The Didache

Summary

Life and death are clearly marked by the teachings of the Lord through the twelve apostles. In the early organization of the teachings, one can understand the message God bestowed upon his disciples which would mark the foundation of man’s choice. The way of life and the way of death are spelled out in great detail for mankind to follow. What I found to be the greatest teachings is based on God’s love.

The Didache is also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. This historical account of the early text has three parts. The first part deals with Christian ethics. The second part includes baptism and the last section is church organization. The moral code that believers are to follow is described in this important text. The Way of Life and the wicked Way of Death is explained. The positions for apostles and prophets are to serve as “chief priests.” The Didache is considered the first example of Church Orders. These Ancient Church Orders provided authoritative apostolic prescriptions on issues of morality and church procedures. The author is unknown and the works is a legacy left by Jesus Christ to his Apostles.

The teachings that I find most interesting is the way of life. The first order is to love God, the maker of all things and the second order is to love your neighbor as thyself. To know God is to know the greatest love of all times. In this teaching, the character of God is manifested through the explanation of the duty of his followers. The gradual transition from carnal existence to a spiritual existence is the most worthwhile goal. The way of life describes in detail what man should do. For example, “Abstain from carnal” and bodily “lusts.” If any man smites thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek also.” In other words, walk away from an insult to avoid unnecessary physical injury. Originally, a back handed slap was intended as an insult and not a call to fight. Retaliation could result in a full-blown fight causing much physical harm to the person who retaliated. Wisdom is given to the one who would be tempted to retaliate to keep the person safe. God’s judgement is perfect and also his punishment. Humanity is instructed to “bless those that curse you” is another example of the unconditional love exhibited in his teachings.

Much of the Didache is dedicated to explaining how to prepare for baptism, how to organize church governance, and how to follow moral code and ethics. These instructions are vital in the early church and for the early Christians, who were Jewish converts. In preparation for baptism, it is recommended to fast. It also states the days for fasting. There is a section that deals with the roles of leaders in the early Christian community which included apostles, prophets, and teachers. It describes the protocols for accepting authorities. How to behave with one another without hurting anyone via murder, theft, deceit, and wickedness. The prayer of thanksgiving is given.

In early Christianity, Peter was told to build the church by Jesus. “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). Peter is Petros which means pebble or small rock in Greek.

The conclusion of the Didache mentions the second coming of Christ. It recommends to be vigilant and gives warnings for preparedness. The exact timing, authorship, and edits are unknown, but what remains is a monumental literature that carries a message of God’s eternal love for humanity and provides guidance into conformity of his will for all. In reading about the Didache, a deep appreciation of his words is celebrated in my heart for the early texts that have been infused in the holy bible of modern age.

Bibliography

Bartlet, Vernon J. “Didache.” Ed. James Hastings et al., A Dictionary of the Bible: Dealing with
Its Language, Literature, and Contents including the Biblical Theology (New York; Edinburgh: Charles Scribner’s Sons; T. & T. Clark, 1911-1912), 438-440.

ESV: study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2007.

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