Clement of Rome.

Counted among the apostolic fathers.


Attributed text(s).
Epistle 1 of Clement 1-16, 17-32, 33-48, 49-65.
Epistle 2 of Clement 1-10, 11-20.
Epistle to the Hebrews 1-4, 5-8, 9-13.
Pseudo-Clementines.
Apostolic Constitutions.

Related text(s).
Apostolic fathers.

Useful links.
Clement at EarlyChurch.
Clement in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Clement was a member of the church of Rome, and is known either as the third bishop of Rome after Linus and Anacletus or as the fourth after Peter and those two again. But it must be admitted that the notion of a single monepiscopal church leader in Rome may well be anachronistic for this very early period. Clement is mentioned quite often in patristic literature, and indeed he became the subject of a series of later legends and romances.

There are two epistles to the Corinthians attributed to Clement of Rome. Of these the attribution of the first is the more secure (though it is true that the epistle itself claims to come from the church at Rome in general, not specifically from Clement); the second is generally regarded as a later homily pseudonymously attributed to Clement.

Paul.

Paul mentions a certain Clement in Philippians 4.2-3. This Clement may or may not be the same as he who later was known as Clement of Rome:

Ευοδιαν παρακαλω και Συντυχην παρακαλω το αυτο φρονειν εν κυριω. ναι, ερωτω και σε, γνησιε συζυγε, συλλαμβανου αυταις, αιτινες εν τω ευαγγελιω συνηθλησαν μοι μετα και Κλημεντος και των λοιπων συνεργων μου, ων τα ονοματα εν βιβλω ζωης.

I encourage Euodia and I encourage Syntyche to have the same mind in the Lord. Yes, I ask even you, loyal yokefellow, to take these women together who have competed as athletes in the gospel with me, with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Hermas.

In Vision 2.4.3 of his Shepherd Hermas of Rome mentions a Clement whose duty is to correspond with foreign cities. It is easy to suppose that this is our Clement, since the job description in Hermas seems to line up nicely with the notion of actual correspondence with the church at Corinth:

Γραψεις ουν δυο βιβλαριδια και πεμψεις εν Κλημεντι και εν Γραπτη. πεμψει ουν Κλημης εις τας εξω πολεις, εκεινω γαρ επιτετραπται. Γραπτη δε νουθετησει τας χηρας και τους ορφανους. συ δε αναγνωση εις ταυτην την πολιν μετα των πρεσβυτερων των προιταμενων της εκκλησιας.

You will therefore write two little books, and you will send one to Clement and one to Grapte. Clement therefore will send his to the cities without, for permission has been granted to him to do so. But Grapte will admonish the widows and the orphans. But you will read it in this city with the elders who preside over the church.

Irenaeus.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.3.2-3 (Greek from Eusebius, History of the Church 5.6.1-5; English translation slightly modified from that in the Ante-Nicene Fathers):

Θεμελιωσαντες ουν και οικοδομησαντες οι μακαριοι αποστολοι την εκκλησιαν, Λινω την της επισκοπης λειτουργιαν ενεχειρισαν. τουτου του Λινου Παυλος εν ταις προς Τιμοθεον επιστολαις μεμνηται. διαδεχεται δε αυτον Ανεγκλητος· μετα τουτον δε τριτω τοπω απο των αποστολων την επισκοπην κληρουται Κλημης, ο και εωρακως τους μακαριους αποστολους, και συμβεβληκως αυτοις, και ετι εναυλον το κηρυγμα των αποστολων και την παραδοσιν προ οφθαλμων εχων, ου μονος, ετι γαρ πολλοι υπελειποντο τοτε υπο των αποστολων δεδιδαγμενοι. επι τουτου ουν του Κλημεντος στασεως ουκ ολιγης τοις εν Κορινθω γενομενης αδελφοις, επεστειλεν η εν Ρωμη εκκλησια ικανωτατην γραφην τοις Κορινθιοις, εις ειρηνην συμβιβαζουσα αυτους, και ανανεουσα την πιστιν αυτων, και {αναγγελλουσα} ην νεωστι απο των αποστολων παραδοσιν ειληφει....

