Gospel of Thomas Saying 70

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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


(70) Jesus said: If you have gained this within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have this in [you], what you do not have in you [will] kill you.


(70) Jesus said, "If you (plur.) produce what is in you, what you have will save you. If you do not have what is in you, what you do not have [will] kill you."


74 [70]. Jesus says: "When you have something left to share among you, what you possess will save you. But if you cannot share [among you], that which you have not among you, that [ ... ? ... will ...] you.

Funk's Parallels

GThom 41.

Visitor Comments

We were all created to bring a gift - a light of our own uniqueness - to this world. If we refuse to share this gift, it will be our undoing. I see this as proof that there is a reason to our being here and it isn't to destroy but to make.
- Sharianne

Is this a veiled reference to the paracletos...the guidance we gain from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?
- anonymous

In becoming aware of one's self the self repair process "saves" one. If one does not become aware of one's self, then the self-destructive learnt attitudes keep one in stasis (death).
- Rodney

This says to me: that God is within; the light that illumines the higher pathway, the sense, the voice, the vision, the knowledge of what is life affirmative - what our higher self knows is of God, the light within - that element that is of God - it is that which gives peace and wisdom and sustains us and those with whom we share such wisdom through action and attitude. When we repress that, we create alienation and entropy.
- maccus

The value of Higher Knowledge. Acquire it and be immortal --- lack it and succumb
- Thief37

This seems like "die to your self that your self might live". If you produce the light/true self/divine/pure heart that is within you, you are/become life. If you do not produce it, you are/stay in death.
- wondering

From "Black Elk Speaks": I had a dream and because I did not live my dream, my dream was making me sick.
- Diana Wright

I think that the meaning is rather simple. The gnostics (I think) felt that each one of us has illumination (or the divine light) within us. The gnostics didn't need an intermediary to go through in order to commune with God. They knew that the light was innate in them from birth. To bury that light within us and not let it come forward is spirtual death.
- tsankawi

The answer is faith. Faith must come from within. So, "If you bring forth what is within you (faith), then what you bring forth (your faith) will save you. And if you do not bring forth what is within you, what you don't bring forth will destroy you (your lack of faith)."
- The Elf

Thanks Ron D. The stress is on inherent wisdom. Great learning and intellectualization is, apparently, an impediment. The great easten masters stress the importance of simple meditation to tap into this wealth beyond mind and body. Jesus is in accord with the zen patriarchs. Faith is beneficial only in that it would bolster us on the arduous journey within. After experiencing what is beyond mind and body, one can put human existence in its proper perspective and not succumb to that which would trap the spirit.
- Zooie

The best translation I've read (the one that makes the most sense to me)is the one given in Pagel's Gnostic Gospels: "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." I find very disturbing any interpretations that imply or suggest that it's all about being given knowledge from without, or the idea that if you don't accept some sort of "approved" knowledge from outside yourself, and take it within, that THAT is what will destroy you. No, the whole point is that the kingdom of god is within; if you release it, allow it to flow freely from you, it will save you; if you keep it bottled up, it will destroy you.
- Ron Drummond

This is about the dangers of birth, spiritual and real. Jesus is referring to a mother dying in childbirth if she does not bring forth what is within her, just as we could die if we do not bring forth the transformation of the Holy Spirit. Socrates' analogy of the teacher as midwife and the pains of being born out of the cave are also similar teachings.
- Pietzsche

Scholarly Quotes

F. F. Bruce writes: "This Gnosticizing variant of Saying 41 may refer to the heavenly light, which is the salvation of those who possess it but the destruction of those who lack it." (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 140)

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: "This is a Gnostic version of the synoptic saying already reproduced in Saying 42 [41]. The Gnostic 'begets' within himself the kingdom or Jesus or light and will be saved by what he begets; the non-Gnostic has nothing and will be killed by this nothing(ness)." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 174)

Funk and Hoover write: "This saying reminded the Fellows of the gnostic idea that one's salvation depends on possessing - and recognizing in oneself - a piece of the divine, sacred spark, a fragment of the 'light,' which signals one's true origin in the one high God, the ultimate source of other divinities, including the creator God. If one possesses it and recognizes it, salvation is assured (note Thom 24:3, where this same idea is explicit). If one does not possess the divine spark, there is nothing one can do about it. Such a deficiency is alsu alluded to in Thomas 67. Because of the affinities of these ideas with gnostic views and their remoteness from what is otherwise known of Jesus, the Fellows designated the saying black by common consent." (The Five Gospels, p. 513)

Gerd Ludemann writes: "Thomas's formulation is dualistic. It is a matter of life (= salvation) and death. Salvation is manifestly connected with knowledge of one's own self, one's heavenly origin, which is light. Otherwise, if the knowledge is not attained, the result is death." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 626)

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Gospel of Thomas Saying 70

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