The Pastoral Epistles in the Didache

[This post is part of a series on The Pastoral Epistles in the Apostolic Fathers. RWB]


The discussion of the Didache in The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers lists only one potential reference to the Pastoral Epistles. The reading has ‘d’ rating. This means the editors see some affinity between the two books in this instance, but no clear case for dependence can be made.


In this instance, one passage in the Didache is linked to three somewhat similar NT passages.


Did 13.1-2 || Matt 10.10; Lu 10.7; 1Ti 5.18



13.1 Πᾶς δὲ προφήτης ἀληθινός θέλων καθῆσθαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἄξιός ἐστιν τῆς τροφῆς αὐτοῦ. (2) ὡσαύτως διδάσκαλος ἀληθινός ἐστιν ἄξιος καὶ αὐτὸς, ὥσπερ ὁ ἐργάτης, τῆς τροφῆς αὐτοῦ. (Did 13.1-2)
13. But every genuine prophet who wishes to settle among you “is worthy of his food.” (2) Likewise, every genuine teacher is, like “the worker, worthy of his food.” (Did 13.1-2)
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (266, 267). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


10 μὴ πήραν εἰς ὁδὸν μηδὲ δύο χιτῶνας μηδὲ ὑποδήματα μηδὲ ῥάβδον· ἄξιος γὰρ ὁ ἐργάτης τῆς τροφῆς αὐτοῦ. (Mt 10.10, NA27)
10 no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. (Mt 10.10, ESV)
7 ἐν αὐτῇ δὲ τῇ οἰκίᾳ μένετε ἐσθίοντες καὶ πίνοντες τὰ παρʼ αὐτῶν· ἄξιος γὰρ ὁ ἐργάτης τοῦ μισθοῦ αὐτοῦ. μὴ μεταβαίνετε ἐξ οἰκίας εἰς οἰκίαν. (Lu 10.7, NA27)
7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. (Lu 10.7, ESV)
18 λέγει γὰρ ἡ γραφή· βοῦν ἀλοῶντα οὐ φιμώσεις, καί· ἄξιος ὁ ἐργάτης τοῦ μισθοῦ αὐτοῦ. (1Ti 5.18, NA27)
18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle a threshing ox” and “The worker is worthy of his wages.” (1Ti 5.18, my own translation)


The Didache text is most like that of Matthew, with “food” (τροφή) the common point. The NT instances of the phrase vary between τροφή (“food”, Mt) and μισθός (“wages”, Lu/1Ti).* Given the Didache’s strong affinity with Mt in other areas, it seems best to consider the primary linkage that of Matthew.


However, the First Timothy reference is interesting because of its use of the citation formula, λέγει γὰρ ἡ γραφή (“For the Scripture says”). This is interesting because the citation formula is typically used to refer to LXX/Hebrew Bible citations. But it doesn’t appear that the quoted text (“The worker is worthy of his wages”) appears in that form in the OT,** at least based on quick keyword searches and examination of cross-references. The previous quote (“You shall not muzzle a threshing ox”) does occur in the OT (De 25.4; though 1Co 9.9 also quotes the same text).


But the quoted wisdom saying does occur in Matthew and Luke, in the words of Jesus. This means there are two possibilities. Either 1Ti 5.18 is quoting Jesus (and perhaps even Paul!) as Scripture (what does that mean for 2Ti 3.16?) or 1Ti 5.18 is quoting a commonly known bit of wisdom as Scripture. Sort of like one at times catches a Shakespearean proverb attributed to the Bible. The underlying sentiment is there, but the form is not found in the attributed source.


Of course, a third possibility (though this is nit-picking and I don’t think it probable) is that the ‘scripture’ is the first saying, and the second saying is merely tacked on the end as extra information and not intended to be a quotation of Scripture. This seems improbable because of the continuative/connective nature of καί. The sayings are connected, it is logical to assume that the introduction applies to both. After all, if the introduction were instead something like, “you have heard it said [saying] καί [saying]”, we’d have no problem with the linkage of the sayings.


Whatever is going on in 1Ti 5.18, the Didache likely knew nothing of it; if anything it is better to attribute influence to Matthew.


Next up: First Clement




* Again, Luke and 1Ti sharing phrasing and perhaps a source saying. Maybe there is something to the thought of a Lukan influence on the Pastorals …


** I recently examined the use of the quotation formula in James 4.5 on the Logos Bible Software blog. James 4.5 is somewhat similar because the formula is used to introduce a quotation that doesn’t exist in the LXX/Hebrew Bible, but rather a summation of Scripture’s teaching in an area.