The Gnostic Paul

Victoria LePage tells us of the early period of Christianity in her book Mysteries of the Bridechamber.  She says that by the time Epiphanius was writing his history of Christian heresies, the Nazorean Church of Jerusalem no longer existed and great changes had overtaken the Christian religion. Its leaders no longer identified with the Nazoreans and the Hasidim had disappeared from public, not reappearing until the eighteenth century. She relates that many of the followers of Jesus had been dissatisfied with the continuing observance of Mosaic Law in the Jamesian church (led by Jesus brother James) and, “Had long since sought a more liberal climate in Syria and the Trans-Jordan, among those Nazorean groups, which had managed to retain the original Gnostic form of Christianity.” LePage notes that after his visionary conversion to Christianity on the Damascus Road, Paul immediately went to Roman Arabia to study all he could of the new faith. I have seen many scholars make a big deal out of the acrimony between Paul and the church led by Jesus’ brother James, and who note that he rarely spent time in Jerusalem learning from James and the other Church leaders. We learn from Paul’s own gospels that he adamantly believed that Jesus came to free us from the Law of the Old Testament – and he was absolutely correct. James and the other Jerusalem church leaders were still slaves of the Law.

LePage wrote; “Far from turning to the Jamesian church in Jerusalem, we learn it was to Nazorean and Essene country in Nabatea that Paul straightaway repaired, visiting Jerusalem only once in fourteen more years. He evidently believed that the spiritual instruction and Christological initiation he received was not available in the Judaean capital, where the legalism of the synagogues had infected James’s leadership of the young church.” I have often wondered if James’ reverting to the Law was due to persecution from the priests of the corrupted temple. Those same priests were said to have pushed James off the steps of the temple, and when that didn’t kill him, they forced him to dig a hole and stand in it, and then they proceeded to stone him. When that didn’t kill him, they took a fullers club – a stick used in clothes washing – and beat his brains out. James might have just been trying to avoid the persecution of the people of his church in adhering to the laws as set forth by the rabbis.

The importance of Paul’s writing is that in them, he is speaking both esoterically and exoterically. It wasn’t until I read Elaine Pagels book The Gnostic Paul; Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters that everything fell into place. The Christian religion is a combination of both esoteric and exoteric teachings. For those people who are still psychics, they are still under the Law. They need to work their way back to God by their faithfulness and good works and by following the new Law of Love. They are consigned to the Wheel of Life – reincarnation.

The reason this book made all the difference to me, was that, in it, Professor Pagels shares some of the keys of how to read the Bible in its coded form. I came to understand that the importance of Paul’s gospels was the fact that his was a fusion of the esoteric and exoteric beliefs. Or, as Elaine Pagels puts it, he is speaking to both those ‘on the outside’ and ‘those on the inside’ simultaneously. This is confirmed in 2 Peter 3: 15b-16 …“just as our dear Brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.”  This reference to the wisdom that God gave him is referring to gnosis. With our people, wisdom or knowledge always either stands for gnosis, i.e. direct revelation from God – or it refers to our Mother, the Holy Spirit.

In the introduction to Pagels book, after mentioning writers who claimed that Paul was anti Gnostic, she wrote; “Instead of repudiating Paul as their most obstinate opponent, the Naassenes and Valentinians revere him as the one of the apostles who – above all others – was himself a gnostic initiate. The Valentinians, in particular, allege that their secret tradition offers direct access to Paul’s own teaching of wisdom and gnosis.” Professor Pagels, who, by the way, is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University, graduated from Stanford University, and received her Ph.D. in religion at Harvard University. She was also part of a team of scholars who studied the Nag Hammadi manuscripts.

To reiterate, there are three types of humans in the world, the pneumatic, psychic and hylic. I will only be addressing the pneumatic and psychic in this chapter. In the Bible’s book of Romans 1:1, Paul makes the statement in part, that, “I Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God”. What Paul is saying here, is that he was, from childhood, an initiate of the Jewish Old Religion. That is what being ‘set apart’ means. Parents make the choice to set apart their children for this. They start their training at the age of seven. This is important to know since it means that Paul will have a greater gnostic understanding than many of the other apostles.

Pagels states regarding Paul:

“Texts now becoming available from Nag Hammadi, offer extraordinary new evidence for gnostic Pauline tradition. …The fourth treatise from the same codex, the Tripartite Tractate, besides containing many allusions to the Pauline letters, concludes …with the prayer of the apostle Paul, in which the apostle, as one of the Elect, prays to be redeemed, to receive the Pleroma revelation, and to be unified with the beloved Elect.”

