The letter was occasioned by a dispute in Corinth, which had led to the removal from office of several presbyters. Since none of the presbyters were charged with moral offences, Clement charged that their removal was high-handed and unjustifiable. The letter was extremely lengthy — it was twice as long as the Epistle to the Hebrews — and includes many references to the Old Testament, of which he demonstrates a knowledge. Clement repeatedly refers to the Old Testament as Scripture.
New Testament references include Clement’s admonition to “Take up the epistle of the blessed Paul the Apostle” (xlvii. 1) which was written to this Corinthian audience; a reference which seems to imply written documents available at both Rome and Corinth. Clement also alludes to the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians and may allude to Paul's epistles to the Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians, numerous phrases from the Epistle to the Hebrews, and possible material from Acts, James, and I Peter. In several instances, he asks his readers to “remember” the words of Jesus, although Clement does not attribute these sayings to a specific written account. These New Testament allusions are employed as authoritative sources which strengthen Clement’s arguments to the Corinthian church, but Clement never explicitly refers to them as “Scripture”.