the weblog of Alan Knox

Didache 12

Posted by on Dec 7, 2009 in discipleship | 3 comments

Last weekend, Dave Black (Friday, December 10, 2009 @ 5:10 pm) challenged us with a picture of a passage from the apostolic fathers (from Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians to be exact). Of course, once my mind was on the fathers, I kept being reminded of them. So, I read Polycarp’s letter and then the Didache. I love this passage from the Didache:

Let everyone who comes in the name of the Lord be accepted. Then, after examining him, you will know him, for you will understand all about him. Now, if the one coming in the name of the Lord is passing through, then help him as much as you can. But, he should only stay with you two or three days, if necessary. On the other hand, if he wants to stay among  you indefinitely, and he knows a trade, let him work and support himself. But, if he doesn’t know a trade according to your understanding, then you should consider beforehand that an idle person will not live among you as a Christian. But, if he will not work in this manner, then he is a Christmonger. Guard against people like this. (Didache 12.1-5)


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  1. 12-7-2009

    Hi Alan, I read through the Didache again this week also. The bit you quoted made me wonder how this applies to paying a salary to pastors.

    But then reading further:

    “Chapter 13. Support of Prophets. But every true prophet who wants to live among you is worthy of his support. So also a true teacher is himself worthy, as the workman, of his support. Every first-fruit, therefore, of the products of wine-press and threshing-floor, of oxen and of sheep, you shall take and give to the prophets, for they are your high priests. But if you have no prophet, give it to the poor. If you make a batch of dough, take the first-fruit and give according to the commandment. So also when you open a jar of wine or of oil, take the first-fruit and give it to the prophets; and of money (silver) and clothing and every possession, take the first-fruit, as it may seem good to you, and give according to the commandment.”

    So I’m not so sure. It seems to me this Chapter 13 would give support for paying a pastor (or at least a prophet/teacher) a salary. I guess the two parts seem to contradict each other to me… (I’m allowed to say that right? this isn’t in the cannon. 🙂

  2. 12-7-2009


    I know that some people will disagree with me, but I see chapter 12-13 of the Didache matching up fairly closely with what we see in Scripture. For example, in 2 Thess 3, Paul says something similar to what we read in Didache 12 – that is, if someone won’t work to support themselves, then have nothing to do with them. We see a similar command given to the elders from Ephesus at the end of Acts 20.

    Then, there are passages that indicate that we should respect, honor, “share all good things” with elders, teachers, prophets, etc. Of course, these passages give the commands to the church that they should give these things, but there are no similar commands given to elders, teachers, prophets, etc. that they should either expect, require, or demand these things. (Of course, the Didache also seems to teach against this in 11.6.)


  3. 12-8-2009

    Thanks Alan, yes I’ll continue to seek God on how I am to respond. I have grown up ‘tithing’ to support the typical church system. I desire to maintain unity/love/respect in my relationships with the church community we’ve been part of for years. However, I’m not paid church staff, so maybe I don’t have to have this figured out for myself.

    Another part of the Didache that speaks to me on how I should respond is this: “Let your alms sweat in your hands, until you know to whom you should give.” I have been feeling compelled to give more to the poor and needy than I have in the past.