Fundantes igitur et instruentes beati apostoli ecclesiam, Lino episcopatum administradae ecclesiae tradiderunt. huius Lini Paulus in his quae sunt ad Timotheum epistolis meminit. succedit autem ei Anacletus; post eum tertio loco ab apostolis episcopatum sortitur Clemens, qui et vidit ipsos apostolos, et contulit cum eis, et cum adhuc insonantem praedicationem apostolorum et traditionem ante oculos haberet, non solus, adhuc enim multi supererant tunc ab apostolis docti. sub hoc igitur Clemente, dissensione non modica inter eos qui Corinthi essent fratres facta, scripsit quae est Romae ecclesia potentissimas literas Corinthiis, ad pacem eos congregans et reparans fidem eorum, et annuntians quam in recenti ab apostolis acceperat traditionem,* annuntiantem unum deum omnipotentam, factorem coeli et terrae, plasmatorem hominis, qui induxerit cataclysmum et advocaverit Abraham, qui eduxerit populum de terra Aegypti, qui collucutus sit Moysi, qui legem disposuerit, et prophetas miserit, qui ignem praeparaverit diabolo et angelis eius. hunc patrem domini nostri Iesu Christi ab ecclesiis annuntiari, ex ipsa scriptura, qui velint discere possunt, et apostolicam ecclesiae traditionem intelligere, cum sit vetustior epistola his qui nunc falso docent, et alterum deum super dimiurgum et factorem horum omnium quae sunt commentiuntur.

* This is the extent of the Greek of this passage.

The blessed apostles having founded and established the church, entrusted the office of the episcopate to Linus. Paul speaks of this Linus in his epistles to Timothy. Anencletus succeeded him, and after Anencletus, in the third place from the apostles, Clement received the episcopate. He had seen and conversed with the blessed apostles, and their preaching was still sounding in his ears, and their tradition was still before his eyes. Nor was he alone in this, for many who had been taught by the apostles yet survived. In the times of Clement, a serious dissension having arisen among the brethren in Corinth, the church of Rome sent a most suitable letter to the Corinthians, reconciling them in peace, renewing their faith, and proclaiming the doctrine lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one omnipotent God, the maker of heaven and earth, the creator of man, who brought on the deluge and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, who spoke with Moses, who set forth the law and sent the prophets, who prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document whoever wishes to do so may learn that he, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the churches, and may also understand the apostolic tradition of the church, since this epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the creator and the maker of all things that are.

Τον δε Κλημεντα τουτον διαδεχεται Ευαρεστος και τον Ευαρεστον Αλεξανδρος. Ειθ ουτως εκτος απο των αποστολων καθισταται Ξυστος· μετα δε τουτον Τελεσφορος, οφ και ενδοξως εμαρτυρησεν· επειτα Υγινος, ειτα Πιος, μεθ ον Ανικητος· διαδεξαμενου τον Ανικητον Σωτηρος, νυν δωδεκατω τοπω τον της επισκοπης απο των αποστολων κατεχει κληρον Ελευθερος. τη αυτη ταξει και τη αυτη διδαχη* η τε απο των αποστολων εν τη εκκλησια παραδοσις και το της αληθειας κηρυγμα κατηντηκεν εις ημας.

* Perhaps a mistake for διαδοχη.

Huic autem Clementi succedit Evaristus, et Evaristo Alexander, ac deinceps sextus ab apostolis constitutus est Sixtus, et ab hoc Telesphorus, qui etiam gloriosissime martyrium fecit; ac deinceps Hyginus, post Pius, post quem Anicetus. cum autem successisset Aniceto Soter, nunc duodecimo loco episcopatum ab apostolis habet Eleutherius. hac ordinatione et successione ea quae est ab apostolis in ecclesia traditio et veritatis praeconatio pervenit usque ad nos. et est plenissima haec ostensio, unam et eandem vivificatricem fidem esse, quae en ecclesia ab apostolis usque nunc sit conservata, et tradita in veritate.

