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The Didache

The teaching of the Lord through the twelve apostles to the Gentiles:[1]

1:1There are two ways, one of life and one of death. And there is a great difference between the two ways.

2On the one hand, then, the way of life is this. First, you shall love God who made you; second, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. And whatever you do not wish to happen to you, do not do to another.

3And from these words, the teaching is this. Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For what credit is it if you love those who love you? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? But you must love those who hate you, and you will not have an enemy.

4Abstain from fleshly and bodily desires. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also, and you will be perfect. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. If someone takes away your cloak, give him your tunic also. If someone takes from you what belongs to you, do not demand it back, for you cannot do so.

5Give to everyone who asks you, and do not demand it back, for the Father wants to give something to all from his own free gifts. Blessed is the one who gives according to this rule, for he is blameless. Woe to the one who receives! For if anyone who is in need receives, he is blameless, but the one who does not have need will stand trial {on the day of judgment} as to why and for what purpose he received. And being imprisoned, he will be examined concerning what he has done, and he will not get out until he has repaid every last cent.

6But also, concerning this, it has been said, “Let your alms sweat in your hands until you know to whom to give it.”

2:1And the second commandment of the teaching is this.

2Do not kill. Do not commit adultery. Do not corrupt boys. Do not commit fornication. Do not steal. Do not practice magic. Do not engage in sorcery. Do not abort a child or kill a child that is born. Do not covet your neighbor’s possessions.

3Do not swear falsely. Do not bear false witness. Do not speak insults. Do not hold a grudge.

4Do not be double-minded or double-tongued, for the double-tongue is a deadly snare.

5Your word shall not be false or empty but confirmed by action.

6Do not be covetous or greedy or a hypocrite or malicious or arrogant. Do not entertain a wicked plot against your neighbor.

7Do not hate any person, but some you shall reprove, others pray for, and still others love more than yourself.

3:1My child, flee from every evil and everything like it.

2Do not become angry, for anger leads to murder. Do not be envious or quarrelsome or hot-tempered, for from all these things, murders are begotten.

3My child, do not become lustful, for lust leads to fornication. Do not be foul-mouthed or let your eyes roam, for from all these things, adulteries are begotten.

4My child, do not become a diviner, since this leads to idolatry. Do not be an enchanter or an astrologer or a purifier or even wish to see these things, for from all these things, idolatry is begotten.

5My child, do not be a liar, for lying leads to theft. Do not be a lover of money or conceited, for from all these things, thefts are begotten.

6My child, do not become a complainer, since this leads to blasphemy. Do not be self-pleasing or evil-minded, for from all these things, blasphemies are begotten.

7But be meek, since the meek will inherit the earth.

8Be patient and merciful and harmless and calm and good, and always tremble at the words that you have heard.

9Do not exalt yourself or become arrogant. Do not join yourself to the proud, but dwell with the righteous and humble.

10Welcome the things that happen to you as good, knowing that, apart from God, nothing happens.

4:1My child, night and day, remember the one who speaks the word of God to you, and honor him as the Lord, for wherever the dominion of the Lord is spoken of, there the Lord is.

2And every day, seek out the presence of the saints, that you may find support in their words.

3Do not cause division, but make peace between those who quarrel. Judge justly; do not show favoritism when reproving sins.

4Do not doubt whether it will be or not.

5Do not be someone who stretches out his hands to receive but who withdraws them when it comes to giving.

6If you acquire something with your hands, give a ransom for your sins.

7Do not hesitate to give or complain when giving, for you shall yet come to know who is the good paymaster of the reward.

8Do not turn from someone in need, but share all things with your brother, and do not claim that anything is your own. For if you are partners in what is imperishable, how much more in what is perishable.

9Do not withhold your hand from your son or daughter, but from their youth, teach them the fear of God.

10Do not give orders in your anger to your male slave and female slave who hope in the same God as you, lest they stop fearing the God who is over you both. For he does not call with partiality, but those whom the Spirit has prepared.

11And you slaves must be submissive to your masters with respect and fear, as to a type of God.

