Gnosis is the common Greek noun for knowledge (in the nominative case γνῶσις f.). In Christian, Islamic, or Jewish mysticism,mystery religions and Gnosticism gnosis generally signifies a spiritual knowledge or “religion of knowledge”, in the sense ofmystical enlightenment or “insight”. Gnosis taught a deliverance of man from the constraints of earthly existence through insight into an essential relationship, as soul or spirit, with a supramundane place of freedom.
Among the gnostics, gnosis was first and foremost a matter of self-knowledge, which was considered the path leading to the goal of enlightenment as the hidden knowledge of the various pre-Judeo-Christian pagan Mystery-Religions. Knowledge that first relieved the individual of their cultural religious indoctrination and then reconciled them to their personal deity. Through such self-knowledge and personal purification (virtuous living) the adept is led to direct knowledge of God via themselves as inner reflection or will. Later, Valentinius (Valentinus), taught that gnosis was the privileged Gnosis kardias “knowledge of the heart” or “insight” about the spiritual nature of the cosmos, that brought about salvation to the pneumatics— the name given to those believed to have reached the final goal of sanctity.