The Children of Light and Darkness

“I saw a newborn child, and questioned it to find out who it was. And the child answered me saying, “I am the Word” — Valentinus’ Vision of the Word.

All throughout the Old and New Testament and even apocryphal and Gnostic writings, terms such as “Children of Light” or “Children of God” or any variation of the “child” riff or theme, appear to echo a continuity of religious thought and theme that flows throughout many rivers of though associated with both Christian and Gnostic thought. When one compares the themes express in the New Testament in comparison to the leather-bound codices and texts found at Nag Hammadi, Egypt and even Dead Sea War Scrolls found at Qumran, the evidence speaks for itself when these texts are lined up to reveal a certain continuity of the “spiritual child” theme present in all of this host of literature.

The Children of Light, specifically are those who follow after spiritual knowledge, spiritual discernment, and spiritual awareness of the Supreme God through the Word of the Lord, the hidden, spiritual and perfect Logos. This spiritual knowledge or gnosis can be seen as a sort of spiritual sacrament imparted by the Good Lord or the Gnostic Savior through the internal instruction of our being, origins and ultimate destiny. It is this same self-designation—the “Children of Light” was also used by some Gnostic groups from antiquity. The Gospel of Truth mentions designates the “Children of Light” as bastions of this special and blessed gnosis:

For by the fruits one knows the things that are yours, that they are the children of the Father, and one knows his aroma, that you originate from the grace of his countenance.

The Children of Darkness on the other hand, dwell in ignorance, unconsciousness and gross spiritual death. The Gospel of Truth describes this carnal state and likens it as a nightmare:

As when one falls asleep and finds oneself in the midst of nightmares: running towards somewhere, powerless to get away while being pursued–in hand to hand combat–being beaten–falling from a great height..sometimes too it seems that one is being murdered..or killing one’s neighbours, with whose blood one is smeared..

In The Gospel of Luke. 16:8, Jesus, the Christ relays a parable of the Unjust Steward:

And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their own generation wiser than the children of light.

It is more likely that this passage is much closer to this translation:

…for the children of this aeon are in their own generation wiser than the children of light.

The children of this “aeon” or age in “own generation” are wiser and craftier and more shrewd in the dealings of the daily grind, or in other words “wordily concerns” than the children of the “heavenly” or “divine” light are because their orientations are in complete opposition and irreconcilable to a world that was not supposed to exist in the first place. Elsewhere in the parable, Jesus mentions a “rich man” who commends his agent, the “dishonest” manager because he acted “shrewdly.” Jesus commends the shrewd behavior of the manager, but does not overlook his dishonesty. Jesus basically says in the parable that evil people are more clever and skilled with money, so good people have to outsmart them at their own game of shrewdness to survive. The “natural generation” meaning the “natural” or “animal” people are  generally more clever and skilled with money, obtaining property, marriage, begetting and all the immature concerns and vanity of the world. When the “natural generation” are possessed by greed or love of money, they are blind to the liberating divine light. The love of money is insatiable to those who have are wanting more.

Jesus in Matthew makes a parable in the fact that it is difficult for a rich man to go to heaven just like a camel going through eye of a needle. Jesus also advocates the assistance and hospitality to the poor and disfranchised  with ones wealth with the understanding that one day, Mammon’s riches will vanish and that the true treasure trove rests in eternity. True stewardship in this present life is best viewed as an apprenticeship, a preparation, a training ground, for stewardship in the life to come. Faithfulness and trustworthiness in the here and now will be rewarded by greater responsibility in the hereafter rather than focusing your efforts in gaining money and having Mammon as your master as Jesus’ parable tells us.

And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the  kingdom of God, who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” Luke 29-30.

This is a very Gnostic-sounding passage in that those (being the Children of Light) who have forsaken all the cares and vanity of the world would inherit the spiritual kingdom of God that is completely radically different then the mundane, material cosmos shaped by a lesser deity, hence the “lord of this aeon” mentioned by St. Paul. The truth cannot be discerned or found in the world of the dream, the pre-deterministic and looping aeon of fate and the cosmos.

And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” Luke 20: 34-35.

Luke is speaking on two levels instead of just on a carnal level. Jesus in Luke is saying once you become “one” in the Kingdom you will not marry because you are already one in the “bridal chamber”. There is no need for marriage in the spiritual kingdom because the pnuematic element is married to all things God just as the knower and the known become indistinguishable, the two become one in the New Aeon. Many mistakenly often read the verse in the sense that if ones marries in this life or attain the carnal marriage, one will not become “one” in the Kingdom. Teachers like Marcion and Valentinus were distinguishing between two worlds or two Aeons. Thus, one is invisible and one visible, a cosmos and a Pleroma. It is they, the Gnostics who read the passage and the vast majority of scripture as spiritual allegory. A prominent Latin lawyer from Carthage, Tertullian in Chapter 29 of Against Marcion claimed that Marcionites forbade marriage in a carnal and physical way because of this final clause in Luke. Then he proclaims that is the work of the Anti-Christ.

…the state of matrimony does not require the hook and scythe of sanctity, as if it were evil; but as being ripe for its discharge, and in readiness for that sanctity which will in the long run bring it a plenteous crop by its reaping. For this leads me to remark of Marcion’s god, that in reproaching marriage as an evil and unchaste thing, he is really prejudicing the cause of that very sanctity which he seems to serve. For he destroys the material on which it subsists; if there is to be no marriage, there is no sanctity.

