Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 088 We should give to messengers and prophets

Early Christian Writings Commentary

Title: Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 88

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

(88) Jesus said: The angels and the prophets will come to you, and they will give you what is yours. You also, give them what is in your hands, and say to yourselves: On what day will they come to take what is theirs?

LAYTON[2]4CM Translator ID: T68

(88) Jesus said, “The messengers and the prophets are coming to you (plur.), and they will give you the things that you possess. And you, too – give them the things that you have, and say among yourselves, ‘When are they coming to take their own?'”

DORESSE[3]4CM Translator ID: T81

92 [88]. Jesus says: “The angels and prophets are coming to you; they will give you the things that belong to you. You, give them what you possess, and say: ‘When will they come and take what is theirs?'”

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

• Luke 12.20 KJV

Scholarly Quotes

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: “Angels are the messengers of the Son of Man, e.g., in Matthew 13:41. They give man his true self, the kingdom. It is not clear what the prophets have to do with this. Perhaps the emphasis is on what men give the prophets, for ‘many prophets . . . desired to see what you see and did not see it’ (Matthew 13:17; Luke 10:24). The day on which they come and take their own is presumably the day of death; compare Luke 12:20 (in the parable of the rich fool, Saying 64): ‘This night they will require your soul [life] from you.'”

The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 183

F. F. Bruce writes: “The question at the end is reminiscent of the message received by the rich fool in Luke 12.20: ‘This night your soul is required of you’ (cf. Saying 63). On the day when mortal life ends the heavenly messengers give men their proper heritage (the kingdom of the Father).” 

Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 146

Marvin Meyer writes: “This saying may discuss interactions with itinerant prophets or with heavenly messengers. The word Angelo’s used in the Coptic may be translated either ‘messengers’ or ‘angels.’ In the Jewish scriptures and the New Testament, this word may designate either sort of messenger; at times it may indicate a prophet or a human emissary. In the Discourses of Epictetus a Cynic philosopher may be called a ‘messenger’ of Zeus to humankind.”

The Gospel of Thomas, The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, p. 102


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

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