2 Clement

By James M. Rochford

Unless otherwise state, all citations come from Pseudo-Clement of Rome. (1886). An Ancient Homily, Commonly Styled the Second Epistle of Clement. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson, & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily, and Liturgies (Vol. 7). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.


We possess only three manuscripts: two in Greek and one in Syriac.[1]


We do not know who wrote 2 Clement, but most scholars believe it was not the same author as 1 Clement. For one, the vocabulary, style, and syntax are very different. While the Apostolic Constitutions (8.5.47) put forward that 1 and 2 Clement were written by the same author, a century earlier, Eusebius questioned 2 Clement’s authorship (Ecclesiastical History, 3.38.4). Jefford writes, “It is generally agreed that the author was not the same individual who wrote 1 Clement.”[2]

Whoever the author was, he refers to Greek sporting events (ch.7), so some scholars believe he was Corinthian. This could explain why the letter was associated with 1 Clement, which was written to Rome.

Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History, 4.23.11) states that Rome sent two letters to Corinth—the first was Clement’s letter and the second was from the Roman bishop Soter (AD 166-174). Jefford writes, “A few scholars think it is possible that this letter incorporated the homily that is now identified as 2 Clement…. Since both texts were known to have come from Rome, it would have been easy to associate the two writings as letters from Clement without further suspicion.”[3]


If the letter was written by Clement of Rome (which is unlikely), then it could be as early as AD 100. If it was written by bishop Soter, then it would date to AD 174. Jefford places the date somewhere in between. He writes, “Most scholars place 2 Clement between 120 and 140.”[4]

Important content in this letter

(Chapter 1) “It is fitting that you should think of Jesus Christ as of God,—as the Judge of the living and the dead.”

(Chapter 2) He cites Isaiah 54 as referring to the Church.

He cites Matthew 9:13 and/or Luke 5:32 as “Scripture.”

(Chapter 3) He wants believers to serve and confess Christ with their lips and their lives.

(Chapter 4) He makes many citations from the Synoptic gospels.

(Chapter 5) He cites the passage where Jesus sends them out as lambs among wolves (Mt. 10:16).

(Chapter 6) He cites Ezekiel as “Scripture.”

“How can we hope to enter into the royal residence of God unless we keep our baptism holy and undefiled? Or who shall be our advocate, unless we be found possessed of works of holiness and righteousness?”

(Chapter 7) He compares the believer’s life to the Isthmian Games.

(Chapter 8) “While we are in this world, repent with our whole heart of the evil deeds we have done in the flesh, that we may be saved by the Lord, while we have yet an opportunity of repentance.”

He cites Luke 16:10-12 as referring to eternal life, rather than stewardship of our gifts.

(Chapter 9) We will be physically raised from the dead. Some will be judged if they don’t repent from the heart.

(Chapter 10)

(Chapter 11) We should trust in the promises of God.

(Chapter 12) He believed in imminence: “Let us expect, therefore, hour by hour, the kingdom of God in love and righteousness, since we know not the day of the appearing of God.”

(Chapter 13) We should uphold God’s reputation among those who don’t know him.

(Chapter 14) The Church was created before the creation itself (?!).

He cites Jesus’ words in the gospels as “Scripture” (Jer. 7:11; Mt. 21:13; Mk. 11:17; Lk. 19:46).

(Chapter 15) More imperatives for righteous living.

(Chapter 16) Prayer and almsgiving gets rid of sin: “Almsgiving therefore is a good thing, as repentance from sin; fasting is better than prayer, but almsgiving than both; ‘but love cover[s] a multitude of sins.’ But prayer out of a good conscience deliver[s] from death. Blessed is every one that is found full of these; for alms-giving lighten[s] the burden of sin.”

(Chapter 17) “Let us therefore repent from the whole heart, that no one of us perish by the way.”

He doesn’t seem to be a leader of a church; unless, he is speaking in the “royal we.” He writes, “Let us not think to give heed and believe now only, while we are admonished by the presbyters, but also when we have returned home.”

He has a high Christology: “The unbelievers ‘shall see His glory,’ and strength; and they shall think it strange when they see the sovereignty of the world in Jesus.”

(Chapter 18) He writes of his own sinfulness: “I myself also, being an utter sinner, and not yet escaped from temptation, but still being in the midst of the engines of the devil, give diligence to follow after righteousness, that I may have strength to come even near it, fearing the judgment to come.”

(Chapter 19) “Let us then practise righteousness that we may be saved unto the end.”

(Chapter 20) Conclusion.

[1] Jefford, C. N. (2012). Reading the Apostolic Fathers: A Student’s Introduction (Second Edition, p. 124). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

[2] Jefford, C. N. (2012). Reading the Apostolic Fathers: A Student’s Introduction (Second Edition, p. 125). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

[3] Jefford, C. N. (2012). Reading the Apostolic Fathers: A Student’s Introduction (Second Edition, p. 127). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

[4] Jefford, C. N. (2012). Reading the Apostolic Fathers: A Student’s Introduction (Second Edition, p. 128). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.