Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VIII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Apocrypha of the New Testament.: When He Came into India, and Built the Palace in the Heavens.
Acts of the Holy Apostle Thomas,
When He Came into India, and Built the Palace in the Heavens.
And when the apostle came into the cities of India, with Abbanes the merchant, Abbanes went away to salute Gundaphoros the king, and reported to him about the carpenter whom he had brought with him; and the king was glad, and ordered him to come in to himself. And when he had come in, the king said to him: What trade knowest thou? The apostle says to him: The carpenters and house builders. The king says to him: What work in wood knowest thou, p. 539 then, and what in stone? The apostle says: In wood, ploughs, yokes, balances, pulleys, and boats, and oars, and masts; and in stone, monuments, temples, royal palaces. And the king said: Wilt thou build me a palace? And he answered: Yes, I shall build it, and finish it; for because of this I came, to build houses, and to do carpenters work.
And the king having taken him, went forth out of the gates of the city, and began to talk with him on the way about the building of the palace, and about the foundations, how they should be laid, until they came to that place in which he wished the building to be. And he said: Here I wish the building to be. And the apostle says: Yes; for assuredly this place is convenient for the building. For the place was well wooded, and there was much water there. The king therefore says: Begin to build. And he said: I cannot begin to build at this time.
And the king says: When wilt thou be able? And he says: I shall begin in Dius and end in Xanthicus. 2330 And the king wondering, said: Every building is built in summer; but canst thou build and make a palace in winter itself? And the apostle said: Thus it must be, and otherwise it is impossible. And the king said: If, therefore, this be thy opinion, mark out for me how the work is to be, since I shall come here after some time. And the apostle, having taken a reed, measured the place, and marked it out; and he set the doors towards the rising of the sun, to look to the light, and the windows towards its setting, to the winds; and he made the bakehouse to be towards the south, and the water-tank, for abundance, towards the north. And the king seeing this, said to the apostle: Thou art a craftsman indeed, and it is fitting that thou shouldst serve kings. And having left many things for him, he went away.
And from time to time he also sent the money that was necessary, for the living both of him and the other workmen. And he taking it, dispenses it all, going about the cities and the places round, distributing and doing kindnesses to the poor and the afflicted, and gave them rest, 2331 saying: The king knows how to obtain royal recompense, and it is necessary for the poor to have repose for the present.
And after this, the king sent a messenger to the apostle, having written to him as follows: Show me what thou hast done, or what I am to send thee, or what thou needest. The apostle sends to him, saying: The palace is built, and only the roof remains to be done. And the king, having heard, sent him again gold and silver uncoined, and wrote to him: Let the palace, if it be done, be roofed. And the apostle said to the Lord: I thank Thee, Lord, as to all things, that Thou didst die for a short time, that I might live in Thee for ever; and hast sold me, so that Thou mayst deliver many through me. And he did not cease to teach and refresh the afflicted, saying: These things the Lord hath dispensed to us, and He gives to each his food; for He is the support of the orphans, and the provider of the widows, and to all that are afflicted He is rest and repose.
And when the king came into the city, he inquired of his friends about the palace which Judas, who also is Thomas, had built; and they said to him: He has neither built a palace, nor done anything else of what he promised to do; but he goes round the cities and the districts, and if he has anything he gives all to the poor, and teaches one new God, 2332 and heals the diseased, and drives out demons, and does many other extraordinary things; and we think that he is a magician. But his acts of compassion, and the cures done by him as a free gift, and still more, his single-mindedness, and gentleness, and fidelity, show that he is a just man, or an apostle of the new God whom he preaches; for he continually fasts and prays, and eats only bread with salt, and his drink is water, and he carries one coat, whether in warm weather or in cold, and he takes nothing from any one, but gives to others even what he has. The king having heard this, stroked his face with his hands, shaking his head for a long time.
