Wednesday 29 November 2023

Sabaoth the Good in Pistis Sophia

Sabaoth the Good

Sabaoth (צבאות 
Tzavaot) – army or host – “Lord of Hosts”

Sabaoth the Good is the power of the Light-emanations

The name Sabaoth comes from the Hebrew word for "hosts" or "forces," particularly in the expression "Yahweh Sabaoth," 
"LORD of hosts."  He Will Be Armies. Sabaoth plays a similar role in Pistis Sophia

In the Orig. World Sabaoth is a Son of Yaldabaoth and a prominent power of this world in gnostic texts.  

On the Origin of the World:When Sabaoth received light, he received great authority against all of the powers of chaos. Since that day he has been called “the lord of the powers.”  He hated his father, the darkness, and his mother, the abyss. He loathed his sister, the thought of the chief creator, the one who moves to and fro over the water.

On account of his light, all of the authorities of chaos were jealous of him. And when they were disturbed, they made a great war in the seven heavens. Then when Pistis Sophia saw the war, she sent seven archangels from her light to Sabaoth. They snatched him away up to the seventh heaven.  They took their stand before him as servants. Furthermore, she sent him three other archangels and established the kingdom for him above everyone so that he might dwell above the twelve gods of chaos.

When Sabaoth received the place of rest because of his repentance, Pistis also gave him her daughter, Zoe,  with great authority, so that she might inform him about everything that exists in the eighth heaven. And since he had authority, he first created a dwelling place for himself. It is huge, magnificent, seven times as great as all those that exist in the seven heavens.

Sabaoth the Good

Psychic Plane or Mixture (Lower Manas)

       Sabaoth, the Good

Hylic (Astral) Plane

The Twelve Aeons
       The First Six Sons or Emanations of the Self-Centered One
       Sabaoth-Adamas (The Great Tyrant, Ialdabaoth, the Lion-Faced Power)

The Great Sabaoth, the Good

As mentioned above, this figure provides a power or soul for Jesus’ earthly incarnation, making him effectively Jesus’ earthly father. This role is most widely discussed through extensive interpretations of Psalm 85:10-11 in Chapters 62-63.

Sabaoth, the Adamas

This is the primary representative of evil or wickedness in the majority of the Pistis Sophia. He is accused of inappropriate sexual conduct, begetting archons and other beings, and as a result he is imprisoned in the bounds of the zodiac, or the material universe. For those human souls who did not receive the mysteries before death and are thus bound to be reincarnated in the world, he is also responsible for giving the “cup of forgetfulness,” denying them the knowledge they had acquired from previous lives and punishments.

Sunday 26 November 2023

Self Baptism or Auto Baptism in the Acts of Paul and Thecla

Self Baptism or Auto Baptism in the Acts of Thecla 

An opening reading from The Acts of Paul and Thecla

38 But Thecla, being taken out of the hand of Tryphaena, was stripped and a girdle put upon her, and was cast into the stadium: and lions and bears were set against her. And a fierce lioness running to her lay down at her feet, and the press of women cried aloud. And a bear ran upon her; but the lioness ran and met him, and tore the bear in sunder. And again a lion, trained against men, which was Alexander's, ran upon her, and the lioness wrestled with him and was slain along with him. And the women bewailed yet more, seeing that the lioness also that succoured her was dead.

34 Then did they put in many beasts, while she stood and stretched out her hands and prayed. And when she had ended her prayer, she turned and saw a great tank full of water, and said: Now is it time that I should wash myself. And she cast herself in, saying: In the name of Jesus Christ do I baptize myself on the last day. And all the women seeing it and all the people wept, saying: Cast not thyself into the water: so that even the governor wept that so great beauty should be devoured by seals. So, then, she cast herself into the water in the name of Jesus Christ; and the seals, seeing the light of a flash of fire, floated dead on the top of the water. And there was about her a cloud of fire, so that neither did the beasts touch her, nor was she seen to be naked. (The Acts of Paul and Thecla)

Auto-Baptism in Gnostic Teachings: The Unique Rite of Self-Baptism

The term "αυτοβαπτιση" (autobaptism) in Greek essentially refers to "self-baptism" or "baptism by oneself." The prefix "αυτό" (auto) means "self" or "by oneself," while "βαπτιση" (baptism) refers to the religious ritual of immersion in water s a symbol of purification, initiation, or induction into a faith.

The concept of auto-baptism, or self-baptism, emerges as a profound expression of spiritual independence and personal connection with God and Jesus. The Acts of Paul and Thecla, an apocryphal work, recounts the extraordinary tale of Thecla, a woman who, faced with imminent danger in the arena, takes matters into her own hands and baptizes herself. This narrative not only challenges conventional notions of baptism but also embodies the Gnostic emphasis on self-knowledge and direct communion with God and Jesus. This account not only challenges traditional baptismal norms but also embodies the essence of Gnostic beliefs in self-awareness and spiritual independence, without the involvement of priests or priesthood.

The Gnostic Perspective on Self-Baptism: 

Gnosticism, rooted in the pursuit of self-knowledge and enlightenment, deviates from established religious practices by emphasizing individual revelation over hierarchical authority. Self-baptism, or auto-baptism, aligns seamlessly with Gnostic principles, representing the notion that spiritual awakening and initiation can be self-initiated, devoid of intermediary figures such as priests or religious officiants.

**Acts of Paul and Thecla: The Unusual Arena Baptism:**

The Acts of Paul and Thecla provide a detailed account of Thecla's self-baptism within the confines of an arena. Stripped and cast into the stadium, Thecla faces imminent danger from lions, bears, and other ferocious beasts. Amidst this perilous situation, a remarkable scene unfolds as Thecla, prompted by divine inspiration, turns her attention to a vat of water.

**The Ritual Unfolds:**

Thecla's decision to baptize herself in the arena adds an extraordinary layer to the narrative. Observing a vat containing seals or sea-calves, she seizes what she perceives as her last opportunity for baptism. The symbolism of water, a fundamental element in Christian baptism, takes on a surreal quality as Thecla immerses herself in the vat.

**The Miraculous Intervention:**

As Thecla proclaims her self-baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, a miraculous event transpires. Lightning strikes, killing the seals or sea-calves before they can harm her. This supernatural intervention adds a layer of divine approval to Thecla's unique baptism, reinforcing the spiritual significance attributed to the act.

**Symbolism and Spiritual Triumph:**

The narrative unfolds with symbolic resonance. The lioness, initially a threat, becomes an unexpected ally, protecting Thecla from other predators. This transformation echoes the transformative power of self-baptism, turning perceived dangers into elements of spiritual triumph.

**The Cloud of Fire: A Divine Canopy:**

As Thecla immerses herself in the water, invoking the name of Jesus Christ, a cloud of fire envelops her. This ethereal manifestation serves as a protective barrier, preventing harm from the surrounding beasts. The imagery of fire and water converging symbolizes purification and spiritual rebirth, reinforcing the transformative nature of self-baptism.

**Reactions of Onlookers:**

The reaction of the spectators, including the governor, adds a human dimension to the account. Witnessing Thecla's daring act, the people and even the governor are moved to tears. The juxtaposition of beauty on the brink of peril evokes a profound emotional response, emphasizing the gravity of Thecla's self-baptism.


In the tapestry of Gnostic teachings, the practice of auto-baptism emerges as a bold assertion of individual spirituality. The Acts of Paul and Thecla provide a captivating example through the extraordinary self-baptism of Thecla in the arena. This ritual, laden with symbolism and divine intervention, challenges conventional notions of baptism, portraying a unique form of spiritual expression that transcends societal norms. The story of Thecla stands as a testament to the Gnostic belief in personal communion with God and Jesus and the transformative power of self-initiated rituals

**Title: A Spiritual Journey: A Guide to Self-Baptism and Its Significance**


Self-baptism, an ancient practice rooted in various religious traditions, offers individuals a unique path towards spiritual renewal and connection with their faith. The act of baptizing oneself is not only a profound expression of personal devotion but also a deeply individualized experience. This guide delves into the significance and steps of self-baptism, exploring its context within different belief systems and offering a practical understanding of the process.

**Understanding the Spiritual Significance:**

Self-baptism is not merely a physical act but a spiritual journey, an intimate communion with one's faith and understanding of God and Jesus. Rooted in Gnostic traditions, the practice emphasizes the individual's direct connection with God and Jesus, free from the conventional structures of organized religious ceremonies. It represents a conscious decision to embark on a transformative journey of spiritual cleansing and renewal without the intermediary presence of a religious officiant or community.

Gnosticism: A Path to Self-Knowledge: 

At the heart of Gnostic philosophy lies the pursuit of self-knowledge—gnosis. Gnostics believe in the direct, personal experience with God and Jesus, transcending the need for intermediaries such as priests in spiritual matters. This emphasis on personal revelation sets the stage for the Unique act of self-baptism portrayed in The Acts of Paul and Thecla.

**The Acts of Paul and Thecla: An Unique Baptism:**

In certain religious texts like the Acts of Paul and Thecla, accounts of individuals baptizing themselves emerge, portraying the unique yet deeply personal nature of this ritual. The story of Thecla's self-baptism in the arena, amidst imminent danger, symbolizes a profound commitment to spiritual devotion, transcending societal norms and expectations.

**Steps to Self-Baptism: A Practical Guide:**

For those considering self-baptism, a thoughtful and intentional approach is crucial. The suggested steps draw inspiration from the Acts of Paul and Thecla, as well as incorporating insights from a practical and spiritual perspective.

1. **Preparation through Prayer and Reflection:**

Before the physical act of self-baptism, take time for prayer, reflection, and meditation. Consider reading and contemplating passages such as Romans chapter 6, which delve into the symbolism of baptism as a sharing in the death and resurrection of Christ.

2. **Repentance as Recognition:**

Embrace repentance as a recognition before the Deity that we are imperfect beings in need of grace. Acknowledge the need for healing and growth, understanding that the baptized are not exempt from the reality of human frailty.

3. **Setting the Intention:**

Prior to entering the water, express your intention clearly. Acknowledge that you are being baptized into the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. This declaration serves as a focal point for the spiritual significance of the ritual.

4. **Entering the Water:**

Private Ritual: Find a suitable place, such as a bath or tub, conducive to the act of self-baptism. While in the water, express the intent aloud, stating, "I am being baptized into the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins."

Immersing and Emerging: Submerge oneself in the water, signifying a symbolic cleansing and rebirth, and emerge from the water, symbolizing identification with Christ's resurrection.

5. **Post-Baptism Prayer:**

Upon emerging from the water, offer a prayer, expressing gratitude and seeking continued guidance on your spiritual journey. This moment of communion serves as a bridge between the physical act and the ongoing spiritual transformation.

