Is the Law Dead for Christians?

Introduction

Christians claim that with the death of Jesus they are no longer under the law of the Old Testament, because the law is dead to those who put their faith in Jesus, his death and resurrection. But if you actually read the gospels which supposedly are a historical narrative of the life of Jesus, you’ll quickly see that Jesus did not once condemn the law in fact he expected his followers to follow the law. Not only did Jesus expect his followers to do the law he expected them to perform it at as higher level than the Pharisee’s.

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:20)

The Pharisee’s were highly religious men and were held in high esteem in the time of Jesus as men who faithfully kept the law of God. Jesus told his followers that they had to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisee’s or they would by no means enter the kingdom of God. This statement alone should scare the Christian who believes that Jesus put the law to death with his sacrificial death on the cross.

A question Christians need to ask themselves is this, if Jesus wanted us to not only keep the law but perform it at a higher level than the Pharisee’s then why are their no accounts of Jesus or his followers in the gospels where they go to the Jewish temple to sacrifice animals and why was this similar to the Essene’s who also did not go to Jerusalem to perform sacrifices or worship God at the temple in Jerusalem. (See: Jesus was an Essene and Nazareth did not exist).

Another question Christians need to answer is this, if Jesus in the Gospels made it clear that we must observe the law of Moses then why in the Epistles of Paul does he seem to be against keeping the law of Moses? Is Paul therefore contradicting Jesus?

Jesus told the religious leaders in this day,

“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” (Luke 11:52)

Question, how could it be said that the Jewish experts in the Law who Jesus condemned, possessed the Key of Knowledge? What does it mean that they failed to enter? And what was it they were supposed to enter?

Paul and the Law

That Jesus expected us to fulfill the law is seen in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus says,

“For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called greate in the Kingdom of heaven.  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:18-20)

In his Epistle to the Galatians Paul says,

“…if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21)

Is Paul contradicting Jesus? I don’t think he is, there are other places where Paul affirms that the law is good, holy, spiritual and righteous.

So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin…And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good…For in my inner being I delight in God’s law.” (Romans 7:12,14,16,22)

Theologian C.E.B. Cronfield pointed out in his commentary on the book of Romans that Paul seems to be negative of the law because in the Greek language there is no word for “legalism” or “legalist” so Paul’s negative attitude towards the law most likely has to do with the misuse of the Law and not the law itself.

That this assessment is indeed correct is found in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews where he writes,

Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer.  If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain. (Hebrews 8:1-5)

Notice in verse 5 Paul says that the priest here on Earth serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. On this verse the Barnes’ Notes Commentary writes,

“The reference is to the tabernacle, which was a mere example or copy of heaven. The word here rendered example upodeigma means a copy, likeness, or imitation. The tabernacle was made after a pattern which was shown to Moses; it was made so as to have some faint resemblance to the reality in heaven, and in that “copy,” or “example,” they were appointed to officiate. Their service, therefore, had some resemblance to that in heaven.” (Barnes’ Notes Commentary

On the word shadow in verse 5 the Barnes’ Notes Commentary says,

“That is, in the tabernacle where they served there was a mere shadow of that which was real and substantial. Compared with what is in heaven, it was what the shadow is compared with the substance. A shadow—as of a man, a house, a tree—will indicate the form, the outline, the size of the object; but it has no substance or reality. So it was with the rites of the Jewish religion. They were designed merely as a shadow of the substantial realities of the true religion, or to present the dim outlines of what is true and real in heaven.” (Barnes’ Notes Commentary)

On the phrase ‘of heavenly things’ found in verse 5 the Barnes’ Notes Commentary says,

Of the heavenly sanctuary; of what is real and substantial in heaven. That is, there exists in heaven a reality of which the service in the Jewish sanctuary was but the outline. The reference is, undoubtedly, to the service which the Lord Jesus performs there as the great High Priest of his people. (Barnes’ Notes Commentary)

So Paul did not have a negative view of the law he just realized the law, the Jewish temple and all the rituals that come along with the earthly Jewish religion were just symbols that are an imitation of the true spiritual temple.

