"كتابات الآباء "
CLEMENS ALEXANDRINUS -- I. FROM THE LATIN TRANSLATION OF
BY REV. WILLIAM WILSON, M.A.]
I.--FROM THE LATIN TRANSLATION OF CASSIODORUS.
I.--COMMENTS ON THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER.
CHAP. i. 3. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who by His great mercy hath regenerated us." For if God generated us
of matter, He afterwards, by progress in life, regenerated us.
"The Father of our Lord, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:" who,
according to your faith, rises again in us; as, on the other hand,
He dies in us, through the operation of our unbelief. For He said
again, that the soul never returns a second time to the body in this
life; and that which has become angelic does not become unrighteous
or evil, so as not to have the opportunity of again sinning by the
assumption of flesh; but that in the resurrection the soul
returns to the body, and both are joined to one another according to
their peculiar nature, adapting themselves, through the composition
of each, by a kind of congruity like a building of stones.
Besides, Peter says, "Ye also, as living stones, are built up a
spiritual house;" meaning the place of the angelic abode, guarded in
heaven. "For you," he says, "who are kept by the power of God, by
faith and contemplation, to receive the end of your faith, the
salvation of your souls."
Hence it appears that the soul is not naturally immortal; but is
made immortal by the grace of God, through faith and righteousness,
and by knowledge. "Of which salvation," he says, "the prophets
have inquired and searched diligently,'' and what follows. It is
declared by this that the prophets spake with wisdom, and that the
Spirit of Christ was in them, according to the possession of Christ,
and in subjection to Christ. For God works through archangels and
kindred angels, who are called spirits of Christ.
"Which are now," he says, "reported unto you by them that have
preached the Gospel unto you." The old things which were done by the
prophets and escape the observation of most, are now revealed to you
by the evangelists. "For to you," he says, "they are manifested
by the Holy Ghost, who was sent;" that is the Paraclete, of whom the
Lord said, "If I go not away, He will not come." "Unto
whom," it is said, "the angels desire to look;" not the apostate
angels, as most suspect, but, what is a divine truth, angels who
desire to obtain the advantage of that perfection.
"By precious blood," he says, "as of a lamb without blemish and
without spot." Here he touches on the ancient Levitical and
sacerdotal celebrations; but means a soul pure through righteousness
which is offered to God.
"Verily foreknown before the foundation of the world." Inasmuch
as He was foreknown before every creature, because He was Christ.
"But manifested in the last times" by the generation of a body.
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed." The soul, then,
which is produced along with the body is corruptible, as some think.
"But the word of the Lord," he says, "endureth for ever:" as well
prophecy as divine doctrine.
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood." That we are
a chosen race by the election of God is abundantly clear. He says
royal, because we are called to sovereignty and belong to Christ;
and priesthood on account of the oblation which is made by prayers
and instructions, by which are gained the souls which are offered to
"Who, when He was reviled," he says, "reviled not; when He
suffered, threatened not." The Lord acted so in His goodness and
patience. "But committed Himself to him that judged Him
unrighteously:" whether Himself, so that, regarding Himself in
this way, there is a transposition. He indeed gave Himself up to
those who judged according to an unjust law; because He was
unserviceable to them, inasmuch as He was righteous: or, He
committed to God those who judged unrighteously, and without cause
insisted on His death, so that they might be instructed by suffering
"For he that will love life, and see good days;" that is, who
wishes to become eternal and immortal. And He calls the Lord life,
and the days good, that is holy.
"For the eyes of the Lord," he says, "are upon the righteous, and
His ears on their prayers:" he means the manifold inspection of the
Holy Spirit. "The"face of the Lord is on them that do evil; "
that is, whether judgment, or vengeance, or manifestation.
"But sanctify the Lord Christ," he says, "in your hearts." For so
you have in the Lord's prayer, "Hallowed be Thy name."
"For Christ,"he says, "hath once suffered for our sins, the just
for the unjust, that he might present us to God; being put to
death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit." He says these
things, reducing them to their faith. That is, He became alive in
"Coming," he says, "He preached to those who were once
unbelieving." They saw not His form, but they heard His voice.
"When the long-suffering of God" holds. out. God is so good, as
to work the result by the teaching of salvation.
"By the resurrection," it is said, "of Jesus Christ:" that,
namely, which is effected in us by faith.
"Angels being subjected to Him," which are the first order; and
"principalities" being subject, who are of the second order; and
"powers" being also subject,"which are said to belong to the third
"Who shall give account," he says, " to Him who is ready to
judge the quick and the dead."