**Personal Testimony: Baptism in a Bathtub:**

The article shares a personal testimony of someone who underwent self-baptism in a bathtub. The practical aspects, such as lying on one's side with the head towards the taps, are highlighted, making the ritual accessible to individuals seeking a private and intimate experience.

**Gnostic Christian Self-Baptism Formula:**

For Gnostic Christians, a specific self-baptism formula is presented. This formula encapsulates the essence of Gnostic beliefs, invoking the unknown father of the universe, truth, and the divine presence that descended upon Jesus.


Self-baptism emerges as a profound and personal journey, intertwining spirituality with symbolism. Whether inspired by Gnostic teachings or a desire for a more direct connection with God and Jesus, the practice of self-baptism offers individuals a unique and meaningful way to express their faith. This guide seeks to illuminate the steps and considerations involved, recognizing the depth and significance of this intimate spiritual ritual. May those who embark on this journey find solace, renewal, and a strengthened connection with their faith.

Saturday 25 November 2023

The Five Seals in Sethian Gnosticism

The Five Seals


- The Five Seals are mentioned in the Sethian Gnostic texts such as The Gospel of the Egyptians, The Three Forms of First Thought and The Apocryphon of John.

Before we look at the Five seals in the Sethian Gnostic texts we will first look at the meaning of sealing and the number five

The Number Five

The Number 5 is a symbol of God’s grace. It is also one of the most widely mentioned words in the Bible. It is also a number that symbolizes God’s kindness and favour to humankind. 25 is 5*5 and it makes “grace upon grace”. (John 1:16).

The instructions given by God in order to build a “tabernacle in the wilderness” were all centred around the number five, everything was made out of five components, like 5 curtains, 5 pillars, 5 bars, etc. Also, there were 5 ingredients in the holy oil, which was needed to sanctify the Tabernacle.

Five Pentad, quintet; the realm of the divine Father, consisting of Barbelo and four personified attributes (foreknowledge, incorruptibility, life eternal, and truth) in Sethian texts. Since the five is androgynous, it is also called the ten, and it constitutes the divine Father in emanation.

In the Valentinian Gospel of Philip there are five sacraments. Five trees of paradise are referred to in the Gospel of Thomas. 

The Meaning of Sealing 

The concept of "Having the seal of the living God" holds profound significance, drawing parallels from various biblical references. In Job 33:16 and 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, the Truth itself is depicted as the seal of God. Corresponding to an image imprinted on a seal, the Truth leaves its mark on the heart, evident through a transformed life (Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 4:6-7). Notably, Christ, the personification of Truth, is symbolically sealed by the Father (John 6:27).

In the perception of the people, Jesus' words, works, and character manifested the essence of Yahweh. His teachings carried the unmistakable stamp of Divine authority, akin to a sealed message authenticated by a person in authority. The saints, referred to as a sealed community in Song of Solomon 4:12 and 8:6, bear the seal of divine teaching, demonstrated through their actions (Revelation 14:1; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13).

The cry with a loud voice to the four angels, charged with potential harm to the earth and sea, underscores the urgency of the request. The plea is to withhold judgment temporarily to facilitate the sealing of the servants of God in their foreheads, a concept derived from Ezekiel 9:4. Drawing a parallel to the priests of Israel sealed in their foreheads, this sealing signifies a mental impression with the things of God, a requirement for salvation (Revelation 14:1).

The Book of Revelation, specifically given for the illumination of the "servants of God," reveals a prayer seeking a delay in judgment until the work of sealing is complete. This prayer aligns with the idea of God's longsuffering, waiting for a purpose, as reflected in 2 Peter 3:15 and 1 Peter 3:20. The return of Christ is anticipated only after the completion of this sealing work.

Revelation 7:2-4 introduces another angel with the seal of the living God, instructing not to harm the earth, sea, or trees until the servants of God are sealed on their foreheads. The twelve tribes of Israel symbolize the twelve spiritual faculties of man, and the "seal of God" signifies the identity of the Christ consciousness. The number 144,000, representing twelve times twelve with three zeros symbolizing the unlimited or unspecified, points to the perfected human consciousness—a harmonious integration and multiplication of the twelve faculties.

In conclusion, the seal of the living God encompasses the Truth, mental impressions with divine teachings, and the integration of spiritual faculties. The Book of Revelation portrays a prayer for a delay in judgment until the sealing of the servants of God is complete, emphasizing the significance of this transformative process in the grand narrative of salvation.

The Five Seals
The Gnostic Path to Enlightenment: Unveiling the Mystery of the Five Seals

This is the father’s realm of five. It is: the first human, the image of the invisible spirit, that is, forethought, which is Barbelo, and thought, along with foreknowledge, incorruptibility, life eternal, truth. This is the androgynous realm of five, which is the realm of ten, which is the father. (The Apocryphon of John)

In the profound tapestry of Sethian belief, the concept of the Five Seals emerges as a mystical journey, an ascent to the divine realms 
that embodies the essence of the Father's spiritual realm. Rooted in ancient texts such as The Apocryphon of John and the Three Forms of First Thought, the Five Seals represent important aspects that, when received through a transformative ritual, enable the Gnostic to ascend to the Upper Aeons and dwell in the presence of the Deity.

The Apocryphon of John presents the Father's realm of five, with each element revealing an aspect of the divine mysteries.

TruthReceiving the seal of truth involves embracing ultimate reality, authenticity, and the embodiment of ultimate truth within oneself, aligning one's existence with the divine sphere of truth and wisdom

The Gnostic Seal of Truth resonates as the Absolute—a divine principle inherently connected to God, eternal and unchanging. (Hebrews 13:8) It embodies the essence of reality, an eternal truth that remains constant throughout time, unaltered by temporal fluctuations. Truth, at its core, dwells within the essence of human consciousness, waiting to be unveiled as one expands their awareness.

The foundational truth lies in the conscious unity of the individual mind with the Divine Mind, a connection facilitated by the indwelling Christ. Affirming this unity allows one to attain a perfected state of mind, akin to that of Christ Jesus.

The path of Truth is likened to a straight and narrow road guided by Spirit. (Matt. 7:13–14) It's a smooth and secure passage that resists the allure of sensory deception, leading towards a deeper spiritual understanding.

The source of absolute Truth stems solely from God—an intimate and personal Father to all His children. Absolute Truth cannot be obtained from any other source; it is a divine gift bestowed upon those seeking spiritual enlightenment.

The Spirit of truth acts as a catalyst for spiritual consciousness, infusing our minds with ideas akin to those of Jesus. It meticulously oversees every aspect of life and, upon invocation, revitalizes both mind and body, guiding towards adherence to spiritual and physical laws that restore health and well-being.

Life Eternal: At the core of the Father's realm is the concept of eternal life—a seal that symbolizes existence beyond temporal limitations. To receive this seal is to awaken to the perpetual nature of one's spiritual being, transcending mortal boundaries and connecting with the timeless essence.

Gnostic understanding of "eternal life" transcends mere temporal existence. In their perspective, the term "eternal life" embodies an age or a pattern—an aeon that embodies life within the Christ consciousness, both in the present age of glory and in an infinite sense beyond mortal bounds.

In the Gnostic interpretation, the Greek term 'aeon', often translated as 'eternal life', signifies existence within the realm of heightened consciousness. This concept, scarcely depicted in traditional scriptures, aligns with the idea of life attuned to the glory of the Christ consciousness, offering a deeper understanding beyond temporal limitations.

References to eternal life within the Gnostic context can be found in passages like Romans 6:22-23. Here, eternal life represents participation in the truth—the seal of sanctification—and 
comes to a climax in the Christ consciousness. It details a departure from a life ensnared by sin, offering the free gift of eternal life through divine consciousness.

Further affirmations of this eternal life unfold in 2 Peter 1:11, emphasizing the need for steadfast dedication to confirm one's call and election, securing an entrance into the eternal kingdom of the Lord. This eternal kingdom symbolizes a realm entrenched within the Christ consciousness, offering a sanctuary from regression into lower stages of consciousness.

The language of "aeon" surfaces once more in 2 Peter 3:17-18, underlining the importance of steering clear from the error of lawlessness—representative of a consciousness rooted in sin. Instead, the directive is to foster growth in grace and knowledge of the Lord, signifying a journey towards the glory of the Christ consciousness.

For the Sethians, "eternal life" extends beyond the conventional scope of mortal existence. It is a state of consciousness in harmony with the divine glory of the Christ consciousness—an aeon that transcends temporal boundaries, leading towards an everlasting union with divine truth.

Incorruptibility: The seal of incorruptibility signifies purity, immutability, and divine perfection. To receive this aspect is to recognize the incorruptible nature within oneself, a quality untouched by decay or imperfection, aligning with the divine essence.

The Gnostic concept of the Seal of Incorruptibility delves into the transformative journey of the egoic self, often characterized by judgmental tendencies. Within this framework, the psyche—the embodiment of the ego in lower stages—holds the potential for a profound metamorphosis. The aspiration of the Christ consciousness is ignited by recognizing the great potentials within the Psyche.

In the pursuit of elevating the ego to the level of the Christ consciousness, the intuitive self endeavours to inspire the Psyche. This transformative journey is driven by a determination to guide the Psyche towards a realization—specifically, recognizing the inadequacy of its love for a contemptible being. The reward for this arduous endeavour comes to fruition as the Psyche, having unveiled its error, undergoes a remarkable transformation.

This transformation culminates in the state of incorruptibility, a condition akin to godliness or perfection. In this context, incorruptibility signifies a harmonization of reasoning at the same elevated level as the Christ consciousness—the intuitive self. The once-judgmental and flawed psyche now attains a godlike status, having aligned its cognitive processes with the divine truth inherent in the Christ consciousness.

The Seal of Incorruptibility, therefore, symbolizes not only the transcendence of egoic judgments but also the attainment of a godlike perfection through alignment with the divine wisdom of the Christ consciousness. It portrays a profound metamorphosis where the psyche, once mired in limited perspectives, evolves into a state of incorruptibility by reasoning at the elevated level of the intuitive self—the divine guide within the Gnostic framework.

Foreknowledge: An important aspect of the divine realm is foreknowledge, an awareness that transcends time and space. To attain this seal is to gain insight into the complexities of the spiritual realm, a profound understanding that goes beyond the limitations of mortal existence.

The Gnostic Seal of Foreknowledge embodies intuitive perception and a profound clarity of vision. It operates on the principle that every occurrence in the manifested world initially transpires within the realm of thought. For those spiritually attuned, the ability to discern these movements of thought grants a unique advantage—the ability to foresee and anticipate what is to unfold in the future.

Forethought Barbelo and Thought: At the heart of the Father's realm dwells the first Heavenly Man, the image of the invisible spirit—Forethought, embodied in Barbelo. This realm encompasses the intellectual and conceptual aspects, representing the capacity for discernment and comprehension. To receive these aspects is to delve into the highest planes of spiritual understanding, recognizing oneself as an image of the invisible spirit.

