Gospel of Thomas Saying 10

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This Gospel of Thomas Commentary is part of the Gospel of Thomas page at Early Christian Writings.

Nag Hammadi Coptic Text

Gospel of Thomas Coptic Text


(10) Jesus said: I have cast a fire upon the world, and see, I watch over it until it is ablaze.


(10) Jesus said, "I have cast fire upon the world, and see, I am watching over it until it blazes."


10 [10]. Jesus says: "I have cast a fire onto the world, and see, I watch over it until it blazes up!"

Funk's Parallels

GThom 16, Luke 12:49-53, Matt 10:34-39.

Visitor Comments

This refers to the resurrection. The cucifixion is the spark, and the resurrection allowed him to ensure the spark became a blaze to engulf the world (with the message).
- Alayo Pinion

Jesus came to reveal revolutionary concepts of who we are in relation to God and our place in Reality. He watched over the results until he saw that there were sufficient true hearers of his message that its continuance could be assured into the future.
- active-mystic

active-mystic, I concur. Jesus vouldn't be referring to his crucifixion, as he clearly wasn´t aware of it happening ("why did you abandon me" on the cross).
- thinking aloud

This has connection to saying 3. When one begins to look inside oneself honestly, a fire is kindled that burns away our fabricated view of self revealing our true nature. This fire is like a sword, cutting away our attachments to things we identify with.
- Khorov

I have cast a gospel upon the world, and see, I watch over it until it blazes. Note that there are two clever literary devices here: (1) "and see, I watch over it" suggests identity between the reader (who sees) and Jesus (who watches over the gospel as the reader does); (2) the last "it" is ambiguous, as it could refer either to the gospel or the world. The ambiguity is intentional. There are two valid interpretations-the gospel will come ablaze with meaning when it is recognized that Jesus wrote it and what he wrote. It will burn the fingers of the worldly, and it will blaze with the glory of God to those who love Jesus. But also, equally true, is that it will set the world ablaze when this is recognized. Jesus was a great literary genius. He was also a very efficient writer.
- Simon Magus

Farmers often set fire to their fields as a means of cleansing prior to planting. It is scary sometimes but because the farmer is watching we need not be alarmed everything is under control the fire need not cause fear but should be seen as part of greater cycle of planting (life).
- Taoito

Has anyone ever noticed that conflicts about religion, Truth, and God are often the most intense?
- bromikl

The fruit of the tree of knowledge is the awareness of our differences. It is attachment to our differences that drove humans from the garden of Eden. The way back is guarded by the flaming sword that cuts those attachments. The two forces of antiquity were strife and love. Love,the golden rule from which all else flows, brings us closer to knowing our unity of spirit, which is seen when we burn away our attachments.
- BigJim

The perennial message is presented anew & afresh to each generation [audience]. A true teacher watches over his projection [monitors]
- Thief37

It is also posible that this is a litterary reference by the author to Prometheus who brought fire into the world and was chained to rock for his trouble.
- Rylon

The fire represents Yeshua's word and he is watching over it until it is spread across the world (blazes), so that all may know the truth.
- Eliyah

Jesus may have been saying that he has cast the world ablaze by sending the word of God and now he is going to watch it spread all over.
- Meg

Scholarly Quotes

R. McL. Wilson writes: "Logion 10 has a parallel in Luke xii. 49, but with a change of emphasis. The canonical version looks to the future: 'I came to cast fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!' In Thomas the fire has been kindled: 'I have cast fire upon the world, and behold, I guard it until it is ablaze.' This raises an interesting problem in relation to the common source of Matthew and Luke, since Matthew (x. 34) records a saying, 'I came not to cast peace, but a sword.' As already observed, something like this appears in logion 16, but in the saying in Thomas 'division' and 'fire' are paralleled in Luke, 'sword' in Matthew. The question is whether in Thomas we have a conflation of the two synoptic versions, or a form of the saying derived from an independent tradition." (Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, pp. 110-111)

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: "A similar saying in Luke 12:49 is clearly eschatological. 'I came to cast fire on the earth, and how I wish that it were already kindled.' Thomas changes future to past and present. The fire has been ignited, and Jesus keeps the world until it burns up; to be near the fire is to be near Jesus and the kingdom (Saying 82)." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 128)

Marvin Meyer writes: "The gnostic document Pistis Sophia 141 has Jesus utter a nearly identical saying. Jesus, who is called Aberamentho, says, 'For this reason I said to you, "I have come to throw fire upon the earth," that is, I have come to cleanse the sins of the whole world with fire.' See also Gospel of Thomas saying 15." (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, p. 73)

Funk and Hoover write: "Both the context and the form of the saying in Thomas distinguish it from the Lukan version ('I came to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already ablaze!'). In Luke, the saying is part of a cluster probably already formed in Q, and reflects the early Christian community's mythologized view of Jesus as one who came into the world for its redemption. In Thomas, the saying appears as a single aphorism, not part of a cluster, and with none of the Christianizing language of the Lukan version. The saying in Thomas is thus probably not dependent on Q or Luke, but represents an independent tradition." (The Five Gospels, pp. 478-479)

Gerd Ludemann writes: "The logion is similar to Luke 12.49, but can hardly have come from there (cf. by contrast the adoption and interpretation of Luke 12.49 in the Gnostic writing Pistis Sophia IV 141: it means the cleansing of the sins of the whole world by fire). The key to its understanding is 'world' (Luke: earth), a word which appears sixteen times alone in the Gospel of Thomas and in it has a predominantly negative sense (cf. Logion 56). In Logion 82 'fire' is connected with the nearness of Jesus. So the meaning seems to be that Jesus' presence will set on fire the world, understood in negative terms." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 595)

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Gospel of Thomas Saying 10

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