(Acts of the disputation with Manes) "Manes said: You are caught in the charge you yourself bring forward. For you have been speaking now against yourself, and have not perceived that, in trying to cast reproaches in my teeth, you lay yourself under the greater fault. Tell me this now, I pray you: if, as you allege, those who have died from the time of Tiberius on to the days of Probus are to say to Jesus, "Do not judge us if we have failed to do Your works, for You did not send the Paraclete to us, although You promised to send Him; " will not those much more use such an address who have departed this life from the time of Moses on to the advent of Christ Himself? And will not those with still greater right express themselves in terms like these: "Do not deliver us over to torments, seeing that we had no knowledge of You imparted to us? "And will it only he those that have died thus far previously to His advent who may be seen making such a charge with right? Will not those also do the same who have passed away from Adam's time on to Christ's advent? For none of these either obtained any knowledge of the Paraclete, or received instruction in the doctrine of Jesus. But only this latest generation of men, which has run its course from Tiberius onward, as you make it out, is to be saved: for it is Christ Himself that "has re-deemed them from the curse of the law; " as Paul, too, has given these further testimonies, that "the letter kills, and quickens no man," and that "the law is the ministration of death," and "the strength of sin." Archelaus said: You err, not knowing the Scriptures, neither the power of God. For many have also perished after the period of Christ's advent on to this present period, and many are still perishing—those, to wit, who have not chosen to devote themselves to works of righteousness; whereas only those who have received Him, and yet receive Him, have obtained power to become the sons of God. For the evangelist has not said all have obtained that power; neither, on the other hand, however, has he put any limit on the time. But this is his expression: As many as received Him. Moreover, from the creation of the world He has ever been with righteous men, and has never ceased to require their blood at the hands of the wicked, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias. And whence, then, did righteous Abel and all those succeeding worthies, who are enrolled among the righteous, derive their righteousness when as yet there was no law of Moses, and when as yet the prophets had not arisen and discharged the functions of prophecy? Were they not constituted righteous in virtue of their fulfilling the law, every one of them showing the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing them witness? For when a man who has not the law does naturally the things contained in the law, he, not having the law, is a law unto himself. And consider now the multitude of laws thus existing among the several righteous men who lived a life of uprightness, at one time discovering for themselves the law of God implanted in their hearts, at another learning of it from their parents, and yet again being instructed in it further by the ancients and the elders."
Bishop Archelaus here is refuting the objection that those men before the coming of Christ were not able to receive Him, and he tells us who it is that can receive Christ. "whereas only those who have received Him, and yet receive Him, have obtained power to become the sons of God. For the evangelist has not said all have obtained that power; neither, on the other hand, however, has he put any limit on the time." Only those who have received Him (those before Christ), and yet receive Him. (those in the present time, after the coming of Christ) These people have a common account, namely that they have devoted themselves to the works of righteousness, following the law written upon their hearts.
Thus, Archelaus is making the point that everyone in all times is able to receive Christ by doing the works of righteousness, whether they explicitly know of Christ or not. It is true that he is principally speaking of those before Christ, but it is clear that he is not limiting what he says to that when he says "For many have also perished after the period of Christ's advent on to this present period, and many are still perishing—those, to wit, who have not chosen to devote themselves to works of righteousness," signifying that he is talking about the period of time after Christ. He then goes on to say what it means to do works of righteousness, namely, following the law upon one's heart, as the Fathers before Christ did.
(Clement of Alexandria) "For although you are not yet able to do the things enjoined by the Law, yet, considering that the noblest examples are set before us in it, we are able to nourish and increase the love of liberty; and so we shall profit more eagerly as far as we can, inviting some things, imitating some things, and fearing others. For thus the righteous of the olden time, who lived according to the law, "were not from a storied oak, or from a rock;" because they wish to philosophize truly, took and devoted themselves entirely to God, and were classified under faith. Zeno said well of the Indians, that he would rather have seen one Indian roasted, than have learned the whole of the arguments about bearing pain."
St. Clement clearly says here that the righteous of the olden times were classified under faith because they wished to philosophize truly, and devoted themselves entirely to God. Thus, they were classified under faith, implicitly believing in Christ through their seeking after righteousness through philosophy. This is even clearer in another passage from the same work:
"Accordingly, before the advent of the Lord, philosophy was necessary to the Greeks for righteousness. And now it becomes conducive to piety; being a kind of preparatory training to those who attain to faith through demonstration. "For your foot," it is said, "will not stumble, if you refer what is good, whether belonging to the Greeks or to us, to Providence." Proverbs 3:23 For God is the cause of all good things; but of some primarily, as of the Old and the New Testament; and of others by consequence, as philosophy. Perchance, too, philosophy was given to the Greeks directly and primarily, till the Lord should call the Greeks. For this was a schoolmaster to bring "the Hellenic mind," as the law, the Hebrews, "to Christ." Galatians 3:24 Philosophy, therefore, was a preparation, paving the way for him who is perfected in Christ."
St. Clement says that philosophy was necessary to the Greeks for righteousness before Christ, because it brought them to Christ, as the law did to the Hebrews. Now, he says, "it becomes conducive to piety; being a kind of preparatory training to those who attain to faith through demonstration." Notice that this is not to say that it is no longer possible to obtain righteousness by it, rather, it is no longer necessary for righteousness, for those who come to believe explicitly in Christ. Thus, "Philosophy, therefore, was a preparation, paving the way for him who is perfected in Christ." But notice that he says "philosophy was given to the Greeks directly and primarily, till the Lord should call the Greeks" But clearly no person has been called to whom the gospel has not been preached. Hence, it is clear that St. Clement is not excluding the possibility of righteousness for those who have had no possibility of hearing the Gospel, for these people philosophy would still be necessary for righteousness.