, Research Paper
The Gospel of Thomas is unlike any other scripture written about Jesus. It is a collection of Jesus’ secret sayings that only someone who actually knew him, like his “twin”, would be able to recount. Jesus, in the Gospel of Thomas, is a teacher that points his followers in the direction of the Kingdom of Heaven. He explains that the kingdom is a place with no poverty, where all is revealed and that it is already inside and around them but they must learn how to find it.
The Kingdom of Heaven, according to Thomas’ Jesus, is within each one of us. This concept of god and the kingdom being a part of everyone is a common theme throughout the Bible (Lk 17:21). In the third saying, Jesus tells his followers that the way to gain access to this Kingdom inside us is to learn about ourselves. The knowledge that we came from the Kingdom (GTh 49), that we are “sons of the living father” (GTh 3), and that are human bodies and lives are not worth anything (GTh 87) are the keys to the Kingdom. If we do not know ourselves then we will not enter the kingdom and we will be in poverty forever (GTh 3). He also says that once we get back into the Kingdom there is nothing that we will not understand (GTh 6b).
The Kingdom of Heaven is like Adam’s paradise in Eden. Jesus said that, “?whoever among you shall become as a child shall know the Kingdom?” (GTh 46). Eden was a place of innocence and to become like a child would be to become innocent. In saying 37, the disciples ask when he will be revealed to them and he answers when they can be naked without shame and jump on their clothes like children. This is not unlike Adam and Eve innocent, child-like, and undressed in Eden.
Jesus explains that the Kingdom of the Father is a treasure that lasts forever. He describes it as a pearl that a merchant found and did all he could do to buy it so that he could cherish it for the rest of his life (GTh 76). Jesus tells another parable in which the Kingdom is a treasure buried in a father’s farm and he and his son never find it but the next man that owns the farm finds it (GTh 109). The first two men never found the Kingdom of Heaven because they did not look within their own land or themselves but the third man does a little digging and finds this eternal treasure. “He who searches, will find?it will open to him” (GTh 94).
In most stories about the Kingdom of Heaven, there is a sense that it will happen in the future but, in this Gospel, Jesus gives of the impression that the Kingdom is here now. He said, “What you look for has come, but you do not know it” (GTh 51). He tells us that the kingdom is already here but because we do not have knowledge we just do not see it (GTh 113). He explains that the end is where the beginning is (GTh 18). It is almost as if the future and past are combined and that time is irrelevant. The kingdom will happen for us when we know ourselves.
However, there is a contraction because saying 57 gives us the idea that there will be a final judgment day. In this saying, the Kingdom is like a man who plants good seed but another man puts bad seed in with the good seed. The first man does not pull out the weeds until “harvest day” because he is afraid that he will pick out the good plant on accident. On “harvest day”, it will be obvious which are which and the weeds will the burned.
Jesus’ role in the Gospel of Thomas is to lead his followers to the Kingdom. He tells them parables that they must understand and follow in order to get into the Kingdom (GTh 82). He tells them that heaven is inside them (GTh 3) and spread out upon the earth (GTh 113). He also teaches that if we look for it, we will find it (GTh 94). He is not the way to the Kingdom but he points them in the right direction.
Jesus, in this gospel, is different from how he is in other books. In this gospel, he is just a teacher. In most other books you must have faith in Jesus and his word for you to find the Kingdom of Heaven but the Gospel of Thomas does not give us this idea at all. Thomas just says that the Kingdom is open to those who find it (GTh 94). There is no emphasis on faith in the Lord. In this gospel, the son of the living father will be revealed to them when they know themselves (GTh 37).
Because the Gospel of Thomas is just a collection of Jesus’ sayings with no context many of these sayings are hard to comprehend but it gives us a valuable and different picture of Jesus. This Jesus shows us the hidden reality of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, the way to Heaven is through understanding, and once we reach Heaven all in the world will be revealed to us.