In the previous post I shared a portion of the Didache on the theme of baptism. In this post, we turn to the Didache to see what it says about the Lord’s Supper.
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 the age. 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 you prepared for it--it, which has been made holy. For yours is the power and the glory for the age.”
This early writing is packed with interesting material on this ordinance. Here are a few things that grabbed my attention. First, the ordinance is described as “the thanksgiving” and as a “meal.” This places the Lord’s Supper in the context of gratitude and fellowship. This is an early argument for understanding the appropriate setting of the ordinance as a meal. Second, the language used to describe Jesus is unique. He is called “your boy” multiple times. This language paints a picture of intimate sonship. Third, the Didache refers to the cup as the “holy vine of your boy David.” This seems to draw on the OT background of the everlasting covenant with the Davidic King. This is a unique Old Testament background for understanding the Lord’s Supper.
The fourth observation can be summarized as the missiological impulse of the ordinance in the Didache. The text says, “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.” There has been much discussion about the purpose of the Lord’s Supper and the general conclusion has been that it is primarily for the edification of the church. This early document pushes the concern of the ordinance outward to the nations as well. Fifth, the Didache’s application of Matthew 7:6 to the ordinance is unique: “Do not give what is holy to dogs.” This was a way of fencing the table. The document also makes clear that baptism is the appropriate precursor to the table.
Any thoughts on this early document’s take on the Lord’s Supper?