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The Ante-Nicene fathers. translations of the writings of the fathers down to A.D. 325. (Volume 1) online

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Ta apyava. Wrj JcpaTcirta.

The Nicene Council.





The Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. J2^,














-' I'

Copyright, 1885, by




This volume, containing the equivalent of three volumes of the Edinburgh series of the Ante-
NiCENE Fathers, will be found a library somewhat complete in itself. The Apostolic Fathers
and those associated with them in the third generation, are here placed together in a handbook,
which, with the inestimable Scriptures, supplies a succinct autobiography of the Spouse of Christ
for the first two centuries. No Christian scholar has ever before possessed, in faithful versions of
such compact form, a supplement so essential to the right understanding of the New Testament
itself. It is a volume indispensable to all scholars, and to every library, private or public, in

this country.

The American Editor has performed the humble task of ushering these works into American
use, with scanty contributions of his own. Such was the understanding with the public : they
were to be presented with the Edinburgh series, free from appreciable colour or alloy. His duty
was (i) to give historic arrangement to the confused mass of the original series; (2) to supply,
in continuity, such brief introductory notices as might slightly popularize what was apparently
meant for scholars only, in the introductions of the translators ; (3) to supply a few deficiencies by
short notes and references ; (4) to add such references to Scripture, or to authors of general
repute, as might lend additional aid to students, without clogging or overlaying the comments
of the translators; and (5) to note such corruptions or distortions of Patristic testimony as
have been circulated, in the spirit of the forged Decretals, by those who carry on the old impos-
ture by means essentially equivalent. Too long have they been allowed to speak to the popular
mind as if the Fathers were their own ; while, to every candid reader, it must be evident that,
alike, the testimony, the arguments, and the silence of the Ante-Nicene writers confound all
attempts to identify the ecclesiastical establishment of " the Holy Roman Empire," with " the
Holy Catholic Church " of the ancient creeds.

In performing this task, under the pressure of a virtual obligation to issue the first volume in
the first month of the new year, the Editor has relied upon the kindly aid of an able friend, as
typographical corrector of the Edinburgh sheets. It is only necessary to add, that he has
bracketed all his own notes, so as to assume the responsibility for them ; but his introduc-
tions are so separated from those of the translators, that, after the first instance, he has
not thought it requisite to suffix his initials to these brief contributions. He regrets that the
most important volume of the series is necessarily the experimental one, and comes out under
disadvantages from which it may be expected that succeeding issues will be free. May the Lord
God of our Fathers bless the undertaking to all my fellow-Christians, and make good to them the
promise which was once felicitously chosen for the motto of a similar series of publications : " Yei
shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachen."

A. C. C.
jAiruARY 6, 1885.


N.B. — The following advertisement of the original editors will be useful here : —

The Ante-Nicene Christian Library is meant to comprise translations into English of all the extant
works of the Fathers down to the date of the first General Council held at Nice in a.d. 325. The sole pro-
Tisional exception is that of the more bulky writings of Origen. It is intended at present only to embrace in the
scheme the Contra Celsum and the De Principiis of that voluminous author; but the whole of his works will be
included should the undertaking prove successful.

The present volume has been translated by the Editors.' Their object has been to place the English reader
as nearly as possible on a footing of equality with those who are able to read the original. With this view they
have for the most part leaned towards literal exactness ; and wherever any considerable departure from this has
been made, a verbatim rendering has been given at the foot of the page. Brief introductory notices have been
prefixed, and short notes inserted, to indicate varieties of reading, specify references, or elucidate any obscurity
which seemed to exist in the text.

Edinburgh, 1867.

This refers to the first tcIusm only of the ori^iaal serlea.



