Question and Answer.
“Why don’t you believe in the Gospel of Thomas and use it? I think it is so much better than the other gospels since it is Jesus’ own words. If I were a Christian, I would rely on this gospel more than any other writing.”
The “gospel of Thomas” is one of many “gospels” written using the names of the apostles. There is a “gospel of Peter” and an “Acts of Peter“, as well as a “gospel of the Egyptians“, a “gospel of the Hebrews” and so on. All these writings date from the late second century after the apostles or later. None of them is included in the canon (or inspired) books of the Bible.
The “gospel of Thomas” spends most of its length describing the childhood of Jesus. The Jesus revealed there is not very appealing and seems to have divine power while acting like a child. There is little doubt the text was composed long after all the participants in the life of Jesus were dead. Either the author received a special revelation or the information is spurious.
The “gospel of Thomas” (unlike the inspired books of the New Testament) has only a few copies and they are different in language and style. It seems the author misquoted or mistranslated. The books that make up the New Testament are supported by over 5,000 pieces, fragments and whole copies of the same Bible we use today. Translators of the original Greek have more copies to work from today than ever, due to ongoing archeological discoveries and research.
While the books of the New Testament are well attested, are well documented and of first century origins, the “gospel of Thomas” is not from the first century, is not well attested and is not well documented. Further, this “gospel” has concepts and teaching that would refute or contradict the four gospels of the New Testament. Either Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are wrong or this “gospel of Thomas” is.
Many authors of the second century saw the impact the inspired gospels and letters had on the church. In order to influence the church in various places, writers would use the name of a first century hero to gain respect for the document. That is why so many later “gospels” and “epistles” use the names of Peter, Paul, Barnabas and many others.
The first century church (very early on) began to collect the writings that it considered inspired. Many were rejected outright and many others were rejected after close examination with some authors confessing they forged the names of the supposed writers. After a long process (by the end of the second century) the New Testament as we know it had been gathered. And almost universally accepted by the churches of the time.
Since that era, nothing has been done to alter the findings of the early church. The fact is we can rely on the Bible as we know it – undoubtedly because God had a hand in its composition, collection, preservation and dissemination. This is no small matter. As Christians, we do not want to reject any material that God inspired for our benefit.
On the other hand, we do not want to accept any material that claims to be from God and is not. That will only lead us away from Him. But, due to history and God’s providence, we can be confident in the New Testament as it is composed of the twenty-seven books today.