Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Didache on paying prophets and apostles

I've read this a few times, and I don't understand it... I really don't know what to make of it.

2 Chapters from the Didache, or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles 50 - 120 A.D.

Chapter 11. Concerning Teachers, Apostles, and Prophets. Whosoever, therefore, comes and teaches you all these things that have been said before, receive him. But if the teacher himself turns and teaches another doctrine to the destruction of this, hear him not. But if he teaches so as to increase righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord. But concerning the apostles and prophets, act according to the decree of the Gospel. Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain more than one day; or two days, if there's a need. But if he remains three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread until he lodges. If he asks for money, he is a false prophet. And every prophet who speaks in the Spirit you shall neither try nor judge; for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven. But not every one who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; but only if he holds the ways of the Lord. Therefore from their ways shall the false prophet and the prophet be known. And every prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit does not eat it, unless he is indeed a false prophet. And every prophet who teaches the truth, but does not do what he teaches, is a false prophet. And every prophet, proved true, working unto the mystery of the Church in the world, yet not teaching others to do what he himself does, shall not be judged among you, for with God he has his judgment; for so did also the ancient prophets. But whoever says in the Spirit, Give me money, or something else, you shall not listen to him. But if he tells you to give for others' sake who are in need, let no one judge him.
Some teachings from this chapter:
  • prophets/apostles should not stay longer than a couple of days
  • prophets/apostles should not ask for money
  • prophets/apostles should not ask for food
  • I'm assuming they would stay in someone's home, and would be fed, and sent on their way with enough food to get to the next town
  • It would be OK for a prophet/apostle to ask people to give food/money to others in need

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.
But then this chapter:
  • prophets can live among a community longer
  • prophets who live with a community should be supported with food and money
  • prophets are like our high priests (?? How are prophets like our high priests? Isn't Jesus our High Priest, and we are all part of a royal priesthood?)
So I'm left with questions...

These two chapters seem to have some contradictory teachings.

Am I missing something?

Is it possible these two chapters were written by different people in different time periods and put together?

The Didache was not included in most canons, so I understand most Christ followers consider it to be a lesser authority at best. For example I'm not sure how many practices this:
"But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before. "
So does any of this apply?

What characteristics marked prophets, apostles and teachers in the early church? Who are the prophets, apostles and teachers among us? Is there a difference between the role of prophet, apostle and a teacher in our assemblies? Does chapter 11 or 13 apply?

I'm not sure, what do you think?


Tara Jenkins said...

Jon, though I am not a biblical scholar by any means I am well studied, however of the Bible itself, and not of the apocrapha, or other writings of biblical nature of the time as much. I Know that most were written sometime after the disciples, and many a hundred years or more past-which makes them less credible. Ok that being said- I will explain it this way- as ironicly enough I fell upon this in my own personal studies in searching for payment for prophets, lol. ( a misquoted thing , I am pondering on) This, is actually a study I find very interesting, new prophets, or self proclaimed ones anyway, have a tendency to barter prophecy for pay- not at all like the old testiment prophets and the prophets of Jesus time were. Take for example John the baptist, interesting guy John, he grew up in your average home, with devout jewish parents, he was not poor, in that stance, so it is interesting that he runs amuck, eating locust and wearing animal skins, while his friends , neighbors and family, have cloaks and tunics and sandals, john is pretty much an odd ball even in his society, and one has to wonder why he would wear stuff most chose not to- well, not because he couldn't afford decent garments, in the Word it says why actually, it says prophets wore skins. So john , might have seemed an oddball, but he wasn't pushed away as an outcast. And even the chica who wanted his head on a platter came under argument from her father, because dad knew the guy was a prophet. Not somebody he wanted to mess with. So, where am I going with this- prophets for pay, not so much, john lived on locusts and honey, is essence he lived off the land. His examples of past prophets, men like Elijah and such, were pretty much land folk to, maybe not grasshopper eaters, but pretty much what they got from the charities of others. So is that pay? depends on how you look at it, in Bible times, people, strangers, were welcomed into one anothers homes( tents and caves to) without a second thought, it was considered hospitality, they were not quick visits always either, some folks stayed months, they ate drank and did chores together, which was not by any means abnormal. In Israel and arab communities today where nomadic( tent dwelling folk) roam, it is still that way to this day. So to pay or not to pay, well that is the question isnt it, answer- not to pay. Well, you have to understand the one time a prophet is known to have received, ( vicareously anyway)pay, it was through a servant, and that underhandidly, the servant went back to a man the prophet had spoken to, after the prophet had left ( payless mind you) and lied, telling the man, that his master, would like a couple sets of clothes and some silver. Untrue, and it did not go over well when it was found out. Prophets only pay in the time of the Lord, was provisional, open hearts, open fridges, maybe some jingle jangle for the needy, that's it. As I have read it so far, there was noone getting rich in Bible times, off of prayers, or prophecy.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Tara, I'm no expert on this either. But what you have said here seems to make sense. I haven't come across an example in the early church of a prophet, or any clergy for that matter, earning a decent living for their speeches.