[a.d. 1 00-200.] The Apostolic Fathers are here understood as filling up the second century
of our era. Irenaeus, it is true, is rather of the sub-apostolic period ; but, as the disciple of
Polycarp, he ought not to be dissociated from that Father's company. We thus find ourselves con-
ducted, by this goodly fellowship of witnesses, from the times of the apostles to those of TertuUian,
from the martyrs of the second persecution to those of the sixth. Those were times of heroism,
not of words ; an age, not of writers, but of soldiers ; not of talkers, but of sufferers. Curiosity is
baffled, but faith and love are fed by these scanty relics of primitive antiquity. Yet may we well
be grateful for what we have. These writings come down to us as the earliest response of con-
verted nations to the testimony of Jesus. They are primary evidences of the Canon and the
credibility of the New Testament. Disappointment may be the first emotion of the student who
comes down from the mount where he has dwelt in the tabernacles of evangelists and apostles :
for these disciples are confessedly inferior to the masters ; they speak with the voices of infirm
and fallible men, and not like the New-Testament writers, with the fiery tongues of the Holy
Ghost. Yet the thoughtful and loving spirit soon learns their exceeding value. For who does not
close the records of St. Luke with longings to get at least a glimpse of the further history of the
progress of the Gospel? What of the Church when its founders were fallen asleep? Was the
Good Shepherd " always " with His little flock, according to His promise? Was the Blessed Com-
forter felt in His presence amid the fires of persecution? Was the Spirit of Truth really able to
guide the faithful into all truth, and to keep them in the truth ?

And what had become of the disciples who were the first-fruits of the apostolic ministry?
St. Paul had said, " The same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others
also." How was this injunction realized? St. Peter's touching words come to mind, "I will
endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance."
Was this endeavour successfully carried out ? To these natural and pious inquiries, the Apostolic
Fathers, though we have a few specimens only of their fidelity, give an emphatic reply. If the
cold-hearted and critical find no charm in the simple, childlike faith which they exhibit, ennobled
though it be by heroic devotion to the Master, we need not marvel. Such would probably object :
" They teach me nothing ; I do not relish their multiplied citations from Scripture." The answer
is, " If you are familiar with Scripture, you owe it largely to these primitive witnesses to its Canon
and its spirit. By their testimony we detect what is spurious, and we identify what is real. Is it
nothing to find that your Bible is their Bible, your faith their faith, your Saviour their Saviour, your
God their God?" Let us reflect also, that, when copies of the entire Scriptures were rare and
costly, these citations were " words fitly spoken, — apples of gold in pictures of silver." We are
taught by them also that they obeyed the apostle's precept, " Let the word of Christ dwell in
you richly in all wisdom ; teaching and admonishing," etc. Thus they reflect the apostolic care
that men should be raised up able to teach others also.



Their very mistakes enable us to attach a higher value to the superiority of inspired writers.
They were not wiser than the naturalists of their day who taught them the history of the Phoenix
and other fables ; but nothing of this sort is found in Scripture. The Fathers are inferior in kind
as well as in degree ; yet their words are lingering echoes of those whose words were spoken "as
the Spirit gave them utterance." They are monuments of the power of the Gospel. They were
made out of such material as St. Paul describes when he says, " Such were some of you." But
for Christ, they would have been worshippers of personified Lust and Hate, and of every crime.
They would have lived for " bread and circus-shows." Yet to the contemporaries of a Juvenal
they taught the Decalogue and the Sermon on the Mount. Among such beasts in human form
they reared the sacred home ; they created the Christian family ; they gave new and holy mean-
ings to the names of wife and mother ; they imparted ideas unknown before of the dignity of
man as man ; they infused an atmosphere of benevolence and love ; they bestowed the elements
of liberty chastened by law ; they sanctified human society by proclaiming the universal brother-
hood of redeemed man. As we read the Apostolic Fathers, we comprehend, in short, the mean-
ing of St. Paul when he said prophetically, what men were slow to believe, " The foolishness of
God is wiser than men ; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. . . . But God hath chosen
the foolish things of the world to confound the wise ; and God hath chosen the weak things of
the world to confound the things which are mighty ; and base things of the world, and things
which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things
that are."

A. C. C.

December, 18S4.

Contents of Volume I.




