The Gospel of Philip
Translated by Wesley W. Isenberg
A Hebrew makes another Hebrew, and such a person is called "proselyte". But a
proselyte does not make another proselyte. [...] just as they [...] and make others like
themselves, while others simply exist.
The slave seeks only to be free, but he does not hope to acquire the estate of his
master. But the son is not only a son but lays claim to the inheritance of the father.
Those who are heirs to the dead are themselves dead, and they inherit the dead. Those who
are heirs to what is living are alive, and they are heirs to both what is living and the
dead. The dead are heirs to nothing. For how can he who is dead inherit? If he who is dead
inherits what is living he will not die, but he who is dead will live even more.
A Gentile does not die, for he has never lived in order that he may die. He who has
believed in the truth has found life, and this one is in danger of dying, for he is alive.
Since Christ came, the world has been created, the cities adorned, the dead carried out.
When we were Hebrews, we were orphans and had only our mother, but when we became
Christians, we had both father and mother.
Those who sow in winter reap in summer. The winter is the world, the summer the other
Aeon (eternal realm). Let us sow in the world that we may reap in the summer. Because of
this, it is fitting for us not to pray in the winter. Summer follows winter. But if any
man reap in winter he will not actually reap but only pluck out, since it will not provide
a harvest for such a person. It is not only [...] that it will [...] come forth, but also
on the Sabbath [...] is barren.
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.
Light and Darkness, life and death, right and left, are brothers of one another. They
are inseparable. Because of this neither are the good good, nor evil evil, nor is life
life, nor death death. For this reason each one will dissolve into its earliest origin.
But those who are exalted above the world are indissoluble, eternal.
Names given to the worldly are very deceptive, for they divert our thoughts from what
is correct to what is incorrect. Thus one who hears the word "God" does not
perceive what is correct, but perceives what is incorrect. So also with "the
Father" and "the Son" and "the Holy Spirit" and "life"
and "light" and "resurrection" and "the Church (Ekklesia)"
and all the rest - people do not perceive what is correct but they perceive what is
incorrect, unless they have come to know what is correct. The names which are heard are in
the world [...] deceive. If they were in the Aeon (eternal realm), they would at no time
be used as names in the world. Nor were they set among worldly things. They have an end in
One single name is not uttered in the world, the name which the Father gave to the Son;
it is the name above all things: the name of the Father. For the Son would not become
Father unless he wore the name of the Father. Those who have this name know it, but they
do not speak it. But those who do not have it do not know it.
But truth brought names into existence in the world for our sakes, because it is not
possible to learn it (truth) without these names. Truth is one single thing; it is many
things and for our sakes to teach about this one thing in love through many things. The
rulers (archons) wanted to deceive man, since they saw that he had a kinship with those
that are truly good. They took the name of those that are good and gave it to those that
are not good, so that through the names they might deceive him and bind them to those that
are not good. And afterward, what a favor they do for them! They make them be removed from
those that are not good and place them among those that are good. These things they knew,
for they wanted to take the free man and make him a slave to them forever.
These are powers which [...] man, not wishing him to be saved, in order that they may
[...]. For if man is saved, there will not be any sacrifices [...] and animals will not be
offered to the powers. Indeed, the animals were the ones to whom they sacrificed. They
were indeed offering them up alive, but when they offered them up, they died. As for man,
they offered him up to God dead, and he lived.
Before Christ came, there was no bread in the world, just as Paradise, the place were
Adam was, had many trees to nourish the animals but no wheat to sustain man. Man used to
feed like the animals, but when Christ came, the perfect man, he brought bread from heaven
in order that man might be nourished with the food of man. The rulers thought that it was
by their own power and will that they were doing what they did, but the Holy Spirit in
secret was accomplishing everything through them as it wished. Truth, which existed since
the beginning, is sown everywhere. And many see it being sown, but few are they who see it
Some said, "Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit." They are in error. They do
not know what they are saying. When did a woman ever conceive by a woman? Mary is the
virgin whom no power defiled. She is a great anathema to the Hebrews, who are the apostles
and the apostolic men. This virgin whom no power defiled [...] the powers defile
themselves. And the Lord would not have said "My Father who is in Heaven" (Mt
16:17), unless he had had another father, but he would have said simply "My
The Lord said to the disciples, "[...] from every house. Bring into the house of
the Father. But do not take (anything) in the house of the Father nor carry it off."
"Jesus" is a hidden name, "Christ" is a revealed name. For this
reason "Jesus" is not particular to any language; rather he is always called by
the name "Jesus". While as for "Christ", in Syriac it is
"Messiah", in Greek it is "Christ". Certainly all the others have it
according to their own language. "The Nazarene" is he who reveals what is
hidden. Christ has everything in himself, whether man, or angel, or mystery, and the
Those who say that the Lord died first and (then) rose up are in error, for he rose up
first and (then) died. If one does not first attain the resurrection, he will not die. As
God lives, he would [...].
