The Gospel of Philip
The Nag Hammadi Library
The Nag Hamadi library is a collection of ancient texts that date back to the earliest days of Christianity. The Gnostic gospels were written at the same time as the New Testament canon and circulated widely. In the 4th century, Orthodox Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire and all the pagan religions and non-Orthodox Christian traditions were forcibly shut down. The Gnostic sects were deemed heretical and blasphemous by the Orthodox church and were purged. In Nag Hamadi, Egypt around 367 CE a monk buried a collection of sacred Gnostic texts in a cave to save them from being burned. They were discovered in 1945 and finally translated and made available to the public in the 1970s.
The Gnostic gospels depict a mystical Jesus who preaches self-knowledge as the path to God. The Gospel of Philip is a collection of Jesus' sayings.
Read the entire Gospel of Philip here, as provided by the Gnostic Society.
Translated by Willis Barnstone
The Gospel of Philip
A Jew makes a Jew whom we call a convert.
A convert makes no convert.
Some are and make others like them,
while others simply are.
A slave longs for freedom
and doesn’t hope to own a master’s estate.
A child claims the father’s legacy,
but those who inherit the dead are dead.
Heirs to the living are alive
and are heirs to life and death.
The dead are heirs to nothing.
How can the dead inherit?
Yet if the dead inherits the living,
the living won’t die and the dead will survive.
GENTILES, JEWS, CHRISTIANS
A gentile doesn’t die, never
having been alive to die.
You who find truth are alive;
another may die, being alive.
Since Christ came the world was made,
cities adorned, and the dead buried.
When we were Jews we were orphans
with only a mother.
When we turned Christian we had a father
and a mother.
SOWING IN SEASON
Those who sow in winter reap in summer.
Let us sow in the world to reap in summer.
Winter is the world, summer the other realm.
It is wrong to pray in winter.
From winter comes summer.
If you reap in winter you will not reap.
You will pull up young plants.
At the wrong season no crop is yours.
Even on the days of the Sabbath
the field is barren.
CHRIST AND THE SOUL
Christ came to buy. He rescued and redeemed,
redeeming aliens. He made strangers his own.
He brought his own and made promises,
construing a strategy, and gave his life
when he appeared and when the world began.
Then he came and took back what he promised,
which fell into the hands of thieves. They captured it,
but he rescued it back. Then he redeemed
both the good and evil people in the world.
LIGHT AND DARKNESS
Light and darkness, life and death, on the right and left,
these are children, they are inseparably together.
But the good are not good, the wicked not wicked,
life not life, death not death.
Each element fades to an original source.
But those who live above the world cannot fade.
They are eternal.
The names of earthly things are illusory.
We stray from the real to the unreal.
If you hear the word “god,” you miss the real
and hear the unreal.
Father, son, holy spirit, life, light, resurrection, church.
These words are not real. They are unreal
but refer to the real, and are heard in the world.
They fool us. If those names were in the eternal realm,
they would never be heard on earth.
They were not assigned to us here.
Their end dwells in the eternal realm.
THE NAME NOT UTTERED
Only one name is not uttered in the world:
the name the father gave the son.
Above the name of all others is the father’s name.
The son would not be father without wearing
the father’s name.
Those with his name know it but do not speak it.
Those without his name do not think it.
TRUTH MADE NAMES
Truth made names in the world,
and without them we can’t think.
Truth is one and is many,
teaching one thing through the many.
The rulers wanted to fool us,
since they saw we were connected with the good.
They took the names of the good
and gave them to the not good
so with names they could trick
and rope us to the not good.
As though doing us a favor,
they took names from the not good
and placed them on the good.
They knew what they were doing.
They wanted to grab those of us who were free
and make us eternal slaves.
There are forces that don’t want us to be saved.
They act for their own sake. . . .
If we are saved there will be no sacrifices,
no animals offered to the forces.
Yes, they made sacrifices to the animals.
They were alive when they offered them,
and then they died.
They offered us dead to god,
and we lived.
ONCE THERE WAS NO BREAD
Before Christ came there was no bread in the world,
just as paradise, with its Adam, had many trees
for nourishing animals but no wheat for humans.
Once we nourished ourselves like animals,
but when the perfect Christ came,
he carried bread down from heaven
so we could eat like humans.
RULERS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
The rulers thought they had done everything
alone, but in secret
the holy spirit on her own accomplished it all.
Truth from the beginning is sown everywhere.
Many see it sown. Few see it reaped.
MARY AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
Some say the holy spirit inseminated Mary.
They are wrong and don’t know what they are saying.
When did a woman ever get a woman pregnant?
Mary is a virgin and no powers dirtied her.
She is a great repugnance to the Jews
who are apostolic, who are the messengers.
