"6:4 But concerning food, bear what you can;"

What does this mean?

  • 3
    The Didache is not canonical as generally accepted on this site. See hermeneutics.meta.stackexchange.com/a/6/17080, so this question is probably going to be considered "off-topic". In any event, you would need to cite a complete verse and indicate which translation or MSS you are using.
    – user17080
    Apr 13, 2019 at 21:18
  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because no verse or translation cited, book is apparently non canonical as defined by hermeneutics.meta.stackexchange.com/a/6/17080
    – user17080
    Apr 13, 2019 at 21:20
  • 2
    @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim and other close voters. The very same thread you link to defines the didache as being on topic as a secondary text relevant to Biblical studies: "These are examples of secondary texts which are open for direct examination." Our site scope is not limited to the inspired canon.
    – Caleb
    Apr 14, 2019 at 17:38
  • 1
    @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim: It is a non-heretical, once-canonical, pre-patristical Christian work. Putting it and a few others (e.g., Clement) in the same boat or basket as Gnostic writings is unreasonable.
    – Lucian
    Apr 23, 2019 at 23:42
  • 1
    Both version of the Didache that I have do not include 6:4. 6:3 is followed by 7:1. Please quote the version and text you are using. Do you mean 6:3 which has a phrase "bear what you can"?
    – user25930
    Jun 11, 2019 at 22:15

1 Answer 1


The Greek text of chapter 6 of the Didache states,

1 Ὅρα, μὴ τίς σε πλανήσῃ ἀπὸ ταύτης τῆς ὁδοῦ τῆς διδαχῆς, ἐπεὶ παρεκτὸς θεοῦ σε διδάσκει. 2 εἰ μὲν γὰρ δύνασαι βαστάσαι ὅολον τὸν ζυγὸν τοῦ κυρίου, τέλειος ἔσῃ· εἰ δ’ οὐ δύνασαι, ὃ δύνῃ, τοῦτο ποίει. 3 περὶ δὲ τῆς βρώσεως, ὃ δύνασαι βάστασον· ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ εἰδωλοθύτου λίαν πρόσεχε· λατρεία γάρ ἐστι θεῶν νεκρῶν.

which may be translated as,

1 See that no one leads you astray from this way of teaching, since he teaches you excluding God. 2 For if, on the one hand, you can bear the entire yoke of the Lord, you shall be perfect. On the other hand, if you cannot [bear it], what you can [bear], do this. 3 But concerning eating, bear what you can. Be exceedingly cautious of food sacrificed to idols, for it is the worship of dead gods.

“But concerning eating, bear what you can” appears to be elaborated by the following phrase: “Be exceedingly cautious of food sacrificed to idols.” Therefore, when the author implores the reader to bear (i.e., endure) what you can, with respect to food sacrificed to idols, 1 Corinthians 8 comes to mind.

7 However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. NASB, ©1995

“To bear (endure) what you can” would thus mean the following: if you can eat a food that is sacrificed to an idol, without your conscience being defiled or offended, then do so, as you evidently realize that idols are “nothing in this world.”1 However, for those who do not have that knowledge, who may still be offended or their conscience weakened by eating food sacrificed to an idol, they should not eat the food. Moreover, if your brother is offended or their conscience weakened by you eating food sacrificed to an idol, you should avoid offending your brother.2

This teaching of the Didache does not concern unclean versus clean animals, for Christians were under no such obligation.3 Rather, it concerned the issue of food sacrificed to idols,4 which of course, is of no concern to most Christians today.


1 1 Cor. 8:4
2 1 Cor. 8:13
3 Mark 7:19; 1 Tim. 4:4; and, Christians are not under the Law of Moses.
4 Acts 15:20; 1 Cor. 8; 1 Cor. 10:19; Rom. 14:2–3

  • How do you know it is speaking of things sacrificed to idols? And thank you for the response
    – GFFG
    Nov 2, 2019 at 1:54
  • @www.gffg.info—The following clause is an elaboration of the clause in question. I will edit my answer to clarify. Nov 2, 2019 at 3:01
  • I think this was good, sound, well balanced answer. +1.
    – Dottard
    Jan 10, 2021 at 9:44

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