Gnostic Doctrine

Friday, 15 February 2019

The Preexistence of the Church

The Preexistence of the Church

Jeremiah 1:5: Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

The idea occurs in the NT: The existence of the church

Eph 1:4  according as He did choose us in him before the foundation of the world, for our being holy and unblemished before Him, in love,

The origins of the pre-existent spiritual Church to Ephesians 1:4,1 where Paul speaks about believers having been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. This speaks somewhat to the idea of pre-existence but only in the sense of the foreknowledge of God, and that was not unique to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. 

Rom 8:29  For whom he did foreknow <4267>, he also did predestinate <4309> to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

The word proginosko comes from pro, before, and ginosko, to know intimately, and signifies

a knowledge that brings together. Yahweh "knows the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done" (Isa. 46:10); He "calls those things which be not as though they were" (Rom. 4:17) — thus He "brings together" the past, present and future, having a complete knowledge of all things, and is able to see the future as clearly as the past. Divine foreknowledge is the basis of the divine purpose. It enables Him to extend His calling for salvation knowing the ultimate results of that calling. So He could select with perfect wisdom and justice a Jacob rather than an Esau (Mai. 1:2-3), because He knew how each would develop, and the characteristics that they would manifest. With similar ability the divine call goes out today to invite those who have the capacity and desire to reflect the divine glory (IPet. 1:2; 2Tim. 2:19).

The Greek word proginosko occurs only in the following places: Rom. 11:2- God foreknew the Jews as His people. Acts 2:23 (prognosis); IPet. 1:20 - God foreknew (foreordained) the mission and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Rom. 8:29-30 - God foreknows those who will conform to the image of His Son. IPet. 1:2 - God foreknows {prognosis) the election of the saints. Acts 26:5 (proginosko) - Certain Jews knew Paul from before. 2Pet. 3:17 (proginosko) - We can know before the events of the future, for God has shared part of His foreknowledge with us through the scriptures.

"He also did predestinate" — The word proorizo comes from pro, before, and horizo, to mark out or bound (from which we have our word "horizon"). Thus the idea is to limit in advance; predetermine, to "divide or separate one part from another". The word refers to God's ability to mark out the ultimate destiny of His chosen ones (see Eph. 1:5,11). He has determined the "horizon" of our future, having laid out the "line" of our life. This was accomplished in the garden of Eden, when, notwithstanding the failure of mankind to live up to the obedience required, Yahweh "preserved" the "way of life" (Gen. 3:24); He provided the means by which faithful believers might ultimately enter into the promised inheritance (Rev. 2:7).

Therefore God has predetermined their destiny on the basis of His foreknowledge of how they would act. Paul says that God has "made known unto us the mystery of  His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ... in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph. 1:9-12). God has marked out beforehand the program of His actions with mankind, and therefore is able to see the results of that work before it comes to pass.
He did not, however, determine the actions of His creatures, nor force them to do what they would not willingly have done (see Phil. 2:12). The thing predeterminedis the standard of Christ, to which all must conform. God required beforehand that those whom He foreknew should conform to that image of His Son. Predestination, or the prediction of what would occur, is only possible through the prescience of Yahweh, and only divine wisdom and power can foretell
the future with unerring accuracy. The principle of predestination is summed up in the phrase: "He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16): it is a certain, established and defined destiny of those who remain faithful. Thus we have hope of "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away" (IPet. 1:4), and which God will grant to all who conform to His precepts.

Paul talking about the pre-existence of the Church but about the pre-selection of believers.

Romans 9:11-14 For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

The pre-existence of the Church is well known from early Christian literature; 

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus, in Asia, deservedly most happy, being blessed in the greatness and fulness of God the Father, and predestinated before the beginning1 of time ("before the ages."), that it should be always for an enduring and unchangeable glory, being united and elected through the true passion by the will of the Father, and Jesus Christ, our God: Abundant happiness through Jesus Christ, and His undefiled grace.

