Gnostic Doctrine

Monday, 10 October 2022

Know Thyself Biblical or Pagan

know thyself biblical or pagan

The Gospel of Thomas Saying 3 

(3) Jesus said, "[If] those who lead you [say to you, 'See], the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky [will precede you. If they say that] it is under the earth, then the fish of the sea [will enter it, preceding] you. And, the [kingdom of God] is inside of you, [and it is outside of you. Whoever] knows [himself] will discover this. [And when you] come to know yourselves, [you will realize that] you are [sons] of the [living] father. [But if you] will [not] know yourselves, [you dwell] in [poverty] and it is you who are that poverty."

The first part of this saying is about the location of the Kingdom the second part of this saying is about how to find the kingdom by self knowledge:

“Whoever] knows [himself] will discover this. [And when you] come to know yourselves, [you will realize that] you are [sons] of the [living] father. [But if you] will [not] know yourselves, [you dwell] in [poverty] and it is you who are that poverty.” 

Funk and Hoover write: "This phrase ['know yourselves'] is a secular proverb often attributed to Socrates.

it comes from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi
"know thyself" is one of the Delphic maxims and was the first of three maxims inscribed in the pronaos (forecourt) of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi according to the Greek writer Pausanias (10.24.1).[1]

Other sources attribute it to Phemonoe, a mythical Greek poetess. In a discussion of moderation and self-awareness, the Roman poet Juvenal quotes the phrase in Greek and states that the precept descended de caelo (from heaven) (Satire 11.27).

However, as I will show below this part of the saying is adapted from the 
Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. I believe that the Lord Jesus adapted this saying from the Hebrew Scriptures the phrases "
Take heed to Thyself" "know, thou, for thyself" "If thou know not of thyselfoccur many times in both the Hebrew Scriptures and Septuagint.

"Know thyself" was the wisest maxim of the wisest philospher of the wisest pagan nation of antiquity. "Know thyself" is inculcated by all the prophets and Apostles of all the ages of Revelation. And while the wisest man of the wisest nation in theology taught as his first maxim that "the fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom"and while the Saviour of the world taught that "it is eternal life to know the only true God and his son Jesus Christ whom he commissioned" both concur in inculcating the excellence and in teaching the utility and importance of self-knowledge (The Christian Baptist, Volumes 5-6 1827-1828 Edited by Alexander Campbell)

In Greek the phrase "know thyself" is "γνῶθι σεαυτόν" these two Greek words are used in the bible they are given Strong's concordance numbers G1097 G4572 γνῶθι σεαυτόν these two words are used together in the Septuagint (see below)
In Greek the phrase "know thyself" is "γνῶθι σεαυτόν" these two Greek words are used in the Septuagint translation of Job 5:27 and Song of Songs 1:8 

Job 5:27 Lo! As for this, we have searched it out––so, it is, Hear it, and know, thou, for thyself. Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible 

Job 5:27Behold, we have thus sought out these matters; these are what we have heard: but do thou reflect with thyself, if thou hast done anything wrong. (Brenton Septuagint Translation)

So 1:8 If thou know not of thyself, most beautiful among women! get thee forth in the footsteps of the flock, and pasture thy kids by the huts of the shepherds (Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible.)

8  If thou know not thyself, thou fair one among women, go thou forth by the footsteps of the flocks, and feed thy kids by the shepherd’s tents. (Brenton Septuagint Translation)

She should realise of herself where the place of shelter and rest is to be found, for it has been revealed unto her, and there is no need for her to wander blindly.

 {Ge 31:24 Ge 31:29 Ex 10:28 Ex 23:13 Ex 34:12 De 8:11 De 12:13 De 12:19 De 12:30 Cp. 1Sa 19:2 

LXX, Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible, or look at the King James Bible (1611) Ex 10:28 Ex 34:12 De 4:9 De 12:13 De 12:19 De 12:30). 

All of this shows that the ancient Greek philosophers must have read the Hebrew Scriptures and taken the phrase "Know yourself" from the Hebrew Scriptures.

Philo of Alexandria
Philo of Alexandria attributes the phrase "know yourself" or "know thyself" to Moses

Philo of Alexandria defines self knowledge or knowing yourself as "Take heed to Thyself."

Philo On the Migration of Abraham:

know yourself all your life, as Moses teaches us in many passages where he says, "Take heed to Thyself."{4}{#ex 34:12.}

"Dwell, therefore," says she, "O my child, with him," not all thy life, but "certain days;" that is to say, learn to be acquainted with the country of the external senses; know thyself and thy own parts, and what each is, and for what end it was made

Come, and at once abandoning all other things, learn to know yourselves, and tell us plainly what ye yourselves are in respect of your bodies, in respect of your souls, in respect of your external senses, and in respect of your reason

Philo's interpretation to know oneself is neither purely positive (as in Plato we must know ourselves as parts of the divine intelligible) nor purely neative (as in the tragedies we must know our own limitations) but a combination of both aspects we must recognize ourselves as non-being through which shines the true being of the Cause

Take Heed to Thyself

Deut 4:9  Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;

De 11:16  Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;

Take heed to Thyself this is another re-occurring phrase throughout Deuteronomy, emphasising the personal responsibility (See Deut. 2:4; 4:9,15,23; 11:16; 12:13,19,30; 27:9.)

