Gospel of Thomas

Many scholars regard the Gospel of Thomas as one of the most important texts in understanding early Christianity outside the New Testament. It is one of the earliest accounts of the teaching of Jesus outside of the canonical gospels. Here is my own translation.

These are the secret sayings that the Jesus spoke and I, Didymos Judas Thomas, recorded.

Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death

If you seek heaven,” Jesus said, “you shouldn't stop looking for it until you find it. When you first find it, your spirit will first be disturbed, then full of wonder. When you find heaven, you'll reign there for a while, then you'll find rest. When your guides tell you, ‘Look! Heaven is in the sky!’ then you'll see birds flying above you. When they say ‘heaven is in the sea,’ then when you're on the water you'll see fish swimming in front of you. But all the time, heaven is both within you and outside you. When you know yourself, then you'll be known. You'll understand you're a child of the living Father. But if you don't know yourself, then you'll be poor. An old person doesn't hesitate to ask a week-old infant about the place of life, and that old person lives longer. For many of the first will be last, and will become a single one. Oh, and know what's in front of your face, and what's hidden will be disclosed. For there isn't anything hidden that won't be revealed.

We marveled at these instructions and asked many questions. “Do you want us to fast? How should we pray? Should we give to charity? What diet should we keep?”

Don't lie,” Jesus replied, “and don't do what you hate, because all things are disclosed before heaven. Remember, there's nothing hidden that won't be revealed. Lucky's the lion that the human eats, so that the lion becomes human; but foul’s the human that the lion eats, and the lion still becomes human. Be like a wise fisherman who casts his net into the sea and draws it up full of little fish; among them the wise fisherman finds a fine large fish, throws all the little fish back, and chooses the large one. Be like a gardener who scatters seeds on the ground: some fall on the road for the birds to eat; some fall on stone and don't grow; some fall into weeds and are choked; but some fall on good soil, so the garden grows anyway. So now I've set fire to the world, and look, I'm guarding it until it blazes. This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away. The dead aren't alive, and the living won't die. During the days when you ate what is dead, you made it come alive. When you are in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one, you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?

“We know that you are going to leave us,” we asked.. “Who'll lead us then?”

No matter where you are you, seek loving friendship and justice,” the Master replied, “for which sake heaven and earth came into being. Here, this’ll help: compare me to something. Tell me what I'm like.”

“You're like a just messenger,” said Simon Peter (the one Jesus said would be the rock on which his church would be built).

“You're like a wise philosopher,” said Matthew (the tax collector, who learned of great charity).

But I doubted my own heart. “Teacher, I can't say what you're like.”

I'm not your teacher!” laughed Jesus. “ You drank my words, and you've become drunk from the bubbling spring I've tended.” Then he took me aside and told me three things privately.

My friends asked me later, “What did Jesus say?”

“If I told you even one of those things," I warned, "you'd throw rocks up at me, and fire will come from the rocks and devour you.”

But Jesus changed the subject and answered one of the original questions. “
You're healers,” he said. “It's other's jobs to do things like fasting and praying and giving money. If you fast, you'll bring sin upon yourselves. If you pray in public, you'll be condemned. If you give to charity, you'll harm your souls. When you go anywhere and walk around, then when people take you in, eat what they serve you, then heal the sick among them. Remember, it's not what goes in your mouth, it's what comes out your mouth that defiles you! When you see angels, fall on your faces and worship them. Sometimes people think that I'm here just to make peace, and don't know I'm also here to cast conflicts of fire, sword, and war upon the earth. Then there'll be five in a house, with three against two, and two against three, and parents against children, and children against parents, and then they'll all be alone. I offer what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no hand has touched, and what has not arisen in the human heart.

“How will we die?” We asked.

Have you found the beginning, so now you’re looking for the end?” He replied. “ You see, the end will be where the beginning is. Congratulations to the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and not taste death. Congratulations to the one who came into being before coming into being. If you become my disciples and pay attention to my sayings, these stones will serve you. For there are five trees in Paradise for you; they do not change, summer or winter, and their leaves do not fall. Whoever knows them will not taste death.

