The Didache was one of the earliest documents
written in the Catholic Church, written before A.D. 80. See
highlighted section below that has a direct teaching against abortion.
Translated from the Greek text published
by Roswell D. Hitchcock in 1884.
TEACHING OF THE LORD TO THE NATIONS THROUGH THE
Two ways there are, one of life and one of death, but
there is a great difference between the two ways.
The way of life is indeed this: First, you will love the
God who made you; secondly, "you will love your neighbor as
yourself." Now all the things that you do not want to have happen
to you, you too do not do these to one another.
Now the teaching of these sayings is this: "Praise those
who curse you", and pray for your enemies; now fast for those who are
persecuting you. For what favor is it if you love those who love you?
Don't the gentiles do the same? But you love those who hate you, and you
will have no enemies.
"Hold yourself away from the fleshly" and kosmic "strong
desires." "If someone should give you a blow to your right cheek, turn to
him also the left one," and you will be complete. "If anyone should force
you to go one mile, go with him two." "If anyone takes your cloak, give
him your tunic also." If anyone takes what is yours away from you, do not
ask for it back. For neither are you able. "Give to everyone who asks from
you," and do not ask for it back. For the Father wants to give of his own
free gifts to everyone.
Blessed is the one who gives according to the precept,
for he is guiltless. Woe to the one who takes. For if indeed someone takes
who has a need, he will be guiltless. But the one who has no need will
give a judgment as to why he took, and for what reason, and he will
come under arrest and will be examined about what he did. And "he will not
go out from there until he pays the last quadrans." But it has also been
said about this: "Let your charitable gifts sweat in your hands, until
indeed you know who to give to."
Now the second
precept of the teaching is: " You will not murder. You will not
commit adultery." You will not sodomize young boys. You will not
have unlawful sex. " You will not steal." Do not practice
magic. Do not practice sorcery.
Neither murder a child by
abortion, nor will you destroy what is born.
You will not strongly desire your neighbor's things. You will not make
oaths. " You will not bear false testimony." You will not
say bad things. You will not remember bad things. You will not be
double-minded or double-tongued, for the double-tongue is a snare of
death. Your message is not to be false or empty, but being filled with
practice. You should be neither greedy nor a swindler, nor hypocrite, nor
malicious, nor high-minded. You will not take evil counsel against your
neighbor. You will not hate any people, but you will reprove some, and you
will pray for some, and some you will love more than your life.
My child, flee from every evil thing, and from
everything like it. Do not become angry, for anger is the way to murder.
Neither should you be jealous, nor one who creates strife, nor
emotional. For murders are born out of all of these.
My child, do not become strongly desirous, for strong
desire is the way to sexual sin. Neither should you be a speaker of filth,
nor high-eyed. For adulteries are born out of all of these.
My child, do not become someone who looks for omens,
since it is the way to idolatry. Neither should you be an enchanter, nor
an astrologer, nor a cleanser. Nor should you want to look at these
things, for idolatry is born out of all of these things.
My child, do not become a liar, since lying is the way
to theft. Neither should you be greedy, nor a lover of money, nor
worthlessly conceited. For thefts are born out of all of these things. My
child, do not become a grumbler, since it leads to evil speaking. Neither
should you be assumers, nor evil-minded. For evil-speakings are born out
of all of these.
But be meek, since "the meek will inherit the land."
Become longsuffering, and merciful, and guiltless, and quiet, and good,
and throughout everything tremble at the sayings that you have heard.
You will not exalt yourself, nor will you give
over-boldness to your soul. Your soul will not cling with the high
people, but you will conduct yourself with the just and lowly ones. Accept
the things that transpire to you as good workings, knowing that nothing
happens without God.
My child, remember night and day the one who is speaking
God's message to you. Now you will honor him as you would honor the
Lord. For where the lordship may be spoken, there is the Lord. Now daily
you will seek out the faces of the holy ones, so that you would be
refreshed by their words. You will not want division, but you will make
peace with those who are fighting. You will judge justly. In giving a
reproof of a wandering, you will not respect anyone's presence. You
will not be two souled regarding whether or not it should be. Do not
become like one who stretches out his hands for taking but who
draws them in for giving. If you have, you will give by your hands a
ransom for your sins. You will not hesitate to give, nor will you grumble
while giving. For you will know who it is that is the nice payer of the
reward. You will not turn away the one who is needy, but you will share
all things together with your brother, and you will not claim them to be
your own things. For if you are partners in what is immortal, how much
more are you partners in what is mortal?
