The Nag Hammadi Library

He is the shepherd who left behind the ninety-nine sheep which were not lost. He went searching for the one which had gone astray. He rejoiced when he found it, for ninety- nine is a number that is in the left hand, which holds it. But when the one is found, the entire number passes to the right (hand). As that which lacks the one – that is, the entire right (hand) – draws what was deficient and takes it from the left-hand side and brings (it) to the right, so too the number becomes one hundred. It is the sign of the one who is in their sound; it is the Father. Even on the Sabbath, he labored for the sheep which he found fallen into the pit. He gave life to the sheep, having brought it up from the pit, in order that you might know interiorly – you, the sons of interior knowledge – what is the Sabbath, on which it is not fitting for salvation to be idle, in order that you may speak from the day from above, which has no night, and from the light which does not sink, because it is perfect.

Say, then, from the heart, that you are the perfect day, and in you dwells the light that does not fail. Speak of the truth with those who search for it, and (of) knowledge to those who have committed sin in their error. Make firm the foot of those who have stumbled, and stretch out your hands to those who are ill. Feed those who are hungry, and give repose to those who are weary, and raise up those who wish to rise, and awaken those who sleep. For you are the understanding that is drawn forth. If strength acts thus, it becomes even stronger. Be concerned with yourselves; do not be concerned with other things which you have rejected from yourselves. Do not return to what you have vomited, to eat it. Do not be moths. Do not be worms, for you have already cast it off. Do not become a (dwelling) place for the devil, for you have already destroyed him. Do not strengthen (those who are) obstacles to you, who are collapsing, as though (you were) a support (for them). For the lawless one is someone to treat ill, rather than the just one. For the former does his work as a lawless person; the latter as a righteous person does his work among others. So you, do the will of the Father, for you are from him.

For the Father is sweet, and in his will is what is good. He has taken cognizance of the things that are yours, that you might find rest in them. For by the fruits does one take cognizance of the things that are yours, because the children of the Father are his fragrance, for they are from the grace of his countenance. For this reason, the Father loves his fragrance, and manifests it in every place. And if it mixes with matter, he gives his fragrance to the light, and in his repose, he causes it to surpass every form (and) every sound. For it is not the ears that smell the fragrance, but (it is) the breath that has the sense of smell and attracts the fragrance to itself, and is submerged in the fragrance of the Father, so that he thus shelters it, and takes it to the place where it came from, from the

first fragrance, which is grown cold. It is something in a psychic form, being like cold water which has frozen (?), which is on earth that is not solid, of which those who see it think it is earth; afterwards, it dissolves again. If a breath draws it, it gets hot. The fragrances, therefore, that are cold are from the division. For this reason, faith came; it dissolved the division, and it brought the warm pleroma of love, in order that the cold should not come again, but (that) there should be the unity of perfect thought.

This <is> the word of the gospel of the discovery of the pleroma, for those who await the salvation which is coming from on high. While their hope, for which they are waiting, is in waiting – they whose image is light with no shadow in it – then, at that time, the pleroma is proceeding to come. The <deficiency> of matter came to be not through the limitlessness of the Father, who is coming to give time for the deficiency, although no one could say that the incorruptible one would come in this way. But the depth of the

Father was multiplied, and the thought of error did not exist with him. It is a thing that

falls, (and) it is a thing that easily stands upright (again), in the discovery of him who has come to him whom he shall bring back. For the bringing-back is called ‘repentence’.

For this reason, incorruptibility breathed forth; it pursued the one who had sinned, in order that he might rest. For forgiveness is what remains for the light in the deficiency, the word of the pleroma. For the physician runs to the place where sickness is, because that is the will that is in him. He who has a deficiency, then, does not hide it, because one has what the other lacks. So the pleroma, which has no deficiency, but (which) fills up the deficiency, is what he provided from himself for filling up what he lacks, in order that therefore he might receive the grace. For when he was deficient, he did not have the grace. That is why there was diminution existing in the place where there is no grace. When that which was diminished was received, he revealed what he lacked, being (now) a pleroma; that is the discovery of the light of truth which rose upon him because it is immutable.

That is why Christ was spoken of in their midst, so that those who were disturbed might receive a bringing-back, and he might anoint them with the ointment. This ointment is the mercy of the Father, who will have mercy on them. But those whom he has anointed are the ones who have become perfect. For full jars are the ones that are usually anointed. But when the anointing of one (jar) is dissolved, it is emptied, and the reason for there being a deficiency is the thing by which its ointment goes. For at that time a breath draws it, a thing in the power of that which is with it. But from him who has no deficiency, no seal is removed, nor is anything emptied, but what he lacks, the perfect Father fills again. He is good. He knows his plantings, because it is he who planted them in his paradise. Now his paradise is his place of rest.

This is the perfection in the thought of the Father, and these are the words of his meditation. Each one of his words is the work of his one will in the revelation of his Word. While they were still depths of his thought, the Word, which was first to come forth, revealed them, along with a mind that speaks the one Word in silent grace. He was called ‘thought’, since they were in it before being revealed. It came about, then, that he was first to come forth, at the time when the will of him who willed desired it. And the

will is what the Father rests in, and is pleased with. Nothing happens without him, nor does anything happen without the will of the Father, but his will is unsearchable. His trace is the will, and no one will know him, nor is it possible for one to scrutinize him, in order to grasp him. But when he wills, what he wills is this – even if the sight does not please them in any way before God – desiring the Father. For he knows the beginning of all of them, and their end. For at their end, he will question them directly. Now, the end is receiving knowledge about the one who is hidden, and this is the Father, from whom the beginning came forth, (and) to whom all will return who have come forth from him. And they have appeared for the glory and the joy of his name.