No powers dirtied the virgin.
They dirtied themselves.
THE LORD’S FATHER
The lord would never say, “My father who is in heaven”
unless he had another father elsewhere.
He would have simply said, “My father.”
The lord said to the students,
“From every house you are in, take out possessions,
but take things into the father’s house
and do not steal what is inside and run off.”
JESUS IS A HIDDEN NAME
Jesus is a hidden name, Christ is an open one.
So Jesus is not a word in any tongue but a name they call him.
In Syriac the Christ is messias, in Greek he is christos.
All languages have their own way of calling him.
Nazarene is the revealed name for what is secret.
WHAT IS CHRIST?
In himself Christ has everything, be it human
or angel or mystery and the father.
THE LORD ASCENDING
Some say the lord died first and then ascended.
They are wrong. He rose first and then he died.
Unless you are first resurrected, you will not die.
As god lives, you would already be dead.
PENNY AND SOUL
No one would hide a beautiful and valuable object
under a lovely cover, but often vast monies are held
in a bag worth only a penny.
Consider the soul. It is a precious spirit and it came
in a contemptible body.
SOME ARE AFRAID
Some are afraid that they will ascend from death naked,
and they want to climb back to life in their flesh.
They are unaware that those who wear their flesh are naked,
and those who strip are not naked.
“Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of god.”
What will we not inherit? The flesh we wear on us.
But what then will we inherit as our own?
The body of Jesus and his blood. And Jesus said,
“Whoever will not eat my flesh and drink my blood
has no life within him.” What does he mean?
His flesh is the word and blood the holy spirit.
Who has received these has food and drink and clothing.
I condemn those who say the flesh won’t rise.
Then both are wrong. You say the flesh won’t ascend.
Tell me, what will rise so I can honor you?
You say spirit in the flesh and light in the flesh.
What is the flesh?
You say there is nothing outside the flesh.
Then rise in the flesh, since everything exists in it.
In this world those wearing garments are better than garments.
In heaven the garments are better than the wearers.
THROUGH WATER AND FIRE
Through water and fire this wide realm is purified,
and the visible cleaned by the visible,
and the hidden by the hidden,
but there are elements concealed in the visible.
There is water within water
and fire in the oil of chrism.
JESUS TRICKED EVERYONE
Jesus tricked everyone. He did not appear as he was
but in a way not to be seen.
Yet he appeared to all of them.
To the great he appeared as great,
to the small as small. To angels he appeared as an angel,
and to humans as a human.
And he hid his word from everyone.
Some looked at him and thought they saw themselves.
When before his students he appeared gloriously
on the mountain, he was not small.
No, he became great, and he made his students grow
so they would know his immensity.
UNION WITH ANGELS
On the day of thanksgiving prayer he said,
“You who have joined perfect light with holy spirit,
join the angels with us as a single image.”
Don’t hate the lamb.
Without the lamb you can’t see the king.
MEETING THE KING
You don’t meet the king
if you are naked.
CONCEIVING WITH A KISS
The heavenly man has more children
than a man on earth. If the offspring of Adam
are many and die,
how many more are the offspring of perfect beings
who do not die and are born each second?
The father makes a child.
The child cannot make a son. He has not the power
to make children. One recently born is not a parent.
The son has brothers and sisters, not children.
In this world there is a natural order to birth,
and one is nourished by ordinary means.
We are nourished by the promise of heaven,
from the mouth of the word.
If the word emanated from the mouth, it is perfect.
By a kiss the perfect conceive and give birth.
That is why we kiss.
From the grace in others we conceive.
Three Marys walked with the lord:
His mother, his sister, and Mary of Magdala,
His sister and mother and companion
THE HOLY SPIRIT
Father and son are single names.
Holy spirit is a double name and everywhere:
above and below, hidden and revealed.
The holy spirit lives in the revealed.
It is concealed below. It is above.
Even evil powers serve the saints.
The holy spirit blinds the powers
who suppose they are treating a simple man
when they are treating saints.
ASK YOUR MOTHER
A student once asked the lord for something
from the world, and he said, “Ask your mother,
and she will give you something
from another realm.”
SOPHIA AND SALT
The messengers said to the students,
“Let our offering all be for obtaining salt.”
Salt is what they called Sophia.
Without salt no offering is acceptable.
But Sophia is barren. She has no child,
and so she is called a trace of salt.
Yet wherever others are will be the holy spirit.
Her children are many.
FATHER AND CHILD
What a father has belongs to his child,
but not while the child is still little.
When the child is grown, however,
then the father turns over all he possesses.
Those who have gone astray are those born
of the spirit. And they are usually lost
because of the spirit. So from one single breath
of spirit the fire blazes and is blackened.