Forethought, personified as Barbelo, symbolizes the Jerusalem above the mother of us all, the Eternal Invisible Virginal Spirit the unseen spiritual essence. Barbelo, often synonymous with the supreme feminine divine principle, signifies the mother of the Aeons and serves as the fountain of emanation within the Sethian belief structure. It's noteworthy that in Sethian texts, Barbelo is referred to as both 'male' and 'virginal,' showcasing the identity of God and Barbelo as the same spiritual entity, emphasizing the androgynous nature of the Deity.

The Realm of Five
The realm of five, a celestial domain within Sethian cosmology, unfolds through the manifestation of the Five Seals, each embodying profound glories and divine gifts. These seals, situated in the uppermost light, which are synonymous with the Upper Aeons, serve as gateways to the secret knowledge and unity with the divine.

Originating from the Father in the Upper Aeons, the Five Seals are described as sacred emanations brought forth from the Father's bosom, (
Gospel of the Egyptians) representing the quintessence of spiritual attributes. Christ, recognized as the Verifier in the realm of five, assumes an important role in bestowing these seals. In th
e complex process of verification, each soul is sealed with the divine mark, ushering them toward the first Father—a self-existent divine being dwelling within himself.

The transformative journey of the Elect unfolds as they ascend to the watery light of the Upper Aeons, a sacred realm where the Five Seals are granted. This ascent, akin to a baptism in the divine mysteries, culminates in the sealing of the Elect, rendering them imperishable and shielded from the dominion of death. Protennoia, the saviour figure within this spiritual narrative, dwells in the Elect through the ineffable Five Seals 
(Three Forms of First Thought 50:9), fostering a reciprocal dwelling as the Elect, in turn, abide with the saviour in the Upper Aeons.

The granting of the Five Seals in the Upper Aeons
(Apocryphon of John 31:22) is a moment of profound significance. These seals serve as conduits to the mysteries of divine knowledge, unifying the initiate with the Light. (Three Forms of First Thought 48:30) The process involves a sacred act, as depicted in the Apocryphon of John, where a soul is raised, and sealed in the light of the water with five sacred seals, thereby attaining resilience against the power of death.

The culmination of this journey is encapsulated in the Three Forms of First Thought, where the initiate is taken into the light-place of the Fatherhood. Here, in the Upper Aeons, the individual receives the Five Seals directly from the Light of the Mother, Protennoia. This granting is transformative, allowing the initiate to partake in the mystery of knowledge and to become a Light in Light, signifying a union with the divine essence.

In the realm of five, the journey toward the Upper Aeons and the reception of the Five Seals represent a profound spiritual ascent. It is a process of initiation, verification, and sealing that leads to a heightened understanding of the mysteries and a unity with the divine Light. The realm of five, through these seals, becomes a sacred space where the seeker is not only marked but also transformed, transcending the mortal realm and attaining a luminous existence in the divine realms.

The Five Seals as a Baptismal Ritual 

The Significance of the Five Seals in Sethian Baptism and Gnostic Ascension


The Sethian ritual of baptism holds a profound significance within the realm of Gnostic spirituality, particularly through the reception of the Five Seals. These seals, existing in the uppermost light known as the Upper Aeons, play an important role in the Gnostic's journey towards ascension. Derived from the Father in the Upper Aeons, bestowed by Christ, and serving as a means through which the saviour, such as Protennoia, can dwell within the Elect, the Five Seals are central to the Sethian understanding of spiritual progression.

The Nature of the Five Seals:

According to Sethian scriptures, the Five Seals represent glories that transcend all other forms of glory. Described in the 
Three Forms of First Thought (49:26), they are identified as entities existing in the uppermost light, often synonymous with the Upper Aeons. This celestial realm is the pinnacle of spiritual existence in Gnostic belief, and the acquisition of the Five Seals becomes a crucial step towards ascending to this elevated state.

Origins of the Five Seals:

The Gospel of the Egyptians reveals the divine origin of the Five Seals, attributing their existence to the Father in the Upper Aeons. It is stated, "the five seals which the Father brought forth from his bosom." This declaration underscores the sacred nature of the seals, suggesting a direct connection to the divine source from which they emanate. The implication is that these seals are not ordinary symbols but carry a divine essence that links the recipient to the highest spiritual realities.

Bestowal by Christ:

Christ, identified as the Verifier in Gnostic teachings, assumes a crucial role in the transmission of the Five Seals. The Untitled Bruce emphasizes Christ's involvement in the process, stating, "There is a sonship in their midst, which is called Christ the Verifier. It is he who verifies each one, and he seals him with the seal of the Father." This act of verification and sealing establishes a direct link between the Gnostic practitioner and the divine lineage, marking a transformative moment in their spiritual journey.

Dwelling of the Saviour in the Elect:

Three Forms of First Thought sheds light on the transformative power of the Five Seals by revealing that through them, the saviour (in this instance, Protennoia) dwells within the Elect. The reciprocity of this dwelling is highlighted, as the Elect, in turn, come to dwell with the saviour in the Upper Aeons. "And I proclaimed to them the ineffable Five Seals in order that I might abide in them and they also might abide in me," declares Protennoia (50:9). This mutual indwelling signifies a profound union between the divine and the initiated, underscoring the transformative potential embedded in the reception of the Five Seals.


In conclusion, the Five Seals in the Sethian ritual of baptism represent a sacred and transformative journey for the Gnostic practitioner. Originating from the Father in the Upper Aeons, bestowed by Christ, and facilitating the dwelling of the saviour within the Elect, these seals serve as a conduit for spiritual ascension. The Gnostic understanding of the Five Seals transcends mere symbolism, delving into the mystical realms of divine connection and transformative union, ultimately guiding the initiate towards the celestial heights of the Upper Aeons.

The Ritual of the Five Seals in the Three Forms of First Thought: A Gnostic Baptism and Visionary Ascent


Within the sacred text of the 
Three Forms of First Thought, a profound ritual unfolds, known as the bestowal of the Five Seals. This ritual mirrors a baptismal ceremony, intertwined with visionary ascension to the Upper Aeons. The journey of the initiate involves a sequential process, where each step corresponds to a symbolic action, guided by angelic entities. This exploration delves into the rich symbolism and significance of the Five Seals, shedding light on the transformative nature of the Gnostic ritual.

The Baptismal Process:

The initial stage of the ritual involves the reception of water, symbolizing a baptism that initiates a transformative process. The water serves to strip away the psychic and material garments of the initiate, purging the chaos within the abyss. The 
Three Forms of First Thought articulates this transformative act, stating, "I gave to him from the Water of Life, which strips him of the chaos that is in the uttermost darkness...And I stripped him of it, and I put upon him a shining Light, that is, the knowledge of the Thought of the Fatherhood."

The Five Angelic Orders:

As the baptismal journey unfolds, the initiate encounters five distinct orders of angels, each performing a specific action in the rite. Protennoia, also known as "Forethought," narrates this important phase of the ritual:

Robes of Light: The initiate is delivered to angelic beings—AMMÔN, ELASSÔ, AMÊNAI—who bestow upon him a robe crafted from the radiant garments of Light. This act symbolizes a transformation from darkness to enlightenment.

Baptizers: Subsequently, the initiate is handed over to baptizing angels—MIKHEUS, MIKHAR, MNÊSINOUS—who immerse him in the spring of the Water of Life. This baptism in living water represents purification and spiritual rebirth.

Enthronement: The angelic triad—BARIÊL, NOUTHAN, SABENAI—takes charge of enthroning the initiate, possibly through a symbolic coronation or anointing. This act signifies a connection to the Throne of Glory and the recognition of divine kingship.

Glorification: Another triad—ARIÔM, ÊLIEN, PHARIÊL—undertakes the task of glorifying the initiate with the glory of the Fatherhood. This step marks a recognition of the initiate's elevated spiritual status.

Snatching Away: The final act involves entities such as KAMALIÊL, ABRASAX (inferred from other texts), SAMBLÔ, and servants of great holy luminaries. They perform a "snatching away," likely representing an ecstatic visionary experience, transporting the initiate into the light-place of his Fatherhood.

Symbolism of the Five Seals:

Through careful analysis of the ritual, it becomes evident that the Five Seals are not physical seals but symbolic actions performed by the five triads of angels. These actions include the donning of ceremonial robes, baptism in the water of life, enthronement on the throne of glory, glorification in the glory of the Father, and a visionary ascent or "snatching away."


In conclusion, the ritual of the Five Seals, as detailed in the 
Three Forms of First Thought, unveils a profound Gnostic baptismal and visionary journey. Symbolic actions, guided by angelic entities, lead the initiate through a transformative process that culminates in an ascent to the Upper Aeons. The ritual represents a sacred dance between the material and spiritual realms, emphasizing purification, enlightenment, recognition of divine kingship, and a visionary communion with the divine. The Five Seals, far from being mere symbols, embody the essence of Gnostic mysticism, offering a pathway to transcendent knowledge and spiritual illumination.

Unveiling the Rituals of the Five Seals: Gnostic Baptism and Visionary Transformation


Within the intricate tapestry of Gnostic spirituality, the ritual of the Five Seals emerges as a transformative journey, rich in symbolism and sacred actions. This ritual, resembling a baptismal ceremony, is detailed in texts such as the 
Three Forms of First Thought and the Gospel of the Egyptians. Exploring the intricate details of this spiritual odyssey reveals a profound connection between the material and spiritual realms, guided by angelic beings and invoking divine presence.

Invocation of Angelic Beings:

The Five Seals, presumably, involve an invocation to specific triads of angels, a common element in various Gnostic texts that are replete with rituals. In texts like the Pistis Sophia and Books of Jeu, angelic beings play an integral role in ceremonies and baptisms. Typically, these celestial entities are invoked in the name of God to descend and perform their respective duties on the initiate. For instance, in the Baptism of Water from the Books of Jeu, a prayer involves the recital of secret names of God, followed by an invocation for angelic helpers, numbering fifteen, reflecting a parallel with the ritual of the Five Seals.

Baptismal Portion in Gospel of the Egyptians:

The Gospel of the Egyptians provides a more detailed glimpse into the baptismal portion of the Five Seals ritual. A prayer or adoration, likely recited by the initiate after the baptism, unfolds with powerful invocations. These invocations address the living water, the child of the child, and the glorious name. The prayer is a poetic ode to the divine, expressing a profound connection with the eternal and immutable. Symbolic gestures, such as stretching out hands and shaping in the circle of light, underscore the mystical nature of the baptism.

Components of the Baptism:

The baptism itself appears to be a multi-dimensional ceremony conducted in the name of the Father, Mother, and Son, involving angelic entities such as MIKHEUS, MIKHAR, MNÊSINOUS, and SESENGENPHARANGÊS. The invocation implies a folding and stretching of hands in a circular motion, symbolizing the divine nature of the initiate. This gesture aligns with Neoplatonic concepts of the soul's circular or spherical shape, suggesting a connection to philosophical traditions of late antiquity.