No one will hide a large valuable object in something large, but many a time one has
tossed countless thousands into a thing worth a penny. Compare the soul. It is a precious
thing and it came to be in a contemptible body.
Some are afraid lest they rise naked. Because of this they wish to rise in the flesh,
and they do not know that it is those who wear the flesh who are naked. It is those who
[...] to unclothe themselves who are not naked. "Flesh and blood shall not inherit
the kingdom of God" (1 Co 15:50). What is this which will not inherit? This which is
on us. But what is this, too, which will inherit? It is that which belongs to Jesus and
his blood. Because of this he said "He who shall not eat my flesh and drink my blood
has not life in him" (Jn 6:53). What is it? His flesh is the word, and his blood is
the Holy Spirit. He who has received these has food and he has drink and clothing. I find
fault with the others who say that it will not rise. Then both of them are at fault. You
say that the flesh will not rise. But tell me what will rise, that we may honor you. You
say the Spirit in the flesh, and it is also this light in the flesh. (But) this too is a
matter which is in the flesh, for whatever you shall say, you say nothing outside the
flesh. It is necessary to rise in this flesh, since everything exists in it. In this
world, those who put on garments are better than the garments. In the Kingdom of Heaven,
the garments are better than those that put them on.
It is through water and fire that the whole place is purified - the visible by the
visible, the hidden by the hidden. There are some things hidden through those visible.
There is water in water, there is fire in chrism.
Jesus took them all by stealth, for he did not appear as he was, but in the manner in
which they would be able to see him. He appeared to them all. He appeared to the great as
great. He appeared to the small as small. He appeared to the angels as an angel, and to
men as a man. Because of this, his word hid itself from everyone. Some indeed saw him,
thinking that they were seeing themselves, but when he appeared to his disciples in glory
on the mount, he was not small. He became great, but he made the disciples great, that
they might be able to see him in his greatness.
He said on that day in the thanksgiving, "You who have joined the perfect light
with the Holy Spirit, unite the angels with us also, as being the images." Do not
despise the lamb, for without it, it is not possible to see the king. No one will be able
to go in to the king if he is naked.
The heavenly man has many more sons than the earthly man. If the sons of Adam are many,
although they die, how much more the sons of the perfect man, they who do not die but are
always begotten. The father makes a son, and the son has not the power to make a son. For
he who has been begotten has not the power to beget, but the son gets brothers for
himself, not sons. All who are begotten in the world are begotten in a natural way, and
the others are nourished from the place whence they have been born. It is from being
promised to the heavenly place that man receives nourishment. [...] him from the mouth.
And had the word gone out from that place, it would be nourished from the mouth and it
would become perfect. For it is by a kiss that the perfect conceive and give birth. For
this reason we also kiss one another. We receive conception from the grace which is in one
There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and
Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his
companion were each a Mary.
"The Father" and "the Son" are single names; "the Holy
Spirit" is a double name. For they are everywhere: they are above, they are below;
they are in the concealed, they are in the revealed. The Holy Spirit is in the revealed:
it is below. It is in the concealed: it is above.
The saints are served by evil powers, for they are blinded by the Holy Spirit into
thinking that they are serving an (ordinary) man whenever they do so for the saints.
Because of this, a disciple asked the Lord one day for something of this world. He said to
him, "Ask your mother, and she will give you of the things which are another's."
The apostles said to the disciples, "May our entire offering obtain salt."
They called Sophia "salt". Without it, no offering is acceptable. But Sophia is
barren, without child. For this reason, she is called "a trace of salt".
Wherever they will [...] in their own way, the Holy Spirit [...], and her children are
What the father possesses belongs to the son, and the son himself, so long as he is
small, is not entrusted with what is his. But when he becomes a man, his father gives him
all that he possesses.
Those who have gone astray, whom the spirit begets, usually go astray also because of
the Spirit. Thus, by one and the same breath, the fire blazes and is put out.
Echamoth is one thing and Echmoth, another. Echamoth is Wisdom simply, but Echmoth is
the Wisdom of death, which is the one who knows death, which is called "the little
There are domestic animals, like the bull and the ass and others of this kind. Others
are wild and live apart in the deserts. Man ploughs the field by means of the domestic
animals, and from this he is nourished, he and the animals, whether tame or wild. Compare
the perfect man. It is through powers which are submissive that he ploughs, preparing for
everything to come into being. For it is because of this that the whole place stands,
whether the good or the evil, the right and the left. The Holy Spirit shepherds everyone
and rules all the powers, the "tame" ones and the "wild" ones, as well
as those which are unique. For indeed he [...] shuts them in, in order that [...] wish,
they will not be able to escape.
