Didache on Baptism and Eucharist

Being between Catholicism and Protestantism, I have been reading some early writings.

Two questions/observations:

Baptism - in the Didache, the process for baptism does not seem adapted for infants at all, suggesting to me the early church did not do infant baptism.

Eucharist - very clear the early church observed the Eucharist, and regularly. The process for partaking does not indicate a priest necessary to partake.

Any insight and thoughts please.

The “Early” Church baptized whole families.
The certainly would have Baptized infants.

One ought not take the Didache as some kind of “complete manual”.

It is what it is …and not more.

Interesting site regarding early Christains: earlychristians.org/index.php/life

Remember that the Didache is a catechism, and thus meant for those who are already past the age of reason, and having heard the Gospel, possibly from an Apostle himself or someone else, have decided to become Christian.

The Didache also speaks of prayers after Communion. Obviously an infant cannot pray. :shrug:

At that time, with Christianity being quite new, Adult Baptism was far more common. But that doesn’t mean that infant Baptism did not exist.

The Didache was used as formation for adult converts. Hence, no mention of infant baptism. It’s as simple as that. The Church still does such formation, it’s called Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) in the USA. Children under the age of reason are baptized, but children over the age of reason go through their own formation geared to their age, RCIC, then they are baptized.

Eucharist - very clear the early church observed the Eucharist, and regularly. The process for partaking does not indicate a priest necessary to partake.

Any insight and thoughts please.

Since there is no Eucharist without a priest to confect it, it’s not an issue. Absence of mention isn’t proof of anything.

After the Didache, try the letters of Ignatius of Antioch. He made it quite clear that the bishop administers a proper Eucharist

It’s a very small document overall

Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe; he who leads to the laver the person that is to be washed calling him by this name alone. ( chap. 61First Apology,)

Personally, I find Justin Martyr’s remarks, above, from about the year 155, about baptism and “children of choice and knowledge” much harder to reconcile with the practice of infant baptism but even he does not say infants who will be brought up by Christian parents in good habits and righteous training can’t be baptized.

Whatever you think the Didache seems to suggest about baptism and the Eucharist, I recommend that you concentrate on what is actually said.


It also doesn’t say that 2+5=7. Doesn’t mean it isn’t so.

You can’t rely on a single source, so keep reading. I suggest you start with my blog article, The Case For Infant Baptism

Eucharist - very clear the early church observed the Eucharist, and regularly. The process for partaking does not indicate a priest necessary to partake.

Any insight and thoughts please.

Again, you need to do all your homework. :slight_smile: I suggest that you look at What Was Authentic Early Christian Worship Really Like? and The Eucharist IS Scriptural with especial attention to the writings of Ignatius of Antioch.

Take care my friend.

I love the Didache - it shows the very beginnings of the Christian community. Sometimes, though, we want our current way of doing Church to be traced back to the very beginnings - unchanged. Christianity has changed dramatically and there is reason to celebrate that. We grow in God’s Spirit.

Baptisms, agape meals, living in common… it’s all part of our heritage.

The Didache doesn’t spell out everything. It is a relatively brief document. In regards to the Eucharist, we have another very powerful witness to the necessity of a priest presiding in St. Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Apostle John. Around the year 107 he wrote:

Chapter 7. Let us stand aloof from such heretics

They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes. But it were better for them to treat it with respect, that they also might rise again. It is fitting, therefore, that you should keep aloof from such persons, and not to speak of them either in private or in public, but to give heed to the prophets, and above all, to the Gospel, in which the passion [of Christ] has been revealed to us, and the resurrection has been fully proved. But avoid all divisions, as the beginning of evils.

Chapter 8. Let nothing be done without the bishop

See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

You want an infant baptism? Read the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, who not only was a disciple of John, but most scholars think he was also baptized by John. What he said at his martyrdom should remove doubt about infant baptism.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.