“What's heaven like?” We asked.

It's like a mustard seed," he said. "It's the smallest of all seeds, but when it falls on prepared soil, it produces a large plant and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky.

“What are your followers like?” Asked Mary.

They're like little children living in a field that isn't theirs,” he replied.

When the owners come, they'll say, 'Please give us back our field.’ They'll take their clothes off before the owners return their field to them. So if a homeowner knows a thief is coming, he should be on guard before the thief arrives and not let the thief break in and steal their possessions. As for you, then, be on guard against the world. Prepare yourselves with great strength, so the robbers can't find a way to get to you, for the trouble you expect will come. Let there be among you a person who understands. When the crop ripened, he came quickly carrying a sickle and harvested it.”

“Anyone here with two good ears had better listen!
” Jesus added, pointing at some nursing babies.

Those babies are like those who enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

“What?” The followers said, astounded.
“We'll be babies in Heaven?”

He replied “
When you make the two into one, when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter. I'll choose you then, one from a thousand and two from ten thousand, who'll stand as a single one.

After Jesus spoke of the Kingdom, those who heard wanted to know more. "Please show us the place where you are, for we must seek it!" They implored him.

"Anyone here with two ears had better listen!" He ordered first. "There is light within a person of light, and it shines on the whole world. If it does not shine, it is dark." Then he spoke of how seeing the light within a person. "Love your friends like your own soul and protect them like your own eye's pupil. Suppose you can see a splinter in your friend's eye, of course you offer to take it out. But how can you see the splinter when there is so much timber in your own!" They all laughed at his joke. "So take the timber out your own eye first, then you'll see well enough to remove the splinter from your friend's eye."

When they had asked them about diet, he told them not to fast but to eat, but now he added "if you don't fast from the world, you will not find heaven. Even God rested a day after creating the world, and that day was called the Sabbath. If you don't observe the Sabbath, you will not see the Father."

Then he spoke of his own place. "The place where I took my stand is in the midst of the world, and in flesh I appeared to the people of the world. I found them all drunk, but I didn't find any of them thirsty. My soul ached for the children of humanity, because they're blind in their hearts and don't see, for they came into the world empty, and they also seek to depart from the world empty. But meanwhile they're drunk. When they shake off their wine, then they'll change their ways. If the flesh came into being because of spirit, that is a marvel, but if spirit came into being because of the body, that's a marvel of marvels. Yet I marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty. Where there are three deities, they are divine. Where there are two or one, I am with that one."

They were obviously puzzled by this, so he continued, "no prophet is welcome on his home turf. Doctors don't cure those who know them. A city built on a high hill and fortified can't fall, nor can it be hidden. What you'll hear in one ear, you'll shout from the rooftops what you heard in your other ear. After all, no one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket or hidden place. Rather, one puts it on a lampstand, so that all who come and go will see its light. If a blind person leads a bind person, they'll both fall into a hole. One can't enter a strong person's house and take it by force without tying his hands. Then one can loot his house. Don't wory about your food or clothing from morning to evening and from evening to morning, You're much more beautiful than the lilies, which neither card nor spin. As for you, when you have no clothes, what will you put on? Who might add to your stature? That very one will give you your garment."

He started to go, but we wanted to know more. "When will you appear to us, and when will we see you?"

Jesus said, "When you strip without being ashamed, and you take your clothes and put them under your feet like little children and trample them, then you'll see the son of the living one and not be afraid. Often you've desired to hear these sayings that I am speaking to you now, and you have no one else from whom to hear them. There'll be days when you'll seek me, and you'll not find me. The Pharisees and the scholars have taken the keys of knowledge and have hidden them. They've not entered heaven, nor have they allowed those who want to enter to do so. As for you, be as sly as snakes and as simple as doves. A grapevine has been planted apart from the Father. Since it is not strong, it will be pulled up by its root and will perish. Whoever has something in hand will be given more, and whoever has nothing will be deprived of even the little they have. Be passersby."

