II Clement Chapter Five

This is a slight expansion and a tying together of two canonical teachings of Jesus found in Matthew 10:16/28. It seems probable that the passage quoted by Clement is simply a more complete telling of the occasion mentioned in Matthew (v. 2-4). Peter was present to ask his question, and the following text in Matthew seems an appropriate answer. However, because the passage bears resemblance in subject matter to the forty-day texts I have included it here. Also, Clement’s intent on readying his brethren to “go forth from this world” (v. 1) and the quoted passage is great evidence of the understanding in the early Christian church of impending persecution and apostasy.

Historical Context

Although the document is entitled 2 Clement, the document itself is written by an anonymous author sometimes in the second century C.E. Its title comes from its association with Clement of Rome, however, as early as the 4th century with Eusebius, there were doubts about the authorship. Much of 2 Clement draws from the sayings of Jesus in Matthew and Luke. Although originally thought to be an epistle, 2 Clement was most likely a homily or sermon that was transcribed in its present form. 

Bibliography

Translation – The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 1, Loeb Classical Library 24:135-137

Greek & Translation – Michael Holmes, Apostolic Fathers: The Greek Texts and English Translations (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 132-135.

Donfried, Karl P. The Setting of Second Clement in Early Christianity. Leiden: Brill, 1974.

Petersen, William. "Patristic Biblical Quotations and Method: Four Changes to Lightfoot's Edition of "Second Clement"". Vigiliae Christianae 60.4 (2006): 389–419.

Full Text

Retrieved from the Early Christian Writings website on August 11, 2015

CHAP. V. – THIS WORLD SHOULD BE DESPISED.

Wherefore, brethren, leaving [willingly] our sojourn in this present world, let us do the will of Him that called us, and not fear to depart out of this world. For the Lord saith, "Ye shall be as lambs in the midst of wolves." And Peter answered and said unto Him, "What, then, if the wolves shall tear in pieces the lambs?" Jesus said unto Peter, "The lambs have no cause after they are dead to fear the wolves; and in like manner, fear not ye them that kill you, and can do nothing more unto you; but fear Him who, after you are dead, has power over both soul and body to cast them into hell-fire." And consider, brethren, that the sojourning in the flesh in this world is but brief and transient, but the promise of Christ is great and wonderful, even the rest of the kingdom to come, and of life everlasting. By what course of conduct, then, shall we attain these things, but by leading a holy and righteous life, and by deeming these worldly things as not belonging to us, and not fixing our desires upon them? For if we desire to possess them, we fall away from the path of righteousness.