Home » Belief » Commentary on Clement of Rome: Chapters 30 & 32

Commentary on Clement of Rome: Chapters 30 & 32

Chapter 30:

Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change, all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride.

or

Seeing then that we are the portion of one who is holy, let us do all the deeds of sanctification, fleeing from evil speaking, and abominable and impure embraces, drunkenness and youthful lusts, and abominable passion, detestable adultery, and abominable pride.

Here, the main topic is the idea we are “the portion of the Holy One”, or “One who is Holy”.  In the last commentary on Chapter 29, we discussed being a “partaker of the election”.  Another aspect of being elected by God is that we “inherit” God.  We are allotted a share in the inheritance of His Kingdom, “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.” (Col. 1:12)  To have a share or a portion of something is to partake.  We partake of the Holy One, therefore we are made Holy, leading us to be doers of holy (or Godly) deeds.

popest-clementtombii

Relic Bust of St. Clement at his tomb in Basilica of San Clemente, Rome (Source)

In Chapter 29, St. Clement offers us two verses.  The first verse:

When the Most High divided the nations, when He scattered the sons of Adam, He fixed the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God. His people Jacob became the portion of the Lord, and Israel the lot of His inheritance.” (Deut. 32:8-9)

So here, we find that Jacob and His progeny became a partaker of the inheritance of being a people of God.  Why?  The reason is given by the second verse quoted by St. Clement:

Behold, the Lord taketh unto Himself a nation out of the midst of the nations, as a man takes the first-fruits of his threshing-floor; and from that nation shall come forth the Most Holy.” (or “Holy of Holies“)

This one is no where to be found.  I cannot find it even referenced in the LXX.  One can say it is a conglomerate of many beliefs.  In the LXX, there is a prayer of Esther, where part of it is written, “You, O Lord, chose Israel out of all the nations, and our fathers out of all their ancestors, for an everlasting inheritance.”  There are many verses that mention the Mosaic law of taking the first-fruits of harvest or of the threshing-floor.  So now we can see that this is a typology of Israel as the chosen or the elect of God, as if Israel is a first-fruit of many nations.  The last part of this unknown verse is the reason why they are chosen by God, that out of that nation, that is Israel, the Holy of Holies shall come forth.

arkfinishedcopy

The Holy of holies (Source)

If we are to suppose this is from an ancient Jewish source, many Jews would probably have interpreted this as the nation of Israel exuding the truth of the One True God.  If more literal, we find that indeed, where else is the “Holy of holies” in the Temple or Tabernacle other than in Jerusalem?  Nevertheless, you can also see how a Christian would particularly be attracted to a prophetic interpretation of this verse, that born from Israel would be the incarnate Holy of holies, the Son of the Most High.

Immediately following this then, is the passage from St. Clement, “seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One”.  So it follows that we are a partaker of the one who is born of the nation of Israel.  We are not just “a” portion, but “THE” portion of “THE” Holy One, the Holy One who is THE “Holy of holies”, born from “THE” first-fruits of all nations.  Indeed, Christ shows to be THE elect (Son) of THE elect (Israel), and we become exclusively THE portion of the one true Elect of God, Jesus Christ.  We partake not just out of anyone from the chosen people of God, but THE CHOICE among the chosen from among the nations Himself, and we are put into that extremely high standard of choice.

In fact, we are not merely THE elect, but we PARTAKE of THE Elect.  We are made one with Him who is at the right hand of the Father.  Therefore, He lifts us up into His standard as THE elect, and we become THE portion, or THE inheritance of that very same Elect.  That is the extreme of high standard.

10-28-11-4-ways-young-professionals-can-stand-out

“Stand Out” (Source)

And a high standard means that this True Choice of God must “stand out” among the rest, even among the elect.  To “stand out” is what the Hebrew word for “holy” or “qadosh” means.  In Greek, the word is “Agios”.  “A-” means “not” and “-gios” meaning “earth”.  To be holy means we should not be earthly, or in american colloquialism, “out of this world!”  In ancient understand, we should transcend all worldly things, and the proof our transcendence, of our “holiness” is “holy virtues”: “avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change, all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride” (execrable is opposite of sacred, and so it is cursed, or not holy).  To be holy, to be “A-gios” is to avoid all things “-gios”, and to be like the one true “Agios”, the unearthly “Holy of holies” Jesus Christ.