It seemed to us he had spoken badly of the religious leaders and scholars. We wanted to know his authority. "Who are you to say these things to us?"

"You don't understand who I am from what I say to you," he explained. "Rather, you've become like those who love the tree but hate its fruit, or love the fruit but hate the tree. Whoever blasphemes against the Father will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against the son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the holy spirit won't be forgiven, either on earth or in heaven."

They were still confused. { He was speaking of how the tree and fruit are one, and the one two, so also how it is for the Father and the Son, that the one who commands is the servant, and the Lord serves those he commands, and it is the Holy Spirit that joins them into one. } So he added "Grapes are not harvested from thorn trees, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they yield no fruit. Good persons produce good from what they've stored up; bad persons produce evil from the wickedness they've stored up in their hearts, and say evil things. For from the overflow of the heart they produce evil. From Adam to John the Baptist, among those born of women, no one is so much greater than John the Baptist that his eyes shouldn't be averted. But I said that whoever among you becomes a child will recognize the Kingdom and will become greater than John. A person can't mount two horses or bend two bows, and a slave can't serve two masters, otherwise that slave will honor the one and offend the other. Nobody drinks aged wine and immediately wants to drink young wine. Young wine is not poured into old wineskins, or they might break, and aged wine is not poured into a new wineskin, or it might spoil. An old patch is not sewn onto a new garment, since it would create a tear. If two make peace with each other in a single house, they will say to the mountain, 'Move from here!' and it will move. Congratulations to those who are alone and chosen, for you will find the Kingdom. For you have come from it, and you will return there again. If they say to you, 'Where have you come from?' say to them, 'We have come from the light, from the place where the light came into being by itself, established [itself], and appeared in their image.' If they say to you, 'Is it you?' say, 'We are its children, and we are the chosen of the living Father.' If they ask you, 'What is the evidence of your Father in you?' say to them, 'It is motion and rest.' "

We were tired and sought to know when we could find rest. "When will the rest for the dead take place?" We asked. "When will the new world come?"

"What you are looking forward to has already happened," he replied, "but you don't know it yet!"

We marveled at this teaching. "Twenty-four prophets have spoken in Israel, and they all spoke of you!"

"You ignored the living one who is in your presence," he admonished them. "The living one is here, now, and ask about the dead instead!"

So we asked about a life decision. "Is circumcision useful or not?"

He answered that question quickly. "If it were useful, their father would produce children already circumcised from their mother. Rather, the true circumcision in spirit has become profitable in every respect." Then he elaborated, "Congratulations to the poor, for to you belongs the Kingdom. Whoever does not hate father and mother cannot be my student, and whoever does not hate brothers and sisters, and carry the cross as I do, will not be worthy of me. Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a carcass, and whoever has discovered a carcass, of that person the world is not worthy. The Kingdom is like a person who has good seed. His enemy came during the night and sowed weeds among the good seed. The person did not let the workers pull up the weeds, but said to them, ‘No, otherwise you might go to pull up the weeds and pull up the wheat along with them.’ For on the day of the harvest the weeds will be conspicuous, and will be pulled up and burned. Congratulations to the person who has toiled and has found life. Look to the living one as long as you live, otherwise you might die and then try to see the living one, and you will be unable to see. "

He saw a Samaritan carrying a lamb and going to Judea. He said to his disciples, "that person ... around the lamb."

They said to him, "So that he may kill it and eat it."

He said to them, "He will not eat it while it is alive, but only after he has killed it and it has become a carcass."

They said, "Otherwise he can't do it."

He said to them, "So also with you, seek for yourselves a place for rest, or you might become a carcass and be eaten. Two will recline on a couch; one will die, one will live."

Salome said, "Who are you, Mister? You have climbed onto my couch and eaten from my table as if you are from someone."

Jesus said to her, "I am the one who comes from what is whole. I was granted from the things of my Father."