Evarestus succeeded Clement, and Alexander succeeded Evarestus. Then Xystus, the sixth from the apostles, was appointed. After him Telesphorus, who suffered martyrdom gloriously, then Hyginus, then Pius, and after him Anicetus; Soter succeeded Anicetus, and now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, Eleutherus holds the office of bishop. In the same order and succession the tradition in the church and the preaching of the truth has descended from the apostles unto us.

Tertullian.

Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics 32.2:

Hoc enim modo ecclesiae apostolicae census suos deferunt, sicut Smyrnaeorum ecclesia Polycarpum ab Iohanne conlocatum refert, sicut Romanorum Clementem a Petro ordinatum est.

For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their census registers, just as the church of the Smyrnaeans records that Polycarp was located there by John, just as that of the Romans [records that] Clement was ordained by Peter.

Clementine literature.

Clement of Rome became the nucleus of a series of legends in the pseudonymous Clementine literature.

Eusebius.

Eusebius, History of the Church 3.15-16 (1 section each):

Δωδεκατω δε ετει της αυτης ηγεμονιας της Ρωμαιων εκκλησιας Ανεγκλητον ετεσιν επισκοπευσαντα δεκαδυο διαδεχεται Κλημης, ον συνεργον εαυτου γενεσθαι Φιλιππησιοις επιστελλων ο αποστολος διδασκει, λεγων· Μετα και Κλημεντος και των λοιπων συνεργων μου, ων τα ονοματα εν βιβλω ζωης.

And in the twelfth year of the same rule1 Clement succeeded Anencletus after he had been bishop of the church of Rome for twelve years; the apostle2 writing an epistle to the Philippians teaches that this Clement became his fellow worker, saying: With Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

1 That of Domitian.
2 The apostolic reference is to Paul, of course, in Philippians 4.3.

Τουτου δη ουν ομολογουμενη μια επιστολη φερεται, μεγαλη τε και θαυμασια, ην ως απο της Ρωμαιων εκκλησιας τη Κορινθιων διετυπωσατο, στασεως τηνικαδε κατα την Κορινθον γενομενης. ταυτην δε και εν πλεισταις εκκλησιαις επι του κοινου δεδημοσιευμενην παλαι τε και καθ ημας αυτους εγνωμεν. και οτι γε κατα τον δηλουμενον τα της Κορινθιων κεκινητο στασεως αξιοχρεως μαρτυς ο Ηγησιππος.

There is extant one epistle of this Clement which is confessed to be genuine, both great [in length] and marvellous, which he formed as from the church of the Romans to that of the Corinthians, when a tumult had come up in Corinth. And we know that this epistle also has been publicized in the common in a great many churches both in the former era and in our own. And Hegesippus is a trustworthy witness that a tumult did take place in that of the Corinthians at the time referred to.

Eusebius, History of the Church 3.21 (1 section only):

Μικρω δε πλεον ενιαυτου βασιλευσαντα Νερουαν διαδεχεται Τραιανος· ου δη πρωτον ετος ην εν ω της κατ Αλεξανδρειαν παροικιας Αβιλιον δεκα προς τρισιν ετεσιν ηγησαμενον διαδεχεται Κερδων· τριτος ουτος των αυτοθι μετα τον πρωτον Αννιανον προεστη. εν τουτω δε Ρωμαιων εις ετι Κλημης ηγειτο, τριτον και αυτος επεχων των τηδε μετα Παυλον τε και Πετρον επισκοπευσαντων βαθμον· Λινος δε ο πρωτος ην και μετ αυτον Ανεγκλητος.

Trajan succeeded Nerva after he had reigned a little more than a year, during the first year of whom Cerdon succeeded Abilius, who had ruled the church of Alexandria for thirteen years. This man was the third that presided over that church after Annianus, who was the first. And at that time Clement still led the church of Rome, being also himself the third in line that held the episcopate there after Paul and Peter; and Linus was the first, and after him was Anencletus.

Eusebius, History of the Church 3.34 (1 section only):

Των δε επι Ρωμης επισκοπων ετει τριτω της του προειρημενου βασιλεως αρχης Κλημης Ευαρεστω παραδους την λειτουργιαν αναλυει τον βιον, τα παντα προστας ετεσιν εννεα της του θειου λογου διδασκαλιας.

