Gospel of Thomas Saying 23

Previous - Gospel of Thomas Home - Next

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


(23) Jesus said: I shall choose you, one out of a thousand and two out of ten thousand, and they shall stand as a single one.


(23) Jesus said, "I shall choose you (plur.) - one out of a thousand and two out of ten thousand. And they will stand at rest by being one and the same."


28 [23]. Jesus says: "I will choose you, one from a thousand and two from ten thousand, and those <whom I have chosen> will be lifted up, being one!"

Funk's Parallels

GThom 49, GThom 75, GThom 106, Matt 23:15, Pistis Sophia 134, Ecclesiastes 7:28.

Visitor Comments

Jesus does not refer to the exclusion of the great majority from "salvation" or eternal life. This exclusion is not true. He makes the observation that while many will hear his message, only a very few will understand and realize (know absolutely) that they are (already) a part of the One: There is only One of Us.
- active-mystic

"I shall choose you", suggests more than a lack of realization... There are those that are chosen, and those that aren't...
- commentor

"The gate is large but the path is like a razor's edge?"
- Pavlos

A higher scrap rate. And those that do make the grade become as one. Many university students fail to graduate. But all alumni may be considered as one
- Thief37

"How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and YHVH had shut them up?" (Deuteronomy 32:30) In Hebrew Numerology, the alphabet "alef" equals both one and one thousand. Indeed, in Hebrew the same spelling is used for the name of the letter alef, and elef, meaning "one thousand." The verse can be interpreted as "One, the first number, follows after one thousand in a complete and perfect cycle."
- Ezekiel Li

"Seek and you shall find," but those who truly seek are very few...
- Z

Scholarly Quotes

Funk quotes Pistis Sophia 134: "'There shall be found one among a thousand and two among ten thousand . . .' (Gartner: 229)" (New Gospel Parallels, v. 2, p. 123)

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: "The Gnostic community is very small. It consists of those chosen by Jesus, 'one out of a thousand and two out of ten thousand' (23/24) - a saying quoted by the Gnostic followers of Basilides [Adv. haer. I. 24. 6] and in Pistis Sophia. To be sure, this element of exclusiveness is not absent from early Christianity ('many are called, but few are chosen'), but in Christianity it is balanced by the call to mission and discipleship, omitted in Thomas. The Gospel of Thomas thus offers no hope, eschatological or other, to mankind as a whole, or to any considerable numbers of men." (Gnosticism & Early Christianity, p. 189)

Funk and Hoover write: "The use of the phrase 'one from a thousand' may indicate that the gnotsics thought of themselves as an elite, relatively rare species among humankind. The phrase 'single one' (v. 2) points to undifferentiated existence prior to creation." (The Five Gospels, p. 487)

If you like the site, please buy the CD to support its work and get bonus stuff!
Copyright 2012 Peter Kirby <E-Mail>. See the Gospel of Thomas Bibliography & Credits.

Gospel of Thomas Saying 23

Previous - Gospel of Thomas Home - Next