These are trained through previous judgments. Therefore he adds,
"For this cause was the Gospel preached also to the dead"--to us,
namely, who were at one time unbelievers. "That they might be judged
according to men," he says, " in the flesh, but live according
to God in the spirit. Because, that is, they have fallen away from
faith; whilst they are still in the flesh they are judged according
to preceding judgments, that they might repent. Accordingly, he also
adds, saying, "That they might live according to God in the spirit."
So Paul also; for he, too, states something of this nature when he
says, "Whom I have delivered to Satan, that he might live in the
spirit; " that is, "as good stewards of the manifold grace of
God." Similarly also Paul says, "Variously, and in many ways, God of
old spake to our fathers."
"Rejoice," it is said, "that ye are partakers in the sufferings
of Christ:" that is, if ye are righteous, ye suffer for
righteousness' sake, as Christ suffered for righteousness. "Happy
are ye, for the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of His glory and
virtue, resteth on you." This possessive "His" signifies also an an
angelic spirit: inasmuch as the glory of God those are, through
whom, according to faith and righteousness, He is glorified, to
honourable glory, according to the advancement of the saints who are
brought in. "The Spirit of God on us," may be thus understood; that
is, who through faith comes on the soul, like a gracefulness of mind
and beauty of soul.
"Since," it is said, "it is time for judgment beginning at the
house of God." For judgment will overtake these in the appointed
"But the God of all grace," he says. "Of all grace," he says,
because He is good, and the giver of all good things.
"Marcus, my son, saluteth you." Mark, the follower of Peter,
while Peter publicly preached the Gospel at Rome before some of
Caesar's equites, and adduced many testimonies to Christ, in order
that thereby they might be able to commit to memory what was spoken,
of what was spoken by Peter wrote entirely what is called the Gospel
according to Mark. As Luke also may be recognised by the style,
both to have composed the Acts of the Apostles, and to have
translated Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews.
II.--COMMENTS ON THE EPISTLE OF JUDE.
Jude, who wrote the Catholic Epistle, the brother of the sons of
Joseph, and very religious, whilst knowing the near relationship of
the Lord, yet did not say that he himself was His brother. But what
said he? "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ,"--of Him as Lord; but
"the brother of James." For this is true; he was His brother, (the
son) of Joseph. "For certain men have entered unawares,
ungodly men, who had been of old ordained and predestined to the
judgment of our God;" not that they might become impious, but that,
being now impious, they were ordained to judgment. "For the Lord
God," he says, "who once delivered a people out of Egypt,
afterward destroyed them that believed not;" that is, that He might
train them through punishment. For they were indeed punished, and
they perished on account of those that are saved, until they turn to
the Lord. "But the angels," he says, "that kept not their own
pre-eminence," that, namely, which they received through
advancement, "but left their own habitation," meaning, that is, the
heaven and the stars, became, and are called apostates. "He hath
reserved these to the judgment of the great day, in chains, under
darkness." He means the place near the earth, that is, the dark
air. Now he called "chains" the loss of the honour in which they had
stood, and the lust of feeble things; since, bound by their own
lust, they cannot be converted. "As Sodom and Gomorrha," he says.
... By which the Lord signifies that pardon had been granted;
and that on being disciplined they had repented. "Similarly to
the same," he says, "also those dreamers,"--that is, who dream
in their imagination lusts and wicked desires, regarding as good not
that which is truly good, and superior to all good,--defile the
flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of majesty," that is, the
only Lord, who is truly our Lord, Jesus Christ, and alone worthy
of praise. They "speak evil of majesty," that is, of the angels.
"When Michael, the archangel, disputing with the devil, debated
about the body of Moses." Here he confirms the assumption of Moses.
He is here called Michael, who through an angel near to us debated
with the devil.
"But these," he says, "speak evil of those things which they
know not; but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in these
things they corrupt themselves." He means that they eat, and drink,
and indulge in uncleanness, and says that they do other things that
are common to them with animals, devoid of reason.
