[This is part of a running series on the Didache. See the introductory post for more information — RWB]
Ὃς ἂν οὖν ἐλθὼν διδάξῃ ὑμᾶς ταῦτα πάντα τὰ προειρημένα,
Therefore whomever comes and teaches you all these things mentioned before,
ἐὰν δὲ αὐτὸς ὁ διδάσκων στραφεὶς διδάσκῃ ἄλλην διδαχὴν εἰς τὸ καταλῦσαι,
But if the teacher himself turns away and teaches a different teaching to destroy (all these things mentioned before),
μὴ αὐτοῦ ἀκούσητε·
do not listen to him.
εἰς δὲ τὸ προσθεῖναι δικαιοσύνην καὶ γνῶσιν κυρίου,
But if (his teaching) is for the increase of righteousness and knowledge of the Lord,
δέξασθε αὐτὸν ὡς κύριον.
receive him as the Lord.
Περὶ δὲ τὼν ἀποστόλων καὶ προπητῶν,
Concerning the apostles and prophets,
κατὰ τὸ δόγμα τοῦ εὐαγγελίου οὕτω ποιήσατε.
according to the ordinances of the gospel, in this way act.
πᾶς δὲ ἀπόστολος ἐρχόμενος πρὸς ὑμᾶς δεχθήτω ὡς κύριος·
Let every apostle coming to you be received as the Lord.
οὐ μενεῖ δὲ εἰ μὴ ἡμέραν μίαν·
Do not let him remain more than one day;
ἐὰν δὲ ᾖ χρεία, καὶ τὴν ἄλλην·
and if it is necessary, another.
τρεῖς δὲ ἐὰν μείνῃ,
But if he stays three days,
he is a false prophet.
ἐξερχόμενος δὲ ὁ ἀπόστολος μηδὲν λαμβανέτω εἰ μὴ ἄρτον,
When an apostle goes out from you, let him accept nothing but bread
ἕως οὗ αὐλισθῇ·
until he finds lodging.
ἐὰν δὲ ἀργύριον αἰτῇ,
If he asks for money,
he is a false prophet.
Καὶ πάντα προφήτην λαλοῦντα ἐν πνεύματι οὐ πειράσετε οὐδὲ διακρινεῖτε·
Any prophet speaking in a spirit do not test or judge;
πᾶσα γὰρ ἁμαρτία ἀφεθήσεται,
for every sin shall be forgiven,
αὕτη δὲ ἡ ἁμαρτία οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται.
but this sin shall not be forgiven.
οὐ πᾶς δὲ ὁ λαλῶν ἐν πνεύματι προφήτης ἐστίν,
But not everyone who speaks in a spirit is a prophet,
ἀλλ ̓ ἐὰν ἔχῃ τοὺς τρόπους κυρίου.
but only if he has the manner of the Lord.
ἀπὸ οὖν τῶν τρόπων γνωσθήσεται ὁ ψευδοπροφήτης καὶ ὁ προφήτης.
Therefore one's manner will distinguish the false prophet from the (true) prophet.
καὶ πᾶς προφήτης ὁρίζων τράπεζαν ἐν πνεύματι οὐ φάγεται ἀπ ̓ αὐτῆς,
And every prophet who orders a meal in a spirit will not eat from it,
εἰ δὲ μήγε ψευδοπροφήτης ἐστί.
if he does otherwise, he is a false prophet.
πᾶς δὲ προφήτης διδάσκων τὴν ἀλήθειαν,
But every prophet who teaches the truth,
εἰ ἃ διδάσκει οὐ ποιεῖ,
if what he teaches he does not do,
he is a false prophet.