I. ST. CLEMENT. Epistle to the Corinthians . . i

II. MATHETES. Epistle to Diognetus 23

III. POLYCARP. Epistle to the Philippians 31

Martyrdom 37

IV. IGNATIUS. Epistle to the Ephesians 45

Epistle to the Ephesians: Shorter and Longer Versions ... 49

Epistle to the Magnesians 59

Epistle to the Trallians 66

Epistle to the Romans ^ •73

Epistle to the Philadelphians 79

Epistle to the Smyrn^eans 86

Epistle to Polycarp 93

Appendix. Syriac Version 97

Spurious Epistles 105

Martyrdom 127

V. BARNABAS. Epistle 133

VI. PAPIAS. Fragments 151

VII. JUSTIN MARTYR. The First Apology 159

The Second Apology 188

Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew 194

The Discourse to the Greeks 271

Hortatory Address to the Greeks . 273

On the Sole Government of God 290

On the Resurrection, Fragments 294

Other Fragments 300

Martyrdom 303

VIII. IREN^US. Against Heresies 309

Fragments . o 568







[a.d. 30-100.] Clement was probably a Gentile and a Roman. He seems to have been at
Philippi with St. Paul (a.d. 57) when that first-bom of the Western churches was passing
through great trials of faith. There, with holy women and others, he ministered to the apostle
and to the saints. As this city was a Roman colony, we need not inquire how a Roman happened
to be there. He was possibly in some public service, and it is not improbable that he had visited
Corinth in those days. From the apostle, and his companion, St. Luke, he had no doubt learned
the use of the Septuagint, in which his knowledge of the Greek tongue soon rendered him an
adept. His copy of that version, however, does not always agree with the Received Text, as the
reader will perceive.

A co-presbyter with Linus and Cletus, he succeeded them in the government of the Roman
Church. I have reluctantly adopted the opinion that his Epistle was written near the close of his
life, and not just after the persecution of Nero. It is not improbable that Linus and Cletus both
perished in that fiery trial, and that Clement's immediate succession to their work and place occa^
sions the chronological difficulties of the period. After the death of the apostles, for the Roman
imprisonment and martyrdom of St. Peter seem historical, Clement was the natural representa-
tive of St. Paul, and even of his companion, the " apostle of the circumcision ; " and naturally
he wrote the Epistle in the name of the local church, when brethren looked to them for advice.
St. John, no doubt, was still surviving at Patmos or in Ephesus ; but the Philippians, whose inter-
course with Rome is attested by the visit of Epaphroditus, looked naturally to the surviving
friends of their great founder ; nor was the aged apostle in the East equally accessible. All
roads pointed towards the Imperial City, and started from its Milliaritim Aureum. But, though
Clement doubtless wrote the letter, he conceals his own name, and puts forth the brethren, who
seem to have met in council, and sent a brotherly delegation (Chap. lix.). The entire absence of
the spirit of Diotrephes (St. Jolm, Ep. III. 9), and the close accordance of the Epistle, in humility
and meekness, with that of St. Peter (Ep. I, v. 1-5), are noteworthy features. The whole will be
found animated with the loving and faithful spirit of St. Paul's dear Philippians, among whom the
writer had learned the Gospel.

Clement fell asleep, probably soon after he despatched his letter. It is the legacy of one who
reflects the apostolic age in all the beauty and evangelical truth which were the first-fruits of the
Spirit's presence with the Church. He shares with others the aureole of glory attributed by St.
Paul (Phil. iv. 3), " His name is in the Book of Life."

The plan of this publication does not permit the restoration, in this volume, of the recently
discovered portions of his work. It is the purpose of the editor to present this, however, with
other recently discovered relics of primitive antiquity, in a supplementary volume, should the



undertaking meet with sufficient encouragement. The so-called second Epistle of Clement is now
known to be the work of another, and has been relegated to another place in this series.

