"The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles"
(Late first century)
Chapter 1. The Two
Ways and the First Commandment.
There are two ways, one of life and
one of death, but a great difference between the two ways. The way of life,
then, is this: First, you shall love God who made you; second, love your
neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to
you. And of these sayings the teaching is this: Bless those who curse you, and
pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For what reward is
there for loving those who love you? Do not the Gentiles do the same? But love
those who hate you, and you shall not have an enemy. Abstain from fleshly and
worldly lusts. If someone strikes your right cheek, turn to him the other also,
and you shall be perfect. If someone impresses you for one mile, go with him
two. If someone takes your cloak, give him also your coat. If someone takes from
you what is yours, ask it not back, for indeed you are not able. Give to every
one who asks you, and ask it not back; for the Father wills that to all should
be given of our own blessings (free gifts). Happy is he who gives according to
the commandment, for he is guiltless. Woe to him who receives; for if one
receives who has need, he is guiltless; but he who receives not having need
shall pay the penalty, why he received and for what. And coming into
confinement, he shall be examined concerning the things which he has done, and
he shall not escape from there until he pays back the last penny. And also
concerning this, it has been said, Let your alms sweat in your hands, until you
know to whom you should give.
Chapter 2. The Second Commandment: Grave Sin Forbidden.
And the second commandment of the
Teaching; You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall
not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you
shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not
murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born. You shall not covet the
things of your neighbor, you shall not swear, you shall not bear false witness,
you shall not speak evil, you shall bear no grudge. You shall not be
double-minded nor double-tongued, for to be double-tongued is a snare of death.
Your speech shall not be false, nor empty, but fulfilled by deed. You shall not
be covetous, nor rapacious, nor a hypocrite, nor evil disposed, nor haughty. You
shall not take evil counsel against your neighbor. You shall not hate any man;
but some you shall reprove, and concerning some you shall pray, and some you
shall love more than your own life.
Chapter 3. Other Sins Forbidden.
My child, flee from every evil thing,
and from every likeness of it. Be not prone to anger, for anger leads to murder.
Be neither jealous, nor quarrelsome, nor of hot temper, for out of all these
murders are engendered. My child, be not a lustful one. for lust leads to
fornication. Be neither a filthy talker, nor of lofty eye, for out of all these
adulteries are engendered. My child, be not an observer of omens, since it leads
to idolatry. Be neither an enchanter, nor an astrologer, nor a purifier, nor be
willing to took at these things, for out of all these idolatry is engendered. My
child, be not a liar, since a lie leads to theft. Be neither money-loving, nor
vainglorious, for out of all these thefts are engendered. My child, be not a
murmurer, since it leads the way to blasphemy. Be neither self-willed nor
evil-minded, for out of all these blasphemies are engendered.
Rather, be meek, since the meek shall inherit the earth. Be long-suffering and
pitiful and guileless and gentle and good and always trembling at the words
which you have heard. You shall not exalt yourself, nor give over-confidence to
your soul. Your soul shall not be joined with lofty ones, but with just and
lowly ones shall it have its intercourse. Accept whatever happens to you as
good, knowing that apart from God nothing comes to pass.
Chapter 4. Various Precepts.
My child, remember night and day him
who speaks the word of God to you, and honor him as you do the Lord. For
wherever the lordly rule is uttered, there is the Lord. And seek out day by day
the faces of the saints, in order that you may rest upon their words. Do not
long for division, but rather bring those who contend to peace. Judge
righteously, and do not respect persons in reproving for transgressions. You
shall not be undecided whether or not it shall be. Be not a stretcher forth of
the hands to receive and a drawer of them back to give. If you have anything,
through your hands you shall give ransom for your sins. Do not hesitate to give,
nor complain when you give; for you shall know who is the good repayer of the
hire. Do not turn away from him who is in want; rather, share all things with
your brother, and do not say that they are your own. For if you are partakers in
that which is immortal, how much more in things which are mortal? Do not remove
your hand from your son or daughter; rather, teach them the fear of God from
their youth. Do not enjoin anything in your bitterness upon your bondman or
maidservant, who hope in the same God, lest ever they shall fear not God who is
over both; for he comes not to call according to the outward appearance, but to
them whom the Spirit has prepared. And you bondmen shall be subject to your
masters as to a type of God, in modesty and fear. You shall hate all hypocrisy
and everything which is not pleasing to the Lord. Do not in any way forsake the
commandments of the Lord; but keep what you have received, neither adding
thereto nor taking away therefrom. In the church you shall acknowledge your
transgressions, and you shall not come near for your prayer with an evil
conscience. This is the way of life.
Chapter 5. The Way of Death.
