Didache


The Way of Life: A Scholarly Book Review

Unbeknownst to me one Didache scholar, Daniel Nessim, had written a full review of The Way of Life. Nessim is a Messianic Jew who is currently working on his doctoral thesis on the Didache. I have read some of his papers before, but I eagerly await to see his full work.

4-minute read

A Buddhist Didache? The Way of Life in Chinese

The Didache was widely used and circulated during the early years of the church. So much so that it was even used in a document to introduce Chinese people to Yeshua in the seventh century.

9-minute read

The Fruit of the Ground: The Rabbis and the Didache on Gentile Tithing Obligations

Why did the Didache direct its readers to give their gifts to prophets and teachers rather than to Levitical priests? We should remember that the Didache was written to Gentile believers in Messiah who lived in the Diaspora. The laws of trumah in the Torah apply only within the land of Israel.

8-minute read

The Little Apocalypse

While at first glance this chapter appears to be merely predicting future events surrounding Yeshua’s second coming, the material highlights the urgency that disciples must continue daily walking in the Way of Life and avoiding the Way of Death. The little apocalypse makes several allusions to previous material in the Didache.

7-minute read

Appointing Leadership

The brevity and language with which the Didache delivers instructions about designating leaders in the community indicates that it is not introducing something new but rather alluding to an already existing structure. Judaism of the first century had a well-established system of overseers and administrators. The believing communities simply replicated an existing model.

8-minute read

The Day of the Lord

In addition to meeting at the conclusion of the Sabbath in memory of the resurrection of the Master, it is possible that the community expected his return at this time. Jewish tradition states that Messiah will not come on the Sabbath because there is much work to do upon his arrival. Therefore, the first possible time for his appearance would be at Melaveh Malkah.

9-minute read

Tithing Halachah for Gentile Believers

So why did the Didache direct its readers to give their gifts to prophets and teachers rather than to Levitical priests? We must remember that the Didache was written to Gentile believers in Messiah who lived in the Diaspora.

7-minute read

Those Pesky Messiah-Peddlers

It is true today that everyone in a community needs to do their share. While most people will not admit outright that they do not want to work to provide for themselves. The community should be on guard not to overburden its members by continually providing for the needs of a few individuals who are fully capable of doing so themselves.

6-minute read

Apostolic Gemara on the Words of the Master

These sayings of the Master laid down a principle that required disciples to receive agents of Yeshua who came in his name, offer them hospitality and sustenance, and heed their instruction. While hospitality and respect for teachers, prophets, and emissaries were important parts of discipleship, they could not be practiced without discretion and regulation. Hospitality exercised without discernment could quickly be abused

5-minute read

Praying for the Ingathering

We must not confuse the Didache’s fervent petitions for the imminent inauguration of the Messianic Age as endorsing the idea of an escapism eschatology. The Didache firmly lays out the Way of Life with a call to all followers of Messiah to walk in the Torah daily.

8-minute read

Sacred Dining: Pre-Meal Blessings for Community Gatherings

Although the blessings in the Didache are extensive, they do not contain any of the themes that we would expect to be present in a Eucharist ceremony. Namely, the text does not mention the suffering, death, or resurrection of Yeshua; sin, sacrifice, atonement, or forgiveness; the final Passover meal; or Yeshua’s blood, Yeshua’s body, the new covenant, or the phrase “in remembrance of me.”

7-minute read

Pray as the Lord Commanded

The Master’s rulings on prayer are much the same as they are for fasting. We are not to make an ostentatious show of our prayer life. Furthermore, the hypocrites that Yeshua criticized as those who “heap up empty words” were Gentiles, not Jews. It is hypocrisy and showmanship that the Didache urges us to avoid, not traditional Jewish prayer, worship, or liturgy.

7-minute read

Instructions Concerning Immersion

The instructions are completely devoid of theological or mystical teachings about being born again or the death of Messiah. They read more like a section out of the Mishnah than from one of Paul’s epistles.

5-minute read

Out of Zion: Teaching on the Didache at the Bram Center

The way I can tell what people thought of the material was when the Q and A began. The attendees asked very sophisticated questions. The kind of questions where I could tell they had been paying attention, internalizing what I was saying, and imagining the implications that the Didache’s teachings would have upon the community.

5-minute read

Do Not Be Led Astray

The Didache begins chapter 6 with a warning against false teachers who lead people away from God and the Way of Life. This is a continuation of the exhortation at the end of 5.2: “Children, may you be rescued from all of these!” All that has been taught so far is to be carefully guarded, and new Gentile disciples are to watch out for those who would lead them astray from the Way of Life.

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5-minute read

The Way of Death

In chapter 5 the Didache, as it continues the Two Ways section, turns from illustrating the Way of Life to expounding the Way of Death. What is striking is the stark contrast between the amount of space it gives to the Way of Death and that given to the Way of Life.

6-minute read

A Different Kind of Hypocrite

By commanding us to hate “hypocrisy,” the Didache warns us not to perform good deeds for the sake of receiving praise from men. Rather, we should observe the commandments because they are God’s will and, through their performance, we bring godliness into this world and honor to his name.

5-minute read

The Characteristics of Humility

According to Judaism, one of the biggest aspects of humility is learning from others and constantly refining oneself. The Didache gives us a six-step program to help us progress on the path of humility and mold our image more into the likeness of Messiah.

8-minute read

Three Kinds of People

In the Didache and the teachings of the Master, our love for God is displayed in our love for our fellow. Indeed, the sages interpret “with all your soul” as a willingness to give up our lives (m.Brachot 9:5). In the Didache, “love your neighbor as yourself” becomes “love your neighbor more than yourself.”

6-minute read

The Two Ways

All disciples of Messiah have a choice: the way of life or the way of death. A biblical worldview supports the fact that life is about choices. The path we choose each day will ultimately determine our destiny. Not only is life full of choices, but it is also a progressive journey that never stops.

8-minute read