"Woe unto them!" he says, "for they have gone in the way of
Cain." For so also we lie under Adam's sin through similarity of
sin. "Clouds," he says, "without water; who do not possess in
themselves the divine and fruitful word." Wherefore, he says, "men
of this kind are carried about both by winds and violent
blasts." "Trees," he says, "of autumn, without
fruit,"--unbelievers, that is, who bear no fruit of fidelity. "Twice
dead," he says: once, namely, when they sinned by transgressing, and
a second time when delivered up to punishment, according to the
predestined judgments of God; inasmuch as it is to be reckoned
death, even when each one does not forthwith deserve the
inheritance. "Waves," he says, "of a raging sea." By these words
he signifies the life of the Gentiles, whose end is abominable
ambition. "Wandering stars,"--that is, he means those who err
and are apostates are of that kind of stars which fell from the
seats of the angels-" to whom," for their apostasy, "the blackness
of darkness is reserved for ever. Enoch also, the seventh from
Adam," he says, "prophesied of these." In these words he
verities the prophecy.
"Those," he says, "separating" the faithful from the unfaithful,
be convicted according to their own unbelief. And again those
separating from the flesh. He says, "Animal not having the
spirit;" that is, the spirit which is by faith, which supervenes
through the practice of righteousness.
"But ye, beloved," he says, "building up yourselves on your most
holy faith, in the Holy Spirit." "But some," he says, "save,
plucking them from the fire; " "but of some have compassion in
fear," that is, teach those who fall into the fire to free
themselves. "Hating," he says, "that spotted garment, which is
carnal:" that of the soul, namely; the spotted garment is a spirit
"Now to Him," he says, "who is able to keep you without
stumbling, and present you faultless before the presence of His
glory in joy." In the presence of His glory: he means in the
presence of the angels, to be presented faultless having become
angels. When Daniel speaks of the people and comes into the
presence of the Lord, he does not say this, because he saw God: for
it is impossible that any one whose heart is not pure should see
God; but he says this, that everything that the people did was in
the sight of God, and was manifest to Him; that is, that nothing is
hid from the Lord.
Now, in the Gospel according to Mark, the Lord being interrogated by
the chief of the priests if He was the Christ, the Son of the
blessed God, answering, said, "I am; and ye shall see the Son of
man sitting at the right hand of power. But powers mean the
holy angels. Further, when He says "at the right hand of God," He
means the self-same [beings], by reason of the equality and likeness
of the angelic and holy powers, which are called by the name of God.
He says, therefore, that He sits at the right hand; that is, that He
rests in pre-eminent honour. In the other Gospels, however, He is
said not to have replied to the high priest, on his asking if He was
the Son of God. But what said He? "You say." Answering
sufficiently well. For had He said, It is as you understand, he
would have said what was not true, not confessing Himself to be the
Son of God; [for] they did not entertain this opinion of Him; but by
saying "You say," He spake truly. For what they had no knowledge
of, but expressed in words, that he confessed to be true.
III.--COMMENTS ON THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN.
Chap. i. I. "That which was from the beginning; which we have seen
with our eyes; which we have heard."
Following the Gospel according to John, and in accordance with it,
this Epistle also contains the spiritual principle.
What therefore he says, "from the beginning," the Presbyter
explained to this effect, that the beginning of generation is not
separated from the beginning of the Creator. For when he says, "That
which was from the beginning," he touches upon the generation
without beginning of the Son, who is co-existent with the Father.
There was; then, a Word importing an unbeginning eternity; as also
the Word itself, that is, the Son of God, who being, by equality of
substance, one with the Father, is eternal and uncreate. That He was
always the Word, is signified by saying, "In the beginning was the
Word." But by the expression, "we have seen with our eyes," he
signifies the Lord's presence in the flesh, "and our hands have
handled," he says, "of the Word of life." He means not only His
flesh, but the virtues of the Son, like the sunbeam which penetrates
to the lowest places,--this sunbeam coming in the flesh became
palpable to the disciples. It is accordingly related in traditions,
that John, touching the outward body itself, sent his hand deep down
into it, and that the solidity of the flesh offered no obstacle, but
gave way to the hand of the disciple.
"And our hands have handled of the Word of life;" that is, He who
came in the flesh became capable of being touched. As also,
Ver. 2. "The life was manifested." For in the Gospel he thus speaks:
"And what was made, in Him was life, and the life was the light of
"And we show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father,
and was manifested
He signifies by the appellation of Father, that the Son also existed
always, without beginning. Ver. 5. "For God," he says, "is light."
He does not express the divine essence, but wishing to declare the
majesty of God, he has applied to the Divinity what is best and most
excellent in the view of men. Thus also Patti, when he speaks of
"light inaccessible." But John himself also in this same Epistle
says, "God is love:" pointing out the excellences of God, that
He is kind and merciful;and because He is light, makes men
righteous, according to the advancement of the soul, through
charity. God, then, who is ineffable in respect of His substance, is
"And in Him is no darkness at all,"--that is, no passion, no keeping
up of evil respecting any one, [He] destroys no one but gives
salvation to all. Light moreover signifies, either the precepts of
the Law, or faith, or doctrine. Darkness is the opposite of these
things. Not as if there were another way; since there is only one
way according to the divine precepts. For the work of God is unity.
