Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume VIII/Apocrypha of the New Testament/Consummation of Thomas the Apostle
Consummation of Thomas the Apostle.
At the command of King Misdeus the blessed Apostle Thomas was cast into prison; and he said: I glorify God, and I shall preach the word to the prisoners, so that all rejoiced at his presence. When, therefore, Juzanes the king’s son, and Tertia his mother, and Mygdonia, and Markia, had become believers, but were not yet thought worthy of baptism, they took it exceedingly ill that the blessed one had been shut up. And having come to the prison, and given much money to the jailor, they went in to him. And he, seeing them, was glad, and glorified the Lord, and blessed them. And they entreated and begged the seal in the Lord, a beautiful young man having appeared to them in a dream, and ordered the apostle into the house of Juzanes.
And again the beautiful young man coming to them and Thomas, bade them do this on the coming night. And he ran before them, and gave them light on the way, and without noise opened the doors that had been secured, until all the mystery was completed. And having made them communicate in the Eucharist, and having talked much with them, and confirmed them in the faith, and commended them to the Lord, he went forth thence, leaving the women, and again went to be shut up. And they grieved and wept because Misdeus the king was to kill him.
And Thomas went and found the jailors fighting, and saying: What wrong have we done to that sorcerer, that, availing himself of his magic art, he has opened the doors of the prison, and wishes to set all the prisoners free? But let us go and let the king know about his wife and his son. And when he came they stripped him, and girded him with a girdle; and thus they stood before the king.
And Misdeus said to him: Art thou a slave, or a freeman? And Thomas answered and said to him: I am not a slave, and thou hast no power against me at all. And how, said Misdeus, hast thou run away and come to this country? And Thomas said: I came here that I might save many, and that I might by thy hands depart from this body. Misdeus says to him: Who is thy master? and what is his name? and of what country, and of whom is he? My Lord, says Thomas, is my Master and thine, being the Lord of heaven and earth. And Misdeus said: What is he called? And Thomas said: Thou canst not know His true name at this time; but I tell thee the name that has been given Him for a season—Jesus the Christ. And Misdeus said: I have not been in a hurry to destroy thee, but have restrained myself; but thou hast made a display of works, so that thy sorceries have been heard of in all the country. But now this will I do, that thy sorceries may also perish with thee, that our nation may be purified from them. And Thomas said: Dost thou call these things which will follow me sorceries? They shall never be removed from the people here.
And while these things were saying, Misdeus was considering in what manner he should put him to death; for he was afraid of the multitude standing round, many, even some of the chief men, having believed in him. And he arose, and took Thomas outside of the city; and a few soldiers accompanied him with their arms. And the rest of the multitude thought that the king was wishing to learn something from him; and they stood and observed him closely. And when they had gone forth three stadia, he delivered him to four soldiers, and to one of the chief officers, and ordered them to take him up into the mountain and spear him; but he himself returned to the city.
And those present ran to Thomas, eager to rescue him; but he was led away by the soldiers who were with him. For there were two on each side having hold of him, because of sorcery. And the chief officer held him by the hand, and led him with honour. And at the same time the blessed apostle said: O the hidden mysteries of Thee, O Lord! for even to the close of life is fulfilled in us the riches of Thy grace, which does not allow us to be without feeling as to the body. For, behold, four have laid hold of me, and one leads me, since I belong to One, to whom I am going always invisibly. But now I learn that my Lord also, since He was a stranger, to whom I am going, who also is always present with me invisibly, was struck by one; but I am struck by four.
And when they came to that place where they were to spear him, Thomas spoke thus to those spearing him: Hear me now, at least, when I am departing from my body; and let not your eyes be darkened in understanding, nor your ears shut up so as not to hear those things in which you have believed the God whom I preach, after being delivered in your souls from rashness; and behave in a manner becoming those who are free, being void of human glory, and live the life towards God. And he said to Juzanes: Son of an earthly king, but servant of Jesus Christ, give what is due to those who are to fulfil the command of Misdeus, in order that I may go apart from them and pray. And Juzanes having paid the soldiers, the apostle betook himself to prayer; and it was as follows:—
My Lord, and my God, and hope, and leader, and guide in all countries, I follow Thee along with all that serve Thee, and do Thou guide me this day on my way to Thee. Let no one take my soul, which Thou hast given to me. Let not publicans and beggars look upon me, nor let serpents slander me, and let not the children of the dragon hiss at me. Behold, I have fulfilled Thy work, and accomplished what Thou gavest me to do. I have become a slave, that I might receive freedom from Thee; do then give it to me, and make me perfect. And this I say not wavering, but that they may hear who need to hear. I glorify Thee in all, Lord and Master; for to Thee is due glory for ever. Amen.