And he sent for the merchant that had brought him, and for the apostle, and said to him: Hast thou built me the palace? And he said: Yes, I have built it. And the king said: When, then, are we to go and see it? And he answered and said: Now thou canst not see it; but when thou hast departed this life, thou shalt see it. And the king, quite enraged, ordered both the merchant, and Judas who also is Thomas, to be put in chains, and to be cast into prison, until he should examine, and learn to whom he had given the kings property. And thus I shall destroy him along with the merchant. And the apostle went to prison rejoicing, and said to the merchant: Fear nothing at all, but only believe in the God proclaimed by me, and thou shalt be freed from this world, and thou shalt obtain life in the world to come.
And the king considered by what death he should kill them; and when it seemed good to him to flay them, and burn them with fire, on that very night Gad the kings brother fell ill, p. 540 and through the grief and imposition which the king suffered he was grievously depressed; and having sent for the king, he said to him: My brother the king, I commend to thee my house and my children; for I, on account of the insult that has befallen thee, have been grieved, and am dying; and if thou do not come down with vengeance upon the head of that magician, thou wilt give my soul no rest in Hades. And the king said to his brother: During the whole night I have considered this, how I shall put him to death; and this has seemed good to me—to flay him and burn him up with fire, both him and with him the merchant that brought him.
And as they were talking together, the soul of Gad his brother departed. And the king mourned for Gad exceedingly, for he altogether loved him. And he ordered him to be prepared for burial in a royal and costly robe. And as this was being done, angels received the soul of Gad the kings brother, and took it up into heaven, showing him the places and dwellings there, asking him: In what sort of a place dost thou wish to dwell? And when they came near the edifice of Thomas the apostle, which he had built for the king, Gad, seeing it, said to the angels, I entreat you, my lords, permit me to dwell in one of the underground chambers of this palace. And they said to him: Thou canst not dwell in this building. 2333 And he said: Wherefore? They say to him: This palace is the one which that Christian built for thy brother. And he said: I entreat you, my lords, permit me to go to my brother, that I may buy this palace from him; for my brother does not know what it is like, and he will sell it to me.
Then the angels let the soul of Gad go. And as they were putting on him the burial robe, his soul came into him. And he said to those standing round him: Call my brother to me, that I may beg of him one request. Straightway, therefore, they sent the good news to their king, saying: Thy brother has come alive again. And the king started up, and along with a great multitude went to his brother, and went in and stood beside his bed as if thunderstruck, not being able to speak to him. And his brother said: I know and am persuaded, brother, that if any one asked of thee the half of thy kingdom, thou wouldst give it for my sake; wherefore I entreat thee to grant me one favour, which I beg of thee to do me. And the king answered and said: And what is it that thou askest me to do for thee? And he said: Assure me by an oath that thou wilt grant it me. And the king swore to him: Of what belongs to me, whatever thou shalt ask, I will give thee. And he says to him: Sell me that palace which thou hast in the heavens. And the king said: Whence does a palace in the heavens belong to me? And he said: That which the Christian who is now in the prison, whom the merchant bought from a certain Jesus, and brought to thee, built for thee. And as he was at a loss, he says to him again: I speak of that Hebrew slave whom thou didst wish to punish, as having suffered some imposition from him, on account of whom I also was grieved and died, and now have come alive again.
Then the king, having come to know, understood about the eternal benefits that were conferred upon him and destined for him, and said: That palace I cannot sell thee, but I pray thee to go into it, and dwell there, and become worthy to be of its inhabitants; but if thou really wishest to buy such a palace, behold, the man is alive, and will build thee a better than that. 2334 And having sent immediately, he brought out of the prison the apostle, and the merchant who had been shut up along with him, saying: I entreat thee, as a man entreating the servant of God, that thou wilt pray for me, and entreat him whose servant thou art, to pardon me, and overlook what I have done to thee, or even what I meant to do, and that I may be worthy to be an inhabitant of that house for which indeed I have laboured nothing, but which thou labouring alone hast built for me, the grace of thy God working with thee; and that I may become a servant, I also, and slave of this God whom thou proclaimest. And his brother, falling down before the apostle, said: I entreat thee, and supplicate before thy God, that I may become worthy of this ministry and service, and may be allotted to become worthy of those things which were shown me by his angels.