2Clem 2:1 Rejoice, thou barren that barest not. Break out and cry, thou that travailest not; for more are the children of the desolate than of her that hath the husband. In that He said Rejoice, thou barren that barest not, He spake of us: for our Church was barren, before that children were given unto her.

2Clem 9:5 If Christ the Lord who saved us, being first spirit, then became flesh, and so called us, in like manner also shall we in this flesh receive our reward.

Here Christ the Lord is the logos the anointing spirit which descended upon Jesus in bodily shape at his baptism in the Jordan, and took possession of him. This was the anointing which constituted him Christ (or the anointed), and which gave him the superhuman powers of which he showed himself possessed.

Clem. 14:1-2

2Clem 14:1 Wherefore, brethren, if we do the will of God our Father, we shall be of the first Church, which is spiritual, which was created before the sun and the moon; but if we do not the will of the Lord, we shall be of the scripture that saith, My house was made a den of robbers. So therefore let us choose rather to be of the Church of life, that we may be saved.

By “spiritual” he means something like “figuratively” (cf. Rev 11:8)

The Church pre-existed however not as a spirit being, but spiritually it seems clear that this was the case. He writes, “we will belong to the first church, the spiritual church, the church that was created before the sun and moon” (14.1), and again, “the church was spiritual, it became manifest in Christ’s flesh” (14.3). This is allegorical language figurative or spiritual

2Clem 14:2 And I do not suppose ye are ignorant that the living Church is the body of Christ: for the scripture saith, God made man, male and female. The male is Christ and the female is the Church. And the Books and the Apostles plainly declare that the Church existeth not now for the first time, but hath been from the beginning: for she was spiritual, as our Jesus also was spiritual, but was manifested in the last days that He might save us.

Again the writer is being figurative, that the church pre-existed as an idea in the foreknowledge of God, in the same way that Jesus pre-existed. So, our understanding is that Jesus only pre-existed in a figurative sense and not literally. 

2Clem 14:3 Now the Church, being spiritual was manifested in the flesh of Christ, thereby showing us that if any of us guard her in the flesh and defile her not, he shall receive her again in the Holy Spirit: for this flesh is the counterpart and copy of the spirit*. No man therefore, when he hath defiled the copy, shall receive the original for his portion. This therefore is what He meaneth, brethren; Guard ye the flesh, that ye may partake of the spirit.

A community of such individuals as these constitutes the mystical body of Christ. By faith, its elements are "members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones." Hence, they are "bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh;" and, therefore, the beloved Eve of the last Adam, the Lord who is to come from heaven, and make her of the same spiritual nature as His own. Thus, the church is figuratively taken out of the side of her Lord; for every member of it believes in the remission of sins through His shed blood; and they all believe in the real resurrection of His flesh and bones, for their justification unto life by a similar revival from the dead. "Your bodies are the members," or flesh and bones, "of Christ; and he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (1Cor 6:15-17). "I have espoused you to one husband," says Paul, "that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2Cor 11:15-17). 

*the reference here is to spiritual things, but not to the Holy Spirit directly. This is also true in several places that follow.

2Clem 14:4 But if we say that the flesh is the Church and the spirit is Christ, then he that hath dealt wantonly with the flesh hath dealt wantonly with the Church. Such and one therefore shall not partake of the spirit, which is Christ>.

Ptolemy's Commentary on The Gospel of John Prologue

Ptolemy's Commentary is should be understood as a Commentary on the Pleroma

First of all the Pleroma did not always exist it was produced and formed by the Eternal Spirit this we call the emanation.

(He created the holy Pleroma in this way The Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)

The word Pleroma means "fullness". It refers to all existence beyond visible universe In other words it is the world of the Aeons, the heavens or spiritual universe. Bythos is the spiritual source of everything which emanates the pleroma.

The Pleroma is both the abode of and the essential nature of the True Ultimate Deity or Bythos.

John 1:1–4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of men.