Most early Christians and Gnostic (Sethian) groups rejected the idea of a carnal marriage, since they attributed the implantation of sexual desire to the maligned and evil Demiurge, Yaldaboath. The sexual urge as such was something evil as being a sensual lust, but procreation was accounted far worse since by means of it the reassembly of the light particles was retarded. The condition of death was equated with procreation. Many Gnostic groups believed in metempsychosis, the Platonic form of reincarnation in which they sought to escape from and into the immortal realm. The Christians who followed Valentinus however viewed the carnal marriage for the sake of procreation as exalted and a sacred duty. One website remarks about the Valentinian view on sexuality:

On the basis of this metaphysical view, Valentinus and his followers valued both sex and marriage, at least for the pneumatics. A preserved fragment from the school of Valentinus gives the following interpretation of Jesus’ statement in the Gospel of John that the Christian’s life is in the world but is not from it (John. 17:116): “Whosoever is in the world and has not loved a woman so as to become one with her, is not out of the Truth, and will attain the Truth; but he who is from the world and unites with a woman, will not attain the Truth, because he made sex out of concupiscence alone.” The Valentinians permitted intercourse only between men and women who were able to experience it as a mystery and a sacrament, namely, those who were pneumatics. They forbade it between those whom they called psychics (Jews and Catholics) or hylics (materialists), because these two lower classes knew nothing but libido. As the only early Christian on record who spoke lovingly about sexual intercourse and womanhood, Valentinus must have been a great lover.

The disregard for sexual impulse and libido while in support for celibacy and asceticism can be seen in the Untitled Mandaean Tractate we have a polemic against the “Pharisees”:

It is impossible to serve two masters, for the defilement of the Law is manifest, whilst purity pertains to the Light. The Law indeed commands one to take a spouse, to take a spouse, to take a wife, to increase and multiply like the waves of the sea. But passion, which is agreeable to souls, binds here below the souls of those who are begotten…For them it is impossible to pass by the Archon of Darkness until they have paid back the last farthing. The river of Jordan, this, to him, is the strength of the body—that is, the essence of pleasures; and the water of Jordan is the desire for carnal co-habitation.

This train of thought also appears even in Clement of Alexandria’s Stromata (Book 3), where he quotes Plato:

Again in the Phaedo he writes disparagingly of birth: “The secret teaching on this matter is that human beings are in a kind of prison.” And again, “Those who have a reputation for holy living that sets them apart from others are the people who are set free and liberated from these areas on earth as from a prison, and reach the pure home above.” All the same, even in that condition he recognizes the excellence of the government of the world, saying, “A man ought not to release himself from that prison and run away.”

In Ephesians 5:8, Paul repeats the sentiment  expressed in Luke:

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.

Other New Testament verses such as 1 Thessalonians 5:5 and 1 John 3:10 also repeats this same theme:

Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

***

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

Someone like the Christian-Gnostic teacher, Valentinus, for example would more than likely interpreted these passages to mean something very similar, in that the worldly generation of “this aeon” are the naturally, begotten men who are selfish and have only inherited the works of the world in which is ruled over by the ignorant Demiurge (the creator of the material world, the god of Israel and ordinary Christians, as distinguished from the spiritual elect) mentioned by Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:4 called the “prince of the power of the air” and the “lord of this aeon”. Paul blames the Jewish God that he identified with the Demiurge, “the king of this aeon” for blinding spiritually the Jews against the gospel. It is this same Lawgiver’s Law given to Moses in which Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:7 explicitly refers to “written and engraved in stones” as the “ministry of death.” So, clearly Paul regards the Law of Moses and the God of the Jews in a very negative light and also rejected the notion that Jesus Christ was somehow the face of Jehovah featured in the Old Testament just as Marcion and Valentinus did.

Galations 5:4 also seems to confirm Paul’s indictment against those who feel justified by keeping the commandments of the Law as being “fallen from grace” and are bereft of Christ’s spiritual salvation. Paul does not believe in the same “Father and Creator of all” that the original Jewish Apostles identified with YHWH. Paul’s negative teachings on the Law can be construed as a rejection of YHWH and the receiving of the law and many actions committed by “God” were in fact assigned to tyrannical, lower angelic rulers. And much like Paul, Marcion actually believed that there were two separate judgments: one by Christ, which Paul calls “the judgment seat of Christ” in Romans, and another by the creator, according to the law. Christ would judge according to each person’s acceptance or rejection of the gospel, and those who rejected would be turned away and handed over to the creator, who are then judged according to his law and rewarded or punished according to their works.

According to Paul, all divisions will be done away with in the Aeon of Christ with those who have realized the truth of the Gospel of the Unknown God and the Logos. This includes the deep divisions that have separated Jew and Gentile as well as the division and aliention of mankind, afflicted in the pangs inherent in the cosmos from the Supreme God. Paul in Romans 8:18-22 remarks concerning this:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory what will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation of God. We know that whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up the present time.

Paul also distinguishes his views on knowledge (gnosis) from the “basic teachings” or simplified teachings for the Christian laity contained in 1 Peter 2:2-3:

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Paul responds with a spiritual retort in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4:

“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you you not worldly?  Are you not acting like mere men?  For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,” and another, ‘I follow Apollos,” are you net mere men?”