And the way of death is this: First of
all it is evil and accursed: murders, adultery, lust, fornication, thefts,
idolatries, magic arts, witchcrafts, rape, false witness, hypocrisy,
double-heartedness, deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness,
filthy talking, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness; persecutors
of the good, hating truth, loving a lie, not knowing a reward for righteousness,
not cleaving to good nor to righteous judgment, watching not for that which is
good, but for that which is evil; from whom meekness and endurance are far,
loving vanities, pursuing revenge, not pitying a poor man, not laboring for the
afflicted, not knowing Him Who made them, murderers of children, destroyers of
the handiwork of God, turning away from him who is in want, afflicting him who
is distressed, advocates of the rich, lawless judges of the poor, utter sinners.
Be delivered, children, from all these.
Chapter 6. Against False Teachers, and Food Offered to
See that no one causes you to err from
this way of the Teaching, since apart from God it teaches you. For if you are
able to bear the entire yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect; but if you are
not able to do this, do what you are able. And concerning food, bear what you
are able; but against that which is sacrificed to idols be exceedingly careful;
for it is the service of dead gods.
Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism.
And concerning baptism, baptize this
way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no
living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water,
do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head
into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. 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.
Chapter 8. Fasting and Prayer (the Lord's Prayer).
But let not your fasts be with the
hypocrites, for they fast on the second and fifth day of the week. Rather, fast
on the fourth day and the Preparation (Friday). Do not pray like the hypocrites,
but rather as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, like this:
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in
heaven. Give us today our daily (needful) bread, and forgive us our debt as we
also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us
from the evil one (or, evil); for Thine is the power and the glory for ever.
Pray this three times each day.
Chapter 9. The Eucharist.
Now concerning the Eucharist, give
thanks this way. First, concerning the cup:
We thank thee, our Father, for the
holy vine of David Thy servant, which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy
Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever.
And concerning the broken bread:
We thank Thee, our Father, for the
life and knowledge which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to
Thee be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the
hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered
together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory
and the power through Jesus Christ for ever.
But let no one eat or drink of your
Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for
concerning this also the Lord has said, "Give not that which is holy to the
Chapter 10. Prayer after Communion.
But after you are filled, give thanks
We thank Thee, holy Father, for Thy
holy name which You didst cause to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the
knowledge and faith and immortality, which You modest known to us through
Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Thou, Master almighty, didst
create all things for Thy name's sake; Thou gavest food and drink to men for
enjoyment, that they might give thanks to Thee; but to us You didst freely
give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Thy Servant. Before all
things we thank Thee that You are mighty; to Thee be the glory for ever.
Remember, Lord, Thy Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect
in Thy love, and gather it from the four winds, sanctified for Thy kingdom
which Thou have prepared for it; for Thine is the power and the glory for
ever. Let grace come, and let this world pass away. Hosanna to the God of
David! If any one is holy, let him come; if any one is not so, let him repent.
But permit the prophets to make
thanksgiving as much as they desire.
Chapter 11. Concerning Teachers, Apostles, and
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.
Chapter 12. Reception of Christians.
But receive everyone who comes in the
name of the Lord, and prove and know him afterward; for you shall have
understanding right and left. If he who comes is a wayfarer, assist him as far
as you are able; but he shall not remain with you more than two or three days,
if need be. But if he wants to stay with you, and is an artisan, let him work
and eat. But if he has no trade, according to your understanding, see to it
that, as a Christian, he shall not live with you idle. But if he wills not to
do, he is a Christ-monger. Watch that you keep away from such.
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.
Chapter 14. Christian Assembly on the Lord's Day.
But every Lord's day gather yourselves
together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your
transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one who is at odds
with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your
sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord:
"In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great
King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations."
Chapter 15. Bishops and Deacons; Christian Reproof.
Appoint, therefore, for yourselves,
bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men meek, and not lovers of money, and
truthful and proved; for they also render to you the service of prophets and
teachers. Therefore do not despise them, for they are your honored ones,
together with the prophets and teachers. And reprove one another, not in anger,
but in peace, as you have it in the Gospel. But to anyone that acts amiss
against another, let no one speak, nor let him hear anything from you until he
repents. But your prayers and alms and all your deeds so do, as you have it in
the Gospel of our Lord.
Chapter 16. Watchfulness; the Coming of the Lord.
Watch for your life's sake. Let not
your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not
the hour in which our Lord will come. But come together often, seeking the
things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will
not profit you, if you are not made perfect in the last time. For in the last
days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be
turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; for when lawlessness
increases, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, and then shall
appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the
earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which
have never yet come to pass since the beginning. Then shall the creation of men
come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish;
but those who endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself.
And then shall appear the signs of the truth: first, the sign of an outspreading
in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet. And third, the
resurrection of the dead -- yet not of all, but as it is said: "The Lord
shall come and all His saints with Him." Then shall the world see the Lord
coming upon the clouds of heaven.