This statement, in which Pagels is relating that Paul is praying to be redeemed, is telling us that Paul is one of the Elect. You might wonder why Paul needs to be redeemed, since he became a believer in Christ when he had a vision on the road to Damascus. The truth is that we are the race who went astray. We are collectively the Prodigal Son. We have become embedded in materiality and have lost our true identity. We, like Paul, need to believe, not in Jesus death on the cross, for that was a sign for the psychics. They can be saved through the belief in the self-sacrifice of Jesus. For us, however, what redeems us is the belief in the resurrection of Jesus – which was a spiritual event. We also have to ask for forgiveness for our sins committed while in the cloud of materiality.

This contradicts a few authors I came across who said that Jesus came to reveal and not to redeem. The Nag Hammadi text, the Gospel of Philip, was written by an original Apostle. Philip says; “Christ came to ransom some, to save others, to redeem others. He ransomed those who were strangers and made them his own. And he set his own apart, those whom he gave as a pledge according to his plan. It was not only when he appeared that he voluntarily laid down his life, but he voluntarily laid down his life from the very day the world came into being. Then he came first in order to take it, since it had been given as a pledge. It fell into the hands of robbers and was taken captive, but he saved it. He redeemed the good people in the world as well as the evil.” We are those, “who he gave as a pledge according to his plan.” Jesus’ coming two thousand years ago, was certainly redemptive. I will paraphrase Elaine Pagels work in the following and also add comments.

Paul used parables to hide the esoteric meaning in his stories. For instance when Paul speaks of the Jews and Gentiles, he is really speaking of the relationship between the psychic/Jews, and the pneumatic/Gentiles.

“A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.” Romans 2:28-29

Pagels tells us that in this last verse, Paul is telling the initiates that those called Jews inwardly, or Jews in secret, are the true Israel, the pneumatic Elect. I can certainly agree with her that we are Jews in secret!  Paul also refers to the elect/pneumatic/chosen as being the uncircumcised, and the psychic/choic/called are the circumcised.

“Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” Romans 1:5

When Paul refers to himself as the apostle to the Gentiles, as in Romans 1:5, he is speaking about the Elect.

“On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.” Galatians 2:7

In Galatians 2:7, Paul is contrasting his mission to the pneumatic Gentiles with Peter’s mission to the psychic Jews.

“I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.” Romans 1:14

In Romans 1:14, Paul is acknowledging that he is obligated to spread the gospel to both the Greeks (pneumatics) and non-Greeks (psychics) and also the wise (pneumatics) and the foolish (psychics).

“For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom. But we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” 1st Corinthians 19-23.

I have come to know that there is corrupt Mystery teachings, but there are also the true Mystery teachings as well.  These last verses tell us that the Mystery religions did not work, as people could not understand them and the methods to achieve enlightenment rarely worked. It was for this reason that Christ came to give us the, ‘foolishness of what was preached’ – that to believe that Jesus was the Son of God who came to save us from our sins, and if we would believe and accept him as our Savior, we would inherit eternal life.

The Jews who demand miracles are the psychics who need physical proof to believe. The foolishness to the Gentiles means that pneumatics think that it’s foolish to believe that belief in Jesus and his death on the cross is all that is needed for salvation. They think this way because they know what is still ahead for their psychic brother’s and sister’s souls because of their having to ‘reap what they sow”, even though they do – without a doubt – have everlasting life through belief in Jesus and his salvific death.

Light workers know that all beings are eternal. However, we also know that some beings lose their identities and have to be re-made into something new by being sent to the Great Central Sun for re-processing, if they are unable to grow in God consciousness.

“We do however speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written; ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:6-10

In this verse, we find out that there is a true Mystery or Wisdom religion, but it is only revealed by God through Spirit. In the statement ‘among the mature’ is signifying that it is for the pneumatic Elect. This revelation then is gnosis, a direct knowing and understanding from God. This gnosis can happen at any time, regardless of whether the person receiving it has worked towards it or not. It comes at Gods discretion, or by the grace of God.

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised.”  Romans 1:21-25

These last verses are very, very, important. In them, we learn that the Mysteries at first were the “truth of God” but became corrupt because people worshiped the images rather than the meanings behind the images and the God behind them all. According to professor Pagels; Romans 1:21-25 in its exoteric sense, warns against pagan idolatry. Interpreted symbolically, or esoterically, it warns against the worship of the demi-urge, who is himself only a creation of the higher powers.

In relating the teaching of Heracleon, an early Gnostic Christian leader, Pagels explains that Moses, who Heracleon believed to be Yaldabaoth, but who I believe may represent Sabaoth, is the servant of God who executes his judgment and wrath. God the Father judges according to truth, in kindness, to lead the psychics into repentance. The psychics are to fear God, the Elect to love Him. She also points out that the reason for the Law is that it provokes knowledge of sin. Until the Law, humans could not be held accountable for their behavior as they had nothing to judge their actions by.