Renunciations and the Five Seals:

The Gospel of the Egyptians mentions "renunciations" as part of the ritual, likely involving declarations renouncing various Archons and the Demiurge. This aspect parallels conventional Catholic baptism, where renouncing Satan and sin is customary. The text also identifies the Five Seals as the triad of the Father, Mother, and Son, along with the angels IOUÊL and ÊSÊPHÊKH. This emphasizes the spiritual significance of the ritual in the context of Gnostic cosmology.

Enthronement and Anointing:

The "enthronement" aspect of the ritual is likely symbolic, involving an anointing with oil and possibly a crowning gesture, reflecting ancient enthronement ceremonies. Drawing parallels with the Mandaean baptism, which shares similarities with the Sethian ritual, suggests a common source for these Gnostic traditions. The anointing, possibly with aromatic oils or balsam, may have involved a symbolic sealing of the five organs of sense, aligning with the concept of the Five Seals.


In conclusion, the exploration of the ritual of the Five Seals unveils a multifaceted Gnostic baptismal and visionary journey. From angelic invocations and baptisms to anointings and symbolic gestures, each component contributes to a profound transformative experience. The echoes of these rituals resonate across Gnostic texts, connecting the seeker to divine realms and unveiling the mysteries of the Five Seals as a pathway to spiritual illumination.

The Multifaceted Rites of Initiation and the Attainment of the Five Seals in Gnostic Practice


The intricate rite leading to the attainment of the Five Seals within Gnostic tradition was a complex and multifaceted journey. Each stage of this ritual held profound symbolic significance, guiding the initiate through a transformative process involving renunciations, invocations, multiple baptisms, and other sacred ceremonies. This exploration unveils the intricate layers of this spiritual odyssey that culminates in the bestowal of the Five Seals.

Ritual Sequence:

The ritual commenced with the symbolic act of 'stripping' the initiate of certain garments, representing the shedding of material and psychic existence. This act marked the preliminary stage, paving the way for subsequent rites.

The Preliminary Rites:

The initial stage involved 'the renunciation,' where the initiate received secret names and signs for protection against the Archons. This stage might have included a visionary ascent through the Lower Aeons, reciting sacramental texts aloud, or vocalizing curses against demons and Archons, akin to aspects of the Roman Catholic rite of baptism.

Following the renunciation, 'the invocation' took place, with the recitation of additional names and signs to seek the protection of angels. This phase, possibly involving a visionary ascent through the Upper Aeons or a verbal confession of belief in angelic existence, prepared the initiate for the subsequent baptisms.

Multiple Baptisms:

Gnostics practiced multiple baptisms. The initiate might have undergone a baptism at the end of the renunciation and another at the end of the invocation, paving the way for a third and final baptism.

The Final Baptism:

The culminating moment was the final baptism, symbolized by immersion into the watery light of the Upper Aeons. During this baptism, the initiate might have received a special sign or seal, representing the imprint of their unique image in the watery light, allowing the Father to reflect upon himself through this image. Additionally, the initiate might have received a special name uttered by the Father, symbolizing their divine identity.

The Garment of Light and Union in the Bridal Chamber:

Alongside the image and name, the initiate was bestowed with the 'garment of light,' a protective garment for their earthly life and ascension through the aeons after death. This baptism was interpreted as a union or marriage with the light in the Bridal Chamber, symbolizing the union between the feminine soul (initiate) and the masculine light (Father). The post-baptismal rite of the Bridal Chamber might have followed, possibly in the form of a ritual kiss to welcome the initiate into the Gnostic community.

Chrism and Eucharist:

The anointing with holy oil in the rite of the chrism and the celebration of the eucharist marked the conclusion of the ritual, uniting all present in a sacred communion.


The complex ritual encompassing renunciations, invocations, baptisms, the Bridal Chamber, chrism, and eucharist granted the initiate the Five Seals. Emerging from this multifaceted journey, the initiate carried with them a name, an image, and the protective garment of light, symbolizing their spiritual elevation and union with the divine.

The Acts of Thomas 

In the Acts of Thomas, Judas Thomas orchestrates a profound ritual comprising four rites: chrism, baptism, the eucharist, and enrobing, bestowing upon the initiate, Mygdonia, her 'seal':

In this intricate ceremony, Mygdonia presented herself before the apostle with her head uncovered. Taking the holy oil, the apostle poured it over her head, invoking its sanctifying power. He uttered sacred words, recognizing the oil as a secret mystery revealing the cross, a healer of infirmities, and a revealer of hidden treasures. The apostle invoked the oil's power to establish itself upon Mygdonia, seeking her healing through this consecration.

Following the anointing, the apostle instructed Mygdonia's nurse to disrobe her and wrap her in a linen cloth. Near a fountain of water, the apostle led Mygdonia for baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Once baptized and attired, the apostle broke bread, offered a cup of water, initiating Mygdonia into communion with the body and blood of Christ. Confirming her reception of the seal, he proclaimed her eligibility for eternal life.

The transformative nature of this ritual was accentuated by a divine affirmation—an audible voice from above echoed agreement, responding with a resounding 'Yea, amen.' Witnessing this, Narcia, a bystander, marvelled and implored the apostle to receive the same seal. Granting her request, the apostle assured her of the Lord's care, extending His protection to her as with the rest.

This complex rite, as detailed in the Acts of Thomas, embodies the profound spiritual significance and transformative power bestowed upon the initiates through the sacred rites of chrism, baptism, eucharist, and enrobing.

Original text

Five seals form part of the Sethian ritual of baptism. - By receiving the Five Seals, the Gnostic could ascend to the Upper Aeons.

- The Five Seals exist in the uppermost light (i.e. the Upper Aeons?): 

“These are the glories that are higher than every glory, that is, the Five Seals...” (Three Forms of First Thought 49:26)

- The Five Seals come from the Father in the Upper Aeons: 

“the five seals which the Father brought forth from his bosom” (Gospel of the Egyptians)

- Christ gives the seals: 

“There is a sonship in their midst, which is called Christ the Verifier. It is he who verifies each one, and he seals him with the seal of the Father as he sends them in to the first Father, who exists in himself.” (Untitled Bruce)

- Through the Five Seals, the saviour (here, Protennoia) dwells in the Elect, just as they will come to dwell with the saviour in the Upper Aeons - Protennoia: 

“And I proclaimed to them the ineffable Five Seals in order that I might abide in them and they also might abide in me.” (Three Forms of First Thought 50:9)

In the Three Forms of First Thought, the Five Seals are granted during a five-fold ritual that resembles a baptism and visionary ascent to the Upper Aeons. 

- First, the initiate receives water (presumeably in a baptism) which ‘strips off’ from him the psychic and material garments before ‘putting on’ him a garment of light (which is knowledge of the Father): “I gave to him from the Water of Life, which strips him of the chaos that is in the uttermost darkness that exists inside the entire abyss, that is, the thought of the corporeal and the psychic. All these I put on. And I stripped him of it, and I put upon him a shining Light, that is, the knowledge of the Thought of the Fatherhood.” (Three Forms of First Thought)

In Three Forms of First Thought, we find a key passage which gives the names of various angelic beings, and the acts they perform in the rite. The section is spoken by Protennoia (“Forethought”):

- During the visionary portion of the baptism, the initiate is delivered to five orders of angels: ‘those who give robes of light’, ‘the baptizers’, ‘those who enthrone’, ‘those who glorify’, and ‘those who snatch away’:  The section is spoken by Protennoia (“Forethought”):

“And I delivered him to those who give robes - AMMÔN, ELASSÔ, AMÊNAI - and they covere him with a robe from the robes of the Light; and I delivered him to the baptizers, and they baptized him - MIKHEUS, MIKHAR, MNÊSINOUS - and they immersed him in the spring of the Water of Life. And I delivered him to those who enthrone - BARIÊL, NOUTHAN, SABENAI - and they enthroned him from the Throne of Glory. And I delivered him to those who glorify - ARIÔM, ÊLIEN, PHARIÊL - and they glorified him with the glory of the Fatherhood. And those who snatch away snatched away - KAMALIÊL, [...]ANÊN (this name has not survived, but other texts give ABRASAX), SAMBLÔ, and the servants of <the> great holy luminaries - and they took him into the light-place of his Fatherhood. And he received the Five seals from the Light of the Mother, Protennoia, and it was granted him to partake of the mystery of knowledge, and he became a Light in Light.”

From this passage we may deduce that the 5 “seals” are the actions here described, symbolically performed by the 5 triads of 15 angels: donning of ceremonial robes (probably after undressing), baptism in ‘living water’ (i.e. running water in a river, spring or stream), enthronement (possibly crowning or anointing with oil symbolizing kingship), and a “snatching away”, which probably refers to an ecstatic visionary ritual at the culmination of the ceremony.

 Thus, the five-seals consists of the five actions mentioned in the rite of baptism   :
1. Receiving a robe of light
2. Baptism in the water of life
3. Enthronement on the throne of glory
4. Glorified in the glory of the Father
5. Snatched away (visionary ascent)

Presumably, each of the 5 Seals involved an invocation to the respective triad of angels; in other Gnostic texts which are rich in rituals, such as the Pistis Sophia, and Books of Jeu, such angelic beings are an integral part of most ceremonies and baptisms, and they are usually invoked in the name of God to descend and perform their respective duty on the initiate. E.g., in the Baptism of Water (Books of Jeu), the formula involves the recital of secret names of God, followed by a prayer to Him to send angelic beings (“helpers”) to baptize the disciples. Interestingly enough, these ‘helpers’ are also 15 in number, just as in the ritual of the 5 Seals:

“Hear me my Father, thou father of all fatherhoods, thou infinite light who art in the Treasury
of the Light. May the fifteen helpers come, which serve the seven virgins of the light which are
over the baptism of life, whose unutterable names are these: ASTRAPA, TESPHOIODE,
DIAKTIOS, KNÊSION, DROMOS, EUIDETOS POLUPAIDOS, ENTROPON. May they come and baptise my disciples in the water of life, of the seven virgins of the light and forgive their sins, and purify their iniquities….”

