5 διέλθωμεν εἰς τὰς γενεὰς πάσας καὶ καταμάθωμεν ὅτι ἐν γενεᾷ καὶ γενεᾷ μετανοίας τόπον ἔδωκεν ὁ δεσπότης τοῖς βουλομένοις ἐπιστραφῆναι ἐπ ̓ αὐτόν. 6 Νῶε ἐκήρυξεν μετάνοιαν, καὶ οἱ ὑπακούσαντες ἐσώθησαν. 7 Ἰωνᾶς Νινευΐταις καταστροφὴν ἐκήρυξεν, οἱ δὲ μετανοήσαντες ἐπὶ τοῖς ἁμαρτήμασιν αὐτῶν ὲξιλάσαντο τὸν Θεὸν ἱκετεύσαντες καὶ ἔλαβον σωτηρίαν, καίπερ ἀλλότριοι τοῦ Θεοῦ ὂντες.
Notes: To encourage the repentance of the Corinthians, Clement reviews two biblical example of God granting repentance. The examples come from Noah and Jonah/Nineveh which are both interesting in light of the extreme sin of each instance. The word of repentance was “preached” to them. Those who “obeyed” and cried out in prayer to the Master were saved.
Clement’s argument is both encouraging and also contains a warning. The encouragement is that salvation is open to all who truly repent. However, catastrophe awaits those who refuse repentance. The one who stands over all is the Master.
Clement’s understanding of repentance is interesting: He avoids both failures of the professing church. First, there is no “easy believism”. Repentance is equated with “obedience” and sincerely beseeching prayer. There is no “sinner’s prayer”– now go your way repentance.
Second, he avoids penance or works as the basis of propitiation. There is nothing beyond prayer/petition and being an obedient one (which is paralleled in Hebrews to belief/faith). There are no works of reconciliation required or stated: those who prayed received salvation. The “obedience” in context is obedience to the preaching of repentance, those obedience is repentance.
Repentance obtains salvation. There is no hint of a limited salvation or degrees of perfection or purgatory or other levels –just salvation or not.
In terms of counseling technique: Clement calls for repentance and then immediately goes to biblical examples.
Let us look through and consider the many generations where the Master gave a place for repentance. Noah preached repentance, and those who obeyed were saved. Jonah preached coming catastrophe to the people of Nineveh – even there, those repenting of their sins –those who in strong prayer sought and propitiated God received salvation – even though they were strangers to God.
5Let us review all the generations in turn, and learn how from generation to generation the Master hath given a place for repentance unto them that desire to turn to Him. 6Noah preached repentance, and they that obeyed were saved. 7Jonah preached destruction unto the men of Nineveh; but they, repenting of their sins, obtained pardon of God by their supplications and received salvation, albeit they were aliens from God.
Διέλθωμεν: let us proceed/go through.
εἰς τὰς γενεὰς πάσας: through all the generations.
The use of the preposition is not necessary with the verb:
Καὶ εἰσελθὼν διήρχετο τὴν Ἰεριχώ. Luke 19:1 (NA27)
He entered Jericho and was passing through.
Wallace notes, “Therefore, the use of a particular preposition with a particular case neverexactly parallels – either in category possibilities or in relative frequency of nuances – the use of a case without a preposition”(Wallace, 361-362).
καὶ καταμάθωμεν: and let us learn/observe.
Matthew 6:28, “consider [observe/learn from] the lilies of the field ….”
ὅτι ἐν γενεᾷ καὶ γενεᾷ: that in generation and generation.
The dative with the “in” here is the sphere, the time which something takes place. The phrase “generation and generation” means “each successive generation”. Lightfoot has “from generation to generation”.
Hoti functions as a causal conjunction: Wallace, 674. It give the reason for the looking and thinking: Observe that in each generation ….
μετανοίας τόπον ἔδωκεν ὁ δεσπότης: repentance, a place he gave, the Master, the Master gave a place of/for repentance.
Repentance is genitive, thus a place of repentance: a genitive of purpose (Wallace, 100-101). Wallace gives examples of such genitives which are translated in English with the preposition “for”: “sheep destined for slaughter” (Rom. 8:36).
Master is a very exactly word. BDAG has:
one who has legal control and authority over persons, such as subjects or slaves, lord, master
William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 220. This is interesting in light of the fact that the subject here concerns repentance. A Master has no obligation to permit “repentance” of slaves. He is a position to exact punishment.
In this letter, Clement does routinely refer to the Lord as “The Master”. The rhetorical advantage is that both Clement and the Corinthians must submit to the Master (which is precisely their problem).