He who has been created is beautiful, but you would <not> find his sons noble
creations. If he were not created, but begotten, you would find that his seed was noble.
But now he was created (and) he begot. What nobility is this? First, adultery came into
being, afterward murder. And he was begotten in adultery, for he was the child of the
Serpent. So he became a murderer, just like his father, and he killed his brother. Indeed,
every act of sexual intercourse which has occurred between those unlike one another is
God is a dyer. As the good dyes, which are called "true", dissolve with the
things dyed in them, so it is with those whom God has dyed. Since his dyes are immortal,
they become immortal by means of his colors. Now God dips what he dips in water.
It is not possible for anyone to see anything of the things that actually exist unless
he becomes like them. This is not the way with man in the world: he sees the sun without
being a sun; and he sees the heaven and the earth and all other things, but he is not
these things. This is quite in keeping with the truth. But you saw something of that
place, and you became those things. You saw the Spirit, you became spirit. You saw Christ,
you became Christ. You saw the Father, you shall become Father. So in this place you see
everything and do not see yourself, but in that place you do see yourself - and what you
see you shall become.
Faith receives, love gives. No one will be able to receive without faith. No one will
be able to give without love. Because of this, in order that we may indeed receive, we
believe, and in order that we may love, we give, since if one gives without love, he has
no profit from what he has given. He who has received something other than the Lord is
still a Hebrew.
The apostles who were before us had these names for him: "Jesus, the Nazorean,
Messiah", that is, "Jesus, the Nazorean, the Christ". The last name is
"Christ", the first is "Jesus", that in the middle is "the
Nazarene". "Messiah" has two meanings, both "the Christ" and
"the measured". "Jesus" in Hebrew is "the redemption".
"Nazara" is "the Truth". "The Nazarene" then, is "the
Truth". "Christ" [...] has been measured. "The Nazarene" and
"Jesus" are they who have been measured.
When the pearl is cast down into the mud, it becomes greatly despised, nor if it is
anointed with balsam oil will it become more precious. But it always has value in the eyes
of its owner. Compare the Sons of God: wherever they may be, they still have value in the
eyes of their Father.
If you say, "I am a Jew," no one will be moved. If you say, "I am a
Roman," no one will be disturbed. If you say, "I am a Greek, a barbarian, a
slave, a free man," no one will be troubled. If you say, "I am a
Christian," the [...] will tremble. Would that I might [...] like that - the person
whose name [...] will not be able to endure hearing.
God is a man-eater. For this reason, men are sacrificed to him. Before men were
sacrificed, animals were being sacrificed, since those to whom they were sacrificed were
Glass decanters and earthenware jugs are both made by means of fire. But if glass
decanters break, they are done over, for they came into being through a breath. If
earthenware jugs break, however, they are destroyed, for they came into being without
An ass which turns a millstone did a hundred miles walking. When it was loosed, it
found that it was still at the same place. There are men who make many journeys, but make
no progress towards any destination. When evening came upon them, they saw neither city
nor village, neither human artifact nor natural phenomenon, power nor angel. In vain have
the wretches labored.
The eucharist is Jesus. For he is called in Syriac "Pharisatha," which is
"the one who is spread out," for Jesus came to crucify the world.
The Lord went into the dye works of Levi. He took seventy-two different colors and
threw them into the vat. He took them out all white. And he said, "Even so has the
Son of Man come as a dyer."
As for the Wisdom who is called "the barren," she is the mother of the
angels. And the companion of the [...] Mary Magdalene. [...] loved her more than all the
disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples [...]. They
said to him "Why do you love her more than all of us?" The Savior answered and
said to them,"Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are
both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes,
then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness."
The Lord said, "Blessed is he who is before he came into being. For he who is, has
been and shall be."
The superiority of man is not obvious to the eye, but lies in what is hidden from view.
Consequently, he has mastery over the animals which are stronger than he is and great in
terms of the obvious and the hidden. This enables them to survive. But if man is separated
from them, they slay one another and bite one another. They ate one another because they
did not find any food. But now they have found food because man tilled the soil.
If one goes down into the water and comes up without having received anything, and says
"I am a Christian," he has borrowed the name at interest. But if he receives the
Holy Spirit, he has the name as a gift. He who has received a gift does not have to give
it back, but of him who has borrowed it at interest, payment is demanded. This is the way
it happens to one when he experiences a mystery.
Great is the mystery of marriage! For without it, the world would not exist. Now the
existence of the world [...], and the existence of [...] marriage. Think of the [...]
relationship, for it possesses [...] power. Its image consists of a defilement.
