More examples from Stromata 1. Ekklesia is clearly understood in chapter 17 to be a physical place:
The juxtaposition against synagogue implies a physical structure too. Note also the comparison of 'church' to a rich person's home later in book 3:
The bishop is clearly meant to be a personification of Christ who is the 'head' of the household:
While scholars debate the meaning of οἰκονομία in Clement the root would be immediately recognized as 'house.' It literally means 'house management.' So the relation between ekklesia and house is established throughout the section. Dispensation is not the primary meaning of οἰκονομία.
According to my reading of Book 3, I think we can place an exact context - i.e. Demetrius's installation as bishop of Alexandria c. 192 CE. Demetrius is remembered to have been a married man which scandalized the ascetic Alexandrian community. Throughout this section Clement is defending Demetrius's appointment saying that marriage is not incompatible with being a bishop:
Yes of course as in ancient Greece ekklesia can mean both the assembly of people and the building which housed the assembly. But I think it is clear that the Christian association of ekklesia with building didn't begin in the 5th century but with Clement. Clement sees the bishop as a house master - the house being the ekklesia.
Stephen says that there is nothing specifically Alexandrian about the Gospel of Mark. But there are clear signs that Clement understands ekklesia to be a physical building in Alexandria which had bishop Demetrius as it's new married 'householder/master.' There were those who clearly disputed the selection on the grounds that he was married (i.e. married people were understood to be 'on the other side' of the curtain which separated the laity from the elect. Clement says, no it's okay that a married bishop stands with the elect because Paul uses the image of Christ being married as the bride of the community (even though it doesn't quite work because he also uses arguments that the bishop is the 'master' of the house like Christ so Christ is alternatively the 'man' and the 'woman' in the marriage).
While there is no explicit mention of Mark as the original bishop or 'pope' who founded the 'house' which is now managed by the 'householder' in his 'house-managing' it is clear that Demetrius is a bishop according to some lineage where formerly all bishops necessarily derive from some apostolic authority and - more interestingly - were all celibates if not eunuchs. The argument seems to be that marriage is indistinguishable from sex and sex one and the same with lust. A similar situation is preserved in a hilarious story in the History of the Patriarchs regarding Demetrius. If you read this section of Book 3 of the Stromata AFTER the narrative regarding Demetrius (who was bishop at the time Clement wrote the Stromata by Clement's own admission in Book 1) it all comes together:
And the grace of God descended upon this man [Demetrius], and he was like Joseph, the son of Jacob; yea, and more excellent than Joseph, for though Demetrius was married, he knew not his wife. And if any should say : «How is it lawful that a patriarch should be married?» we reply that the apostles declare, in their canons, that if a bishop be wedded to one wife, that shall not be forbidden him; for the believing wife is pure, and her bed undefiled, and no sin can be laid to his charge on that account. And the patriarch is but bishop of Alexandria, with a right of primacy over the bishops of the different provinces subject to that city; for he is the successor of Saint Mark, the apostle and evangelist, who had jurisdiction over all Egypt and Pentapolis and Ethiopia and Nubia, through his preaching the gospel in those parts; and therefore the bishop of Alexandria also of necessity has jurisdiction over those countries. But the people were unjust towards this patriarch, Demetrius, saying that he was the twelfth of the patriarchs, counting from Mark, the evangelist, and that all of them were unmarried except Demetrius; and |156 they bewailed his fall. He had a gift from God, which was that when he had finished the liturgy, before he communicated any one of the people, he beheld the Lord Christ, giving the Eucharist by his hand; and when a person came up who was unworthy to receive the Mysteries, the Lord Christ revealed to him that man's sin, so that he would not communicate him. Then he told that man the reason, so that he confessed his offence. And Demetrius reproved him, and said : «Turn away from thy sin which thou dost commit, and then come again to receive the Holy Mysteries.» When this practice had continued a long time, the faithful of Alexandria left off sinning for fear of the patriarch, lest he should put them to open shame; and each one said to his friend or his kinsman : «Beware lest thou sin, lest the patriarch denounce thee in the presence of the congregation.» But some of the people said : «This is a married man. How then can he reprove us, seeing that he has dishonoured this see? For none has sat therein to this day who was not unwedded.» Again others said : «His marriage does not lessen his merits, for marriage