The souls have descended; now they shall ascend. The savior liberates from demonic powers for the sake of union with the highest itself, with the fullness, the pleroma, the Spiritual Word.
On the upward way, the human soul meets these rulers, and then the soul tells the rulers what it knows about them. He knows their name, i. e., their mysterious power, the structure of evil they represent. When he tells them their name, they fall down and tremble and cannot stop the soul any more.
Now what really is meant in these poetic images is a religion of salvation from the demonic powers, which was the problem of the whole period, inside and outside Christianity. Man is somehow better .than his creator. Man can be saved from the powers of the demiurge, of him who creates the world. But not all men are able to be saved. There are three classes of human beings: the pneumatikoi, i. e. , the Spirituals; the psychikoi, those who follow the soul; and the sarkikoi, those who follow the f lesh. The sarkikoi are lost; the Spiritual ones are saved; but the middle group, the psychikoi, can go this way or that way. In order to reach the elevation, man must participate in the mysteries. These mysteries are mostly mysteries of purification, therefore mostly connected with baptism. The Spirit in baptism enters the matter of the sacrament (water) and dwells in it. After the Spirit has been brought down by a special formula, namely the formula of the initiation of the sacraments., – it is the magic idea of the sacraments which was accepted by these Stoics…
All these ideas were a great temptation to Christians. Christ remained in the center of history. He is he who brings salvation. But He is put into the frame of the dualistic world-view of Hellenism. He is put into the context of the great syncretism.