WISDOM AND THE WISDOM OF DEATH
Echamoth is one thing and Echmoth another.
Echamoth is simply wisdom,
but Echmoth is the wisdom of death,
who is the one who knows death,
who is called little wisdom.
DOMESTIC ANIMALS AND BEASTS
Domestic animals may be the bull and the donkey
and other species.
Others are wild and live in the deserts.
A man plows the field with a domestic animal,
and from the fruit of his labor
he feeds himself and the animals, tame or wild.
Compare the perfect human.
Through submissive powers he plows
and prepares for everything to come into being.
So his world holds together, good or evil, the right and the left.
The holy spirit shepherds everyone and rules all the powers,
those tame and wild and running loose.
He gathers them and shuts them in
so, like it or not, they cannot escape.
The one who has been created is beautiful,
and you would expect his sons to be noble creations.
If one was not created but engendered,
you would find his seed was noble,
but now he was created and he engendered.
Is this nobility? Adultery came into being,
then murder. One was engendered in adultery,
since he was the child of the serpent.
So like his father he too became a murderer and killed his brother.
Every sexual act between unlike persons is adultery.
GOD IS A DYER
God is a dyer.
The good dyes, true dyes, dissolve into things
dyed in them.
So too for things god has dyed.
His dyes are imperishable because of their colors.
What god dips he dips in water.
It is impossible to see anything in the real realm unless you become it.
Not so in the world. You see the sun without being the sun,
see sky and earth but are not them.
This is the truth of the world.
In the other truth you are what you see.
If you see spirit, you are spirit.
If you look at the anointed, you are the anointed.
If you see the father, you will be father.
In this world you see everything but yourself,
but there, you look at yourself and are what you see.
FAITH AND LOVE
Faith receives, love gives.
No one receives without faith.
No one gives without love.
To receive, believe; to love, give.
If you give without love,
no one derives a thing from what is given.
Whoever has not accepted the lord
is still a Jew.
NAMES OF JESUS
The messengers 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,
the middle name is the Nazarene.
Messiah has two meanings, both “Christ” and “measured.”
Jesus in Hebrew is “redemption.”
Nazara is “truth.”
Christ has been measured.
The Nazarene and Jesus are they who have been measured.
PEARL IN THE MUD
If a pearl is thrown into mud, it loses no value,
and if rubbed with balsam oil, it gains no value.
It always is precious in its owner’s eyes.
Wherever they are, the children of god
are precious in the eyes of the father.
JEW, ROMAN, GREEK, CHRISTIAN
If you say, “I am a Jew,” no one will be moved.
If you say, “I am a Roman,” no one will be upset.
If you say, “I am Greek, a barbarian, a slave, a freeman,”
no one will be troubled.
But if you say, “I am a Christian,” they will tremble.
I wish I had that title. The world
will not endure it when hearing the name.
GOD IS A MAN-EATER
God is a man-eater. So people are sacrificed to him.
Before humans were sacrificed, it was animals,
because those they were eaten by were not gods.
GLASS AND EARTH
Glass decanters and earthenware jugs are both made with fire.
When a glass decanter breaks, it is redone,
since it was made through a breath.
When earthenware jugs break, they are destroyed,
since they were born without a breath.
DONKEY AND MILLSTONE
A donkey turning a millstone walked a hundred miles.
When it was set loose, it found itself in the same place.
Some people travel long but go nowhere.
At twilight they have seen no cities or villages,
no human constructions or phenomena of nature,
no powers or angels.
These miserable ones have labored in vain.
THE EUCHARIST IS JESUS
The eucharist is Jesus. In Syriac it is called pharisatha,
which is “one who is spread out,”
since Jesus came to crucify the world.
THE LORD IN THE DYE WORKS OF LEVI
The lord went into the dye works of Levi
and took seventy-two different colors and threw them
into a vat. He drew them out perfectly white.
He said, “In this way the earthly son has come as a dyer.”
WISDOM, MOTHER OF THE ANGELS
Wisdom, who is called “barren,” is mother of the angels.
The companion is Mary of Magdala. Jesus loved her
more than his students. He kissed her often
on her face, more than all his students,
and they said, “Why do you love her more than us?”
The savior answered, saying to them,
“Why do I not love you like her? If a blind man
and one who sees are together in darkness,
they are the same.
When light comes, the one who sees will see light.
The blind man stays in darkness.”
The lord said, “Blessings on you
who were before you came into being.
Whoever is, was, and will be.”
HUMANS AND ANIMALS
The superiority of humans is not obvious to the eye
but lies in what is hidden.
Consequently they have mastery over animals
who are stronger and larger in ways apparent
and hidden. So the animals survive.
When humans withdraw, the animals slay and devour
each other, because they do not find food.
