The Kingdom of Heaven is within you: and whosever shall know himself shall find it.” – Ancient Egyptian Proverb
This quote above sounds awfully close to something Jesus said in Luke 17:21 – “The Kingdom of God is within you.”
So, what’s up? Did Jesus even say this? Did the Gospel writers attribute something to Jesus that they stole from another source?
I don’t think so. See, Jesus also quotes a pre-existing parable when he re-tells the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus and tweaks the story to make another point. As I point out in my book “Jesus Undefeated”, it was commonplace to share stories, parables and proverbs from other known sources and rephrase them to create your own teaching.
Still, I found a few other ancient Egyptian proverbs that were also pretty cool:
“Know the world in yourself. Never look for yourself in the world, for this would be to project your illusion.”
The key to all problems is the problem of consciousness.”
“Man, know thyself and thou shalt know the gods.”
One could probably find a few other interesting proverbs from a variety of non-Biblical sources that also convey wisdom and even insight about the Kingdom of God, human nature, and a lot more.
For example, in the apocryphal Gospel of Philip we find wisdom like this:
“The Truth is one, and many, for our sakes, to teach us about the One, in love, through the many.”
“Farming in this world depends on 4 things: water, earth, air, and light. God’s farming also depends on 4 things: faith, hope, love and knowledge. Faith is the earth in which we take root. Hope is the water with which we are nourished. Love is the air through which we grow. Knowledge is the light in which we ripen.”
“Love never says it owns something, though it owns everything. Love does not say ‘this is mine’ or ‘that is mine’ but rather ‘all that is mine is yours.'”
And the Gospel of Thomas contains wisdom like:
“The Kingdom of God is inside you, and all around you. Not in buildings of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood and I am there. Turn a stone and you will find me.”
The bottom line is: Truth is truth. All truth is God’s truth. We don’t need to be fearful of truth whenever we find it. If the source is from outside the context of our personal faith journey, it’s still truth and we should be open to learning from truth regardless of the source.
At least, that’s my take. What do you think?
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Keith Giles and his wife, Wendy, work with Peace Catalyst International to help build relationships between Christians and Muslims in El Paso, TX. Keith was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church over a decade ago to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today he is the author of the best-selling “Jesus Un” series of books, including “Jesus Unexpected: Ending The End Times To Become The Second Coming” which is available now on Amazon.