Gnostic Doctrine

Monday 2 October 2023

The Inner Aeons Ecclesiastes 3:11

The Aeon in their heart 
The Aeons Within Us 

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Before we begin this study we will have an opening reading from the Tripartite Tractate:

but the redemption also is an ascent to the degrees which are in the Pleroma and to those who have named themselves and who conceive of themselves according to the power of each of the aeons, and (it is) an entrance into what is silent, where there is no need for voice nor for knowing, nor for forming a concept, nor for illumination, but (where) all things are light, while they do not need to be illumined. (the Tripartite Tractate)

What if I told you the aeons are within our hearts? You can discover them by self knowledge or gnosis.

Psalm 77:5 NWT I have thought upon the days of long ago, On the years in the indefinite past.

The first clue is found in Ecclesiastes 3:11 which states that God put ha-olam in the human heart. Ha-olam can be translated as "age" "everlasting" "forever and ever" "eternal" “world” or “eternity.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11 ¶  Every thing hath he made beautiful in its [proper] time: he hath also placed the eternity in their heart, without a man’s being able to find out the work that God hath made from the beginning to the end. (Leeser's Jewish Bible)

Ecclesiastes 3:11 All the things which he made, considered as a whole, are good in his time. But with regard to all things considered as one whole, to them he hath assigned the whole age; so that no man can find out the work which God hath done from beginning to end. (Greek)

Ecclesiastes 3:11 ¶  The whole He hath made beautiful in its season; also, that knowledge He hath put in their heart without which man findeth not out the work that God hath done from the beginning even unto the end. (Young's)

Ecclesiastes 3:11 Everything he has made pretty in its time. Even time indefinite he has put in their heart, that mankind may never find out the work that the [true] God has made from the start to the finish (NWT)

From the Septuagint interlinear screenshot we can see that the word translated "age", "eternity" or "time indefinite" is the Greek word aeon. In the Hebrew the word is Olam both Hebrew and Greek words have the same meaning. 

Depending on the context aeon could mean a long stretch of time, a spiritual being or a realm in which spiritual beings live. Aeons are one of the orders of spirits, or spheres of being, that emanated from the Deity.

However there is another meaning to the word aeons which is shown in Ecclesiastes 3:11 the aeons are internal aspects of our nature

God has placed an inherit constitution in man the capability of conceiving of eternity, the struggle to apprehend the everlasting

The Bible says of humans: “He has put eternity into man’s mind.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) We use this distinctive ability daily, even in as common an act as glancing in a mirror and thinking what our appearance will be in 10 or 20 years. And we are confirming what Ecclesiastes 3:11 says when we give even passing thought to such concepts as the infinity of time and space. The mere fact that we have this ability harmonizes with the comment that a Creator has put “eternity into man’s mind.

This ability also gives us a sense of divine purpose. God has a purpose for the aeons, which He makes in Christ Jesus.…in accord with the purpose of the eons, which He makes in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Ephesians 3:11).

However believers should be careful that the aeon their mind and heart is dwelling on is not the present aeon of this order of things: 

2Cor 4:4  In whom, the god of this age, hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, to the end they may not discern the radiance of the glad-message of the glory of the Christ--who is the image of God.

Our mind can easily become corrupted. The joys and goals of this age can distract us or even replace our God-given hope

Rom 12:2  and be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, for your proving what [is] the will of God — the good, and acceptable, and perfect.

 What is meant by being “conformed to this age”? To be “conformed to this age” is to attach greater importance to the joys and goals of this life rather than to spiritual matters. Things of the Spirit should always come first in our life.

"be not fashioned or shaped in harmony with this present age, either in your thinking or your way of life".

Therefore, believers should not seek identification with the aims and objects of an "age" that is destined to pass away in ignominy. By not conforming to this age, we must concentrate our spiritual gaze upon the age to come, which will replace this sorrowing, sinful present existence (Eph. 2:7).