For Valentinus, the fullness of the liberty gospel that St. Paul had taught was a “pnuematic” oriented teaching to the Gentiles. Valentinus’ Paul is the original, and un-corrupted Paul that would eventually be co-opted by the likes of the heresy hunger, Irenaeus in the form of Acts (some elements of it likely were forge authored by Irenaeus himself) in order to typecast Paul as a Pharisaic convert. Acts itself was written in Rome, responding to a consensus reached by the rivaling Jewish and Gentile factions after having been agitated by Marcion’s influence using Paul’s Galatians to give the Gentiles arguments to achieve self-consciousness beyond the yoke of the Law of Moses. Marcion also had a much earlier and untainted by Catholic Theologian bias and corruption and revised versions of the Gospel of Luke in which was originally called the Evangelikon or The Gospel of the Lord.

The Catholic Church Father, Irenaeus in Against Heresies 3.15.2 describes the Valentinians with a special kind of ire and bitter complaint:

For this is the subterfuge of false persons, evil seducers, and hypocrites, as they act who are from Valentinus. These men discourse to the multitude about those who belong to the Church, whom they do themselves term “vulgar,” and “ecclesiastic.” By these words they entrap the more simple, and entice them, imitating our phraseology, that these [dupes] may listen to them the oftener; and then these are asked regarding us, how it is, that when they hold doctrines similar to ours, we, without cause, keep ourselves aloof from their company; and [how it is, that] when they say the same things, and hold the same doctrine, we call them heretics? When they have thus, by means of questions, overthrown the faith of any, and rendered them uncontradicting hearers of their own, they describe to them in private the unspeakable mystery of their Pleroma.

For indeed, many Gnostic and Christians, including the Valentinians (or the pneumatikoi) understood the fullness of the Gospel of both Christ and St. Paul in a much different and advanced manner than those in the self-imposed “orthodoxy”. But yet, this “different” manner isn’t so different when one compares and matches up the Gnostic tradition to that of the spirit of Jesus, the Christ and St. Paul, since it is the Gnostics who gave a full development to these spiritual ideas, whereas “orthodox” tradition has retained this mysterious tradition in name only. The same (holy) spirit that possessed Jesus had also inspired St. Paul and the Gnostics. Jewish Christianity was primarily focused around Messianism and the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy and the restoration and rebirth of Israel. Pauline Christianity was about salvation from the material world by a disincarnate spiritual savior. Proto-Catholicism was the result of trying to synthesize the two incompatible religions into one agreeable whole. The schism and rift between the Christians inspired by Paul and Jesus and those in the proto-Catholic Church are indeed wide and deep. The same counterfeit spirit that possessed Caiaphas and his fellow Pharisses and blinded the Jews from the fullness of the glorious gospel had also given authority over to the ruling archons or the governors and priests within the Roman religious hierarchy of the Catholic Church that would replace the true keys of knowledge to the kingdom with a counterfeit “gospel” of a nailed, bloody corpse on a cross.

Jesus said, “The pharisees and the scribes have taken the keys of knowledge (gnosis) and hid them. They themselves have not entered, nor have they allowed to enter those who wish to,” (Thomas 39).

“Woe unto you, lawyers! for you have taken away the key of knowledge: you have not entered in yourselves, and them that were entering in you hindered,” (Luke 11:52)

Even in the 1 Enoch 42, it speaks of a time where wisdom would not be recognized, ignored and even spurned in a spiritual dead world:

Wisdom found no place where she might dwell; then a dwelling-place was assigned her in the heavens. Wisdom went forth to make her dwelling among the children of men, And found no dwelling-place: Wisdom returned to her place, And took her seat among the angels. And unrighteousness went forth from her chambers: Whom she sought not she found, And dwelt with  them, As rain in a desert And dew on a thirsty land.

In the same text (1 Enoch 91.10), Wisdom is said to return to the spiritual elect at the end of time when they awoke from their sleep. It is here that Wisdom and the Resurrection are closely linked. The possession of knowledge was the key to eternal life. The Gnostic writings portray Jesus Christ as a supernatural and spiritual being from beyond the cosmos to preach the Gospel from the Stranger God who is not connected to the creation of the material world. Nor is he sent from the god of the Old Testament, Yahweh who is the adversary of spiritual humanity as mentioned in John 12:31-33:

Now is the judgment of this world. Now the prince (archon) of this world will be cast out.

He has come to initiate his followers and share the secrets of wisdom with them. This secret knowledge emphasized spiritual resurrection rather than carnal one.  Indeed, the Gnostic Christians believed gnosis to be the true interpretation of “resurrection”. It also means that one can choose to reincarnate within this “aeon” or live eternally in spiritual form. The unadulterated and unredacted Paul, different from such interpolated and rewritten texts such as Acts surely believed in the spiritual resurrection through the means of experiential knowledge:

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. (Colossians 1:9)

Paul’s Christology certainly does not fall into the Orthodox doctrine of Judicial blood atonement and carnal Resurrection. His Christ was docetic in the sense that the Logos did not incarnate through the womb of the flesh but organized his bodily form in an ineffable and semi-material substance, but for Paul, there is indeed a redemptive element of Christ’s sacrificial act of the cross. The importance of the cross for Paul is that Christ saves Christians collectively by doing what no human being could do: destroy the deficiency, the flesh and consequently, the law. Paul writes in Colossians that Christ overthrew the archons by nailing the law to the cross. However, what was nailed to the cross? Christ’s bodily form. And Paul also writes in Romans that the flesh is the law. So Christ accomplished the fulfillment and destruction of the law by assuming human likeness and overcoming the sin of ignorance.