Duality and all else that exists, except unity, arises from
perversity of life.
Ver. 7. "And the blood of Jesus Christ His Son," he says, "cleanses
us." For the doctrine of the Lord, which is very powerful, is called
Ver. 10. "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and
His word is not in us." His doctrine, that is, or word is truth.
Chap. ii. I. "And if any man sin," he says, "we have an advocate
with the Father, Jesus Christ." For so the Lord is an advocate with
the Father for us. So also is there, an advocate, whom, after His
assumption, He vouchsafed to send. For these primitive and
first-created virtues are unchangeable as to substance, and along
with subordinate angels and archangels, whose names they share,
effect divine operations. Thus also Moses names the virtue of the
angel Michael, by an angel near to himself and of lowest grade. The
like also we find in the holy prophets; but to Moses an angel
appeared near and at hand. Moses heard him and spoke to him
manifestly, face to face. On the other prophets, through the agency
of angels, an impression was made, as of beings hearing and seeing.
On this account also, they alone heard, and they alone saw; as also
is seen in the case of Samuel. Elisaeus also alone heard the
voice by which he was called. If the voice had been open and
common, it would have been heard by all. In this instance it was
heard by him alone in whom the impression made by the angel worked.
Ver. 2. "And not only for our sins,"--that is for those of the
faithful,--is the Lord the propitiator, does he say, "but also for
the whole world." He, indeed, saves all; but some [He saves],
converting them by punishments; others, however, who follow
voluntarily [He saves] with dignity of honour; so "that every knee
should bow to Him, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and
things under the earth;" that is, angels, men, and souls that
before His advent have departed from this temporal life.
Ver. 3. "And by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His
commandments." For the Gnostic [he who knows also does the Works
which pertain to the province of virtue. But he who performs the
works is not necessarily also a Gnostic. For a man may be a doer of
right works, and yet not a knower of the mysteries of science.
Finally, knowing that some works are performed from fear of
punishment, and some on account of the promise of reward, he shows
the perfection of the man gifted with knowledge, who fulfils his
works by love. Further, he adds, and says:-- Ver. 5. "But whoso
keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby
know we that we are in Him,"--by faith and love.
Ver. 7. "I write no new commandment unto you, but an old
commandment, which ye had from the beginning,"--through the Law,
that is, and the prophets; where it is said, God is one.
Accordingly, also, he infers, "For the old commandment is the word
which ye have heard." Again, however, he says:--
Ver. 8. "This is the commandment; for the darkness" of perversion,
that is, "has passed away, and, lo, the true light hath already
shone,"--that is, through "faith", through knowledge, through the
Covenant working in men, through prepared judgments.
Ver. 9. "He that saith he is in the light," -in the light, he means
in the truth,--" and hateth," he says, "his brother." By his
brother, he means not only his neighbour, but also the Lord. For
unbelievers hate Him and do not keep His commandments. Therefore
also he infers:--
Ver. 10. "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light; and there
is none occasion of stumbling in him."
Vers. 12-14. He then indicates the stages of advancement and
progress of souls that are still located in the flesh; and calls
those whose sins have been forgiven, for the. Lord's name's sake,
"little children," for many believe on account of the name only. He
styles "fathers" the perfect, "who have known what was from the
beginning," and received with understanding, -the Son, that is, of
whom he said above, "that which was from the beginning."
"I write," says he, "to you, young men, because ye have overcome the
wicked one." Young man strong in despising pleasures. "The wicked
one" points out the eminence of the devil. "The children," moreover,
know the Father; having fled from idols and gathered together to the
Ver. 15. "For the world," he says, "is in the wicked one." Is not
the world, and all that is in the. world, called God's creation and
very good? Yes. But,
Ver. 16. "The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the
ambition of the world," which arise from the perversion of life,
"are not of the Father, but of the world," and of you.
Ver. 17. "Therefore also the world shall pass away, and the lust
thereof; but he that doeth the will of God" and His commandments
"abideth for ever."
Ver. 19. "They went out from us; but they were not of us "--neither
the apostate angels, nor men falling away;--" but that they may be
manifested that they are not of us." With sufficient clearness he
distinguishes the class of the elect and that of the lost, and that
which remaining in faith "has an unction from the Holy One," which
comes through faith. He that abideth not in faith.
