The Didache (c. 100) is also called The Teaching of the Twelve, and is a short treatise that dates back to the early Christian Church. It was accounted by some of the Fathers as next to Holy Scripture.
The Didache was discovered in 1873 by Philotheos Bryennios, Metropolitan of Nicomedia, in a small eleventh century codex of 120 pages. He astonished the world by publishing a text towards the end of 1883.
The first part is a moral treatise describing the Two Ways, the Way of Life and the Way of Death. The second and third parts contain instructions on baptism, the Eucharist, fasting, prayer, matters of church organization, apostles and teachers, prophets, bishops, and deacons. The Didache is perhaps the first text to append a doxology to the Lord’s Prayer: “…for thine is the power and the glory unto all ages.“
The Way Of Life
There are two ways: one of life and one of death, and there is a great difference between them. This is the Way of Life:
- You shall love God who made you.
- You shall love your neighbor as yourself: don’t do unto others what you wouldn’t want done unto you.
And of these sayings The Teaching is this:
- Bless those who curse you.
- Pray for your enemies.
- Fast for those who persecute you. For what reward is there, if you love those who love you? Do not also 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 gives you a blow upon 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 away your cloak, give him also your coat.
- If someone takes something from you, don’t ask for it back, because you’re not allowed.
- Give to every one that asks, and don’t ask for it back; for the Father desires all his gifts to be given freely to everyone.
- Blessed is he that gives according to the commandment; for he is without guilt.
- Woe to him that receives; for if one receives without having any need, he shall pay the penalty for stealing from the needy, and he shall not escape until he pay it all back (Matthew 5:26). Nevertheless, it has been said, “Let your alms sweat in your hands until you know to whom you should give.”
- Do not murder.
- Do not commit adultery.
- Do not have sex with someone of the same gender.
- Do not commit fornication.
- Do not steal.
- Do not practice magic.
- Do not alter your sobriety with drugs.
- Do not abort a child, for it is a sin to kill that which is begotten.
- Do not covet someone’s things.
- Do not make promises you can’t keep.
- Do not lie.
- Do not not speak evil.
- Do not hold a grudge.
- Do not be double-minded nor double-tongued; for to be double-tongued is a snare of death.
- Do not let your words be meaningless, but do what you say you’ll do.
- Do not be covetous.
- Do not be materialistic.
- Do not be a hypocrite.
- Do not be vengeful.
- Do not be arrogant.
- Do not take evil counsel against your neighbor.
- Do not hate anyone; but correct some, pray for others, and some you shall love more than your own life.
- Flee from every evil thing, and even from every appearance of it.
- Do not have a short fuse, for anger leads to murder.
- Do not be jealous, nor contentious, nor hot-tempered, because all these things lead to murder.
- Do not be filled with lust, because lust leads to fornication.
- Do not let your speech be casually sexual, and do not let your eyes wander, because these things lead to adultery.
- Do not be a fortune-teller, because it leads to idolatry.
- Do not be an astrologer, or a maker of magic charms to ward off illnesses, because they lead to idolatry.
- Do not be a liar, because a lie leads to theft.
- Do not be greedy or vain, because they lead to theft.
- Do not be a complainer, because it leads to blasphemy.
- Do not be stubborn or have wicked thoughts, because it leads to blasphemy.
- Be meek, since the meek shall inherit the earth.
- Be slow to anger.
- Be merciful.
- Be innocent.
- Be gentle.
- Be good.
- Be always trembling at what you’ve been taught.
- Do not exalt yourself.
- Do not be over-confident.
- Do not associate with arrogant people, but only with righteous and humble ones.
- Accept whatever happens to you as good, knowing that nothing happens apart from God.
- Remember night and day he who speaks to you the word of God, and you shall honor him as the Lord, because in the place where the Lord’s words are spoken, there is the Lord.
- Seek out day by day the faces of the saints, in order that you may rest upon their words.
- You shall not cause division, but make peace with the contentious.
- Judge righteously.
- Do not show partiality when correcting people for doing wrong.
- Do not try to live in both the world and the church.
- Be not be eager to get, but unwilling to give.