The forms of evil spirit include male ones and female ones. The males are they which
unite with the souls which inhabit a female form, but the females are they which are
mingled with those in a male form, though one who was disobedient. And none shall be able
to escape them, since they detain him if he does not receive a male power or a female
power, the bridegroom and the bride. One receives them from the mirrored bridal chamber.
When the wanton women see a male sitting alone, they leap down on him and play with him
and defile him. So also the lecherous men, when they see a beautiful woman sitting alone,
they persuade her and compel her, wishing to defile her. But if they see the man and his
wife sitting beside one another, the female cannot come into the man, nor can the male
come into the woman. So if the image and the angel are united with one another, neither
can any venture to go into the man or the woman.
He who comes out of the world, and so can no longer be detained on the grounds that he
was in the world, evidently is above the desire of the [...] and fear. He is master over
[...]. He is superior to envy. If [...] comes, they seize him and throttle him. And how
will this one be able to escape the great [...] powers? How will he be able to [...]?
There are some who say, "We are faithful" in order that [...] the unclean
spirits and the demons. For if they had the Holy Spirit, no unclean spirit would cleave to
them. Fear not the flesh nor love it. If you fear it, it will gain mastery over you. If
you love it, it will swallow and paralyze you.
And so he dwells either in this world or in the resurrection or in the middle place.
God forbid that I be found in there! In this world, there is good and evil. Its good
things are not good, and its evil things not evil. But there is evil after this world
which is truly evil - what is called "the middle". It is death. While we are in
this world, it is fitting for us to acquire the resurrection, so that when we strip off
the flesh, we may be found in rest and not walk in the middle. For many go astray on the
way. For it is good to come forth from the world before one has sinned.
There are some who neither will nor have the power to; and others who, if they will, do
not profit; for they did not act since [...] makes them sinners. And if they do not will,
justice will elude them in both cases: and it is always a matter of the will, not the act.
An apostolic man in a vision saw some people shut up in a house of fire and bound with
fiery [...], lying [...] flaming [...], them in [...] faith [...]. And he said to them,
"[...] able to be saved?" [...], "They did not desire it. They received
[...] punishment, what is called 'the [...] darkness', because he [...]."
It is from water and fire that the soul and the spirit came into being. It is from
water and fire and light that the son of the bridal chamber (came into being). The fire is
the chrism, the light is the fire. I am not referring to that fire which has no form, but
to the other fire whose form is white, which is bright and beautiful, and which gives
Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world
will not receive truth in any other way. There is a rebirth and an image of rebirth. It is
certainly necessary to be born again through the image. Which one? Resurrection. The image
must rise again through the image. The bridal chamber and the image must enter through the
image into the truth: this is the restoration. Not only must those who produce the name of
the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, do so, but have produced them for you. If one
does not acquire them, the name ("Christian") will also be taken from him. But
one receives the unction of the [...] of the power of the cross. This power the apostles
called "the right and the left." For this person is no longer a Christian but a
The Lord did everything in a mystery, a baptism and a chrism and a eucharist and a
redemption and a bridal chamber. [...] he said, "I came to make the things below like
the things above, and the things outside like those inside. I came to unite them in the
place." [...] here through types [...]and images.
Those who say, "There is a heavenly man and there is one above him" are
wrong. For it is the first of these two heavenly men, the one who is revealed, that they
call "the one who is below"; and he to whom the hidden belongs is that one who
is above him. For it would be better for them to say, "The inner and outer, and what
is outside the outer". Because of this, the Lord called destruction the "the
outer darkness": there is not another outside of it. He said, "My Father who is
in secret". He said, "Go into your chamber and shut the door behind you, and
pray to your Father who is in secret" (Mt 6:6), the one who is within them all. But
that which is within them all is the fullness. Beyond it, there is nothing else within it.
This is that of which they say, "That which is above them".
Before Christ, some came from a place they were no longer able to enter, and they went
where they were no longer able to come out. Then Christ came. Those who went in, he
brought out, and those who went out, he brought in.
When Eve was still with Adam, death did not exist. When she was separated from him,
death came into being. If he enters again and attains his former self, death will be no
"My God, my God, why, O Lord, have you forsaken me?" (Mk 15:34). It was on
the cross that he said these words, for he had departed from that place.
[...] who has been begotten through him who [...] from God.
The [...] from the dead. [...] to be, but now [...] perfect. [...] flesh, but this
[...] is true flesh. [...] is not true, but [...] only possess an image of the true.
A bridal chamber is not for the animals, nor is it for the slaves, nor for defiled
women; but it is for free men and virgins.
Through the Holy Spirit we are indeed begotten again, but we are begotten through
Christ in the two. We are anointed through the Spirit. When we were begotten, we were
united. None can see himself either in water or in a mirror without light. Nor again can
you see in light without mirror or water. For this reason, it is fitting to baptize in the
two, in the light and the water. Now the light is the chrism.