But furthermore (he says), "That which came into being in it was Life."[Jn 1:4] Here he discloses a pair. For he says that the entirety came into being through it, but Life is in it. Now, that which came into being in it more intimately belongs to it than what came into being through it: it is joined with it and through it it bears fruit. Indeed, inasmuch as he adds, "and Life was the light of human beings", [Jn 1:4] in speaking of human beings he has now disclosed also the Church by means of a synonym, so that with a single word he might disclose the partnership of the pair. For from the Word and Life, the Human Being and the Church came into being. And he called Life the light of human beings because they are enlightened by her, i.e. formed and made visible. Paul, too, says this: "For anything that becomes visible is light." [Eph 5:13] So since Life made the Human Being and the Church visible and engendered them, she is said to be their light.

Now among other things, John plainly made clear the second quartet, i.e. the Word; Life; the Human Being; the Church.

But what is more, he also disclosed the first quartet. describing the Savior, now, and saying that all things outside the Fullness were formed by him, he says that he is the fruit of the entire fullness. For he calls him a light that "shines in the darkness" [Jn 1:5] and was not overcome by it, inasmuch as after he had fitted together all things that had derived from the passion they did not become acquainted with him. And he calls him Son, Truth, Life, and Word become flesh. We have beheld the latter's glory, he says. And its glory was like that of the Only- Begotten, which was bestowed on him by the Father, "full of grace and truth". [Jn 1:14] And he speaks as follows: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; we have beheld its glory, glory as of the Only-Begotten from the Father." [Jn 1:14] So he precisely discloses also the first quartet when he speaks of the Father; Grace; the Only-Begotten; Truth. Thus did John speak of the first octet, the mother of the entirety of aeons. For he referred to the Father; Grace; the Only-Begotten; Truth; the Word; Life; the Human Being; the Church.

Ecclesia or Church is in the mythology proclaimed by Valentinus one of the aeons of the primal ogdoad was named Ecclesia (Adv. Haer.1.11.1). This aeon was the consort to Anthropos, and from this consort pair emerged twelve powers (cf. Adv. Haer. 1.1.1; cf. Heracleon, Comm. John 13.51).

In a later Valentinian text, The Tripartite Tractate (third century), Church is the third member of the primal triad that “existed from the beginning” (57.34-35). 

Here the Church is also identified with the heavenly Jerusalem. which occurs by itself in Gal. 4:26  additional explanation from 4 Ezra 7.26; 1 Enoch 90:28-29; Book of Elijah 10; 2 Baruch 4:2-7; cf.Rev 21:2.

In the Tripartite Tractate, Church is a composite entity, “consisting of many men that existed before the aeons” (58.30-31). In this sense, Church is not a single aeon by composite of individual aeons, Therefore the Church is identical with the Pleroma. 

The Tripartite Tractate

the son and the church 

this is where he introduces the two parts the other two parts of God the Son and the church and the church later would sometimes be interchange with the holy spirit

Just as the Father exists in the proper sense, the one before whom there was no one else, and the one apart from whom there is no other unbegotten one, so too the Son exists in the proper sense, the one before whom there was no other, and after whom no other son exists.

The message here is that God has everything in mind from the beginning. Whatever he produces from the beginning and as the Brethren of that beginning Christ is the eternal forever in the past or at the beginning at the time of which he conceived the concept of the son as being part of the story of humankind. This does not really matter because for us humans from our perspective it is the beginning of everything anyway and that’s really all we need to know and we’ll probably likely ever know anyway.

Not only did the Son exist from the beginning, but the Church, too, existed from the beginning.

Now, he who thinks that the discovery that the Son is an only son opposes the statement (about the Church) because of the mysterious quality of the matter, it is not so. For just as the Father is a unity, and has revealed himself as Father for him alone, so too the Son was found to be a brother to himself alone, in virtue of the fact that he is unbegotten and without beginning.