Ver. 22. "A liar" and "an antichrist, who denieth that Jesus is the
Christ." For Jesus, Saviour and Redeemer, is also Christ the King.
Ver. 23. "He who denies the Son," by ignoring Him, "has not the
Father, nor does he know Him." But he who knoweth the Son and the
Father, knows according to knowledge, and when the Lord shall be
manifested at His second advent, shall have confidence and not be
confounded. Which confusion is heavy punishment.
Ver. 29. "Every one," he says, "who doeth righteousness is born of
God;" being regenerated, that is, according to faith.
Chap. iii. I. "For the world knoweth us not, as it knew Him not." He
means by the world those who live a worldly life in pleasures.
Ver. 2. "Beloved," says he, "now are we the sons of God," not by
natural affection, but because we have God as our Father. For it is
the greater love that, seeing we have no relationship to God, He
nevertheless loves us and calls us His sons. "And it hath not yet
appeared what we shall be;" that is, to what kind of glory we shall
attain. "For if He shall be manifested,"--that is, if we are made
perfect,--"we shall be like Him," as reposing and justified, pure in
virtue, "so that we may see Him" (His countenance) "as He is," by
Ver. 8. "He that doeth unrighteousness is of the devil," that is, of
the devil as his father, following and choosing the same things.
"The devil sinneth from the beginning," he says. From the beginning
from which he began to sin, incorrigibly persevering in sinning.
Ver. 9. He says, "Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin, for
His seed remaineth in him;" that is, His word in him who is born
again through faith.
Ver. 10. "Thus we know the children of God, as likewise the children
of the devil," who choose things like the devil; for so also they
are said to be of the wicked one.
Ver. 15. "Every one who hateth his brother is a murderer." For in
him through unbelief Christ dies. Rightly, therefore, he continues,
"And ye know that no murderer and unbeliever hath eternal life
abiding in him." For the living Christ abides in the believing
Ver. 16. "For He Himself laid down His life for us;" that is, for
those who believe; that is, for the apostles. If then He laid down
His life for the apostles, he means His apostles themselves: us if
he said, We, I say, the apostles, for whom He laid down His life,
"ought to lay down our lives for the brethren;" for the salvation of
their neighbours was the glory of the apostles.
Ver. 20. He says, "For God is greater than our heart;" that is, the
virtue of God [is greater] than conscience, which will follow the
soul. Wherefore he continues, and says, "and knoweth all things."
Ver. 21. "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, it will have
confidence before God."
Ver. 24. "And hereby we know that He dwelleth in us by His Spirit,
which He hath given us;" that is, by superintendence and foresight
of future events.
Chap. iv. 18. He says, "Perfect love casteth out fear." For the
perfection of a believing man is love.
Chap. v. 6. He says, "This is He who came by water and blood;" and
Ver. 8. "For there are three that bear witness, the spirit," which
is life, "and the water," which is regeneration and faith, "and the
blood," which is knowledge; "and these three are one." For in the
Saviour are those saving virtues, and life itself exists in His own
Ver. 54. "And this is the confidence which we have towards Him, that
if we ask anything according to His will, He will hear us." He does
not say absolutely what we shall ask, but what we ought to ask.
Ver. 19 "And the whole word lieth in the wicked one;" not the
creation, but worldly men, and those who live according to their
Ver. 20. "And the Son of God hath come and given us understanding,"
which comes to us, that is, by faith, and is also called the Holy
IV.--COMMENTS ON THE SECOND EPISTLE OF JOHN.
The second Epistle of John, which is written to Virgins, is very
simple. It was written to a Babylonian lady, by name Electa, and
indicates the election of the holy Church. He establishes in this
Epistle that the following out of the faith is not without charity,
and so that no one divide Jesus Christ; but only to believe that
Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. For he who has the Son by
apprehension in his intellect knows also the Father, and grasps with
his mind intelligibly the greatness of His power working without
beginning of time.
Ver. 10. He says, "If any come unto you and bring not this doctrine,
receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed; for he
that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." He
forbids us to salute such, and to receive them to our hospitality.
For this is not harsh in the case of a man of this sort. But he
admonishes them neither to confer nor dispute with such as are not
able to handle divine things with intelligence, lest through them
they be seduced from the doctrine of truth, influenced by plausible
reasons. Now, I think that we are not even to pray with such,
because in the prayer which is made at home, after rising from
prayer, the salutation of joy is also the token of peace.