The Didache



Didache is Greek for "teaching", the full name of this document is "The Teaching of the Lord, Through the Twelve Apostles, to the Nations."


Written not by the apostles but by their students around AD 120, this document was required study prior to membership in most churches during the first few centuries of Christianity.


This early document predates the canonization of the New Testament by several centuries.


The Didache is not a theological document but rather a practical guide for Christian living in those times.  Not all of the teachings are relevant to today but we can learn a great deal from a study of the early church.




1. Two ways there are, one of life and one of death, but there is a great difference between the two ways.  The way of life is this: First, love the God who made you; secondly your neighbor as yourself; and all things whatsoever you would not have befall you, you too, do not to another.  Now of these words the teaching is this: Bless them that curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for them that persecute you: for what thank have you if you love them that love you?  Do not the nations do the same?  But love them that hate you and you shall have no enemy.  Abstain from the fleshly and worldly lusts.  If anyone give you a blow on the right cheek, turn to him the other also, and you shall be perfect; if anyone compel you to go one mile, go with him two; if anyone take your cloak, give him your tunic also; if anyone take from you that which is yours, ask it not back; for to all the father desires to give of his own gracious gifts.  Blessed is he that gives according to the commandment; for he is guiltless; woe to him that takes for if, indeed, one takes who has need he shall be guiltless; but he who has need shall give account, why he took, and for what purpose, and coming under arrest shall be examined concerning what he did and shall not go out thence until he pay the last farthing.  But it has also been said concerning this matter: Let your alms sweat in your hands, until you know to whom you should give.


2. Now a second commandment of the teaching is:  Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not corrupt boys, do not commit fornication, do not steal, do not practice magic, do not use sorcery, do not slay a child by abortion, nor what is begotten shall you destroy .  Do not lust after the things of your neighbor, do not forswear yourself, do not bear false witness, do not revile, do not bear malice.  Do not be double-minded nor double-tongued; for a snare of death is the double-tongue.  Your speech shall not be false, nor empty, but filled with doing.  Do not be covetous, nor rapacious, nor a hypocrite, nor malicious, nor arrogant.  Do not take evil counsel against your neighbor.  Hate no man, but some you shall reprove, and for some you shall pray, and some you shall love above your life.


3.  My child, flee from every evil thing, and from everything like it.  Be not inclined to anger, for anger leads to murder; nor jealous, nor contentious, nor passionate; for of all of these murders are begotten.  My child become not lustful; for lust leads to fornication; nor foul-mouthed, nor lofty eyed; for of all these things adulteries are begotten.  My child become not an omen watcher; since it leads into idolatry; nor an enchanter, nor an astrologer, nor a purifier, nor be willing to look upon these things; for of all these things idolatry is begotten.  My child, become not a liar; since lying leads to theft; nor avaricious, nor vain-glorious; for of all of these things thefts are begotten.  My child, become not a murmerer; since it leads to blasphemy; nor presumptuous, nor evil minded; for of all of these things blasphemies are begotten.  But be meek, since the meek shall inherit the earth.  Become long-suffering and pitiful and guileless and gentle and good, and tremble continually at the words that you have heard.  Do not exalt yourself, nor permit over-boldness to your soul.  Your soul shall not cleave to the high, but with the righteous and lowly you shall dwell.  The things that befall you accept as well-wrought, knowing that without God nothing occurs.


4.  My child, him that speaks to you the word of God remember night and day, and honor him as the Lord;  for where that which pertains to the Lord is spoken there the Lord is.  And seek out daily the faces of the saints, that you may be refreshed by their words.  Do not desire division, but make peace between those who contend; judge justly, do not respect persons in convicting for transgressions.  Do not hesitate whether it shall be or not.  Become not one who for taking stretches out the hands, but for giving draws them in; if you have anything, by your hands give a ransom for your sins.  Do not hesitate to give, nor when giving shall you murmur, for you shall know who is the good dispenser of the recompense.  Do not turn away the needy, but share all things with your brother, and do not say that they are your own; for if you are partners in that which imperishable, how much more in perishable things.  Do not take off your hand from your son and from your daughter, but from youth teach them the fear of God.  Do not lay commands in your bitterness upon your slave or your handmaid, who hope in the same God, lest they perchance shall not fear the God who is over you both; for he comes not to call men according to the appearance, but to those whom the Spirit has made ready.  And you, slaves, be subject to your lords, as to God's image, in modesty and fear.  Hate every hypocrisy, and whatever is not pleasing to the Lord. You shall by no means forsake the Lord's commandments, but guard what you have received, neither adding to it or taking from it.  In the church you shall confess your transgressions, and shall not come forward with your prayer with an evil conscience.  This is the way of life.


5. Now the way of death is this: first of all it is evil, and full of curse; murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, sorceries, robberies, false testimonies, hypocrisies, duplicity, craft, arrogance, vice, presumptuousness, greed, foul speech, jealousy, over-boldness, loftiness, pretense; persecutors of the good, hating truth, loving falsehood, knowing not the reward of righteousness, not cleaving to that which is good nor to righteous judgment, on the watch not for the good but for evil; far from whom are meekness and patience, loving vanities, pursuing revenge, not pitying a poor man, not laboring for the distressed, not knowing him that made them, murderers of children, destroyers of the image of God, turning away the needy, oppressing the afflicted, advocates of the rich, lawless judges of the poor, universal sinners: may you be delivered, children, from all of these.


6. See that no one lead you astray from this way of the teaching, because apart from God does he teach you.  For if you are able to bear the whole yoke of the Lord, you shall be perfect; but if you are not able, what you are able, that do.  And concerning food, what you are able, bear; but of that offered to idols, beware exceedingly; for it is a worship of dead gods.


