Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 082 Fire and the kingdom are with Jesus

Early Christian Writings Commentary

Title: Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 82

Subheading:  This page explores modern interpretations of the Gospel according to Thomas, an ancient text preserved in a Coptic translation at Nag Hammadi and Greek fragments at Oxyrhynchus. With no particular slant, this commentary gathers together quotations from various scholars in order to elucidate the meaning of the sayings, many of which are rightly described as “obscure.”

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FromEarly Christian Writings 

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Horst Balz. (T87)
Bentley Layton. (T68)
Harold W Attridge. (T34)
Jean Doresse. (T81)
Robert Funk. (T71)

Our Ref:
ECST: 014.10.000.T34
ECST: 014.10.000.T68
ECST: 014.10.000.T71
ECST: 014.10.000.T81
ECST: 014.10.000.T87

Nag Hammadi Coptic Text

Gospel of Thomas Coptic Text

BLATZ[1]4CM Translator ID: T87

(82) Jesus said: He who is near to me is near the fire, and he who is far from me is far from the kingdom.

LAYTON[2]4CM Translator ID: T68

(82) Jesus said, “Whoever is near me is near fire, and whoever is far from me is far from the kingdom.”

DORESSE[3]4CM Translator ID: T81

86 [82]. Jesus says: “He who is near me is near the fire, and he who is far from me is far from the Kingdom.”

Funk’s Parallels[4]4CM Translator ID: T71

• Mark 9:49 KJV
• Mark 12:34 KJV
Origen In Jerem. hom. lat. 20.3 (Origen In Jeremiah. Homilies)
Armenian Ms. 123/68 Monestary of St. Lazzaro
Ign Smyr. 4.2 (Ignatius, Letter to Smyrneans)

Scholarly Quotes

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: “The fire is that which Jesus came to cast on the earth (Sayings 9 and 16); it is a symbol of the kingdom and therefore of the Father. We find something rather like this saying in the letter of Ignatius of Antioch to the Smyrnaeans (4, 2). ‘Why have I given myself up to death, to fire, to sword, to wild beasts? But near sword is near god, with wild beasts is with God.’ Perhaps Ignatius alludes to this saying; on the other hand, this saying may be based on the words of Ignatius.”

The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 180

F. F. Bruce writes: “The fire is a symbol of the ‘kingdom of the Father’ (cf. Sayings 10, 16). We may recall that, according to Justin Martyr and others, a fire was kindled on Jordan when Jesus was baptized. [Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 88.3: ‘When Jesus went down into the water a fire was kindled in the Jordan.’ Cf. the ‘light’ which shone on the same occasion acording to the Gospel of the Ebionites (p. 107).”

Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 144

Joachim Jeremias writes: “To be near Jesus is dangerous. It offers no prospect of earthly happiness, but involves the fire of tribulation and the test of suffering. But it must indeed be borne in upon every one who, yielding to fear, turns away from the call of Jesus, that he excludes himself from the Kingdom of God. Only through fire may the Kingdom be attained.” 

The Parables of Jesus, p. 196

Funk and Hoover write: “This saying is also known from later writers such as Origen . . . However, the aphorism is thought by many scholars to approximate the proverb of Aesop: ‘Whoever is near to Zeus is near the thunderbolt.’ To approach the divine is to risk danger. Some of the Fellows were attracted by teh short, aphoristic nature of the saying and its reference to the Father’s domain. On the other hand, assigning popular sayings to Jesusis a common practice of the early Christian community. Further, Jesus speaks here of himself in rather exalted terms, as though he were equal to God. This aspect suggested to the Fellows an early Christian origin.”

The Five Gospels, pp. 517-518


1 4CM Translator ID: T87
2 4CM Translator ID: T68
3 4CM Translator ID: T81
4 4CM Translator ID: T71

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