There were three buildings specifically for sacrifice in Jerusalem. The one facing the
west was called "The Holy". Another, facing south, was called "The Holy of
the Holy". The third, facing east, was called "The Holy of the Holies", the
place where only the high priest enters. Baptism is "the Holy" building.
Redemption is the "Holy of the Holy". "The Holy of the Holies" is the
bridal chamber. Baptism includes the resurrection and the redemption; the redemption
(takes place) in the bridal chamber. But the bridal chamber is in that which is superior
to [...] you will not find [...] are those who pray [...] Jerusalem who [...] Jerusalem,
[...] those called the "Holy of the Holies" [...] the veil was rent, [...]
bridal chamber except the image [...] above. Because of this, its veil was rent from top
to bottom. For it was fitting for some from below to go upward.
The powers do not see those who are clothed in the perfect light, and consequently are
not able to detain them. One will clothe himself in this light sacramentally in the union.
If the woman had not separated from the man, she should not die with the man. His
separation became the beginning of death. Because of this, Christ came to repair the
separation, which was from the beginning, and again unite the two, and to give life to
those who died as a result of the separation, and unite them. But the woman is united to
her husband in the bridal chamber. Indeed, those who have united in the bridal chamber
will no longer be separated. Thus Eve separated from Adam because it was not in the bridal
chamber that she united with him.
The soul of Adam came into being by means of a breath. The partner of his soul is the
spirit. His mother is the thing that was given to him. His soul was taken from him and
replaced by a spirit. When he was united (to the spirit), he spoke words incomprehensible
to the powers. They envied him [...] spiritual partner [...] hidden [...] opportunity
[...] for themselves alone [...] bridal chamber, so that [...].
Jesus appeared [...] Jordan - the fullness of the Kingdom of Heaven. He who was
begotten before everything, was begotten anew. He who was once anointed, was anointed
anew. He who was redeemed, in turn redeemed (others).
Indeed, one must utter a mystery. The Father of everything united with the virgin who
came down, and a fire shone for him on that day. He appeared in the great bridal chamber.
Therefore his body came into being on that very day. It left the bridal chamber as one who
came into being from the bridegroom and the bride. So Jesus established everything in it
through these. It is fitting for each of the disciples to enter into his rest.
Adam came into being from two virgins, from the Spirit and from the virgin earth.
Christ therefore, was born from a virgin to rectify the Fall which occurred in the
There are two trees growing in Paradise. The one bears animals, the other bears men.
Adam ate from the tree which bore animals. He became an animal and he brought forth
animals. For this reason the children of Adam worship animals. The tree [...] fruit is
[...] increased. [...] ate the [...] fruit of the [...] bears men, [...] man. [...] God
created man. [...] men create God. That is the way it is in the world - men make gods and
worship their creation. It would be fitting for the gods to worship men!
Surely what a man accomplishes depends on his abilities. For this reason, we refer to
one`s accomplishments as "abilities". Among his accomplishments are his
children. They originate in a moment of ease. Thus his abilities determine what he may
accomplish, but this ease is clearly evident in the children. You will find that this
applies directly to the image. Here is the man made after the image accomplishing things
with his physical strength, but producing his children with ease.
In this world, the slaves serve the free. In the Kingdom of Heaven, the free will
minister to the slaves: the children of the bridal chamber will minister to the children
of the marriage. The children of the bridal chamber have just one name: rest. Altogether,
they need take no other form, because they have contemplation, [...]. They are numerous
[...] in the things [...] the glories [...].
Those [...] go down into the water. [...] out (of the water), will consecrate it, [...]
they who have [...] in his name. For he said, "Thus we should fulfill all
righteousness." (Mt 3:15)
Those who say they will die first and then rise are in error. If they do not first
receive the resurrection while they live, when they die they will receive nothing. So also
when speaking about baptism they say, "Baptism is a great thing," because if
people receive it they will live.
Philip the apostle said, "Joseph the carpenter planted a garden because he needed
wood for his trade. It was he who made the cross from the trees which he planted. His own
offspring hung on that which he planted. His offspring was Jesus, and the planting was the
cross." But the Tree of Life is in the middle of the Garden. However, it is from the
olive tree that we got the chrism, and from the chrism, the resurrection.
This world is a corpse-eater. All the things eaten in it themselves die also. Truth is
a life-eater. Therefore no one nourished by truth will die. It was from that place that
Jesus came and brought food. To those who so desired, he gave life, that they might not
God [...] garden. Man [...] garden. There are [...] and [...] of God. [...] The things
which are in [...] I wish. This garden is the place where they will say to me, "[...]
eat this or do not eat that, just as you wish." In the place where I will eat all
things is the Tree of Knowledge. That one killed Adam, but here the Tree of Knowledge made
men alive. The law was the tree. It has power to give the knowledge of good and evil. It
neither removed him from evil, nor did it set him in the good, but it created death for
those who ate of it. For when he said, "Eat this, do not eat that", it became
the beginning of death.