12Hate all hypocrisy and everything that is not pleasing to the Lord.

13Do not forsake the commandments of the Lord but guard what you have received, neither adding to them nor taking away.

14In church, confess your sins, and do not go to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life.

5:1Now, the way of death is this. First of all, it is evil and completely cursed: murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries, witchcraft, sorceries, robberies, perjuries, hypocrisies, double-heartedness, deceit, arrogance, malice, stubbornness, greed, foul-speech, jealously, audacity, haughtiness , boastfulness.

2It is the way of persecutors of the good, haters of the truth, lovers of the lie, those who do not know the reward of the righteous, nor adhere to what is good, nor to just judgment, those who are alert not to do good but to do evil, who are far from being gentle and patient, who love vain things, who pursue reward, who show no mercy to the poor, who do not work for the oppressed, who do not know him who made them, murderers of children, corrupters of God’s creation, who turn away from the needy, who oppress the afflicted, advocates of the wealthy, lawless judges of the poor, those who are utterly sinful. May you be saved, children, from all these things!

6:1Take care that no one leads you astray from this way of the teaching, for such a person teaches you apart from God.

2For if you are able to bear the whole yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect. But if you are not able, do what you can.

3Now concerning food, bear what you are able, but keep strictly away from food sacrificed to idols, for this is the worship of dead gods.

7:1Now concerning baptism, baptize as follows: Having said all these things beforehand, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit with living water.

2But if you do not have living water, then baptize with other water. And if you are not able to baptize with cold water, then baptize with warm water.

3But if you have neither, then pour water on the head three times in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

4And prior to the baptism, let the one baptizing and the one being baptized fast, as well as any others who are able. And order the one being baptized to fast for one or two days beforehand.

8:1And do not let your fasts coincide with those of the hypocrites, for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays, but you must fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.

2And do not pray like the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in his gospel, pray in this manner: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come; your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth. Give us today our bread for the day. And forgive us our debt, as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one, for yours is the power and the glory forever.

3Pray in this manner three times a day.

9:1Now concerning the eucharist, give thanks in this manner:

2First, concerning the cup: We give thanks to you, our Father, for the holy vine of your servant David, which you have revealed to us through your servant Jesus. To you be the glory forever.

3And concerning the broken bread: We give thanks to you, our Father, for the life and knowledge that you have revealed to us through your servant Jesus. To you be the glory forever.

4As this broken bread was scattered upon the hills and, having been gathered together, became one, so may 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.

5But let no one eat or drink from your eucharist, except those who have been baptized in the name of the Lord, for concerning this, the Lord has likewise said, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs.”

10:1Now after being filled, give thanks in this manner:

2We give thanks to 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 revealed to us through your servant Jesus. To you be the glory forever.

3You, almighty Master, created all things for your name’s sake. To all people, you have given both food and drink to enjoy, in order that they might give you thanks. But to us, you have freely given spiritual food and drink and eternal life through your servant Jesus.

4Above all, we give you thanks because you are mighty. To you be the glory forever.

5Remember your church, O Lord, to deliver her from all evil and to perfect her in your love and to gather her together as the holy one from the four winds into your kingdom which you have prepared for her. For yours is the power and the glory forever.

6May grace come, and may this world pass away. Hosanna to the son of David![2] If anyone is holy, let him come. If anyone is not, let him repent. Come, Lord! Amen!

7But allow the prophets to give thanks as long as they wish.

11:1Whoever, therefore, should come and teach you all these things mentioned above, welcome him.

2But if the teacher should himself go astray and teach a different teaching to undermine these things, do not listen to him. But if his teaching brings righteousness and knowledge of the Lord, welcome him as the Lord.

3Now concerning the apostles and prophets, according to the decree of the gospel, act in this manner:

4Let every apostle who comes to you be welcomed as the Lord.

5But he shall not stay more than one day, and if there is a need, also another day, but if he stays three days, he is a false prophet.

6And when the apostle leaves, let him take nothing except bread to sustain him until he finds lodging elsewhere. But if he asks for money, he is a false prophet.

