Apologetics Catholic Church Scriptures The Didache

THE DIDACHE: Proof that the early church is Catholic


The Didache (pronounced as di-da-kei) or “The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles”, is a brief anonymous early Christian treatise or manual, dated by most modern scholars to the first century. Most Protestant scholars argue that Catholic “traditions of men” has corrupted the Christian Church starting the early 2nd century. They argue that the only reliable basis of the Christian faith are the New Testament documents, which are all written in the first century. However, recent scholarship revealed that these document was already written as early as 65-80 A.D. Although the “Didache” is not an inspired document, it is nevertheless a very important early Christian document, as it shows even as early as 65-80 AD Catholic teaching is already prevalent. The Didache has a section on the Lord’s Prayer, Fasting, Baptism, and the Eucharist. Very Catholic!

BAPTISM BY INFUSION

The Didache has a section on Baptism by Infusion! The second part (chapters 7 to 10) begins with an instruction on baptism. Baptism is to be conferred “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” with triple immersion in “living water” (in other words, flowing water). If that is not practical, in cold or even warm water is acceptable. If the water is insufficient for immersion, it may be poured three times on the head. The baptized and the baptizer, and, if possible, anyone else attending the ritual should fast for one or two days beforehand. Even way back before Baptism was also to be administered by pouring.

EUCHARIST FOR PEOPLE IN FULL COMMUNION ONLY

Did you know that the Didache is the earliest text to refer to this rite as the Eucharist? It includes two primitive and unusual prayers for the Eucharist, which is the central act of Christian worship. Chapter 9 begins like this: “Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup: We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which Thou madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever.” And concerning the breaking of the bread: ” We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which Thou madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever. But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs.”

CONNECTION BETWEEN THE DIDACHE AND THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW

Significant similarities between the Didache and the gospel of Matthew have been found as these writings share words, phrases, and motifs. There is also an increasing reluctance of modern scholars to support the thesis that the Didache used Matthew. This close relationship between these two writings might suggest that both documents were created in the same historical and geographical setting. One argument that suggests a common environment is that the community of both the Didache and the gospel of Matthew was probably composed of Jewish Christians from the beginning. The correspondence of the Trinitarian baptismal formula in the Didache and Matthew (Did. 7 and Matt 28:19) as well as the similar shape of the Lord’s Prayer (Did. 8 and Matt 6:5–13) appear to reflect the use of similar oral traditions. Finally, both the community of the Didache (Did. 11–13) and Matthew (Matt 7:15–23; 10:5–15, 40–42; 24:11,24) were visited by itinerant apostles and prophets, some of whom were heterodox.

Clearly by these proofs we can see how the early Church is convincingly very Catholic.

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