"I am your student," Salome said in awe.

"For this reason I say, if one is whole, one will be filled with light, but if one is divided, one will be filled with darkness," he replied. “I disclose my mysteries to those who are worthy of my mysteries. Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. There was a rich person who had a great deal of money. He said, ‘I shall invest my money so that I may sow, reap, plant, and fill my storehouses with produce, that I may lack nothing.’ These were the things he was thinking in his heart, but that very night he died.”

“Anyone here with two ears had better listen!” He continued. “A person was receiving guests. When he had prepared the dinner, he sent his slave to invite the guests. The slave went to the first and said to that one, ‘My master invites you.’ That one said, ‘Some merchants owe me money; they are coming to me tonight. I have to go and give them instructions. Please excuse me from dinner.’ The slave went to another and said to that one, ‘My master has invited you.’ That one said to the slave, ‘I have bought a house, and I have been called away for a day. I shall have no time.’ The slave went to another and said to that one, ‘My master invites you.’ That one said to the slave, ‘My friend is to be married, and I am to arrange the banquet. I shall not be able to come. Please excuse me from dinner.’ The slave went to another and said to that one, ‘My master invites you.’ That one said to the slave, ‘I have bought an estate, and I am going to collect the rent. I shall not be able to come. Please excuse me.’ The slave returned and said to his master, ‘Those whom you invited to dinner have asked to be excused.’ The master said to his slave, ‘Go out on the streets and bring back whomever you find to have dinner. Buyers and merchants will not enter the places of my Father.’”

He said, “A person owned a vineyard and rented it to some farmers, so they could work it and he could collect its crop from them. He sent his slave so the farmers would give him the vineyard's crop. They grabbed him, beat him, and almost killed him, and the slave returned and told his master. His master said, ‘Perhaps he didn't know them.’ He sent another slave, and the farmers beat that one as well. Then the master sent his son and said, ‘Perhaps they'll show my son some respect.’ Because the farmers knew that he was the heir to the vineyard, they grabbed him and killed him.”

“Anyone here with two ears had better listen!” He continued. “Show me the stone that the builders rejected: that is the keystone."

"Those who know all, but are lacking in themselves, are utterly lacking," Jesus said. "Congratulations to you when you are hated and persecuted; and no place will be found, wherever you have been persecuted. Congratulations to those who have been persecuted in their hearts: they are the ones who have truly come to know the Father. Congratulations to those who go hungry, so the stomach of the one in want may be filled."

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you will kill you," Jesus said. "I will destroy this house, and no one will be able to build it."

A person said to him, "Tell my brothers to divide my father's possessions with me."

He said to the person, "Mister, who made me a divider?" He turned to his disciples and said to them, "I'm not a divider, am I?"

"The crop is huge but the workers are few, so beg the harvest boss to dispatch workers to the fields. Lord, there are many around the drinking trough, but there is nothing in the well. There are many standing at the door, but those who are alone will enter the bridal suite," Jesus said, “The Kingdom is like a merchant who had a supply of merchandise and found a pearl. That merchant was prudent; he sold the merchandise and bought the single pearl for himself. So also with you, seek his treasure that is unfailing, that is enduring, where no moth comes to eat and no worm destroys."

"I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there," Jesus said, "Why have you come out to the countryside? To see a reed shaken by the wind? And to see a person dressed in soft clothes, like your rulers and your powerful ones? They are dressed in soft clothes, and they cannot understand truth."

A woman in the crowd said to him, "Lucky are the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you."

He said to her, "Lucky are those who have heard the word of the Father and have truly kept it. For there will be days when you will say, 'Lucky are the womb that has not conceived and the breasts that have not given milk.'"

