Didache or the Teachings of the Apostles
This is one of the oldest existing Christian manuscripts
the original document is thought to have been written between
50 AD to 150 AD.† The
importance of this document is that it was a catechism that
was given to new believers throughout the early Church. It is
said that there are references in the Didache from the Shepard
of Hermes the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Barnabas.† After having been lost for over 1500 years
the Didache was discovered in monastery in Constantinople in
1883.† Another copy was found in the remains of a
Coptic Church monastery in 1923
Probably the only reason that copies of the Didache
ware still found in these places is that the Roman Catholic
Church had a split with the eastern orthodox church, and long
before the crusades Islam had destroyed the Coptic church across
the middle east and Northern Africa and was not able to purge
these monasteries of such incriminating documents.
To some the words in this document may sound somewhat
foreign, but we must take into account their words above the
words of our great protestant teachers and leaders of the last
500 years. How can I suggest such a thing because the people
who wrote this were a lot closer to Christ and the Apostles
than we are this document is estimated to have been written
between 23 years after Christís death to 50 years after the
death of the Apostle John. What Iím getting at is that either
way, as this document was circulated in the various churches
there was a number of people still living that had personally
been taught by the Apostles themselves.††
What was common knowledge about the teachings of
Christ the Apostles between 50 AD and 150 AD has all been but
lost to us as there are very few letters or historical accounts
with which to gauge the words of Paul so show us how early church
services were conducted what was the early churches doctrines,
what did the early church view as the commandments of Christ,
in this document we can catch an ever so brief unfiltered glimpse
of what these early followers of Christ believed.†
I am not saying that this is equal with scripture
but I am saying that their words based on the day this was written
should hold a lot more weight than the scholars and linguists
who have written so much of our doctrine over the last 500 years.
Itís not enough to breeze through these words and
say I agree with this and this, and then say these people were
off in what they are saying in these other areas. We need to
meditate on their words and see where the match scripture and
where they expand upon what we know from scripture.
For example the Lordís prayer how over the years
I have heard it voiced by fundamentalist and Pentecostal people
that it is so unspiritual to pray those words. Almost none in
the entire movement actually prays the Lordís prayer,†
they say it is boring and reciting those words became
meaningless to them. They say not only should we not pray formula
prays but that God will not hear them because they have become
more or less a chant or mantra.†
Yet in saying these things are they not speaking
against are the very words of Christ Ė Is it inconceivable to
any in our day that the twelve disciples might have prayed the
Lordís Prayer daily?† In this day if one were to suggest that after
Pentecost and the infilling of the Holy Spirit that the twelve
Apostles were to stoop to such a lowly thing as to recite these
words in prayer daily they would be laughed to scorn and turned
out of a fellowship.
Yet three of Apostles thought it important enough
for our Christian walk to include the Lordís prayer it in their
Gospel narratives.† And
in the text leading up to it Jesus said when ye pray, pray thus.
Not if ye pray, pray thus.† Not pray thus until you get filled with the
spirit. Not pray thus until you learn the principals of good
prayer in these words, Jesus said when ye pray, pray thus.
And I might also point out in it we are told to
ask for our daily bread† --
how can this be accomplished if it is not prayed daily?†
So we come to a question, did the disciples obey Jesus
and follow his commandments? A we should probably also ask that
after they became Apostles did they still obey Jesus and follow
The Jews have books of prayer, and some of these
prayers date all the way back to the Babylonian captivity.† Certainly the Jews at the time of Christ were
acquainted with prayer, and Jesus notes that the Pharisees were
great men of prayer, you could say that they were renowned for
their public praying, and Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their
long audible prayers.
