Didache- The Sunday Gathering

Didache 14

The Apostles or Apostolic Fathers deal with the worship gathering’s place in Christian life so that new Christians and young churches can know. Part of the local church’s organization means meeting once a week, particularly on Sunday, for the purpose of observing the eucharist (the Lord’s Supper or Communion), confession of our sins to one another, and giving thanks to God in worship. No qualifications are made. There is a weekly meeting. All Christians are instructed to be a part of the gathering Christian community, especially during this weekly meeting. During each weekly meeting there is sound teaching (Chapter 11). Sound teaching holds the preeminent position during the weekly church gathering. During each weekly meeting, all Christians are also instructed to confess their sins, observe the eucharist, and give thanks to God. Confession precedes worship so that the Christian’s heart might be prepared to humbly approach God’s throne of grace and mercy. The eucharist and giving thanks are seen as necessary components of the weekly gathering. Without them, we are missing something in worship.

Worship is so serious that Christians are instructed to be sure that they are reconciled to their brothers whenever there needs to be reconciliation. If they refuse reconciliation, they are to be shunned by the community of faith because they are not acting with love toward their family in Christ. We do not desire our sacrifices to be defiled by hatred or disdain. This does not necessitate a solemn assembly, but does highlight the importance of our worship. It is not entertainment. We don’t come merely to get from God. We gather to confess our sins, fellowship with Christ’s body in Christ through the meal, and give ourselves to God in sacrificial praise.

Didache 15

The First Century church leaders close this section of the Didache by prescribing church leaders and church discipline. They instruct each local church to appoint bishops (elders or pastors) other than the prophets and teachers (Chapter 11). Local churches are also to appoint deacons, or official servants to the church body (Acts 6). Those leaders, elders and deacons, are to meet the qualification in 1 Timothy 3. It seems neither the Apostles nor Apostolic Fathers structured a presbytery, but instructed each local church to do this work. So, we see local church autonomy as early as the First Century under the Apostles’ leadership and instruction. The Apostles or Apostolic Fathers explain, again, that the church body should not hold her church leaders in contempt but give them the freedom to lead.

Concerning church discipline, the Apostles or Apostolic Fathers encourage local church members to reprove one another if anyone sins against his neighbor and to follow the process in Matthew 18. The Christian’s primary focus, though, is not to be on the faults of his or her neighbor. We are to be focused on our own relationships with Christ—honoring Him with our lives, worship, and participation as a member of His church.

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