This compilation explores modern interpretations of the Gospel according to Thomas, an ancient text preserved in a Coptic translation at Nag Hammadi and Greek fragments at Oxyrhynchus. With no particular slant, this commentary gathers together quotations from various scholars in order to elucidate the meaning of the sayings, many of which are right...
Nag Hammadi Coptic Text
(2) Jesus said: He who seeks, let him not cease seeking until he finds; and when he finds he will be troubled, and when he is troubled he will be amazed, and he will reign over the All.
(2) Jesus said, "Let one who seeks not stop seeking until that person finds; and upon finding, the person will be disturbed; and being disturbed, will be astounded; and will reign over the entirety."
1 . Jesus says: "Let him who seeks cease not to seek until he finds: when he finds he will be astonished; and when he is astonished he will wonder, and will reign over the universe!"
Oxyrhynchus Greek Fragment
DORESSE - Oxyrhynchus
[Jesus says:] "Let him who see[ks] cease not [to seek until he] finds: when he finds, [he will wonder; and when he wond]ers, he will reign, and [reigning, he will have r]est!"
ATTRIDGE - Oxyrhynchus
(2) [Jesus said], "Let him who seeks continue [seeking until] he finds. When he finds, [he will be amazed. And] when he becomes [amazed], he will rule. And [once he has ruled], he will [attain rest]."
[Jesus says], "Let one who [seeks] not stop [seeking until] one finds. When one finds, [one will be astounded, and having been] astounded, one will reign, and [having reigned], one will [rest].
Jesus said, "Seek and you will find."
Jesus [said], "One who seeks will find, and to [one who knocks] it will be opened."
And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.
And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
As also it stands written in the Gospel of the Hebrews: "He that marvels shall reign, and he that has reigned shall rest." (Clem. Alex. Strom. II 9.45)
To those words this is equivalent: "He that seeks will not rest until he finds; and he that has found shall marvel; and he that has marvelled shall reign; and he that has reigned shall rest." (Clem Alex. Strom. V 14.96)
His [disciples said, "Lord], who is it who seeks, and [...] reveals?" [The Lord said to them], "He who seeks [...] reveals [...]." [Matthew said, "Lord, when] I [...] and [when] I speak, who is it who [...] who listens?" [The Lord] said, "It is the one who speaks who also [listens], and it is the one who can see who also reveals."
The Lord [said], "[... stronger] than [...] you [...] to follow [you] and all the works [...] your hearts. For just as your hearts [...], so [...] the means to overcome the powers [above] as well as those below [..]. I say to you, let him [who possesses] power renounce [it and repent]. And [let] him who [...] seek and find and [rejoice]."
Mary said, "Everything established thus is seen." The Lord [said], "I have told you [that] it is the one who can see who [reveals]."
Marvin Meyer quotes two parallel passages in the Book of Thomas the Contender (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, pp. 68-69).
"[Fortunate is] the wise person who has [sought truth, and] when it has been found, has rested upon it for ever, and has not been afraid of those who wish to trouble the wise person."
(Book of Thomas 140,41 - 141,2)
"Watch and pray. . . . And when you pray, you will find rest. . . . For when you leave the pains and the passions of the body, you will receive rest from the Good One, and you will rule with the king, you united with him and he united with you, from now on, for ever and ever."
(Book of Thomas 145,8-16)
A somewhat similar statement is found from Clement of Alexandria:
"Being baptized, we are illuminated; illuminated we become sons; being made sons, we are made perfect; being made perfect, we are made immortal."
Funk and Hoover write:
"Thom 2:2-4 is a gnostic expansion: the gnostic quest leads to being disturbed, which causes one to marvel, and that ends in reigning. The Greek fragment of this same verse adds a fifth stage: the reign of the gnostic results in 'rest,' which is the gnostic catchword for salvation. Gnostic insight into the 'real world,' as opposed to the world of appearances, is what brings all this about. The term 'rest' is employed in the book of Revelation, on the other hand, for future salvation: those who die in the Lord 'may rest from their labors' (Rev 14:13)."
(The Five Gospels, p. 471)
Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write:
"'Rest' is mentioned not in the Coptic text but in the Greek fragment; but 'rest' or 'repose' occurs in Sayings 51, 52, 60, 61, 86, and 90. It is found in the Gospel of the Hebrews (Clement of Alexandria, Strom., 2, 45, 5; 5, 96, 3), from which this saying is taken; presumably the author of Thomas changed the saying in order to lay emphasis on the idea of becoming a king. Compare 2 Timothy 2:11-12: 'Trustworthy is the saying, "If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we have endured, we shall reign with him.' The difference, once more, is between the action of the Christian and the knowing of the Gnostic."
(The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 120)
J. D. Crossan writes:
"The restoration of the Greek text in Oxy P 654, of which only the first half of each line is extant, is relatively secure due to its citation by Clement of Alexandria (Fitzmyer, 1974:372-373; Hofius: 27; Marcovich: 56). In form it is a quadruple-stich saying climactically word-linked from one stich to the next: seeks/finds//finds/astounded//astounded/reign//reigned/rest (see Hennecke and Schneemelcher: 1.164)."