Yet in this movement today we prize the people
who can pray long-winded flowery audible prayers. When I was
young, people would fall all over themselves about how brother
so and so, or sister so and so knows how to pray. ďOh they just
know how to pray so well, when they pray all of heaven stops
and God hears them.† Nothing
could be farther from the truth most of these people I later
came to know had not had a single prayer answered in decades
or if ever. They just learned to sound good and got their jollies
out of standing and praying publicly. It makes you important,
people know your something but if someone would stand up and
pray the Lords prayer in a Fundamentalist or Pentecostal Church
they would be looked on as if they were infantile, a spiritual
Years ago I took a class on prayer and the teacher
whom many consider to be one of the great leaders today taught
the Lords prayer as a set of principals and told us flat out
that the Lord never really meant for us to pray this. Well in
the Didache we catch some glimpses of what exactly new believers
were taught regarding prayer fasting baptism and many other
subjects. And as I indicated above the age of this document
would seem to give it a little more weight than a teacher or
scholar that learned about these things in the last few decades.†††
The two Ways -- The Way of Life -- The explanation
There are two Ways, one of Life and one of Death, and there
is a great difference between the two Ways. 2 The Way of Life
is this: "First, thou shalt love the God who made thee,
secondly, thy neighbor as thyself; and whatsoever thou wouldst
not have done to thyself, do not thou to another." 3
Now, the teaching of these words is this: "Bless those
that curse you, and pray for your enemies, and
fast for those that persecute you. For what credit is
it to you if you love those that love you? Do not even the heathen
do the same?" But, for your part, "love those that
hate you," and you will have no enemy. 4 "Abstain
from carnal" and bodily "lusts." "If any
man smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek
also," and thou wilt be perfect. "If any man impress
thee to go with him one mile, go with him two. If any man take
thy coat, give him thy shirt also. If any man will take from
thee what is thine, refuse it not" -- not even if thou
Give to everyone that asks thee, and do not refuse, for the
Father's will is that we give to all from the gifts we have
received. Blessed is he that gives according to the commandment;
for he is innocent. Woe to him who
receives; for if any man receive
alms under pressure of need he is innocent; but
he who receives it without need shall be tried as to why he
took and for what, and being in prison he shall be examined
as to his deeds, and "he shall not come out thence until
he pay the last farthing." 6 But concerning this
it was also said, "Let thine alms
sweat into thine hands until thou knowest to whom thou art giving."
The second part of the teaching
But the second commandment of the teaching is this: 2 "Thou
shalt do no murder; thou shalt not commit adultery"; thou
shalt not commit sodomy; thou shalt not commit fornication;
thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not use magic; thou shalt not
use sorceries; thou shalt not procure
abortion, nor commit infanticide;
"thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods"; 3 thou
shalt not commit perjury, "thou shalt not bear false witness";
thou shalt not speak evil; thou shalt not bear malice. 4 Thou
shalt not be double-minded nor double-tongued, for to be double-tongued
is the snare of death. 5 Thy speech shall not be false nor vain,
but completed in action. 6 Thou shalt not be covetous nor extortionate,
nor a hypocrite, nor malignant, nor proud; thou shalt make no
evil plan against thy neighbour. 7
Thou shalt hate no man; but some thou shalt reprove, and for
some shalt thou pray, and some thou shalt love more than thine
Further advice to the catechumen
My child, flee from every evil man and from all like him. 2
Be not proud, for pride leads to murder, nor jealous, nor contentious,
nor passionate, for from all these murders are engendered. 3
My child, be not lustful, for lust leads to fornication, nor
a speaker of base words, nor a lifter up of the eyes, for from
all these is adultery engendered. 4 My child, regard not omens,
for this leads to idolatry; neither be an enchanter, nor an
astrologer, nor a magician, neither wish to see these things, for from them all
is idolatry engendered. 5 My child, be not a liar, for lying
leads to theft, nor a lover of money, nor vain-glorious, for
from all these things are thefts engendered. 6 My child, be
not a grumbler, for this leads to blasphemy, nor stubborn, nor
a thinker of evil, for from all these are blasphemies engendered,
7 but be thou "meek, for the meek shall inherit the earth;"
8 be thou long-suffering, and merciful and guileless, and quiet,
and good, and ever fearing the words which thou hast heard.
9 Thou shalt not exalt thyself, nor let thy soul be presumptuous.
Thy soul shall not consort with the lofty, but thou shalt walk
with righteous and humble men. 10 Receive the accidents that
befall to thee as good, knowing that nothing happens without
The duty of the catechumen to the Church -- Against
meanness -- Household duties -- Against hypocrisy
My child, thou shalt remember, day and night, him who speaks
the word of God to thee, and thou shalt honor him as the Lord,
for where the Lord's nature is spoken of, there is he present.
2 And thou shalt seek daily the presence of the saints, that
thou mayest find rest in their words. 3 Thou shalt not desire
a schism, but shalt reconcile those that strive. Thou shalt
give righteous judgment; thou shalt
favor no man's person in reproving transgression. 4 Thou
shalt not be of two minds whether it shall be or not. 5 Be
not one who stretches out his hands to receive, but shuts them
when it comes to giving. 6 Of whatsoever thou hast gained by thy hands thou shalt give
a ransom for thy sins. 7 Thou shalt not hesitate to give, nor
shalt thou grumble when thou givest, for thou shalt know who
is the good Paymaster of the reward. 8 Thou shalt not turn away
the needy, but shalt share everything with thy brother, and
shalt not say that it is thine own, for if you are sharers in
the imperishable, how much more in the things which perish?