The baptismal portion of the 5 Seals is described in greater detail in the Gospel of the Egyptians, wherein a prayer\adoration seemingly from it has been preserved. Presumably, it is to be recited by the initiate right after the baptism:

“IÊ IEUS ÊÔ OU ÊÔ ÔUA! Really, truly, O IESSEUS MAZAREUS IESSEDEKEUS, O living water, O child of the child, O glorious name! Really truly, AIÔN O ÔN, IIII ÊÊÊÊ EEEE OOOO UUUU ÔÔÔÔ AAAAA. Really, truly, ÊI AAAA ÔÔÔÔ, O existing one who sees the aeons! Really, truly,AEE ÊÊÊ IIII UUUUUU ÔÔÔÔÔÔÔÔ, who is eternally eternal! Really, truly, IÊA AIÔ, in the heart, who exists, U AEI EIS AEI, EI O EI, EI OS EI. This great name of Thine is upon me, O self begotten

Perfect one, who art not outside me. I see thee, O thou who art visible to everyone. For who will be able to comprehend thee in another tongue? Now that I have known thee, I have mixed myself with the immutable. I have armed myself with an armour of light; I have become light! For the Mother was at that place because of the splendid beauty of grace. Therefore, I have stretched out my hands while they were folded. I was shaped in the circle of the riches of the light which is in my bosom, which gives shape to the many begotten ones in the light into which no complaint reaches. I shall declare thy glory truly, for I have comprehended thee, SOU IÊS IDE AEIÔ AEIE OIS, O aeon, aeon, O God of silence! I honour thee completely. Thou art my place of rest, O Son, ÊS ÊS O E, the formless one who exists in the formless ones, who exists raising up the man in whom thou wilt purify me into Thy life, according to Thine imperishable name. Therefore, the incense of life is in me. I mixed it with water after the model of all archons, in order that I may live with Thee in the peace of the saints, Thou who exist really truly forever.”

The baptism itself was probably done in the name of the Father, Mother, and Son, and the angels MIKHEUS, MIKHAR, MNÊSINOUS, as well as SESENGENPHARANGÊS a spirit or angel (frequently mentioned in the magical papyri) who is said to preside over the “baptism of the living”. According to the above invocation, part of the baptism may have included the initiate folding his\her hands and stretching them forward in a circle, symbolizing his divine part; according to late antique philosophers, especially Neoplatonists, the Soul was circular or spherical in shape, and thus this gesture may be a reflection of that concept.

The Gospel of the Egyptians also mentions “renunciations” as being part of the rite. This probably involved similar declarations as conventional Catholic baptism, where the person baptized (or their sponsor) has to renounce Satan and sin. In the Sethian version, it may have entailed renouncing the various Archons and the Demiurge. The same text also talks about the 5 Seals as being the triad of the Father, Mother, and Son, plus the angels IOUÊL (called “Male Virgin”), and ÊSÊPHÊKH (“The Child of the Child”).

The “enthronement” portion of the ritual probably involved an anointing with oil and\or a crowning of the initiate (both gestures symbolic of kingship, and used in enthronement ceremonies in the ancient world), rather than a real enthronement. This is supported by the rituals of the Mandeans, an Iraqi Gnostic group that still exists today, and whose baptism ceremony has many striking parallels to its Sethian counterpart.

Mandaean baptism involves immersion in a river several times, drinking from the water,
crowning with a myrtle wreath, sealing with specific angelic and divine names, anointing with
oil, and a ritual handshake on leaving the water (among other steps I have not mentioned here). It is thus quite probable that Sethian and Mandaean rituals can be traced back to a common source. The oil used in the anointing was most likely aromatic oil or balsam, or olive oil mixed with myrrh. Some scholars have proposed that the anointing involved a sealing of the 5 organs of sense as symbolic of the 5 Seals.

- The complete rite may be recomposed as follows:

- First, the initiate was ritually ‘stripped’ of certain garments, which symbolized his material and psychic existence.

- In the preliminary rite of ‘the renunciation’, he received secret names and signs to protect him against the Archons. This may have been during a visionary ascent through the Lower Aeons, which was recited aloud with the aid of a sacramental text. Otherwise, the demons and Archons may have been cursed aloud and execrated (as still occurs in the Roman Catholic rite of baptism, where ‘enrobing’ also occurs).

- In the preliminary rite of ‘the invocation’, more names and signs were recited to gain the protection of the angels. This would also have been during a visionary ascent through the Upper Aeons. Otherwise, the initiate would have confessed his belief in the existence of the angels.

- Since Gnostics practised multiple baptisms, the initiate may have been baptized a first time at the end of the renunciation, and second time at the end of the invocation, to prepare him for a third and final baptism.

- The final baptism was experienced as an immersion into the watery light of the Upper Aeons. The initiate may have received a special sign or signet, which symbolized that his unique image had been ‘sealed’ or impressed in the watery light that moment. Through this image, the Father would reflect upon himself. The initiate may also have received a special name, which symbolized that the Father himself had uttered this name to name himself.

- Along with an image and a name, the initiate also received his ‘garment of light’. This garment would protect him for the rest of his life in this world and also during his ascent through the aeons after his death.

- Since baptism was understood as an immersion in the watery light of the Upper Aeons, the initiate emerged from the glowing baptismal waters with his ‘garment of light’. Such a baptism was interpreted, at the same time, as a union or marriage with the light in the Bridal Chamber. The initiate was seen to be the feminine soul and the Father was the masculine light. These two were ‘united in the Bridal Chamber’, and from that time onward, the soul wore the ‘garment of light’ in remembrance of her union with the Father. Hence, the rite of the Bridal Chamber may have followed the baptism, in the form of a ritual kiss to welcome the initiate into the community of Gnostics. 

- In conjunction with the baptism, the initiate may have been anointed with holy oil in the rite of the chrism. 

- At the end, the rite of the eucharist may have been celebrated with all those present. 

- In this way five different rites were granted over the course of one complex rite, which granted the initiate Five Seals: the redemption, baptism, bridal chamber, chrism and eucharist. The initiate emerged from this rite with a name, an image, and a garment of light.

- In the Acts of Thomas, Judas Thomas performs four of the rites mentioned above: chrism, baptism and the eucharist, as well as the enrobing. Through this complex rite, the initiate (a woman named Mygdonia) receives her ‘seal’: “

And when Narcia had brought these things, Mygdonia stood before the apostle with her head bare; and he took the oil and poured it on her head, saying: Thou holy oil given unto us for sanctification, secret mystery whereby the cross was shown unto us, thou art the straightener of the crooked limbs, thou art the humbler (softener) of hard things (works), thou art it that showeth the hidden treasures, thou art the sprout of goodness; let thy power come, let it be established upon thy servant Mygdonia, and heal thou her by this freedom. And when the oil was poured upon her he bade her nurse unclothe her and gird a linen cloth about her; and there was there a fountain of water upon which the apostle went up, and baptized Mygdonia in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. And when she was baptized and clad, he brake bread and took a cup of water and made her a partaker in the body of Christ and the cup of the Son of God, and said: Thou hast received thy seal, get for thyself eternal life. And immediately there was heard from above a voice saying: Yea, amen. And when Narcia heard that voice, she was amazed, and besought the apostle that she also might receive the seal; and the apostle gave it her and said: Let the care of the Lord be about thee as about the rest.” (Acts of Thomas 121)

Seth is Barbelo

Title: Seth as Barbelo: Unveiling the Gnostic Narrative of Divine Origin


In the intricate tapestry of Gnostic cosmology, the figure of Seth emerges as a transcendent being, intricately woven with the divine feminine principle, Barbelo. Within Gnostic texts, the narrative unfolds, revealing a complex interplay of celestial dynamics, the division of primordial beings, and the emergence of Seth as both saviour and progenitor. This article delves into the mystical depths of Gnostic thought, exploring the enigmatic connection between Seth and Barbelo, and shedding light on their roles in the creation and salvation of the elect.

The Division of Adam and Eve:

The Gnostic narrative, as detailed in the Apocalypse of Adam, speaks of Adam and Eve as androgynous beings resembling the great eternal angels. However, the wrath of Yaltabaoth, the ruler of the aeons, divides them into male and female. This division sets the stage for the emergence of Seth, a figure of great significance in Gnostic theology.

The Linguistic Key: Barbelo as the Sons of God

Rooted in Aramaic etymology, the term "Barbelo" suggests the confluence of 'son' ('Bar') and 'God' ('Belo' or 'EL'). It signifies the progeny of God, and within the Sethian Gnostic texts, this association unveils a profound link. Seth, often regarded as a son of God, assumes a central role as the progenitor of the Elect, described as 'the children of Seth' in these teachings. This association amplifies the notion that Barbelo encapsulates the sons of God, aligning with Seth's position as a pivotal figure among the Elect. Barbelo, the Male Virgin:

At the heart of Gnostic cosmogony lies Forethought Barbelo, an embodiment of the invisible spirit. Interestingly, in texts like the Gospel of the Egyptians and the Three Steles of the Great Seth, Seth extols Barbelo as a male and virginal entity. This paradoxical portrayal underscores the divine nature of Barbelo, transcending traditional gender distinctions. This characterization aligns with Seth calling Barbelo the 'Father of the Aeons,' emphasizing a fluid and transcendent understanding of gender in the spiritual realm.

Seth, the Saviour-Figure:

Within the Gnostic cosmogony, Seth emerges as a saviour figure akin to Christ, a divine catalyst resulting from the fusion of the Logos, Autogenes, and Adamas. The Gospel of the Egyptians vividly describes the mingling of the great Logos, the divine Autogenes, and the incorruptible man Adamas, culminating in the birth of the great incorruptible Seth. This triune convergence emphasizes Seth's divine nature, marking him as a pivotal figure in the celestial hierarchy.

The Heavenly Seth and the Seed of Seth:

The association of the Elect with Seth, often termed as Sethians, establishes Seth as a celestial saviour, mirroring Christ's role in traditional Christian theology. The Gnostic schema positions Seth as a cosmic architect, planting the seeds of the Elect in the Upper Aeons. The heavenly Adam, Geradamas, begets the celestial Seth, Emmacha Seth, who, in turn, sows the seeds of the Elect in the aeon of the Fourth Light, Eleleth. This celestial plantation becomes a recurrent theme in Sethian texts, including The Gospel of the Egyptians, Three Steles of Seth, and The Apocryphon of John. The seed of Seth, representing the knowledge hidden within, emerges as a central theme, destined to resurface after three parousias or manifestations.

Barbelo as Forethought and Thought:

Barbelo's dual nature as both Forethought and Thought symbolizes the intellectual and conceptual aspects at the heart of the Father's realm. This realm represents the capacity for cognition and comprehension, inviting seekers to delve into the highest planes of spiritual understanding. Barbelo, as Forethought, becomes the embodiment of Seth, the celestial being who bridges the realms of intellect and spirituality.


In the rich tapestry of Gnostic thought the synthesis of Seth and Barbelo unveils a profound narrative of divine origin and salvation. Seth, as both a celestial saviour and an earthly progenitor, embodies the fluidity of gender and the transcendence of spiritual understanding. Barbelo, with its dual nature as Forethought and Thought, encapsulates the intellectual and conceptual aspects at the core of the Father's dominion. Together, Seth and Barbelo weave a narrative that challenges traditional theological paradigms, inviting seekers to explore the mystical depths of Gnostic cosmology and the interconnectedness of celestial and earthly realms.