Your Body is the Temple

You’ll never be able to fulfill Jesus’ demand to be more righteous than the Pharisee’s if you don’t come to grips with the fact that all the rituals that took place at the Jewish temple in Jerusalem are nothing but an imitation of the true spiritual temple that is not of this world. Jesus and his disciples knew this, so did the Essene’s and the Apostle Paul which is why none of these holy men went to Jerusalem to take part in the ritualistic religion of the carnal Jews. This is why Paul can say the works of the law are death, it’s not that the law is bad it’s just the outward expression of the law lead to spiritual death. Let me put it another way, it is because the law as practiced by the Pharisee’s is nothing but an imitation of the spiritual, this is why the law cannot save you, not because the law in and of itself is bad. You must make the law spiritual and personal to your very being, not practice it outwardly and literally like the Pharisee’s in Jesus’ time did.

In the Epistle to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul puts forth an important concept, Paul says,

 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? (1st Cor 6:19)

Question, if the temple in Jerusalem was a shadow temple and it is our bodies which are the true temples of God then does this not make the outward expression of the Jewish religion obsolete? Now you can hopefully perceive why Jesus condemned the Pharisee’s.

How to do the Law

Ironically the true practice of the law is found on a Jewish website. Under the heading: “What is the holy temple?” the website askmoses had this to say about the holy temple.

“With the destruction, G-d destroyed the physical Temple and made it a spiritual place. He took that window and placed it within us. Instead of traveling to Jerusalem, G-d wanted us to find Him in our inner Jerusalem. Now, our bodies are our Temples, our souls are our windows, our minds are our Kohanim and our animal instincts are our sacrifices. We cannot offer physical sacrifices three times a day, but we can pray three times a day. We cannot attend Temple services three times a day, but we can tap into our souls three times a day. We cannot atone for our shortcomings by sacrificing animals, but we can sacrifice our inner animals—our hormones, our lusts, our desires, our beastly compulsions. We cannot find G-d in Jerusalem; we must find Him in us.” (Askmoses.com, What is the Holy Temple?)

How is what is said here any different from what Paul said in his letter to the Colossians?

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)

In the book of Romans Paul says,

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:12-13)

Christians believe that because they have asked Jesus into their hearts that they have overcome spiritual death but that is not what Paul says here. He makes it clear that if you do not put to death your sinful urges you will die but if you put to death your sinful urges you will live.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. (Galatians 5:24)

Paul never taught that once you come to Jesus you can live any way you want and still enter the kingdom of heaven. Coming to Jesus is the first step towards becoming spiritual, you still must fulfill the law. In the words of Jesus,

For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matthew 5:18)

Therefore we can rightly conclude from the Bible itself that it is our bodies that is the temple not the temple which once stood in Jerusalem which was merely a shadow and imitation of the true temple. Our sinful carnal nature is actually the animal we must slain within the temple of our bodies, not in a temple in Jerusalem.

“For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself” (Heb 9:24)

Sacrificing animals in a temple made with human hands can never save you because in practicing the law this way your sinful nature never gets crucified. Sacrificing your animal instincts within your temple-body is how the law should be fulfilled, it should not be fulfilled literally as the Pharisee’s did.

This also answers another question I asked earlier pertaining to Luke 11:52.

“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” (Luke 11:52)

I asked, “how could it be said that the Jewish experts in the Law who Jesus condemned, possessed the Key of Knowledge?  What does it mean that they failed to enter?  What was it they were supposed to enter?

The key to knowledge that Jesus condemned the Pharisee’s of throwing away, is the knowledge that the law must not be practiced literally. What they were suppose to enter was their very own bodies which is the real temple and fulfill the law there but they failed to do so and thus never entered the kingdom of heaven.

Summary

We have learned that there is nothing wrong with the law it’s the outward physical expression of the law that is frowned upon by Jesus and the Apostle Paul. The reason it is frowned upon is because the temple in Jerusalem is nothing but an imitation of the real genuine temple which is the body.

 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? (1st Cor 6:19)

Jesus commanded his followers to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisee’s if they ever wanted to enter the kingdom of heaven. The problem with the Pharisee’s is that they practiced the law literally instead of spiritually, they sacrificed physical offerings, physical animals, in a physical temple in order to atone for their spiritual shortcomings. But as the askmoses website says,

“we cannot offer physical sacrifices three times a day, but we can pray three times a day. We cannot attend Temple services three times a day, but we can tap into our souls three times a day. We cannot atone for our shortcomings by sacrificing animals, but we can sacrifice our inner animals—our hormones, our lusts, our desires, our beastly compulsions. We cannot find G-d in Jerusalem; we must find Him in us.” (Askmoses.com, What is the Holy Temple?)

