Didache 4:6


5 Don't be someone who is eager to receive but reluctant to give. 6 Give a portion of what you've earned with your hands as a ransom for your sins. 7 Don't hesitate to give, nor complain when you do, for you'll know who rewards you well. 8 Don't turn away those in need, but share everything with your family, and don't claim it as your own. If you share in what is eternal, how much more should you share in what is perishable?

Bava Batra 10a

Babylonian Talmud

It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda says: Great is charity in that it advances the redemption, as it is stated: “So said the Lord, uphold justice and do charity, for My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed” (Isaiah 56:1). He would say: Ten strong entities were created in the world, one stronger than the other. A mountain is strong, but iron, which is stronger, cleaves it. Iron is strong, but fire melts it. Fire is strong, but water extinguishes it. Water is strong, but clouds bear it. Clouds are strong, but wind disperses them. Wind is strong, but the human body withstands it. The human body is strong, but fear breaks it. Fear is strong, but wine dispels it. Wine is strong, but sleep drives it off. And death is stronger than them all, but charity saves a person from death, as it is written: “And charity delivers from death” (Proverbs 10:2, 11:4).

 Notes and References

"... the Didache is a paraenetic document that addresses personal ethical formation, communal life, and the development of authority in the early church.6 The text begins with instruction about “two ways, one of life and one of death” (1.1), and this “Two Ways” section covers Did. 1.1– 6.2. Part of the instruction of the way of life includes teaching about the value of sharing generously ... The passage employs themes of divine recompense (4.7), common ownership of possessions (4.8b), and mutual solidarity in spiritual and material matters (4.8c) in order to encourage among baptismal candidates unhesitant giving to and welcoming of those in need ... Particularly striking is the Didachist’s exhortation— “If you have [something] through [the work of] your hands, give a redemption for your sins” (4.6)— for this statement reflects an early expression of the concept of atoning almsgiving. In this case, the term “redemptive almsgiving” would be appropriate because the metaphor suggests that sins are redeemed through giving away the fruit of one’s manual labor. The verb δίδωμι (“give”) is used four times in Did. 4.5– 8, and the participle τὸν ἐνδεόμενον (“the one who has need”) in verse 8 indicates that the object of one’s giving is a brother or sister in material need. Thus, according to the logic of 4.6, the act of giving to a disadvantaged brother or sister is “a redemption for your sins.” ..."

Downs, David J. Alms: Charity, Reward, and Atonement in Early Christianity (pp. 235-236) Baylor University Press, 2016

 User Comments

Do you have questions or comments about these texts? Please submit them here.