Please click on the link to view Jimmy Akin, “God’s Elect in the First Epistle of Clement.”
Editor’s note: Jimmy Akin is Catholic. SEA stands in the evangelical Protestant tradition, and would disagree with Akin on various theological matters. But we include this article on our site because we think it has some helpful insights on the topic of election. In particular, it does a good job of showing that the first century Christian document 1 Clement has a corporate concept of election. One might wish to quibble with points here or there (such as his dating of the book to the first half of A.D. 70 instead of the standard dating around A.D. 96).
One problem with the article worth noting in particular is that Akin characterizes 1 Clement’s concept of “‘the elect’ simply as the Christian people as a whole, not specifically as that group which will be saved on the last day.” But that is not quite right. It is true that 1 Clement regards “the elect” as the Christian people as a whole. But it is not quite right to say that he did not regard this group as the group that will be saved on the last day. Rather, it is that group (the Church/believers) that will be saved on the last day. However, in the corporate concept of election, individuals can come and go from the elect people without the corporate people’s identity being compromised. The Church will be saved on the last day and any individuals who are part of it by faith in Christ. But if someone who is part of the Church now by faith in Christ leaves the Church by forsaking faith in Christ (i.e., becomes an unbeliever/an apostate), it remains true that the elect/the Church/believers will be saved on the last day even though apostates will not be. This explains Clement’s concern that not all who are elect in the present will finally be saved.