gnostic morphing of the sheep

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells a parable about a lost sheep:

Luk 15:4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?
Luk 15:5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
Luk 15:6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’
Luk 15:7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

In this parable: A man has 100 sheep. One sheep is lost. The man finds that sheep. And then rejoices.
We can assume that the man values all sheep equally. It did not matter which sheep got lost, the shepherd would throw a party for saving any one lost sheep. In other words, the value is in restoring that one sheep to the status of all the other sheep. The value is not because that sheep was a particularly special prized sheep.

The Gnostics took a Calvinistic spin on this parable. From The Gospel of Thomas:

107 Jesus said, The kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray. He left the ninety- nine and looked for the one until he found it. After he had toiled, he said to the sheep, ‘I love you more than the ninety- nine.’

To the Gnostics (and modern Calvinists) there was a select (elect) number of individuals who were given special knowledge and allowed to progress to another state of being (salvation). Their spin on the lost sheep parable was emphasizing being set apart from the group (not being restored to a group). To the Gnostic or Calvinist, God has selected individuals, not based on criteria that can be achieved by anyone.

In other words, the Gnostics reversed the meaning of the parable of the lost sheep. It is exactly what Calvinists do with the Potter and the Clay.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
This entry was posted in Bible, Calvinism, Figures of Speech, Gnostics, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

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