Gospel of Thomas Saying 18

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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


(18) The disciples said to Jesus: Tell us how our end will be. Jesus said: Since you have discovered the beginning, why do you seek the end? For where the beginning is, there will the end be. Blessed is he who shall stand at the beginning (in the beginning), and he shall know the end, and shall not taste death.


(18) The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us how our end will come to pass." Jesus said, "Then have you laid bare the beginning, so that you are seeking the end? For the end will be where the beginning is. Blessed is the person who stands at rest in the beginning. And that person will be acquainted with the end and will not taste death."


19 [18]. The disciples say to Jesus: "Tell us what our end will be." Jesus says: "Have you then deciphered the beginning, that you ask about the end? For where the beginning is, there shall be the end. Blessed is the man who reaches the beginning; he will know the end, and will not taste death!"

Funk's Parallels

POxy 654 1, GThom 1, GThom 85.

Visitor Comments

Might not Jesus be referring to the revolutionary idea that we were created from the beginnig and continue to the end (Union with God) and that birth and death are illusions that do not really exist as ordinary people think of them?
- active-mystic

I think Jesus is refering to the nature of God being like a Mobius strip, no beginning and no end, only one-sided.
- new gus

Or perhaps He is referring to a circle, with neither beginning nor end. It also brings forth the phrase, "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." Perhaps there is no end and no beginning, just different states of being.
- seeker

“And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive at where we started And know the place for the first time.” - T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding in The Four Quartets
- San

Seek the beginning and not the end. For the beginning of life is the end of the dead world and of the worldly illusion of the death of the living.
- Simon Magus

Since we have always existed at least as idea in the mind of God, we shall always exist at least as the same.
- bibliosopher

At the beginning one knows one's innate self. Return to the beginning and one has arrived at one's end. There is no death.
- Rodney

At the end of our lives, we review it all back to the beginning. At the beginning of our lives, as our true spiritual selves, we know the end is death of the physical body, but that our spiritual self is eternal.
- Kay

Isn't this a paraphrase of Confucius? Confucius was asked about Death, And He replied "How do you ask about death, when you do not yet understand life?"
- FogMoose

When you have perceived [been taught] where you came from and why, then that knowledge entails knowing where you are going. And it means that you have polished your imperishable [higher] body. So you shall be [again] immortal and not die even though your planetary body of course dies
- Thief37

"You've got to learn how to die, before you want to be alive." -Wilco. Don't concern yourself with death, just accept it and live. Only then will you comprehend beginning and end, exist as one.
- Taurus

This seems to parallel Buddhist philosophy. You are already in Nirvana (the kingdom of god is inside and around you). The end as the beginning seems to denote the timeless nature of reality. The idea of self is illusory, if you know this, you will know you were never born and will never die. The End is truly the Beginning.
- Spiral

In the beginning, Adam had life everlasting. Jesus brought us back to that state. (Jesus is the last Adam, first of many brothers.)
- Random

The question is not what you become after death, the question is: What were you before you were born?
- Michael

There is no beginning or end, both past and future have already occured. When we accept that our end has already occured long before our beginning, then we shall not fear death, for the passing of time as we know it is an illusion
- David

The question that comes to my mind is this: Did the disciples ask the question "Tell us what our end will be" referring to their own personal end or to the fate of mankind? If they did indeed ask this question in regards to mankind then this saying could be looked at in a different perspective altogether. There are many mentions of the end of the earth and of heaven. And at that time a new kingdom will be established on earth. In essence an end and a new beginning. The quote "Blessed is the man who reaches the beginning; he will know the end, and will not taste death!" could be looked at like this. All who live through this great time of peril, and have chosen Jesus as their savior will come to see Christ establish the new kingdom on earth. These men have reached the beginning/end and will be given the gift of eternal life.
- Anonymous

Look, and it can't be seen. Listen, and it can't be heard. Reach, and it can't be grasped. Above, it isn't bright. Below, it isn't dark. Seamless, unnamable, it returns to the realm of nothing. Form that includes all forms, image without an image, subtle, beyond all conception. Approach it and there is no beginning; follow it and there is no end. You can't know it, but you can be it, at ease in your own life. Just realize where you come from: this is the essence of wisdom.
- Tao-te-Ching 2

In the relative, the beginning of a thing is known and the end of a thing is not known. To reach understanding of the unknown, start with the known. Know the beginning and you will know the end.
- TechnoMonk

There is neither an end nor a beginning. Therefore, if you know of the beginning, you know of the end. Time is irrelevant, and only exists in our minds. For Jesus, who reached ChristConsciousness, he was aware that time was an illusion, that beginning was the end, and vice versa. To attain a higher consciousness, we must also be aware of that.
- ButterflySkyy

What has started must end. I do not claim to know all things beginning or end, but knowing either is to know both. For they are one.
- Maitreya

Scholarly Quotes

F. F. Bruce writes: "This saying is reminiscent of 2 Esdras 7.30 ('the world shall be as it was at the first beginnings'), but perhaps it is to be understood in the sense of Revelation 22.13, where Jesus says: 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.'" (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 121)

Marvin Meyer writes: "To return to the beginning is to attain the end; compare Gospel of Thomas saying 49. Also compare Manichaean Psalm Book 155,9-12: 'Holy ones, rejoice with me, for I have returned again to my beginning. I [have] received my clean garments, my robes that do not become old. I have rejoiced in their joy, I have been glad in their gladness, [I have rested] in their rest from everlasting to everlasting.' Secret Book of John II 9,5-8 makes a similar point: 'And he spoke, and glorified and praised the invisible spirit, saying, "Because of you everything has come into being, and everything will return to you."'" (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, p. 77)

Gerd Ludemann writes: "The beginning and the end correspond (cf. Logion 4). Brought back to the beginning, the Gnostic will not taste death. The latter is meant in a metaphorical sense. The non-Gnostic does not live at all (cf. 11.2)." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 599)

Funk and Hoover write: "Thomas consistently opposes speculation about the end (compare Thomas 3; 51; and 113). The idea that one returns in the end to one's beginning has parallels in gnostic texts: the goal of the gnostic's existence is to escape the created world of evil and return to the state of primordial perfection that existed at the beginning. Aspects of this concept are also reflected in Thomas 49. The final phrase in 18:3 is particularly Thomean (compare Thom 1; 91:4; 85:2; 111:2). All these factors led the Fellows to designate the saying black." (The Five Gospels, p. 483)

Stevan Davies writes: "The light that is within people and outside of them exists now. As a result, those who search for the end are told that the end (i.e., the kingdom of God) is present already (Gos. Thom. 51, 113). When asked about the end, Jesus responds in terms of the beginning (Gos. Thom. 18); when asked about the kingdom to come, Jesus responds in terms of the kingdom which is already here (Gos. Thom. 113)." (http://www.misericordia.edu/users/davies/thomas/jblprot.htm)

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Gospel of Thomas Saying 18

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