You will not take your hand away from your son or your
daughter, but from youth you will teach the fear of God. You will not give
directives in your bitterness to your slave or handmaid, these who are
hoping in the same God. Otherwise they may not fear the God who is over
both of you. For he is not coming to call people according to
appearance, but upon those whom the spirit has made ready. Now you who
are slaves should be submissive to your lords in sobriety and fear, as to
a type of God.
You will hate every hypocrisy and all of what is not
pleasing to the Lord. You will by no means forsake the Lord's precepts,
but you will guard what you have received--neither adding to them nor
removing from them. You will acknowledge your wanderings in an
assembly, and you will not come forward to your prayer with an evil
consciousness. This is the way of life.
Now the way of death is this: First of all, it is evil
and full of curses: murders, adulteries, strong desires, unlawful sex
acts, thefts, idolatries, magic acts, sorceries, robberies, false
testimonies, hypocrisies, two-heartedness, deceit, arrogance, badness,
assumptions, greed, shameful speech, jealousy, an overbearing nature,
loftiness, pride; persecutors of good; hating truth, loving falsehood; not
knowing the reward of what is right, not clinging to good, nor to just
judgment, watching not for good but for evil. Far from these people
are meekness and endurance. They love worthless things, persuing
revenge, not showing mercy to a poor person, not laboring for those who
are weary, not knowing the one who made them, murderers of children,
corrupters of molded image of God, turning away those who are in
need,oppressing the afflicted; comforters of the wealthy, lawless judges
of the poor; universal sinners. Children, may you be rescued from all of
See to it that no one lead you astray from this way of
the teaching, since it does not teach you without God. For if indeed you
are able to bear the whole of the Lord's yoke, you will be complete. But
if you are not able, do what you are able.
Now about food: bear what you are able to bear. But
watch out for the idol-sacrifices, for this is a religious service of dead
Now about baptism, baptize this way: after first
uttering all of these things, baptize "into the name of the Father and of
the son and of the holy Spirit" in running water. But if you do not have
running water, baptize in other water. Now if you are not able to do so
in cold water, do it in warm water. Now if you don't have either,
pour water three times on the head, "into the name of the Father, and of
the son, and of the holy Spirit." Now before the ritual cleansing, the
baptizer and the one being baptized should fast, and any others who are
able. Now you will give word for the one who is being baptized to fast for
one or two days beforehand.
But do not let your fasts be with the hypocrites. For
they fast on the second day of the week and on the fifth. But you fast on
the fourth day and the day of preparation. Neither should you pray like
the hypocrites, but as the Lord gave word in his good message, pray like
this: "Our Father, the one who is in Heaven, your name has been made holy.
Let your kingdom come. Let what you want also be done on earth, as in
Heaven. Give us the bread we need today and forgive us our debts as we
also forgive our debtors. And don't carry us into trial, but rescue us
from the evil one. For yours is the power and the glory for the age." Pray
this way three times daily.
Now about the thanksgiving, give thanks this way:
First, about the cup: "We thank you, our Father, for the
holy vine of your boy David which you made known to us through your boy
Jesus. Glory be to you for the age.
Now about the broken loaf: "We thank you, our
Father, for the life and the knowledge that you made known to us through
your boy Jesus. Glory be to you for the age. Just as this broken loaf
was scattered on top of the hills and as it was gathered together and
became one, in the same way let your assembly be gathered together from
the remotest parts of the land into your kingdom. "For yours is the glory
and the power through Anointed Jesus for the age." Now no one should
either eat or drink from your thanksgiving meal, but those who have been
baptized into the Lord's name. For about this also the Lord said, "Do not
give what is holy to the dogs."
Now after you have been filled, give thanks this way:
"We thank you, holy Father, for your holy name, which you made to live in
our hearts, and for the knowledge and trust and immortality which you made
known to us through Jesus your boy. Glory be to you for the age.
"Almighty master, it was you who created all for the
sake of your name. You gave both food and drink to people for enjoyment,
so that they might give thanks to you. But to us you have freely given
spiritual food and drink and eternal life through your boy. Before all
things, we are thankful to you that you are powerful. Glory be to you for
"O Lord, remember your assembly, remember to
rescue it from every evil and to make it complete in your love, and to
gather it from the four winds into your kingdom which youprepared for it--it,
which has been made holy. For yours is the power and the glory for the
"Let generosity come, and let this universe pass away.
