Gnostic Doctrine

Friday, 27 March 2020

the pearl Gospel of Thomas Saying 76




Saying 76

(76) Jesus said: The kingdom of the Father is like a merchant who had a load (of goods) and found a pearl. That merchant was wise. He sold the load and bought for himself the pearl alone. You also, seek after his treasure which does not fail (but) endures, where moth does not come near to devour nor worm to destroy.

The saying is sandwiched between 75 a call to celibacy, and 77 a christological statement about Jesus’ power and authority so this saying would be understood by the listener to be the celibate who has left behind his or her family and possessions in order to devote him or herself to Jesus, to receive the treasure he has to give. Why? Because Jesus is the light above all things, from whom everything came forth. The evident lesson of this Saying is the same as in the saying of the treasure hid in the field, only it is put in a stronger light. (Saying 109). The finder of the treasure in the field appears only as an accidental finder. In this case, the man is on the outlook for something good to buy, and, finding a particular gem, recognises its value so decisively as to sell his whole stock that he might obtain it. Cp Matt 13: 44: whether discovered by accident, or by design, the reaction is the same: give up everything else so as to obtain it!

In Saying 109, the man stumbles upon the "treasure" -- he was evidently not seeking it at all; he didn't even know it was to be found! But in this saying, the merchant has been searching high and low for the greatest "treasure", the greatest "pearl": he has sifted through and evaluated other "pearls"; he knows the worth of what he seeks, and he knows immediately when he finds it: "This is it!" -- his heart's desire!

But, in each case, whether by apparent "accident" or by design and tireless effort, the man who at last finds the great "treasure" will do anything, and sell anything, if only he might acquire it!
So the question arises: instead of the "treasure" (or the "pearl") being the "gospel" or "Christ" himself, and the man (or the merchant) the one who finds truth… why not: the "treasure" is the one who finds truth, and the man who finds HIM is Christ?

And the answer, I believe, is: why not indeed? Whether it be by what appears to be coincidence (but which is really the providence of God), or by diligent and long searching, Christ will seek out and find HIS "treasure", HIS "pearls". And they will be the "treasured possessions", the "jewels" in his "crown" (cp Phi 4:1; 1Th 2:19), the ones who are bound up in HIS "bundle" of precious things!
They will be Christ's "treasure", also, BECAUSE they "treasured" what they found. It is a cliché, surely, that we all become, in time, what we seek after, or what we want to be. The pleasure-seeker becomes a hedonist, the leisure-seeker becomes lazy, the wealth-seeker becomes rich: what we desire in our heart or hearts is what, at the last, we will BE! As a man thinks in his heart, so he becomes. And the seeker after the treasure of God's truth, His word, His promises -- who desires that above all else… will in the end BECOME the "treasure" which he sought

And all together, the individual redeemed ones will constitute the Bride of the Lamb, the virtuous woman who is the Bridegroom's greatest treasure, "for she is worth far more than rubles" (Prov 31:10).

Each of these two propositions has merit, and each -- it is believed -- may be true: do we seek Christ, or does Christ seek us? Do we find Christ, or does Christ find us? Yes, and yes. It all depends on which perspective we have. To human eyes, and human experience, it may appear altogether as though WE do the seeking and the finding, but from God's point of view, we all were known and marked out ahead of time. For His point of view, we do not save ourselves; we cannot save ourselves -- rather, we are searched for, and found, and redeemed, and treasured -- all by Him: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us [literally, 'marked us out ahead of time'] to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will -- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves" (Eph 1:3-6).

Pearl this man was actively and diligently seeking for his "treasure"! What might the "treasure" symbolize? (1) Understanding and insight, into the truth of God's revelation of course: Prov 2:2-5. (2) Wisdom, especially of course the wisdom that comes from God (Prov 16:16). This "treasure" is to be found in Christ: "My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2:2,3). "I was found by those who did not seek me" (Isa 65:1).
“You too, seek his unfailing and enduring treasure where no moth comes near to devour and no worm destroys."

76) #Jesus said, "The kingdom of the Father is like a merchant [worldly religious leader/adherent] who had a consignment of merchandise [festivals, customs, traditions, ordinances and the Word that has been leavened by their lower/outward (fleshly) minds] and who discovered a pearl [which forms unseen in its host by irritation - so this pearl represents the spirit working in him upon his conscience]. That merchant was shrewd [like the wise fisherman - see v.8 who was able to discern the value of the hidden meanings in the Word]. He sold the merchandise [gave up all of his worthless traditions etc..] and bought the pearl alone for himself [one must bear his own particular crucifixion alone (sell all he has and walk in the Way)] . ##You too, seek his unfailing and enduring treasure where no moth [garment eating religious system] comes near to devour and no worm [spiritual thief] destroys."

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