Now the name of the Father is the Son. It is he who first gave a name to the one who came forth from him, who was himself, and he begot him as a son. He gave him his name, which belonged to him; he is the one to whom belongs all that exists around him, the Father. His is the name; his is the Son. It is possible for him to be seen. The name, however, is invisible, because it alone is the mystery of the invisible, which comes to ears that are completely filled with it by him. For indeed, the Father’s name is not spoken, but (rather,) it is apparent through a Son.

In this way, then, the name is a great thing. Who, therefore, will be able to utter a name for him, the great name, except him alone to whom the name belongs, and the sons of the name, in whom rested the name of the Father, (who) in turn themselves rested in his name? Since the Father is unengendered, he alone is the one who begot him for him(self) as a name, before he brought forth the aeons, in order that the name of the Father should be over their head as lord, that is the name in truth, which is firm in his command, through perfect power. For the name is not from (mere) words, nor does his name consist of appellations, but (rather,) it is invisible. He gave a name to him alone, since he alone sees him, he alone having the power to give him a name. For he who does not exist has no name. For what name is given to him who does not exist? But the one who exists, exists also with his name, and he alone knows it, and (he) alone (knows how) to give him a name. It is the Father. The Son is his name. He did not, therefore, hide it in the thing, but it existed; as for the Son, he alone gave a name. The name, therefore, is that of the Father, as the name of the Father is the Son. Where indeed would compassion find a name, except with the Father?

But no doubt one will say to his neighbor: “Who is it who will give a name to him who existed before himself, as if offspring did not receive a name from those who begot

<them>?” First, then, it is fitting for us to reflect on this matter: What is the name? It is

the name in truth; it is not therefore the name from the Father, for it is the one which is the proper name. Therefore, he did not receive the name on loan, as (do) others, according to the form in which each one is to be produced. But this is the proper name. There is no one else who gave it to him. But he <is> unnamable, indescribable, until the time when he who is perfect spoke of him alone. And it is he who has the power to speak his name, and to see it.

When, therefore, it pleased him that his name, which is loved, should be his Son, and he gave the name to him, that is, him who came forth from the depth, he spoke about his

secret things, knowing that the Father is a being without evil. For that very reason, he brought him forth in order to speak about the place, and (about) his resting-place, from which he had come forth, and to glorify the pleroma, the greatness of his name, and the sweetness of the Father. About the place each one came from, he will speak, and to the region where he received his establishment, he will hasten to return again and to take from that place – the place where he stood – receiving a taste from that place, and receiving nourishment, receiving growth. And his own resting-place is his pleroma.

Therefore, all the emanations of the Father are pleromas, and the root of all his emanations is in the one who made them all grow up in himself. He assigned them their destinies. Each one, then, is manifest, in order that through their own thought <…>. For the place to which they send their thought, that place, their root, is what takes them up in all the heights, to the Father. They possess his head, which is rest for them, and they are supported, approaching him, as though to say that they have participated in his face by means of kisses. But they do not become manifest in this way, for they are not themselves exalted; (yet) neither did they lack the glory of the Father, nor did they think of him as small, nor that he is harsh, nor that he is wrathful, but (rather that) he is a being without evil, imperturbable, sweet, knowing all spaces before they have come into existence, and he had no need to be instructed.

This is the manner of those who possess (something) from above of the immensurable greatness, as they wait for the one alone, and the perfect one, the one who is there for them. And they do not go down to Hades, nor have they envy nor groaning nor death within them, but (rather) they rest in him who is at rest, not striving nor being twisted around the truth. But they themselves are the truth; and the Father is within them, and they are in the Father, being perfect, being undivided in the truly good one, being in no way deficient in anything, but they are set at rest, refreshed in the Spirit. And they will

heed their root. They will be concerned with those (things) in which he will find his root,

and not suffer loss to his soul. This is the place of the blessed; this is their place.

For the rest, then, may they know, in their places, that it is not fitting for me, having come to be in the resting-place, to speak of anything else. But it is in it that I shall come to be, and (it is fitting) to be concerned at all times with the Father of the all, and the true brothers, those upon whom the love of the Father is poured out, and in whose midst there is no lack of him. They are the ones who appear in truth, since they exist in true and eternal life, and (since they) speak of the light which is perfect, and (which is) filled with the seed of the Father, and which is in his heart and in the pleroma, while his Spirit rejoices in it and glorifies the one in whom it existed, because he is good. And his children are perfect and worthy of his name, for he is the Father; it is children of this kind that he loves.

Selection made from James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library, revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990.


The Nag Hammadi Library

The Hypostasis of the Archons

(The Reality of the Rulers)


Translated by Bentley Layton

On account of the reality of the authorities, (inspired) by the spirit of the father of truth, the great apostle – referring to the “authorities of the darkness” – told us that “our contest is not against flesh and blood; rather, the authorities of the universe and the spirits of wickedness.” I have sent this (to you) because you inquire about the reality of the authorities.

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