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.

“Women as Gossips and Busybodies: Another Look at 1 Timothy 5:13”

This is the title of my paper which has just been accepted for the Disputed Paulines Consultation at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in November 2007.  The abstract of the paper is below and no doubt I shall be musing on this here as my thoughts develop.

Nearly all English translations translate the
flu&aroi kai\
in 1 Tim 5:13 as “gossips and
busybodies” (ESV, GNT, NAB, NIV, NKJV and NRSV, for example), and the
concluding phrase
ta_ mh_ de/onta
as some variation of “saying what they should not
say”.  This paper revisits the suggestion
by Spicq, Hanson, Kelly and others in their commentaries on this passage that the
former phrase has to do with working magic and the latter with the actual
formulae used.  I argue that the phrase
“gossips and busybodies” has, therefore, been consistently mistranslated and
that the apparent misogyny of this passage has to be seen in the context of
very real opposition arising from what the writer views as false teaching and
magical practices within the community.

First Timothy 5.3-6.2: Honoring Means What?

This whole passage has been in the back of my mind for some time. In it are the following three premises:

  • Honor widows who are truly widows ($esv(1Ti 5.3-16))
  • Double honor for elders who “lead well” ($esv(1Ti 5.17-25)); those in error are to be corrected
  • Slaves are to honor their masters ($esv(1Ti 6.1-2))

Sure, that’s all fine and dandy — until you ask the question, “What does it mean to honor?” In the case of widows and elders, the text makes it fairly clear this means taking care of them materially. Widows are to be provided for, and elders who rule well are to be doubly provided for (5.18, with its OT quotes, makes this fairly plain).

And slaves are to “honor” their masters. But surely this doesn’t mean that slaves are to provide materially for their masters, does it? What really does 6.1-2 say?

1 All who are under a yoke as slaves, let them consider their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and our teaching might not be maligned. 2 But those having believers as masters must not be disrespectful because they are brothers, rather they must serve more, because the ones who benefit from their good work are believers and beloved. (my own translation)

This all comes down to “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” which, as some of my co-workers will tell you, pervades my very being. I suppose my basic problem is that the same terminology is used for “honor” throughout the passage whether it is discussing widows, elders or slaves/masters. But in context it doesn’t mean exactly the same thing in each instance, even though all three exist in close succession and in an overall similar context. But can it mean such different things in such close succession? Why wouldn’t the third instance of “honor” carry similar meaning to the first two?

Is the difference because the “honor” explained in detail in the first two (widows/elders), and left unmodified/specified in the last? That is, the method of honor itself is not fully explicated, though the effects of having the honor are?

(gotta go, but that sums up my basic thoughts as I’ve mulled over this text for the past months) 

Update (2007-03-08): Of course, if slaves submit to their masters and do what they are told, then the master will benefit materially (assuming the master is acting in his own interest and has some sensibility … perhaps too much to assume?). The end of 6.2 alludes to this, ” …  the ones who benefit [masters] from [the slaves’] good work are believers and beloved”. And by “serving more” if their master is Christian, then the master benefits more. So maybe there is some sort of connection with material gain here?

Updates and News

As you’ve likely noticed, there have been several changes here at

The biggest change is that there is now more than one blogger. In addition to Rick Brannan (yours truly), Perry L. Stepp, Lloyd Pietersen and Ray Van Neste have agreed to begin posting to

Perry is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Kentucky Christian University. He’s recently had a book published by the Sheffield Phoenix Press, Leadership Succession in the World of the Pauline Circle. He’s also presented papers at SBL in the Disputed Paulines group. It’s great to have him aboard.

There will likely be at least one more blogger added to the team; more information on that in a future post.

Lloyd is a Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies  at the University of Bristol. Here’s some further information on Dr. Pietersen from his web site:

Dr Lloyd Pietersen obtained his PhD from the University of Sheffield. His thesis has been published as The Polemic of the Pastorals: A Sociological Examination of the Development of Pauline Christianity (JSNTSup 264; London/New York: T & T Clark International, 2004). He is currently a Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Bristol and is co-chair of the Social World of the New Testament Seminar at the British New Testament Conference.

Ray is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies and Director of the R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union University. He is also author of Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles (JSNTSup 280; Lonon/New York: T&T Clark International, 2004). And he has his own personal blog too.

What is this site all about, then?

Well, it’s about the Pastoral Epistles. Folks who blog here have a more-than-average interest in the Pastorals. We’ll blog about stuff like:

  • Quick reviews of books, articles, chapters, etc. that we read that have to do with the Pastorals. The same book or article may be discussed by multiple authors on the site.
  • Extended reviews.
  • Reviews of or interaction with conference presentations or papers.
  • Interaction with other web sites, blog posts, etc. that mention things that primarily or tangentially refer to the Pastoral Epistles.
  • Thoughts, musings and whatnot. We’ll feel free to use the blog as a scratch pad of sorts as we think through topics or exegetical points having to do with the Pastoral Epistles.
  • Whatever else seems interesting to us, as long as we can relate it back to the Pastorals.

If you’re familiar with the older site, it is still available at Content may or may not migrate over to the new site.

Anyway, thanks for your support of the site. Please bear with us while we get the place set up. And please do update your RSS / Feed reader links. The new link is You can use this in any feedreader/aggregator or online tool such as BlogLines.

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