Saint Thomas Aquinas

Friday, July 23, 2010

Apostolic Succession According to Pope Clement I

Even before the last apostle died we have another written record outside of Scripture from Saint Clement I regarding the authority that was passed down from the apostles in a form of succession. In fact, in Saint Clement's letter to the Corinthians he is concerned that some of these successors are being removed unjustly from their positions of authority in the Church. Many modern scholars are now dating this letter as early as 70-75AD, and not later than 96AD, (St. Clement was martyred in 100AD) so it is a very early document which gives testimony to apostolic succession. Saint Clement is said to have known St. Peter, St. Luke, Barnabas and even St. Paul personally, and he even traveled with them on several occasions. After St. Peter and his first two successors, Linus and Cletus were martyred, he was appointed Bishop of Rome and the 3rd successor of Saint Peter (The 4th Pope). I quoted below a part of the document that pertains to apostolic succession, but I also would suggest that you read the entire document. It is a great resource to use for a variety of subjects pertaining to the validity of the Catholic faith.


THE FIRST EPISTLE OF CLEMENT TO THE CORINTHIANS (70AD-96AD)
In 1996, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI 
supported a date of A.D. 70, 
and by 2002 most scholars a date earlier than 96, 
some agreeing with the A.D. 70 date. 
(From Catholic Encyclopedia.)
 
1Clem 19:1
   The humility therefore and the submissiveness of so many and so
great men, who have thus obtained a good report, hath through
obedience made better not only us but also the generations which were
before us, even them that received His oracles in fear and truth.

1Clem 19:2
Seeing then that we have been partakers of many great and glorious
doings, let us hasten to return unto the goal of peace which hath
been handed down to us from the beginning, and let us look
steadfastly unto the Father and Maker of the whole world, and cleave
unto His splendid and excellent gifts of peace and benefits.
 

1Clem 41:4
Ye see, brethren, in proportion as greater knowledge hath been
vouchsafed unto us, so much the more are we exposed to danger.

1Clem 42:1
   The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus
Christ; Jesus Christ was sent forth from God.

1Clem 42:2
So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both
therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order.

1Clem 42:3
Having therefore received a charge, and having been fully assured
through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in
the word of God with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went
forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come.

1Clem 42:4
So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their
firstfruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops
and deacons unto them that should believe.

1Clem 42:5
And this they did in no new fashion; for indeed it had been written
concerning bishops and deacons from very ancient times; for thus
saith the scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their
bishops in righteousness and their deacons in faith.

1Clem 43:1
   And what marvel, if they which were entrusted in Christ with such a
work by God appointed the aforesaid persons? seeing that even the
blessed Moses who was a faithful servant in all His house recorded
for a sign in the sacred books all things that were enjoined upon
him. And him also the rest of the prophets followed, bearing witness
with him unto the laws that were ordained by him.

1Clem 43:2
For he, when jealousy arose concerning the priesthood, and there was
dissension among the tribes which of them was adorned with the
glorious name, commanded the twelve chiefs of the tribes to bring to
him rods inscribed with the name of each tribe. And he took them and
tied them and sealed them with the signet rings of the chiefs of the
tribes, and put them away in the tabernacle of the testimony on the
table of God.

1Clem 43:3
And having shut the tabernacle he sealed the keys and likewise also
the doors.

1Clem 43:4
And he said unto them, Brethren, the tribe whose rod shall bud, this
hath God chosen to be priests and ministers unto Him.

1Clem 43:5
Now when morning came, he called together all Israel, even the six
hundred thousand men, and showed the seals to the chiefs of the
tribes and opened the tabernacle of the testimony and drew forth the
rods. And the rod of Aaron was found not only with buds, but also
bearing fruit.

1Clem 43:6
What think ye, dearly beloved? Did not Moses know beforehand that
this would come to pass? Assuredly he knew it. But that disorder
might not arise in Israel, he did thus, to the end that the Name of
the true and only God might be glorified: to whom he the glory for
ever and ever. Amen...

1Clem 44:1
   And our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would
be strife over the name of the bishop's office.

1Clem 44:2
For this cause therefore, having received complete foreknowledge,
they appointed the aforesaid persons, and afterwards they provided a
continuance, that if these should fall asleep, other approved men
should succeed to their ministration. Those therefore who were
appointed by them, or afterward by other men of repute with the
consent of the whole Church, and have ministered unblamably to the
flock of Christ in lowliness of mind, peacefully and with all
modesty, and for long time have borne a good report with all these
men we consider to be unjustly thrust out from their ministration.

1Clem 44:3
For it will be no light sin for us, if we thrust out those who have
offered the gifts of the bishop's office unblamably and holily.

1Clem 44:4
Blessed are those presbyters who have gone before, seeing that their
departure was fruitful and ripe: for they have no fear lest any one
should remove them from their appointed place.

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