And in the third year of the kingship of the one mentioned above* Clement gave over the ministry of the bishops at Rome to Evarestus and departed this life, having presided over the teaching of the divine word for nine years in all.

* That is, Trajan.

Eusebius, History of the Church 3.38.1-5 (English translation slightly modifed from that in the Ante-Nicene Fathers):

Ωσπερ ουν αμελει του Ιγνατιου εν αις κατελεξαμεν επιστολαις, και του Κλημεντος εν τη ανωμολογημενη παρα πασιν, ην εκ προσωπου της Ρωμαιων εκκλησιας τη Κορινθιων διετυπωσατο, εν η της προς Εβραιους πολλα νοηματα παραθεις, ηδη δε και αυτολεξει ρητοις τισιν εξ αυτης χρησαμενος, σαφεστατα παριστησιν οτι μη νεον υπαρχει το συγγραμμα.

Thus Ignatius has done in the epistles which we have mentioned, and Clement in his epistle which is confessed by all, which he formed in the countenance of the church of Rome to the church of Corinth. In this epistle he gives many thoughts drawn from the epistle to the Hebrews, and he also makes use verbally of some of its expressions, thus showing most plainly that it is not a recent production.

Οθεν δη και εικοτως εδοξεν αυτο τοις λοιποις εγκαταλεχθηναι γραμμασι του αποστολου· Εβραιοις γαρ δια της πατριου γλωττης εγγραφως ωμιληκοτος του Παυλου, οι μεν τον ευαγγελιστην Λουκαν, οι δε τον Κλημεντα τουτον αυτον ερμηνευσαι λεγουσι την γραφην.

Wherefore it has seemed reasonable to reckon it with the other writings of the apostle. For, as Paul had written to the Hebrews in his native tongue, some say that the evangelist Luke, others that this Clement himself translated the epistle.

Ο και μαλλον αν ειη αληθες τω τον ομοιον της φρασεως χαρακτηρα την τε του Κλημεντος επιστολην και την προς Εβραιους αποσωζειν και τω μη πορρω τα εν εκατεροις τοις συγγραμμασι νοηματα καθεσταναι.

The latter seems more probable, because the epistle of Clement and that to the Hebrews have a similar character in regard to style, and still further because the thoughts contained in the two works are not very different.

Ιστεον δ ως και δευτερα τις ειναι λεγεται του Κλημεντος επιστολη· ου μην εθ ομοιως τη προτερα και ταυτην γνωριμον επισταμεθα, οτι μηδε τους αρχαιους αυτη κεχρημενους ισμεν.

But it must be observed also that there is said to be a second epistle of Clement. But we know that this is not recognized like the former, since we do not find that the ancients have made any use of it.

Ηδη δε και ετερα πολευπη και μακρα συγγραμματα ως του αυτου χθες και πρωην τινες προηγαγον, Πετρου δη και Απιωνος διαλογους περιεχοντα, ων ουδ ολως μνημη τις παρα τοις παλαιοις φερεται, ουδε γαρ καθαρον της αποστολικης ορθοδοξιας αποσωζει τον χαρακτηρα.

And certain men have recently put forth verbose and lengthy writings under his name, containing dialogues of Peter and Apion,* of which writings no mention has been made by the ancients; for they do not even preserve the pure character of apostolic orthodoxy.

* These writings may be the pseudo-Clementine Homilies.

Eusebius immediately continues in 3.39.1: Η μεν ουν του Κλημεντος ομολογουμενη γραφη προδηλος (the confessed writing of Clement, therefore, is well known), before turning to other matters.

Jerome.

