Fish was the secret symbol of the early Christians
Gnosis means “divine knowledge“. Gnostics are people who search for this divine knowledge. The traces of the early Gnostics begin in the first centuries after Christ. Many of the so-called “heretics” were killed. But Gnosticism has survived until today.
There have always been people who ask about the meaning of life and creation and who cannot find peace in the mortal world. They search for a higher knowledge, for an inner knowledge, for gnosis (gnosis of ancient Greek γνῶσις = knowledge, recognition). This inner knowledge has always accompanied mankind. All the old mythologies emerged from it, all religions have their origin in it. So the pure roots of all faith can be described as gnostic, as connected with the original universal knowledge. This also applies to early Christianity.
Jesus Christ and the “Kingdom not of this world“
When Jesus held his teachings about the “kingdom not of this world” 2000 years ago, he gained it from his unity with his “Father”, the Spirit. But for the Jewish tradition, he turned the established order into question and thus became a threat. Gnosis is always heretical, as the living experience of the Spirit, on which each gnosis is based, always collides with the rigid religious traditions. The first Christians were true Gnostics. They recognized the will and the plan of God directly in their own being. Therefore they needed no institution as a mediator. Their faith was based on their own inner experience, not on an adopted doctrinal teaching.
Truth that crystallized into a law
The gnostic experience is a touch of the Holy Spirit. Anyone who has experienced this cannot help but testify to it. The Spirit endows such a person with great power, so he becomes one ‘known with his name’, in the words of the Bible. Gnosis and Spirit are one. A person touched by the gnosis hears the voice of God in his own being. And he carries the message out in complete safety, because it is not for him alone: Gnosis is unity and leads to unity. This unity was still very distinct in the early days of Christianity. One lived his belief in the community. A wealth of gnostic groups existed at that time.
But gradually, the Light impulse, which Christ brought into the world, became weaker. Divisions and uncertainty occured. Institutions began to regulate the direct experience of God by laws and dogmas. Some persons were deemed worthy, others not. A hierarchy was created, which divided the people into true believers and false believers, which caused much grief and suffering. And yet, through the centuries, there have always been people who were in a real connection with the Spirit, and they proved it credibly.
The first Gnostics
In the first century after Christ there was no official church. The old Jewish doctrine and the new Christian doctrine were taught in parallel. The Christian teachings were spread by the apostles. In addition, there were gnostic teachings in the strict sense. Some great gnostic teachers in Asia Minor and the Roman Empire transferred their wisdom to their followers. Especially in the 2nd Century – after the gradual beginning of the formation of the official Catholic Church – a lot of gnostic systems existed. If you look at their symbolism from the outside, they were different from each other. But if you can see the hidden core in them, their message was identical.