7And you shall not test or condemn any prophet who speaks in the Spirit, for every sin will be forgiven, but this sin will not be forgiven.

8And not everyone who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet, but only if he has the ways of the Lord. Therefore, the false prophet and the true prophet will be known by their conduct.

9And every prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit shall not eat from it, and if he does otherwise, he is a false prophet.

10And every prophet who teaches the truth, if he does not practice what he teaches, he is a false prophet.

11And every prophet proven to be true, who acts with a view to the earthly mystery of the church but who does not teach you to do what he himself does, shall not be judged by you, since he has his judgment with God. For even the ancient prophets behaved in this way.

12And whoever says in the Spirit, “Give me money” or something else, do not listen to him, but if he says to give to others who are in need, let no one judge him.

12:1And let everyone who comes in the name of the Lord be welcomed. But then, examine him, and you will know, for you will have insight of right and left.

2If the one who comes is a traveler, help him as much as you can. But he shall not stay with you for more than two or, if need be, three days.

3But if he wants to settle down among you and is a craftsman, let him work and eat.

4But if he does not have a craft, decide, according to your own discretion, how, as a Christian, he shall live among you without being idle.

5But if he does not want to behave like this, he is trading on Christ. Beware of such people!

13:1And every true prophet who wants to settle down among you is worthy of his food.

2Likewise, a true teacher is worthy of his food, like the worker.

3Therefore, all the firstfruits of the produce of the wine press and threshing floor, of both the cattle and sheep, you shall give these firstfruits to the prophets, for they are your high priests.

4But if you have no prophet, then give them to the poor.

5If you make bread, take the firstfruit and give it according to the commandment.

6Likewise, when you open a jar of wine or oil take the firstfruit and give it to the prophets.

7And of money and clothes and every possession, take the firstfruits, as seems good to you, and give them according to the commandment.

14:1Now according to the Lord’s Day of the Lord, when you have been gathered together, break bread and give thanks, after you have confessed your sins, so that your sacrifice may be pure.

2But do not allow anyone who has a quarrel with his companion to assemble with you until they have been reconciled, so that your sacrifice may not be defiled.

3For this is the thing mentioned by the Lord, “In every place and time, offer me a pure sacrifice, for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name will be marvelous among the nations.

15:1Therefore, appoint for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men who are humble and not lovers of money, and who are true and approved, for to you, they themselves also minister the ministry of the prophets and teachers.

2Therefore, do not disregard them, for they themselves are your honored men along with the prophets and teachers.

3And reprove one another, not in anger but in peace, as you have it in the gospel. And if anyone wrongs his neighbor, let no one speak to him nor hear from you until he repents.

4And your prayers and alms and all your actions do them thus as you have it in the gospel of our Lord.

16:1Keep watch over your life. Do not let your lamps be extinguished, and do not let your loins be loosed, but be prepared. For you do not know the hour when our Lord is coming.

2And be gathered together frequently, seeking what is appropriate for your souls, for the whole time of your faith will not profit you if you are not found perfect in the last time.

3For in the last days, the false prophets and corrupters will be multiplied, and the sheep will be turned into wolves, and love will be turned into hate.

4For as lawlessness increases, they will hate and persecute and betray one another. And then, the deceiver of the world will appear as a son of God and will perform signs and wonders, and the earth will be delivered into his hands, and he will do unlawful things that have never been known since time began.

5Then, all human creation will come into the fiery trial, and many will fall away and perish, but those who endure in their faith will be saved by the accursed one himself.

6And then, the signs of truth will appear: first, the sign of an opening in heaven; next, the sign of the sound of a trumpet, and third, the resurrection of the dead—

7but not the resurrection of all; rather, as it has been said, “The Lord will come and all his saints with him.”

8Then, the world will see the Lord coming on the clouds of heaven.


[1] My translation of the Didache is based on the Greek text published by Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005, 1992) 246–69. An italicized word indicates that no corresponding word exists in the original. We have added the italicized words to clarify the meaning of the text.

[2]Codex Hierosolymitanus has “God of David,” though “son of David” is probably original.


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