the promise which is to come.
10:4 For they know not how great torment the enjoyment which is here bringeth, and what delight the promise which is to come bringeth.
10:5 And if verily they were doing these things by themselves alone, it had been tolerable: but now they continue teaching evil to innocent souls, not knowing that they will have their condemnation doubled, both themselves and their hearers.
11:1 Let us therefore serve God in a pure heart, and we will be righteous; but if we serve Him not, because we believe not the promise of God, we will be wretched.
11:2 For the word of prophecy also says: "Wretched are the double-minded, that doubt in their heart and say, These things we heard of old in the days of our fathers also, yet we have waited day after day and seen none of them.
11:3 "You fools! compare yourselves unto a tree; take a vine. First it sheds its leaves, then a shoot cometh, after this a sour berry, then a full ripe grape.
11:4 "So likewise My people had tumults and afflictions: but afterward they will receive good things."
11:5 Wherefore, my brethren, let us not be double-minded but endure patiently in hope, that we may also obtain our reward.
11:6 For faithful is He that promised to pay to each man the recompense of his works.
11:7 If therefore we shalt have wrought righteousness in the sight of God, we shalt enter into His kingdom and will receive the promises which ear has not heard nor eye seen, nor eye seen, neither has it entered into the heart of man.
12:1 Let us therefore await the kingdom of God betimes in love and righteousness, since we know not the day of God's appearing.
For the Lord Himself, being asked by a certain person when his kingdom would come, said, "When the two will be one, and the outside as the inside, and the male with the female, neither male or female."
Now the two are one, when we speak truth among ourselves, and in two bodies there will be one soul without dissimulation.
12:4 And by the outside as the inside He means this: by the inside he means the soul and by the outside the body. Therefore in like manner as thy body appeareth, so also let thy soul be manifest by its good works.
12:5 And by the male with the female, neither male nor female, he means this; that a brother seeing a sister should have no thought of her as a female, and that a sister seeing a brother should not have any thought of him as a male.
12:6 These things if you do, says He, the kingdom of my father will come.
13:1 Therefore, brethren, let us repent forthwith. Let us be sober unto that which is good: for we are full of much folly and wickedness. Let us wipe away from us our former sins, and let us not be found to be men pleasers. Neither let us desire to please one another only, but also those men that are without, by our righteousness, that the Name be not blasphemed by reason of us.
13:2 For the Lord says, "Every way My Name is blasphemed among all the Gentiles"; and again, "Woe unto him by reason of whom My Name is blasphemed." Wherein is it blasphemed? In that you do not the things which I desire.
13:3 For the Gentiles, when they hear from our mouths the oracles of God, marvel at them for their beauty and greatness; then, when they discover that our works are not worthy of the words which we speak, forthwith they betake themselves to blasphemy, saying that it is an idle story and a delusion.
13:4 For when they here from us that God says, "It is no thank unto you, if you love them that love you, but this is thank unto you, if you love your enemies and them that hate you"; when they hear these things, I say, they marvel at their exceeding goodness; but when they see that we not only do not love us, they laugh us to scorn, and the Name is blasphemed.
14:1 Wherefore, brethren, if we do the will of God our Father, we will be of the first Church, which is spiritual, which was created before the sun and the moon; but if we do not the will of the Lord, we will be of the scripture that says, My house was made a den of robbers. So therefore let us choose rather to be of the Church of life, that we may be saved.
14:2 And I do not suppose you are ignorant that the living Church is the body of Christ: for the scripture says, "God made man, male and female." The male is Christ and the female is the Church. And the Books and the Apostles plainly declare that the Church existeth not now for the first time, but has been from the beginning: for she was spiritual, as our Jesus also was spiritual, but was manifested in the last days that He might save us.
14:3 Now the Church, being spiritual was manifested in the flesh of Christ, thereby showing us that if any of us guard her in the flesh and defile her not, he will receive her again in the Holy Spirit: for this flesh is the counterpart and copy of the spirit. No man therefore, when he has defiled the copy, will receive the original for his portion. This therefore is what He means, brethren; Guard you the flesh, that you may partake of the spirit.
14:4 But if we say that the flesh is the Church and the spirit is Christ, then he that has dealt wantonly with the flesh has dealt wantonly with the Church. Such and one therefore will not partake of the spirit, which is Christ.
14:5 So excellent is the life and immortality which this flesh can receive as its portion, if the Holy Spirit be joined to it. No man can declare or tell those things which the Lord has prepared for His elect.
15:1 Now I do not think that I have given any mean council respecting continence, and whosoever performeth it will not repent thereof, but will save both himself and me his councilor. For it is no mean reward to convert a wondering and perishing soul, that it may be saved.
15:2 For this is the recompense which we are able to pay to God who created us, if he that speaketh and heareth both speak and hear with faith and love.
15:3 Let is therefore abide in the things which we believed, in righteousness and holiness, that we may with boldness as of God who says, "Whiles thou art still speaking I will say, Behold, I am here."
15:4 For this word is the token of a great promise: for the Lord says of Himself that He is more ready to give than he that asketh to ask.
15:5 Seeing then that we are partakers of so great kindness, let us not grudge ourselves the obtaining of so many good things. For in proportion as the pleasure is great which these words bring to them that have performed them, so also is the condemnation great which they bring to them that have been disobedient.
16:1 Therefore, brethren, since we have found no small opportunity for repentance, seeing that we have time, let us turn again unto God that called us, while we have still One that receiveth us.
16:2 For if we bid farewell to these enjoyments and conquer our soul in refusing to fulfill its evil lusts, we will be partakers of the mercy of Jesus.
16:3 But you know that the day of judgment cometh even now as a burning oven, and the powers of the heavens will melt, and all the earth as lead melting on the fire, and then will appear the secret and open works of men.
