I’m going to depart from my traditional series of Thursday posts on the New Testament to spend a little while on an early Christian document called The Didache. This little document, which I think comes from the period 51-57, but which some will date as late as 120, is a very early guide to churchly practices. We’ll walk through it a bit at a time before returning to actual New Testament texts.
The Didache. (translated by Kirsopp Lake) Loeb Classical Library #24. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1912, reprint 1985, pp. 303-334.
Chapter 4, pp. 314-317.
In chapter 4 of the Didache, the reader is reminded to remember and honor God’s messengers. “Remember night and day the one speaking the word of God to you, honor him as the Lord, for where the Lord’s nature is spoken, there the Lord is” (Didache IV.1, personal translation). The Christian is to seek out other Christians so as to find relief in their words (Didache IV.2). The Christian life is one of seeking and bringing peace and unity, using righteous judgment. It is also a life in which giving is as willing as receiving (Didache IV.5). The author compares giving to “a ransom for your sins” (Didache IV.6). While we might take this as a sort of works-righteousness, the author immediately continues by observing the Christian has freely received what is imperishable so can certainly give up what passes away (Didache IV.8). As to family responsibilities the Christian is to raise children in the fear of God from the start and is not to withhold this most precious gift from any in the household (Didache IV.9-11). The Christian is to hold fast to the teachings of the Lord, all which have been received.