The following is the Introductory Notice of the original editors and translators, Drs. Roberts
and Donaldson : —

The first Epistle, bearing the name of Clement, has been preserved to us in a single manu-
script only. Though very frequently referred to by ancient Christian writers, it remained un-
known to the scholars of Western Europe until happily discovered in the Alexandrian manuscript.
This MS. of the Sacred Scriptures (known and generally referred to as Codex A) was presented
in 1628 by Cyril, Patriarch of Constantinople, to Charles I., and is now preserved in the British
Museum. Subjoined to the books of the New Testament contained in it, there are two writings
described as the Epistles of one Clement. Of these, that now before us is the first. It is
tolerably perfect, but there are many slight lacunce, or gaps, in the ms., and one whole leaf is
supposed to have been lost towards the close. These lacunce, however, so numerous in some
chapters, do not generally extend beyond a word or syllable, and can for the most part be easily

Who the Clement was to whom these writings are ascribed, cannot with absolute certainty be
determined. The general opinion is, that he is the same as the person of that name referred to
by St. Paul (Phil. iv. 3). The writings themselves contain no statement as to their author. The
first, and by far the longer of them, simply purports to have been written in the name of the
Church at Rome to the Church at Corinth. But in the catalogue of contents prefixed to the ms.
they are both plainly attributed to one Clement ; and the judgment of most scholars is, that, in
regard to the first Epistle at least, this statement is correct, and that it is to be regarded as an
authentic production of the friend and fellow-worker of St. Paul. This belief may be traced to
an early period in the history of the Church. It is found in the writings of Eusebius {Hist. EccL,
ni. 15), of Origen {Comm. in Joan., i. 29), and others. The internal evidence also tends to
support this opinion. The doctrine, style, and manner of thought are all in accordance with it ;
so that, although, as has been said, positive certainty cannot be reached on the subject, we may
with great probability conclude that we have in this Epistle a composition of that Clement who
is known to us from Scripture as having been an associate of the great apostle.

The date of this Epistle has been the subject of considerable controversy. It is clear from
the writing itself that it was composed soon after some persecution (chap, i.) which the Roman
Church had endured ; and the only question is, whether we are to fix upon the persecution under
Nero or Domitian. If the former, the date will be about the year 68 ; if the latter, we must
place it towards the close of the first century or the beginning of the second. We possess no
external aid to the settlement of this question. The lists of eariy Roman bishops are in hopeless
confusion, some making Clement the immediate successor of St. Peter, others placing Linus, and
others still Linus and Anacletus, between him and the apostle. The internal evidence, again,
leaves the matter doubtful, though it has been strongly pressed on both sides. The probability
seems, on the whole, to be in favour of the Domitian period, so that the Epistle may be dated
about A.D. 97.

This Epistle was held in very great esteem by the eariy Church. The account given of it by
Eusebius {Hist. Eccl., iii. 16) is as follows : "There is one acknowledged Epistle of this Clement
(whom he has just identified with the friend of St. Paul), great and admirable, which he wrote
in the name of the Church of Rome to the Church at Corinth, sedition having then arisen in
the latter Church. We are aware that this Epistle has been publicly read in very many churches
both in old times, and also in our own day." 'J^he Epistle before us thus appears to have been
read in numerous churches, as being almost on a level with the canonical writings. And its place
in the Alexandrian ms., immediately after the inspired books, is in harmony with the position thus
assigned it in the primitive Church. There does indeed appear a great difference between it and



the inspired writings in many respects, such as the fanciful use sometimes made of Old-Testament
statements, the fabulous stories which are accepted by its author, and the general diffuseness and
feebleness of style by which it is distinguished. But the high tone of evangelical truth which
pervades it, the simple and earnest appeals which it makes to the heart and conscience, and the
anxiety which its writer so constantly shows to promote the best interests of the Church of
Christ, still impart an undying charm to this precious relic of later apostolic times.

[N.B. — A sufficient guide to the recent literature of the Clementine mss. and discoveries may
be found in The Princeton Review, iStj, p. 325, also in Bishop Wordsworth's succinct but
learned Church History to the Council of Niccea, p. 84. The invaluable edition of the Patres
Apostolici, by Jacobson (Oxford, 1840), with a critical text and rich prolegomena and annota-
tions, cannot be dispensed with by any Patristic inquirer. A. C. C]



The Church of God which sojourns at Rome,
to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth, to
them that are called and sanctified by the will
of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ : Grace
unto you, and peace, from Almighty God through
Jesus Christ, be multiplied.