- If you possess any wealth, you have an opportunity to give a ransom for your sins.
- Do not hesitate to give or complain when you give, because you will know who gives the reward.
- You shall not turn away from him that is in want, but you shall share all things with your brother, and shall 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?
- You shall not remove your hand from your son or from your daughter, but from their youth shall teach them the fear of God.
- You shall not enjoin anything in your bitterness upon your bondman or maidservant, who hope in the same God, lest ever they shall fear not God who is over both; (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1) for he comes not to call according to the outward appearance, but unto them whom the Spirit has prepared.
- And you bondmen shall be subject to your masters as to a type of God, in modesty and fear. (Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22)
- You shall hate all hypocrisy and everything which is not pleasing to the Lord.
- Forsake in no way the commandments of the Lord; but you shall keep what you have received, neither adding thereto nor taking away therefrom . Deuteronomy 12:32
- In the church you shall acknowledge your transgressions, and you shall not come near for your prayer with an evil conscience.
This is the way of life.
The Way Of Death
And the way of death is this:
- It is evil.
- It is curse.
- It is murder.
- It is adultery.
- It is lust.
- It is promiscuity.
- It is theft.
- It is idolatry.
- It is magic.
- It is drug addiction.
- It is rape.
- It is lie.
- It is hypocrisy.
- It is two-faced.
- It is deceit.
- It is arrogance.
- It is malice.
- It is stubbornness.
- It is greed.
- It is filthy speech.
- It is jealous.
- It is over-confident.
- It is insolent.
- It is proud.
- It is persecution.
- It is hatred of truth.
- It is love of lie.
- It is not knowing a reward for righteousness.
- It is not cleaving to good.
- It is not cleaving to righteous judgment.
- It is watching not for that which is good, but for that which is evil; from whom meekness and endurance are far.
- It is loving vanity.
- It is pursuing requital.
- It is not pitying a poor man.
- It is not laboring for the afflicted.
- It is not knowing Him that made them.
- It is murderers of children.
- It is destruction.
- It is turning away from him that is in want.
- It is afflicting the distressed.
- It is an advocate of the rich.
- It is a lawless judge of the poor.
- It is utter sin.
Children, be delivered from all of this.
- See that no one cause you to fall away from The Teaching, because they do so apart from God.
- If you are able to bear the full yoke of the Lord, you will be made perfect. If you are not able to bear all of it, do what you’re able.
- Concerning food, bear what you are able. However, be exceedingly on your guard against that which is sacrificed to idols, because it is the worship of dead gods.
- Concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water.
- If you do not have living water, then baptize into cold still water.
- If you can not baptize in cold water, then baptize in warm water.
- If you don’t have either, then pour out water three times upon the head in the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.
- Before the baptism, let both the baptizer and baptized fast beforehand. Though you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.
Fasting and Prayer
- Don’t let your fasts be with the hypocrites. They fast on Monday and Thursday, so you should fast on Wednesday and Friday.
- Don’t let your prayers be with the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, pray this prayer:
“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth. Give us today our daily 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; for Yours is the power and the glory for ever.”
Pray this three times a day.
Now concerning the Eucharist, thus give thanks. First, concerning the cup:
We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of David Your servant, which You made known to us through Jesus Your Servant; to You be the glory forever.
And concerning the broken bread:
We thank You, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You made known to us through Jesus Your Servant; to You be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Your kingdom; for Yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever.
Let no one eat or drink of the Eucharist except they who have been baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, because concerning this the Lord said, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs.“
After you are filled with the body and the blood of Christ, give thanks like this:
We thank You, holy Father, for Your holy name which You caused to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality, which You made known to us through Jesus Your Servant; to You be the glory for ever. You, Master almighty, created all things for Your name’s sake; You gave food and drink to men for enjoyment, that they might give thanks to You; but to us You freely gave spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Your Servant. Before all things we thank You that You are mighty; to You be the glory for ever. Remember, Lord, Your Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in Your love, and gather it from the four winds, sanctified for Your kingdom which You have prepared for it; for Yours is the power and the glory for ever. Let grace come, and let this world pass away. Hosanna to the Son of David! If any one is holy, let him come; if any one is not so, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen.
