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Were these two chapter written by the same author?:

Chapter 6. Against False Teachers, and Food Offered to Idols. See that no one causes you to err from this way of the Teaching, since apart from God it teaches you. For if you are able to bear the entire yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect; but if you are not able to do this, do what you are able. And concerning food, bear what you are able; but against that which is sacrificed to idols be exceedingly careful; for it is the service of dead gods.

Chapter 16. Watchfulness; the Coming of the Lord. Watch for your life's sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come. But come together often, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you are not made perfect in the last time.

Chapter 6 kind of says, "I can resist everything but temptation!"

Chapter 16 suggests this is a race from the Hunger Games.

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  • "Made perfect in the last time" presumably relates to the 2nd Coming and is presumably by grace either substantially or entirely. It strikes me as having the same natural tensions and harmony as many topics in Scripture regarding human weakness, obdience, grace and perfection, rather than outright contradiction. Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 7:36
  • To whomever migrated this question: Does this mean that the Apostolic Fathers are a subject of Biblical Hermeneutics as long a hermeneutical principles are involved in the question? Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 16:12

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Two Ways and Two Authors

The later chapters of Didache are probably not by the same author as the early ones. Chapters 1-6 are often characterized as the "Two Ways" teaching, emphasizing the theme of moral choice, which all Christians must try their best exercise. According to Lightfoot et al:

The Two Ways material appears to have been intended, in light of 7.1, as a summary of basic instruction about the Christian life to be taught to those who where preparing for baptism and church membership. In its present form it represents the Christianization of a common Jewish form of moral instruction. Similar material is found in a number of other Christian writings from the first through about the fifth centuries...

Beginning in Chapter 7 the text transitions from moral instruction to issues of Christian tradition such as sacraments and church order. This gives rise to the critical opinion that it represents a different author.

Moral perfection vs. perfect faith

With regard to the particular verses mentioned in the OP, however, I do not see them as compelling reasons to argue for different authors. Chapter 6 urges moral perfection as much as possible, while Chapter 16 is urging perfection in faith, not moral character. This is implied when one reads a more complete version of the quote:

...be frequently gathered together seeking the things which are profitable for your souls, for the whole time of your faith shall not profit you except ye be found perfect at the last time; for in the last days the false prophets and the corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall change to hate.

As I read this, I do not see a 'race from the Hunger Games,' but a warning to remain steadfast in the true faith. While moral perfection may indeed be impossible, remaining perfect in doctrine is another matter.

There is good reason to believe that Chapter 16 is by a different author than Chapter 6. However, the two teachings about perfection are not incompatible.

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