There are many references where the people of Israel are called to be holy.  Why?  Because the Lord is holy.  If being holy in Hebrew is “set apart” or “transcend”, can we transcend ourselves by ourselves?  If being holy in Greek is “unearthly” or “transcend”, can we transcend or become “unearthly” by our earthly capabilities?  Only God who transcends all creation and “unearthly” can bring us into holiness by His divine election.  As St. Clement of Rome says in

Chapter 32:

All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Amen!  As we said in our previous commentary, not by our own efforts are we elected, or made holy, or made righteous, or made wise, or justified, but by the grace of God, by the operation of His will, by His will in Christ Jesus, by faith!  For these are what God is, and it is proper to say these are what God makes us to be in Him and not of our own nature.

The earlier part of this same chapter, it is written:

Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognise the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, “Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven.”

The first bolded part might cause some confusion.  When it says “the gifts which were given by him”, the “him” here based on the last part of Chapter 31 may seem to represent Jacob, but some interpretations seem to see something erroneous or missing grammatically, as if to say “given to him” (in which case would be Jacob), or “given to Jacob by Him”.  In other words, God gives the gifts.

rembrandt_harmensz-_van_rijn_063

“Jacob Wrestling with the Angel”, Rembrandt, circa 1659

The next part has “for from him”.  In some manuscripts, it is actually plural, which may indicate “for from the gifts”, but it could be from Jacob as to say, from Jacob’s progeny sprung the priests and Levites, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the kings, princes and rulers of the tribe of Judah.  It could be from God as to say, God provides Jacob’s progeny.  If from the gifts of God, the gifts of God are such things mentioned from Jacob’s progeny.  We know from the Scriptures very clearly God provides for us all kinds of gifts and progeny, and it is to Him we thank for all things, for the priesthood, for the Christ, and for the royalty.

This leads to continue from that aspect of being “the elect of God” and a “portion of the Holy of holies” that was mentioned earlier, and that is to be the inheritance of the Kingdom.  In Christ, we also become “christoi” or “anointed”, and the Holy Anointing is that of priesthood and royalty from which we receive from Jacob through Jesus, who is the Holy of holies “according to the flesh”.  Let us be clear:  “that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50).  For from the gifts God gave to Jacob, came “our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh“, that we as flesh and blood in Jesus may inherit the Kingdom of God.  If Jesus was mere flesh, how can we say we are a “portion of the Holy of holies”?  “There is no one holy like the Lord.” (1 Samuel 2:2).  God “alone is holy” (Revelation 15:4).

If therefore we are made holy by becoming “THE” portion of “THE” Holy of holies, Jesus Christ, Jesus is not mere flesh, since mere flesh is not holy, but He is Holiness enfleshed.  “According to the flesh” from Jacob and “according to holiness” by nature from God.  In that sense, if Christ makes us inheritors of a royal priesthood and a holy nation, the portion and inheritance of the Kingdom of God Himself, then by nature, Jesus is equal to God in the Kingdom, because only God can make us inheritors of God, and only God can be the will of God.  Complete therefore is the saying by St. Peter as is mentioned last time:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2)

St. Peter and St. Clement (left to right) from the Mosaic of San Clemente, 11th Century

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom, cannot be THE portion, cannot be THE elect.  Jesus came according to the flesh so that our flesh and blood may gain that inheritance, that portion, through Him.  And through Him, we are clothed with His divine and uncreated light out of the darkness of our vain existence.  As St. Clement said in Chapter 30, “Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words.”  Let us cloth ourselves with Christ Jesus our Lord, who with the Father is our concord, our humility, our self-control, our Holy, Holy, Holy!

To Him be the glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of all ages.  Amen!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: