Gospel of Thomas - Chapter 066
- (64) Jesus said, "A man had received visitors. And when he had prepared the dinner, he sent his servant to invite the guests.
- He went to the first one and said to him, 'My master invites you.' He said, 'I have claims against some merchants. They are coming to me this evening. I must go and give them my orders. I ask to be excused from the dinner.'
- He went to another and said to him, 'My master has invited you.' He said to him, 'I have just bought a house and am required for the day. I shall not have any spare time.'
- He went to another and said to him, 'My master invites you.' He said to him, 'My friend is going to get married, and I am to prepare the banquet. I shall not be able to come. I ask to be excused from the dinner.'
- He went to another and said to him, 'My master invites you.' He said to him, 'I have just bought a farm, and I am on my way to collect the rent. I shall not be able to come. I ask to be excused.'
- The servant returned and said to his master, 'Those whom you invited to the dinner have asked to be excused.' The master said to his servant, 'Go outside to the streets and bring back those whom you happen to meet, so that they may dine.' Businessmen and merchants will not enter the places of my father."
visitors The word עלה 'aleh' or visit, also means leaf, branch, ascend, burnt offering.
One of the many doctrinal divisions among Christians is the question of whether Christ died for everyone or just for the elect. The systemic exegetical problem for the church was the introduction of Greek logic to a Hebrew system of thought. Socrates would present a problem as a dilemma and by showing one proposition to be false, conclude the other was true. The problem with this method is what I call universal ignorance. You do not know that which you do not know. Although it sounds like a platitude, it is a critical piece of information when setting up a Socratic dilemma.
For a dilemma to be a true dilemma, there must be two and only two possibilities AND only one of them can be true at a time. This is where universal ignorance comes to play. Though you only know of two possibilities, and it seems apparent to all that there are only two possibilities, no one can know for sure that there is not a third which lurks in the shadows, hidden from all.
Is the sky blue or is it not blue. This is a simple question and Socrates would taunt you if you hesitated to answer quickly. (No I am not so old that I remember him doing so... ) But yesterday the sky was red, and we know that if we capture the sky in a jar that it has no color at all. It is a false dilemma used to set up an argument using sophistry. Socrates did it intentionally. We usually do it unwittingly.
So the doctrinal division is proposed as a dilemma, but it is a false dilemma. "Did Jesus die for all men or just for the elect?" ... and Socrates taunts you for a quick choice.
The problem lies in the unstated presumptions about salvation. It is presumed that if your sins are forgiven that you are 'saved'. Is it possible that some people who are forgiven are not saved? Because this option is not presented within the false dilemma, it is impossible for any of them to arrive at that conclusion.
I apologize for the lengthy background, but to show that Thomas is consistent with the New Testament writers, we need take care to not be funneled into a false dilemma.
- Mt 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
The word 'know' is used of the intimate relation between a man and wife. Since the church is the virgin bride of Christ, the bride is 'fruitful and multiplying' in the spirit not in the flesh. Jesus said, "I never produced life in you". On the other side, we love him because he first loved us. (1Jo 4:19 ).
So he first forgave our sins... everybody's. I can declare without hesitation that your sins are forgiven. But the question is that when he first loved you, did you love him back? Did you choose to respond to his invitation to become the bride? To some he said, "Depart from me.... you were never my bride."
Now we can look at the 'visitors' in Thomas's saying. They are branches who have already been received, yet they did not respond to the invitation to dinner.
Making it brief, what do we eat? The body of Christ... They refused to meditate, and ruminate on his truth. Even though they have been received, they refused to enter in. The exclusivity of Christianity is an offense to many. But the forgiveness of Christ is for all, as is the invitation to become his bride. It is not that Christ casts anyone out, but that they have refused to enter into the marriage. In response to his love, they do not love in return.
Those who rejected Christ's invitation in this saying did not do so out of necessity, but because other things were more important to them. One bought a house... but Jesus prepared a mansion for him.
One went to another wedding... and missed his own.
Another bought a farm, but not to work it. He was renting it out. His needs were already met in the company of the one who had received him but he wanted more.