RISE FIRST, THEN DIE: A BRIEF GLIMPSE AT THE GOSPEL OF PHILLIP

by Bryan Rice on October 31, 2009.

In the Gospel of Phillip, Jesus says, “Those who say the will die first then rise are in error. If they do not first receive the resurrection while they live, when they die they will receive nothing.” What does he mean? What is meant by the resurrection?

According to Lawarence Caruana, author of the book The Hidden Passion: The Story of the Gnostic Christ, the idea of resurrection that Phillip speaks of in his gospel, is closely tied to the sacrament of Redemption. Resurrection is seen to be a “visionary ascent through the aeons” of the Pleroma, done to prepare a person for their “after-death ascent”. Someone being initiated into the Gnostic Christian faith would receive Redemption for the purpose of gaining gnosis or knowledge of the names of the beings in the Lower and Upper Aeons who “would receive that person during their post-mortem or visionary ascent” (A Glossary of Gnostic Terms – http://www.gnosticq.com).

L. Caruana focuses specifically on the term resurrection further down in his glossary of terms. He cites the traditional Gnostic idea that there won’t be a bodily resurrection, and that the soul dwells temporarily in the body, which he says belongs to the Archons. The Gospel of Judas and the Testimony of Truth both say that the body or flesh will be left behind.

I intuit that there is more to the idea that Jesus said, written in Phillip’s gospel. Attaining gnosis or knowledge about the Heavenly Realm or Fullness from whence we came, is integral to making one’s self ready to travel “The Way” back to the Father/Mother. It’s almost like Jesus is instructing that knowing about or having had a glimpse of one’s intended destination, according to the Will of the Transcendent God – to redeem every living thing back into his/her fold – is a necessary preparation for a soul to be “homeward bound”. Perhaps Jesus was emphasizing that experiencing gnosis or the Divine Presence was primary to avoiding reincarnation back into matter or to another life afflicted by distractions that keep a person seemingly separate from God. According to Archbishop Christian Thomas Umberger, a person must experience a second birth, the resurrection, fueled by “self-realization” to secure a place in the Pleroma as a begotten son or daughter of God. He stated furthermore, as a result of “resurrection” before death, a person can become an Aeon in the Fullness of God.

The reality that someone who doesn’t experience resurrection prior to dying, as Jesus says, they will receive nothing, I can only infer that he meant, having not attained any knowledge about one’s true identity, their Ultimate Source, and “The Way” home to the Father/Mother, would leave a person trapped, a prisoner to the flesh, remaining in ignorance. Hence they would receive nothing comparable to the ascent through the Aeons, because they remained in darkness.

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