Clement of Alexandria
(ca. 200 A.D.)
Titus Flavius Clemens was probably born about 150 and died about 215 A.D. He was probably born in Greece and found his way to Alexandria. Clement was an early Greek theologian and the head of the catechetical school in Alexandria. "He became a convert to the Faith and travelled from place to place in search of higher instruction, attaching himself successively to different masters: to a Greek of Ionia, to another of Magna Graecia, to a third of Coele-Syria, after all of whom he addressed himself in turn to an Egyptian, an Assyrian, and a converted Palestinian Jew. At last he met Pantaenus in Alexandria, and in his teaching "found rest"." (Catholic Encyclopedia). Alexandria was one of the main centers of Gnosticism where Basilides and Valentinus had taught. Clement described the Christian as the "true Gnostic," meaning a person with the true knowledge of God. Clement's writings stronly reflect a Platonistic and Stoic philosophical foundation. In many ways, Clement was more of a practical theologian than a systematic theologian. His theology was an attempt to synthesize Platonic philosophy and Christian doctrine. At times this theology seems incoherent and even contradictory. Clement is perhaps best known as the teacher of Origen. He advocated a vegetarian diet and claimed that the apostles Peter, Matthew, and James the Just were vegetarians.He advocated a vegetarian diet and claimed that the apostles Peter, Matthew, and James the Just were vegetarians,
Clement regards Greek philosophy as a divine gift (Stromata, I).
Gnostism- perfection, secret, knowledge.
You have, then, God's promise; you have His love: become partaker of His grace. And do not suppose the song of salvation to be new, as a vessel or a house is new. For “before the morning star it was;” and "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Error seems old, but truth seems a new thing.(I).
Whether, then, the Phrygians are shown to be the most ancient people by the goats of the fable; or, on the other hand, the Arcadians by the poets, who describe them as older than the moon; or, finally, the Egyptians by those who dream that this land first gave birth to gods and men: yet none of these at least existed before the world. But before the foundation of the world were we, who, because destined to be in Him, pre-existed in the eye of God before—we the rational creatures of the Word of God, on whose account we date from the beginning; for “in the beginning was the Word.” Well, inasmuch as the Word was from the first, He was and is the divine source of all things; but inasmuch as He has now assumed the name Christ, consecrated of old, and worthy of power, he has been called by me the New Song. This Word, then, the Christ, the cause of both our being at first (for He was in God) and of our well-being, this very Word has now appeared as man, He alone being both, both God and man, the Author of all blessings to us; by whom we, being taught to live well, are sent on our way to life eternal. For, according to that inspired apostle of the Lord, "the grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for the blessed hope, and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." (I).
This is the New Song, the manifestation of the Word that was in the beginning, and before the beginning. The Saviour, who existed before, has in recent days appeared. He, who is in Him that truly is, has appeared; for the Word, who “was with God,” and by whom all things were created, has appeared as our Teacher. The Word, who in the beginning bestowed on us life as Creator when He formed us, taught us to live well when He appeared as our Teacher; that as God He might afterwards conduct us to the life which never ends.(I).
The Saviour has many tones of voice, and many methods for the salvation of men; by threatening He admonishes, by upbraiding He converts, by bewailing He pities, by the voice of song He cheers. He spoke by the burning bush, for the men of that day needed signs and wonders. He awed men by the fire when He made flame to burst from the pillar of cloud— a token at once of grace and fear: if you obey, there is the light; if you disobey, there is the fire; but since humanity is nobler than the pillar or the bush, after them the prophets uttered their voice—the Lord Himself speaking in Isaiah, in Elias,— speaking Himself by the mouth of the prophets. But if you do not believe the prophets, but supposest both the men and the fire a myth, the Lord Himself shall speak to you, “who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but humbled Himself,” Philippians 2:6-7 — He, the merciful God, exerting Himself to save man. And now the Word Himself clearly speaks to you, shaming your unbelief; yea, I say, the Word of God became man, that you may learn from man how man may become God. Is it not then monstrous, my friends, that while God is ceaselessly exhorting us to virtue, we should spurn His kindness and reject salvation? (I).
For this reason John, the herald of the Word, besought men to make themselves ready against the coming of the Christ of God. (I).
For it was not without divine care that so great a work was accomplished in so brief a space by the Lord, who, though despised as to appearance, was in reality adored, the expiator of sin, the Saviour, the clement, the Divine Word, He that is truly most manifest Deity, He that is made equal to the Lord of the universe; because He was His Son, and the Word was in God.(X).
Our Helper is the Word; let us put confidence in Him. (XII).