Now they have food because humans plow the soil.
WATER AND MYSTERY
If you go down into the water and come up,
receiving nothing, and say, “I am a Christian,”
you have borrowed the name at interest.
But if you receive the holy spirit,
you have the name as a gift. And a gift
you do not pay back.
But if you have borrowed at interest,
you must pay. So it works
when you have passed through mystery.
Great is the mystery of marriage! Without it,
the world would not be.
The existence of the world depends on marriage.
Think of sex. It possesses deep powers,
though its image is filthy.
BRIDAL CHAMBER AND ANDROGYNY
Among the forms of unclean spirits are male
and female ones. Males have sex with souls
who inhabit a female shape,
and females mingle promiscuously with souls
in a male form. No one escapes those spirits:
they seize you, unless you take on the power
of male or female, of groom and bride.
This power resides in the mirrored bridal chamber.
When wanton women see a man sitting alone,
the man is overcome. They fondle him
and pollute him. When wanton men see
a beautiful woman sitting alone, they overcome her,
and she is violated and polluted.
But when spirits see a man and his wife sitting together,
the female spirits cannot enter the male, nor the male
the woman. When the image and angel are joined,
none can force themselves on the man and woman.
LEAVING THE WORLD
When you leave the world, nothing can stop you
because you were in the world. You are above desire
and fear. You are master of envy. If someone does not
leave the world, the forces grab and choke him.
How can one escape those great grasping rulers?
How can one hide from them? Some say,
“We were faithful,” to escape the filthy spirits and demons.
But if they had the holy spirit, nothing filthy
would cleave to them. Have no fear of the flesh.
Don’t love it. If you are fearful, it will gain mastery
over you. If you love the flesh,
it will swallow and paralyze you.
IN THIS WORLD OR THE RESURRECTION
Either someone will be in this world
or in the resurrection or in the middle place.
God forbid that I be found in the middle!
In this world there is good and evil.
Its good is not good, and evil not evil.
But there is evil after this world
that is truly evil—which is called the middle.
The middle is death.
While we are in this world it is best to acquire resurrection
so when we strip off the flesh we may rest
and not walk in the middle.
Many go astray on the way.
WILL AND SIN
It is good to leave the world before one has sinned.
Some have neither the will nor the ability to act.
Others, even if they have the will, are better off
if they do not act, for the act of the will makes them sinners.
But even if they have no will to act,
justice may be concealed from them,
whether they have the will or not.
Will, not action, is always primary.
A messenger in a vision saw people
locked up in a house of fire and bound with fiery chains,
lying in a flaming ointment.
He asked them, “Why can’t they be saved?”
“We did not desire it,” they told the messenger,
“but we got this place of punishment.
It is the outer darkness, and we are in it.”
KINDS OF FIRE
Soul and spirit came into being from water and fire.
From water and fire and light came the attendant
in the bridal chamber.
Fire is chrism. Light is fire. I am not referring to flame,
which has no form, but to another kind of fire,
whose appearance is white,
which is luminous and beautiful
and gives beauty.
TRUTH AND NAKEDNESS
Truth didn’t come into the world naked
but in types and images. Truth is received only
that way. There is rebirth and its image.
They must be reborn through image.
What is the resurrection?
Image must rise again through image.
The bridegroom and image enter through image
into truth, which is restoration. It is right
that those who don’t have it take on the name
of the father and son and the holy spirit.
But they have not done so on their own.
If you do not take on the names for yourself,
the name “Christian” will be taken from you.
You receive them in the oil of the chrism,
the aromatic unction of the power of the cross.
The messengers called this power “the right and left.”
You are no longer a Christian but Christ.
The lord did everything through mystery:
baptism and a chrism and a eucharist
and a redemption and a bridal chamber.
THINGS BELOW LIKE THINGS ABOVE
The lord said, “I came to make things below
like things above, and the outside like the inside.
I came to join them in one place.”
He revealed who he is through types and images.
Those who say, “There is a heavenly person
and one even higher,” are wrong.
Who is seen in heaven is the heavenly person,
who is called “the one below,”
and the one to whom the hidden belongs
is called “higher.”
It is best to say “inner” and “outer” and “what is beyond the outer.”
So the lord called destruction “the outer darkness.”
There is nothing beyond.
He said, “My father who is in secret.”
He said, “Go into the chamber and shut the door behind you,
and pray to your father who is in secret,”
the one who is innermost.
But what is within them all is the fullness.
Beyond it there is nothing inside.
This is the place they call “the uppermost.”
PLACES OF THE SPIRIT
Before Christ, some came from a realm
they could not reenter,
and they went where they could not come out.
Then Christ came.
Those who went in he took out.
Those who went out he took in.
EVE IN ADAM
When Eve was in Adam there was no death.
