Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 100 Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s

Early Christian Writings Commentary

Title: Gospel of Thomas Commentary: Saying 100

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

(100) They showed Jesus a gold piece and said to him: Caesar’s men demand tribute from us. He said to them: What belongs to Caesar, give to Caesar; what belongs to God, give to God; and what is mine, give it to me.

LAYTON[2]4CM Translator ID: T68

(100) They showed Jesus a gold coin and said to him, “Caesar’s agents are exacting taxes from us.” He said to them, “Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, give unto god the things that are god’s, and give unto me that which is mine.”

DORESSE[3]4CM Translator ID: T81

104 [100]. They showed Jesus a piece of money and said to him: “The people who belong to Caesar ask us for taxes.” He said to them: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, give to God what is God’s, and what is mine give me!”

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

• Luke 20:20-26
• Matt 22:15-22
• Mark 12:13-17
• PEger 2 3 (checking ref currently 31/10/2017)
Sentences of Sextus 20

Scholarly Quotes

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman write: “The complexities of Jesus’s discussion of the tribute money in the gospels (Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:20-26) are left behind as Thomas relegates what belongs to Caesar and to God to a place of inferiority, compared with the inner man, who belongs to Jesus. Note that God seems to be inferior to Jesus; see Saying 31 [30] and Commentary.” 

The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 189

R. McL. Wilson writes: “Grant and Freedman rightly note that Thomas does not speak of the kingdom of God, and that indeed ‘God’ is mentioned only once (logion 100), and there evidently as subordinate to Jesus. Their inference that Thomas may be reserving the name ‘God’ for use as that of an inferior power is also probably correct, and serves to confirm the Gnostic character of the book; as already noted, the God of the Old Testament is in the Gnostic systems degraded to the status of creator and ruler of this present evil world.” 

Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, p. 27

F. F. Bruce writes: “This is the incident of the tribute money recorded in Mark 12.13-17 and parallels, but the historical setting is a thing of the past and the silver denarius has become a gold coin. What is specially important, however, is the addition of ‘give me what is mine’ to the canonical saying. ‘God’, who is thus placed higher than Caesar but lower than Jesus, is not the Supreme Being who is always called the Father in the Gospel of Thomas, but the demiurge, the creator of the material world. Like Caesar, he must receive his due, but it is more important to give Jesus, the unique revealer, his due.” 

Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 149

Gerd Ludemann writes: “The logion has a parallel in Mark 12.13-17 parr. In contrast to the Synoptics, it is the disciples and not the opponents of Jesus who show Jesus a coin; this represents a further development. The whole logion has its climax in v. 4, which is without parallel in the Synoptics. Evidently ‘Jesus’ expects of his disciples their own offering, i.e. in the framework of the Gospel of Thomas, that they should be aware of their own sparks of light and thus become one with Jesus, the personification of light (cf. 77.1-3; 108.1-3).” 

Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 638

Helmut Koester writes: “In this brief chria of the Gospel of Thomas all of the narrative and discourse sections are missing which tie the Markan parallel to the context of Mark 12 where various people come to Jesus in order to trap him. Thomas preserves what must have been the basis of the elaborate exchange in Mark’s extended apophthegma. The last phrase in Thomas (‘and give me what is mine’), on the other hand, is a later expansion emphasizing the commitment to Jesus.”

Ancient Christian Gospels, p. 112


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

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