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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Accusations Against Jesus Answered

Don Stewart :: Were the Teachings of Jesus Influenced by the Gnostics?

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Were the Teachings of Jesus Influenced by the Gnostics?

The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ – Question 13

Another popular idea to explain the derivation of Jesus teachings is that they arose from what is known as Gnosticism. Gnosticism was an ancient belief that was popular around the time of Jesus.

However, it is difficult to define. The word Gnostic comes from a Greek word meaning “knowledge.” The Gnostics emphasized a secret knowledge of God that was not known by the general population. This secret knowledge was available in various degrees. It has been alleged that Jesus’ teachings reflect this Gnostic viewpoint.

1. Jesus Taught Publicly

While Jesus did have private meetings with His disciples, His ministry was, for the most part, a public ministry. Jesus taught everything publicly, not in secret. When He was brought before the High Priest Annas, He made it clear that His teachings were for all to hear. John records what He said to this man.

Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together; I have said nothing secretly.” (John 18:20 RSV)

This is in contrast to the idea that Jesus was somehow teaching things in secret. He wanted the world to know who He was and why He came to the earth.

2. The Claims That the True Story of Jesus Was Suppressed

The Gnostic connection goes back to the same old claims that somehow the true story of Jesus was suppressed. Consequently, those who eventually wrote about Him were engaged in rewriting what actually happened. The true story is not found in the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John but rather in the secret writings of the Gnostics. However, there is not any evidence whatsoever that this is what happened.

3. Jesus’ Supernatural Life Must Be Explained

Those who claim such things must first of all deal with the supernatural events in the life and ministry of Jesus. The fact that Jesus performed numerous miracles, fulfilled Old Testament prophecy as well as making predictions which were themselves fulfilled, and last, but certainly not least, coming back from the dead three days after His death, must be given some explanation.

Claiming that the true story of Jesus is found in the strange writings of the Gnostics does not answer these questions. The divine origin of the Christian faith must be answered by dealing with these issues.

While many have tried to refute the supernatural in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ all such attempts miserably fail. Indeed, the truths of the Christian faith are not placed in doubt when the evidence is objectively examined.

In sum, the Gnostics and their teachings have nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus’ beliefs or the origins of Christianity. Their writings, for good reason, were considered to be worthless by the early Christians who knew exactly what Jesus said as well as what He did. Indeed, they had the authoritative sources that gave them this answer; the four gospels.

Summary – Question 13
Were the Teachings of Jesus Influenced by the Gnostics?

Gnosticism was an ancient belief that emphasized secret knowledge about God. There has been the attempt to link the teachings of Jesus with the Gnostics. It is claimed that Jesus derived His teachings from the secret teachings of the Gnostics. This truth has been covered up.

Yet this idea does not make sense. Everything we know about Jesus tells us His teachings did not reflect Gnostic beliefs. In complete contrast to the Gnostics, He taught publicly, not privately. His doctrines were there for all to see. There is nothing in the gospels to indicate that Gnosticism had any influence whatsoever on the life or teaching of Jesus.

In addition, claiming Jesus’ teachings were derived from the secret doctrines of the Gnostics does not answer the question as to how Jesus was able to perform miracles, fulfill Old Testament prophecy, make predictions which came true, and come back from the dead three days after His death. These are the issues that must be addressed if one is to explain away the supernatural origins of the Christian faith.

Consequently attributing the message of Jesus to the Gnostics or saying that His genuine message has been covered up has no basis in fact whatsoever.

Do the Dead Sea Scrolls Reveal Christianity Had Its Origins from the Essenes? ← Prior Section
Was Christianity Similar to the Different Mystery Religions in the Roman Empire? Next Section →
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