Thou shalt not withhold thine hand from thy son or from thy
daughter, but thou shalt teach them the fear of God from their
youth up. 10 Thou shalt not command in thy bitterness thy slave
or thine handmaid, who hope in the same God, lest they cease
to fear the God who is over you both; for he comes not to call
men with respect of persons, but those whom the Spirit has prepared.
11 But do you who are slaves be subject to your master, as to
God's representative, in reverence and fear.
Thou shalt hate all hypocrisy, and
everything that is not pleasing to the Lord. 13 Thou
shalt not forsake the commandments of the Lord, but thou shalt
keep what thou didst receive, "adding nothing to it and
taking nothing away."
14 In the congregation thou shalt confess
thy transgressions, and thou shalt not betake thyself to prayer
with an evil conscience. This is the Way of Life.
The Way of Death
But the Way of Death is this: First of all, it is wicked and
full of cursing, murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts,
idolatries, witchcrafts, charms, robberies, false witness, hypocrisies,
a double heart, fraud, pride, malice, stubbornness, covetousness,
foul speech, jealousy, impudence, haughtiness, boastfulness.
Persecutors of the good, haters of truth, lovers of lies, knowing
not the reward of righteousness, not cleaving to the good nor
to righteous judgment, spending wakeful nights not for good
but for wickedness, from whom meekness and patience is far,
lovers of vanity, following after reward, unmerciful to the
poor, not working for him who is oppressed with toil,
without knowledge of him who made them, murderers of children,
corrupters of God's creatures, turning away the needy, oppressing
the distressed, advocates of the rich, unjust judges of the
poor, altogether sinful; may ye be delivered, my children, from
Final exhortation -- Food, and `things offered
See "that no one make thee to err" from this Way of
the teaching, for he teaches thee without God. 2 For if thou
canst bear the whole yoke of the Lord, thou wilt be perfect,
but if thou canst not, do what thou canst. 3 And concerning
food, bear what thou canst, but keep strictly from that which
is offered to idols, for it is the worship of dead gods.
Concerning baptism, baptize thus: Having first rehearsed all
these things, "baptize, in the Name of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Spirit," in running water; 2 but
if thou hast no running water, baptize in other water, and if
thou canst not in cold, then in warm. 3 But if thou hast neither,
pour water three times on the head "in the Name of the
Father, Son and Holy Spirit." 4 And before the baptism
let the baptizer and him who is to be baptized fast, and any
others who are able. And thou shalt bid him who is to be baptized
to fast one or two days before.
Fasting -- Prayers
Let not your fasts be with the hypocrites, for they fast on
Mondays and Thursdays, but do you fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.
And do not pray as the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded
in his Gospel, pray thus: "Our Father, who art in Heaven,
hallowed be thy Name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, as
in Heaven so also upon earth; give us to-day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors, and lead
us not into trial, but deliver us from the Evil One, for thine
is the power and the glory for ever." 3 Pray thus three
times a day.
The Eucharist -- The Cup -- The Bread
And concerning the Eucharist, hold Eucharist thus: 2 First concerning
the Cup, "We give thanks to thee, our Father, for the Holy
Vine of David thy child, which, thou didst make known to us
through Jesus thy child; to thee be glory for ever."
3 And concerning the broken Bread: "We give thee thanks,
our Father, for the life and knowledge which thou didst make
known to us through Jesus thy Child. To thee be glory for ever.
As this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains, but was
brought together and became one, so let thy Church be gathered
together from the ends of the earth into thy Kingdom, for thine
is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever."
But let none eat or drink of your Eucharist except those who
have been baptized in the Lord's Name. For concerning this also
did the Lord say, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs."
The final prayer in the Eucharist
But after you are satisfied with food, thus give thanks: 2 "We
give thanks to thee, O Holy Father, for thy Holy Name which
thou didst make to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge
and faith and immortality which thou didst make known to us
through Jesus thy Child. To thee be glory for ever. 3 Thou,
Lord Almighty, didst create all things for thy Name's sake,
and didst give food and drink to men for their enjoyment, that
they might give thanks to thee, but us hast thou blessed with
spiritual food and drink and eternal light through thy Child.
4 Above all we give thanks to thee for that thou art mighty.
To thee be glory for ever.
Remember, Lord, thy Church, to deliver it from all evil and
to make it perfect in thy love, and gather it together in its
holiness from the four winds to thy kingdom which thou hast
prepared for it. For thine is the power and the glory for ever.
6 Let grace come and let this world pass away. Hosannah to the
God of David. If any man be holy, let him come!
if any man be not, let him repent: Maranatha, Amen."
But suffer the prophets to hold Eucharist as they will.