“But now the righteousness of God has been revealed apart from the law, the law and the prophets witnessing to it, the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no difference; all have sinned, and they lack the glory of God, being justified as a gift by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23

She goes on to point out that Gnostic Christians, say that what God foreordained as reconciliation through faith, is the pneumatic Elect, who were foreordained to demonstrate his righteousness. What psychics refer to as the passion of Jesus, pneumatics refer to what the passion of Jesus signifies in the cosmos. They claim that the Lord came in the last times of the cosmos for this purpose; so that he might demonstrate the passion that had occurred to the last of the Aeons, Pistis Sophia. Sophia’s passion and restoration, in turn, prefigure that of the foreordained Elect. I have mentioned previously that I believe the spirit of the Earth, Gaia is also Pistis Sophia. We, the Elect, are currently undergoing the process of ascension with Pistis Sophia/Gaia that was just referred to. We are being restored to a higher realm of living.

Professor Pagels relates that the Eucharist also has two meanings. To the psychics, it represents the Lord’s death and his passion. To the pneumatics, it recalls Sophia’s passion, and they drink the wine as a symbol of her suffering. They are referring to Sophia’s suffering when she came down into materiality and became darkened by it and entrapped within it. In complete versions of the Sophia and Yaldabaoth story, there is a long series of efforts by Sophia to rise out of dark matter, to be restored into the Pleroma.

Professor Pagels wrote; “Paul intends his allegory of Jews and Greeks to characterize two distinct processes. The psychics, being under sin, are bound to the law of works. To escape the penalty of death for sins, they do need faith, but theirs is specifically faith in Jesus, in the psychic son of the demiurge. Those who repent and believe in him receive forgiveness and are required to do good works. The process of their salvation depends upon their choice and their own activity; it operates according to what Paul calls the law of works.”

In this last paragraph it was stated that Jesus was the “psychic son of the demi-urge.”  To get the right perspective on this, one has to understand that there are two levels, with Pistis Sophia’s veil between the two. We on Earth are in the lower, and the upper contains the Pleroma, our – the Elects, true home. Pistis Sophia and her syzygy, Christ, are from the upper realm. Jesus, or Jeshua, was born on Earth to a Jewish family and so was psychic, as he inhabited a body made by the archons. Jesus was born into humanity, and thus is a ‘child’ of the rulers and archons, just as we are, physically. In the Bible, when Jesus tells his disciples to leave their fathers and mothers, he is referring to the rulers as their parents. In order for Jesus, or the Christ Spirit, to help us escape from our material bonds, it was necessary for him to become imbedded in matter himself in order to understand how to get us out of it. Jesus went through many an incarnation absolutely blind to his heavenly pedigree, just as we have. Edgar Cayce said that the same soul inhabited Adam and Jesus. He said that, “In Adam he fell and in Jesus he redeemed himself.” Notice he said that Jesus redeemed himself, because this is something we all have to do too. Belief in Jesus will get you eternal life, but it won’t get you stuck out of the third dimension any sooner.

“Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works?  No, on the contrary, by a law of faith. For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law. Or is God for Jews only? Is he not also for Gentiles? Yes, for Gentiles too, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then cancel the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” Romans 3: 27-31

Professor Pagels describes this verse in this way; “The pneumatics are the Elect. They receive redemption according to the law of faith. Faith not in the psychic Jesus but in the pneumatic Christ. Unlike the works salvation of the psychics, the pneumatic redemption excludes all human effort (and hence all boasting) it depends entirely upon what God foreordained in election. When Paul says to the pneumatics “Where is boasting?” he is reminding them that they are saved through grace, while the psychics have to earn their way through the law of works.”

I look at this in this way; we volunteered to come into cycle after cycle, lifetime after lifetime to help this fallen creation. We come in ‘blind’. So, we are not held accountable for our negative actions, or at least there is some grace involved so that we don’t always have to ‘pay’ for those actions.

“Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:23

Pagels explains Romans 8:23 in this way; According to Valentinian exegesis, the Elect are the first fruits of the Spirit. In the channeled messages from Yahweh Sabaoth and the Host of Heaven, Sabaoth says; “Those of you who are bound for Terra (the New Earth) are the first generation – the product of the first Thought – of the Creator. You are the Elohim, and though you do not remember this fully now, you will once your shift is complete.” I believe the first fruits and first generation are the same. As I stated earlier we are among the closest to the throne of God. One of the members of the Ancient Awakenings group said that she was one of the Elohim, but didn’t like to tell anyone that.  I made the comment to her that we all were – and I was correct.