Last Update: January 23, 2011
Now, O you, my children, our Instructor is like His Father God, whose son He is, sinless, blameless, and with a soul devoid of passion; God in the form of man, stainless, the minister of His Father's will, the Word who is God, who is in the Father, who is at the Father's right hand, and with the form of God is God. (I,2).
The Lord ministers all good and all help, both as man and as God: as God, forgiving our sins; and as man, training us not to sin. (I,3).
For how shall he not be loved for whose sake the only-begotten Son is sent from the Father's bosom, the Word of faith, the faith which is superabundant. (I,3).
For how shall he not be loved for whose sake the only-begotten Son is sent from the Father's bosom, the Word of faith, the faith which is superabundant, (I,5).
Furthermore, there is an intimation of the divinity of the Lord in His not being slain. For Jesus rose again after His burial, having suffered no harm, like Isaac released from sacrifice. And in defence of the point to be established, I shall adduce another consideration of the greatest weight. The Spirit calls the Lord Himself a child, thus prophesying by Esaias: “Lo, to us a child has been born, to us a son has been given, on whose own shoulder the government shall be; and His name has been called the Angel of great Counsel.” Who, then, is this infant child? He according to whose image we are made little children. By the same prophet is declared His greatness: “Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace; that He might fulfil His discipline: and of His peace there shall be no end.” Isaiah 9:6 O the great God! O the perfect child! The Son in the Father, and the Father in the Son. And how shall not the discipline of this child be perfect, which extends to all, leading as a schoolmaster us as children who are His little ones? He has stretched forth to us those hands of His that are conspicuously worthy of trust. To this child additional testimony is borne by John, “the greatest prophet among those born of women:” Luke 7:28 Behold the Lamb of God! For since Scripture calls the infant children lambs, it has also called Him— God the Word— who became man for our sakes, and who wished in all points to be made like to us— “the Lamb of God”— Him, namely, that is the Son of God, the child of the Father.(I.5).
Let us then ask the wise, Is Christ, begotten today, already perfect, or— what were most monstrous— imperfect? If the latter, there is some addition He requires yet to make. But for Him to make any addition to His knowledge is absurd, since He is God.... Will they not then own, though reluctant, that the perfect Word born of the perfect Father was begotten in perfection, according to œconomic fore-ordination? And if He was perfect, why was He, the perfect one, baptized? It was necessary, they say, to fulfil the profession that pertained to humanity. Most excellent. Well, I assert, simultaneously with His baptism by John, He becomes perfect? Manifestly. He did not then learn anything more from him? Certainly not. But He is perfected by the washing— of baptism— alone, and is sanctified by the descent of the Spirit? Such is the case. The same also takes place in our case, whose exemplar Christ became. Being baptized, we are illuminated; illuminated, we become sons; being made sons, we are made perfect; being made perfect, we are made immortal. “I,” says He, “have said that you are gods, and all sons of the Highest.” (I,6).
The universal Father is one, and one the universal Word; and the Holy Spirit is one and the same everywhere, and one is the only virgin mother. I love to call her the Church.(I,6)
But our Instructor is the holy God Jesus, the Word, who is the guide of all humanity. The loving God Himself is our Instructor. (I,7).
Nothing, then, is hated by God, nor yet by the Word. For both are one— that is, God. For He has said, “In the beginning the Word was in God, and the Word was God.” (I,8).
It is indisputable, then, that the Lord is the Son of the Creator. And if, the Creator above all is confessed to be just, and the Lord to be the Son of the Creator; then the Lord is the Son of Him who is just. (I,8).
Besides, the feeling of anger (if it is proper to call His admonition anger) is full of love to man, God condescending to emotion on man's account; for whose sake also the Word of God became man.(I,8).
So God is good on His own account, and just also on ours, and He is just because He is good. And His justice is shown to us by His own Word from there from above, whence the Father was. For before He became Creator He was God; He was good. And therefore He wished to be Creator and Father. And the nature of all that love was the source of righteousness— the cause, too, of His lighting up His sun, and sending down His own Son.(I,9).
So that from this it is clear, that one alone, true, good, just, in the image and likeness of the Father, His Son Jesus, the Word of God, is our Instructor; to whom God has entrusted us, as an affectionate father commits his children to a worthy tutor, expressly charging us, “This is my beloved Son: hear Him.” The divine Instructor is trustworthy, adorned as He is with three of the fairest ornament— knowledge, benevolence, and authority of utterance—with knowledge, for He is the paternal wisdom: “All Wisdom is from the Lord, and with Him for evermore;”— with authority of utterance, for He is God and Creator: “For all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made.(I,11).