…having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Colossians 2:14-17.)

But more importantly, Paul’s criticisms of philosophy, intellectualism, and legalism that we see in 1 Corinthians 3:1-28 are that they encourage relying upon oneself and humanity instead of God. They promote arrogance and self-infatuation, knowledge without charity. Salvation for Paul is entirely reliant upon faith in Christ’s sacrifice — not through works, not through wisdom, but through faith. Ergo sola fide, or faith alone. And this faith was an abiding and knowledgeable one. The crucifixion to Paul was a spiritual reality in that it represented the overcoming and destruction of the body and, by consequence, the law, which nullifies sin. It’s the death of the old self, enmeshed in the “death” of the cosmos and rebirth into a new creation of spirit. So all who accept Christ’s sacrifice die to their material selves with Christ and are regenerated into new spiritual selves in Christ. Paul’s Christ much like the Gnostics wasn’t exactly the historical and fleshy Jesus portrayed in the Gospels but was rather an ineffable and saving principle, a universal spirit in which we are all a part of spiritually, sent by an Alien God. Furthermore, the Savior came in order to secure the soul for salvation or spiritual healing in order to be absorbed into the Aeon of Christ:

For Christ is like a single body with its many limbs and organs which, many as they are, together make up one body. For indeed we were all brought into one body by baptism, in the one Spirit whether we are Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free men, and that one Holy Spirit was poured out for us all to drink. – Corinthians 12: 12-13.

As a side note, I also wanted to emphasize the fact that Paul’s Christology was distinctly spiritual and even docetic.

Paul was Platonic and Hellenistic in his philosophical orientation, meaning that he saw a distinction between the material and the metaphysical realities. Paul subscribed to the Platonic and philosophical dualistic view that the intellectual realm is perfect and eternal whereas the material realm is flawed and transient. Paul says that Jesus was purely spiritual and docetic, meaning that the Logos or Christ did not truly incarnate into a material body but was a phantom or at very least had spiritually possessed and cross-bonded with the body of man named Jesus.

All of 1 Corinthians 15 is docetic. He comes right out and says that Christ is only spiritual, not flesh, and that certain bodies are composed of material substance, and other are composed of ethereal substance. Then he concludes that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”, which would match up with the sentiments expressed by Plato and many Gnostic groups in their elevation of the incorruptible spirit over the corruptible flesh. The Gnostic sects originally only knew of an astral or spiritual Jesus Christ rather then a literal, flesh and blood one.

Jesus, like St. Paul says, is a quickening spirit who reveals spiritual truths to those who are in the spirit. It’s like the Apocalypse of Peter says, if you’re focused on the so-called historicity of Jesus, you’re looking at the counterfeit part, the tomb of flesh, the “man of Elohim.” The real Jesus is the one laughing above the cross, the one who the archons couldn’t defeat. The orthodox and many Bible scholars are stuck looking at the cross of wood. They can’t see the eternal, spiritual cross behind the image. They’re too busy arguing over who wrote what and when to see what’s still alive yesterday, today, and forever.

I mean, sure, we can all wonder if these experiences are the result of the Jesus of Nazareth who walked the earth two thousand years ago, but something out there is causing them, and to me, it chooses to manifest as Jesus. Paul says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. I think that what we call God has to reveal itself in a form that we can comprehend, because in its natural state, it can’t be conceived. It’s too far beyond us. God reveals thing in types and images, like the Gospel of Philip says, and God’s manifest form to humanity is Jesus. He’s a visible, condensed, encapsulated form of goodness itself.

I think that’s what the docetists were getting at. The images aren’t his true nature, because he’s not limited by the material world, but he manifests in ways familiar to us so that he can be comprehended. The orthodox didn’t understand this, however, because they were stuck focusing on the shadow, so they mocked the docetist Jesus as a phantom.

According to Paul, Adam was human. And just as human beings share in the mortality of Adam, all who are regenerated with Christ will share in his resurrection. So for Paul, there is a literal resurrection. But it should be stressed that for Paul, this was not a material resurrection of the flesh unlike the beliefs of the Catholic Orthodoxy. He believed that the resurrection was an historical event, but he didn’t believe in carnal resurrection, either. The resurrected form would be purely of a spiritual nature:

“If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[f]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we[g] bear the image of the heavenly man.” 1 Corinthians 15:44-49.

And the docetic heresy is actually embedded in the New Testament, right under peoples’ noses:

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in ({appearance} – emphasis mine) as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8.

Also, Paul’s resurrection body is pure spirit. It has no material or soulish component. Paul basically thought that we would all get docetic bodies like Jesus upon resurrection. Paul said that our mortal bodies would be transformed into spiritual bodies, but not immortal material bodies. So Paul’s Christ is from heaven — spiritual, not material. However, since we’re the offspring of Adam, he writes, we have material bodies. But according to his logic, as we now bear material bodies, those who are in Christ will be transfigured after death with spiritual bodies like his. Orthodoxy has always held that we resurrect with the same bodies that we have now, only immortal. This a blatant contradiction of Paul.