Not only did the Son as it goes on to say exist from the beginning but the church too existed from the beginning. And here’s well what I was talking about we starts to introduce these ideas that everybody was with God from the beginning and what does he mean by beginning? You see some can argue that he means beginning as in God forever and eternal past. But if that’s the case, there really is no beginning with God others might argue well beginning in the sense that when God conceived of creating the perfect sons and daughters of God the human beings. Whatever other beings he might have created in the universe that was the beginning and the son was there from the beginning and the church as well.

And the church here is referring to married partner of Christ that he marries the church and the church is all the all the people that make up the third type of person which is the spiritual beings. So now he who thinks the discovery that the Son is an only Son opposed to the statement about the church because of the mysterious quality of the matter it is not so. The writer saying here that the Son is the only Son and that should not be a discovery to you for just as the father is a unity and has revealed himself as father for him alone so to the son was found to be a brother to himself alone.

virtue the fact that he is unbegotten without beginning everybody can be a son and daughter of God and even Christ talked about have I not told you there ye are all gods. And throughout the canonical text and within Gnosticism a continuing he talks about everyone being able to or having been from the beginning sons and daughters of God.

But this writer is trying to somehow bring forth the specialness of Christ I think and whether or not you agree or disagree. The and in the way in which this writer is doing it I think it’s more important of what I believe the writers trying to convey to us that Christ holds the unique place within the story. and I think we all can agree with that at least the writer goes on to say he wonders it himself along with the father and he gives himself glory and honour in love.

Furthermore he too is the one whom he conceives of as son in accordance with the dispositions without beginning and without. In thus is the matter something which is fixed being innumerable and illimitable his offspring are indivisible those which exist have come forth from the son and the Father like kisses. Because of the multitude of some who kiss one another with the good insatiable thought the kiss being a unity although it involves many kisses this is to say it is the church.

Consisting of many men that existed before the Aeons which is called in the proper sense quote the Aeons of the Aeons unquote this is the nature of the Holy impressionable spirits upon which the Son rests. since it is his essence just as the father rests upon the Son so he really is trying to bring forth the elevation of not only God but those that follow God to the point of which he’s bringing Christ and the followers of Christ all the way back to the very beginning. Whatever that means whether it’s the beginning of creation or it means beginning meaning whenever God was which we all would probably presume would be forever in the past. 

But more importantly he points out that Christ and the church existed even before the Aeons number 4 Aeons emanations and we don't know where the starts but we'll disturber says dot dot the church exists in the dispositions and properties in which the father and the son exists as I have said from the start .

Therefore its subsets in the procreation of innumerable Aeons. Christ the father and the church are all a Godhead. That goes about creating everything else and that’s an interesting concept perhaps there’s a reason we were called sons and daughters of God also in an uncountable way they to beget by the properties and dispositions and which it the church exists.

So then, the church is able to beget that its people whatever the followers of God are for these comprise its association, which they form toward one another and toward those who have come forth from them toward the Son or whose glory they exist. now this is another impression that you get from proto Orthodox the idea that God is a worshipful figure or Christ should be glorified in some way typically with the Gnosticism we don’t look at God as someone that needs to be worshipped even Christ said you know don’t worship me.

You know some of this is implied as you read through this it’s a little different from what we typically get from most of the other book are being presented with in the Nag Hammadi. so you can see how these different influences impacting each other the proto Orthodox under Peter and the more Gnostic approach of Paul and then the early church fathers Valentina’s Irenaeus and how these all kind of clash with the different followers within those different sects.

Therefore, it is not possible for mind to conceive of him he was the perfection of that place nor can speech express them for they are ineffable and unnameable and inconceivable. They alone have the ability to name themselves and to conceive of themselves elevating the followers of God along almost at the level of Christ and the Father. For they have not been rooted in these places. those of that place are inevitable and innumerable in the system which is both the manner in the size the joy the gladness of the unbegotten nameless unnameable inconceivable invisible and comprehensible One is the fullness of the paternity. so that his abundance is a beginning of the Aeons. 

