The Abgar Letter to Jesus
Copy of a letter by Abgar V, the Toparch, to Jesus
and sent to Him at Jerusalem by the courier, Ananias
(Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 1, xiii)
“Abgar Uchama the Toparch to Jesus, who has appeared as a gracious saviour in the region of Jerusalem—greeting.
“I have heard about you and about the cures you perform without drugs or herbs. If report is true, you make the blind see again and the lame walk about; you cleanse lepers, expel unclean spirits and demons, cure those suffering from chronic and painful diseases, and raise the dead. When I heard all this about you, I concluded that one of two things must be true--either you are God and came down from heaven to do these things, or you are God's Son doing them. Accordingly, I am writing to beg you to come to me, whatever the inconvenience, and cure the disorder from which I suffer. I may add that I understand the Jews are treating you with contempt and desire to injure you; my city is very small, but highly esteemed, adequate for both of us.”
“Happy are you who believed in me without having seen me. For it is written of me that those who have seen me will not believe in me, and that those who have not seen will believe and live. As to your request that I should come to you, I must complete all that I was sent to do here, and on completing it must at once be taken up to the One who sent me. When I have been taken up, I will send you one of my disciples to cure your disorder and bring life to you and those with you.”
To these letters is subjoined the following in Syriac:
“After Jesus was taken up, Judas, also known as Thomas, sent to him as an apostle Thaddaeus, one of the Seventy, who came and stayed with Tobias, son of Tobias. When his arrival was announced [and he had been made conspicuous by the wonders he performed], Abgar was told: 'An apostle has come here from Jesus, as He promised you in his letter.' Then Thaddaeus began in the power of God to cure every disease and weakness, to the astonishment of everyone.
“When Abgar heard of the magnificent and astonishing things that he was doing and especially his cures, he began to suspect that this was the one to whom Jesus referred when He wrote in His letter: ‘When I have been taken up, I will send you one of my disciples who will cure your disorder.’ So summoning Tobias, with whom Thaddaeus was staying, he said, ‘I understand that a man with unusual powers has arrived and is staying in your house [and is working many cures in the name of Jesus.’ Tobias answered: ‘Yes, sir. A man from foreign parts has arrived and is living with me, and is performing many wonders.’ Abgar replied: ‘Bring him to me.’
“So Tobias went to Thaddaeus and said to him: ‘The Toparch Abgar has summoned me and told me to bring you to him so that you can cure him.’ Thaddaeus answered: ‘I will present myself, since the power of God has sent me to him.’ The next day Tobias got up early and escorted Thaddaeus to Abgar. As he presented himself, with the king's grandees standing there, at the moment of his entry a wonderful vision appeared to Abgar on the face of Thaddaeus. On seeing it, Abgar bowed low before the apostle, and astonishment seized all the bystanders; for they had not seen the vision, which appeared to Abgar alone. He questioned Thaddaeus.
“Are you really a disciple of Jesus the Son of God, who said to me, ‘I will send you one of my disciples who will cure you and give you life?’
“ ‘You wholeheartedly believed in the One who sent me, and for that reason I was sent to you. And again, if you believe in Him, in proportion to your belief shall the prayers of your heart be granted.’
“ ‘I believed in Him so strongly that I wanted to take an army and destroy the Jews who crucified Him, if I had not been prevented by the imperial power of Rome from doing so.’
“ ‘Our Lord has fulfilled the will of His Father; after fulfilling it He was taken up to the Father.’
“ ‘I too have believed in Him and in His Father.’
“ ‘For that reason I lay my hand on you in His name.’
“When he did this, Abgar was instantly cured of the disease and disorder from which he suffered. It surprised Abgar that the very thing he had heard about Jesus had actually happened to him through His disciple Thaddaeus, who had cured him without drugs or herbs--and not only him but also Abdus, son of Abdus, who had gout. He too came, and falling at his feet found his prayer answered through the hands of Thaddaeus, and was cured. Many other fellow-citizens of theirs Thaddaeus restored to health, performing many wonders and preaching the word of God.
“After this, Abgar said: ‘It is by the power of God that you, Thaddaeus, do these things; and we ourselves were amazed. But I have a further request to make: explain to me about the coming of Jesus and how it happened, and about His power—by what power did He do the things I have heard about?’
“Thaddaeus replied: ‘For the time being I shall say nothing; but as I was sent to preach the word, be good enough to assemble all your citizen—tomorrow, and I will preach to them and sow in them the word of life—about the coming of Jesus and how it happened; about His mission and the purpose for which His Father sent Him; about His power and His deeds, and the mysteries He spoke in the world, and the power by which He did these things; about His new preaching; about His lowliness and humility, and how He humbles Himself and put aside and made light of His divinity, was crucified and descended into Hades, and rent asunder the partition which had never been rent since time began, and raised the dead; how He descended alone, but ascended with a great multitude to His Father; and how He is seated on the right hand of God the Father with glory in the heavens; and how He will come again with power to judge living and dead.’
“So Abgar instructed his citizens to assemble at daybreak and hear the preaching of Thaddaeus. After that, he ordered gold and silver to be given to him. But Thaddaeus refused them and asked, ‘If we have left our own property behind, how can we accept other people’s?’”