Welcome Back today we’re going to focus on the last 6 chapters of the Didache. These last few chapters focus on Teachers, Prophets, and Apostles. While some people argue that because the author uses the term apostle, that means it was written early enough for the Twelve apostles to still be traveling sharing the gospel. I don’t necessarily agree with that thought. There were 70 Apostles in the bible see Luke 10. The church also recognizes others through history as Apostles to certain groups Like St Columba Apostle to the Scots and Sts Cyril and Methodius apostles to the Slavs. What I think the author is teaching is to test those who call themselves apostles by giving these guidelines.
The first thing the author says in this section is that if someone comes and teaches you everything layed out in this teaching, then let them stay with you. If they try to teach something else don’t listen to them.
Heresies were already creeping into the church as the bible was being written in the first century. We see Paul and John both tackling heresies in their writings. So it’s not going to change by the time the Didache was written. Or even today. Heresies are still prevalent in the church today. We have to be aware of what scripture says, and what the church has taught through the centuries, so we are not led away from Christ’s teachings. Remember, every heresy starts with a grain of truth. For instance, there is a group who calls themselves Trinitarian Christians who baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and The Holy Spirit. But they don’t believe the Holy Spirit is anything more than a messenger for God. Not an active person of the Trinity. That is a very subtle heresy most people will never see. It’s a subtle misstep most people won’t notice. Unlike more prevalent heresies, like not believing Jesus is God or that We can become equal to God that most people can spot a mile away.
Heresies are also why the church gave us the Nicene Creed 200 years after they wrote the Didache. It is a short, memorable statement that lays out most of the teachings of the church. Having teachers who teach us the truth is a blessing. According to the author, we should lift these people up in prayer and give them honor.
Now, if an apostle or prophet comes, we receive them like we would the Lord. They can only stay one day and we can only give them enough bread to make it to the next stop. This seemed extreme to me, but as I looked at the reasoning, it really isn’t. This teaching goes back to the teaching in Luke 10 when the Lord sent out the 70 Apostles. He told them to only take their clothes and a walking stick. They were to travel from town to town sharing the Gospel They were to rely on God to provide for their needs. So the author of the Didache followed that teaching when he was giving guidance on what to look for in an Apostle or a prophet.
The author tells us how to judge a prophet. They won’t call for the Eucharist while speaking in the Spirit and then receive it. They won’t ask for money while in the spirit. A prophet will act like the Lord, so that is how to tell them from false prophets.
We should support any prophet who decides to live among us because they are our high priests. This goes back to Paul’s teaching to Timothy
‘Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching; for the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves to be paid.”
I’ve been told many times that pastors and priests should work outside the church and not make money from the church. I get it; I talk about working at the church as not having a real job. But the teaching is very clear from the bible and documents like the Didache from the early church that pastors, priests, prophets, deacons, and bishops should all earn a wage as long as they are teaching the truth and being an example of Christ.
We should come together on the Lord’s day, confess our sins and break bread together. Before the coronavirus, but especially now as we’re coming out of the virus’ grip, or so it seems, more and more people were choosing to stay home instead of attending church. The virus has shown people that they can stay home. Some have said the exodus from church after the virus will increase. As an Orthodox Christian we go to church for several reasons, but the most important is to worship God and to join with other Christians in communion with God through the Eucharist. When we don’t attend, the church teaches that the body of Christ isn’t complete. So when we don’t go to church, we are missed more than we think we are.
Finally, the community should appoint deacons and bishops from among them, and like the prophets and teachers they should be shown honor. This goes back to Paul’s teaching to Titus and Timothy. Bishops should be blameless and exemplary citizens both in the church and in the community. Which oddly enough is exactly what we all should aspire to so we can be ambassadors for Christ. Which brings us to the final point.
The author tells us to guard our lives. To come together often and strengthen each other because if we don’t we may be turned by the enemy and become enemies of the church and in the last days those who are in the church that are turned away by Satan will increase and persecution will be great. “The Lord will come and all the saints along with him.” Finally, the world will see the Lord descending on clouds from Heaven.
That’s it. The Lord will return and we will be called home or not, depending on the path we’ve chosen. Either the path to life or the path to death. The author is very clear that it’s a decision we have to make ourselves, and he lays out the path to life very clearly. All we have to do is choose.
I could have gone line by line of the Didache and given a biblical reference to each sentence. This is a biblically based text through and through, and I think that is why so many people are finding it and reading it for the first time. I love the Didache and I hope this has given you a little insight into it. I also hope to introduce the apostolic Fathers next year, but that remains to be seen.
I want to thank everyone who has downloaded the podcast over the last six months. And while it was a fast start, it’s been a slow process for the last 3 months. This is the 13th episode and the total number of downloads has topped 300, which is way more than I imagined getting in the first year. My immediate plan is to record the Didache and release it on YouTube and possibly as an audiobook on Audible and Apple audio books. This is the last episode for the year But I plan on having a new episode the first week of 2021, God Willing.