-- none --
Travelling teachers -- Apostles -- Prophets
Whosoever then comes and teaches you all these things aforesaid,
receive him. 2 But if the teacher himself be perverted and teach
another doctrine to destroy these things, do not listen to him,
but if his teaching be for the increase of righteousness and
knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord.
And concerning the Apostles and Prophets, act thus according
to the ordinance of the Gospel. 4 Let every Apostle who
comes to you be received as the Lord, 5 but
let him not stay more than one day, or if need be a second as
well; but if he stay three days, he is a false prophet.
6 And when an Apostle goes forth let
him accept nothing but bread till he reach his night's lodging;
but if he ask for money, he is a false prophet.
Do not test or examine any prophet who is speaking in a spirit,
"for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not
be forgiven." 8 But not everyone who speaks in a spirit
is a prophet, except he have the behavior of the Lord. From
his behavior, then, the false prophet and the true prophet shall
9 And no prophet who orders a meal in a spirit shall eat of
it: otherwise he is a false prophet. 10 And every prophet who
teaches the truth, if he do not what he teaches, is a false
But no prophet who has been tried and is genuine, though he
enact a outward mystery of the Church, and yet he teach
you not to do what he does himself, he shall not be judged by
you: for he has his judgment in the presence of God, for so
also did the prophets of old. 12 But
whosoever shall say in a spirit `Give me money, or something
else,' you shall not listen to him; but if he tell you
to give on behalf of others in want, let none judge him.
Let everyone who "comes in the Name of the Lord" be
received; but when you have tested him you shall know him, for
you shall have understanding of true and false. 2 If he
who comes is a traveller, help him as much as you can, but he
shall not remain with you more than two days, or, if need be,
And if he wishes to settle among you and has a craft, let him
work for his bread. 4 But if he has no craft provide for him
according to your understanding, so that
no man shall live among you in idleness because he is a Christian.
5 But if he will not do so, he is making
traffic of Christ; beware of such.
Prophets who desire to remain -- Their payment
But every true prophet who wishes to settle among you is "worthy
of his food." 2 Likewise a true teacher is himself worthy,
like the workman, of his food. 3 Therefore thou shalt take the
firstfruit of the produce of the winepress and of the threshing-floor
and of oxen and sheep, and shalt give them as the firstfruits
to the prophets, for they are your high priests.
4 But if you have not a prophet, give to the poor.
If thou makest bread, take the firstfruits, and give it according
to the commandment. 6 Likewise when thou openest a jar of wine
or oil, give the firstfruits to the prophets. 7 Of
money also and clothes, and of all your possessions, take the
firstfruits, as it seem best to you, and give according to the
The Sunday worship
1 On the Lord's Day of the Lord come together, break bread and hold
Eucharist, after confessing your transgressions that your offering
may be pure; 2 but let none who has a quarrel with
his fellow join in your meeting until they be reconciled, that
your sacrifice be not defiled. 3 For this is that which was
spoken by the Lord, "In every place and time offer me a
pure sacrifice, for I am a great king," saith the Lord,
"and my name is wonderful among the heathen."
Bishops and Deacons -- Mutual reproofs
Appoint therefore for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy
of the Lord, meek men, and not lovers
of money, and truthful and approved, for they also minister
to you the ministry of the prophets and teachers. 2 Therefore
do not despise them, for they are your honourable men together
with the prophets and teachers.
3 And reprove one another not in wrath but in peace as you find in
and let none speak with any who has done a wrong to his neighbour,
nor let him hear a word from you until he repents. 4 But your
prayers and alms and all your acts perform as ye find in the
Gospel of our Lord.
Warning that the end is at hand
"Watch" over your life: "let your lamps"
be not quenched "and your loins" be not ungirded,
but be "ready," for ye know not "the hour in
which our Lord cometh." 2 But be frequently gathered together seeking the things which are profitable
for your souls, for the whole time of your faith shall not profit
you except ye be found perfect at the last time; 3 for
in the last days the false prophets and the corrupters shall
be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall
change to hate; 4 for as lawlessness increaseth they shall hate
one another and persecute and betray, and then shall appear
the deceiver of the world as a Son of God, and shall do signs
and wonders and the earth shall be given over into his hands
and he shall commit iniquities which have never been since the
5 Then shall the creation of mankind come to the fiery trial and "many
shall be offended" and be lost, but "they who endure"
in their faith "shall be saved" by (from) the curse
itself. 6 And "then shall appear the
signs" of the truth. First the sign spread out in Heaven,
then the sign of the sound of the trumpet, and thirdly the resurrection
of the dead: 7 but not of all the dead, but as it was said,
"The Lord shall come and all his saints with him."
8 Then shall the world "see the Lord coming on the clouds