Owing, dear brethren, to the sudden and suc-
cessive calamitous events which have happened
to ourselves, we feel that we have been somewhat
tardy in turning our attention to the points re-
specting which you consulted us ; ^ and especially
to that shameful and detestable sedition, utterly
abhorrent to the elect of God, which a few rash
and self-confident persons have kindled to such
a pitch of frenzy, that your venerable and illus-
trious name, worthy to be universally loved, has
suffered grievous injury.^ For who ever dwelt
even for a short time among you, and did not
find your faith to be as fruitful of virtue as it was
firmly established?'* Who did not admire the
sobriety and moderation of your godliness in
Christ ? Who did not proclaim the magnificence
of your habitual hospitality? And who did not
rejoice over your perfect and well-grounded
knowledge ? For ye did all things without re-
spect of persons, and walked in the command-
ments of God, being obedient to those who had
the rule over you, and giving all fitting honour to
the presbyters among you. Ye enjoined young
men to be of a sober and serious mind ; ye
instructed your wives to do all things with a
blameless, becoming, and pure conscience, loving
their husbands as in duty bound ; and ye taught
them that, living in the rule of obedience, they
should manage their household affairs becomingly,
and be in every respect marked by discretion.


Moreover, ye were all distinguished by humil-
ity, and were in no respect puffed up with pride,

l; In the only known MS. of this Epistle, the title is thus given at
the t' '°se.

2 [Note the fact that the Corinthians asked this of their brethren,
the I ■'ersonal friends of their apostle St. Paul. Clement's own name
does "°.' appear in this Epistle.]

3 Literally, " is greatly blasphemed."

I * Literally, " did not prove your all-viituous and firm faith."

but yielded obedience rather than extorted it,s
and were more willing to give than to receive.'^
Content with the provision which God had made
for you, and carefully attending to His words, ye
were inwardly filled ^ with His doctrine, and His
sufferings were before your eyes. Thus a pro-
found and abundant peace was given to you all,
and ye had an insatiable desire for doing good,
while a full outpouring of the Holy Spirit was
upon you all. Full of holy designs, ye did, with
true earnestness of mind and a godly confidence,
stretch forth your hands to God Almighty, be-
seeching Him to be merciful unto you, if ye had
been guilty of any involuntary transgression.
Day and night ye were anxious for the whole
brotherhood,^ that the number of God's elect
might be saved with mercy and a good con-
science. 9 Ye were sincere and uncorrupted, and
forgetful of injuries between one another. Every
kind of faction and schism was abominable in
your sight. Ye mourned over the transgression-,
of your neighbours : their deficiencies you
deemed your own. Ye never grudged any act
of kindness, being " ready to every good work." '°
Adorned by a thoroughly virtuous and religious
life, ye did all things in the fear of God. The
commandments and ordinances of the Lord were
written upon the tablets of your hearts."



Every kind of honour and happiness '^ was be-
stowed upon you, and then was fulfilled that
which is written, " My beloved did eat and
drink, and was enlarged and became fat, and
kicked." '^ Hence flowed emulation and envy,
strife and sedition, persecution and disorder,
war and captivity. So the worthless rose up
against the honoured, those of no reputation

s Eph. V. 2i; I Pet. v. 5.

6 Acts XX. 35.

7 Literally, " ye embraced it in your bowels." [Concerning th«
complaints of Photius (ninth century) against Clement, see Bull's
Defensio Fidei NiccFnce, Works, vol. v. p. 132.]

8 I Pet. ii. 17.

9 So in the MS., but many have suspected that the text is here
corrupt. Perhaps the best emendation is that which substitutes

Online LibraryAlexander RobertsThe Ante-Nicene fathers. translations of the writings of the fathers down to A.D. 325. (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 123)