[updated & expanded 7/21/23; originally posted on 12/20/09.]
Is The Didache a blueprint for the way churches should be?
This is one of the writings of “the early Christian fathers” that I especially liked. It’s big on unity!
What if we compare The Didache to what is practiced in today’s ‘churches?’
But every Lord’s day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one who is at odds with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned.
Is there even one ‘church’ in America that requires reconciliation? How many pastors have fully reconciled so they’re qualified to lead?
The Didache mentions prophets being a common leadership ministry in the late first century church (like Ephesians 4:11). Where are they in today’s churches?
The Didache also has “the way of death” list that is similar to Paul’s “will not inherit the Kingdom” list in Galatians 5.
I also include their 2-day fasting standard to challenge especially myself, again.
Though The Didache didn’t make the canon, the cut to be in the Bible, it clearly deserves a careful look.
Question: “What is the Didache?”
Answer: The word “Didache” comes from the Greek word related to doctrine, didactic, teaching, etc. The Didache, which was revised over time into varying forms at various places, seems to have been a sort of church manual for primitive Christians, probably in rural areas dependent mostly on itinerant ministers. It is a controversial instruction book the date of writing of which has been much debated. Currently the Didache, a non-canonical book, is believed to have been written between AD 70 and AD 100. It is claimed to be the works of the twelve Apostles. The Greek “Apostolic Constitutions” has many references to the Didache, with additional scriptures added. Several writings and lists from the beginning of the fourth century refer to a writing known as the “Teaching” or “Teachings” of the Apostles. However, it is not proven that this is in reference to the Didache. The present version of the ancient Didache is a reliable guide to help understand the conduct code of the early Christian community. (source)
Key portions of the text emphasized by me:
The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations.
Chapter 1. The Two Ways and the First Commandment.
There are two ways, one of life and one of death, but a great difference between the two ways. The way of life, then, is this: First, you shall love God who made you; second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you. And of these sayings the teaching is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For what reward is there for loving those who love you? Do not the Gentiles do the same? But love those who hate you, and you shall not have an enemy. Abstain from fleshly and worldly lusts. If someone strikes your right cheek, turn to him the other also, and you shall be perfect. If someone impresses you for one mile, go with him two. If someone takes your cloak, give him also your coat. …
Chapter 2. The Second Commandment: Grave Sin Forbidden.
And the second commandment of the Teaching; You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born. You shall not covet the things of your neighbor, you shall not swear, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not speak evil, you shall bear no grudge. You shall not be double-minded nor double-tongued, for to be double-tongued is a snare of death. Your speech shall not be false, nor empty, but fulfilled by deed. You shall not be covetous, nor rapacious, nor a hypocrite, nor evil disposed, nor haughty. You shall not take evil counsel against your neighbor. You shall not hate any man; but some you shall reprove, and concerning some you shall pray, and some you shall love more than your own life.
Chapter 3. Other Sins Forbidden.
My child, flee from every evil thing, and from every likeness of it. Be not prone to anger, for anger leads to murder. Be neither jealous, nor quarrelsome, nor of hot temper, for out of all these murders are engendered. My child, be not a lustful one. for lust leads to fornication. Be neither a filthy talker, nor of lofty eye, for out of all these adulteries are engendered. My child, be not an observer of omens, since it leads to idolatry. Be neither an enchanter, nor an astrologer, nor a purifier, nor be willing to took at these things, for out of all these idolatry is engendered. My child, be not a liar, since a lie leads to theft. Be neither money-loving, nor vainglorious, for out of all these thefts are engendered. My child, be not a murmurer, since it leads the way to blasphemy. Be neither self-willed nor evil-minded, for out of all these blasphemies are engendered.
Rather, be meek, since the meek shall inherit the earth. Be long-suffering and pitiful and guileless and gentle and good and always trembling at the words which you have heard. You shall not exalt yourself, nor give over-confidence to your soul. Your soul shall not be joined with lofty ones, but with just and lowly ones shall it have its intercourse. Accept whatever happens to you as good, knowing that apart from God nothing comes to pass. …
Chapter 4. Various Precepts
..Do not hesitate to give, nor complain when you give; for you shall know who is the good repayer of the hire. Do not turn away from him who is in want; rather, share all things with your brother, and do not say that they are your own. For if you are partakers in that which is immortal, how much more in things which are mortal? …
In the church you shall acknowledge your transgressions, and you shall not come near for your prayer with an evil conscience. …
Chapter 5. The Way of Death.
