The term “gnosticism” is derived from the Greek word gnosis, meaning “knowledge”, because secret knowledge was so important to the Gnostics. Gnosticism forced its way into prominence during the first few centuries, and the Apostles and early Christian leaders opposed this heresy. In fact, much of the early Christian writings were focused on addressing the threat of Gnosticism.
It is important for us to understand the Gnostics and their relationship to early Christianity because it will help us to better understand certain New Testament verses that are written in direct opposition to Gnosticism. It is also important to understand this heresy, so that we can identify it’s influence on the modern Church, and so that we can avoid repeating their mistakes.
The Gnostics were a heretical movement based in early Judeo-Christian beliefs, and did not usually refer to themselves as “Gnostics”, but simply thought of themselves as Christians, followers of Jesus, or enlightened ones. Historians and scholars have sought to find its origins but with no consensus. Some suggest Hellenism and Greek thought, while others say it is rooted in Babylonian thought. Jewish gnosticism predates Christianity by hundreds of years, and Judaism was in close contact with Babylonian-Persian and Hellenistic ideas for hundreds of years, which led into Gnostic Jewish beliefs.
-By Lex Meyer
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