"Whoever has come to know the world has discovered the body, and whoever has discovered the body, of that one the world is not worthy. Let one who has become wealthy reign, and let one who has power renounce,” Jesus said. “Whoever is near me is near the fire, and whoever is far from me is far from the Kingdom. Images are visible to people, but the light within them is hidden in the image of the Father's light. He will be disclosed, but his image is hidden by his light. When you see your likeness, you are happy. But when you see your images that came into being before you and that neither die nor become visible, how much you will have to bear! Adam came from great power and great wealth, but he was not worthy of you. For had he been worthy, he would not have tasted death. Foxes have their dens and birds have their nests, but human beings have no place to lay down and rest. How miserable is the body that depends on a body, and how miserable is the soul that depends on these two.”

Jesus said, “The messengers and the prophets will come to you and give you what belongs to you. You, in turn, give them what you have, and say to yourselves, 'When will they come and take what belongs to them?' Why do you wash the outside of the cup? Don't you understand that the one who made the inside is also the one who made the outside? Come to me, for my yoke is comfortable and my lordship is gentle, and you will find rest for yourselves."

They said to him, "Tell us who you are so that we may believe in you."

He said to them, "You examine the face of heaven and earth, but you have not come to know the one who is in your presence, and you do not know how to examine the present moment. Seek and you will find. In the past, however, I did not tell you the things about which you asked me then. Now I am willing to tell them, but you are not seeking them. Don't give what is holy to dogs, for they might throw them upon the manure pile. Don't throw pearls to pigs. One who seeks will find, and for one who knocks it will be opened. If you have money, don't lend it at interest. Rather, give it to someone from whom you won't get it back. The Kingdom is like a woman. She took a little leaven, hid it in dough, and made it into large loaves of bread.”

“Anyone here with two ears had better listen!” Jesus said, “The Kingdom is like a woman who was carrying a jar full of meal. While she was walking along a distant road, the handle of the jar broke and the meal spilled behind her along the road. She didn't know it; she hadn't noticed a problem. When she reached her house, she put the jar down and discovered that it was empty.”

Jesus said, “The Kingdom is like a person who wanted to kill someone powerful. While still at home he drew his sword and thrust it into the wall to find out whether his hand would go in. Then he killed the powerful one.”

The disciples said to him, "Your brothers and your mother are standing outside."

He said to them, "Those here who do what my Father wants are my brothers and my mother. They are the ones who will enter my Father's kingdom."

They showed Jesus a gold coin and said to him, "The Roman emperor's people demand taxes from us." He said to them, "Give the emperor what belongs to the emperor, give God what belongs to God, and give me what is mine. Whoever does not hate father and mother as I do cannot be my disciple, and whoever does not love father and mother as I do cannot be my disciple. For my mother true gave me life."

Jesus said, "Damn the Pharisees! They are like a dog sleeping in the cattle manger: the dog neither eats nor lets the cattle eat. Congratulations to those who know where the rebels are going to attack. They can get going, collect their imperial resources, and be prepared before the rebels arrive."

They said to Jesus, "Come, let us pray today, and let us fast."

Jesus said, "What sin have I committed, or how have I been undone? Rather, when the groom leaves the bridal suite, then let people fast and pray. Whoever knows the father and the mother will be called the child of a whore. When you make the two into one, you will become children of Adam, and when you say, 'Mountain, move from here!' it will move.”

Jesus said, “The Kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray. He left the ninety- nine and looked for the one until he found it. After he had toiled, he said to the sheep, 'I love you more than the ninety- nine.'”

"Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I myself shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him,” Jesus said. “The Kingdom is like a person who had a treasure hidden in his field but did not know it; and when he died he left it to his son. The son didn’t know about it either. He took over the field and sold it. The buyer went plowing, discovered the treasure, and began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished.”

"Let one who has found the world, and has become wealthy, renounce the world," Jesus said, "The heavens and the earth will roll up in your presence, and whoever is living from the living one will not see death."

Does not Jesus say, "Those who have found themselves, of them the world is not worthy"?

Jesus said, "Damn the flesh that depends on the soul. Damn the soul that depends on the flesh."

His disciples said to him, "When will the Kingdom come?"

"It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, 'Look, here!' or 'Look, there!' Rather, the Kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people don't see it!"