The DIDACHE – Can We Trust It?



Falsely Called “The Teaching(s) of the Twelve Apostles.”


The only manuscript we have of the Didache (which means “Teaching”) was discovered in 1873 in Constantinople (modern day Turkey). The manuscript is signed, “Leon, notary and sinner,” and bears the date, A.D. 1056.


John S. Kloppenborg Verbin comments on the Didache (Excavating Q, pp. 134-135):

“The Didache, an early second-century Christian composition, is also clearly composite, consisting of a "Two Ways" section (chaps. 1-6), a liturgical manual (7-10), instructions on the reception of traveling prophets (11-15), and a brief apocalypse (16). Marked divergences in style and content as well as the presence of doubtless and obvious interpolations, make plain the fact that the Didache was not cut from whole cloth. The dominant view today is that the document was composed on the basis of several independent, preredactional units which were assembled by either one or two redactors (Neiderwimmer 1989:64-70, ET 1998:42-52). Comparison of the "Two Ways" section with several other "Two Ways" documents suggests that Didache 1-6 is itself the result of multistage editing. The document began with rather haphazard organization (cf. Barnabas 18-20), but was reorganized in a source common to the Didache, the Doctrina apostolorum, and the Apostolic Church Order …”



Church historians such as Johannes Quasten wrote that the Didache was not written during the lifetime of the original apostles and that “the document was tampered with by later insertions.” Patrology Vol. 1, Page 36


Johannes Quasten wrote, “… the document does not go back to the apostolic times … Furthermore, such a collection of ecclesiastical ordinances presupposes a period of stabilization of some duration. Scattered details indicate that the apostolic age is no longer contemporary, but has passed into history.” Patrology Vol. 1, Page 36, Johannes Quasten


In the early fourth century, Eusebius of Caesarea wrote that “… the so-called Teachings of the Apostles …” was “spurious.” Eusebius History 3:25


There is much controversy over the authenticity of the Didache that I had to expend an enormous amount of time researching the historical data to uncover the truth. After thorough research, I have concluded that the Didache contains the beliefs and practices of some early Christians during the early second century. It was known as a “spurious” document by the time of Eusebius because it was not recognized as being the “teaching” of the original apostles. The historical evidence proves that the Didache was not written by the original apostles. It was a collection of early second century Christian writings combined together by an unknown scribe sometime in the early second century. Scholars have identified so many later interpolations and editions to the Didache that we can no longer trust the veracity of its contents.


The following data and quotes are from the book “Was The Early Church Oneness or Trinitarian?” – By Thomas Weisser


The particular part that Oneness Pentecostals are concerned with is Didache 7.


“But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. Having first recited all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living (running) water. But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water; and if thou art not able in cold then in warm. But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice (three times) in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”


Trinitarians claim this proves the Early Church was Trinitarian rather than Oneness. Thomas Weisser wrote,

“Let us first consider that we are dealing with either a forgery” or a document that was corrupted by later interpolations. “Although it is ascribed to the Apostles they probably never saw it. Secondly, the internal evidence points to Didache 7 as an interpolation, or later addition. In Didache 9, which deals with communion, the writer says, ‘But let no one eat or drink of this eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus (the Greek text says “Iesous” which is Greek for Jesus) …’"


It is unlikely that Didache 7 was a later interpolation because we know that the first century apostles baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:16; Acts 19:5). This is one reason why I do not believe that unbelievers who have not been baptized in Jesus Name should partake of the Lords’ supper with true believers who have been baptized.


Shortly after saying baptism should be performed in the titles Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Didache states the absolute necessity of being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (i.e., “Iesous” - the same Greek word as in Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16; Acts 10:48; Acts 19:5). This represents an obvious contradiction and gives validity to the argument that Didache 7 is an interpolation.


Thomas Weisser wrote, “Thirdly, the writer's approval of baptism by pouring presents a problem with dating it in the first century. Church Historian Charles Bigg pointed out that Didache 7 “must have been written after A.D. 250.” He argued that “pouring was generally unacceptable in baptism as late as Cyprian (c.250). Therefore, Didache 7 could be no earlier than the late third century.”

From the book, "Was the Early Church Oneness or Trinitarian?" By Thomas Weisser – The Symposium on Oneness Pentecostalism, 1986. St. Louis, Mo. / Bigg, Charles, The Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1898), p. 58.


There are some interesting contents within the Didache that were likely written in the early second century. Yet there are so many later interpolations and editions to the Didache that we cannot be certain about the veracity any of its contents. Therefore I’m going to give my commentary on the portions of the Didache I think were written in the early period of the second century, while exposing some of the obvious interpolations.


The Didache

The Lord's Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations.