This is no different than what the New Testament says when it tells us,

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature…” (Col 3:5)

And it is our carnal sinful nature that we must sacrifice in the temple of our bodies, this is why the physical ritualistic expression of the law as practiced by the Pharisee’s lead to sin and spiritual death. It is fulfilling the law spiritually how one exceed the righteousness of the Pharisee’s, crucify their sinful nature and enter the kingdom of heaven. This is why the Essene’s, Jesus, and the Apostle Paul did not take part in temple activities, they knew that the law of Moses had to be fulfilled within their very own bodies.

The Secret Gospel

Early Opponent of Christianity

Introduction

 In the year of 178 A.D., Celsus, the Epicurean philosopher and opponent of Christianity, published a work in opposition to Christianity known as The True Word or Discourse. Seventy years after its publication The True Word was still so widely circulated, that the Church Father Origen was commissioned by St. Ambrosius to refute this attack by Celsus in a work called Contra Celsum (Against Celsus). Both of these works are crucial to our understanding of early Christianity because in the True Word we see the allegations of this Epicurean philosopher against the church and in Contra Celsum we see the official response of the church to the allegations of Celsus. It’s like a window to the past opens up and we get to sneak peak at the beliefs and doctrines of the early church.

True Word

The True Word was written to oppose the “false word” which was Christianity, sadly The True Word has been lost to history but some of the arguments Celsus made against the church are preserved in Contra Celsum. Celsus as an Epicurean philosopher sought to understand nature by looking to nature itself, so it’s no surprise that in this work Celsus uses the same logic and arguments you hear out of modern day critics of the bible, for example he attacks the Christians for having blind faith:

Some do not even want to give or receive a reason for what they believe, and use such expressions as, “Inquire nothing. Believe and your faith will save you.” (Celsus, The True Word)

he attacks Christians for believing that God came down from heaven in the form of a man:

“God, my friends, is all-perfect and all-blessed. If He leaves His present state, and comes down as a man among men. He must pass from blessedness to unblessedness and from perfection to imperfection, from good to bad, and no such change is possible with Him. Change is the condition of mortality. The immortal remains the same for ever. (Celsus, The True Word)

and he even attacks Jesus Christ questioning his virgin birth and resurrection. While writing from the perspective of a hypothetical Jew, he writes:

“You, sir, have invented your birth from a virgin! You  Jesus were born in a small Jewish village. Your mother was a poor woman who earned her bread by spinning. Her husband divorced her for adultery. You were born in secret and were afterwards carried to Egypt, and were brought up among the Egyptian conjurers. The arts which you there learnt, you practised when you returned to your own people, and you then persuaded them you were God. It was given out that you were born of a virgin. Your real father was a soldier named Panther. The story of your divine parentage is like the story of Danaë. (Celsus, The True Word)

“Who saw your prophet after he rose—an hysterical woman or some of his own companions who dreamt of him or were deluded by their enthusiasm—an experience that has happened to thousands? More likely they wanted to impress others with this fantastic tale and so provide a chance for other beggars with this cock-and-bull story. All the world were witnesses of his death. Why were none but his friends witnesses of his resurrection? Had he desired to prove that he was God, he would have appeared to his accusers and his judge, or he would have vanished from the cross.” (Celsus, The True Word)

But this blog will focus on one particular claim made by Celsus. Celsus claimed that:

Of associations some are public, and these are in accordance with the laws; others, again, secret, and maintained in violation of the laws; of this latter sort is Christianity. The Christians teach and practice their favorite doctrines in secret. (Celsus, The True Word)

Celsus accused the church of teaching and practicing their favorite doctrines in secret. This alone means nothing but it is the response of Origen that should shock believers and unbelievers.

Origen responds to this charge by saying:

“to speak of the Christian doctrine as a secret system is altogether absurd. But that there should be certain doctrines, not made known to the multitude, which are after the exoteric ones having been taught, is not a peculiarity of Christianity alone, but also of philosophic systems, in which certain truths are exoteric and others are esoteric. Some of the heroes of Pythagoras were content with his ipse dixit; while others were taught in secret those doctrines which were not deemed fit to be communicated to the profane and insufficiently prepared ears.  Moreover, all the mysteries that are celebrated everywhere throughout Greece and the barbarous countries, although held in secret, have no discredit thrown upon them, so that it is in vain he endeavors to calumniate the secret doctrines of Christianity, seeing that he does not correctly understand its nature”. (Origen, Contra Celsum)

