The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Messengers

This ancient lost Gospel was found buried in the desert in 1945 in Egypt, near Nag Hammadi (Codex V). It is estimated to have been recorded in the First to Second Century, and discusses an appearance by Jesus to Peter and his associates following Jesus' persecution.



1. [missing text] which [missing text] purpose followed us [missing text] messengers [...]. We sailed [missing text] of the body. Some had no worries within their hearts. Yet in our hearts, we were unified. We agreed to complete the mission the Master requested of us. So each of us made a pact with each other.

2. We left for the sea at a particular time as was revealed from the LORD. We found a boat tied up on the shore ready to embark, and we spoke with the seamen on the boat about coming aboard with them. They showed great kindness toward us as provided by the LORD. Then after embarking, we sailed one day and night. After this, a trailing wind rose and we landed on a small island in the middle of the sea.

3. Then I, Peter, asked people standing on the dock what the name of this village was. One of them answered and said, “The Abode is the name of this village – which is the foundation [missing text] persistence.” Then their chief was on the end of the dock holding a palm branch. After we came ashore with our bags, I walked into the village to inquire about a place to stay.

4. A man arrived wearing a gold belt with a cloth wrapped around his waist. A shawl cloak covered his chest, shoulders, head and hands.

5. I gazed at the man, for his form and stature were attractive. I saw four areas of his body – the bottoms of his feet, part of his chest, the palms of his hands and his countenance. As I saw these, I noticed in his left hand a scroll covered similarly as one of my scrolls. In his right hand was a wooden staff. As he spoke slowly, his voice boomed as he called out to the village, “Pearls – pearls!”

6. Certainly, I figured, he was a man from that village. I greeted him: “My friend and brother.”

7. He replied to me, saying, “Yes, you are right when you say, ‘My friend and brother.’ What do you seek from me?”

8. I replied, “I am requesting lodging for myself and my brothers, for we are foreigners.”

9. He said, “Because of this have I also I said, ‘My friend and brother,’ for I am also a foreigner just as you are.”

10. Then having said this, he called out, “Pearls – pearls!” The wealthy people of the village heard his calling. Some left their hidden cellars, and some watched from their cellars within their houses. Others watched from their top windows. They didn’t see any opportunity from him, because on his back he carried no pouch, nor a bundle inside his cloak. And due to their disdain, they didn’t even acknowledge him. With respect to himself, he didn’t reveal himself to them. They returned to their cellars grumbling, “This man mocks us.”

11. When the poor people of the village heard his voice, they approached the man selling the pearl. They asked, “Can you please show us the pearl so we may see it with our own eyes? For we are poor. And we don’t have this [missing text] money to pay for it. But show us so we can tell our friends that we saw a pearl with our own eyes.”

12. He replied and said to them, “If it is possible, come to my village, so I can not just show it to your eyes, but give it to you for free.”

13. Indeed, the poor people of the village heard this. They said, “Since we are beggars, we certainly know people don’t give pearls to beggars. Typically, money and bread are given in exchange. So out of your kindness, please show us the pearl so we can see it. And we will proudly tell our friends that we saw a pearl with our own eyes – because these are not found among the poor, let alone beggars like us.”

14. He replied to them, “If you can, come to my village so I can not just show it to you, but will give it to you for free.”

15. The poor and the beggars gave thanks to the man who gives without return.

16. The others asked Peter about austerities. Peter replied, explaining what he heard regarding the difficulties of the path. For they are ambassadors of the teaching of austerity.

17. He asked the man offering the pearls, “Tell me your name and the difficulties of the path to your village because we are foreigners and servants of God. We must equally spread the word of God in every village.”

18. He replied, saying, “As for my name, it is Lithargoel. This means shining stone of light. As for the path to the village that you asked me about, I will explain: No one can travel that path except someone who has given up everything he has and has daily fasts from time to time. Because there are many thieves and wild animals on that path.

19. “The dogs of the night will kill those who bring bread on the path. The dogs kill because of the bread. Thieves will kill those who carry expensive clothing from around the world. The wolves kill those who carry water with them because they are thirsty. The tigers eat those who are worried about food and herbs, for the tigers will eat because of the food. If one escapes the tigers, the bulls will kill him for the herbs.”

20. After he said this, I thought within myself, ‘The path requires great austerities. If only I had the ability to walk on the path of Jesus.’

21. He saw the sadness on my face and said to me, “Why are you sad? Indeed, you know of Jesus and you have faith in him. He has great authority to give strength. For I also have faith in the LORD that sent him.”