16:4 Almsgiving therefore is a good thing, even as repentance from sin> Fasting is better than prayer, but almsgiving better than both. And love covereth a multitude of sins, but prayer out of a good conscience delivereth from death. Blessed is every man that is found full of these. For almsgiving lifteth off the burden of sin.
17:1 Let us therefore repent with our whole heart, lest any of us perish by the way. For if we have received commands, that we should make this our business, to tear men away from idols and to instruct them, how much more is it wrong that a soul which knoweth God already should perish!
17:2 Therefore let us assist one another, that we may also lead the weak upward as touching that which is good, to the end that we all may be saved: and let us convert and admonish one another.
17:3 And let us not think to give heed and believe now only, while we have departed home, let us remember the commandments of the Lord, and not suffer ourselves to be dragged off the other way by our worldly lusts; but coming hither more frequently, let us strive to go forward in the commandments of the Lord, that we all having the same mind may be gathered together unto life.
17:4 For the Lord said, I come to gather together all the nations, tribes, and languages. Herein He speaketh of the day of His appearing, when He will come and redeem us, each man according to his works.
17:5 And the unbelievers will see His glory and His might: and they will be amazed when they see the kingdom of the world given to Jesus, saying, Woe unto us, for You were, and we knew it not, and believed not; and we obeyed not the presbyters when they told us of our salvation. And Their worm will not die, and their fire will not be quenched, and they will be for a spectacle unto all flesh.
17:6 He speaketh of that day of judgment, when men will see those among us that live ungodly lives and dealt falsely with the commandments of Jesus Christ.
17:7 But the righteous, done good and endured torments and hated pleasures of the soul, when they will behold them that have done amiss and denied Jesus by their words or by their deeds, how that they are punished with grievous torments in unquenchable fire, will give glory to God, saying, There will be hope for him that has served God with his whole heart.
18:1 Therefore let us also be found among those that give thanks, among those that have served God, and not among the ungodly that are judged.
18:2 For I myself too, being an utter sinner and not yet escaped from temptation, but being still amidst the engines of the devil, do my diligence to follow after righteousness, that I may prevail so far at least as to come near unto it, while I fear the judgment to come.
19:1 Therefore, brothers and sisters, after the God of truth has been heard, I read unto you an exhortation to the end that you may give heed to the things which are written, for that you may save both yourselves and him that readeth in the midst of you. For I ask of you as a reward that you repent with your whole heart, and give salvation and life to yourselves. For doing this we will set a goal for all the young who desire to toil in the study of piety and of the goodness of God.
19:2 And let is not be displeased and vexed, fools that we are, whensoever any one admonish us and turneth us aside from unrighteousness unto righteousness. For sometimes while we do evil things, we perceive it not by reason of the double-mindedness and unbelief which is in our breasts, and we are darkened in our understanding by our vain lusts.
19:3 Let us therefore practice righteousness that we may be saved unto the end. Blessed are they that obey these ordinances. Though they may endure affliction for a short time in the world, they will gather the immortal fruit of the resurrection.
19:4 Therefore let not the godly be grieved, if he be miserable in the times that now are: a blessed time awaits him. He will live again in heaven with our fathers, and will have rejoicing throughout a sorrowless eternity.
20:1 Neither suffer you this again to trouble your mind, that we see the unrighteous possessing wealth, and the servants of God straitened.
20:2 Let us then have faith, brothers and sisters. We are trained by the present life, that we may be crowned with the future.
20:3 No righteous man has reaped fruit quickly but waiteth for it.
20:4 For if God had paid the recompense of the righteous speedily, then straightway we should have been training ourselves in merchandise, and not in godliness; for we should seem to be righteous, though we were pursuing not that which is godly, but which is gainful. And for this cause Divine judgment overtaketh a spirit that is not just, and loadeth it with chains.
20:5 To the only God invisible, the Father of truth, who sent forth unto us the Savior and Prince of immortality, through whom also He made manifest unto us the truth and the heavenly life, to Him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Notes on Selected Verses:
2:7 "many" is a relative term, but because Jesus actually taught that "For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14), in terms of percentages of human nows being saved, it is very few. Even in Rome at that time, true Christians made up less than 1% of the population. However, even if there were only one or two hundred in the area of Rome then, the writer of the above may consider that to have been many. In addition, while Jesus made it clear He came to do the Father's will, and not His own, I believe that it was "also" Christ's will to save those who were perishing.
5:1 "depart out of this world" means to die. It does not mean to "go to heaven upon death" (see comment on 19:4).
14:4 While the New Testament indicates that Israel of old was a physical church, because the Book of Hebrews for example (see chapter 11) discusses God's people beginning with Abel (who was born well before Israel was), the writer of the above is apparently referring to those few God called from Abel on as part of the "spiritual church".
19:1 The wording of this passage seems odd. Although scripture states that we are to repent (Acts 2:38) and that we are to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12), we do not save ourselves nor can we apart from Christ have salvation. Hence, probably what the author is trying to state is that we need to repent and set a proper example for others so that they may repent and have the opportunity for salvation as well.
19:4 While some may interpret this passage as indicating that Christians go to heaven when they die (a concept that even Justin, who the Roman Catholics consider to have been a saint, condemned in the second century as non-Christian) that is not what it says. It seems to be consisent with the Apostle Paul's writings that when Jesus comes to the earth during the final trumpet, that Christians will be resurrected to come down from heaven to earth with Him (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
There may be some other passages that the translation seems a bit odd, but overall, the letter does give some ideas of what some believed near the beginning of the second century.
Thiel B. Ph.D. editor. Ancient Christian Sermon. www.cogwriter.com (c) 2006/2007 /2008 0925
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