This short text is divided into three sections: (1) an invocation to receive the divine mind, treasure, Pleroma, and rest, all done in order to experience an ascension of the soul [A 3-11]; (2) an invocation of the Name as a way to obtain healing and redemption for the body, soul and spirit [A 11-25]; (3) a recitation of a modified version of the Pauline agraphon of 1 Corinthians 2:9 [A 25 - B 2]. The last lines of the verso (see image) ends with a doxology (B 5-6), the title of the work (B 7-8), and a series of five decorated crosses followed by the words "Christ is Holy". Most scholars establish connections between this "prayer" and Valentinian ideas such as those found in the Tripartite Tractate.
The Prayer of the Apostle Paul resonates like some kind of magical incantation. In A 11-13, an invocation is made to the "one who is and who preexisted in the name which is exalted above every name". Gifts, authority and spiritual insight are requested through Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lord, the King of Kings, the Son of Man, the Spirit, the Paraclete, and the First-Born (A 13-19; 24-25). There is a similar list of titles attributed to the Savior in the Tripartite Tractate 87.5-9. But one also finds an odd reference to "the evangelist" (A 21) through whom healing of the body and redemption of the "light soul and spirit" is solicited. Who exactly is this "evangelist"? Could it be another title of the Savior? Jean-Daniel Dubois is of the opinion that it applies to Jesus as the proclaimer of good news (Écrits gnostiques. La bibliothèque de Nag Hammadi, "Prière de l'apôtre Paul", p.8). This would be, however, a rare occurrence, one that is not found in the rest of the Nag Hammadi collection.
Is it possible that "the Evangelist" be Paul himself? Bentley Layton certainly favors this position (Gnostic Scriptures, p.303). According to Layton, the title at the end of the text does not mean that Paul was the author of the prayer, but rather, that the petition invokes his authority. Would this mean that Paul had attained a status comparable to the list of names mentioned in the invocation? Be that as it may, the text links the figure of Paul (through the title and a few intertextual echoes) with the invocation of a soul flight. Since it was believed that Paul himself had been caught up to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:1-4), those who recited the prayer most certainly assumed they could rely on the authority of the Apostle for their own ascension to the Pleroma, the place of rest.