is pure and undefiled before God.» But it was God's will to make his virtues manifest, that he might be glorified, and might not leave this great secret unknown. As he said in his holy gospel, by his pure mouth : «A city when it is set on a hill cannot be hidden,» so God made the merits of this patriarch manifest, that his people might increase in virtue thereby. Accordingly, on a certain night, an angel of the Lord came to Demetrius, and said to him : «Demetrius, seek not thine own |157 salvation by neglecting thy neighbour; but remember what the gospel says, that the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep». Then Demetrius said to the angel : «O my Lord, teach me what thou commandest me to do. If thou wilt send me to martyrdom, I am ready to let my blood be shed for the name of Christ.» Then the angel said to him : «Listen to me, Demetrius, and I will tell thee. The Lord Christ was incarnate only to save his people; and it is not right that thou shouldst now save thine own soul, and allow this people to be filled with scruples on account of thee.» So Demetrius answered : «What is my sin against the people? Teach me, my Lord, that I may repent of it.» Then the angel said : «This secret which is between thee and thy wife; namely, that thou hast never approached her. Now therefore make this known to the people.» But Demetrius said : «I pray thee that I may die before thee rather than that thou shouldst reveal this secret to any man!» Then the angel answered : «Know that the scripture says : He that is disobedient shall perish. Tomorrow, therefore, after the end. of the liturgy, assemble the priests and the people, and make known to them this secret which is between thee and thy wife.» When the patriarch heard this, he marvelled, and said : «Blessed is the Lord, who does not abandon those that trust in him.» Then the angel departed from him.
So on the morrow, which was the feast of Pentecost, the patriarch celebrated the liturgy, and bade the archdeacon give directions to the clergy and the people that not one of them should leave the church, but that they should |158 gather together round the patriarchal throne. The archdeacon, therefore, proclaimed to the congregation : «The patriarch's wish is to speak to you all. Let none of you, therefore, depart without hearing what he shall say.» When they had sat down, the patriarch bid the brethren collect much fuel; and they did so, marvelling thereat and saying : «What is this that the patriarch will do ?» Then he said to them : «Rise and let us pray!» So they prayed, and afterwards sat down. And he said to them : «I beg you out of your love for me, to allow my wife to be present before you, that she may receive of your blessing.» Then they marvelled, and thought in their hearts : «What is this that he does?» And they all said : «Whatever thou biddest us do shall be done.» Then the patriarch commanded one of his servants, saying : «Call my wife, the handmaid of the saints, that she may receive their blessing.» So the holy woman entered, and stood in the midst of the congregation. And her husband, the patriarch, arose, where they could all behold him, and stood by the blazing logs, which had already been lighted, and spread out his cloak, and took burning embers from the fire with his hand and put them in his cloak; and all the spectators were astonished at the quantity of burning fuel in his garment, and yet it was not burned. Then he said to his wife : «Spread out thy woollen pallium which thou hast upon thee.» So she spread it out; and the patriarch transferred the embers to it while she stood there; and he put incense on the fire, and commanded her to incense all the congregation; and she did so, and yet her pallium was not burned. Then the patriarch said again : «Let us pray»; while the embers were blazing in his wife's pallium, which yet was not burned. |159
You have now heard, my friends, this great wonder. This man had made himself an eunuch of his own free will, so that he was more glorious than those that are born eunuchs; and therefore the fire had no effect upon this saint, nor upon his garments, nor upon those of his wife, because he had extinguished the flames of lust. But now let us abridge our discourse upon this subject, and return to the history, glorifying God for ever and ever. So when the clergy had prayed, they said to the patriarch : «We beg of thy Holiness to explain to us this wonderful mystery.» And he replied : «Attend, all of you, to what I say. Know that I have not done this seeking glory from men. My age is now sixty-three years. My wife who stands before you is my cousin. Her parents died and left her when she was a child. My father brought her to me, for he had no other child than me, and she was the only child of my uncle. So I grew up with her in my father's house, and we dwelt together. When she was fifteen, my parents resolved to many me to her, in order that their possessions might not pass to a stranger, but that we might inherit them. So the wedding was performed, as men do such things for their children; and I went in to her. And when they had left us alone, she said to me : «How could they give me to