22. I asked him, “What is the name of the village you will be going to?”

23. He replied, “The name of my village is Nine Gates. Let’s praise God as we remember that the tenth is the head.”

24. After this I departed in peace.

25. I was about to leave and summon my friends when I noticed crests with great high walls around the outside of the village. I was amazed at the wonderful things I saw. I saw an elderly man sitting down and asked him if the village was really named The Abode. He [missing text] “The Abode [missing text].” Then he said, “You speak the truth, for we abide here because we are determined.”

26. I replied and said, “Rightly [missing text] has it been named [missing text], for all who persist despite being tested, a precious sanctuary arises from the inhabited abodes, for they persist despite abandonment and storms of difficulties. Thus, the abode of all who endure the burden of His faithful refuge will be inhabited, and will be included in the sanctuary of the spiritual realm.”

27. Without delay I left to summon my friends to travel to the village that Lithargoel suggested for us. With a bond of trust, we gave up everything as he had asked. We avoided the thieves, for they found no garments to their liking among us. We eluded the wolves, for they found no water on us for which they thirsted. We escaped the tigers, for they found no desire for meat amongst us. They found no meat with us. We escaped the bulls [missing text] they found no herbs amongst us.

28. Feelings of great joy, peace and tranquility came over us in the mood of our Master. We rested in front of the gate, and we conversed amongst each other – not with regard to the attractions of this world – but we furthered our contemplation of the Truth.

29. Just as we were discussing the thieves on the path that we avoided, a changed Lithargoel approached us. He appeared to be a physician, with a remedy pouch under his arm, and a young disciple following him carrying a bag full of medicine. We didn’t recognize him.

30. Peter summoned him and said, “Since we are foreigners, could you please take us to the house of Lithargoel before night time?”

31. He replied, “With a sincere heart I will show you there. Yet I am surprised that you knew this devoted man. As he doesn’t reveal himself to just anyone, for he is the representative of a great king. Take a little rest here so I can go heal someone and return.” He left quickly and returned.

32. He called out to Peter and this frightened Peter, because how did he know his name was Peter? Peter answered the Savior, “How do you know me? You called my name.”

33. Lithargoel replied, “I ask you, who gave you the name Peter?”

34. He told him, “It was Jesus the Anointed [Messiah, Christ], the representative of the living God. He gave me this name.”

35. He replied, “It is me, Peter. Recognize me.” He loosened his changed clothing, revealing to us the reality of who he was.

36. We prostrated ourselves on the ground before him and worshipped him. We were eleven of his disciples. He reached out his hand and pulled us up to stand. We conversed humbly with him. We bowed our heads in worthlessness and asked, “What should we do to please you. Give us the ability to constantly do what pleases you.”

37. He handed us the medicine bag and pouch held by the young disciple. He instructed us, saying, “Go into the village you left, called The Abode. Continue to persist, teaching on my account everyone who has faith. For I have persisted through austerity on behalf of the faith, and you will be rewarded by me. To the needy of the village give what is needed so they can live, so they will have the best of what I have given – that which I instructed you and gave you for free.”

38. Peter replied, saying, “Master, you taught us to give up the world and all things within it. We have renounced these to please you. But we are needing food for one day. How will we be able to satisfy the needs you ask us for providing the needy?

39. The Master answered, “Hey Peter, you should have understood the analogy I have explained to you. Don’t you know that what you teach on my account exceeds all wealth? And the wisdom of God exceeds gold, silver and precious jewels?”

40. He handed them the bag of medicine, saying, “On my behalf, heal everyone in the village who is ill.”

41. Peter was hesitant to ask him a second time. He motioned to John, who was beside him: “You talk this time.”

42. John spoke up, “Master, before we were hesitant to say much. But you are asking us to do this. We haven’t had any training to be physicians. How will we know how to heal bodies as you are instructing?”

43. He answered, “You have spoken correctly, John, because the physicians of this world heal what belongs to the world. The physicians of the soul, however, heal the heart. Therefore, heal the bodies first, with the true healing abilities, without the medicine of the world – so they will trust in you so that you have the opportunity to heal the illnesses of their heart too.

44. “However, the wealthy people of the village – those who do not feel the need to even acknowledge me, but who take refuge in their riches and positions – do not even dine in their houses nor associate with them, for their bias will influence you.

45. “Because many in the assemblies have been partial to the wealthy, and because they are so sinful, they offer the opportunities for others to sin. But judge them fairly, so your preaching is glorious, and His Name may be glorified in the assemblies.”

46. The disciples replied, saying, “Yes, this truly is fitting to do.”

47. Then they prostrated themselves on the ground before him and worshiped him. He asked them to stand up and left them in peace. Amen.

Continue on to the Epistles of John