Clement of Rome on Justification by Works

Pope Clement I
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Following the Brother of Jesus, James who in his epistle wrote, ‘You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. (Jam 2:24 NASB), Clement of Rome, wrote to the Corinthians,

Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change, all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride.

For God, saith|the Scripture¦, resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.

Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words.

For|the Scripture¦ saith, He that speaketh much, shall also hear much in answer. And does he that is ready in speech deem himself righteous?

Blessed is he that is born of woman, who liveth but a short time: be not given to much speaking.

Let our praise be in God, and not of ourselves; for God hateth those that commend themselves.

Let testimony to our good deeds be borne by others, as it was in the case of our righteous forefathers.

Boldness, and arrogance, and audacity belong to those that are accursed of God; but moderation, humility, and meekness to such as are blessed by Him. (1Cl 30:1-8 APE)


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5 Replies to “Clement of Rome on Justification by Works”

  1. A couple of quarters ago I wrote a paper on justification in Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp. Clement actually goes to great lengths to argue that we are justified by faith apart from any work. Then he turns around and says this.

    1. I think that’s because there is a difference in saying that we earn our salvation and that we have to work to keep our faith, or that our faith produces works.

  2. I think Paul made it very clear in Ephesians–We are save NOT BY works, but UNTO good works. IF we are truly saved, good works will follow, but works are never the baisis or means of salvation. It is only by faith in the shed blood of Christ.

  3. Now, exmaine carefully the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles and cite for me ONE instance where James the Lesser showed anything other than his doubt and skepticism of the divinity of Christ. I’ve been waiting for such an example for years now…

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