An early Christian manuscript, including the only known text of what is known as the Gospel of Judas, has surfaced after 1,700 years. The text gives new insights into the relationship of Jesus and the disciple who betrayed him, scholars reported today. In this version, Jesus asked Judas, as a close friend, to sell him out to the authorities, telling Judas he will “exceed” the other disciples by doing so. Source: New York Times
Unlike the accounts in the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the anonymous author of the Gospel of Judas believed that Judas Iscariot alone among the 12 disciples understood the meaning of Jesus’ teachings and acceded to his will. In the diversity of early Christian thought, a group known as Gnostics believed in a secret knowledge of how people could escape the prisons of their material bodies and return to the spiritual realm from which they came.
The Gospel of Judas is only one of many texts discovered in the last 65 years, including the gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene and Philip, believed to be written by Gnostics.
Gnosticism is (among other things) a religion that differentiates the evil god of this world (who is identified with the god of the Old Testament) from a higher more abstract God revealed by Jesus Christ. A religion that regards this world as the creation of a series of evil archons/powers who wish to keep the human soul trapped in an evil physical body, a religion that preaches a hidden wisdom or knowledge only to a select group as necessary for salvation or escape from this world.
The Gnostics’ beliefs were often viewed by bishops and early church leaders as unorthodox, and they were frequently denounced as heretics. The discoveries of Gnostic texts have shaken up Biblical scholarship by revealing the diversity of beliefs and practices among early followers of Jesus.
Now, I want to point you to Galatians where Paul is adressing a problem that has arisen at the church in Galatia…
1Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 2and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:
3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.
6I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!
9As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
Note in verses 3-5 that Paul outlines the heart of the Gospel. Jesus (who was without sin) took our punishment so that we would be saved from God’s wrath as promised in Genesis. Continue on to verses 6-9 ad we see Paul passionately rebuke the Galatians for allowing another Gospel to be preached in the church. In this case, it was probably Jewish Christians who insisted that gentiles must also accept circumcision in addition to believing in Jesus Christ.
Anyone who adds any additional requirements for salvation to faith in Jesus Christ, twists the gospel into another form. Preachers of a false gospel are under God’s condemnation. Since the Gnostic Gospels are clearly not consistant with scripture, it is safe to say they are not the gospel. Compare these lines and see for yourself.
Jesus said, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” – Gospel of Thomas
Romans 3:10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
Phil 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
The diference is clear – the first one is a man-centered salvation while the others are christ centered. For more insite and understanding about the Book of Galatians, I recommend the commentary by Martin Luther.
For hundreds of years Christendom has been blessed with Bible commentaries written by great men of God who were highly respected for their godly work and their insight into spiritual truth. The Crossway Classic Commentary Series, carefully adapted for maximum understanding and usefulness, presents the very best work on individual Bible books for today’s believers.
Ever since it was written, the apostle Paul’s letter to the believers in Galatia has nurtured trust and assurance in Christ. Its grand themes of the superiority of Scripture over human reason, the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement through his death, and the freedom of justification through faith alone continue to energize and enlighten Christians today.
This classic commentary from the heart of a courageous apostle will encourage and equip all who desire to understand, live out, and communicate the true gospel of Jesus Christ.