Let’s have a look now at Isaiah 57:15. “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity.” Yahweh inhabits eternity, and yet He has put eternity in our hearts. Because eternity is within us than we have to look within ourselves to understand eternity or the aeons. This is called self knowledge or gnosis to know thyself

Man in himself is a microcosm, a little world humankind regarded as the representation in miniature of the universe

The author of the book The Syzygies of AEON puts it like this: 

The aeons are more than ideas and concepts they are active principles which influence us not from the outside like the stars and planets of astrology or tarot, but from within. The Aeons are inherit active principles which are spiritual, instinctive, organic elements that are part of our own being—physical, psychological, and spiritual (The Syzygies of AEON)

The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (vol. IV, p. 643): Time: The O.T. and the N.T are not acquainted with the conception of eternity as timelessness. The O.T. has not developed a special term for "eternity." The word aeon originally meant "vital force," "life;" then "age," "lifetime." It is, however, also used generally of a (limited or unlimited) long space of time. The use of the word aeon is determined very much by the O.T. and the LXX. Aeon means "long distant uninterrupted time" in the past (Luke 1:10), as well as in the future (John 4:14). 

αἰών Aiwn is compounded of aei and wn. The word aei is from aw, aew, or ahmi, signifying primarily, "to blow, to breathe"; secondly, "to live, to pass or spend time." From this derivation aei would present the idea of a going on; and as a particle of time is expressive of that which is unlimited or undefined; "not so much that which cannot be bounded as that which is not bounded -- which is not attempted to be defined, but is considered as going on, on, on. 
Aei, therefore, alone, would not express the true idea of eternity, but only of time, whose end is not bounded by any specification. This flowing word, indicative of passing time, must be connected with, and, as it were, anchored upon another of more stability, in order to give it any kind of fixedness." This other word is wn, the particle of that verb of existence which expresses, in its philosophical sense, the highest mode of being. One part of the compound word, then, is unconfined; the other, since wn is of all tenses, altogether excludes the idea of time. Aiwn, then, is not time, long or short, bounded or endless. (Dr. John Thomas Eureka)

Eternity is not an endless number of years, and things that are spiritual and eternal cannot be measured by days and months and years.

Time is the measure that man gives to passing events. The only power in time is what man imparts to it. When man gets into the understanding of the Absolute, he takes his freedom from all bondage of time and declares that time shall no more enter into the substance of his mind or body or affairs.

Now let's look at the word essence now this is from the latin word essentia, essencia  from Latin essentia meaning "being, essence," abstract noun formed (to translate Greek ousia "being, essence") from essent-, present participle stem of esse"to be," from PIE root *es- "to be."

Now why am I talking about this word called essence because that is exactly what the Aeons are they are the essence of God they are different parts of God, states of God and we have many different kinds of aeons in the plural they are listed as word, will, thought, life, understanding, grace, perception prudence you see these are essences of God they are parts of God and they make up the wholeness

The word aeon originally meant "vital force," "life;" then "age," or "lifetime." this is because αἰών is so connected with ἄημι (aēr 109) to breathe, blow, as to denote properly that which causes life, vital force.

This vital force should be understood as a flowing energy that passes through us like a breathe. Note the holy spirit is God's active force. 

Again quoting from the The Syzygies of AEON we can see:

[The aeons] are a diverse and complex set of forces that relate to each other in complex ways and were considered to be the closest our inferior minds could come to understanding the powers of God....These profound and powerful forces, that effected our very being, comprised a full spectrum of energies that existed within us. (The Syzygies of AEON)

1Kings 19:12  And after the earthquake a fire; [but] Yahweh [was] not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

The Aeons speak to us through the Spirit. The "still small voice" is the inner silent voice of the aeons the inner consciousness of God's presence. The communion is not in words but ideas. So still, so small, so quiet is this secret place where God dwells in man that it may be overlooked, unless one retires into silent meditation in solitude, and in meekness seeks the Lord. The Aeons are made manifest as perfect wholeness through the enlightened mind.

The Aeons are the mediators and heralds of God

Ode 12:4 And the Most High has given Him to His aeons, which are the interpreters of His beauty, And the narrators of His glory, And the confessors of His purpose, And the preachers of His mind, And the teachers of His works. (Odes of Solomon)

Ode 12:8 And by Him the aeons spoke to one another, and those that were silent acquired speech. (Odes of Solomon)

It is important to know the names of the Aeons and there functions as part of achieving enlightenment. The Aeons are grouped together in male and female pairs 

There are Thirty aeons altogether which make up the Pleroma which literally translates to
“fullness” or “wholeness

The next clue comes from Colossians 2:9 were the word Pleroma is used: 

Col 2:9 because it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily. 10 And so YOU are possessed of a fullness by means of him, who is the head of all government and authority (NWT)

Col 2:10  and in him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power: (ESV)

The fullness (pleroma) of the aeons or the divine aspects or attributes were manifested in Jesus. We too are made full in him been partakers of the divine quality (2peter 1:4)

Colossians 2:10 "Ye are in Him (by virtue of union with Him) [filled full]" of all that you need (Joh 1:16). Believers receive of the divine Anointing which flows down from their Divine Head and High Priest (Ps 133:2). He is [full of] the "fullness" itself; we, are filled from Him. 

