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The Gospel of Truth — What is it?

The Gospel of Truth is a book within the larger collection of Gnostic writings found at Nag Hamadi in Egypt. These ancient manuscripts, the Gospel of Truth being one of them, were discovered in 1945 and are collectively known as the Nag Hamadi library. Other notable books from the Nag Hamadi library are the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Philip.

Among the various branches of Christianity, the Gnostics were a heretical group who claimed that their leaders had secret knowledge that was the only real path to salvation. This supposed secret knowledge came not from the canon of Scripture but from their own Gnostic writings, including the Gospel of Truth. Gnosticism emphasizes knowledge and teaches that, rather than bring us salvation, Christ came to bring us knowledge—freedom from ignorance and a path to spiritual enlightenment was of greater importance to Gnostics than freedom from the power of sin.

While the discovery of these manuscripts has caused some to doubt the canon of Scripture (i.e., the Bible), wondering if the Bible is incomplete, there are a few key differences between these books and those within the Bible. The approximate date of writing of the Gospel of Truth is between AD 140 and 180, which is later than the writing of the rest of the New Testament, and it was rejected by multiple early church leaders.

Aside from the claim of secret knowledge about salvation, perhaps the most glaring red flag of all is that the Gospel of Truth does not have any firsthand accounts of Jesus within its pages. It does contain content similar to that found in the New Testament Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), but it is less straightforward and more obscured.

For instance, in Matthew 12:9–14, we see the story of Jesus healing the man who had a withered hand on the Sabbath day. In the Gospel of Truth, there is a sort of vague reference to this story with a sort of mystical ending: "He labored even on the Sabbath for the sheep which he found fallen into the pit. . . He saved the life of that sheep, bringing it up from the pit in order that you may understand fully what that Sabbath is, you who possess full understanding." In another section, the Gospel of Truth provides a very complicated explanation about the parable of the shepherd leaving the 99 to go after the one lost sheep: "For ninety-nine is a number of the left hand, which holds it. The moment he finds the one, however, the whole number is transferred to the right hand. Thus it is with him who lacks the one, that is, the entire right hand which attracts that in which it is deficient, seizes it from the left side and transfers it to the right. In this way, then, the number becomes one hundred. This number signifies the Father." Within these portions of the Gospel of Truth, we see the underlying mysticism being hinted at—the claim that there is secret understanding and knowledge that only Gnostics have. This is not true.

Thankfully, when we are saved we are filled with the Holy Spirit who helps us to discern the truth: "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14; see also John 14:15–17). The Holy Spirit guides us into the deeper truths of God's Word. While the Gospels of the New Testament provide accounts of Jesus' life from people who actually walked with Him, the Gospel of Truth complicates and obscures the simplicity of the true gospel of Jesus Christ.


Related Truth:

The Gnostic gospels – What are they?

What was the find at Nag Hammadi? What are the Nag Hammadi scrolls?

Are there lost books of the Bible? What are the writings called the Lost Books of the Bible?

What is the gospel?

The gospel of Jesus Christ – What is it?


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