[This is part of a running series on the Didache. See the introductory post for more information — RWB]
1 Γρηγορεῖτε ὑπὲρ τῆς ζωῆς ὑμῶν·
Watch on behalf of your life:
οἱ λύχνοι ὑμῶν μὴ σβεσθήτωσαν,
that your lamps are not extinguished,
καὶ αἱ ὀσφύες ὑμῶν μὴ ἐκλυέσθωσαν,
and that your loins are not ungirded,
ἀλλὰ γίνεσθε ἕτοιμοι·
but be ready:
οὐ γὰρ οἴδατε τὴν ὥραν,
for you do not know the hour,
ἐν ᾗ ὁ κύριος ἡμῶν ἔρχεται.
in which our Lord comes.
2 πυκνῶς δὲ συναχθήσεσθε
Frequently be gathered together
ζητοῦντες τὰ ἀνήκοντα ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν·
seeking what your souls need:
οὐ γὰρ ὠφελήσει ὑμᾶς
For [it is] of no benefit to you,
ὁ πᾶς χρόνος τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν,
the full time of your faith,
ἐν τῷ ἐσχάτῳ καιρῷ
at the last time
you are found complete.
3 ἐν γὰρ ταῖς ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις
For in the last days
shall be multiplied
καὶ οἱ φθορεῖς,
καὶ στραφήσονται τὰ πρόβατα εἰς λύκους,
and the sheep will be turned into wolves,
και ἡ ἀγάπη στραφήσεται εἰς μῖσος.
and love will be turned into hate.
4 αὐξανούσης γὰρ τῆς ἀνομίας
For as lawlessness increases
they hate one another
καὶ διώξουσι καὶ παραδώσουσι.
and they will persecute and betray.
καὶ τότε φανήσεται ὁ κοσμοπλανὴς ὡς υἱὸς θεοῦ,
And then the deceiver of the world shall appear as the son of God,
καὶ ποιήσει σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα,
and he shall make signs and wonders,
καὶ ἡ γῆ παραδοθήσεται εἰς χεῖρας αὐτοῦ,
and the earth will be betrayed into his hands,
καὶ ποιήσει ἀθέμιτα,
and he shall do incessantly vile things
ἃ οὐδέποτε γέγονεν ἐξ αἰῶνος.
which never before have been since time began.
5 τότε ἥξει ἡ κτίσις τῶν ἀνθρώπων
Then the creation of mankind shall come
εἰς τὴν πύρωσιν τῆς δοκιμασίας,
into the burning ordeal of testing,
καὶ σκανδαλισθήσονται πολλοὶ καὶ ἀπολοῦνται,
And many will be led astray and destroyed,
οἱ δὲ ὑπομείναντες
but the ones persisting
ἐν τῇ πίστει αὐτῶν
in their faith
will be saved
ὑπ ̓ αὐτου τοῦ καταθέματος.
by the accursed one himself.
[that is, Christ—the one cursed by those led astray. RWB]
6 καὶ τότε φανήσεται τὰ σημεῖα τῆς ἀληθείας·
And then the signs of the truth shall appear:
Firstly a sign,
ἐκπετάσεως ἐν οὐρανῷ,
the opening of heaven,
the next sign,
the call of a trumpet,
καὶ τὸ τρίτον
and the third (sign),
resurrection of the dead.
7 οὐ πάντων δέ,
Not all (of the dead),
ἀλλ ̓ ὡς ἐρρέθη·
but as was said:
Ἥξει ὁ κύριος
"The Lord shall come
καὶ πάντες οἱ ἅγιοι μετ ̓ αὐτοῦ.
and all of the holy ones (shall come) with him".
8 τότε ὄψεται ὁ κόσμος τὸν κύριον ἐρχόμενον ἐπάνω τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ.
Then the world will see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.
There are several probable NT parallels in this text, particularly with Matthew 24. I won't rehearse all of those here, that's been done elsewhere. See Alan Garrow's Gospel of Matthew's Dependence on the Didache (amazon.com) and the companion book web site; see also Stephen C. Carlson's review of Garrow here and some notes from Mark Goodacre here. I think Garrow claims too much, but that the Didache contains some material also found in Matthew seems plainly evident.
What I will do, however, is look at this section in its larger context. The Didache warned about the way of life and the way of death, commending the way of life. The practice of a believer was set out; things like baptism, eucharist, prayer, hospitality to travelers and prophets and teachers, and leadership of the community have been discussed. After all personal and corporate issues of belief and practice have been highlighted, the Didache ends by looking forward to the days to come.
What will these days consist of? It's not a pretty picture. Things will get worse before they get better.
The most interesting thing I noticed, however, was the parallel between v. 4b and v. 6, with 5 in the midst of that. 4b has "the deceiver of the world" appearing as "the son of God". Verse 6 has "the signs of truth" appearing, with verse 5 summing up what will happen in between those two times. The same verb (which I've translated "appear") is used in both v. 4b and v. 6, which provides the parallel relationship between them.
The Didache ends with hope. As I wrote above, things will get worse before they get better. For the believers, though, things get better. Signs of the impending arrival of the Lord are made evident. A trumpet sounds and the dead (those of the Lord's) are raised. The Lord returns! (marana tha!) And all the world will see it.
Thanks to all who have suffered through these sporadic posts. At some point (hopefully sooner than later) I'll gather all of my translations, perhaps work over them a bit, and put up a version of the whole thing. That'll likely be in a PDF for easy download and printing without worrying about fonts and such. I'll blog when that's ready. Until then, the complete outline is in the series introductory post, so you can work through that if you'd like.
What's next? Well, I'll be delving into a bit of textual criticism. But I also have a hankerin' to eventually get into Second Clement (the first chapter of which I translated awhile back, and I briefly discussed third and fourth chapters here). So we'll see what happens.