Origen does not deny that Christianity has secret teachings,  Origen responds by saying yeah we teach secret doctrines but we’re not the only ones who do that, the philosophers and barbarians do the same thing so that doesn’t discredit Christianity. Before we get into the evidence that Christianity has secret teachings the question needs to be asked, who today would claim Christianity is a secret system? No one would. In the minds of believers and unbelievers alike if there is a religious group who isn’t scared to share what they believe it is the Christians so to accuse them of having secret teachings would seem absurd in our modern culture. It seems that this type of argument should be leveled against the Masons who do practice their doctrines in secret, the Masons are so secretive that many think they are planning on creating a one world government.

Evidence Christianity is a Mystery Religion

A mystery religion is defined as, “ religious cults of the Greco-Roman world, participation in which was reserved to initiates. The main characterization of this religion is the secrecy associated with the particulars of the initiation and the cult practice, which may not be revealed to outsiders. That Christianity is a mystery religion can easily be seen when one actually reads the Bible without their doctrinal biases. To begin to grasp the concept that Christianity once had secret teachings I am going to begin with the Apostle Paul and the letter he wrote to the Christians who lived in Corinth hence why it’s called the Epistle to the Corinthians.

In chapter one in the Epistle 1st Corinthians Paul tells the believers at Corinth that:

“in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” – 1st Cor 1:5-8

Paul clearly tells the believers at Corinth that they possessed all knowledge of the testimony of Christ. The testimony of Christ is the knowledge of Jesus’ life, words, crucifixion and resurrection. It is important to remember that Paul letters were written before the gospels ever existed so he simply couldn’t give them a copy of the gospels which tell the story of Jesus. The believers had the testimony of Christ and were now just simply waiting for the revelation of Jesus. Yet in chapter two the mood changes and Paul begins to tell these believers that they have just begun in their walk with the Lord he tells them that they are nothing but babes in Christ and they don’t know the true essence of the gospel.

 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony (mystery) of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. – 1st Cor 2:1-2

In some versions of the Bible like the NAS for example there is a footnote that explains that in the most ancient manuscripts the word testimony in this verse is wrong and the correct word is mystery. The fact that in chapter one Paul already said they received the testimony of Christ should make it easier to accept that the correct word in this verse should be mystery and not testimony.

This leads to the first piece of evidence that Christianity is a mystery religion. The gospels were written in Greek and in the Greek language mystery (Musterion in Greek) means:

Musterion – hidden thing, secret,  religious secrets, confided only to the initiated and not to ordinary mortals a hidden or secret thing (New Testament Greek Lexicon)

In chapter one the believers at Corinth we were told had received the testimony of Christ (i.e. Christ and him crucified) but in chapter two Paul tells them he did not tell them the mystery of God. By chapter three Paul is outright telling these believers that they aren’t even spiritual.

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? – 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

What should be troubling to modern Christians is that Paul told these believers who were told the testimony of Christ and didn’t lack any spiritual gifts that they were still worldly – mere babes in Christ – who he could only feed milk and not solid food. This is a common theme you find in early church writings, babes in Christ are often told they can’t handle solid food (deeper knowledge) because they aren’t yet mature in their faith. Instead they are given milk since they are still babes in Christ. In other words in the same way you that you cannot feed a baby solid food before it is ready (because it will choke) a baby christian cannot be fed deeper knowledge because he/she will “choke” on  it. The secret teachings of Christianity is found all throughout the early church.

Testimony of the Early Church Fathers

 The early Church Father Ignatius (A.D. 35-117) in his Epistle to the Trallaus writes to fellow Christians and tells them:

“Might I not write to you things more full of mystery?  But I fear to do so, lest I should inflict injury on you who are babes.  Pardon me in this respect, lest, as not being able to receive their weighty import, ye should be strangled by them” (Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians)

Again we see that food is being represented as a degree in knowledge. Babes in Christ get milk, while the mature get solid food. Ignatius couldn’t write things more full of Mystery because the Trallus believers would have chocked on it.

Christianity started out as a mystery religion, and remember the definition of a mystery religion, a mystery reliigon is a religion in which, participation in the religion is reserved only for initiates. In his Epistle to the Ephesians Ignatius wrote that he had been;

initiated into the mysteries of the Gospel with Paul, the holy, the martyred.” (Ignatius – Epistle to the Ephesians)

This might seen strange to a modern Christian, why would Ignatius have to be initiated into the mysteries of the gospel? Maybe because Christianity was a mystery religion.

