Gospel of Thomas Saying 98

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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


(98) Jesus said: The kingdom of the Father is like a man who wanted to kill a powerful man. He drew the sword in his house and drove it into the wall, that he might know his hand would be strong (enough). Then he slew the powerful man.


(98) Jesus said, "What the kingdom of the father resembles is a man who wanted to assassinate a member of court. At home, he drew the dagger and stabbed it into the wall in order to know whether his hand would be firm. Next, he murdered the member of court."


102 [98]. "The Kingdom of the Father is like a man who wants to kill an important person. In his house he unsheathed the sword and stuck it in the wall to assure himself that his hand would be firm. Then he killed the person."

Funk's Parallels

Luke 14:31.

Visitor Comments

This statement by Jesus means that one should put forth more than "just enough" effort to try to become qualified for heaven. Many times "just enough" becomes "not enough" because one does not truly know what he or she is facing. Putting that extra effort in will many times ensure that the goal will be accomplished!
- justlooking

If you want to kill the Great Deceiver, try to do so while at home. Try as hard as you can to do so. When you try harder than you can, then you will do so.
- Simon Magus

If the metaphor here is about preparation for some great event, then the kingdom of heaven is only a dress rehearsal for something greater to come. What? The kingdom is only the means to that end.
- iver

The powerful person is the father who uses power without authority. The symbolic rape of the father figure empowers the child and destroys the figure's illusion of authority.
- Rodney

First desire, then fear, then realization. But just as the murderer is a danger to the community, so the sage. The sage can see what is in front of his face, has experienced the divine. And all the concensus of the community and its boundaries and taboos and superstitions have been transcended. This is truly dangerous and it's your birth right. As the prophet Bob Marley said ‘It's not all that glitters is gold, half the story has never been told and now you see the light, stand up for your rights’.
- Mud

It seems to me that you have to know yourself (become acquainted with your strength) first. Then you can and will overcome your obstacles.
- newbie

Practice overcoming your weaknesses in private...perhaps meditate in seclusion. When the temptation comes in the real world, you will be able to resist.
- Zooie

Scholarly Quotes

Joachim Jeremias writes: "Just as this political assassin first makes a trial of his strength before he embarks on his dangerous venture, so should you test yourselves to see whether you have strength to carry the adventure through." (The Parables of Jesus, p. 197)

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: "It is better to compare the kingdom of the Father with a man (as here) than with a woman (as in the two sayings preceding this one); see Saying 112 [114]. The parable vaguely reminds us of Saul's throwing his spear at David, in the Old Testament, but Thomas is not interested in Old Testament allusions. It is more like the parable of the king going into battle who first makes an estimate concerning his prospects (Luke 14:31). He who would find the kingdom must first count the cost. If he is strong enough, he can slay the 'great man' (probably the world; see Saying 78)." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 188)

F. F. Bruce writes: "This parable, also unparalleled in the canonical tradition, may have come from a period when Zealot activity gave it contemporary relevance. The point seems to be that any one who embarks on a costly or dangerous enterprise must first make sure that he has the necessary resources to carry it out. There may be a link with the strong man whose house is ransacked in Saying 35." (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 148)

Gerd Ludemann writes: "The parable appears only at this point in the early Christian Jesus tradition. It has a high degree of offensiveness, since as in Luke 16.1-7; Matt. 13.44; Matt. 24.43-44/Luke 12.39 Jesus uses an immoral hero to make a statement about the kingdom of God. Cf. in addition the original version of the saying about 'men of violence' in Matt. 11.12/Luke 16.16 (= Q) as a further example of Jesus being deliberately offensive in what he says. . . . The parable is authentic. Because of its offensiveness it probably fell victim to moral censorship at an early stage and therefore does not appear in any other text." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 637)

Funk and Hoover write: "It appeared to some of the Fellows that the story line of the parable originally had to do with reversal: the little guy beats the big guy by taking the precautions a prudent person would take before encountering the village bully. This, together with the scandalous nature of the image, prompted a majority of the Seminar to vote red or pink on the third ballot." (The Five Gospels, p. 525)

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Gospel of Thomas Saying 98

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