The Didache, Lesson 9: The Way of Death

After describing the way of Life, the Didache moves on to chapter 5, which describes the way of death. 

5:1  In contrast, this is the way of death.  It is evil and fully cursed:

  • Murders, adulteries, lusts, sexual immoralities, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, sorceries, robberies, false accusations, hypocrisies, double-dealing, deceit, arrogance, malice, self-will, greediness, abusive language, jealousy, rashness, haughtiness, and boastfulness.

5:2   [It is the way of those who:]

  • Are persecutors of the good, hate the truth, love a lie, not knowing the wages of righteousness, not adhering to the good, without righteous judgment, are not for good but evil, are far from being gentle and patient, love what is empty, pursue retribution, do not show mercy to the poor, don’t toil for the one weighed down by toil, don’t know the one who made them, are murderers of children, are destroyers of what God has formed, turn away those in need, weigh down the oppressed with more toil, are unrighteous judges of the poor, and totally sinful.

May you [pl] be saved, O children, from all of these!

At first, this seems to be nothing but a long list of vices describing the way of death and those belonging to the way of death.  Here, the Didache is simply stating the truth in such biblical passages as 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and others.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

You know that wicked people will not inherit thekingdomofGod, don’t you?  Stop deceiving yourselves!  The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunks, slanderers, or robbers will not inherit thekingdomofGod.  And such were some of you!  But you were washed, you were made holy, you were made righteous in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

 Galatians 6:7-8:

Stop being deceived; God is not to be mocked.  A person reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to his flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; but the one who sows to the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

 Didache 5:1-2 is simply listing the traits of those who sow to the flesh. 

–          Tie in Didache 5:1-2 with Paul’s statement, “And such were some of you!”  What is Paul saying?  What is he not saying?


–          Paul says, “The one who sows to his flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; but the one who sows to the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”  How does one participate in these ways of sowing?


What Paul wrote to the Corinthians also applies to us. 

  • Titus 3:5: “[God our Savior] saved us, not because of righteous deeds we had done, but because of his mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”
  • 1 Peter 3:21: “Corresponding to that [Noah and his family being saved in the waters of the flood], baptism now saves you–not because it removes dirt from your body but because it is an appeal to God for a clean conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

–          What did Paul mean by “you were washed” in 1 Corinthians 6:11?


Hebrews 9:11-15a:

  • But Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come.  He went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that was not made by human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation.  He entered the holy of holies, once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, and secured our eternal redemption.  If the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer made those who had been defiled holy and clean, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?  This is why Christ is the mediator of a new covenant.

–          What did Paul mean by “you were made holy”?


Romans 5:1-2: “Therefore, since we have been made righteous through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him, we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

–          What did Paul mean by “you were made righteous”?


–          What then keeps us from being those belonging to the way of death, as described in Didache 5:2?


Didache 5:2: To Hate the truth

John 14:6: “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

–          To hate the truth, then is to hate ____________.


Didache 5:2: To Love a Lie

John 8:44: “[Jesus referring to the Devil:] ‘When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.’”

–          To love a lie then is to love _________________.


Didache 5:2: Not Knowing the Wages of Righteousness

Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Proverbs 10:16: “The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.”

–          Not knowing the wages of righteousness means not knowing _____________.  That means such a person is without ________________.


Didache 5:2: To Love What is Empty

Exodus 20:7 (a literal Hebrew translation): “Do not carry my name into the emptiness.”

–          To “love what is empty” goes beyond taking God’s name into the emptiness.  What does that mean?


What Didache 5:2 is doing is looking at one’s “fruits” and extrapolating backwards what type of tree is producing such fruit.  If the fruits are the fruits of unbelief, then the person producing them belongs to the way of death.  If the fruits are the fruits of faith, then the person producing them belongs to the way of Life. 


To go to Lesson 10, click here.