Jesus speaks to His apostles and tells them a little concerning the glory of those who will believe on their words (1:1) and warns of future persecutors (1:4-5) and dissenters (1:8). Rewards for those who suffer persecutions are alluded to (1:8), Regulations relating to the dispensing of the secret knowledge is given (1:18), and anointing rites are described (2:8-9).
Translation – Cooper and Maclean, The Testament of Our Lord.
Translation – Ignatius Ephraem II Rahmani, Testamentum Domini Nostri Jesu Christi.
At the outset of this document the living Jesus asks his disciples, consisting of the Twelve Apostles as well as women, to surround his so that he can impart to them secret teachings (Ch. 42). This begins the long training sequence that comprises the entire text. The living Jesus speaks of the secret nature his instructions, and tells them that these mysteries are reserved only for the worthy, and not to be given in exchange for anything of this world (Ch. 43). Unity among members is enjoined and given as a
prerequisite to receiving the teachings (Ch. 43).
When asked to teach the apostles concerning the mysteries of the Kingdom, the mortal Jesus deferred to a time after his resurrection (1:1). Later, the Risen Lord answers Bartholomew’s questions relating to His descent into the underworld. Having descended, Jesus speaks to Adam as the progenitor of the human race and the angels sing praises before him (1:22-3). Christ states that unless he is present, none can enter into paradise (1:29).
The resurrected Lord appears to Andrew and sends him to go and release Matthias from the prisonhouse (B, fol. 211a, col. 2). Later in the text the Lord informs Andrew that “in this city” much suffering will come upon him (A, fol. 104a, col. 1).
Translation – Budge, The Contendings of The Apostles
The living Jesus imparts secret knowledge which, being understood, will bring “heaven down” and lift the earth “to heaven” (Ch. 3). He warns of ignorance from this gnosis, but also he warns those, who “bear my virginity and my… and my garment” and afterwards blaspheme him, of severe consequences (Ch. 4). Mysteries relating to the treasury of light, a practice bearing great resemblance to the prayer circle, are set forth. Twelve ranks, six on each side, turn towards each other in the form of a circle. Three “watchers” are also present, who exist outside of the twelve ranks.
Jesus describes his ascent through the heavens (v. 13), commands the Apostles to preach the gospel (v. 19, 30), describes his descent into hell (v. 27), prophecies of the man Saul (v. 31), and speaks of the future state of apostasy and persecution (v. 34-7). This apostasy is to occur during the lifetime of those who believe on the Apostles words (v. 34). Coptic, Ethiopic, Latin, and Slavonic versions.
Translation – W. Schneemelcher, Apocryphal New Testament, 191-227
The events in this text occurred “after [Jesus] had departed from us,” “five hundred and fifty days since he had risen,” therefore it seems that it should not be categorized as a forty-day text. However, because it has found its place in various forty-day articles, and Gnostic myths concerning the length of the ministry vary, it is included here.
Paul ascends with and angel into the third heaven, where he is told not to reveal any of what he is to observe (Fol. 33a). Paul is shown the glory of the prophets as well as those who believe in the prophets (Fol. 33b). He is taken to the veil where he sees thrones, whereupon there are garments, “the preciousness of which was indescribable.” Also Paul sees crowns lying before the thrones, and a man dressed in white apparel (Fol. 36a).
Many secrets which were given to the Apostles were not written for hear that they could not be “adequately conveyed”. Many of these things were not intended to be given to the multitude of believers. The Apostles clearly distinguished between that which was to be written and that which was not.
Translation – Philip Schaff, The Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Origen Against Celsus, 6:6.
The Savior comes to His disciples on a mount in Galilee to explain the secret of His holy plan (90:15- 92:6)). The nature of the First Existent Unbegotten Father is explained, as is the androgyny of The Son. Gnostic eschatology concerning the aeons is explained. In order to depart to the eighth dwelling-place, necessity requires that the sign of the Son of Man be brought forth (117:8-118:2).