τοῖς βουλομένοις ἐπιστραφῆναι ἐπ ̓ αὐτόν: to those who desire to turn to him.
A substantive participle in the dative: to the desiring ones. The dative is a dative of advantage, dative of interest (Wallace notes the translation “for the benefit of”).
To turn is an aorist, passive infinitive. The infinitive is complementary to the participle “desire”. Wallace lists the verb boulomai as a “structural” clue to the complementary infinitive (Wallace, 598).
Epi + the accusative is spatial, “to, toward”.
Νῶε ἐκήρυξεν μετάνοιαν: Noah preached/proclaimed repentance.
Repentance: accusative, the content of what he preached.
Clement plainly took Noah as a historical figure.
καὶ οἱ ὑπακούσαντες ἐσώθησαν: Those who obeyed were saved.
The obeying ones: substantive participle. This must be Noah’s immediate family – or perhaps some who died prior to the flood. There is no biblical record beyond the family.
Interesting that “obedience” is the response to preaching. In this, Clement is following Hebrews:
18 τίσιν δὲ ὤμοσεν μὴ εἰσελεύσεσθαι εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσιν αὐτοῦ εἰ μὴ τοῖς ἀπειθήσασιν; 19 καὶ βλέπομεν ὅτι οὐκ ἠδυνήθησαν εἰσελθεῖν διʼ ἀπιστίαν. Hebrews 3:18–19 (NA27)
18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:18–19 (ESV)
And also see the famous discussion of faith and works in James 2. Moreover, it must be noted that Paul saw no conflict between faith and obedience:
through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, Romans 1:5 (ESV)
Ἰωνᾶς Νινευΐταις καταστροφὴν ἐκήρυξεν: Jonah to the Ninevehites catastrophe (Lightfoot, destruction) proclaimed/preached.
Clement, apparently had never read 19th century higher criticism, and like Jesus strangely used the least historically comfortable characters from the OT as illustrations: both Noah and Jonah (like Jesus).
οἱ δὲ μετανοήσαντες ἐπὶ τοῖς ἁμαρτήμασιν αὐτῶν: but those repenting of their sins
The de, a disjunctive particle, emphasizes the turn of both the people of Nineveh and God – especially when it comes in contrast to the kai (and) in the sentence of Noah.
The substantive is again a participle – interesting that Clement is categorizing people by conduct – the repenters (aorist participle).
Upon the(ir) sins: I could find this precise phrase only here in Clement and in Xenophon:
ὃς καὶ πρὸς τοὺς διαφόρους ἐν τῇ πόλει ὥσπερ πατὴρ πρὸς παῖδας προσεφέρετο. ἐλοιδορεῖτο μὲν γὰρ ἐπὶ τοῖς ἁμαρτήμασιν, ἐτίμα δʼ εἴ τι καλὸν πράττοιεν, παρίστατο δʼ εἴ τις συμφορὰ συμβαίνοι, ἐχθρὸν μὲν οὐδένα ἡγούμενος πολίτην, ἐπαινεῖν δὲ πάντας ἐθέλων, σῴζεσθαι δὲ πάντας κέρδος νομίζων, ζημίαν δὲ τιθεὶς ειʼ καὶ ὁ μικροῦ ἄξιος ἀπόλοιτο·
Xenophon, Xenophontis Opera Omnia, Vol. 5 (Medford, MA: Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1920).
Here was a man whose behaviour to his political opponents was that of a father to his children: though he would chide them for their errors he honoured them when they did a good deed, and stood by them when any disaster befell them, deeming no citizen an enemy, willing to praise all, counting the safety of all a gain, and reckoning the destruction even of a man of little worth as a loss.
Xenophon, Xenophon in Seven Volumes, 7, trans. E. C. Marchant and G. W. Bowersock (Medford, MA: Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA; William Heinemann, Ltd., London., 1925).
ὲξιλάσαντο τὸν Θεὸν: They propitiated (aorist, middle, indicative 3rd plural) God (accusative, direct object). Lightfoot, ‘they obtained pardon’. Robertson and Donald have, “propitiated God”.
The verb without the preposition is used in the NT and translated as propitiation: Hebrews 2:17. The noun is used in 1 John 2:2 & 4:10. See Dodd’s famous complaint concerning the translation and Morris’ response in The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross.
The participle is in the accusative, being adverbial to the main verb ,propitiate: an accusative of manner. The noun is used in Hebrews 5:7 to reference the prayers of Jesus.
καὶ ἔλαβον σωτηρίαν: and they received salvation.
καίπερ ἀλλότριοι τοῦ Θεοῦ ὂντες: even though strangers to God.