Friday 24 November 2023

Do Gnostics Need Priests?


The Gnostic Priesthood
Do Gnostics Need Priests?

Introduction: Liberating Gnosis from the Chains of Intermediaries

In the vast tapestry of spiritual exploration, Gnosticism stands as a unique thread, woven with threads of direct personal experience, self-discovery, and the pursuit of inner enlightenment. Gnosticism is often seen as a departure from traditional religious paradigms, encouraging individuals to seek gnosis – a profound knowledge that transcends dogma and societal constructs. One of the key distinctions that emerges from this departure is the question of whether Gnostics require priests or a priesthood to navigate the realms of the divine and the unknown.

Gnostic thought champions the sovereignty of individual consciousness, emphasizing direct communion with the divine spark within. As we delve into the heart of Gnostic philosophy, we encounter a perspective that challenges the traditional roles of intermediaries and priests. In this exploration, we will delve into the reasons behind the assertion that Gnostics do not need priests, examining the Gnostic worldview, historical context, and the centrality of personal experience on the path of gnosis.

Gnosticism, with its emphasis on personal revelation and transcendence, raises a crucial inquiry: Does the Gnostic journey necessitate the presence of intermediaries, such as priests, to facilitate the connection between the individual and the divine? As we journey through the corridors of Gnostic thought, we shall explore the reasons why the Gnostic path aligns with the conviction that the spark of divine knowledge resides within each seeker, rendering intermediaries obsolete. This exploration invites us to question established norms, to discern the essence of Gnostic principles, and to venture into the territory of an individual's direct relationship with the divine source.

Redefining Priesthood: A Shift from Old Testament Paradigm to New Testament Truth
Since the Jewish priesthood is referred to in some texts of the Nag Hammadi we should look at the Jewish priesthood normally referred to as the the Levitical priesthood

The concept of priesthood, deeply rooted in the pages of the Old Testament, has played a significant role in shaping religious practices and beliefs. From the Levitical priesthood of ancient Israel to the transformation brought about by the advent of Christianity, the idea of priesthood has evolved, inviting a reconsideration of its relevance in light of New Testament teachings.

Old Testament Foundations: A Divine Mandate for the Levitical Priesthood

In the annals of the Old Testament, we encounter the establishment of a sacred order known as the Levitical priesthood. Guided by divine commandments, this priesthood was entrusted with the solemn responsibility of facilitating the connection between humanity and the divine through rituals and sacrifices. The role of priests was intertwined with the offering of animal sacrifices, serving as a means of atonement and thanksgiving for the people of Israel.

Christ as the Ultimate High Priest: A New Covenant

The arrival of Christ heralded a transformative era in the spiritual landscape, ushering in a new covenant that redefined the role of priests and intermediaries. Jesus, often referred to as the High Priest, became the ultimate mediator between God and humanity. His sacrificial act on the cross, epitomized by the offering of himself, nullified the need for animal sacrifices and redefined the concept of priesthood.

"For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. ch 2 v 5 AV )

"Consequently he is able for all times to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them" (Heb. ch 7 v 25 RSV)

The book of Hebrews serves as a cornerstone of this transition, emphasizing the eternal efficacy of Christ's role as a High Priest. "He is able for all times to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25, RSV). The apostle Paul's assertion in his letter to Timothy further reinforces this perspective, underscoring that Christ is the sole mediator between God and humanity (1 Tim. 2:5, AV).

A Departure from Conventional Hierarchy: Early Christian Ecclesiology

The landscape of early Christian communities starkly contrasts the established hierarchy of the Levitical priesthood. The New Testament paints a picture of shared leadership and mutual accountability, where the term "priest" takes on a radically different meaning. Acts chapter 3 verse 46 portrays believers gathering in houses, sharing meals, and praising God in a spirit of fellowship.

Later on in time, Paul writing to the church in Corinth said that:
". . . . God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets,. third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues". ( 1 Cor. ch l2 v 28 NIV )

He makes no mention of the need for priests.

Paul's correspondence to the Corinthian church emphasizes the diversification of spiritual gifts and functions within the community, with no explicit mention of a priestly role (1 Cor. 12:28, NIV). This underscores the transition from a priestly paradigm to a dynamic community of believers, each contributing their unique gifts to the collective well-being.

Redefining Priesthood: A Call to Shared Ministry

The evolution from the Levitical priesthood to the New Testament paradigm invites reflection on the essence of priesthood in the Christian context. Christ's role as the High Priest and ultimate mediator necessitates a departure from hierarchical structures and an embrace of shared ministry. The priesthood of all believers emerges as a powerful concept, wherein each individual is called to embody the principles of service, intercession, and communal support.

As believers navigate the tapestry of faith, it is paramount to recognize the transformative impact of Christ's sacrifice and mediation. The emphasis shifts from an exclusive priestly class to a collective priesthood, where believers are called to offer themselves as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1) and engage in acts of love and service. In this redefined priesthood, the intercession of Christ remains central, while the notion of human intermediaries gives way to a shared ministry that embodies the essence of Christ's teachings.
The Evolution of Ecclesiastical Roles: Revisiting Early Christian Leadership
8 “But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah.

In the tapestry of early Christianity, the roles and responsibilities within the community were defined by a sense of spiritual fellowship and mutual service. These roles were neither hierarchical nor priestly in nature, reflecting the essence of a community united in faith. As we delve into the annals of history, we encounter a paradigm shift that altered the landscape of Christian leadership, giving rise to the emergence of hierarchical structures and the concept of clergy. This transformation warrants a retrospective exploration to comprehend the evolution of ecclesiastical roles and its impact on the Christian community.

Shepherds Among Equals: Elders and Their Role

In the earliest Christian congregations, the term "elder" held a significance deeply rooted in the pastoral metaphor of a shepherd. These spiritual overseers, sometimes referred to as "bishops," fulfilled a role akin to shepherds, ensuring the well-being and spiritual nourishment of the community. Their responsibilities extended to the realm of spiritual guidance, offering solace and guidance to fellow believers. It's crucial to acknowledge that these elders did not assume the role of intermediaries between humanity and the divine, ascribed to priests in conventional religious frameworks.

Deacons: Guardians of Physical Well-being

Complementing the spiritual nurturing provided by elders, "deacons" took on the mantle of attending to the practical needs of the community. Their role encompassed addressing the physical well-being of the congregation, mirroring the holistic nature of Christian care. While the focus of elders was directed towards spiritual matters, deacons embraced the task of tending to the physical needs of their fellow believers. This duality of responsibilities, guided by the principles of mutual service, fostered a sense of unity and camaraderie within the Christian community.

The Absence of a Clergy Class: Early Christian Equality

A striking feature of early Christian congregations was the absence of a distinct clergy class. The teachings of Jesus emphasized the equality of believers, with a singular leader, the Christ. This principle resonated throughout the community, leading to a model of shared leadership and mutual accountability. No single individual was designated to occupy a position of supreme authority, nor were they vested with the exclusive role of intercession or mediation. Instead, the ethos of brotherhood prevailed, unifying believers as equals on their spiritual journey.

The Shift towards Hierarchy: Unraveling Apostolic Warnings

As the pages of history turned, a transformation began to take shape within the Christian landscape. The emergence of hierarchical structures and the delineation of clergy roles marked a departure from the early communal spirit. Apostolic warnings against 'lording it over' the congregation took on an increasingly poignant relevance as the apostasy unfolded. The egalitarian ethos that once defined Christian communities gradually gave way to the ascendancy of hierarchical leadership, altering the essence of fellowship and shared responsibility.

A Glimpse into the Past, a Call for Reflection

Exploring the evolution of early Christian leadership invites us to reflect on the dynamics of ecclesiastical roles and their evolution. The transition from a communal model of shared service to hierarchical structures carries profound implications for the nature of Christian fellowship. As we revisit the principles that underpinned the original blueprint of Christian leadership, we are beckoned to consider the significance of unity, mutual service, and the absence of an intermediary clergy class. In a world that often echoes with the voices of hierarchy, the echoes of the early Christian ethos remind us of the power of collective spiritual endeavor and the intrinsic worth of every believer.

The Evolution of Christian Authority: Valentinianism and the Challenge to Orthodox Hierarchy

The early centuries of Christianity witnessed a transformative journey from a fluid, egalitarian approach to an established hierarchical structure. The emergence of an organized Christian institution, marked by a three-rank hierarchy of bishops, priests, and deacons, signified a departure from the diverse and decentralized early Christian communities. This shift is illuminated in Elaine Pagels' book "The Gnostic Gospels," where the evolution of authority and the divergence of Gnostic thought, particularly Valentinianism, are explored.

By the year A.D. 200, Christianity had undergone a significant transformation, with a hierarchical structure firmly in place. Bishops, priests, and deacons assumed roles of authority within the organized church, asserting themselves as the custodians of the "true faith." This institutionalization marked a departure from the earlier ethos of communal brotherhood and spiritual exploration that characterized early Christian communities.

Elaine Pagels highlights a critical perspective on this development, particularly through the lens of Gnostic thought. Gnosticism, including the followers of Valentinus, challenged the conventional interpretation of apostolic teachings and the authority vested in church officials. While some Gnostic groups did not fundamentally oppose the roles of priests and bishops, they viewed the church's teachings and hierarchy as insufficient for those who had attained gnosis – a profound, experiential knowledge of the divine.

In the Gnostic view, gnosis transcended the authority of the church's hierarchy. Gnosis offered a theological justification for individuals to question and even resist obedience to bishops and priests. Gnostics saw these church leaders as earthly representatives of the demiurge, the lower deity responsible for the material world. This perception detached the gnostic from the authoritative control of the church officials, as the initiate believed they had been "redeemed" from the limitations of the material world and its rulers.

According to Tertullian, "Today one man is bishop and tomorrow another; the person who is a deacon today, tomorrow is a reader; the one who is a priest is a layman tomorrow. For even on the laity they impose the functions of priesthood." ( Tertullian Against the Valentinians 1) He goes on to relate that even women could take the role of bishop, much to his horror.

Einar Thomassen's insights shed light on the organization of the Valentinian church, providing a deeper understanding of the movement's distinct approach to hierarchy and leadership. Valentinian congregations convened on Sundays, engaging in liturgical practices that fostered a high level of member participation. This participatory ethos was reflected in the rotational nature of liturgical tasks, allowing different members, regardless of their status, to assume different roles. Tertullian's commentary, cited in Thomassen's work, emphasizes the fluidity of roles within Valentinian communities, where a person could transition from being a bishop one day to a layman or a reader the next. Even women could take on leadership roles, illustrating the movement's disregard for traditional gender limitations.