"Take heed to yourselves"— A personal instruction to every individual. In similar manner, on following the Lord's ascension into heaven, the apostles urged the people:
"Save yourselves from this untoward generation" (Acts 2:40). Earlier the Lord had
impressed the apostles with the fact of personal responsibility by an exhortation that
reaches down to our day: 'Take heed to yourselves..." (Luke 21:34).

set down in Scripture as an exhortation to all to take heed to their own individual conduct (1 Cor. 10:11).

Prov 4:23  Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life.

The Lord Jesus himself in the New Testament use the phrase “Take heed to yourselves” or  "pay attention to yourselves" see: 

Luke 21:34 “But pay attention to yourselves that YOUR hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon YOU (NWT)

And so does Paul: Acts 20: 28 Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed YOU overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own [Son]. (NWT)

(1 Timothy 4:16) Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you. (NWT)

Tit 2:7  In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, (KJ)

And John use the phrase as well: 2Jo 1:8  Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. (KJ)

All of this shows that this part of the saying does not come from Pagan Greek philosophers but from the Hebrew Scriptures and the words of Jesus and the apostles. 

The phrase "Whoever knows [himself] will discover this" this teaching should not be foreign to you if you have been given the eyes to see it. Consider how this passage from Thomas spiritually aligns with what Paul wrote to the Corinthians. (1Cor 13:9)

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
We must come to know our true self. Our true self is not the person of this world, but the one who was born of God. We are spiritually maturing and growing in knowledge of who we are. We may not be clearly seeing our true self (who is Christ) right now, but we will once we come to fully know and be our True self. We are God’s image that must become perfect like our heavenly Father this is our purpose to reflect the identity, character and glory and become the image of Christ, who is the true image of God. We can only do this in Christ where our true self (life) will be kept hidden in Christ Col 3:3, 4. So in this light real poverty is when we do not know our true self in Christ. The use of the term 'poverty' is meant for life outside of true knowledge This is spiritual poverty where our minds are lost in deception and our hearts feel homeless because we have not returned to our Father’s house 1Cor 3:16 6:19 Eph 2:20-22 1Pet 2:5. 

Finally, Jesus says, “you are that poverty” Paul says that nothing good could come from him Rom 7:18 He said that “Paul” had died and Christ now lived in and through him Gal 2:20. Paul knew that his true life was found when he had the spirit of Christ, which is the mind of Christ and not the natural or worldly Paul.

Paul rebuked Corinth for their inability to know whether they had the Christ-man developed within them: "Know ye not...that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1Cor. 3:16). We must reckon ourselves dead to sin (Rom. 6:11). The Greek for "reckon" is that translated "impute" or "count", and which often appears in the surrounding chapters in Romans, speaking of how God "counts" us to be perfect. We must reckon ourselves as God reckons us. 

The Christ-man is first born at baptism, but it is quite possible for it to lie dormant or even die unless it is nurtured. Almost all of us have discovered the presence of our real spiritual man some time after baptism. The spiritual self is begotten by the word, leading to the birth at baptism (2Cor 5:17; James 1:18; 1Pet. 1:23); yet it is the word which makes the " man of God" perfect or mature (2Tim. 3:16,17). Note that the " man of God" here probably refers to our inner spiritual self, rather than just being an epithet for a believer. In this case, 1Tim. 6:11 records Paul speaking to Timothy's spiritual man: " Thou, O man of God, flee these things". "Man of God" was a term used to describe the Old Testament prophets; it is as if Paul is addressing himself to the word-developed man within Timothy. We must likewise relate to the spiritual man within our brethren.

Moreover, this is how we become “sons of the living Father” (compare Thomas 49-50), which is to become like Jesus himself our example. We must have the same faith as Jesus as well as the same self-control just as Jesus needed it to be saved, so do we Heb 5:7, 8 also in the gospel of John it is Jesus who empowered true believers, so #Ec 5:19, 6:2. He gave them the privilege, the liberty, the dignity, which refers to the legitimate entitlement to the position of being called and becoming the sons of God. Israel was once the son and the first-born, #Ex 4:22: but now the adoption of sons to God was open and free to all nations whatever. By believing, undeserving sinners can become full members of God's family.


  1. Great treatise on ancient gnosis, very much appreciated. Bookmarked!

  2. This couldn't be further from the Truth. 'Know Thyself', and all similar concepts that put emphasis on the 'Self', are well known New Age, Gnostic, Non-christian, Unbiblical concepts. The Bible teaches from Genesis to Revelation to 'deny' self. To die to, to crucify, the self. Self is the 'old' man. It is the Flesh, and the flesh is sinful and it is to be crucified. The 'New' man is the New Spirit. It is the Spirit of Christ and it is 'all' that one must seek to know. Fear of (reverence for,
    Acknowledgement of, knowledge of) God is the beginning of Wisdom. To make the case that we must look to ourselves, in 'Any' way, in order to find God, is to lead astray in the most blasphemous way. God says "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." Hosea 4:6 & Malachi 2:7-9 make crystal clear that the knowledge He is referring to has nothing whatsoever to do with 'self.'