And the apostle, seized with joy, said: I make full confession 2335 to Thee, Lord Jesus, that Thou hast revealed Thy truth in these men: for Thou alone art a God of truth, and not another; and Thou art He who knowest all things that are unknown to many: Thou art He, Lord, who in all things showest compassion and mercy to men; for men, through the error that is in them, have overlooked Thee, but Thou hast not overlooked them. And now, when I am entreating and supplicating Thee, accept the king and his brother, and unite them into Thy fold, having p. 541 cleansed them by Thy purification, and anointed them with Thy oil, from the error which encompasseth them; and protect them also from the wolves, bringing them into Thy meadows; and give them to drink of Thy ambrosial fountain, that is never muddy and never faileth: for they entreat Thee, and supplicate, and wish to become Thy ministers and servants; and on account of this they are well pleased even to be persecuted by Thine enemies, and for Thy sake to be hated by them, and insulted, and to die; as Thou also for our sakes didst suffer all these things, that Thou mightst gain us to Thyself, as being Lord, and truly a good shepherd. And do Thou grant them that they may have confidence in Thee alone, and aid from Thee, and hope of their salvation, which they obtain from Thee alone, and that they may be confirmed in Thy mysteries; and they shall receive the perfect benefits of Thy graces and gifts, and flourish in Thy service, and bear fruit to perfection in Thy Father.
King Gundaphoros, therefore, and Gad, having been altogether set apart by the apostle, followed him, not at all going back, they also providing for those that begged of them, giving to all, and relieving all. And they entreated him that they might also then receive the seal of baptism; and they said to him: As our souls are at ease, and as we are earnest about God, give us the seal; for we have heard thee saying that the God whom thou proclaimest recognises through his seal his own sheep. And the apostle said to them: And I am glad, and entreat you to receive this seal, and to communicate with me in this thanksgiving 2336 and blessing of God, and to be made perfect in it; 2337 for this Jesus Christ whom I proclaim is Lord and God of all, and He is the Father of truth, in whom I have taught you to believe. And he ordered to bring them oil, in order that through the oil they might receive the seal. They brought the oil, therefore, and lighted many lamps, for it was night. 2338
And the apostle arose, and sealed them; and the Lord was revealed to them, through a voice saying, Peace to you, brethren! And they heard His voice only, but His form they saw not; for they had not yet received the ratification 2339 of the seal. And the apostle, having taken oil, and poured it over their head, and salved and anointed them, began to say: Come, holy name of Christ, which is above every name; come, power of the Most High, and perfect compassion; come, grace most high; come, compassionate mother; come, thou that hast charge 2340 of the male child; come, thou who revealest secret mysteries; come, mother of the seven houses, that there may be rest for thee in the eighth house; come, thou presbyter of the five members—intelligence, thought, purpose, reflection, reasoning—communicate with these young persons; come, Holy Spirit, and purify their reins and heart, and seal them in the name of Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit. And when they had been sealed, there appeared to them a young man holding a burning torch, so that their lamps were even darkened by the approach 2341 of its light. And he went out, and disappeared from their sight. And the apostle said to the Lord: Thy light, Lord, is too great for us, and we cannot bear it; for it is too much for our sight. And when light came, and it was dawn, having broken bread, he made them partakers of the thanksgiving 2342 of Christ. And they rejoiced and exulted; and many others also believed, and were added, and came to the refuge of the Saviour.
And the apostle ceased not proclaiming, and saying to them: Men and women, boys and girls, young men and maidens, vigorous and aged, both bond and free, withhold yourselves from fornication, and covetousness, and the service of the belly; for under these three heads all wickedness comes. For fornication maims the mind, and darkens the eyes of the soul, and becomes a hindrance of the due regulation of the body, changing the whole man into feebleness, and throwing the whole body into disease. And insatiableness puts the soul into fear and shame, existing by what pertains to the body, 2343 and forcibly seizing what belongs to another;…and the service of the belly throws the soul into cares and troubles and griefs.…Since, therefore, you have been set free from these, you are without care, and without grief, and without fear; and there remains to you that which was said by the Saviour: Take no care for the morrow, for the morrow will take care of itself. 2344 Keep in mind also that saying before mentioned: Look upon the ravens, and behold the fowls of the heaven, that they neither sow nor reap, nor gather into barns, and God takes care of them; how much more you, O ye of little faith! 2345 But look for His appearing, and have your hopes in Him, and believe in His p. 542 name: for He is the Judge of living and dead, and He requites to each one according to his deeds; and at His coming and appearance at last no one will have as a ground of excuse, when he comes to be judged by Him, that he has not heard. For His heralds are proclaiming in the four quarters of the world. Repent, therefore, and believe the message, 2346 and accept the yoke of gentleness and the light burden, 2347 that you may live and not die. These things lay hold of, these things keep; come forth from the darkness, that the light may receive you; come to Him who is truly good, that from Him you may receive grace, and place His sign upon your souls.