The chrism is superior to baptism, for it is from the word "Chrism" that we
have been called "Christians," certainly not because of the word
"baptism". And it is because of the chrism that "the Christ" has his
name. For the Father anointed the Son, and the Son anointed the apostles, and the apostles
anointed us. He who has been anointed possesses everything. He possesses the resurrection,
the light, the cross, the Holy Spirit. The Father gave him this in the bridal chamber; he
merely accepted (the gift). The Father was in the Son and the Son in the Father. This is
the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Lord said it well: "Some have entered the Kingdom of Heaven laughing, and they
have come out [...] because [...] a Christian, [...]. And as soon as [...] went down into
the water, he came [...] everything (of this world), [...] because he [...] a trifle, but
[...] full of contempt for this [...] the Kingdom of Heaven [...] If he despises [...],
and scorns it as a trifle, [...] out laughing. So it is also with the bread and the cup
and the oil, even though there is another one superior to these.
The world came about through a mistake. For he who created it wanted to create it
imperishable and immortal. He fell short of attaining his desire. For the world never was
imperishable, nor, for that matter, was he who made the world. For things are not
imperishable, but sons are. Nothing will be able to receive imperishability if it does not
first become a son. But he who has not the ability to receive, how much more will he be
unable to give?
The cup of prayer contains wine and water, since it is appointed as the type of the
blood for which thanks is given. And it is full of the Holy Spirit, and it belongs to the
wholly perfect man. When we drink this, we shall receive for ourselves the perfect man.
The living water is a body. It is necessary that we put on the living man. Therefore, when
he is about to go down into the water, he unclothes himself, in order that he may put on
the living man.
A horse sires a horse, a man begets man, a god brings forth a god. Compare the
bridegroom and the bride. They have come from the [...]. No Jew [...] has existed. And
[...] from the Jews. [...] Christians [...] these [...] are referred to as "The
chosen people of [...]," and "The true man" and "Son of Man" and
"the seed of the Son of Man". This true race is renowned in the world [...] that
the sons of the bridal chamber dwell.
Whereas in this world the union is one of husband with wife - a case of strength
complemented by weakness(?) - in the Aeon (eternal realm), the form of the union is
different, although we refer to them by the same names. There are other names, however;
they are superior to every other name that is named and are stronger than the strong. For
where there is a show of strength, there those who excel in strength appear. These are not
separate things, but both of them are this one single thing. This is the one which will
not be able to rise above the heart of flesh.
Is it not necessary for all those who possess everything to know themselves? Some
indeed, if they do not know themselves, will not enjoy what they possess. But those who
have come to know themselves will enjoy their possessions.
Not only will they be unable to detain the perfect man, but they will not be able to
see him, for if they see him, they will detain him. There is no other way for a person to
acquire this quality except by putting on the perfect light and he too becoming perfect
light. He who has put it on will enter [...]. This is the perfect [...] that we [...]
become [...] before we leave [...]. Whoever receives everything [...] hither [...] be able
[...] that place, but will [...] the Middle as imperfect. Only Jesus knows the end of this
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?
By perfecting the water of baptism, Jesus emptied it of death. Thus we do go down into
the water, but we do not go down into death, in order that we may not be poured out into
the spirit of the world. When that spirit blows, it brings the winter. When the Holy
Spirit breathes, the summer comes.
He who has knowledge of the truth is a free man, but the free man does not sin, for
"He who sins is the slave of sin" (Jn 8:34). Truth is the mother, knowledge the
father. Those who think that sinning does not apply to them are called "free" by
the world. Knowledge of the truth merely makes such people arrogant, which is what the
words, "it makes them free" mean. It even gives them a sense of superiority over
the whole world. But "Love builds up" (1 Co 8:1). In fact, he who is really
free, through knowledge, is a slave, because of love for those who have not yet been able
to attain to the freedom of knowledge. Knowledge makes them capable of becoming free. Love
never calls something its own, [...] it [...] possess [...]. It never says,"This is
yours" or "This is mine," but "All these are yours". Spiritual
love is wine and fragrance. All those who anoint themselves with it take pleasure in it.
While those who are anointed are present, those nearby also profit (from the fragrance).
If those anointed with ointment withdraw from them and leave, then those not anointed, who
merely stand nearby, still remain in their bad odor. The Samaritan gave nothing but wine
and oil to the wounded man. It is nothing other than the ointment. It healed the wounds,
for "love covers a multitude of sins" (1 P 4:8).