Hosanna to David's son! If someone is holy, let him come. If someone is
not, he should change his mind. Marana-tha. A-mein." Now permit the
prophets to give thanks as much as they want.
Therefore, the one who comes and teaches you all of
these things which have been previously spoken, accept him. But if he, the
teacher, should turn to teach another teaching, so as to release this
one, do not listen to him. But if he teaches to promote what is
right and knowledge of the Lord, accept him as you would the Lord.
Now about the envoys and prophets, do just as according
to the tenet of the good message. Now each envoy who comes to you, accept
as you would the Lord. But he will not remain for one day. Now if
there is need, also the next day. But if he remains for three, he
is a false prophet.
Now when the envoy departs, he should take nothing
except bread until he lodges. But if he should ask for money, he is a
And every prophet who speaks with the spirit, you will
not test or judge, for every sin will be forgiven. But not everyone who
speaks with the spirit is a prophet: but if he has the conduct of the
Lord. Therefore, from their conduct, the false prophet and the
prophet will be made known. And no prophet with the spirit who orders a
meal eats from it, unless indeed he is a false prophet. Now every prophet
who teaches the truth, if he does not do as he teaches, is a false
prophet. But every prophet who has been proved, who is true, who does
things for the kosmic secrets of the assembly but who does not teach to do
as he does, will not be judged among you. For the ancient prophets did it
this way also. But whoever says with the spirit, "Give me money (or
something else)," you will not listen to him. But if he says to give on
behalf of others who are in need, no one should judge him.
Now everyone who comes in the Lord's name should be
accepted. But afterward, you will examine him to know him. For you will
have understanding, right and left. If the one who comes is a traveller,
help him as much as you are able. But he will not remain with you except
for two or three days, if there is a necessity. But if he wants to dwell
with you, since he is a craftsman, he should work to eat. But if he has no
craft, provide according to your understanding, so that no lazy person
would be lifing among you as an "Anointed". But if he does not want
to do this, he is one who profits financially from the Anointed One. Be
careful about such people.
Now every true prophet who wants to settle near you is
worthy of his wage. In the same way, a true teacher is also worthy, just
as the workman, of his wage. Therefore, every foremost part of the
products of the press and threshing floor, both of oxen and of sheep, you
will take and give to the prophets. For they are your high priests.
But if you do not have a prophet, give these to
the poor. If you make baked bread, take the foremost part and give
according to the precept. In the same way, when you open a jar of wine or
of oil, take the foremost part and give to the prophets. Now of money and
clothing and every possession, take the foremost part as you think it
right and give according to the precept.
Now according to the Lord's day, gather together
and break bread and give thanks, after acknowledging your wanderings to
one another, so your sacrifice would be a clean one. But each one who
has something against his friend, do not let him come together with you
until they are reconciled, so that your sacrifice would not be made
common. For this is what was declared by the Lord: " In every place
and time, carry to me a clean sacrifice. Because I am a great king,"
says Yahweh, " and my name is a wondrous thing among the nations."
Now hand pick for yourselves overseers and servants
worthy of the Lord: men who are meek, not lovers of money, true and
proved. For they are giving religious service to you also, as the prophets
and teachers are giving religious service.
Now reprove one another, not in anger but in peace, as
you have it in the good message. And no one should speak to each one who
misses the mark against another one, nor should he hear from you, until he
changes his mind. But your vows and your charitable works and all your
practices, do these, as you have it in the good message of our Lord.
Be vigilant on behalf of your life. Do not let your
lamps be extinguished, and do not relax your loins. But become prepared.
For you do not know the hour in which our Lord is coming. Now you will
gather together often, seeking the things that are appropriate for your
souls. For all the time of your trust will not profit you, if you do not
become complete in the last season.
For in the last days, the false prophets and the
corruptors will be multiplied, and the sheep will be turned into wolves,
and love will be turned into hate. For when the lawlessness increases,
they will hate one another, and they will persecute and deliver up, and
then the deceiver of creation will appear as God's son, and he will do
signs and wonders. And the land will be given up into his hands. And he
will do lawless things which have never been done from the age.
Then human creation will come into the fire of
examination, and many will stumble and be destroyed. But those who endure
in their trust will be saved from this accursed thing. And then the signs
of truth will appear. First, the sign of an opening in Heaven, then the
sign of a trumpet's sound, and thirdly, a resurrection of dead people. But
not of all people; on the contrary, as it was declared, "The Lord will
come, and all the holy ones with him." Then creation will see the Lord
"coming on the clouds of the sky."