The First Epistle of Clement is a letter addressed to the early Christian believers in the city of Corinth. Based on internal evidence some scholars say the letter was composed some time before AD 70, but the common time given for the epistle’s composition is at the end of the reign of Domitian (c. AD 96). It ranks with Didache as one of the earliest, if not the earliest, of extant Christian documents outside the traditional New Testament canon.
The letter is a response to events in Corinth, where the congregation had deposed certain elders (presbyters). The author called on the congregation to repent, to restore the elders to their position, and to obey their superiors. He said that the Apostles had appointed the assembly leadership and directed them on how to perpetuate the ministry.
The work is attributed to Clement I, the Bishop of Rome. In Corinth, the letter was read aloud from time to time. This practice spread to other assemblies, and Christians translated the Greek work into Latin, Syriac, and other languages. Some early Christians even treated the work like scripture. The work was lost for centuries, but since the 1600s various copies or fragments have been found and studied. It has provided valuable evidence about the structure of the early church.