Gospel of Thomas Saying 35

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This Gospel of Thomas Commentary is part of the Gospel of Thomas page at Early Christian Writings.

Nag Hammadi Coptic Text

Gospel of Thomas Coptic Text


(35) Jesus said: It is not possible for anyone to go into the strong man's house (and) take it by force, unless he binds his hands; then will he plunder his house.


(35) Jesus said, "No one can enter the house of the strong man and wreck it without first tying that person's hands. Thereafter, one can ransack the person's house."


40 [35]. Jesus says: "It is not possible for someone to enter the house of a strong man and do him violence if he has not tied his hands: <only> then will he plunder his house."

Funk's Parallels

GThom 21:3, GThom 103, Luke 11:14-23, Matt 12:22-30, Mark 3:23-27.

Visitor Comments

Perhaps this passage refers to the strength of faith, as in, A person cannot change your beliefs, nor take your faith, unless they bind your hands by subduing your will.
- Nikole

One cannot change a mind or a system without first knowing what is that idea's or system's or person's power. However, if you can find the locus of power and interupt it or defuse it, then you can change minds, people, and systems.
- magsvus

I think this refers to the fact that you cannot overcome sin while you let your desires control you. You have to tie down your senses and then you will be able to overcome this material world.
- Alex

It is impossible for someone to change your faith if it is strong. It cannot be changed unless you are weak and allow them to control you.
- Meg

Scholarly Quotes

Gerd Ludemann writes: "At the level of redactoin the logion recalls 21.5-8, and at the level of tradition it strongly recalls both Mark 3.27 and Matt. 12.29/Luke 11.21-22 (= Q). It has a genetic connection with these passages. However, in contrast to the parallels mentioned it does not indicate the context, which there consists in the overcoming of Satan by Jesus." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 607)

Crossan writes: "This version is extremely close to Mark 3:27, much more than to Matt. 12:29 (against Schrage: 87). With regard to form, the external format is assertion rather than question in Mark and Thomas, against Matthew; (b) the internal format has three sections: general negation ('not'/'no one'), specific exception ('unless'), direct result ('then'), in Mark and Thomas, but only the last two in Matthew. With regard to content, and allowing for the syntactical and translational differences between Greek and Coptic, the main differences are that Thomas lacks 'his goods' and 'first' but contains 'his hands,' as against Mark. The Coptic text is ambiguous on the object of the intruder's force: 'him (or: it)' in Guillaumont (1959:23), 'it (or: him)' in Wilson (Hennecke and Schneemelcher:1.515). But the meaning seems to demand the translation 'take it by force,' as in Lambdin (122), and this is again close to Mark. In summary, then, the differences between Mark and Thomas are performancial variations in content within a remarkably similar format." (In Fragments, p. 190)

Funk and Hoover write: "Thomas preserves this saying, like many others, without any context. In Mark 3:27, the saying is related to the exorcism of demons. However, that may not have been its original reference. The Fellows gave the saying a pink rating because it is not likely to have been attributed to Jesus by the Christian community inasmuch as it is an image of violence. Further, it is attested in three independent sources, Mark, Q, and here in Thomas." (The Five Gospels, p. 493)

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Gospel of Thomas Saying 35

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