Sunday, August 05, 2012

1st Clement 5 - Paul's Message

Still speaking of envy, Clement introduces the apostles,
"But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death." (1 Clement 5)
It is unfortunate that the original translator of this letter chose the word "heroes." This phrase could more literally be translated, "those who have been athletes." The apostles, including Paul, had run well the race set before them. They started well, ran with courage and strength, and finished well; most ending their lives in martyrdom. Speaking of Paul, Clement writes,
"Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience." (1 Clement 5)
Clement also adds this note about Paul's later life, after going to Rome,
"After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west,29 and suffered martyrdom under the prefects." (1 Clement 5)
Thus supporting the theories that Paul continued to preach the Gospel after his imprisonment in Rome even as far as Spain or even Britain. However, what is most striking to me is the statement "having taught righteousness to the whole world." Clement knew Paul well, as a disciple and companion, and its interesting how he summarizes Paul's message to the world. Of all the ways he could have described his message he chose the word "righteousness." Paul's message to the world was a message of righteousness. While there is a lot that can preached and taught under the heading of Righteousness, it was Paul's constant message to the people throughout the "whole world."

This should cause us ask the question, "What is our message?"

David Robison

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