Jerome, On Famous Men 15:

Clemens, de quo apostolus Paulus ad Philippenses scribens ait: Cum Clemente et caeteris cooperatoribus meis, quorum nomina scripta sunt in libro vitae, quartus post Petrum Romae episcopus, si quidem secundus Linus fuit, tertius Anacletus, tametsi plerique Latinorum secundum post Petrum apostolum putent fuisse Clementem. scripsit ex persona Romanae ecclesiae ad ecclesiam Corinthiorum valde utilem epistolam, quae et in nonnullis locis publice legitur, quae mihi videtur characteri epistolae quae sub Pauli nomine ad Hebraeos fertur convenire. sed et multis de eadem epistola, non solum sensibus, sed iuxta verborum quoque ordinem abutitur; omnino grandis in utraque similitudo est. fertur et secunda eius nomine epistola quae a veteribus reprobatur, et disputatio Petri et Appionis longo sermone conscripta, quam Eusebius in tertio historiae ecclesiasticae volumine coarguit. obiit tertio Traiani anno, et nominis eius memoriam usque hodie Romae exstructa ecclesia custodit.

Clement, concerning whom the apostle Paul writing to the Philippians says: With Clement and others of my fellow workers, whose names have been written in the book of life, the fourth bishop of Rome after Peter, if indeed the second was Linus, the third Anacletus, although most of the Latins think that Clement was second after Peter the apostle. He wrote in the person of the Roman church an especially useful epistle to the church of the Corinthians, which in some places is publicly read, and which seems to me to agree in character with the epistle to the Hebrews which is extant under the name of Paul. But it differs from this same epistle, not only in many of its ideas, but also in respect of the order of words, and its similarity in either respect is not very great. There is extant also a second epistle by his name which is rejected by the earlier men, and also a disputation between Peter and Appion written out at length, which Eusebius in the third book of his Ecclesiastical History convicts. He died in the third year of Trajan, and a church constructed at Rome preserves the memory of his name until today.

Photius.

Photius, Bibliotheca 112-113 (a single chapter concerning two volumes; English translation slightly modified from that of J. H. Freese, available at the Tertullian Project):

Ανεγνωσθη Κλημεντος του Ρωμης τευχη βιβλιων δυο, ων το μεν επιγραφεται διαταγαι των αποστολων δια Κλημεντος, εν ω και οι των συνοδικων κανονων τω αθροισματι των αποστολων κανονες επιγραφομενοι περιεχονται· το δε την προσφωνησιν ως εν επιστολης ειδει προς Ιακωβον τον αδελφοθεον ποιειται, εν ω αι τε λεγομεναι του αποτολου Πετρου πραξεις και αι προς Σιμωνα τον μαγον διαλεξεις, και ετι ο αναγνωρισμος Κλημεντος και του πατρος και των αλλων αδελφων, διο και εν τισι των βιβλιων η επιγραφη Κλημεντος του Ρωμαιου αναγνωρισμος επιγραφεται.

Read two volumes of the works of Clement, bishop of Rome. One is entitled the Apostolic Constitutions by Clement, containing the synodical canons ascribed to the assembled apostles. The other, in the form of a letter, is dedicated to James the brother of the Lord and contains what are called the Acts of the Apostle Peter, his Conversations with Simon Magus, the Recognition of Clement and His Father and His Two Brothers. Hence in some copies it is entitled the Recognition of Clement of Rome.

Εν τισι δε, ως εφημεν, επιστολη προταττεται ως προς τον αδελφοθεον Ιακωβον, και αυτη δε ουχ η αυτη, ουδε ως απο του αυτου προσωπου προενηνεγμενη, αλλ επι μεν τινων βιβλιων ως απο Πετρου του αποστολου προς Ιακωβον επεσταλμενη, εφ ετερων δε ως απο Κλημεντος προς Ιακωβον, αλλη και αλλη, καθως προειπομεν.

As we have said, a letter is prefixed as sent to James the brother of the Lord, but not always the same nor from the same person, according to some copies being sent by Peter the apostle, according to others by Clement to James.

