I have been reading at your site which I have found to be very intresting and informative…. I noticed a little there on the Gnostic gospels. My question is…since there is no proof that the main 4 gospels..Matthew Mark Luke and John..are legitimate .. I was wondering where you get the information on the Gnostic gospels being antichrist?…thank you..


First of all, you make a statement that I do not agree with. You say that there is no proof that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are legitimate. I am not sure what your definition of “legitimate” is and we can also debate the definition of proof. It is nearly impossible to “prove” things about the past. Historians and archaeologists do not prove things. Instead, they seek the most reasonable inference from the data. The fact is that there is a tremendous amount of evidence that the four canonical gospels are “legitimate” and inspired. First of all, all of them were written in the first century AD. This is now accepted by all reputable scholars. Matthew, Mark and Luke were all written by the 60s AD and John was written somewhere between the 70s and the 90s AD. We have dozens of New Testament manuscripts from the second century AD, including the Rylands Papyrus–a fragment of John from about AD 125. Also, we have independent testimony that these gospels are apostolic. Authors such as Clement of Rome, Ignatius and Polycarp quote the gospels as authoritative in the early second century. Papias mentions the four gospels in the early second century as pillars of the truth, as does Justin in the mid-first century. The evidence is that from the earliest times–certainly by AD 100–there were four accepted gospels and that those gospels are the canonical Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Much more can be said in support of the legitimacy of the four gospels. Does this “prove” that they are legitimate? That would depend on your definition of proof and your definition of legitimate. Historical evidence does not lead to mathematical-style “proof.” What I can say is that voluminous evidence points toward the legitimate, inspired, authoritative nature of the four accepted gospels. Of couse, I am just touching slightly on that evidence. Much more can be said in support of the apostolic support for the four canonical gosples.

Literally none of this can be said of any of the supposed gnostic gospels. The earliest manuscripts we have for letters such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Mary and others are no earlier than the fourth century, and usually much later. There is literally no direct evidence that these documents were written in the first century. None of the very early church fathers mention these documents. When they are mentioned at the end of the second century, for example by Irenaeus, they are described as heretical teachings–not accepted by the mainstream church.

Obviously, someone wrote these books and they were used by some as having some authority. Most scholars believe that gnostics wrote these apocryphal gospels. Who were these people? There were a number of different gnostic groups. They were heretics such as Valentinus, who rejected the humanity of Jesus. They denied that Jesus was crucified. They promoted a bizarre cosmology with multiple levels of emanations of an impersonal God.  There is a lot of information on these groups in my book on church history “The Christian Story” (  Despite what some scholars say, these were not mainstream ideas in Christianity. In any case, none of these documents were written by apostles or by people who knew the apostles. They were never accepted as having apostolic authority for the simple reason that all in the church knew that these were not even first century documents and for doctrinal reasons. Interestingly, even the gnostics themselves, although they used these books, did not claim they were canonical in the sense of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Marcion, a gnostic teacher in the second half of the second century, produced a list of accepted New Testament writings. Even this gnostic teacher did not have the nerve to list any of the gnostic letters as inspired or part of the canon.

Some scholars try to create the impression that The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of the Lord, The Gospel of Truth and others are on par with the four gospels, but this is a highly biased view, not supported by the evidence, as I describe above. You should not be confused by these liberal scholars, almost all of whom do not even believe in biblical inspiration and who have an agenda to try to undermine the canonical gospels.

As for the antichrist. John tells us in 1 John chapter two that the antichrist is anyone who denies the biblical picture of Jesus Christ. By this definition, those who deny that he was both God and man meet the biblical definition as the antichrist. In fact, scholars believe that 1 John may have been written in part to oppose gnostic teaching. I am not prepared to declare the author of the Gospel of Thomas, for example, to be the antichrist. I will let God judge such things, but I can see why someone might declare the writers of these apocryphal gnostic letters to be the antichrist.

John Oakes

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