When she was cut from him,
death came into being.
If he enters what he was and takes her in him fully,
death will disappear.
“My god, my god, O lord, why have you abandoned me?”
He said these words on the cross.
But not from that place. He was already gone. . . .
RISING FROM THE DEAD
The lord rose from the dead.
He became as he was,
but now his body was perfect.
He possessed flesh,
but this was true flesh.
Our flesh isn’t true.
Ours is only an image of the true.
Animals don’t have a bridal bedroom,
nor do slaves or dirtied women.
Bedrooms are for free men and virgins.
Through the holy spirit we are again engendered,
but conceived through Christ.
We are anointed in the spirit.
When we were conceived we were united.
No one will be able to look at oneself
either in water or in a mirror without light,
nor see in light without water or mirror.
So it is fitting to baptize in light and water.
Now the light is the chrism.
THREE BUILDINGS IN JERUSALEM
There were three buildings in Jerusalem,
one facing west called “the holy,”
another facing south called “the holy of the holy.”
The third facing east was called “the holy of the holies,”
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 resurrection and redemption.
Redemption happens in the bridal chamber,
but the bridal chamber is part of something
superior to it and the others
because you will find nothing like it.
Those familiar with it are those who pray
in spirit and in truth
for they do not pray in Jerusalem.
There are some who pray in Jerusalem,
awaiting the kingdom of heaven,
called the holy of the holies.
Before the veil was rent we had no bridal chamber
but the image of the bridal chamber above.
So its veil was torn from top to bottom.
It was right for some below to ascend.
GARMENT OF LIGHT
The rulers do not see you
who wear the perfect light,
and they cannot seize you.
You put on the light
in the mystery of union.
REUNION IN THE BEDROOM
If the woman and man had not come apart,
they would not know death.
Christ came to repair the split, there from the beginning,
and join the two and give them life
who had died because of separation.
Now the woman and man are one in the chamber
with the bed, and those so joined will not come apart again.
Eve and Adam separated because when they joined
it was not in the chamber with the bed.
The soul of Adam came into being through
a breath blowing into him. Breath is spirit.
The element given him is his mother.
Soul became spirit. When he was joined to spirit,
he spoke words incomprehensible to the powers.
They envied him, excluded from the union of the spirit.
Their exclusion spurred them into fashioning the bridal chamber
where lovers would come and be defiled.
JESUS AT THE JORDAN
Jesus appeared at the Jordan River with the fullness of the kingdom of heaven.
He was born before there was birth.
He was anointed once and was anointed anew.
He who was redeemed redeemed the world.
It is good to speak of mystery,
especially because the father of all
joined with the virgin who came down,
and on that day a fire shone over him.
He came to the bridal chamber.
So on that very day his body came into being.
And on that day he left the chamber with the splendor
of what passed between the bride and bridegroom.
Through this force Jesus did everything.
It is good for each of his students
to go into the chamber and rest.
Adam came into being from two virgins:
from the spirit and from the virgin earth,
and Christ was born of a virgin to heal the initial fall.
TWO TREES OF PARADISE
Two trees are growing in paradise.
One bears animals, the other bears people.
Adam ate from the tree that bore animals
and became an animal and brought forth animals,
and so Adam’s children worship animals.
The tree whose fruit Adam ate is the tree of knowledge.
So his sins increased. If he had eaten fruit
from the tree of life, the one bearing people,
the gods would worship man and woman,
for in the beginning god created man and woman.
Now they create god. In the world
humans make gods and worship their creation.
It would be better if the gods worshiped them!
A MAN AND HIS CHILDREN
A man does what he has the skills to do.
He has the ability to make children.
He does it easily in a few seconds.
His accomplishment shows in his children.
They are the image.
He was also made after the image,
doing things with his physical strength
and producing his children with ease.
SLAVES AND THE FREE
In this world the slaves serve the free.
In the kingdom of heaven the free will serve the slaves,
and the attendants of the bridal chamber
will minister to the wedding guests.
The attendants of the bridal chamber have one name, rest,
and need take no other form because they meditate
and comprehend by insight.
They are many, since they do not store their treasures
in things below, despicable things, but in unknown glory.
INTO THE WATER
It was necessary for Jesus to descend into the water
so that he could perfect and consecrate it.
So also they who have received baptism in his name may be perfect.
He said, “It is right in this way to perfect all that is just.”
When you say you will die first and then rise,
you are wrong. If you are not resurrected in life,
you will receive nothing when you are dead.
Great is baptism. Enter the water and live.
JOSEPH AND THE WOODEN CROSS
Philip the messenger said,
“Joseph the carpenter planted a garden of paradise
because he needed wood for his trade.
He made the cross from the trees he planted,
and his seed hung from what he planted.