[Editor: This “way of death” list is similar to Paul’s who-doesn’t-go-to-heaven list in Galatians 5:
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.]
And the way of death is this: First of all it is evil and accursed: murders, adultery, lust, fornication, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, witchcrafts, rape, false witness, hypocrisy, double-heartedness, deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness, filthy talking, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness; persecutors of the good [James-3 cursers – ed.], hating truth, loving a lie, not knowing a reward for righteousness, not cleaving to good nor to righteous judgment, watching not for that which is good, but for that which is evil; from whom meekness and endurance are far, loving vanities, pursuing revenge [James-3 cursers – ed.], not pitying a poor man, not laboring for the afflicted, not knowing Him Who made them, murderers of children, destroyers of the handiwork of God, turning away from him who is in want, afflicting him who is distressed, advocates of the rich, lawless judges of the poor, utter sinners. Be delivered, children, from all these. …
Chapter 8. Fasting and Prayer (the Lord’s Prayer). [Fasting is also mentioned in Chapter 1, above – ed.]
But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites [probably those living under the old covenant law – editor], for they fast on the second and fifth day [Sun. & Wed. – ed.] of the week. Rather, fast on the fourth day [Tuesday – ed.] and the Preparation (Friday).
Do not pray like the hypocrites, but rather as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, like this:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily (needful) bread, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (or, evil); for Thine is the power and the glory for ever..
Pray this three times each day.
Chapter 9. The Eucharist. Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way….
But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord….
Chapter 10. Prayer after Communion.
..Remember, Lord, Thy Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in Thy love, and gather it from the four winds, sanctified for Thy kingdom which Thou have prepared for it; for Thine is the power and the glory for ever. Let grace come, and let this world pass away. Hosanna to the God (Son) of David! If any one is holy, let him come; if any one is not so, let him repent. …
Chapter 11. Concerning Teachers, Apostles, and Prophets.
Chapter 13. Support of Prophets.
Chapter 14. Christian Assembly on the Lord’s Day.
But every Lord’s day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one who is at odds with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: “In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.”
Chapter 15. Bishops and Deacons; Christian Reproof.
Appoint, therefore, for yourselves, bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men meek, and not lovers of money, and truthful and proved; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers. Therefore do not despise them, for they are your honored ones, together with the prophets and teachers. And reprove one another, not in anger, but in peace, as you have it in the Gospel. But to anyone that acts amiss against another, let no one speak, nor let him hear anything from you until he repents. But your prayers and alms and all your deeds so do, as you have it in the Gospel of our Lord.
Chapter 16. Watchfulness; the Coming of the Lord.
Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come. But come together often, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you are not made perfect in the last time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters[once saved, always saved teachers? – ed.] shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; for when lawlessness increases, they shall hate [James-3 cursers – ed.] and persecute and betray one another[the opposite of Jesus’ prayer in John 17, ‘ONE’ happening – ed.], and then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but those who endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. And then shall appear the signs of the truth: first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet. And third, the resurrection of the dead — yet not of all, but as it is said: “The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him.” Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.
A Reading of the Didache:
The Welsh Revival of 1904-05 by J. Edwin Orr: A Countrywide Asbury-like REVIVAL! The 4 Points: #1 Confess any known sin, and put any wrong done to man right again. #2 Put away any doubtful habit. #3 Obey the Spirit promptly. #4 Confess your faith publicly.
Can ‘Christians’ use Paul’s “Forgetting the things which are behind…I press on” statement as an excuse to not get right with those they’ve hurt? Paul also said: “I also practice ALWAYS having a conscience void of offense toward God and men.” What if you don’t repent? And what will happen when you do? The Third Great Awakening can start with us!!! We can all be happy — ‘ONE’!
The Achan Factor — Because of one man’s disobedience the entire nation of Israel had to deal with the “Achan factor” among them before they could come under the umbrella of Almighty God’s blessings once again!
Who-Goes-To-Heaven Scriptures — Narrow is the Way
FASTING with Prayer in the Early Church: What the New Testament really says — Fasting isn’t only to calm the flesh and draw near to God. Now there is clinical evidence showing tremendous health benefits!