Didache means teaching which means it is the teachings of Jesus as expounded by the Apostles. In all probability it was penned in the late first century. It most probably was composed by Jewish Christians and is the earliest known catechism
Part I – The Way of Life
Chapter 1 – The First Commandment.
This chapter expands on the first two great commandments: Love God and Love Your Neighbor. It quotes extensively from the Sermon on the mount as to what it means to love neighbor. It also has the negative golden rule: What you don’t want done to you; don’t do to others
Chapter 2 – Gross Sin forbidden
This chapter goes over the 10 Commandments and expands on them.
It expands on
- Adultery – to include fornication and pederasty
- Murder – to include infanticide and abortion.
- Not bearing false witness to include – “ you shall not speak evil, you shall bear no grudge. You shall not be double-minded nor double-tongued; nor shall your speech be empty.”
- Not coveting to – “You shall not be covetous, nor rapacious (aggressively greedy or grasping), nor a hypocrite, nor evil disposed, nor haughty. You shall not take evil counsel against your neighbor.”
It concludes this category of sins with: “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
- Flee from evil and any pretense of evil
- Not be prone to anger
- Not be jealous, nor quarrelsome, nor of hot temper;
- Not be a lustful one;
- Not be a filthy talker
- Not be an observer of omens
- Not be an enchanter, nor an astrologer, nor a purifier (after the manner of the low-class Orphic practitioners according to Plato’s Republic were those who practiced divination),
- Not be a liar
- Not be money-loving, nor vainglorious,
- Not be a murmurer,
- Not be self-willed nor evil-minded,
- Not exalt yourself, Luke 18:14
- Not give over-confidence to your soul.
- Not allow your soul to be joined with lofty ones, but with just and lowly ones shall it have its intercourse.
On the positive side:
- Be meek
- Be long-suffering
- Be have pity and be empathetic
- Be guileless
- Be gentle
- Be good
- Be always trembling at the words which you have heard – hold what you learn in high regard – honor; write them down.
Chapter 4 – Various Precepts
- Pray for him who speaks to you the word of God, remember him day and night and day; and you shall honor him as the Lord; for in the place whence lordly rule is uttered, there is the Lord
- Seek fellowship with other followers of the Way in order that you may learn from them
- Do not long for division but be an agent of reconciliation.
- Have all of your judgments be fair – not prejudicially judge one over another
- Be decisive
- Do not draw things out when you offer your gifts – do it now.
- Do not murmur when you give
- Do not turn away him who is in want
- Share everything you have with your brothers and sisters
- Do not claim anything as your own
- Do not withhold discipline from your children, no matter what the age
- Teach your children the fear of the Lord
- Do not prescribe an action or attitude to your employees or contractors out of bitterness
- Be subject to your employer
- Hate all hypocrisy
- Hate all that is not pleasing to the Lord
- Keep all of the commandments of the Lord – neither adding to nor taking away
- Confess your sins in the presence of other followers of the Way
- Come to the Lord in prayer with confession
Part II – The way of death
Chapter 5 – The way of death
The way of death is this:
- Magic arts
- Violent seizing of another’s property
- False witnessings
- Self-will greediness
- Filthy talking
- Persecutors of the good
- 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;
- Where meekness and endurance are far
- Loving vanities
- Pursuing requital
- Not pitying a poor man
- Not laboring for the afflicted
- Not knowing Him that made them
- Murderers of children
- Destroyers of the handiwork of God
- Turning away from him that is in want
- Afflicting him that is distressed
- Advocates of the rich
- Lawless judges of the poor
- Sinning without end
Part III Ecclesiastical Instructions
Chapter 6 – False Teachers and Food offered to Idols
Our life is to
- Follow in the teachings and admonitions of the Lord
- Bear the Lord’s light yoke and thereby follow His command to Be perfect
- Not be afraid if we cannot fully bear the Lord’s light yoke, but to do it as best we can
- Eat the foods we are able to bear – except for foods sacrificed to idols
Chapter 7 – Baptism
- First instruct those who are to be baptized in the Way of Life and the Way of Death
- Baptize into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in running water
- If running water is not available, use cold water from a lake or ocean – and if you cannot use cold water use warm water.
- If none of those are available, pour water on the head three times into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit
- Instruct the baptizer to fast one or two days prior to their baptism
Chapter 8 – Concerning Fasting and Prayer (Lord’s Prayer)
- Don’t fast when the hypocrites do – on the 2nd and 5th day of the week, but fast on Wednesday and Friday.
- Don’t pray as the hypocrites do but pray the Lord’s prayer three times a day
Chapter 9 – The Thanksgiving (Eucharist)
Celebrate the Eucharist as follows:
- 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 for ever.
- 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.
- Don’t let just anyone celebrate this Thanksgiving with you but only those who are baptized.
Chapter 10 – Prayer after Communion
The following should be prayed after communion:
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 God (Son) of David! If any one is holy, let him come; if any one is not so, let him repent. Maran atha. Amen.
Chapter 11 – Concerning Teachers, Apostles, and Prophets
- Receive anyone who teaches according to this teaching of our Lord
- Do not receive those who teach anything contrary to this teaching
- Allow an apostle to stay one or at most two days. Throw him out after that.
- Don’t accept an apostle who asks for money
- Accept what a prophet says in the Spirit without judgement. They will receive from the Lord if they are in error. Know that everyone who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet. Judge them, not their words, by whether or not their life conforms to this teaching. If they don’t practice what they preach, they are a false prophet.
- If the prophet asks for money, he is a false prophet
Chapter 12 – Receiving other followers of the Way
- Receive all who profess at first – but watch carefully his ways. Discern if he is a true follower by the fruit of his life
- Don’t let him stay more than 2 days as a guest
- Assist him on his journey as much as you are able
- After 3 days, if he wants to stay, let him work. If he is not willing to work, kick him out and have nothing to do with him
Chapter 13 – Support of Prophets
- True prophets and true teachers are worthy of the support of the community
- Give of the first fruits of your labors to the teachers and prophets in your midst. If you have no prophets or teachers in your midst, give to the poor.
Chapter 14 – Christian Assemble on the Lord’s Day
- Gather every Lord’s day together with fellow followers of the Way
- When you gather:
- Share communion
- Confess your sins
- Give thanks
- Do not allow those who are not reconciled to gather with you. Encourage them to be reconciled.
Chapter 15 – Bishops and Deacons; Christian Reproof
Appoint bishops and deacons from your midst. Here are the qualifications:
- Not lovers of money
Honor them as you honor your teachers and prophets
Follow Matthew 18 in reproving one-another. Do not reprove in anger but in peace.
Have nothing to do with those who do not repent once confronted per Matthew 18.
Keep the discipline of prayer and the giving of alms ever with you as group of followers of the Way.
Chapter 16 – Watchfulness and the Coming of the Lord
Always be ready and prepared for the Lord’s coming. For you know not the day nor the hour.
Watch out for the wolves that will appear in the last days. Watch for when love turns to hate; when lawlessness increases; when the community of faith betrays one another. Watch for the coming of the Anti-Christ. He shall do signs and wonders and the whole earth will be in awe of him.
Many will fall away – but those who endure will be saved.
Here are the signs of His coming:
First there will be signs in the heavens. Then there will be the sound of the trumpet. Then the resurrection of the dead. Not all, but only His saints. And then shall the Lord appear with all of His saints with Him. And the whole world shall see His coming in the clouds!