The Valentinian perspective, as elucidated by Pagels and Thomassen, challenges the prevailing orthodox hierarchy by promoting a more dynamic and inclusive approach to leadership. The Valentinians' emphasis on gnosis, personal transformation, and the autonomy of individual experience positions them in stark contrast to the institutionalized structure of the broader Christian church. This divergence speaks to the diverse currents of thought within early Christianity and the multiplicity of interpretations that shaped the evolving religious landscape.

In conclusion, the evolution of Christian authority from early communal brotherhood to an institutional hierarchy marked a significant shift in the early Christian movement. Gnostic thought, particularly exemplified by Valentinianism, offered a unique perspective that questioned the ultimate authority of bishops and priests, emphasizing individual experience and gnosis as sources of spiritual insight. Valentinian congregations, with their participatory liturgical practices and fluid leadership roles, presented an alternative model that challenged the orthodox ecclesiastical structure. These diverse interpretations reflect the rich tapestry of early Christian thought, with Valentinianism standing as a testament to the dynamic evolution of religious authority and practice.
The Jew Priesthood in Gnostic Gospels Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Priesthood: Unraveling Religious Dynamics
The religious and social landscape of ancient Judea was marked by intricate dynamics among various Jewish sects and groups. Among these, the Pharisees and Sadducees held distinct roles and perspectives, often reflecting the broader social and religious tensions of their time. Their interactions with the concept of priesthood provide valuable insights into the intricate tapestry of religious practices and beliefs during this era.

The Pharisees: A Voice of the People

The Pharisees emerged as a prominent Jewish religious party known for their adherence to religious traditions and interpretations of the Law. Their name is derived from the Hebrew word "perushim," meaning "separatists" or "devoted ones." Josephus, a Jewish historian, noted that the Pharisees garnered substantial support and goodwill from the common people. They emphasized personal piety, the observance of ritual purity, and the study of the Law.

In the Gospel of Thomas and the Apocryphon of John, references to the Pharisees underscore their presence as a religious and social force during the time of Jesus. These references provide glimpses into the interactions between Jesus and the religious authorities of his day, including the Pharisees.

The Sadducees: Guardians of Priestly Privileges

Contrasting the popular influence of the Pharisees were the Sadducees, an elite and aristocratic Jewish sect. The Sadducees were closely associated with the priestly class and controlled the Temple in Jerusalem. Their authority was rooted in the priestly privileges established since the time of Solomon, with Zadok, their ancestor, officiating as High Priest.

The word priest is used in the gospel of Philip in relation to the Jewish priesthood:

If some are in the tribe of the priesthood, these shall be permitted to enter within the veil (of the Temple) with the High Priest. Therefore the veil was not torn at the top only, else it would have been opened only for those who are above; nor was it torn at the bottom only, else it would have been revealed only to those who are below. But rather it was torn from the top to the bottom. Those who are above opened to us who are below, in order that we shall enter into the secret of the truth. (Gospel of Philip)

The Gospel of Philip and the Second Apocalypse of James evoke the imagery of the priesthood, particularly in relation to the inner sanctum of the Temple. The Gospel of Philip uses the concept of the veil torn from top to bottom as a metaphorical representation of a revelation accessible to both those "above" and "below." This imagery invokes a connection between the priesthood and divine revelation.

The Gospel of Philip employs this symbolism to highlight the transformative nature of Christ's redemptive work. By tearing the veil, Christ is portrayed as opening a direct pathway to divine revelation and spiritual communion for all believers, irrespective of their position "above" or "below." This concept aligns with the notion of the priesthood of all believers, wherein each individual has direct access to God's presence without the need for hierarchical intermediaries.

This shift in access to divine revelation is integral to understanding the teachings of Christ and the implications of his sacrifice. The torn veil signifies the dismantling of the exclusive priestly role in mediating between God and humanity. Instead, Christ himself becomes the ultimate High Priest, granting believers immediate and unrestricted access to the mysteries of God.

In this new paradigm, the veil's tearing becomes a metaphorical representation of the removal of spiritual barriers, inviting believers into a deeper relationship with God. The concept of the veil being torn underscores the transformational nature of Christ's ministry, which emphasizes direct communion, divine knowledge, and personal revelation for all who follow his teachings.

The Role of Priests and Scribes

In the Second Apocalypse of James, the figure of Mareim, identified as a priest and scribe, gains prominence as the recorder of the words of James the Just. This sheds light on the role of scribes and priests in preserving and transmitting religious teachings. The interactions and discussions among these figures provide insight into the religious debates and dialogues of their time.

A Complex Tapestry of Beliefs and Practices

The references to Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, and scribes in ancient texts reflect the complexity of religious beliefs and practices during the period. These interactions highlight the diverse perspectives that shaped the religious landscape of the time of Jesus and the early Christian era.

While the concept of the priesthood was deeply intertwined with the Temple and its rituals, the emergence of Christianity brought about a significant paradigm shift. The role of Christ as the ultimate High Priest, as expounded in the New Testament, transformed the understanding of priesthood and mediation. As a result, the hierarchical priestly system gave way to the priesthood of all believers, emphasizing direct access to God through Christ.
Priest or Holy Man
114 The priest is completely holy, down to his very body. For if he has taken the bread, he will consecrate it. Or the cup or anything else that he gets, he will consecrate. Then how will he not consecrate the body also?

In the Coptic the word "priest" is not used, the word used is a "holy man" or a "saint" it is a dishonest translation to use the word "priest" it changes the meaning of the text. The Valentinians did not have a priesthood.

The correct word to be used is "holy man" or "saint" this is seen from the translations by Thomas Paterson Brown and R. McL. Wilson:

The holy man is holy altogether, down to his body. For if he has received the bread he .will make it holy, or the cup, or anything else that he receives, purifying them. And how will he not purify the body also? (Gospel of Philip R. McL. Wilson Translation)

The ancient texts of Gnosticism hold within their verses a treasure trove of insights into the nature of existence, the divine, and the human experience. Yet, like any ancient wisdom, the meanings of these texts can be elusive, requiring careful consideration and accurate translation. Among these texts, one verse has been a source of intrigue and contemplation – a passage that mentions the term "priest" in the context of consecration and holiness. However, as we delve deeper into the historical context and linguistic nuances, it becomes evident that the term "priest" has been inaccurately attributed, casting a shadow on the true essence of the Valentinian perspective.

Diverging Paths: The Misinterpretation of "Priest"

The verse in question reads: "The priest is completely holy, down to his very body. For if he has taken the bread, he will consecrate it. Or the cup or anything else that he gets, he will consecrate. Then how will he not consecrate the body also?" At first glance, the term "priest" appears to align with established religious conceptions, conjuring images of intermediaries between the divine and humanity. Yet, within the intricate tapestry of Gnostic thought, a different truth beckons to be uncovered.

The key to unraveling this mystery lies within the Coptic language itself. A careful examination reveals that the word "priest" is conspicuously absent, replaced instead by the terms "holy man" or "saint." This linguistic shift is far from arbitrary; it is a conscious choice that resonates more harmoniously with the essence of Gnostic philosophy. To employ the term "priest" in translation is to introduce an unintended distortion, altering the true intention of the text and veiling the Valentinian perspective.

Rediscovering Authenticity: The Gnostic Path of Personal Holiness

In essence, the Valentinian tradition did not adhere to the conventional concept of priesthood. It sought to illuminate the individual's innate capacity for direct spiritual connection and personal transformation. The translations by Thomas Paterson Brown and R. McL. Wilson offer a glimpse into this profound truth, articulating that the holy man, in the purity of his being, possesses the power to sanctify elements and purify his own body. This understanding reaffirms the Gnostic belief in the inherent potential of every individual to channel divine energy and consecrate the mundane, transcending the need for a priestly intermediary.

The Historical Context: Valentinian Congregations and Autonomy

Delving further into the historical context, the words of Tertullian provide a crucial perspective. He astutely notes, "Today one man is bishop and tomorrow another; the person who is a deacon today, tomorrow is a reader; the one who is a priest is a layman tomorrow. For even on the laity they impose the functions of priesthood." This observation unveils a fundamental truth about Valentinian congregations – they were structured autonomously, devoid of a rigid priestly hierarchy.

This autonomy underscores the essence of Gnostic philosophy, which champions the direct relationship between the individual and the divine. The absence of a fixed priestly class allows each seeker to engage with the spiritual journey uniquely, unencumbered by external intermediaries.
Some Gnostic texts refer to the Catholic Priesthood:

The Gospel of Judas

THE DISCIPLES SEE THE TEMPLE AND DISCUSS IT They [said, “We have seen] a great [house with a large] altar [in it, and] twelve men— they are the priests, we would say—and a name; and a crowd of people is waiting at that altar, [until] the priests [… and receive] the offerings. [But] we kept waiting.” [Jesus said], “What are [the priests] like?” They [said, “Some …] two weeks; [some] sacrifice their own children, others their wives, in praise [and] humility with each other; some sleep with men; some are involved in [slaughter]; some commit a multitude of sins and deeds of lawlessness. And the men who stand [before] the altar invoke your [name], [39] and in all the deeds of their deficiency, the sacrifices are brought to completion […].” After they said this, they were quiet, for they were troubled.

JESUS OFFERS AN ALLEGORICAL INTERPRETATION OF THE VISION OF THE TEMPLE Jesus said to them, “Why are you troubled? Truly I say to you, all the priests who stand before that altar invoke my name. Again I say to you, my name has been written on this […] of the generations of the stars through the human generations. [And they] have planted trees without fruit, in my name, in a shameful manner.” Jesus said to them, “Those you have seen receiving the offerings at the altar—that is who you are. That is the god you serve, and you are those twelve men you have seen. The cattle you have seen brought for sacrifice are the many people you lead astray [40] before that altar. […] will stand and make use of my name in this way, and generations of the pious will remain loyal to him. After him another man will stand there from [the fornicators], and another [will] stand there from the slayers of children, and another from those who sleep with men, and those who abstain, and the rest of the people of pollution and lawlessness and error, and those who say, ‘We are like angels’; they are the stars that bring everything to its conclusion. For to the human generations it has been said, ‘Look, God has received your sacrifice from the hands of a priest’—that is, a minister of error. But it is the Lord, the Lord of the universe, who commands, ‘On the last day they will be put to shame.’” [41] Jesus said [to them], “Stop sac[rificing …] which you have […] over the altar, since they are over your stars and your angels and have already come to their conclusion there. So let them be [ensnared] before you, and let them go [—about 15 lines missing—] generations […]. A baker cannot feed all creation [42] under [heaven]. And […] to them […] and […] to us and […]. Jesus said to them, “Stop struggling with me. Each of you has his own star, and every[body—about 17 lines missing—] [43] in […] who has come [… spring] for the tree […] of this aeon […] for a time […] but he has come to water God’s paradise, and the [generation] that will last, because [he] will not defile the [walk of life of] that generation, but […] for all eternity.” (Gospel of Judas)

The Apcapsel of Peter

And as he was saying these things, I saw the priests and the people running up to us with stones, as if they would kill us; and I was afraid that we were going to die.
And he said to me, "Peter, I have told you many times that they are blind ones who have no guide.
If you want to know their blindness, put your hands upon (your) eyes - your robe - and say what you see."
But when I had done it, I did not see anything. I said "No one sees (this way)."
Again he told me, "Do it again."
And there came in me fear with joy, for I saw a new light greater than the light of day. Then it
came down upon the Savior. And I told him about those things which I saw.
And he said to me again, "Lift up your hands and listen to what the priests and the people are
And I listened to the priests as they sat with the scribes. The multitudes were shouting with their voice.
When he heard these things from me he said to me, "Prick up your ears and listen to the things they are saying."
And I listened again, "As you sit, they are praising you".
And when I said these things, the Savior said, "I have told you that these (people) are blind and deaf. Now then, listen to the things which they are telling you in a mystery, and guard them, Do not tell them to the sons of this age. For they shall blaspheme you in these ages since they are ignorant of you, but they will praise you in knowledge." (The Apcapsel of Peter)

The Gnostic Critique of the Catholic Priesthood: Insights from Ancient Texts

Gnostic texts from the early centuries of Christianity provide a fascinating glimpse into the movement's perspectives on the established Catholic priesthood. These texts, such as "The Gospel of Judas" and "The Apocapsel of Peter," offer a critical and challenging view of the religious authorities of their time. By examining these texts, we can gain insights into the Gnostic critique of the Catholic priesthood and its hierarchical structure.