His seed was Jesus, and the plant was the cross.”
The tree of life in the middle of that garden
of paradise is an olive tree, and from the olive tree
comes chrism, and from that oil
comes the resurrection.
THE WORLD EATS BODIES
The world eats bodies,
and everything eaten in the world dies.
Truth eats life,
but no one fed on truth will find death.
Jesus came and he carried food,
giving life to whoever wanted it
so they might not die.
ADAM IN PARADISE
God planted a garden, and humans were placed
in the garden. They lived among many trees
with the blessing and in the image of god.
The things in it I will eat as I wish.
Here in this garden they will tell me,
“Eat this or do not eat that, just as you wish.”
Here I will eat all things,
where the tree of knowledge is.
That tree killed Adam,
but here the tree of knowledge made us alive.
The law was the tree.
It has the power to give knowledge of good and evil.
It did not remove me from evil
or set me among the good.
It created death for those who ate it. When they said,
“Eat this or do not eat that,” death began.
SUPERIORITY OF CHRISM TO BAPTISM
The chrism is superior to baptism.
From the word chrism we have been called Christians,
and surely not from the word baptism.
And because of the chrism Christ has his name.
The father anointed the son,
and the son anointed the messengers,
and the messengers anointed us.
Who has been anointed possesses everything:
resurrection, light, cross, 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 perfectly:
“Some have entered the kingdom of heaven laughing,
and they have come out laughing.”
They do not remain there:
one because he is not a Christian,
another because he laments his later acts.
As soon as Christ went down into the water
he came out laughing at everything in this world,
not because he thought it a trifle, but out of contempt.
Whoever wants to enter the kingdom of heaven will do so.
Whoever despises everything of this world, scorns it as a trifle,
will emerge laughing.
So with the bread and the cup and the oil,
for above is one superior to all these.
The world came into being through error.
The agent who made it
wanted it to be imperishable and immortal.
He failed. He came up with less than his desire.
The world was never incorruptible,
nor was its maker. Things are not imperishable,
but children are. Nothing can endure
that is not first a child. Whoever cannot receive
surely will be unable to give.
CUP OF PRAYER
The cup of prayer holds wine and water.
It is appointed for the blood for which thanks is given.
It is filled with holy spirit
and is of the perfect human.
When we drink, we drink the perfect human.
The living water is a body.
We must put on the living human.
When you go into the water, you strip naked
and put on the living human.
A HORSE SIRES A HORSE
A horse sires a horse, a human gives birth to a human,
a god engenders a god.
Compare the bridegroom and the bride.
Their children were born in the chamber.
No Jew was ever born to Greek parents
as long as the world has existed.
And as Christians, we do not descend from the Jews.
There was another people.
These blessed ones were the chosen ones,
the chosen people of the living god;
and then the true man, the earthly son,
and the seed of the earthly son.
In the world these are the true people.
They are the attendants of the bridal chamber.
POWER AND WEAKNESS
In this world, power and weakness mingle
when man and woman have sex.
Joining is different in the eternal realm,
though we use the same names to speak of it.
There are names beyond the ordinary ones
and stronger than showy brute strength.
Yet all is the same, and this is incomprehensible
to hearts of flesh.
KNOWLEDGE OF SELF
Should you who possess everything not know yourself?
If you do not know yourself,
you will not enjoy what you own.
But know yourself
and what you have enjoy.
GARMENT OF LIGHT
The perfect human can neither be restrained nor seen.
If they see him, they can stop him,
so there is no way to grace but to put on
the perfect light and become perfect.
All who put on that garment will enter the kingdom.
This is the perfect light.
We must become perfect before leaving this world.
Who is rich and has not thrown it off
will not share in the kingdom
but will go as imperfect into the middle.
Only Jesus knows where that will end.
THE HOLY PERSON
The priest is fully holy, including his body.
Does one take bread and make it holy?
Or the cup or anything drunk?
Are they sanctified?
If so, why not the body too?
BAPTISM AND DEATH
By perfecting the water of baptism,
Jesus emptied it of death.
We go into the water but not into death,
so we are not poured out into the wind of the world.
Whenever that wind blows, winter comes.
When the holy spirit breathes, summer blows in.
KNOWLEDGE AND LOVE
Whoever has knowledge of the truth is a free being,
but the free human doesn’t sin.
“Whoever sins is the slave of sin.”
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 can make one arrogant,
giving meaning to the words “being free.”
It makes them feel superior to the world.
But love builds up.
Who is really free through knowledge
is a slave because of love for those
who have not yet attained the freedom of knowledge.
Knowledge makes them capable of freedom.
Love never calls something its own,
yet it too may possess the same thing.
