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What is the Didache?

Question: "What is the Didache?"

The word Didache comes from the Greek word related to doctrine, didactic, teaching, etc. The Didache is a controversial instruction book, the date of writing of which has been much debated. Currently, the Didache, a non-canonical book, is believed to have been written between A.D. 70 and A.D. 100. It is claimed to be the work of the twelve Apostles. The Greek “Apostolic Constitutions” has many references to the Didache, with additional Scriptures added. The Didache seems to have been a sort of church manual for primitive Christians, probably in rural areas dependent mostly on itinerant ministers. It was revised over time into varying forms at various places.

Several writings and lists from the beginning of the fourth century refer to a writing known as the “Teaching” or “Teachings” of the Apostles. However, it is not proved that this is in reference to the Didache. The present version of the ancient Didache is a reliable guide to help understand the conduct code of the early Christian community.

The Didache deals with the roads to life and death. According to the Didache, the path of life teaches to love only one God, love your neighbor as yourself, and a form of what we now know as the Golden Rule. Various teachings deal with seeing God as all-powerful, seeking Him day and night, not doubting whether His Word is true, keeping the commandments of God, confessing our sins, and coming into prayer with a clear conscience. This is seen as the path of life.

According to the Didache, the road to death is evil and is taken by those who persecute the good, not knowing the reward of righteousness. What is found on the path to death in the Didache is listed in Revelation 22:15. Again we are reminded of false teachers, and it is stressed that the teachings should be of the true gospel. Tempting and disputing any prophet who is speaking in the Spirit shall not be forgiven, says the Didache. Any prophet who is an approved minister but does not teach others shall face God’s judgment. The creation of man will end in a fiery trial of proof, and many shall perish. The sign of Jesus Christ’s appearing will come, then the sound of the Trumpet, and then the resurrection of the dead. “Then shall the world behold the Lord coming on the clouds of Heaven.”

Recommended Resource: Christianity Through the Centuries by Earle Cairns

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