Chapter 1. The Two Ways and the First Commandment (likely composed from genuine early second century Christian literature). There are two ways, one of life and one of death, but a great difference between the two ways. The way of life, then, is this: First, you shall love God who made you; second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you. And of these sayings the teaching is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For what reward is there for loving those who love you? Do not the Gentiles do the same? But love those who hate you, and you shall not have an enemy. Abstain from fleshly and worldly lusts. If someone strikes your right cheek, turn to him the other also, and you shall be perfect. If someone impresses you for one mile, go with him two. If someone takes your cloak, give him also your coat. If someone takes from you what is yours, ask it not back, for indeed you are not able. Give to everyone who asks you, and ask it not back; for the Father wills that to all should be given of our own blessings (free gifts). Happy is he who gives according to the commandment, for he is guiltless. Woe to him who receives; for if one receives who has need, he is guiltless; but he who receives not having need shall pay the penalty, why he received and for what. And coming into confinement, he shall be examined concerning the things which he has done, and he shall not escape from there until he pays back the last penny. And also concerning this, it has been said, Let your alms sweat in your hands, until you know to whom you should give.


Chapter 2. The Second Commandment: Grave Sin Forbidden (likely composed from genuine early second century Christian literature). And the second commandment of the Teaching; You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born. You shall not covet the things of your neighbor, you shall not swear, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not speak evil, you shall bear no grudge. You shall not be double-minded nor double-tongued, for to be double-tongued is a snare of death. Your speech shall not be false, nor empty, but fulfilled by deed. You shall not be covetous, nor rapacious, nor a hypocrite, nor evil disposed, nor haughty. You shall not take evil counsel against your neighbor. You shall not hate any man; but some you shall reprove, and concerning some you shall pray, and some you shall love more than your own life.


Chapter 3. Other Sins Forbidden (likely composed from genuine early second century Christian literature). My child, flee from every evil thing, and from every likeness of it. Be not prone to anger, for anger leads to murder. Be neither jealous, nor quarrelsome, nor of hot temper, for out of all these murders are engendered. My child, be not a lustful one. For lust leads to fornication. Be neither a filthy talker, nor of lofty eye, for out of all these adulteries are engendered. My child, be not an observer of omens, since it leads to idolatry. Be neither an enchanter, nor an astrologer, nor a purifier, nor be willing to look at these things, for out of all these idolatry is engendered. My child, be not a liar, since a lie leads to theft. Be neither money-loving, nor vainglorious, for out of all these thefts are engendered. My child, be not a murmurer, since it leads the way to blasphemy. Be neither self-willed nor evil-minded, for out of all these blasphemies are engendered.


Rather, be meek, since the meek shall inherit the earth. Be long-suffering and pitiful and guileless and gentle and good and always trembling at the words which you have heard. You shall not exalt yourself, nor give over-confidence to your soul. Your soul shall not be joined with lofty ones, but with just and lowly ones shall it have its intercourse. Accept whatever happens to you as good, knowing that apart from God nothing comes to pass.


Chapter 4. Various Precepts (likely composed from genuine early second century Christian literature). My child, remember night and day him who speaks the word of God to you, and honor him as you do the Lord. For wherever the lordly rule is uttered, there is the Lord. And seek out day by day the faces of the saints, in order that you may rest upon their words. Do not long for division, but rather bring those who contend to peace. Judge righteously, and do not respect persons in reproving for transgressions. You shall not be undecided whether or not it shall be. Be not a stretcher forth of the hands to receive and a drawer of them back to give. If you have anything, through your hands you shall give ransom for your sins. Do not hesitate to give, nor complain when you give; for you shall know who is the good re-payer of the hire. Do not turn away from him who is in want; rather, share all things with your brother, and do not say that they are your own. For if you are partakers in that which is immortal, how much more in things which are mortal? Do not remove your hand from your son or daughter; rather, teach them the fear of God from their youth. Do not enjoin anything in your bitterness upon your bondman or maidservant, who hope in the same God, lest ever they shall fear not God who is over both; for he comes not to call according to the outward appearance, but to them whom the Spirit has prepared. And you bondmen shall be subject to your masters as to a type of God, in modesty and fear. You shall hate all hypocrisy and everything which is not pleasing to the Lord. Do not in any way forsake the commandments of the Lord; but keep what you have received, neither adding thereto nor taking away therefrom. In the church you shall acknowledge your transgressions, and you shall not come near for your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life.


Chapter 5. The Way of Death (likely composed from genuine early second century Christian literature). And the way of death is this: First of all it is evil and accursed: murders, adultery, lust, fornication, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, witchcrafts, rape, false witness, hypocrisy, double-heartedness, deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness, filthy talking, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness; persecutors of the good, hating truth, loving a lie, not knowing a reward for righteousness, not cleaving to good nor to righteous judgment, watching not for that which is good, but for that which is evil; from whom meekness and endurance are far, loving vanities, pursuing revenge, not pitying a poor man, not laboring for the afflicted, not knowing Him Who made them, murderers of children, destroyers of the handiwork of God, turning away from him who is in want, afflicting him who is distressed, advocates of the rich, lawless judges of the poor, utter sinners. Be delivered, children, from all these.


Chapter 6. Against False Teachers, and Food Offered to Idols (likely composed from genuine early second century Christian literature). See that no one causes you to err from this way of the Teaching, since apart from God it teaches you. For if you are able to bear the entire yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect; but if you are not able to do this, do what you are able. And concerning food, bear what you are able; but against that which is sacrificed to idols be exceedingly careful; for it is the service of dead gods.


Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism (Later Trinitarian interpolations were added). And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water [running water]. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before