Baptism in the Gospel of Philip


Baptism in the Gospel of Philip





What is baptism?

A ritual immersion in water, used to initiate a Proselyte. The immersion in water is the essential act of baptism.

According to Irenaeus (Haer. 1.21.3–4), some (1) “prepare a bridal chamber,” while three other groups (2, 3 and 4) baptize in water, each of them using different invocations and ritual formulae; the last of these groups also anoints the candidates with balsam after the water baptism.

Baptism in Sethian Gnosticism is also understood as a ‘seal’: There are some, who upon entering the faith, receive a baptism on the ground that they have it as a hope of salvation, which they call the "seal",” (Testimony of Truth)

Clement of Alexandria once refers to baptism as “the seal and the redemption” (Quis dives 49).

There are five Valentinian sacramental practices which can be compared to the five seals in Sethianism

gnosis is necessary for baptism to be efficient, as Exc. 78.2 states.  Until baptism, they say, Fate is real, but after it the astrologists are no longer right. But it is not only the washing that is liberating, but the knowledge of/who we were, and what we have become, where we were or where we were placed, whither we hasten, from what we are redeemed, what birth is and what rebirth

A symbol

GPh 67:27–30:“The Lord did everything like a mystery: baptism, chrism, Eucharist, redemption and bridal chamber.”

It is clear, however, that this text does not speak about “mysteries” in the sense of sacraments, but about the hidden, symbolic meaning of the Saviour’s deeds in the world.
Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world cannot receive truth in any other way. There is a rebirth and an image of rebirth. It is necessary to be born again truly through the image. How is it with the resurrection and the image? Through the image it must rise. The bridal chamber and the image? Through the image one must enter the truth: this is the restoration.

GPh 57:22–28: “By water and fire this whole realm is purified, the visible by the visible, the hidden by the hidden. Some things are hidden by the visible. There is water within water, there is fire within the oil of anointing.”




Jesus at the Jordan

Jesus revealed himself [at the] Jordan River as the fullness of heaven’s kingdom. The one [conceived] before all [71] was conceived again; the one anointed before was anointed again; the one redeemed redeemed others.

Valentinians regarded the baptismal rite as a re-enactment of, and an assimilation into, the redemption that had been prototypically received by the Saviour himself, specifically at his baptism in the Jordan. The Tripartite Tractate explains this relationship as follows:

Even the Son, who constitutes the type of the redemption of the All, [needed] the redemption, having become human and having submitted himself to all that was needed by us, who are his Church in the flesh. After he, then, had received the redemption first, by means of the logos that came down upon him, all the rest who had received him could then receive the redemption through him.For those who have received the one who received have also received that which is in him. (124:32–125:11)

Chrism Is Superior to Baptism

Chrism is superior to baptism. We are called Christians from the word “chrism,” not from the word “baptism.” Christ also has his name from chrism, for the father anointed the son, the son anointed the apostles, and the apostles anointed us. Whoever is anointed has everything: resurrection, light, cross, holy spirit. The father gave all this to the person in the bridal chamber, and the person accepted it. The father was in the son and the son was in the father. This is heaven’s kingdom.

The word Chrism meaning anointing

the practice of anointing comes after baptism but both are certainly necessary:

We are born again through the holy spirit, and we are conceived through Christ in baptism with two elements. We are anointed through the spirit, and when we were conceived, we were united.

None can see himself either in water or in a mirror without light. Nor again can you (sg.) see in light without water or mirror. For this reason it is fitting to baptize in the two, in the light and the water. Now the light is the chrism. (69:8–14)

67:2–7: “The soul and the spirit came into being from water and fire. The son of the bridal chamber came into being from water and fire and light. The fire is the chrism, the light is the fire”; and 57:22–28

Nonetheless, anointing is the culmination of the ritual:

It is fitting for those who not only acquire the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but who acquire these themselves. If one does not acquire them, the name too will be taken away. A person receives them in the chrism with the oil of the power of the cross. The apostles called this power the right and the left. This person is no longer a Christian but is Christ.This power the apostles called “the right and the left.” For this person is no longer a Christian, but a Christ. (67:19–27)

The superiority of anointing is here expressed by means of a distinction between the “name” and the reality to which the name refers. Baptism provides the name (presumably because the names are pronounced during the act), but anointing gives access to the reality itself.

The fundamental idea taught by the Scriptures is not mere washing of the body but the spiritual cleansing of the mind. The believer must undergo a change, a change not merely of conduct but of the heart and mind as well.


So water baptism symbolizes a cleansing process, the letting go of error.

Comments