When I look at that verse I can see a possible meaning of our waiting for our adoption as sons in this way; In the upper or highest Pleroma where we came from, in esoteric teaching, we are considered sons of God. While in lower realms we are considered daughters of God.  It is what is being referred to in the Bible verses that refer to the “Sons of God marrying the Daughters of Men”. It is an angelic and human pairing. You could look at it as an elevation of the human experience or a lowering of the angelic experience. I just look at it as family! In one of the ancient texts, when Jesus rises out of the water of baptism, the voice of God says “This is my beloved son, today I have begotten thee.” That is signifying his Christ-hood – his alignment with his angelic presence or higher self. That is what we all are so eagerly awaiting!

Valentinus, according to Pagels, believes that the Elect share in the suffering of the psychics until the time that the Elect adopts the psychics.  Pagels says that, “the psychics are related to the pneumatics as the body to the spirit.” Paul’s student Theodotus said that the Elect cannot enter the Pleroma until the Psychics are raised to join in union with us. Until that time, the Elect are constrained in this lower plane.

Professor Pagels cites the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in the fourth chapter of the book of John. She explains that the story is an allegory of the pneumatic Elect. The woman’s sexual sin signifies her ignorance of God, or true worship. Her involvement with six men symbolizes her involvement with all material evil, and she participates in an illegitimate, inauthentic relationship that is a substitute for her true pneumatic relationship to her own husband, her spiritual identity. Now that we understand this allegory, we can see that even though Mary Magdalene has been called the ‘woman at the well’, we can see that Mary is being equated to an allegorical archetype and most likely was not a ‘fallen’ woman.

Next is, to me, the most aggravating aspect of most mainline protestant beliefs, or at least Southern Baptists, as that is what I know best. That is the meaning of 1st Corinthians 11:3 which reads; “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” The TRUE meaning of this verse is not that a woman should be subjected to a man. I can attest that our ancestors, whether Essenes or Quakers or Templars, believed woman was every bit equal to man, physically and spiritually, in fact they quite often revered their women, because they were lovers of the Holy Spirit who is our Mother. The correct understanding of this verse is this, and I quote Professor Pagels;

“When the apostle speaks of the relationship between man and woman, the Valentinian’s explain, he is speaking symbolically, first of the relationship between Christ and the ecclesia, and secondly of the relationship between the elect and the called. As God is the head of Christ, so Christ is the head of the man (that is, of the pneumatic elect) and the man the head of the woman (the psychic ecclesia). Through this metaphor, Paul reveals the hierarchy of divine relationship: God, Christ, the elect, the called.”

The author of The Beginnings of Christianity says that discoveries at Nag Hammadi gave scholars many writings that expressed Pauline ideas. Some of the documents make it clear that they considered Paul ‘the Apostle’ and his “opposition of grace and law fitted with the cosmic dualism of the Gnostic mythology.” The author said that it became clear that Paul had been championed by the Gnostic movement and had been a major influence on Valentinus.  Like the Gnostics, Paul used concepts of knowledge and mystery, pneumatic and psychic, and cosmic ascent.

The author makes the statement; “So then, if Gnosticism reached back to mythologies and rites of the centuries before Christ, it was only natural to assume that Paul derived from thence his fundamental ideas. He makes little or no reference to historical traditions about Jesus, of the type found in the Gospels. Behind him there seemed rather to be a highly gnostic kind of Christianity, in which myth had completely ousted history.” The author acknowledges that it is true that Paul opposed a group in the community at Corinth who were even more radically Gnostic than he was, “who were prepared actually to curse the physical Jesus in order to arrive more surely at the spiritual nature of Christ.”

The author makes an interesting comment. He calls the, “…whole reconstruction of the Gnostic Paul” to be more precarious than might at first appear. He states that while much in the Letter to the Ephesians can be paralleled in Gnosticism, other scholars have urged that nearly everything in it can be derived from Essenism and the Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran. The author wrote; “It would be hard indeed to see Paul as a Christian Essene in view of his critical attitude to the Law!” We have learned that Jesus, like Paul was critical of the Law as well.

The author says that what the contributions of Qumran and Gnostic scholarship seem to suggest is that, “Paul’s thinking inhabits precisely that dynamic middle ground, where Gnostic myth is combined with the Essene mystery of the conscious self, where the impetus of history is registered alongside the transcendent significance of a liberating, saving Event.” He states that a new kind of consciousness arose out of the breakthrough, the Christ consciousness. The author claims that, “Gnosticism and the Essene consciousness are absorbed and transformed in that new synthesis, and it is there too that Paul locates the source of the freedom he feels, even though he never knew Jesus, the Christ according to the flesh. He had his own breakthrough experience at Damascus, which brought him his awareness of the risen Christ.”

In other words – he became enlightened.

 

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