"The Gospel of Judas" presents a vivid description of a temple vision in which the disciples witness a scene with priests performing various ritualistic acts. The text portrays the priests as individuals who engage in questionable practices, including sacrifices, immoral behavior, and a range of sins. This depiction serves to highlight the perceived corruption and moral deficiencies within the priesthood.

The character of Jesus in "The Gospel of Judas" responds to the disciples' observations by revealing a deeper, allegorical interpretation of the vision. Jesus suggests that the priests' actions are symbolic of the broader spiritual condition of humanity. He identifies the priests with the flawed, earthly rulers and powers who mislead and deceive. This interpretation reflects the Gnostic belief in the material world's fallen nature and the influence of lower, ignorant deities.

Furthermore, the passage indicates that those with true gnosis – a profound spiritual knowledge – transcend the authority of the priests and their earthly rituals. Gnostics are encouraged to rise above the limitations imposed by the priests' teachings and practices, embodying a more authentic and spiritual understanding of their existence.

"The Apocapsel of Peter" similarly critiques the spiritual blindness and ignorance of the religious authorities. The text describes a scene where Peter, a disciple of Jesus, is shown the people's response to the Savior's teachings. The priests and multitudes react with hostility and praise, reflecting the dual nature of human perception. The Savior's response indicates that these authorities are "blind and deaf," incapable of comprehending the deeper truths he imparts.

This Gnostic critique of the Catholic priesthood can be understood in several ways:

Corruption and Deception: Gnostic texts suggest that the priesthood is tainted by corruption, moral compromise, and misguided practices. This aligns with the Gnostic belief in the material world's inherent flaws and the influence of deceptive cosmic powers.

Hierarchy and Control: The Gnostic critique challenges the hierarchical authority of the priests, asserting that those with true gnosis are beyond their control. This undermines the conventional idea of priests as mediators between humanity and the divine.

Spiritual Blindness: Gnosticism emphasizes the importance of inner spiritual awakening and knowledge. The priesthood, as depicted in these texts, is characterized by spiritual blindness, ignorance, and a lack of true understanding.

Transcendence and Authenticity: Gnostic texts encourage believers to rise above the limitations imposed by external religious authorities and rituals, seeking a more direct and authentic connection to the divine.

In conclusion, Gnostic texts such as "The Gospel of Judas" and "The Apocapsel of Peter" offer a unique perspective on the Catholic priesthood and its role within the broader context of spirituality. These texts highlight concerns about corruption, spiritual blindness, and the limitations of hierarchical authority. The Gnostic critique underscores the movement's emphasis on personal gnosis, inner transformation, and a deeper understanding of the mysteries of existence.

The Priesthood of the New Covenant

On Pentecost day of the year 33 C.E., the Law covenant came to an end and the “better covenant,” the new covenant, was inaugurated. (Heb 8:6-9) On that day God made manifest this change by the outpouring of holy spirit. The apostle Peter then explained to the Jews present from many nations that their only salvation now lay in repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ. (Ac 2; Heb 2:1-4) Later, Peter spoke of the Jewish builders rejecting Jesus Christ as the cornerstone and then said to Christians: “But you are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession.’”—1Pe 2:7-9. (Watchtower)

Peter explained also that the new priesthood is “a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1Pe 2:5) Jesus Christ is their great High Priest, and they, like Aaron’s sons, make up the underpriesthood. (Heb 3:1; 8:1) Yet, different from the Aaronic priesthood, which had no part in kingship, kingship and priesthood are combined in this “royal priesthood” of Christ and his joint heirs. (Watchtower)
Wisdom summons you in her goodness, saying, "Come to Me, all of you, O foolish ones, that you may receive a gift, the understanding which is good and excellent. I am giving to you a high-priestly garment which is woven from every (kind of) wisdom." What else is evil death except ignorance? What else is evil darkness except familiarity with forgetfulness? Cast your anxiety upon God alone. Do not become desirous of gold and silver, which are profitless, but clothe yourself with wisdom like a robe; put knowledge on yourself like a crown, and be seated upon a throne of perception. For these are yours, and you will receive them again on high another time. (The Teachings of Silvanus)

In the Teachings of Silvanus from the Nag Hammadi Library we find the author speaking about a "high-priestly garment" which is "woven from every kind of wisdom."

Let Christ alone enter your world, and let him bring to naught all powers which have come upon you. Let him enter the temple which is within you, so that he may cast out all the merchants. Let him dwell in the temple which is within you, and may you become for him a priest and a Levite, entering in purity. (The Teachings of Silvanus)

Revelation 7:7 12,000 from the tribe of Levi,

In the list of 12 tribes in Revelation 7 Joseph replaces Ephraim, suggesting that it is the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16), and not natural Israel, to which reference is made. Levi is listed as possessing a tribal inheritance whereas under the Law he had none, suggesting that the Melchizedek priesthood has replaced the Levitical (Ezek. 44:15; Rev. 5;9-10).

The Temple, the naos, only priests could lawfully enter. Both the individual believer (1 Cor. 6:19), as well as

the Ecclesia (Eph. 2:21; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16) are treated as the Temple, or naos.In the Valentinian Exposition from the Nag Hammadi Library Jesus is the "true High Priest" and "the one who has the authority to enter the Holies of Holies"

When he willed, the First Father revealed himself in him. Since, after all, because of him the revelation is available to the All, I for my part call the All 'the desire of the All'. And he took such a thought concerning the All - I for my part call the thought 'Monogenes'. For now God has brought Truth, the one who glorifies the Root of the All. Thus it is he who revealed himself in Monogenes, and in him he revealed the Ineffable One [...] the Truth. They saw him dwelling in the Monad and in the Dyad and in the Tetrad. He first brought forth Monogenes and Limit. And Limit is the separator of the All and the confirmation of the All, since they are [...] the hundred [...]. He is the Mind [...] the Son. He is completely ineffable to the All, and he is the confirmation and the hypostasis of the All, the silent veil, the true High Priest, the one who has the authority to enter the Holies of Holies, revealing the glory of the Aeons and bringing forth the abundance to <fragrance>. The East [...] that is in Him. He is the one who revealed himself as the primal sanctuary and the treasury of the All. And he encompassed the All, he who is higher than the All. (A Valentinian Exposition)
According to Herakleon, the Fullness is "the Holy of Holies, into which only the High-Priest enters, into which the spiritual go" (Herakleon Fragment 13). The Gospel of Philip links the opening provided by Christ with the tearing of the veil at the time of Jesus' death (Matthew 27:51). According to Philip,

"If others belong to the order of the priesthood they will be able to enter within the veil with the High Priest. For this reason the veil was not torn at the top only, since it would have been open only to those above; nor was it torn at the bottom only, since it would have been revealed only to those below. But rather it was torn from top to bottom. The upper realm was opened to us in the lower realm, in order that we may enter into the hidden realm of Truth....The Holies of the Holies was uncovered, and the Bridal Chamber invites us in. " (Gospel of Philip 105).

It's evident from the statements and discussions you've provided that there is a wide range of opinions and perspectives within the realm of modern Gnosticism. This diversity reflects the complexity of Gnostic thought and its interpretation in contemporary times. Here are some key points that emerge from these statements:

Diversity and Misconceptions: Many individuals express concerns about the authenticity of modern Gnosticism and the presence of individuals who may not fully understand or represent its core principles. Misconceptions about Gnosticism's true nature, practices, and teachings appear to be prevalent, and some feel that certain groups or individuals may be distorting Gnostic ideas for various purposes.

Variety of Paths: The statements suggest that there are various interpretations and practices within modern Gnostic circles. Some individuals highlight the diverse array of groups, teachers, and teachings that claim the Gnostic label. This variety often leads to debates and disagreements about what constitutes true Gnosticism.

Relationship with Established Religions: The discussions often touch upon the relationship between Gnosticism and established religions, particularly Roman Catholicism. Some express reservations about the overlap between Gnostic and Catholic practices, while others emphasize the distinctiveness of Gnostic thought and its departure from traditional religious norms.

Skepticism of Leaders and Teachers: There seems to be skepticism toward certain Gnostic leaders, teachers, and figures. Some express concerns about potential motivations, commercialization, and the genuineness of their teachings. Critical examination of leaders and their teachings is encouraged to ensure a sincere and accurate understanding of Gnostic principles.

Individual Exploration and Self-Knowledge: Many emphasize the importance of self-knowledge, personal exploration, and direct experience as central to Gnostic practice. The notion that Gnosis is about understanding and connecting with higher truths through individual experience is emphasized by various individuals.

Rejection of Traditional Structures: Some express skepticism toward the need for traditional religious structures, such as priests or intermediaries. The idea that personal gnosis negates the need for external authority is a recurring theme in the discussions.

Positive Potential of Gnosis: Despite differing viewpoints, there is an acknowledgment of the transformative potential of Gnostic insights. Some believe that Gnosis has the power to bring about positive change, both individually and collectively, by illuminating higher truths and breaking away from societal norms.

In conclusion, these statements illustrate the complexity and diversity within modern Gnostic circles. While some individuals express concerns about the authenticity and motivations of certain groups or figures, others highlight the potential for positive transformation through genuine Gnostic exploration. The discussions underscore the importance of critical thinking, discernment, and a nuanced understanding of Gnostic principles in navigating this spiritual terrain.