Skip to content

What are the Gnostic Gospels, and How do they differ from the Canonical Gospels?

What are the Gnostic Gospels

The Gnostic Gospels are a collection of ancient religious writings found in the 1940s near Nag Hammadi, Egypt. These texts offer different stories and teachings about Jesus and early Christianity than those found in the Bible’s New Testament. They were written by a group called the Gnostics, who had different beliefs from other early Christians.


  • Discovery: The Gnostic Gospels were discovered in 1945 by a farmer in Egypt. The texts were hidden in a jar buried in the desert.
  • Time of Writing: They were written between the 2nd and 4th centuries, much later than the canonical Gospels in the New Testament.
  • Language: These texts were originally written in Coptic, an ancient Egyptian language.

Differences from Canonical Gospels

  1. Focus on Secret Knowledge: The Gnostic Gospels often focus on secret knowledge (gnosis) that leads to spiritual enlightenment. For example, in the “Gospel of Thomas,” Jesus shares secret sayings with his followers.
  2. Different Stories about Jesus: They sometimes tell different stories about Jesus. For instance, in the “Gospel of Mary,” Mary Magdalene is given special teachings by Jesus, showing her as an important disciple.
  3. View of the Material World: Gnostics believed the material world was created by a lesser, flawed god and that the true God is spiritual. This is different from the Bible, which describes God creating the world as good (Genesis 1:31).

Relevant Bible Verses

  • Genesis 1:31: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” This verse from the Bible shows the view that the material world is good, unlike the Gnostic belief.
  • John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This verse emphasizes Jesus as the Word of God, central to the canonical Gospels’ teachings.

Traditions and Examples

  • Canonical Gospels: These are the four Gospels in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They tell the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and are accepted by most Christians.
  • Gnostic Texts: Examples include the “Gospel of Thomas,” “Gospel of Mary,” and “Gospel of Philip.” These texts were not included in the New Testament and were considered heretical by early church leaders.

Three Main Takeaways

  1. Secret Knowledge: The Gnostic Gospels emphasize secret knowledge for spiritual enlightenment.
  2. Different Stories: They contain different stories and teachings about Jesus than the canonical Gospels.
  3. View of the World: Gnostics saw the material world as flawed, unlike the Bible, which views it as good.

The Gnostic Gospels provide a unique perspective on early Christian beliefs but are not part of the Bible most Christians read today.


  • Greg Gaines

    Father / Grandfather / Minister / Missionary / Deacon / Elder / Author / Digital Missionary / Foster Parents / Welcome to our Family https://jesusleadershiptraining.com/about-us/

    View all posts
Spread the Gospel