(In Fragments, pp. 99-100)
J. D. Crossan writes:
"On the other hand, the version in Gos. Thom. 2 breaks both the form and content of that Greek version: seeks/finds//finds/troubled//troubled/astonished// -- / reign. The result is that the Coptic version climaxes with "rule" while the Greek text climaxes with "rest" (see Bammel, 1969). It is fairly certain that the Greek version is more original, but it is difficult to explain the Coptic deviation since 'rest' is one of Thomas's major themes (Vielhauer, 1964:297). The best explanation is probably some form of misreading of his Greek original by the Coptic translator (see Marcovich: 57; or Menard, 1975:79)."
(In Fragments, p. 100)
When you speak (pray) to God~Ultimate Reality, never cease to listen for the answer coming back. You are all capable of hearing (or otherwise realizing) this answer upon truly listening. You will be amazed at what you are told. Eventually when you learn your true place in the scheme of things you will have a degree of control over your reality by virtue of understanding its true nature. This will enable you to follow your planned path of life in a more peaceful and accepting manner. You will have learned that life is verily a dream and God is the dreamer, dreaming you.
One who strives for the best above all else will one day learn that all he has strived for has in the end rotted away. When he realizes this he is disgusted that he hasn't spend more time with his family or had more fun. Then he is astounded that he can still do all these things. So he does. The moral of the story is, love and be loved in return, lay your heart out on the line for a gamble. When you can learn to do this then life will be happy.
- puzzled, but clearer
When you seek and find the child within, you will be most profoundly disturbed by the horror of your upbringing. You will marvel at the beauty of your innate self and, in time you will become lord and servant of yourself.
I have noticed that quite a few of the interpretations of these sayings which seem to make sense include a reference to the Gospel of Thomas itself. Applying this idea to this saying, I get: Let one who seeks the meaning of the Gospel of Thomas not stop seeking until one finds. When one finds, one will be disturbed. When one is disturbed, one will marvel, and will reign over all.
The minds of men have been temporarily lost from God (the "fall"), but when we seek to rejoin from that which we think we separated from (the Mind of God)Jesus tells us to persevere, and that by doing so we will come to see that the world that we thought was real isn't (an initially disturbing, troubling event for us), but as we reunite with God we will be truely amazed, and being One once again with All That Is we will "rule" All That Is.
- A Brother
Continue in your quest until you find. When you find [succeed] you will be changed [reborn] and see everything differently. A technical injunction
There is an old saying in science that "The more I know, the more I learn I don't know." The Gospel writer is telling us that Jesus understood eternity in this way. Seek an answer, don't give up; you will find one. However, when you do, you will be astonished to learn that the answer you seek is not an end in and of itself; it only leads you to ten more questions; seek those answers; for each answer there is ten more questions and on and on and on. Eventually, you will get it--there is no end to questions, to life, to God. To know this truly inspires wonder.
Rhizoid is correct. Also as you seek to destroy the ego, realizations of how the world is and how many people are blind to truth will be "disturbed" then as you further seek you understand the nature of duality then you reign.
Never stop seeking because you will find the answers, but the answers will trouble you because they will show you the illusions under which you have conducted your life in the past. Once the veil lifts off your eyes you will begin to see the wonder of the universe and be angry that so many things had been hidden from us by individuals in the past who destroyed the keys. But the messages still resound loudly to anyone who wishes to listen. And then you will reign over the world because the world is an illusion.
When the seeker has at last attained unto a better understanding of God, he will be troubled. What he finds in God will not be what he had been expecting, what he had been taught to look for. By seeking for God on his own he found the truth, and from that truth comes power, and, at least according to the Greek texts, to spiritual peace.
Answer: Jesus meant that you must be persistent in your meditation, fasting, and prayer. You then stumble into experiences that are beyond explanation with words. Jesus does not speak to the higher states of consciousness that present themselves with such diligent persistent work. Jesus speaks to the astounded surprises, etched with question and disbelief. How continued persistence study and practice brings eventual communion with your spiritual essence. Continued work leads to your discovering spiritual essence is inside you, outside you, and all around you. That you are spiritually connected with everything. The end portion of this statement of "Reign over everything, universe" was a misunderstanding that Jesus had of achieving the Unity consciousness with his inner spiritual essence. Without a teacher to point out that unity consciousness was not being god and that he was still a physical being experiencing this astounding state. He misunderstood this state. Everyone back then was expecting the messiah and this unity consciousness under these Jewish expectations would certainly bewilder and confuse Jesus as to who he really was.
When you understand the truth about why you experience your own existence, you become astonished because you realize that death is not absolute. At the same time you become disturbed because the truth also threatens the preconceptions of your ego. When you transcend these preconceptions, liberation of the spirit occurs.