You may allow the prophets give thanks however they want.
Teachers, Apostles, & Prophets
Whoever comes and teaches you all these things that have been said, receive him.
- Pay no attention to any teacher that teaches something contrary and undermines what has been said, because he leads himself astray.
- If his teaching brings spiritual increase and knowledge in the Lord, receive him as if he were the Lord.
Concerning the apostles and prophets according to the decree of the Gospel, do this:
- Let every apostle that comes to you be received as if they were the Lord.
- He shall not stay for more than one day unless there is a need, then he can stay two days. However, if he stays for three days, then he is a false prophet.
- When the apostle departs, let him take nothing but bread until he finds another place to stay. If he asks for money, then he is a false prophet.
- Do not test or judge any prophet that speaks in the Spirit, because every sin shall be forgiven except for this.
- Not everyone that speaks in the Spirit is a prophet. The prophet is the one who holds the ways of the Lord. Therefore, from their ways shall the false prophet and the true prophet be known.
- Every prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit does not eat from it. If he does, he be a false prophet.
- The false prophet teaches the truth, but doesn’t do what he teaches.
- Every prophet proved true, working in the world unto the mystery of the Church, yet does not teach others to do what he does, shall not be judged by any of you. Like the ancient prophets, God will judge him.
- Whoever says in the Spirit, “Give me money,” do not listen to him. However, if he asks you to give for the sake of others who are in need, let no one judge him.
Reception of Christians
Receive everyone that comes in the name of the Lord.
- Examine him after he is received, and you will know what is true and what is false.
- If he who comes is merely passing through, help him as much as you are able, but he must not remain with you for more than three days.
- If he wants to abide with you and has some skill or trade, let him work and eat.
- If he has no trade, do what seems best in preventing him from being idle. But if he stubbornly refuses to work, then he is a Christ-monger. Beware of such people.
Every true prophet that wants to abide among you is worthy of being fed. So also a true teacher worthy, as the workman, of being fed.
- Therefore, every first-fruit of the wine-press and threshing-floor, of oxen and of sheep, take and give to the prophets, for they are your high priests.
- If you have not a prophet, give it to the poor.
- If you make a batch of dough, take the first-fruit and give according to the commandment.
- When you open a jar of wine or of oil, take the first-fruit and give it to the prophets
- Of money, clothing and every possession, take the first-fruit as it may seem good to you, and give according to the commandment.
The Lord’s Day
Every Lord’s Day, gather yourselves together to break bread and give thanks after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. However, let no one that is in conflict with another come together with you until they be reconciled, because your sacrifice would be defiled, for the Lord said, “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.“
Bishops and Deacons
Appoint for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord.
- They are to be men.
- They are to be meek.
- They are to not be greedy.
- They are to be truthful and proven, because they also carry out the service of prophets and teachers.
- Do not despise them, for they are your honored ones together with the prophets and teachers.
Reprove one another not in anger, but in peace, as you have it in the Gospel. Do not speak to anyone who wrongs his neighbor. Do not even let him hear you make a sound until he repents. Your prayers, alms and charity should be performed as you have it in the Gospel of our Lord.
Be awake, for your life’s sake. Don’t let your lamps run out of oil; Do not be unprepared, but be ready, because you do not know the hour in which our Lord comes.
Come together frequently, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls, because your entire race is pointless if you never cross the finish line. In the last days, false prophets and corruptions shall be multiplied, the sheep will turn into wolves, and love will turn into hate, and criminal activity will increase.
Then the Deceiver will appear as the Son of God, and will do signs and wonders, and the earth will be delivered into his hands. He will commit atrocities the world has never seen before.
Mankind will then come under a fiery tribulation, and many will trip and perish. However, they who’s faith endures to the end shall be saved from under the curse itself.
After these things come the signs of truth:
- The opening of the sky.
- The sound of the trumpet.
- The resurrection of the dead. (Though not everyone will be raised, for it is said: “The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him.”)
- The Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.