The Didache, Part 3

In this third part (of four) of my translation of the ancient Christian Didache, we start with the prescribed prayers for the Eucharist, followed by advise about itinerant teachers, apostles, and prophets. Parts 1 and 2 are available if you missed them. Notes follow the text.


The Start of the Didache, Wikipedia

The Start of the Didache, Wikipedia

Concerning the Eucharist, give thanks like this:

First for the cup:

We give thanks to you, our Father, for your holy vine of your servant David,
which you made known to us through your servant Jesus.
Glory to you forever.

Concerning the broken bread:

We give thanks to you, our Father, for the life and knowledge that you made known to us
through your servant Jesus. Glory to you forever.
As this broken bread was scattered over the hills and was brought together becoming one,
so gather your Church from the ends of the earth into your kingdom.
For you have all power and glory forever through Jesus Christ.

Do not let anyone eat or drink of your Eucharist meal except the ones who have been baptized into the name of the Lord. For the Lord said concerning this: “do not give that which is holy to the dogs.”

After you are filled, give thanks like this:

We thank you, Holy Father, for your holy name which you made to dwell in our hearts,
and for knowledge and faith and immortality as you made known to us through your servant Jesus.
Glory to you forever.
You, Lord Almighty, created all things to show forth your name.
You give both food and drink to man to enjoy, and everlasting life through your Servant.
Above all, we thank you because you are mighty.
Glory to you forever.
Remember Lord, your Church, to deliver her from all evil and mature her in your love.
Gather her from the four winds, as the sanctified, into your kingdom which you have made for her,
because you have the power and glory forever.
Let grace come and this world pass away.
Hosanna to the Son of David!
If anyone is holy, let him come.
If anyone is not, let him repent.
Maranatha, Amen.

Allow the prophets to give thanks (eucharistise) as they desire.

Whoever, therefore, comes and teaches you all these things, receive him.
But if the one teaching changes what has been taught to another teaching in order to destroy these things, do not listen to him.
However, if his motive is to add righteousness and knowledge of the Lord, receive him as you would the Lord.

Now concerning the apostles and prophets, act according to the requirements of the Gospel.
Every apostle coming to you, welcome as you would the Lord.
He should not remain more than one day, or, if he has a need, also another.
But if he remains three days, he is a false prophet.

And when the apostle goes forth, he should take nothing except a loaf of bread to keep him
until he arrives at his night’s lodging.
If he asks for money he is a false prophet.
Also, you should not test or judge any prophet speaking in the Spirit,
for every sin will be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven.

Not everyone speaking in the Spirit is a prophet, but only if he has a Godly lifestyle.
Therefore, by his lifestyle you will know a false prophet from a true prophet.
No prophet ordering a eucharistic meal in the Spirit should eat of it; otherwise he is a false prophet.

Every prophet who teaches the truth but does not do what he teaches is a false prophet.
But every prophet who stands the test and is genuine, even if he uses symbolic imagery in the church,
so long as he does not teach others to do the same, should not be judged.
His judgment comes from God, for so did the prophets of old.

Whoever says in the Spirit, “Give me money or something else,” do not listen to him.
But if, concerning others in need, he says, “give”, let no one judge him.

Receive everyone coming in the name of the Lord.
Later, by testing him, you will find out about him, where he deviates from the standard.
If the one coming is just traveling through, help him as much as you can.
He should not remain with you more than three days, if that is necessary.

If he desires to settle among you and has a trade, let him work for his bread.
If he has no trade, you should plan ahead how such a person will live among you as a Christian, not being idle.
And if he is not willing to do this, he is making a trade of Christ.
Beware of this kind of person.

But every genuine prophet who desires to settle among you is worthy of his food.
Likewise, every genuine teacher is worthy, like a workman, of his food.
Therefore, of all the first produce of the wine-press and the threshing floor, and of the oxen and the sheep,
take the first fruits and give it to the prophets, for they are your high priests.

And if you do not have a prophet, give such first fruits to the poor.
If you should make bread, take it and give according to the commandment.
Likewise, if you have opened a jar of wine or oil, take the first fruits and give to the prophets.
And also take the first fruits of your money and clothes and all your possessions.
As it seems best, give according to the commandment.



1) The prayers for the Eucharist are distinctly Judean in form. Notice that they are not the same as those given by Paul (the ones we normally use). There are some options in the Anglican forms that are close to these, especially that over the bread. The bit about the bread being “scattered over the hills” presumably refers to the growing of the grain used to make the bread. The word translated here as bread is, actually, a word meaning “fragment”, which may refer to the broken loaf.

2) Notice the repeated concern that no-one who comes or who ministers should expect money. A resident prophet or teacher is “worthy of his food” but not of pay! It was a Judean idea that no rabbi would accept money for bringing the Word of God–he might be paid for other services, but not that. Paul seems to have had the same idea in his own ministry, making a point that he never took money from those he was ministering to (though he accepted money from them after he had left them). I wonder how the modern church would be if we also adopted this idea, as Kierkegaard recommended.



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4 Responses to “The Didache, Part 3”

  1. False Prophet in the last Days by Trudy Ross | Prayer Works Cafe Says:

    […] The Didache, Part 3 ( […]

  2. The Didache, Part 4 (final) « thoughtfulspirituality Says:

    […] Explorations of Christian Spirituality « The Didache, Part 3 […]

  3. robstroud Says:

    “Every prophet who teaches the truth but does not do what he teaches is a false prophet.”

    The Church would be so much healthier today if we lived by this wisdom.

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