The children a woman bears resemble the man who loves her. If her husband loves her,
then they resemble her husband. If it is an adulterer, then they resemble the adulterer.
Frequently, if a woman sleeps with her husband out of necessity, while her heart is with
the adulterer with whim she usually has intercourse, the child she will bear is born
resembling the adulterer. Now you who live together with the Son of God, love not the
world, but love the Lord, in order that those you will bring forth may not resemble the
world, but may resemble the Lord.
The human being has intercourse with the human being. The horse has intercourse with
the horse, the ass with the ass. Members of a race usually have associated with those of
like race. So spirit mingles with spirit, and thought consorts with thought, and light
shares with light. If you are born a human being, it is the human being who will love you.
If you become a spirit, it is the spirit which will be joined to you. If you become
thought, it is thought which will mingle with you. If you become light, it is the light
which will share with you. If you become one of those who belong above, it is those who
belong above who will rest upon you. If you become horse or ass or bull or dog or sheep,
or another of the animals which are outside or below, then neither human being nor spirit
nor thought nor light will be able to love you. Neither those who belong above nor those
who belong within will be able to rest in you, and you have no part in them.
He who is a slave against his will, will be able to become free. He who has become free
by favor of his master, and has sold himself into slavery, will no longer be able to be
Farming in the world requires the cooperation of four essential elements. A harvest is
gathered into the barn only as a result of the natural action of water, earth, wind and
light. God's farming likewise has four elements - faith, hope, love, and knowledge. Faith
is our earth, that in which we take root. And hope is the water through which we are
nourished. Love is the wind through which we grow. Knowledge, then, is the light through
which we ripen. Grace exists in four ways: it is earthborn; it is heavenly; [...] the
highest heaven; [...] in [...].
Blessed is the one who on no occasion caused a soul [...]. That person is Jesus Christ.
He came to the whole place and did not burden anyone. Therefore, blessed is the one who is
like this, because he is a perfect man. For the Word tells us that this kind is difficult
to define. How shall we be able to accomplish such a great thing? How will he give
everyone comfort? Above all, it is not proper to cause anyone distress - whether the
person is great or small, unbeliever or believer - and then give comfort only to those who
take satisfaction in good deeds. Some find it advantageous to give comfort to the one who
has fared well. He who does good deeds cannot give comfort to such people, for he does not
seize whatever he likes. He is unable to cause distress, however, since he does not
afflict them. To be sure, the one who fares well sometimes causes people distress - not
that he intends to do so; rather, it is their own wickedness which is responsible for
their distress. He who possesses the qualities (of the perfect man) bestows joy upon the
good. Some, however, are terribly distressed by all this.
There was a householder who had every conceivable thing, be it son or slave or cattle
or dog or pig or corn or barley or chaff or grass or [...] or meat and acorn. Now he was a
sensible fellow, and he knew what the food of each one was. He served the children bread
[...]. He served the slaves [...] and meal. And he threw barley and chaff and grass to the
cattle. He threw bones to the dogs, and to the pigs he threw acorns and slop. Compare the
disciple of God: if he is a sensible fellow, he understands what discipleship is all
about. The bodily forms will not deceive him, but he will look at the condition of the
soul of each one and speak with him. There are many animals in the world which are in a
human form. When he identifies them, to the swine he will throw acorns, to the cattle he
will throw barley and chaff and grass, to the dogs he will throw bones. To the slaves he
will give only the elementary lessons, to the children he will give the complete
There is the Son of Man and there is the son of the Son of Man. The Lord is the Son of
Man, and the son of the Son of Man is he who creates through the Son of Man. The Son of
Man received from God the capacity to create. He also has the ability to beget. He who has
received the ability to create is a creature. He who has received the ability to beget is
an offspring. He who creates cannot beget. He who begets also has power to create. Now
they say, "He who creates begets". But his so-called "offspring" is
merely a creature. Because of [...] of birth, they are not his offspring but [...]. He who
creates works openly, and he himself is visible. He who begets, begets in private, and he
himself is hidden, since [...] image. Also, he who creates, creates openly. But one who
begets, begets children in private.
No one can know when the husband and the wife have intercourse with one another, except
the two of them. Indeed, marriage in the world is a mystery for those who have taken a
wife. If there is a hidden quality to the marriage of defilement, how much more is the
undefiled marriage a true mystery! It is not fleshly, but pure. It belongs not to desire,
but to the will. It belongs not to the darkness or the night, but to the day and the
light. If a marriage is open to the public, it has become prostitution, and the bride
plays the harlot not only when she is impregnated by another man, but even if she slips
out of her bedroom and is seen. Let her show herself only to her father and her mother,
and to the friend of the bridegroom and the sons of the bridegroom. These are permitted to
enter every day into the bridal chamber. But let the others yearn just to listen to her
voice and to enjoy her ointment, and let them feed from the crumbs that fall from the
table, like the dogs. Bridegrooms and brides belong to the bridal chamber. No one shall be
able to see the bridegroom with the bride unless he become such a one.