The disciple of the Apostle Peter Clement of Rome (A.D. ???-101) wrote about Jesus and the mysteries, he said;

We remember that our Lord and teacher, as commanding, said to us, guard the mysteries for me, and the sons of my house.  Wherefore also he explained to his disciples, privately, the mysteries of the kingdoms of the heavens.” (Clementine Homilies)

Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150-215) stated that:

“The Lord… allowed us to communicate to those Divine Mysteries, and of that holy light, to those who are able to receive them.   He did not certainly disclose to the many what did not belong to the many; but to the few to whom He knew that they belonged, who were capable of receiving and being molded according to them.  But Secret things are entrusted to speech, not to writing as in the case with God… And to him who is able secretly to observe what is delivered to him, that which is veiled shall be disclosed as truth; and what is hidden to the many shall appear manifest to the few” (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata)

Clement said, Secret things are entrusted to speech, not to writing” which means the deeper mysteries of God are not written down in a book somewhere.

Those Christians that were spiritually mature were taught the secret doctrines Celsus accused the church of practicing in private. This is why the Apostle Paul said:

We do use wisdom when speaking to people who are mature in their faith. But it isn’t the wisdom of this world or of its rulers, who will soon disappear. We speak of God’s hidden and mysterious wisdom that God decided to use for our glory long before the world began. – 1st Corinthians 2:6-7

Paul clearly states that the mystery of God is only revealed to those who are mature in their faith. What Christians fail to realize is that studying about Jesus’ life, words, deeds, death and resurrection are for babes in Christ (new converts to the faith) but there comes a time when a believer must graduate past such elementary teachings. This is confirmed in the epistle to the Hebrews when the Apostle Paul says;

“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment” Heb 6:1-2

Can you imagine a preacher in a church telling his congregation that it’s time to leave the elementary teachings about Christ and move onto maturity, he would be labeled a false teacher and will most likely lose his followers. Yet this is exactly what the Bible tells us. Christians deny that there is any higher teaching, to them Christianity begins and ends with Jesus Christ but Paul said, “let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity.” Christians ignore these words of Paul, they also ignore Paul when he says:

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. – 2nd Cor 5:16

This is exactly why the Biblical scholar Rudolf Bultmann rightly concluded that:

Christian faith is, and should be, comparatively uninterested in the historical Jesus and centered instead on the transcendent Christ” (Encyclopedia Britannica)

This information is shocking to modern Christians. The Christian may ask, “do you mean to tell me i am actually suppose to move past teachings about Jesus Christ. My reply is: Yes you are, the elementary teachings about Jesus are for new converts but Christianity is deeper than Jesus so do as Paul says and leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity if you want to begin to comprehend the mysteries of God.

Et tu Jesus?

To further understand Christianity’s secret teachings we must go back to the great master teacher himself, Yeshua ben Yosef.  When his disciples asked why he taught the people in parables but when they were in private he spoke to them openly, Jesus responded and said;

“The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding…’ – Mark 4:11-12

Let’s go back once again to the definition of a mystery religion. We’re told that the main, “characterization of this religion is the secrecy associated with the particulars of the initiation and the cult practice, which may not be revealed to outsiders.” Here we not only see Jesus saying the secrets of the kingdom of heaven was given to his disciples but to those on the outside they only received parables. Moreover the word translated as secret is the Greek word Musterion (mystery) this is the same word Paul used in his letter to the Corinthians.

We see this again in the latter part of Mark chapter four. We’re told that:

Jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they could understand. In fact, in his public ministry he never taught without using parables; but afterward, when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them. – Mark 4:33-34

The word translated explained in this verse is the Greek word Epiluo. This word in Greek means:

Epiluo – (1) to unloose, untie (2) to clear (a controversy), decide, settle (3) to explain what is obscure and hard to understand. (Thayers New Testament Greek Lexicon)

Why would Jesus have to unloose and untie and explain what is obscure and hard to understand to his disciples when they were in private? Believers and unbelievers alike believe that a parable was meant to clarify a teaching, nothing could be further from the truth, they were meant to hide teachings from those who were on the outside. In explanation of the above words of Jesus the Wycliffe Bible Commentary correctly states that the purpose of parables when they state:

“The purpose of parables was to instruct the initiates without revealing the items of instruction to the ones who were without. This is in keeping with the Biblical principle that spiritual understanding is restricted to those who have become spiritual…” (Wycliffe Bible Commentary)

This is exactly what we find in the writings of Paul, spiritual things are only for those who have matured past the milk and were ready for solid food. What this also means is that those on the outside who try to interpret the true meaning of the parables of Jesus are liable to abuse them, meaning try will come to the wrong conclusion because they are trying to understand the parable from their limited knowledge, not knowing that the parable is not revealing the items of instruction to the ones who were without. 