πᾶς δὲ προφήτης δεδοκιμασμένος,
But every prophet having been tested
and found true;
ποιῶν εἰς μυστήριον κοσμικὸν ἐκκλησίας,
(who is) making a worldly mystery of the church,
μὴ διδάσκων δὲ ποιεῖν,
but not teaching (others) to do
ὅσα αὐτὸς ποιεῖ,
what he himself does,
οὐ κριθήσεται ἐφ ̓ ὑμῶν·
he shall not be judged by you:
μετὰ θεοῦ γὰρ ἔχει τὴν κρίσιν·
For with God he has his judgment;
ὡσαύτως γὰρ ἐποίησαν καὶ οἱ ἀρχαῖοι προφῆται.
just as it was with the ancient prophets.
ὃς δ ̓ ἂν εἴπῃ ἐν πνεύματι·
But whomever says in a spirit:
δός μοι ἀργύρια ἢ ἕτερά τινα,
"Give me silver or some other thing",
οὐκ ἀκούσεσθε αὐτοῦ·
you shall not listen to him.
ἐὰν δὲ περὶ ἄλλων ὑστερούντων εἴπῃ δοῦναι,
But if concerning others who are in need he says to give (to them),
μηδεὶς αὐτὸν κρινέτω.
no one should judge him.
This section has to do with those who come to the community purporting to have roles of authority (i.e. prophets or apostles). I think that the "apostles" in mind here are more akin to the normal use of the word (those sent from one church to another) and not having to do with the title of apostle claimed by Paul and the eleven original disciples of Jesus.
There's a large part of me that thinks that "Christian" television networks (ahem: TBN and others) should run this text on the half-hour as a public service announcement, reminding those watching that the ones proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ are to preach Christ, they're not to be asking for stuff for themselves (you know, like "seed money"). Also, the ones proclaiming the gospel are the ones who hold to their own teaching and evidence their own teaching in their day-to-day actions.
The first line is interesting, mentioning "all these things mentioned before". The true teacher is to affirm the teaching of the Didachist; if a teacher brings contrary teaching, he is suspect.
The third verse, "Concerning apostles and prophets ... " is also worthy of (at least) brief discussion. As I read it, it is a preface to the guidelines that follow. The phrase "in this way act" looks forward to the prescriptions in the following text as they deal with apostles and prophets. The "ordinances of the gospel" are not specified though I'd guess they're in line with the general principles established in the following verses.
Also note that in verses 4 and 6, the text starts out specifying "apostles" who have arrived from a church/fellowship/community and who are sent out. These "apostles" (ones sent out) are to be considered "false prophets". It's interesting that they're not to be considered "false apostles" but "false prophets". These are basic guidelines for recieving someone sent by another church, or for those apostles sent out by a particular church as they're traveling.
So, what sorts of actions would lead a believer to consider an apostle or prophet to be a "false prophet"?
- If an 'apostle' remains for more than two days, he is a false prophet.
- If an 'apostle' accepts something besides food while traveling, he is a false prophet.
- If a 'prophet' speaks in a spirit in a manner not "of the Lord", he is false.
- If a 'prophet' requests a meal while in a spirit, and eats of that meal, he is false.
- If the teaching of a 'prophet' does not match his actions, he is false.
- If a 'prophet' requests money or valuables or some other thing for himself, he is false.
What about true apostles or prophets?
- If an apostle stays for a day, perhaps two, he is true.
- If an apostle only accepts food while traveling, he is true.
- If a prophet happens to order a meal while 'with a spirit' and does not eat of it, he is true.
There is a third option; where prophets are not to be judged positively or negatively:
- If an apostle or prophet's teaching jives with the Didachist's, he's in the clear.
- If a prophet says to give to those in need, he is not to be judged.
One major question I have after looking at this chapter has to do with how missionaries and mission organizations present themselves to individual believers and local bodies of believers (churches). I realize the Didache isn't scripture, but these warnings are sensible. How do we evaluate such presentations that, while detailing specific ministries and their impact, are really little but requests for funding? It really makes me think that I should be more aware of how much a given person or organization is about simply proclaiming the Lord, and not how much it is about helping social situations supposedly in the name of the Lord. This requires more thought ...
Next up: Didache 12