The Treatise on the Resurrection
Translated by Malcolm L. Peel
Some there are, my son Rheginos, who want to learn many things. They have this goal when
they are occupied with questions whose answer is lacking. If they succeed with these, they
usually think very highly of themselves. But I do not think that they have stood within
the Word of Truth. They seek rather their own rest, which we have received through our
Savior, our Lord Christ. We received it when we came to know the truth and rested
ourselves upon it. But since you ask us pleasantly what is proper concerning the
resurrection, I am writing you that it is necessary. To be sure, many are lacking faith in
it, but there are a few who find it. So then, let us discuss the matter.
How did the Lord proclaim things while he existed in flesh and after he had revealed
himself as Son of God? He lived in this place where you remain, speaking about the Law of
Nature - but I call it 'Death'. Now the Son of God, Rheginos, was Son of Man. He embraced
them both, possessing the humanity and the divinity, so that on the one hand he might
vanquish death through his being Son of God, and that on the other through the Son of Man
the restoration to the Pleroma might occur; because he was originally from above, a seed
of Truth, before this structure had come into being. In this many dominions and divinities
came into existence.
I know that I am presenting the solution in difficult terms, but there is nothing
difficult in the Word of Truth. But since the Solution appeared so as not to leave
anything hidden, but to reveal all things openly concerning existence - the destruction of
evil on the one hand, the revelation of the elect on the other. This is the emanation of
Truth and Spirit, Grace is of the Truth.
The Savior swallowed up death - (of this) you are not reckoned as being ignorant - for
he put aside the world which is perishing. He transformed himself into an imperishable
Aeon and raised himself up, having swallowed the visible by the invisible, and he gave us
the way of our immortality. Then, indeed, as the Apostle said, "We suffered with him,
and we arose with him, and we went to heaven with him". Now if we are manifest in
this world wearing him, we are that one`s beams, and we are embraced by him until our
setting, that is to say, our death in this life. We are drawn to heaven by him, like beams
by the sun, not being restrained by anything. This is the spiritual resurrection which
swallows up the psychic in the same way as the fleshly.
But if there is one who does not believe, he does not have the (capacity to be)
persuaded. For it is the domain of faith, my son, and not that which belongs to
persuasion: the dead shall arise! There is one who believes among the philsophers who are
in this world. At least he will arise. And let not the philosopher who is in this world
have cause to believe that he is one who returns himself by himself - and (that) because
of our faith! For we have known the Son of Man, and we have believed that he rose from
among the dead. This is he of whom we say, "He became the destruction of death, as he
is a great one in whom they believe." Great are those who believe.
The thought of those who are saved shall not perish. The mind of those who have known
him shall not perish. Therefore, we are elected to salvation and redemption since we are
predestined from the beginning not to fall into the foolishness of those who are without
knowledge, but we shall enter into the wisdom of those who have known the Truth. Indeed,
the Truth which is kept cannot be abandoned, nor has it been. "Strong is the system
of the Pleroma; small is that which broke loose (and) became (the) world. But the All is
what is encompassed. It has not come into being; it was existing." So, never doubt
concerning the resurrection, my son Rheginos! For if you were not existing in flesh, you
received flesh when you entered this world. Why will you not receive flesh when you ascend
into the Aeon? That which is better than the flesh is that which is for (the) cause of
life. That which came into being on your account, is it not yours? Does not that which is
yours exist with you? Yet, while you are in this world, what is it that you lack? This is
what you have been making every effort to learn.
The afterbirth of the body is old age, and you exist in corruption. You have absence as
a gain. For you will not give up what is better if you depart. That which is worse has
diminution, but there is grace for it.
Nothing, then, redeems us from this world. But the All which we are, we are saved. We
have received salvation from end to end. Let us think in this way! Let us comprehend in
But there are some (who) wish to understand, in the enquiry about those things they are
looking into, whether he who is saved, if he leaves his body behind, will be saved
immediately. Let no one doubt concerning this. [...]. indeed, the visible members which
are dead shall not be saved, for (only) the living members which exist within them would
What, then, is the resurrection? It is always the disclosure of those who have risen.
For if you remember reading in the Gospel that Elijah appeared and Moses with him, do not
think the resurrection is an illusion. It is no illusion, but it is truth! Indeed, it is
more fitting to say the world is an illusion, rather than the resurrection which has come
into being through our Lord the Savior, Jesus Christ.
But what am I telling you now? Those who are living shall die. How do they live in an
illusion? The rich have become poor, and the kings have been overthrown. Everything is
prone to change. The world is an illusion! - lest, indeed, I rail at things to excess!
But the resurrection does not have this aforesaid character, for it is the truth which
stands firm. It is the revelation of what is, and the transformation of things, and a
transition into newness. For imperishability descends upon the perishable; the light flows
down upon the darkness, swallowing it up; and the Pleroma fills up the deficiency. These
are the symbols and the images of the resurrection. He it is who makes the good.
Therefore, do not think in part, O Rheginos, nor live in conformity with this flesh for
the sake of unanimity, but flee from the divisions and the fetters, and already you have
the resurrection. For if he who will die knows about himself that he will die - even if he
spends many years in this life, he is brought to this - why not consider yourself as risen
and (already) brought to this? If you have the resurrection but continue as if you are to
die - and yet that one knows that he has died - why, then, do I ignore your lack of
exercise? It is fitting for each one to practice in a number of ways, and he shall be
released from this Element that he may not fall into error but shall himself receive again
what at first was.
These things I have received from the generosity of my Lord, Jesus Christ. I have
taught you and your brethren, my sons, considering them, while I have not omitted any of
the things suitable for strengthening you. But if there is one thing written which is
obscure in my exposition of the Word, I shall interpret it for you (pl.) when you (pl.)
ask. But now, do not be jealous of anyone who is in your number when he is able to help.
Many are looking into this which I have written to you. To these I say: Peace (be)
among them and grace. I greet you and those who love you (pl.) in brotherly Love.
Selection made from James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library,
revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990.