And when he had prayed, he said to the soldiers: Come and finish the work of him that sent you. And the four struck him at once, and killed him. And all the brethren wept, and wrapped him up in beautiful shawls, and many linen cloths, and laid him in the tomb in which of old the kings used to be buried.
And Syphor and Juzanes did not go to the city, but spent the whole day there, and waited during the night. And Thomas appeared to them, and said: I am not there; why do you sit watching? for I have gone up, and received the things I hoped for; but rise up and walk, and after no long time you shall be brought beside me. And Misdeus and Charisius greatly afflicted Tertia and Mygdonia, but did not persuade them to abandon their opinions. And Thomas appeared, and said to them: Forget not the former things, for the holy and sanctifying Jesus Himself will aid you. And Misdeus and Charisius, when they could not persuade them not to be of this opinion, granted them their own will. And all the brethren assembled together, for the blessed one had made Syphorus a presbyter in the mountain, and Juzanius a deacon, when he was led away to die. And the Lord helped them, and increased the faith by means of them.
And after a long time, it happened that one of the sons of Misdeus was a demoniac; and the demon being stubborn, no one was able to heal him. And Misdeus considered, and said: I shall go and open the tomb, and take a bone of the apostle’s body, and touch my son with it, and I know that he will be healed. And he went to do what he had thought of. And the blessed apostle appeared to him, and said: Thou didst not believe in me when alive; how wilt thou believe in me when I am dead? Fear not. Jesus Christ is kindly disposed to thee, through His great clemency. And Misdeus, when he did not find the bones (for one of the brethren had taken them, and carried them into the regions of the West), took some dust from where the bones had lain, and touched his son with it, and said: I believe in Thee, Jesus, now when he has left me who always afflicts men, that they may not look to Thy light which giveth understanding, O Lord, kind to men. And his son being healed in this manner, he met with the rest of the brethren who were under the rule of Syphorus, and entreated the brethren to pray for him, that he might obtain mercy from our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
- The following translation of a ms. in the Bodleian Library, transcribed by Tischendorf (Apocal. Apocr., p. 158), gives a fuller account of the martyrdom of St. Thomas:— MARTYRDOM OF THE HOLY AND ALL-RENOWNED APOSTLE THOMAS. After the apostle had gone forth, according to the command of our Lord, and God, and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Lord appeared to him, saying: Peace to thee, my disciple and apostle! And the apostle fell on his face on the ground, and prayed the Lord to reveal to him the circumstances of his precious departure. And the Lord said to him: Misdæus is contriving a plan to destroy thee very soon; but, behold, he will come to me. And after having sealed him, He ascended into the heavens. And the apostle taught the people, and there was added unto the flock of Christ. But some men who hated Christ accused him before King Misdeus, saying: Destroy this sorcerer, who corrupts and deceives the people in this new one God whom he proclaims. Moreover, he has deceived thy lady and thy son. On hearing this, Misdeus, without inquiry, ordered him to be laid hold of, and shut up in prison. And they quickly did what they were ordered, and threw him into the prison, and sealed it. And when the women who believed in God had heard that Judas was shut up, they gave a great sum of money to the warders, and went in to him in the prison. And the apostle says to them: My daughters, handmaidens of Jesus Christ, listen to me. In my last day I address you, because I shall no more speak in the body; for, lo, I am taken up to my Lord Jesus Christ, who has had pity upon me, who humbled Himself even to my littleness. And I rejoice that the time is at hand for my change from this, that I may depart and receive my reward in the end; for my Lord is just. And at the end of his discourse to them, he said: O my Saviour, who hast endured much for our sake, let Thy mercies be upon us. And he sent them away, saying: The grace of the Holy Spirit be with you! And they grieved and wept, knowing that King Misdeus was going to put him to death. And Judas heard the warders contending with each other, and saying: Let us go and tell the king, Thy wife and thy son are