Love never says, “This is mine,” or “That is mine,”
but “All these are yours.”
Spiritual love is wine and fragrance.
Those nearby also enjoy it
from those who are anointed.
But if the anointed withdraw and leave,
then those unanointed, who are hanging around,
remain in their bad odor.
The Samaritan gave nothing but wine and oil to the wounded.
Only the ointment. It healed the wounds,
for “love covers a multitude of sins.”
CHILDREN AND ADULTERY
The children a woman gives birth to
resemble the man who loves her.
If her husband loves her,
then they are like her husband.
If affections comes from an adulterer,
then the children are like him.
Often, if a woman sleeps with her husband
out of need, while her heart is with the adulterer
with whom she also has sex,
her child will look like the adulterer.
You who live together with the son of god,
love not the world but the lord,
so your children will look not like the world
but like the lord.
SEX AND SPIRIT
Humans have sex with humans, horses with horses,
donkeys with donkeys.
Those of one sort usually linger with those like them.
So spirit mingles with spirit
and thought consorts with thought
and light shares light.
If you are born a person, a person will love you.
If you become a spirit, a spirit will join with you.
If you become thought, thought will mingle with you.
If you become light, light will share you.
If you are of those from above,
one of those from above will rest in you.
If you become a horse or a donkey or bull or dog or sheep
or another animal that is wild or tame,
then neither a person nor spirit nor thought nor light
can love you.
None of those from above or within can rest in you,
and you have no part in them.
SLAVES AND FREEDOM
Those who are enslaved against their will can be free.
Those who are freed by favor of a master
but have sold themselves into slavery
can no longer be free.
Farming in this world demands four elements.
A harvest is collected and taken into the barn
as a result of water, earth, wind, and light.
God’s farming also has four elements:
faith, hope, love, and knowledge.
Faith is our earth in which we take root.
Hope is the water through which we are nourished.
Love is the wind through which we grow.
Knowledge is the light through which we ripen.
Grace exists in four ways:
earthborn, heavenly, from highest heaven,
and living in truth.
BLESSINGS ON ONE WHO NEVER HARMS A SOUL
Blessings on one who never harms a soul.
That person is Jesus Christ.
He came to the whole earth and distressed no one.
Blessings on one like him, the perfect person.
This is the word.
Tell us about the word, since it is hard to define.
How shall we be able to accomplish such a feat?
How will he comfort everyone?
Especially, it is improper to cause anyone distress,
whether that person be great or small, infidel or believer.
It is improper to comfort only those who enjoy good deeds.
Some find it useful to comfort one who is lucky.
You who do good deeds cannot comfort them,
for it goes against your will.
You cannot cause them distress, since you are not afflicting them.
Yet you who are lucky in life sometimes cause distress unintentionally.
but the source is not you but the other person’s wickedness.
Whoever has the qualities of the perfect human
is happy in the good.
Yet some are enormously put out by these distinctions.
A HOUSEHOLDER WITH EVERYTHING
There was a householder who had every possible thing,
be it son or slave or cattle or dog or pig or wheat
or barley or chaff or grass or castor oil or meat or acorn.
He was sensible and knew what each one’s food was.
He served children bread and meat.
He served slaves castor oil and meal.
He threw barley and chaff and grass to the cattle.
He threw bones to the dogs,
and to pigs he threw acorns and scraps of bread.
Compare the student of god.
If you are sensible, you understand the nature of learning.
Bodily forms will not deceive you,
since you will look at the condition of each person’s soul
and speak with that form.
There are many animals on earth in human form.
When you identify them,
then you throw acorns to swine,
barley and chaff and grass to cattle,
and bones to the dogs.
To slaves you will give only what is preliminary,
but to children you give what is complete.
THE EARTHLY SON AND HIS SON
There is the earthly son,
and there is the son of the earthly son.
The lord is the earthly son,
and the son of the earthly son is he who is created
through the earthly son.
The earthly son received the capacity to create from god.
He also had the ability to engender.
He who has the ability to create is a creature.
He who has the ability to engender is an offspring.
But he who creates cannot engender.
He who engenders also has the power to create.
Now they say, “He who creates engenders,”
but his so-called offspring is merely a creature;
therefore his children are not offspring but creatures.
He who creates works openly and is visible.
He who engenders does so in private. . . .
MYSTERY OF UNDEFILED MARRIAGE
No one can know when the husband and wife have sex
except those two.
Marriage in the world is a mystery for those who are married.
If there is a hidden defilement in the marriage,
how much greater is the true mystery of the undefiled marriage!
It is not fleshly but pure.
It belongs not to desire but to the will.
It belongs not to the darkness of 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 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 and attendants of the bridegroom.
They 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 fragrant ointments,
and let them feed on the crumbs falling from the table, like dogs.