Και η μεν δηλοι Πετρον τας οικειας συγγραψασθαι πραξεις και προς Ιακωβον αιτησαμενον ταυτας αποστειλαι· η δε διαλαμβανει ως Κλημης ταυτας κατα προσταγμα Πετρου συγγραψειε, κακεινου προς την αγηρω μετανασταντος αποστειλοι Κλημης προς Ιακωβον. εστιν ουν εικασμω διαλαβειν ως δυο μεν ειησαν των Πετρου πραξεων εκδοσεις γεγενημεναι, τω δε χρονω της ετερας διαρρυεισης επεκρατησεν η του Κλημεντος· εν πασι γαρ τοις βιβλιοις α ειδομεν, καιτοι ουκ ολιγων οντων, μετα τας διαφορους εκεινας επιστολας και επιγραφας την αυτην ευρομεν απαραλλακτως πραγματειαν, αρχομενην· Εγω Κλημης, και τα εξης ενταττομενα. μυριων δε ατοπηματων η πραγματεια γεμει αυτη, και της εις τον υιον βλασφημιας κατα την Αρειου δοξαν εστιν αναπλεως.

In the first case, Peter would seem to have compiled an account of his own acts and sent it to James at his request; in the second, Clement compiled it by command of Peter and sent it to James, after Peter had passed to immortal life. It may be conjectured then that there were two editions of the Acts of Peter, and that when one in course of time perished that of Clement alone survived. For in all the copies which I have seen, by no means a few, after those different epistles and titles I have unvaryingly found the same treatise beginning: I, Clement, and the rest. The work is full of countless absurdities and of blasphemy against the son in accordance with the Arian heresy.

Αι δε γε διαταγαι τρισι μονοις δοκουσιν ενεχεσθαι· κακοπλαστια ην ου χαλεπον αποσκευασασθαι, και οτι κατα του δευτερονομιου υβρεις τινας επαφιησιν, α και ραστον διαλυσασθαι, και ετι Αρειανισμω οπερ αν τις και βιαιως διακρουσαιτο.

The Constitutions appear to be liable to censure on three counts, namely clumsy fiction, which is easy to remove; the abusive charges against Deuteronomy, which can easily be met; and its Arianism, which can be refuted by a vigorous attack.

Η μεντοι γε των Πετρου πραξεων βιβλος τω τε λαμπρω και τη σεμνοτητι και ετι τω καθαρω και συντονω και τη αλλη αρετη του λογου και πολυμαθεια τοσουτον εχει πριος τας διαταγας το παραλλαττον ως μηδε συγκρισει τη κατα τους λογους προς αλληλας παραβαλλεσθαι τας βιβλους.

But the book of the Acts of Peter in its distinctness and earnestness, its purity, vehemence, its general linguistic excellences, and its great learning is so superior to the Constitutions that, so far as language is concerned, no comparison between the two works is possible.

Ουτος εστιν ο Κλημης περι ου φησιν ο θεσπεσιος Παυλος εν τη προς Φιλιππησιους επιστολη· Μετα και Κλημεντος και των λοιπων συνεργων μου, ων τα ονοματα εν βιβλω ζωης. ουτος και επιστολην αξιολογον προς Κορινθιους γραφει, ητις παρα πολλοις αποδοχης ηξιωθη ως και δημοσια αναγινωσκεσθαι. η δε λεγομενη δευτερα προς τους αυτους ως νοθος αποδοκιμαζεται, ωςπερ ο ειγραφομενος επ ονοματι αυτου Πετρου και Αππιωνος πολυστιχος διαλογος.

It is this Clement of whom Saint Paul speaks in the epistle to the Philippians: With Clement also and my other fellow workers, whose names are written in the book of life. He also wrote an important letter to the Corinthians which was so highly thought of that it was read in public. A second letter to the same is rejected as spurious, as also the lengthy discussion, a dialogue between Peter and Apion.

Τουτον φασιν οι μεν δευτερον μετα Πετρον Ρωμης επισκοπησαι, οι δε τεταρτον· Λινον γαρ και Ανακλητον μεταξυ αυτου και Πετρου Ρωμης επισκοπους διαγεγονεναι· τελευτησαι δε αυτον τριτω ετει Τραιανου.

Some say that Clement succeeded Peter as bishop of Rome, others that he was the fourth bishop, Linus and Anacletus intervening, and that he died in the third year of the reign of Trajan.