 “It is in [Christ] that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily. And so you [believers] are possessed of a fullness by means of him, 

In the The Letter of Peter to Philip from the Nag Hammadi Scriptures Jesus in answering a question to his disciples says “Concerning the Pleroma, it is I.  I was sent down in the body for the seed that had fallen away." 

Concerning the fullness, it is I. I (the christ or logos) was sent down in the body (of Jesus) for the seed that had fallen away. And I came down to their mortal model. But they did not recognize me, thinking I was a mortal. I spoke with the one who is mine, and the one who is mine listened to me just as you also who have listened to me today. And I gave him authority to enter into the inheritance of his fatherhood. And I took him the one who is mine up to my Father. They the Aeons were brought to completion filled with rest through his salvation. Since he was deficiency, he became fullness. “Concerning the fact that you are being detained, it is because you are mine. When you strip yourselves of what is corruptible, you will become luminaries in the midst of mortals. (The Letter of Peter to Philip, Nag Hammadi Codex VIII, 2)

"you will become luminaries in the midst of mortals" (The Letter of Peter to Philip)

to become luminaries means the believers will become aeons 

Thus, like Christ, the Gnostic Christians can also become Anointed Ones or Christ. Just as Christ is a fullness and an illurninator, so also the Gnostics become fullnesses and illurninators. Christ's fate is their fate, his lot their lot. Among the Gnostics the realization of salvation can involve a mystical identification with Christ, so that the author of the Gos. Phil. can proclaim that one is mystically united with the divine:  "You saw the Spirit, you became spirit; you saw Christ, you became Christ; you saw the [Father, you] will become the Father" (II 61,29-32) . 156 

Those who say, "There is a heavenly man and there is one above him" are wrong. For it is the first of these two heavenly men, the one who is revealed, that they call "the one who is below"; and he to whom the hidden belongs is that one who is above him. For it would be better for them to say, "The inner and outer, and what is outside the outer". Because of this, the Lord called destruction the "the outer darkness": there is not another outside of it. He said, "My Father who is in secret". He said, "Go into your chamber and shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father who is in secret" (Mt 6:6), the one who is within them all. But that which is within them all is the fullness. Beyond it, there is nothing else within it. This is that of which they say, "That which is above them". (Gospel of Philip)

For the Gnostics the Pleroma is not just a spatial place located above the physical heavens. The Pleroma or the Fullness is also an internal, spiritual state of being that is accessible in this life through direct experience. The Gospel of Philip says, “But that which is within them all is the fullness. Beyond it, there is nothing else within it. This is that of which they say, "That which is above them".

If we look now at our opening reading from the Tripartite Tractate we can see that the redemption which is called "an ascent to the degrees which are in the Pleroma" is accomplished "according to the power of each of the aeons"

The redemption meant being brought back from a state of horrible deficiency and emptiness and being restored to this otherwise inaccessible divine fullness within oneself. The Treatise on Resurrection holds that when someone’s spirit is saved, “fullness fills what it lacks.” 

The Gospel of Truth elaborates:

Thus fullness, which has no deficiency but fills up deficiency, is provided to fill a person’s need, so that the person may receive grace. While deficient, the person had no grace, and because of this a diminishing took place where there was no grace. When the diminished part was restored, the person in need was revealed as fullness.(The Gospel of Truth.)

Likewise, in the Secret Book of James, Christ urges his listeners to “Be filled and leave no space within you empty.” And the Gnostic author of the Prayer of the Apostle Paul, as if responding to this commandment, says to Christ, “You are my fullness.”

Thus, the Gnostics’ cosmology was what it was in order to facilitate the inner spiritual transformation they called “gnosis,” the root of the word “Gnostic.”

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