Bridegrooms and brides belong to the bridal chamber.
No one shall be able to see the bridegroom or bride
unless one becomes a bridegroom or bride.
When Abraham rejoiced in seeing what he was to see,
he circumcised the flesh of his foreskin,
teaching us that it is proper to destroy the flesh.
HIDDEN PARTS ARE UPRIGHT
As long as they are hidden,
most things in the world are upright and live.
If they are revealed they die,
as is clear by the example of the visible person:
as long as the intestines are hidden, a person is alive.
When the intestines are exposed and come out,
the person will die.
So also with a 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 also the hidden.
As long as the root of wickedness is hidden, it is powerful.
But when it is recognized, it is dissolved.
When it is revealed, it perishes.
That is why the word says,
“Even now the ax lies set against the root of the trees.”
It will not merely cut—what is cut sprouts again—
but the ax penetrates deeply until it brings up the root.
ROOT OF EVIL
Jesus pulled out the root of the whole place
while others did it only partially.
As for us, let each one dig down after the root of evil
that is within us and pluck it out of our heart from the root.
It will be uprooted if we recognize it.
But if we are ignorant of it, it takes root in us
and produces 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 eventuate in death,
because those who come from ignorance
neither were nor are nor will be.
But those who are in the truth will be perfect
when all the truth is revealed.
For truth is like ignorance: while hidden it rests in itself,
but when revealed and recognized,
it is praised in that it is stronger than ignorance and error.
It gives freedom. The word said,
“If you know the truth, the truth will make you free.”
Ignorance is a slave,
knowledge is freedom.
If we know the truth, we shall find the fruits of the truth
If we join it, it will fulfill us.
THE STRONG AND WEAK, THE MANIFEST AND HIDDEN
Now we have the manifest things of creation.
We say, “The strong are they who are held in high regard,
and the obscure are the weak who are despised.”
Contrast the manifest things of truth:
they are weak and despised, whereas the hidden things are strong
and held in high regard.
The mysteries of truth are revealed,
though, in type and image.
The bridal chamber remains hidden.
It is the holy in the holy.
The veil at first concealed how god controls creation,
but when the veil is torn and things inside are revealed,
this house will be left desolate,
or rather it will be destroyed.
But the whole inferior godhead will not flee from these places
into the holies of the holies,
for it cannot mix with the pure light and the perfect fullness.
Rather, it will be under the wings of the cross and under its arms.
This ark will be the salvation of people
when the floodwater surges over them.
SECRET OF THE TRUTH
If some belong to the order of the priesthood,
they will be able to go within the veil with the high priest.
So the veil was not torn at the top,
since it would have been open only to those above.
Nor was it torn at the bottom,
since it would have been revealed only to those below.
But it was rent from top to bottom.
Those above opened to us who are below,
that we may go in to the secret of the truth.
The truth is what is held in high regard, since it is strong.
But we shall go in there by means of lowly types
and forms of weakness.
They are lowly when compared with the perfect glory.
There is glory that surpasses glory.
There is power that surpasses power.
Therefore, the perfect things have opened to us
together with the hidden things of truth.
The holies of the holies has been revealed,
and the bridal chamber has invited us in.
THE PERFECT LIGHT
As long as the seed is hidden, wickedness is ineffectual,
but it has not yet been removed from the midst of the seed
of the holy spirit.
Everyone is a slave of evil.
But when the seed is revealed, the perfect light will flow out on everyone.
And all those who are in the light will receive the chrism.
Then the slaves will be free and the captives ransomed.
“Every plant that my heavenly father has not planted will be uprooted.”
Those who are separated will be joined and filled.
Everyone who enters the bridal chamber will kindle the light,
for it burns just as in marriages performed,
though they happen at night.
That fire burns only at night and is put out.
Yet the mysteries of this marriage are perfected
rather in the day and the light.
Neither that day nor its light ever sets.
If you become an attendant of the bridal chamber,
you will receive the light.
If you do not receive it while in those places,
you cannot receive it in the other place.
You who receive the light will not be seen nor detained.
And no one will be able to torment you
even while you live in the world.
And when you leave the world
you have already received the truth in the images.
The world has become the eternal realm,
because the eternal realm is fullness for you.
This is the way it is. It is revealed to you alone,
not hidden in the darkness and the night
but in a perfect day and a holy light.
The Gospel According to Philip
Translated by Willis Barnstone
This original translation of The Gospel of Philip (Nag Hammadi Codex II, 3) is presented in the Gnostic Society Library by permission and under license from Dr. Willis Barnstone, who retains all copyright. Dr. Barnstone's translations of the Nag Hammadi texts are published in The Gnostic Bible, © 2003, Willis Barnstone & Marvin Meyer.