A couple more bloggers have written up the final chapter (“The End Is Nigh”) in The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community. They both point to modern apocalyptic media to elucidate the brief apocalypse at the end of the Didache.
Taking a mere 20 minutes to read aloud, the Didache is refreshingly simple. It is less about studying, and more about living. Less about preaching, and more about practicalities. And it leans away from Paul’s seeming perfectionism toward an ethical system that is much more manageable– ‘do the best you can‘ is a dictum that is mentioned more than once.
So when the Didache community considered the end of the story, and all of the apocalyptic prognostication that existed then (just as now), they were refreshingly truncated in their advice. Stay faithful. Be true. And (as Tony summarizes), God wins.
The real gem of beauty in this part of the Didache is the simple instruction to be ready. It is important for these young Christians to understand that indeed Christ will come again and at his coming there will be the resurrection of the dead and the judgment of all people and the praise of Jesus as Lord by all people. So make sure you are ready.
It would serve us well as the church to try and practice these simple words of eschatology more often in our instructions to our churches: be ready. Watch your lives, gird your loins, keep the lamps burning and be ready. There are no words of panic or predictions about how soon this will happen, there is just simple advice of what to watch for as these young Christians go about living out their faith.
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