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What is the Gospel of Thomas?

What is the Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas is a non-canonical collection of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus. It’s part of a group of texts known as the Gnostic Gospels, which offer different perspectives on Christianity and its teachings. Unlike the canonical Gospels in the New Testament—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—the Gospel of Thomas does not include a narrative about Jesus’ life, death, or resurrection. Instead, it consists solely of sayings, some of which parallel those found in the New Testament, while others are unique and reflect Gnostic themes.

The Gospel of Thomas was discovered among other Gnostic texts in a jar at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945. Scholars believe it was written in the early to mid-2nd century. The text is primarily written in Coptic, but some parts suggest it was originally composed in Greek. This gospel emphasizes personal spiritual knowledge (gnosis) over orthodox teachings, rituals, and dogma.

Relevant Bible Verses:
The Bible does not explicitly reference the Gospel of Thomas as it is not part of the canonical scriptures recognized by the main Christian denominations. However, themes in the Gospel of Thomas that echo the canonical Gospels could be paralleled with verses like:

  • Matthew 13:12: “For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” This reflects some of the mystical and esoteric sayings in Thomas about understanding and spiritual richness.
  • John 14:6: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” This reflects the theme in Thomas about finding truth through Jesus’ words.

Examples from the Gospel of Thomas:

  1. Saying 77: “Jesus said, ‘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.'”
  2. Saying 2: “Jesus said, ‘Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All.'”

Three Main Takeaways:

  1. Emphasis on Personal Spiritual Discovery: The Gospel of Thomas encourages an individual search for understanding and connection with the divine, which is a hallmark of Gnostic belief.
  2. Contrast with Orthodox Christianity: This gospel’s lack of emphasis on Jesus’ earthly ministry and sacrificial death sets it apart from the teachings of mainstream Christianity, which focus on the historical life of Jesus and His redemptive death and resurrection.
  3. Historical Insight: The Gospel of Thomas provides scholars with insights into early Christian and Gnostic communities, showing the diversity of early Christian thought and practice.


  • Greg Gaines

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