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Another Letter to the Corinthians

Who writes letters anymore? We have so many forms of communication today (including newspapers and email) that letter-writing is often ignored. Yet in the time of Jesus’ Apostles, only one form was available: written letters. For example, of the 27 "books" in the New Testament, 13 are letters Paul wrote to churches or individuals. Paul was not alone, for any church leader who desired to communicate over a distance only had one option. And one of these church leaders was named Clement.

Clement (died early 2nd Century), also known as Clement of Rome, was a bishop of Rome and, according to Catholic tradition, he was the fourth pope. While his life story is sketchy, some evidence exists that he was with Paul in Philippi and may have traveled with him to Corinth. Some scholars believe he is the Clement mentioned in Philippians 4:3 [Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellows, help . . . Clement and the rest of my fellow workers . . .].

As bishop of Rome, Clement apparently wrote letters to churches in other cities in order to encourage and/or to solve problems. The only letter we have from Clement is to the church in Corinth. Most scholars believe this letter was written in the late AD 90s. [I and II Corinthians in the New Testament were written in the mid-50s.] This letter, called I Clement, was very popular in early church times. Eusebius (260-340) wrote: "We are aware that this Epistle ["Epistle" is another word for "letter."] has been publicly read in very many churches both in old times, and also in our own day." I Clement consists of 59 chapters, although each chapter is more like a paragraph. The rest of this article consists of two of these chapters. [If you are interested in reading all of I Clement, go to www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ii.ii.i.html.]

Chapter XIII.—Let us therefore, brethren, be of humble mind, laying aside all haughtiness, and pride, and foolishness, and angry feelings; and let us act according to that which is written (for the Holy Spirit says, "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, neither let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glories glory in the Lord, in diligently seeking Him, and doing judgment and righteousness"), being especially mindful of the words of the Lord Jesus which He spoke, teaching us meekness and long-suffering. For thus He spoke: "Be you merciful, that you may obtain mercy; forgive, that it may be forgiven to you; as you do, so shall it be done unto you; as you judge, so shall you be judged; as you are kind, so shall kindness be shown to you; with what measure you measure, with the same it shall be measured to you." By this precept and by these rules let us establish ourselves, that we walk with all humility in obedience to His holy words. For the holy word says, "On whom shall I look, but on him that is meek and peaceable, and that trembles at My words?"

Chapter LVIII.—May God, who sees all things, and who is the Ruler of all spirits and the Lord of all flesh—who chose our Lord Jesus Christ and us through Him to be a peculiar people—grant to every soul that calls upon His glorious and holy Name, faith, fear, peace, patience, long-suffering, self-control, purity, and sobriety, to the well-pleasing of His Name, through our High Priest and Protector, Jesus Christ, by whom be to Him glory, and majesty, and power, and honor, both now and for evermore. Amen.

©2007 Mark Nickens

Questions/comments contact Mark at drnickens@triad.rr.com.

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