Can you see a re-occurring theme happening here?

Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. – Matthew 13:36

When Jesus taught in public he veiled the true meaning of his teachings by way of a parable, but with his closest disciples he explained everything to them. Paul told the Corinthians that when he visited them he couldn’t openly speak about the mystery of God the only thing he could tell them was Christ and him crucified but he also explained he does speak about the mysteries of God to those who have become mature. We also see from the early church fathers that there are divine things which could not be spoken to those who are still babes. As we’ve just seen, even Jesus himself claimed that he told those on the outside of his inner circle parables so that,they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding.”

Enter the Gnostics

Any one who has studied early Christian “heretical” groups will know everything I am saying fits perfectly with what the Gnostic Christians believed. Gnostic Christians claimed that they had a hidden secret knowledge that was passed down from Jesus Christ himself and that one was saved by this secret knowledge which they called Gnosis. The Encyclopedia Britannica does a good job in trying to convey the meaning of Gnosis, they describe it as thus;

“Among the majority of the followers of the movement, ‘Gnosis’ was understood not as meaning ‘knowledge’ or ‘understanding’, in our sense of the word, but ‘revelation’.  These little Gnostic sects and groups all lived in the conviction that they possessed a secret and mysterious knowledge, in no way accessible to those outside, which was not to be proved or propagated, but believed in by the initiated, and anxiously guarded as a secret.  This knowledge of theirs was not based on reflection, on scientific inquiry and proof, but on revelation. It was derived directly from the times of primitive Christianity, from the Savior himself and from his disciples and friends, with whom they claimed to be connected by a secret tradition, or else from later prophets, of whom many sects boasted. It was laid down in wonderful mystic writings, which were in the possession of the various circles”. (The Encyclopedia Britannica)

Now hopefully you can see why the Encyclopedia Britannica describes Gnosis as NOT being based on reflection, on scientific inquiry and proof, but on revelation. Also you are beginning to see how this secret Gnostic tradition started with Jesus and was passed to his disciples and the apostle Paul and later to the early church fathers, therefore we see evidence that the Encyclopedia Britannica is correct when it states that this secret gnostic tradition; “was derived directly from the times of primitive Christianity, from the Savior himself and from his disciples and friends, with whom they claimed to be connected by a secret tradition.”

The Resurrection Has a Deeper Mysterious Meaning

What Christians literally believe is the milk of the gospel. The milk of the gospel was explained by Origen in his reply to Celsus. Origen writes:

For who is ignorant of the statement that Jesus was born of a virgin, and that He was crucified, and that His Resurrection is an article of faith among many, and that a general judgment is announced to come, in which the wicked are to be punished according to their desserts, and the righteous to be duly rewarded?” (Origen, Contra Celsum)

Some of the same doctrines Origen mentions here are the same doctrines the Apostle Paul called the elementary teachings about Christ and that the believer must graduate past.

“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity,not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment” Heb 6:1-2

Let’s bereak this verse down, the Apostle Paul told the Hebraic followers of Jesus, let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity,” but what were the elementary teachings about Christ Paul said they had to move past? He mentions them in the rest of the verse, Paul said they had to mature past – laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death – This means the believer must mature past existing in a state of perpetual repentance from sin – and of faith in God – The believer must stop having blind faith in God and mature so he/she can know God directly through Gnosis – instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands – The believer must mature past ritual baptism and the laying on of hands – the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment – The believer must mature past the belief in a literal bodily resurrection and the concept of eternal judgement.

