SHOULD THESE LETTERS BE IN RED?: A Look into a Lost Saying of Jesus (Gospel of Nicodemus 2:5)

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Directory Index for Studies in the Gospel of Nicodemus


Scholars date the origins of the Gospel of Nicodemus (aka the Acts of Pontius Pilate), to around the mid-fourth century AD; though the text claims to be written by Nicodemus himself — most famously known for his acquaintanceship with Jesus in the Gospel of John.

The interesting thing about this apocryphal work is it dates from a time when zealous Christians would commonly fabricate manuscripts; being catalogued today in what we know as the Nag Hammadi Library. So it’s no surprise why many seasoned lovers of the Word, who usually lift up apocrypha like Enoch and Jubilees, are not doing open studies on this gospel; likely overlooking the work as just another false text swaying contrary to God’s Word — as many Gnostic texts show to do.

Though despite the Gospel of Nicodemus’ origins, the fact of the matter is when actually studying the text, it consistently proves to be doctrinally sound, Inspired, and even revelatory — at an astounding level!

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In this brief study, we’re going to look into an interesting quote from Jesus found in Chapter 2, verse 5. —Should these letters be in red? If you’re new to the Gospel of Nicodemus, let this simply serve as a litmus test for curiosity’s sake.

For context, within Chapter 2, Jesus faces the false witness of the Scribes and Pharisees before Pontius Pilate. Pilate calls Jesus in verse 4, “Thou hast heard what they testify against thee, and makes no answer?”


Jesus replied, If they had not a power of speaking, they could not have spoke; but because every one has the command of his own tongue, to speak both good and bad, let him look to it.

Gospel of Nicodemus 2:5

To get right to the punchline, I personally believe the above quote was very likely a phrase our Lord and Savior indeed spoke when He walked the earth. I’ll explain why:

One of the lessons the Bible is vastly consistent with, is the free-will power God gave us over our tongue, and its consequences. In fact, there are at least over two-dozen bible verses confirming Nicodemus 2:5 specifically Proverbs 18:20-21:

20 A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth;
From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 18:20-21

Those who know their bibles understand the Book of Proverbs covers the entire moral span of God’s Word. Since Jesus is the Word made flesh [John 1:14], it shouldn’t be any surprise for us to find everything Jesus taught found within the contents of the Book of Proverbs.

In case you’re curious, the most shining mere example I could think to demonstrate this would be in the Beatitudes. Know-and-behold, it didn’t take too long to find Matthew 5:3-12 scattered throughout the Book of Proverbs in full context.

Matthew 5:3-11Book of Proverbs
3. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
16:19. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.

29:23. A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor.
4. Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
28:12. When the righteous rejoice, there is great glory; But when the wicked arise, men hide themselves.

29:2. When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.
5. Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
11:10-11. When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; And when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.
By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.

28:8. One who increases his possessions by usury and extortion Gathers it for him who will pity the poor.
6. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
31:8-9. Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.

28:13. He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
7. Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
3:3-4. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.

14:21. He who despises his neighbor sins; But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.
8. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.22:11. He who loves purity of heart
And has grace on his lips,
The king will be his friend.
9. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.16:4. The Lord has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.

29:8. Scoffers set a city aflame, But wise men turn away wrath.
10-12. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great isyour reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
3:34. Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.

13:3. He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.

In understanding the above concept, I believe, gives strong confirmation Nicodemus 2:5 is indeed an authentic saying of Jesus; seeing how it runs absolutely parallel with Proverbs 18:20-21, as the majority — if not all — the Red Letters do in our standard bibles in accordance to the Book of Proverbs. 

I invite you to try this out yourselves! — For a cherry on top, compare Matthew 5:27-30 and Proverbs 6:32; as surely the list just goes on and on.

Thank you for spending the time to consider this minor study. I pray this served as a blessing and edification!


Jesus replied, If they had not a power of speaking, they could not have spoke; but because every one has the command of his own tongue, to speak both good and bad, let him look to it.

Gospel of Nicodemus 2:5

20 A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth;
From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 18:20-21



Categories: Apocryphal Studies, Studies in the Gospel of Nicodemus

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