When he had thus said, some of the bystanders said to him: It is time for this debtor to receive his debt. And he said to them: The creditor, 2348 indeed, always wishes to receive more; but let us give him what is proper. And having blessed them, he took bread and oil, and herbs and salt, and gave them to eat. But he continued in his fasting, for the Lords day was about to dawn. And on the night following, while he was asleep, the Lord came and stood by his head, saying: Thomas, rise up early and bless them all; and after the prayer and service go along the eastern road two miles, and there I shall show in thee my glory. For because thou goest away, many shall flee to me for refuge, and thou shalt reprove the nature and the power of the enemy. And having risen up from sleep, he said to the brethren who were with him: Children and brethren, the Lord wishes to do something or other to-day through me; but let us pray and entreat Him that nothing may be a hindrance to us towards Him, but as at all times let it now also be done unto us according to His purpose and will. And having thus spoken, he laid his hands upon them and blessed them. And having broken the bread of the Eucharist, he gave it to them, saying: This Eucharist shall be 2349 to you for compassion, and mercy, and recompense, and not for judgment. And they said: Amen.
Dius was the first, and Xanthicus the sixth, of the twelve lunar months of the Macedonian calendar, which after the time of Alexander was adopted by the Greek cities of Asia generally. Dius fell partly in October and partly in November; Xanthicus answered generally to April.—Smiths Dict. of Antiq., s.v. Mensis.
Another reading is: I shall begin in Hyperberetæus—the twelfth month.539:2331
One of themss. has: that there is one God, namely Jesus.540:2333
One ms. has: But if thou buy it, thou shalt live in it. And he said to them: Can I buy it? And they said to him: See that thou obtain one like this which thou seest, or better if thou wilt, that when thou comest hither again, thou mayst not be driven into the darkness.540:2334
One of themss. here ends the history in these words:—And he sent, and brought out Thomas, and said to him: Pardon us if we have in ignorance been in any way harsh to thee; and make us to be partakers of him whom thou preachest. And the apostle says: I too rejoice with you, that you are made partakers of His kingdom. And he took and enlightened them, having given them the washing of grace in the name of Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, to whom is due all glory and kingdom without end. And when they had gone up straightway out of the water, the Saviour appeared to them, so that the apostle wondered, and a great light shone brighter than the rays of the sun. And having confirmed their faith, he went out, going on his way in the Lord.540:2335
i.e., give thanks, as in Matt. 11:25, Luke 10:21, etc.541:2336
i.e., by it.541:2338
One ms. for this whole section has: The two brothers having been set apart by the apostle, said to him, Give us the seal in Christ. And he ordered them to bring him oil. And ends the history thus: And he arose, and sealed them in the name of Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, and baptized them. And the Lord was revealed to them, through a voice saying to them, peace unto you! And the apostle sealed also all that were with them. And they all believed in our Lord Jesus Christ: and the whole of India became believing.
The last sentence in the text seems to be an interpolation. The oil was not for the lamps, but for the ceremony of baptism. The practice of baptizing with oil instead of water—one of the “notable and execrable” heresies of the Manichæans—is said to have been founded on this passage.541:2339
Lit., the sealing up.541:2340
Lit., the administration.541:2341
Perhaps for προσβολῇ we should read προβολῇ, projection or emanation.541:2342
Or, communicants of the Eucharist.541:2343
Or, arising from the things of the body.541:2344
Comp. Matt. vi. 34.541:2345
Luke xii. 24.542:2346
Matt. xi. 30.542:2348
Lit., master of the debt.542:2349
Next: About the Dragon and the Young Man.
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