going to the prison to this sorcerer, and for their sakes thou shouldst put him to death soon. And at dawn they arose and went to King Misdeus, and said: My Lord, release that sorcerer, or cause him to be shut up elsewhere; for though we shut in the prisoners, and secure the doors, when we rise we find them opened. Nay, more: thy wife and son will not keep away from the man any more than the rest of them. And when the king heard this, he went to look at the seals. And he looked all about them on the doors, and found them as they were. Then he said to the jailors: What are you telling lies about? for certainly these seals are quite safe: and how do you say that Tertia, and Mygdonia, and my son go within the prison? And the warders said: We have told thee the truth, O king. And after this the king went into the prison, and sent for the apostle. And when he came, they took off his girdle, and set him before the tribunal. And the king said: Art thou a slave, or free? And Thomas said: I am One’s slave. Thou hast no power over me whatever. And Misdæus says: Didst thou run away and come to this country? Thomas: I came here to save many, and I am to depart from my body by thy hands. Misdæus says to him: Who is thy master? and what is his name? and what country dost thou belong to? Thomas: Thou canst not hear His true name at this time; but I tell thee the name that has been given Him for the time: it is Jesus the Christ. And Misdæus says: I have been in no hurry to put thee to death, but have restrained myself; but thou hast made a display of thy works, so that thy sorceries have been heard of in every country. But no; I shall bring thee to an end, that thy sorceries may be destroyed, and our nation purified. And Thomas said: What thou callest sorceries shall abound in me, and never be removed from the people here. And after this was said, Misdeus reflected in what manner he should put the apostle to death, for he was afraid of the people standing by who believed. And he arose and took Thomas outside of the city; and he was accompanied by a few armed soldiers. And the multitude suspected that the king was plotting about him, and stood and addressed themselves to him. And when they had gone forth three stadia, he delivered him to four soldiers and one of the polemarchs, and ordered them to spear him on the mountain; and he returned to the city. And those who were present ran to Thomas, eager to rescue him. And he was led away, accompanied by the soldiers, two on each side.…And Thomas, walking along, said: O Thy secret mysteries, O Jesus! for even unto the end of life are they fulfilled in us. O the riches of Thy grace!…for, lo, how four have laid hold of me, since of four elements…(Here the fragment ends.) [Thems. in which this occurs is not that one which has been so frequently cited in the preceding Apocryphal Acts.—R.]
- Pseudo-Abdias, in his Histories of the Apostles, has as follows: Wherefore, in a rage, Mesdeus king of India thrust into prison the Apostle Thomas, and Zuganes his son, and several others.
- Abdias: Treptia, who was the king’s wife, and Mygdonia the wife of Charisius, one of the king’s friends, and Narchia the nurse, gave the jailor 360 pieces of silver, and were let in to the apostle.
- Abdias: Thomas stood in the prison, and said: Lord Jesus, who didst endure very much for us, let the gates be shut as they were before, and the seals be made again on the same doors.
- Abdias gives an account of the king going to the prison, and disbelieving the report of the warders, because he found the seals on the doors as he had left them.
- The not should, by the context, be omitted. [So Pseudo-Abdias.—R.]
- Reading ἠπείχθην for ἀπήχθην.
- i.e., I will so act.
- Lit., polemarchs, who in the early times of Athens combined the duties of Foreign Secretary and War Secretary, and sometimes took the command in the field.
- Abdias: The apostle said that great and divine mysteries were revealed in his death, since he was led by four soldiers, because he consisted of four elements; and the Lord Jesus had been struck by one man, because He knew that one Father had begotten Him.
- Lit., the servants of the order.
- The husband of Mygdonia.
- These names are slightly different in form in this paragraph.
- These names are slightly different in form in this paragraph.
- Abdias: and buried them in the city of Edessa. [The translator cites the readings of Pseudo-Abdias, as given by Tischendorf (from Fabricius), as those of “Abdias.” The same form of citation appears in the footnotes to the Martyrdom of Bartholomew, pp. 553–557.—R.]