When Abraham [...] that he was to see what he was to see, he circumcised the flesh of
the foreskin, teaching us that it is proper to destroy the flesh.
Most things in the world, as long as their inner parts are hidden, stand upright and
live. If they are revealed, they die, as is illustrated by the visible man: as long as the
intestines of the man are hidden, the man is alive; when his intestines are exposed and
come out of him, the man will die. So also with the tree: while its root is hidden, it
sprouts and grows. If its root is exposed, the tree dries up. So it is with every birth
that is in the world, not only with the revealed but with the hidden. For so long as the
root of wickedness is hidden, it is strong. But when it is recognized, it is dissolved.
When it is revealed, it perishes. That is why the Word says, "Already the axe is laid
at the root of the trees" (Mt 3:10). It will not merely cut - what is cut sprouts
again - but the ax penetrates deeply, until it brings up the root. Jesus pulled out the
root of the whole place, while others did it only partially. As for ourselves, let each
one of us dig down after the root of evil which is within one, and let one pluck it out of
one's heart from the root. It will be plucked out if we recognize it. But if we are
ignorant of it, it takes root in us and produces its fruit in our heart. It masters us. We
are its slaves. It takes us captive, to make us do what we do not want; and what we do
want, we do not do. It is powerful because we have not recognized it. While it exists it
is active. Ignorance is the mother of all evil. Ignorance will result in death, because
those who come from ignorance neither were nor are nor shall be. [...] will be perfect
when all the truth is revealed. For truth is like ignorance: while it is hidden, it rests
in itself, but when it is revealed and is recognized, it is praised, inasmuch as it is
stronger than ignorance and error. It gives freedom. The Word said, "If you know the
truth, the truth will make you free" (Jn 8:32). Ignorance is a slave. Knowledge is
freedom. If we know the truth, we shall find the fruits of the truth within us. If we are
joined to it, it will bring our fulfillment.
At the present time, we have the manifest things of creation. We say, "The strong
who are held in high regard are great people. And the weak who are despised are the
obscure." Contrast the manifest things of truth: they are weak and despised, while
the hidden things are strong and held in high regard. The mysteries of truth are revealed,
though in type and image. The bridal chamber, however, remains hidden. It is the Holy in
the Holy. The veil at first concealed how God controlled the creation, but when the veil
is rent and the things inside are revealed, this house will be left desolate, or rather
will be destroyed. And the whole (inferior) godhead will flee from here, but not into the
holies of the holies, for it will not be able to mix with the unmixed light and the
flawless fullness, but will be under the wings of the cross and under its arms. This ark
will be their salvation when the flood of water surges over them. If some belong to the
order of the priesthood, they will be able to go within the veil with the high priest. For
this reason, the veil was not rent at the top only, since it would have been open only to
those above; nor was it rent at the bottom only, since it would have been revealed only to
those below. But it was rent from the top to bottom. Those above opened to us the things
below, in order that we may go in to the secret of the truth. This truly is what is held
in high regard, (and) what is strong! But we shall go in there by means of lowly types and
forms of weakness. They are lowly indeed when compared with the perfect glory. There is
glory which surpasses glory. There is power which surpasses power. Therefore, the perfect
things have opened to us, together with the hidden things of truth. The holies of the
holies were revealed, and the bridal chamber invited us in.
As long as it is hidden, wickedness is indeed ineffectual, but it has not been removed
from the midst of the seed of the Holy Spirit. They are slaves of evil. But when it is
revealed, then the perfect light will flow out on every one. And all those who are in it
will receive the chrism. Then the slaves will be free and the captives ransomed.
"Every plant which my father who is in heaven has not planted will be plucked
out." (Mt 15:13) Those who are separated will unite [...] and will be filled. Every
one who will enter the bridal chamber will kindle the light, for [...] just as in the
marriages which are [...] happen at night. That fire [...] only at night, and is put out.
But the mysteries of that marriage are perfected rather in the day and the light. Neither
that day nor its light ever sets. If anyone becomes a son of the bridal chamber, he will
receive the light. If anyone does not receive it while he is here, he will not be able to
receive it in the other place. He who will receive that light will not be seen, nor can he
be detained. And none shall be able to torment a person like this, even while he dwells in
the world. And again when he leaves the world, he has already received the truth in the
images. The world has become the Aeon (eternal realm), for the Aeon is fullness for him.
This is the way it is: it is revealed to him alone, not hidden in the darkness and the
night, but hidden in a perfect day and a holy light.
The Gospel According to Philip
Selection made from James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library,
revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990.