Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Saying 51


His disciples said to him, ‘When will rest for the dead happen, and when will the new world come?’

He said to them, ‘What you are looking for has come, but you do not know it.’


Compare Sayings 18, 37, and 43. This saying, again altering the question from Matt 24.3, reinterprets the resurrection of the dead as ‘rest’. The evidence available in the earliest Christian literature suggests that the first generations of the Jesus Movement believed the end of history would arrive within their lifetime, and the dead would be raised to face the final judgment. Different communities of Christians came up with explanations for the apparent failure of the eschaton to arrive at the expected time. Some insisted that they had simply misunderstood the timing laid out in the predictions. Others said that it had been delayed. Still others, such as the community responsible for later additions to the Gospel of Thomas, believed that it was not the timing that had been misunderstood, but the nature of fulfillment. The so-called ‘end’ actually had arrived, along with the events people thought of as ‘resurrection’ and ‘judgment’. These were things which would not transpire in the future of this world, but were already happening in the present time in the spiritual realm. Only those with enough wisdom to truly understand the teachings of Jesus would be able to recognize this truth. Instead of the dead being raised, they find ‘rest’ in the afterlife. When other Christians learned about these beliefs, they responded negatively, even forging letters in the names of the ancient apostles to denounce such heresy (2 Tim 2.16–18). Saying 50 and 51 were placed in sequence because they each mention the ‘rest’.



13.3–4 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?’


24.3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’


21.7 They asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’

2 Timothy

2.16–18 Avoid profane chatter, for it will lead people into more and more impiety, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth by claiming that the resurrection has already taken place.

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