Much like Paul’s Christology, the Gospel of Truth expresses a similar frame of thought:

For this reason, error grew angry at him, persecuted him, was distressed at him, (and) was brought to naught. He was nailed to a tree (and) he became fruit of the knowledge of the Father. It did not, however, cause destruction because it was eaten, but to those who ate it, it gave (cause) to become glad in the discovery, and he discovered them in himself, and they discovered him in themselves.

Redemption, likewise, is not redemption from original sin, which does not exist in Gnosticism (and is in fact an anti-Gnostic doctrine), but is redemption from ignorance. Christ drew down to death and sacrificed his spiritual nature out of his own perfect, agape love and for the sake of teaching the living to those entrapped in the ignorance of pain, chaos, terror and oblivion.

This existential dilemma is dissolved in  the knowledge, light and grace of the Unknowable Father. Christ brought the gifts of manna which is a code-word for this mysterious redemptive love called agape. It is the means of regeneration which is found in the holy of holies. It is Christ, the  spiritual high priest who journey’s past the outer court, past the conscious religion, past the conscious heart and ego and seeks to enter the inner court of the heart and lead the Gnostic into a experiential union with the Word.

We know that ‘We all possess knowledge.’ But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.

Paul’s expression to “puff up” actually has a twofold meaning as regard to the effects of knowledge. Clement of Alexandria explains the paradox this way from Stromata, 7:16:

Further it is said, knowledge is said “to puff up.” To whom we say: Perchance seeming knowledge is said to puff up, if one suppose the expression means “to be swollen up.” But if, as is rather the case, the expression of the apostle means, “to entertain great and true sentiments,” the difficulty is solved. Following, then, the Scriptures, let us establish what has been said: “Wisdom,” says Solomon, “has inflated her children.” For the Lord did not work conceit by the particulars of His teaching; but He produces trust in the truth and expansion of mind…

To put this in perspective: the expansion of mind that comes through Gnosis can also lead to conceit as our minds are elevated to a spiritual nature above the Demiurge:

For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ, (1 Cor. 2:16).

The call to embrace love as the companion for our expansion of mind is imperative, being that the Gnostics are puffed up against the Demiurge. But it is love that gives the Gnostic spiritual strength, and with love comes humility. And further in reference to Paul, this was about balancing the paradox between the liberty that comes through gnosis, which is an expansion of mind (to puff up), and the love which then provides the wisdom for how to use that liberty properly. We can be liberated from the Law of the Demiurge, but without love, this liberty or knowledge is nothing more than an empty inflation. In Galatians 5:18, it claims that those who are guided by the Holy Spirit are not under the Law of the Demiurge.

The term “gnosis” refers to knowledge of a theological kind that comes from divine revelation; its special features include sacred knowledge of creation, prophecy and divine law, and even eschatological knowledge. This transcendent knowledge erases the oblivion of ignorance and terror, of “not knowing” the inner meaning of revelation whose purpose is to reveal the mysterious secret of redemption. The Testimony of Truth tells us about those who at arrived at experiential knowledge:

And they came to know themselves, who they are, or rather, where they are now, and what is the place in which they will rest from their senselessness, arriving at knowledge. These Christ will transfer to the heights, since they have renounced foolishness (and have) advanced to knowledge.

Knowledge of redemption is only given to the spiritual in order to initiate the Resurrection of the essential anthropos which is a stranger to the world as is the transcendent God. It is this special conception of gnosis which conditions the individual’s progress to from self-knowledge to self-liberation which expands beyond any “obedience” or a “fear” of God in a divinely ordained purpose. Gnosis is also by its nature, experiential. It is a transformative event that occurs while “alive” in the flesh, imparted externally and synthesized through internal means of the spirit rather than accessed deliberately and repeatedly through ritual or even the sacraments. It is essentially an awakening of the spirit from a servitude of unconsciousness. Furthermore, divine revelation by its nature is continuous and does not have a definite end as the speech of the so-called “Serpent” people or the Naassenes claims:

Therefore, send me, O Father, with the seals in my hand will I descend: all eons will I traverse, all mysteries reveal, and show the forms of the gods. I will deliver the secret of the holy way, and call it Gnosis.

This ever continuous invasive feed of information inferred from this gnosis contains the codes through a private and esoteric transmission that reveals and explains the anti-divine origins of the cosmos and the saving knowledge necessary to be restored to the realm of light and the fullness of redemption. The Discourse on the Eight and Ninth describes this primordial unity:

I have found the beginning of the power that is above all powers, the one that has no beginning. I see a fountain bubbling with life.

The immutable realms of this Supreme, Ineffable God is serves as a shell or “ground of being” for existence, yet, there exists vast amounts of mud that covers the pearl, or Spiritual Seed that is the sacred spark. In this “mud”, a spatiotemporal universe is regarded by the Gnostics as a prison or insane asylum in which the true human self is shackled. The body and the emotive (lower) soul belong to the cosmos, whereas the inner self is indeed of the immaterial spark of the divine. The cosmos is of a different and limiting and even a substance of imprisonment rather than a substance that offers an opportunity for grown and development or “learning”.

