The gnostic dignity is augmented and increased by him who has undertaken the first place in the teaching of others, and received the dispensation by word and deed of the greatest good on earth, by which he mediates contact and fellowship with the Divinity. And as those who worship terrestrial things pray to them as if they heard, confirming compacts before them; so, in men who are living images, the true majesty of the Word is received by the trustworthy teacher; and the beneficence exerted towards them is carried up to the Lord, after whose image he who is a true man by instruction creates and harmonizes, renewing to salvation the man who receives instruction. For as the Greeks called steel Ares, and wine Dionysus, on account of a certain relation; so the Gnostic considering the benefit of his neighbours as his own salvation, may be called a living image of the Lord, not as respects the peculiarity of form, but the symbol of power and similarity of preaching.
Whatever, therefore, he has in his mind, he bears on his tongue, to those who are worthy to hear, speaking as well as living from assent and inclination. For he both thinks and speaks the truth; unless at any time, medicinally, as a physician for the safety of the sick, he may deceive or tell an untruth, according to the Sophists. 3585
To illustrate: the noble apostle circumcised Timothy, though loudly declaring and writing that circumcision made with hands profits nothing. 3586 But that he might not, by dragging all at once away from the law to the circumcision of the heart through faith those of the Hebrews who were reluctant listeners, compel them to break away from the synagogue, he, “accommodating himself to the Jews, became a Jew that he might gain all.” 3587 He, then, who submits to accommodate himself merely for the benefit of his neighbours, for the salvation of those for whose sake he accommodates himself, not partaking in any dissimulation through the peril impending over the just from those who envy them, such an one by no means acts with compulsion. 3588 But for the benefit of his neighbours alone, he will do things which would not have been done by him primarily, if he did not do them on their account. Such an one gives himself for the Church, for the disciples whom he has begotten in faith; for an example to those who are capable of receiving the supreme economy of the philanthropic and God-loving Instructor, for confirmation of the truth of his words, for the exercise of love to the Lord. Such an one is unenslaved by fear, true in word, enduring in labour, never willing to lie by uttered word, and in it always securing sinlessness; since falsehood, being spoken with a certain deceit, is not an inert word, but operates to mischief.
On every hand, then, the Gnostic alone testifies to the truth in deed and word. For he always does rightly in all things, both in word and action, and in thought itself.
Such, then, to speak cursorily, is the piety of the Christian. If, then, he does these things according to duty and right reason, he does them piously and justly. And if such be the case, the Gnostic alone is really both pious, and just, and God-fearing.
The Christian is not impious. For this was the point incumbent on us to demonstrate to the philosophers; so that he will never in any way do aught bad or base (which is unjust). Consequently, therefore, he is not impious; but he alone fears God, holily and dutifully worshipping the true God, the universal Ruler, and King, and Sovereign, with the true piety.
[Philo is here quoted by editors, and a passage from Plato. “Sophists,” indeed! With insane persons, and in like cases, looser moralists have argued thus, but Clement justly credits it to Sophistry. Elucidation I.]538:3586
Rom. ii. 25; Eph. ii. 11. [Plainly, he introduces this example of an apparent inconsistency, because only so far he supposes the Gnostic may allow himself, without playing false, to temporize.]538:3587
1 Cor. ix. 19, etc.538:3588
This sentence is obscure, and has been construed and amended variously.