Again it’s just reiterating that from this writers perspective the Aeons followed after the church the Christ and God they were forever in thought for the Father was like a thought and a place for them. so it’s almost like he’s suggesting that the aeons were merely there to be part of carrying out the prime purpose which was to create humans and then everything else kind of served that and you know indirectly or directly. they were forever in thought for the Father was like a thought and a place for them. When their generations had been established the who is completely in control wish to lay hold of and to bring forth that which was deficient in the whatever and he brought forth those in blank him when their generations had been established. the one who is completely in control wish to lay hold of but since he is as he is he is a spring which is not diminished by the water which abundantly flows from him while they were in the Father’s thought that is in the hidden depth.

The depth knew them but they were unable to know the depth in which they were nor was it possible for them to know themselves nor for them to know anything else. that is they were with the Father they did not exist for themselves rather they only had existence in the manner of a seed so that it has been discovered that they existed like a fetus. 

it’s good this writers clarifying what he means that he’s saying the church in Christ were more seeds of thought you can think of it that way. not so much entities if that’s the case then I can say that’s a little more agreeable to The way I think Gnostic Christians might might think of a place that you’d put this in the whole puzzle.

 like the word he begat them subsisting spermaticlly. and the ones whom he was to beget had not yet come into being from him the one who first thought of them the Father not only so that they might exist for him but also that they might exist for themselves as well. That they might then exist in his thought as mental substance and that they might exist for themselves too so to thought like a spermatic seed. 1 Peter 1:23 1 John 3:9

1 Peter 1:23 For YOU have been given a new birth, not by corruptible, but by incorruptible [reproductive] seed (Greek spoas´; Latin., semine.), through the word of [the] living and enduring

1 John 3:9 Everyone who has been born from God does not carry on sin, because His [reproductive] seed (Greek 4690 spora) remains in such one, and he cannot practice sin, because he has been born from God. 

4701. σπορά spora spor-ah’; from 4687; a sowing, i.e. (by implication) parentage: —  seed. σποράσπορᾶς (σπείρω, 2 perfect ἐσπορα), seed1 Peter 1:23((equivalent to a sowing, figuratively, origin, etc., from AeschylusPlatodown))

4690. σπέρμα sperma sper’-mah; from 4687; something sown, i.e. seed (including the male "sperm"); by implication, offspring; specifically, a remnant (figuratively, as if kept over for planting): —  issue, seed.  

Now in order that they might know what exists for them he graciously granted the initial form. Wow in order that they might recognize who is the Father who exists for them gave them the name Father by means of a voice proclaiming to them that what exists. Exists through that name which they have by virtue of the fact that they came into being because the exultation which has escaped their notice is in the name alright. 

So the concept of the idea of a Father we all have a Father rather adopt him we know that Father or not or we were in a family where we’re not adopted the idea the concept of the Father is there and that experience allows us to know God the Father in heaven. so against the same concept that Christ came to represent the Father in name and so to all the Fathers here that we have on this earth representing in name the concept of the Father. so ultimately these are archetype here’s the Father so put in a name here’s God put in the name in this case would be Christ the infant while in the form of the fetus has enough for him itself before ever seeing the one who sewed it therefore they had the sole task of searching for him

Hebrews 12:23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1 Jn. 5:1). Our spiritual man is what is born of God. All true believers are here spoken of as if they are their spiritual man. All true believers in Christ therefore have a spiritual man within them, which we must seek out, even imagine at times, and with which we should fellowship

Our spiritual man is not limited by the bonds of space. Thus Paul was bodily absent from Corinth, " but present in spirit" (1 Cor. 5:3), i.e. his spiritual man was present with them. It was the same with Colosse: " I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit" (Col. 2:5). When our spiritual man groans, Christ groans too in Heaven, an infinite distance away (Rom. 8:23 cp. 26). There is no time barrier, either. Thus our spiritual man is in close fellowship with " the spirits of just men made perfect" , having died many years ago (Heb. 12:23). This is the glorious unity of the Spirit; we are not just connected with all living saints, wherever they may be, but with the spiritual characters of all true saints throughout history.

The Trinity is just God's Family

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