The avoidance of attributing the creation of the deficient material universe to the “undefiled” Spiritual world and the Logos is a hallmark of Gnostic theology. This universe of darkness and chaos is the work of a lesser being  and presided over the demiurge and his powers. These psychic rulers of the cosmos are closely associated with those seven planets, including the sun and the moon as well as the twelve zodiacal constellations. Their governance is referred to as a heimarmene (destiny) which is a view that is also shared by the cosmological system of the Chaldean Oracles as well as the Hermetica in which demonic powers infest the natural world. The rulers belong to the universe because they symbolize and represent the forces secretly active in the world. In so far as they are capable of bringing disaster and destruction upon humankind, oppressing those who have the knowledge of the truth about this aeon and the aeon to come, beyond. Yet, these psychic rulers are stripped of their power by the Christos, the Resurrected One and must be repelled by the true Spiritual Church of the Gnostics as mentioned in The Gospel of Truth:

All the spaces were shaken and disturbed for they had no composure nor stability. Error was disturbed not knowing what it should do. It was troubled; it lamented, it was beside itself because it did not know anything. When knowledge, which is its abolishment, approached it with all its emanations, error is empty, since there is nothing in it. Truth appeared; all its emanations recognized it.

The vast majority of Gnostic groups (especially Valentinus and Paul) believed in a basic trinity of natures in existence: the Spiritual, the Psychic, and Material. The Spiritual came first in the basic order which eventually became ensnared in the two lower substances in the natural and material. The Spiritual is by its own nature good and predestined for salvation and cannot sin or err. The spiritual seed is dominant in a pneumatic person and for this reason the pneumatic person has a different kind of soul. The nature of that soul is altered by the seed. The natural or psychic nature of man has certain things in common with both the spirit and material and is governed by free will or choice and will pass to whichever side its inclination draws it into. It has the capacity for good or evil. “Psychic” men are instructed in basic teachings and good works along with belief and faith but can obtain knowledge of the mysteries through grace. But they do not have perfect knowledge. The strictly material man is by nature, carnal and corrupt and cannot be changed or saved. The strictly material or hylic are opposed to knowledge of the truth and even oppress those who preach the fullness of the gospel because they are only guided by a counterfeit spirit and not of the truth.

The Gospel of Truth describes how the strictly material person cannot discern the ineffable light of the spiritual Christos or Logos:

He appeared, informing them of the Father, the illimitable one. He inspired them with that which is in the mind, while doing his will. Many received the light and turned towards him. But material men were alien to him and did not discern his appearance nor recognize him.

In the Gospel of Philip, the spiritual substance is called the “salt” and the “light.” This is also the “spiritual progeny” brought forth by Achamoth as consorts for the angels. Thus, those who are spiritual had preexistence as spiritual consorts of angels:

The apostles said to the disciples, “May our entire offering obtain salt.” They called Sophia “salt”. Without it, no offering is acceptable. But Sophia is barren, without child. For this reason, she is called “a trace of salt”.

Just as there are three kinds of substance, so there are three kinds of men: spiritual, material, and animal or psychic. The “consummation of all things” will take place when all that is “spiritual” has been perfected by gnosis (knowledge). In other words, the consummation of all things will take place when all spiritual men have acquired perfect knowledge and been initiated into the mysteries by Wisdom (Proverbs 9: 1-6). Each person who receives knowledge destroys a portion of the deficiency of the cosmos and brings the Godhead one step closer to reintegration. The Pleroma descends upon the Gnostic as a Word to complete what he lacks as a natural born man. This tripartite division is overcome through the keys of knowledge and the person is restored into the ultimate reality. The author of The Treatise on the Resurrection proclaims to his disciple Rheginos that a restoration occurs by returning what is imperishable back to its rightful home in the Pleroma. So, for the Gnostic, the incarnation of the redemptive figure transpired by putting on perishability only to subsequently remove it at the resurrection and for the purpose of restoring what is imperishable back to its proper place. Through this liberation of human souls, it is also a liberation of God, since these seeds of light are co-substantial to God. When this process of liberation is completed, the entire material cosmos will either be annihilated or be subject to eternal, unmixed darkness.

Tertullian’s Treatise on the Soul, 21 also mentions this three-fold approach to the natures:

[The heretics] deny that nature is susceptible to any change, in order that they may be able to establish their three-fold theory, or ‘trinity,’ (“trinitas”) in all its characteristics as to the several natures, because ‘a good tree cannot produce evil fruit, nor a corrupt tree, good fruit; and nobody gathers figs of thorns, nor grapes of brambles’.

The Children of Light theme can also be found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. In the Qumran text the Community Rule Zoroastrian-like dualism also portrays this same dichotomy:

He has created man to govern the world and has appointed for him two spirits in which to walk until the time of his visitation, the spirits of truth and falsehood. Those born of truth spring from a fountain of light, and those born of falsehood spring from a source of darkness.