thee, seeing that I am thy sister?» So I said to her : «Listen to what I say. We must of necessity remain together in this chamber without being separated all our lives, but there must be no further connexion between us, until death shall part us; and, if we remain thus in purity, we shall meet in the heavenly Jerusalem, and enjoy one |160 another's company in eternal bliss.» And when she heard this, she accepted my proposal; and her body remained inviolate. But my parents knew nothing of our compact. Then the wedding-guests demanded the customary proof of the consummation of the marriage, as you know is done by foolish men; but my mother said to them : «These two are young, and the days before them are many.» Thus we kept our purity; and when my parents as well as her parents were dead, we remained orphans together. It is now forty-eight years since I married my wife, and we sleep on one bed and one mattress and beneath one coverlet; and the Lord, who knows and judges the living and the dead, and understands the secrets of all hearts, knows that I have never learnt that she is a woman, nor has she learnt that I am a man; but we see one another's face and no more. We sleep together, but the embraces of this world are unknown to us. And when we fall asleep, we see a form with eagle's wings, which comes flying and alights upon our bed between her and me, and stretches its right wing over me, and its left wing over her, until the morning, when it departs; and we behold it until it goes. Do not think, my brethren and ye people who love God, that I have disclosed this secret to you to gain the glory of this world which passes away, nor that I have told you this of my own will; but it is the command of the Lord, who bade me do it, for he desires the good of all men, and he is Christ our Saviour.» |161
When Demetrius had finished this discourse, the people all fell upon their faces on the earth, saying : «Verily, our father, thou art more excellent than many of the saints; and God has shewn his mercy towards us in making thee head over us.» And they gave thanks to him, and besought him to forgive their evil thoughts of him. Then he gave them his blessing, and prayed for them; and they dispersed to their own homes, praising God. And after this, Demetrius bade his wife depart to her house.
Have you ever heard, you that listen to me, of such wonders? This holy, father dwelt so long with his lovely and virtuous wife, and yet endured the trial. Where now are the men who are married, and yet commit adultery also, while professing to be Christians? Let them come and listen to the Father Demetrius, the patriarch, saying : «I have known the face of my wife and no more», that they may be ashamed and confounded! O that valiant saint, fighting against his bodily desires! O that miracle! How could his heart remain unmoved when he beheld his wife's beauty, and how could his senses remain unexcited before her loveliness! How wonderful was thy discourse, O thou saint, in thy bridal chamber! The archer whose arrows strike all men, namely Satan, was unable to strike thee. Demetrius said : «I am a man and have a body like all other men, but I will teach you how to answer the suggestions of the Devil. When my heart was troubled by evil thoughts, I remembered the |162 compact I had made with Christ; and if I broke it, I feared that he would reject me in the kingdom of Heaven, before the Father and his holy angels. Moreover, when I saw the beauty and grace of her form, I thought of the corpses lying in their tombs and the foulness of their odour, so to keep myself from strange words, through fear of the fire that is not quenched, and the worm that sleepeth not, in the other world, where none can open his mouth». O my friends, this Father was chosen by God, and in his courage and valour was braver than those that slay lions; as one of the doctors says : «The brave man is not he that kills wild beasts, but he that dies pure from the embraces and snares of women». Blessed is this saint, for his degree is exalted! Like Joseph in the house of the Egyptian woman, when she solicited him on every occasion that she could, so Demetrius fought against his desires every day and night until his battle was finished, and preserved his chastity and his right faith throughout his life.
Demetrius remained patriarch forty-three years. In his time there was a disturbance at Alexandria, and the emperor Severus banished him to a place called the quarter of the Museum; and there he died on the 12th. day of Barmahat, which, I believe, was the day of the manifestation of his virginity.
Now in the reign of the emperor Severus many became martyrs for the love of God. Among them was the father of a man named Origen 37, who |163 learned the sciences of the heathen, and abandoned the books of God, and began to speak blasphemously of them. So when the Father Demetrius heard of this man, and saw that some of the people had gone astray after his lies, he removed him from the church.
The reason the Patriarch Joseph is invoked at the beginning of the discussion is because Joseph was in Egypt famously resisting the desires of Potiphar's wife. Thus Clement's argument is -