The Lord Jesus Christ in 2nd Clement

This is not meant to be a comprehensive survey by any means. In this post, I want to examine the role which Christ play for the community of 2nd Clement.

While reading Michael W. Holmes book, ]] I noted that he allows for an even earlier date, or rather, he allows several scholars to speak who date 2nd Clement to the early part of the 2nd century.

Easily seen is the Christology which the speaker puts on to Christ, encouraging his audience to think of Christ as they think of God.

it is fitting that you should think of Jesus Christ as of God (1:1)

Christology, as we see with Ignatius, is part of the doctrinal discourse, along side that of how a Christian is supposed to live. The speaker doesn’t expressly call Christ God here, but only that people should have for Christ the same high regard which they have for God. In the same passage, he elevates this ‘thought process’ to a saving means, in which the audience is cautioned that thinking little of Him (or belittling Christ, as Holmes translates) should cause the audience to receive little from Christ. This is echoed, slightly in the thirteenth chapter when the author quotes Isaiah 52.5. (If Christ was invested with the Name of God, and was thus seen as God as John seems to written in accordance with other 2nd Temple literature, the author then does have a developed ]].) Notwithstanding later development, Christ is given a high regard by the author as he attributes to Christ  the giving of light, the father of children, and the salvation from perishing (v4). He goes on to quote Paul (Romans 4.17) when he writes,

For He called us when we were not, and willed that out of nothing we should attain a real existence. (1:8)

In the next chapter, the author quotes various Old Testament passages, attributing the action to God, but seems to then place the onus of the salvaic act on Christ who called out the Gentile people who are now in direct opposition to those who ‘seem to have God (2.3), the Jews. The ancient author has the highest regard for Christ, in that he attributes the actions and duties of God to Him.

In the third and fourth chapter, our author moves into familiar Christological territory, quoting Mark/Matthew in which Christ promises to acknowledge before the Father those who acknowledge Him. At the close of the fourth chapter, however, the author introduces a quote of Christ from an unknown source, when he writes,

the Lord has said, “Even though you were gathered together to Me in My very bosom, yet if you were not to keep My commandments, I would cast you off, and say unto you, Depart from Me; I do not know where you are from, you workers of iniquity.” (4:5)

The author, while he acknowledges Scripture also uses these traditional sayings as well as a ‘prophetic word’ (11.2-4) as sources of thought.

In the fifth chapter, it is the promise of Christ is front and center, in that it is ‘rest in the coming kingdom and eternal life.’ This blessing is mirrored in the sixth chapter when the ancient preach noted that nothing could save the soul from eternal punishment if they didn’t do the will of Christ. For the author, the baptism much be kept undefiled and the works of righteousness sought. This type of view is also seen in 8.2, where the author commends repentance while there is still time, stating that those who have ‘kept the flesh pure and have observed the commandments of the Lord, we will receive eternal life.’ (8.4)

The ninth chapter, like chapter 14, I will reserve for later, especially since it deals with the pre-existence of Christ. I will say, however, that the author views the incarnation of Christ as something important, in that for the author, the flesh mush be kept pure (it is the temple of God, 9.3). For him, since we received our salvation in the flesh we will receive our reward in the flesh. In the fourteenth chapter, however, there is the connection between Christ and the Holy Spirit, where they are one in the same.

The doxology of the sermon is also tinged with Christology –

To the only God invisible, the Father of truth, who sent forth to us the Savior and Prince of incorruption, through whom also He manifested to us the truth and the heavenly life, to Him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. (20.5)

It is also God sending Christ, returning to the fact that we should think of Christ as we do of God – perhaps because Christ carried the divine Name and Message of Truth which brings eternal life with God.

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