DOCETAE. A branch of the Gnostics, who had their name from the word dokeo, to seem, to imagine, because they held that Jesus Christ existed only in appearance, and not in reality. It has been supposed that the apostle John particularly alludes to the tenets of the Docetae (1 John 4: 2; 2 John 7). They were divided into two parties. Some said that the body of Christ was altogether an illusion, and that he only appeared to perform the functions of life, like the angels who were entertained by Abraham. The others maintained that Christ had a real and tangible body but that it was formed of a celestial substance, which was resolved again into the same ethereal elements when he returned to the pleroma. According to Ignatius, they did not meet to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, nor could they have done so with any degree of consistency. These heretics struck at the root of Christianity since they held that Christ did not die, and, consequently, that we are not redeemed by His blood.
From: Farrar, John, 1878, “An Ecclesiastical Dictionary, Explanatory of the History, Antiquities, Heresies, Sects, and Religious Denominations of the Christian Church”, entry “Docetae” p. 235, pub. Wesleyan Conference Office, London