Origen does NOT disagree with Paul because after listing the doctrines of elementary Christianity Origen says:

“And yet the mystery of the Resurrection, not being understood, is made a subject of ridicule among the unbelievers.to speak of the Christian doctrine as a secret system is altogether absurd. But that there should be certain doctrines, not made known to the multitude, which are after the exoteric ones having been taught, is not a peculiarity of Christianity alone. (Origen, Contra Celsum)

Origen says that the multitude were not taught certain doctrines until the exoteric ones had been taught. In his response to Celsus Origen even goes so far as to say that exoteric christian doctrines like the literal resurrection of the physical body was:

“preached in the Churches… for the simpleminded and for the ears of the common crowd who are led on to live better lives by their belief”. (Origen, Contra Celsum)

This is exactly why it is important to understand that the Bible is an allegory (See: The Key to Understanding the Scriptures). In his treaties on The Soul and the Resurrection, St Gregory writes that:

“… the resurrection is no other thing than ‘the re-constitution of our nature in it’s original form.” (St. Gregory, The Soul and the Resurrection)

Thus what Christian believe to be a literal physical event is actually a spiritual one. In other words this exoteric doctrine of a literal resurrection was taught to babes in Christ, but the true meaning of the resurrection was taught in secret to those who had matured in their faith, those who matured received the esoteric meaning of the resurrection. This is why the Gnostic Gospel of Phillip says:

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. (Gospel of Phillip)

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. (Gospel of Phillip)

The true resurrection is an event that must take place while one is still alive in the body, not in physical death. The literal resurrection though was taught to those who were immature in their faith or in the words of Origen, “preached in the Churches… for the simpleminded and for the ears of the common crowd who are led on to live better lives by their belief”.

A surface reading of the Bible will lead one to believe that one must physically die first to be resurrected. This is exactly why it is important to understand that the Bible stories are actually allegories. (See: The Key to Understanding the Scriptures)

Conclusion 

Evidence has been shown that Celsus was right when he claimed Christians have doctrines that they practice in secret. Origen did not deny this at all and the evidence is clear is that early in it’s history Christianity had secret teachings which started with Jesus, who told his disciples the secrets of the kingdom which wasn’t for those on the outside, to Paul who told the Corinthians that he didn’t tell them the mysteries of God, to the early church fathers who said these secret teachings go back to Christ himself:

 We remember that our Lord and teacher, as commanding, said to us, guard the mysteries for me…” (Clementine Homilies)

“The Lord… allowed us to communicate to those Divine Mysteries, and of that holy light, to those who are able to receive them. He did not certainly disclose to the many what did not belong to the many; but to the few to whom He knew that they belonged (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata)

This means the Christianity we all know is incomplete. In modern times all we have left is the exoteric doctrines of Christianity because in the 4th century when the Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire, he proceeded to persecute the Gnostic followers of Jesus to near extinction. The simple truth is the Gnostics were correct and they faced persecution from the “orthodox” church in Rome, and when it seemed like they were about to be destroyed some of their scribes went into the desert and hid their sacred writings in the hope that a future generation will one day discover them. That day came in 1945 with the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library which contained esoteric writings such as The Gospel of Thomas. The first saying in the Gospel of Thomas has Jesus saying:

“Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death.” (Gospel of Thomas, Saying 1)

The Gospel of Thomas is a spiritual book for those Christians who had moved past the milk of the gospel and were ready for deeper knowledge. Those Christians who love the milk of the gospel and fail to move past the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity condemn any higher knowledge and claim all Christianity is about is Christ and him crucified. In not knowing that Bible stories are actually allegories Christians don’t realize that the gospel account of Jesus being crucified is also a mystery that has a deeper meaning. If the Gnostic Gospel of Phillip is correct in saying that the resurrection is an event that must take place while you’re alive, does this shed light on the fact that Jesus actually was never crucified and that the gospel narrative of the crucifixion is an allegorical symbol of a higher teaching? Maybe Origen was onto something when he claimed that the literal resurrection was “preached in the Churches… for the simpleminded and for the ears of the common crowd who are led on to live better lives by their belief”.

The only way you can interpret the sayings of the Gospel of Thomas and therefore not taste death you must become initiated into the mysteries so that you can eventually learn the truth from the Son of God himself via a revelation (i.e. Gnosis).

Jesus said: He who drinks from my mouth will become like me, and I will become like him, and the hidden things will be revealed to him. (Gospel of Thomas, Saying 108)

If what i have presented in this blog is true then this means that there is nothing a preacher, theologian, or any one else can tell you that can save your soul, the bible as understood today by modern man cannot save you. Professing with your lips and believing in your heart that Jesus Christ is your personal Lord and Saviour cannot save you, only Gnosis can save you. The Gnostics were right and modern Christianity is a mere shawdow of it’s former self thanks to the church of Rome.