Were there lots of letters like Clement's in the early Church?

In another forum, a poster denied the far-reaching authority of Clement’s exhorting letter to the Corinthians in the first century. He said in the early Church, there were letters like this “sent out from bishops from all over the place”.

Are there any letters by non-Roman bishops making exhortations like Clement’s outside that bishop’s jurisdiction? Not in a council, of course.

**hint: **alexandria and antioch

Great. Provide the author and letter please. I don’t work well with “hints” because I am not very bright.

Saint Ignatius of Antioch (see here for letters).

Dionysius of Corinth, as described by Eusebius (see here):

Chapter XXIII.—Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, and the Epistles which he wrote.

  1. And first we must speak of Dionysius, who was appointed bishop of the church in Corinth, and communicated freely of his inspired labors not only to his own people, but also to those in foreign lands, and rendered the greatest service to all in the catholic epistles which he wrote to the churches.

  2. Among these is the one addressed to the Lacedæmonians, containing instruction in the orthodox faith and an admonition to peace and unity; the one also addressed to the Athenians, exciting them to faith and to the life prescribed by the Gospel, which he accuses them of esteeming lightly, as if they had almost apostatized from the faith since the martyrdom of their ruler Publius, which had taken place during the persecutions of those days.

  3. He mentions Quadratus also, stating that he was appointed their bishop after the martyrdom of Publius, and testifying that through his zeal they were brought together again and their faith revived. He records, moreover, that Dionysius the Areopagite, who was converted to the faith by the apostle Paul, according to the statement in the Acts of the Apostles, first obtained the episcopate of the church at Athens.

  4. And there is extant another epistle of his addressed to the Nicomedians, in which he attacks the heresy of Marcion, and stands fast by the canon of the truth.

Here is a question, have you read Clements epistle in it’s entirety?
What exactly do you consider far reaching authority? Do you even know if he was in fact bishop at the time?

Yes, lurking provided Ignatius (a good example) then of course there is Theophilus or was it Theophorus? yes, I think Theophilus,
Yes, try reading "Theophilus to Autolycus"
Polycarp try reading “The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians”

From Wikipedia (see here):

Saint Ignatius of Antioch (also known as Theophorus) (ca. 35-110)[1] was the third Bishop or Patriarch of Antioch and a student of the Apostle John. En route to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of the theology of the earliest Christians. Important topics addressed in these letters include ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops.

As I read it, I think Marco’s point was, are there examples of letters from other bishops who acted like Clement of Rome did, with the Church in Corinth? i.e. not letters of fraternity from one Church to another, but rather letters of correction from one bishop to another Church, in another country, AND I would add, who insisted that the recipiant of the correction letter, report back to that same bishop that the change he wanted implemented was done and done immediately.


While I am familiar with Ignatius’ letters, they do not have the same pedigree as Clement’s. Although that is indeed the kind of example I was looking for, thank you, JustLurking.

For those wondering the differences, Ignatius speaks for himself. Clement for “the Church at Rome.” The Corinthians initiated the appeal to distant Rome to solve their problem. Irenaeus spoke of this powerful letter Clement sent back to them for the purpose of settling a dilemma. Dionysius for his part also wrote about Corinth’s continued appeal to Rome, and that they read Clement’s letter in Church. So while there are some authoritative attributes to Ignatius’ letters, Clement’s letter remains unique in a number of ways (steve b mentioned others).

Why’s that Marco?


Ignatius commands the Asian Churches left right and centre but as soon as he writes to the Church at Rome he lowers himself and says:

“I do not, as Peter and Paul, issue commandments unto you. They were apostles”

“You [the church at Rome] have envied no one, but others you have taught. I desire only that what you have enjoined in your instructions may remain in force”

“Ignatius . . . to the church also which holds the presidency, in the location of the country of the Romans, worthy of God, worthy of honor, worthy of blessing, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy of sanctification, and, because you hold the presidency in love, named after Christ and named after the Father”

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