These “two” spirits of light and darkness emanate from God which subsequently subject them to his rule while they rule the world in a “good cop”, “bad cop” routine. The evil in the world is ruled over by the devil which struggle against the children of God or as the Gospel of Thomas puts it, “the Living Father.” In the Qumran scroll entitled The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness, this dualistic separation and confrontation sets the children of light depicted as bastions of knowledge which causes them to bring discord against the powers of darkness through the power of God. These dark powers are also known as the “Children of Wrath” or the “Children of Disobedience” (Eph. 2:3) who are hostile and diametrically opposed to Children of Light. The authorities or archons can influence and even possess these hylics in order to persecute those who are in accordance to the living truth of light. Accordingly, the “Sons of Light” are the only ones predestined to enter the light of eternity. The Gnostic writings also attest to the fact that the creator of the cosmos is hostile to spiritual humanity and the evil of human existence is damned. However, the Gnostic conception is quite different then the blatant dualism extant in the Zoroastrian-like War Scrolls its later incarnations featured in Manichean religion. The light-soul or pneumatic self has its origin in the heavenly world to which it also returns. The light is thought of as having substance. In the Coptic Manichean literature, Psalm-Book 4:22-25 it reads and mentions the Sons of Belial:

[They arose], they that belong to Matter, the children of error, desiring to uproot the unshakable tree and plant it in their land; they strove at the matter, they did not succeed, [those] creatures of shame.

This is likely a key reference to the forces of darkness original attack on the forces light prior to the entanglement and mixture between the two kingdoms, because according to Manichean cosmology, both the dark creator god of darkness and the good supreme god in the light kingdom existed since eternity. Neither one was responsible for the other. The mixture of the two forces produced the cosmos which is by nature predatory; it is a darkness that is always hungry, always feeding. To enter into the Light, the Gnostic must not be corrupted by the world. As it says in the Gospel of Mary, all natures will return to their root:

For the nature of matter is resolved into its roots alone.

Eph. 5.8-11 makes a sharp distinction between light and darkness and its demand to choose a side. Hence a connection with the Qumran texts and its way of thinking and speaking can be assumed as the Scroll indicates:

Choose light or darkness, the Law of the Lord or the works of Belial!

Belial accordingly was the chief-demon of “worthlessness” and “unbelief” as in he was the demonic deity of the unbelievers or the “Sons of Darkness” who scoff and dismiss the gospel and light truth. A similar dualism of light and darkness, through with a more markedly ethical application, can also be seen in the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs:

Praised be the Lord, God, who has sent you to save me from darkness and lead me into the light.

The expression of “Sons of Light” is found frequently elsewhere in early Christian literature to describe the people belonging to God (Luke 3 16.8; John. 12.36). The life appropriate to the Children of Light must reveal what proceeds from the power of light. The author names it “fruit of the light”, as Paul in Galatians 5.22 speaks of the “fruit of the Spirit”. The life-style of the “Children of Light” cannot be reconciled to “the unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph. 5:11), meaning these works cannot contribute anything to the goal of human existence and self-liberation.

Accordingly, light is superior to darkness; hence the Children of Light should rebel and break the power of darkness. How can they do this? In that they “convict”, expound openly and expose the situation of the works of darkness and those who perform them. It is this exposure and conviction which takes place through their witness to another way of life guided by the light of the Logos. In that they reveal the works of darkness to be such through their own behavior, they also unmask and convict the people who perform such deeds. The exposing light is seen as the power of light effective in those who have received the spirit, so that in the end Christ himself is the light which brings to view through the children of light everything wicked and shameful. In Wisdom of Solomon 15:22-24, it speaks of the wicked acts performed by these Sons of Darkness:

Moreover this was not enough for them, that they erred in the knowledge of God; but whereas they lived in the great war of ignorance, those so great plagues called they peace. For whilst they slew their children in sacrifices, or used secret ceremonies, or made revellings of strange rites; They kept neither lives nor marriages any longer undefiled: but either one slew another traiterously, or grieved him by adultery.

In the Samaritian text, The Doctrine of Creation, Cain and Abel are called the “Sons of Belial”. Cain’s children are also called “Children of Darkness”. Unlike the progeny of Cain, the children of Seth are also referred to as the “Children of Light.” According to the Molad Mosheh, Seth was born “in the image, in the likeness and in the correct form”. This clearly points to the importance of Seth’s lineage as a “chain of purity” which inexorably leads to the immortal generation of the Gnostic race or the “seed of Seth”. Seth, being the beginning of this chain, transmits the divine light that was given from his father Adam, down from his aeon and to “another generation” that become stewards of this mysterious and spiritual knowledge. The “great and incorruptible” Seth was also equated as being the same as the “great Christ” or “Jesus the Living.”

Naturally, the Children of Light are also mentioned in other Nag Hammadi texts such as The Trimorphic Portennoia, which proclaims:

And he (The Son) revealed himself to those who dwell in darkness, and he showed himself to those who dwell in the abyss, and to those who dwell in the hidden treasuries, he told ineffable mysteries, and he taught unrepeatable doctrines to all those who became Sons of the Light.

The Hypostasis of the Archons also mentions the Children of Light in their struggle against the authorities:

Then the authorities will relinquish their ages, and their angels will weep over their destruction, and their demons will lament their death. Then all the children of the light will be truly acquainted with the truth and their root, and the father of the entirety and the holy spirit. They will all say with a single voice, ‘The father’s truth is just, and the son presides over the entirety”, and from everyone unto the ages of ages, “Holy – holy – holy! Amen!'”

In the Three Plots Against Humanity in the Apocryphon of John, it states:

The Mother-Father is merciful
A Holy Spirit sympathizing with us.
Through the Epinoia of the Providence of the light
It raises up the children of the perfect race
Raising up their thought, their light eternal.

