If you have ever read the gospel of John, then the Apocryphon of John will feel remarkably familiar to you. “The text exists in three versions translated from the original Greek into Coptic.” It also existed sometime before A.D. 185.  (http://www.netplaces.com/gnostic-gospels/a-sampling-of-other-gnostic-literature/the-secret-book-of-john.htm) This gospel holds much of the mysticism and gnostic ideas that were found in the Gospel of John. There are three translated versions of this gospel. The version I’m covering is the long version.

One of the found manuscripts of the book

One of the found manuscripts of the book

The story begins with the apostle John who, after an incident with a Pharisee, was grieving and questioning who the Lord was and why he was sent to Earth. Suddenly, the Lord appeared before John and changed his form several times. John was in fear at the sight of the Lord, so the Lord banished John’s fears. Jesus then proceeds to answer many of John’s questions through long stories about the past. It is here that the story takes some weird twists and turns as it covers many ideas and topics and ideas that were not present in the New Testament, such as Archons and Aeons. At one point, Jesus even reveals that he caused Adam to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Christ also introduces many names of being that were never seen anywhere in the New Testament. The story ends with Jesus telling John that he has told him everything he needs to know so that John can write down what Jesus said and “give them secretly to your fellow spirits.”

This gospel holds similarities to the Gospel of John in that it presents Jesus as an all-powerful being without form, which is a gnostic idea. This idea was not found in any of the other synoptic gospels. However, there are some major differences in the Apocryphon of John that was not present in the synoptic gospels, including the Gospel of John. Most of these differences are the names of several beings found in the Apocryphon. The main two who were unique to this work were Yaltabaoth, ‘a being who believed himself to be the only god,’ and Barbelo, who appeared as something akin to the Holy Spirit. (http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/biblianazar/esp_biblianazar_jehovah07.htm)

As I read this the big question that came to mind was “What are archons and aeons?”


I myself had never heard these terms before I read this Apocrypha. Let us begin with the aeons. The aeons are believed to be various emanations of God. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeon_%28Gnosticism%29) The gnostics believed that there were 30 aeons, each of which had separate duties and all are subservient to God. (https://books.google.com/books?id=XRvHDfs1vyEC&pg=PA56&lpg=PA56&dq=aeons+apocrypha&source=bl&ots=8y3MUonpzI&sig=GpsYKKpZ56X15XbA_tfPS0q2IXQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZRHpVPK4I4yNsQT21YDQCQ&ved=0CDYQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=aeons%20apocrypha&f=false)

A chart of the aeons.

A chart of the aeons.

The other beings I wish to investigate are the archons. The archons are the children of a being called Yaltabaoth (who is the child of an aeon named Sophia). There were 12 archons. “Seven of the archons were to rule the seven heavens, and five would rule in the abyss, which Yaldabaoth created with the archons.” (http://www.gnostic-jesus.com/gnostic-jesus/Syrian-Egyptian/Sethian-creation.html) In other words, the archons were agents of evil created by Yaldabaoth to create an empire.


I believe that because of all of the differences in the Apocryphon of John caused it to be removed from the main canon. There were so many ideas and beings found in this book that are foreign to most Christians. This would have gone against the main narrative of the canon and therefore would have been removed.