2 Clement on the Prosperity Gospel

2 Clement is one of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. It was probably written sometime in the first half of the second century. It’s an early Christian sermon on the Christian moral life and the nature of the church.

Toward the end of the work, the author takes a shot at what looks like a second-century version of the “prosperity gospel,” or the idea that righteousness reliably results in material prosperity, and sin reliably results in various forms of hardship and impoverishment:

None of the righteous ever received his reward quickly, but waits for it. For if God paid the wages of the righteous immediately, we would soon be engaged in business, not godliness; though we would appear to be righteous, we would in fact be pursuing not piety but profit.

I found this interesting because it shows once again that there really aren’t any new false teachings. We just keep recycling the old ones.

Apostolic Fathers text from Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007). 165 (2 Clem 20:3-4).

One thought on “2 Clement on the Prosperity Gospel

  1. David, It is interesting that you resumed your blog this week with postings – your timing is good. Today’s post is particularly interesting to me – I am preaching on Mark 12:41-44, “the widow’s offering”. Please don’t judge – I am still in the exegesis phase, sermon will be complete on Saturday – “it is what it is” juggling multiple hats. But your post today regarding the writing from Clement is pushing me deeper to consider how I am approaching the Mark text – so, thank you. The loving and sacrificial obedience the widow demonstrated at the temple treasury can be more aptly described as the godliness and piety Clement spoke of – as opposed to “those” long robed scribes. 😉 Interesting timing of your post. Just wanted you to know, you are helping us out here in the fields.

    Thank you always, Janet Krantz

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