7. Now concerning baptism, thus baptize: having first uttered all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water.  But if you have not running water, baptize in other water; and if you cannot in cold, then in warm.  But if you have neither, pour water upon the head thrice, into the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit.  But before the baptism let the baptizer and the baptized fast, and whatever other can; but the baptized you shall command to fast for one or two days before.


8.  But let not your fastings be appointed in common with the hypocrites; for they fast on the second day of the week and on the fifth; but fast during the fourth, and the preparation day.  Nor pray like the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in his Gospel, thus pray:  Our Father who are in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth; our daily bread give us today, 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 forever.  Three times in the day pray thus.


9. Now concerning the Eucharist, thus give thanks; first concerning the cup: We thank, 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 have made known to us through Jesus your servant; to you be the glory forever.  Just as this broken bread was scattered over the hills and having been gathered 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 forever.  But let no one eat and drink of your Eucharist, except those baptized into the Lord's; for in regard to this the Lord has said: Give not that which is holy to the dogs.


10. Now after you are filled thus give thank:  We thank you, holy Father, for your holy name, which you have caused to dwell in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which you have made known to us through Jesus your servant; to you be the glory forever.  You, Master Almighty, did create all things for your name's sale; both food and drink you did give to men for enjoyment, in order that they might give thanks to you; but to us you have graciously given spiritual food and drink and eternal life through your servant.  Before all things, we thank you that you are powerful; to you be the glory forever.  Remember, Lord, your church, to deliver it from every evil and to make it perfect in your love, and gather it from the four winds, it, the sanctified, into your kingdom, which you have prepared for it; for yours is the power and the glory forever.  Let grace come and the world pass away.  Hosanna to the son of David!  Whoever is holy, let him come; whoever is not, let him repent.  Maranatha.  Amen.  But permit the prophets to give thanks as much as they will.


11.  Now whoever comes and teaches you all these things, before spoken, receive him; but if the teacher himself turn aside and teach another teaching, so as to overthrow this, do not hear him; but if he teach so as to promote the righteousness and knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord.  But in regard to the apostles and prophets, according to the ordinance of the gospel, so do.  And every apostle who comes to you, let him be received as the Lord; but shall he remain not more than one day; if, however, there be need, then the next day; but if he remain three days, he is a false prophet.  But when the apostle departs, let him take nothing except bread enough till he lodge again; but if he ask money, he is a false prophet.  And every prophet who speaks in the spirit, you shall not try nor judge; for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven.  But not everyone that speaks in the spirit is a prophet, but only if he have the ways of the Lord.  So from their ways shall the false prophet and the prophet be known.  And no prophet who orders a meal, in the spirit, eats of it, unless indeed he is a false prophet; and every prophet who teaches the truth, if he do not that which he teaches, is false prophet.  But every prophet, proved, true, acting with a view to the mystery of the church on earth, but not teaching others to do all that he himself does, shall not be judged among you; for with God he has his judgment; for so did the ancient prophets also.  But whoever, in the spirit, says: Give me money, or something else, you shall not hear him; but if for others in need, he bids you give, let no one judge him.


12. But let everyone that comes in the Lord's name be received, but afterward you shall test and know him; for you shall have understanding, right and left.  If he who comes is a traveler, help him as much as you can; but he shall not remain with you, unless for two or three days, if there be necessity.  But if he take up his abode among you, being an artisan, let him work and so eat; but if he have no trade, provide, according to your understanding, that no idler live with you as a Christian.  But if he will not act according to this, he is one who makes gain out of Christ, beware of such.


13. But every true prophet who will settle among you is worthy of his support.  Likewise a true teacher, he also is worthy, like the workman, of his support.  Every first fruit, then, of the products of wine-press and threshing floor, of oxen and of sheep, take and give to the prophets; for they are your high priests.  But if you have no prophet, give it to the poor.  If you make a baking of bread, take the first of it and give according to the commandment.  In like manner when you open a jar of wine or oil, take the first of it and give it to the prophets; and of money and clothing and every possession take the first, as seems right to you, and give according to the commandment.


14. But on the Lord's day assemble and break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions, in order that your sacrifice may be pure.  But everyone that have controversy with his friend, let him not 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: At every place and time bring me a pure sacrifice; for a great king am I, says the Lord, and my name is marvelous among the nations.


15.  Now appoint for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men meek and not avaricious, and upright and proved; for they, too, render you the service of the prophets and teachers.  Despise them not, therefore; for they are the ones who are honored of you, together with the prophets and teachers.  And reprove one another, not in anger, but in peace, as you have it in the gospel; and to everyone who errs against another, let no one speak, nor let him hear anything from you, until he repent.  But your prayers and you alms and all your deeds so do, as you have it in the gospel of our Lord.


16.  Watch for your life's sake; let your lamps not go out, and your loins not be relaxed, but be ready; for you know not the hour in which our Lord comes.  But come together often, and seek the things which benefit your souls; for the whole time of your faith thus far will not profit you, if you do not become perfect in the last time.  For in the last days the false prophets and the corrupters 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 one another, and shall persecute and shall deliver up, and then shall appear the world deceiver as the Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be given into his hands, and he shall commit iniquities which have never yet been seen since the beginning.  Then all created men shall come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and perish.  But they that endure in their faith shall be saved from this curse.  And then shall appear the signs of truth; first the sign of an opening in heaven, then the sign of a trumpet's sound, and thirdly, the resurrection of the dead; yet not of all, but as it has been said: The Lord will come and all his saints with Him.  Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.