Ultimately, the central message of  these spiritual regents is that these Keys of Knowledge in order to understand the true message of the Gospel. The impact of the Word, the consequences of revelation, and the work of regeneration are all aspects of this beatific Gospel which transforms the aspirant into a Child of Light. Jesus the Christ is the Word, who is inscribed in the “Book of the Living” as mentioned in the Gospel of Truth. Anyone who has experienced this mysterious thing called “gnosis” has the Book of the Living, the Law of Christ inscribed within their spiritual hearts as the Gospel of Truth indicates:

After all these came also the little children, those who possess the knowledge of the Father. When they became strong they were taught the aspects of the Father’s face. They came to know and they were known. They were glorified and they gave glory. In their heart, the living book of the Living was manifest, the book which was written in the thought and in the mind of the Father and, from before the foundation of the All, is in that incomprehensible part of him.

Indeed, Christ provides the forgiveness of sin — that is the forgiveness of ignorance with knowledge. Just as the doctor or physician’s job is to heal the sick, it is the nature of the Spirit to bring healing to those who need the therapy of forgiveness to the repentant who seek out this knowledge who is likened to a pearl “with a great price”. The Word being the image of the Father, he becomes the source of enlightenment and truth. Armed with the sword of the Holy Spirit, Christ is the revelation of the aeons, and wages warfare against the psychic rulers that guard against the invading light of the Stranger and the Children of Light. Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Judas laughs at the errors committed in ignorance of the world and its rulers.

[Judas said], “Master, [why are you laughing at us]?”

[Jesus] answered [and said], “I am not laughing [at you] but at the error of the stars, because these six stars wander about with these five combatants, and they all will be destroyed along with their creatures.”

Those who receive the Holy Spirit in truth are united with the Father and embody the Fullness of the Spirit. Thus the Church, or the Pleroma, is an essence that resides within a pneumatic person, a Child of Light. This also includes even the rites and mysteries as well. All these things reside within the spirit of a pneumatic person, whereas a psychic person can experience all of these things through external means, through willful exercise and the receiving of pneumatic teaching. The pneumatic person is in essence, the fleshly embodiment of the All, and is therefore to be contrasted with the detached world.

The Greek solution was the Logos, a kind of subsidiary god or divine force, an emanation of the Deity. In the most influential school of thinking, Platonism, the Logos was the image of God in perceivable form and a model for creation. He revealed the otherwise inaccessible, transcendent God. The Logos is the spokesman or personified in the speaker. Jesus the Christ was this “Logos” and the Paraclete who taught the Fullness of the Gospel, the Good News of the Kingdom of God — the Pleroma. The Logos rests within the heart of God. The Logos is the message of Salvation embodied,  and taught it through his parables throughout the Gospels and the Nag Hammadi Codices. The rational Logos has come to bring the Keys of Knowledge and awaken those who are poor, blind, naked and asleep. The ineffable Logos is also a strong and mighty deterrent factor against the forces of oblivion, terror and darkness. Philip K. Dick had this to say about the Logos in his Exegesis:

Thus the key salvific weapon is knowledge-to know and see the truth (versus dokos/maya). Christ (Zebra) coming here is the savior venturing into the domain of darkness to rescue us. So Zebra is Christ; and Zebra (Christ) is our savior, who does battle for us. Since causality (“astral determinism” or fate) operates in time, a (or the) method of salvation by the savior is to free us from time by converting time into space, and thus aborting causality.

Indeed, the Saviour is docetically seen as of a different kind of flesh, alien to the archons and to the cosmos they hoard over. The search for illuminating truth is the hallmark and supreme quest of the human spirit; it is the experiential spiritual sojourn in which the Gnostic is bound. The fruits of knowledge is available right here, in this moment and in the ever-continuous presence of yourself and the All. The penultimate secret of the Gnostic mysteries is as follows: a spiritually perfected Gnostic is no longer a Christian but a deified human being; he is another Christ and another Logos. In Logia 49-50 of the Gospel of Thomas, the Gnostic is said to originate from the “place” where the Light came into being. Thus the “solitary and elect” will return to it:

Blessed are the solitary and elect, for you will find the Kingdom. For you are from it, and to it you will return. If they say to you, “Where did you come from?”, say to them, “We came from the light”, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established [itself] and became manifest through their image. If they say to you, “Is it you?”, say “We are its children”, and “We are the elect of the Living Father”. If they ask you, “What is the sign of your Father in you?”, say to them, “It is movement and rest”.

The Treatise On the Resurrection tells us that the spiritual Resurrection does not lie in the future but is available now:

…flee from the divisions and the fetters, and already you have the resurrection.

The Son of God does not judge or condemn the world but to help those to seek the spiritual light rather than the natural inclination for the darkness. Whether or not there is any truth in any of it, is a matter that only you can decide and discover within yourself. And it is within yourself that the Spirit will meet you and touch you, and initiate you to the mysteries.

But Jesus cried out and said, ’The one who believes in me does not believe in me, but in the one who sent me, and whoever beholds me beholds the one who sent me. My mission was to illuminate the world so that everyone who believes in me may not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and fails to keep them in practice, I do not judge him; for my mission was not to judge the world, but to save the world. However, anyone who rejects me and dismisses my words does have a judge: the very words which I spoke will judge him on the last day! Because what I said was not my own idea, but that of the Father who sent me — he commanded me what to say and what to teach. And I know full well that to obey his commandment is rewarded with age-long life. Whatever I speak is what the Father has told me to speak. Thus I speak, so that you may become sons of light. John 12:44-50

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