Around the end of the first century there was a writing among the apostolic fathers called The Didache (Did-a-kay, meaning “Teaching”) that addressed many issues facing the early church.  It was considered inspired of God by many but was ultimately rejected from inclusion in the New Testament canon.  While we as Christians don’t accept it on the same level of inspiration as books like Romans or James, there is a lot to be learned from reading it.  We can see the issues that the early church faced.  We can see how many false prophets there were at the dawn of the church age.  We can see areas where believers needed instruction.  It’s a short book full of insight and wisdom.

 


The Didache

(or The Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles by the twelve apostles)

Translated and edited by J. B. Lightfoot

1

1 There are two ways, one of life and one of death, and there is a great difference betweenthe two ways.
2 The way of life is this. First of all, thou shalt love the God that made thee; secondly, thy neighbor as thyself. And all things whatsoever thou wouldst not have befal thyself, neither do thou unto another.
3 Now of these words the doctrine is this. Bless them that curse you, and pray for your enemies and fast for them that persecute you; for what thank is it, if ye love them that love you? Do not even the Gentiles the same? But do ye love them that hate you, and ye shall not have an enemy.
4 Abstain thou from fleshly and bodily lusts. If any man give thee a blow on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also, and thou shalt be perfect; if a man impress thee to go with him one mile, go with him twain; if a man take away thy cloak, give him thy coat also; if a man take away from thee that which is thine own, ask it not back, for neither art thou able.
5 To every man that asketh of thee give, and ask not back; for the Father desireth that gifts be given to all from His own bounties. Blessed is he that giveth according to the commandment; for he is guiltless. Woe to him that receiveth; for, if a man receiveth having need, he is guiltless; but he that hath no need shall give satisfaction why and wherefore he received; and being put in confinement he shall be examined concerning the deeds that he hath done, and he shall not come out thence until he hath given back the last farthing.
6 Yea, as touching this also it is said; Let thine alms sweat into thine hands, until thou shalt have learnt to whom to give.

2

1 And this is the second commandment of the teaching.
2 Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not corrupt boys, thou shalt not commit fornication, thou shalt not steal , thou shalt not deal in magic, thou shalt do no sorcery, thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s goods,
3 thou shalt not perjure thyself, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not speak evil, thou shalt not cherish a grudge,
4 thou shalt not be double-minded nor double-tongued; for the double tongue is a snare of death.
5 Thy word shall not be false or empty, but fulfilled by action.
6 Thou shalt not be avaricious nor a plunderer nor a hypocrite nor ill-tempered nor proud. Thou shalt not entertain an evil design against thy neighbour.
7 Thou shalt not hate any man, but some thou shalt reprove, and for others thou shalt pray, and others thou shalt love more than thy life.

3

1 My child, flee from every evil and everything that resembleth it.
2 Be not angry, for anger leadeth to murder, nor jealous nor contentious nor wrathful; for of all these things murders are engendered.
3 My child, be not lustful, for lust leadeth to fornication, neither foul-speaking neither with uplifted eyes; for of all these things adulteries are engendered.
4 My child, be no dealer in omens, since it leads to idolatry, nor an enchanter nor an astrologer nor a magician, neither be willing to look at them; for from all these things idolatry is engendered.
5 My child, be not a liar, since lying leads to theft, neither avaricious neither vainglorious; for from all these things thefts are engendered.
6 My child, be not a murmurer, since it leadeth to blasphemy, neither self-willed neither a thinker of evil thoughts; for from all these things blasphemies are engendered.
7 But be meek, since the meek shall inherit the earth.
8 Be long-suffering and pitiful and guileless and quiet and kindly and always fearing the words which thou hast heard.
9 Thou shalt not exalt thyself, neither shalt thou admit boldness into thy soul. Thy soul shall not cleave together with the lofty, but with the righteous and humble shalt thou walk.
10 The accidents that befal thee thou shalt receive as good, knowing that nothing is done without God.

4

1 My child, thou shalt remember him that speaketh unto thee the word of God night and day, and shalt honour him as the Lord; for whencesoever the Lordship speaketh, there is the Lord.
2 Moreover thou shalt seek out day by day the persons of the saints, that thou mayest find rest in their words.
3 Thou shalt not make a schism, but thou shalt pacify them that contend; thou shalt judge righteously, thou shalt not make a difference in a person to reprove him for transgressions.
4 Thou shalt not doubt whether a thing shall be or not be.
5 Be not thou found holding out thy hands to receive, but drawing them in as to giving.
6 If thou hast ought passing through thy hands, thou shalt give a ransom for thy sins.
7 Thou shalt not hesitate to give, neither shalt thou murmur when giving; for thou shalt know who is the good paymaster of thy reward.
8 Thou shalt not turn away from him that is in want, but shalt make thy brother partaker in all things, and shalt not say that anything is thine own. For if ye are fellow-partakers in that which is imperishable, how much rather in the things which are perishable?
9 Thou shalt not withhold thy hand from thy son or from thy daughter, but from their youth thou shalt teach them the fear of God.
10 Thou shalt not command thy bondservant or thine handmaid in thy bitterness who trust in the same God as thyself, lest haply they should cease to fear the God who is over both of you; for He cometh, not to call men with respect of persons, but He cometh to those whom the Spirit hath prepared.
11 But ye, servants, shall be subject unto your masters, as to a type of God, in shame and fear.
12 Thou shalt hate all hypocrisy, and everything that is not pleasing to the Lord.
13 Thou shalt never forsake the commandments of the Lord; but shalt keep those things which thou hast received, neither adding to them nor taking away from them.
14 In church thou shalt confess thy transgressions, and shalt not betake thyself to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life.

5

1 But the way of death is this. First of all, it is evil and full of a curse; murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries, magical arts, witchcrafts, plunderings, false witnessings, hypocrisies, doubleness of heart, treachery, pride, malice, stubbornness, covetousness, foul-speaking, jealousy, boldness, exaltation, boastfulness;
2 persecutors of good men, hating truth, loving a lie, not perceiving the reward of righteousness, not cleaving to the good nor to righteous judgment, wakeful not for that which is good but for that which is evil; from whom gentleness and forbearance stand aloof; loving vain things, pursuing a recompense, not pitying the poor man, not toiling for him that is oppressed with toil, not recognizing Him that made them, murderers of children, corrupters of the creatures of God, turning away from him that is in want, oppressing him that is afflicted, advocates of the wealthy, unjust judges of the poor, altogether sinful. May ye be delivered, my children, from all these things.

 

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