The Didache

You will not hate any person, but some you will rebuke, some you will pray for, and some you will love as your own soul." Didache 2:7




We are continuing our Thursday series on various aspects of church history. 


Many Christians express a wish to return to the practices of the early church. However, many do not realize that our early brothers and sisters shared and modeled many of the practices that our churches follow today. We have some proof of this through early church writings that have been preserved throughout the millennia.


One of the oldest known church manuals is called by the short title Didache (Teaching) or by the longer, Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. It was widely disseminated amongst the early Christians by 100 AD, and was utilized throughout the church during the second and third Christian centuries. Although lost for several centuries, it was rediscovered in 1873 by Philotheos Bryennios, Metropolitan of Nicomedia (modern Turkey) hidden, or forgotten, inside the Codex Hierosolymitanus (LINK).


“The Didache is mentioned by Eusebius (c. 324) as the Teachings of the Apostles following the books recognized as canonical LINK:

"Let there be placed among the spurious works the Acts of Paul, the so-called Shepherd and the Apocalypse of Peter, and besides these the Epistle of Barnabas, and what are called the Teachings of the Apostles, and also the Apocalypse of John, if this be thought proper; for as I wrote before, some reject it, and others place it in the canon."


The manual gives instructions for baptism, the Lord’s Supper, fasting, and discusses church organization. It mentions the qualities that should be present in bishops and deacons. It demonstrates that the church, in its earliest stages, had a strong organization with ministers and helpers, and collected funds to care for the poor, the sick, and the needy.


It is interesting to note some practices that many churches share with the early church. Here are a few.


Paraphrased Excerpts from the Didache

 Concerning baptism:

Baptize in this way. Having first rehearsed all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, in living water (moving as in a river or stream). But if there is no living water, one may use other water, warm or cold and pour it on the head.

Concerning the Lord’s Suppe

Give thanks in this way. First for the cup; 'We, give thanks to you, Father, for the holy vine of David, thy servant, which you made known to us through your son Jesus. To you be the glory for ever.' And for the broken bread: 'We give thanks to thee, our Father. … It grew scattered upon the hills but was gathered together and made one loaf. In the same way let your Church be gathered into your kingdom from the ends of the earth. ..


Concerning the Lord’s day:

On the Lord's day assemble, break bread and give thanks, after first confessing your sins. … If any of you have had a disagreement with anyone else become reconciled before you come into our assembly. …


Concerning bishops and deacons:

Elect for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, gentle men who are not covetous, true men and approved; for their ministry to you is as the ministry f prophets and teachers. 


Lydia's Corner: 1 Samuel 18:5-19:24 John 8:31-59 Psalm 112:1-10 Proverbs 15:12-14

Comments are closed.