John 1:10

English: King James Version

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10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

Commentary on this verse

Cattura di Cristo, o/t, 115.3 x 142.2 cm Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge UK

The beginning of John 1 illustrated how divine truth – which is the ultimate expression of the Lord’s love – is the actual creative force of the universe and of reality itself. That idea is reinforced here: "him" refers to Jesus, who was the physical embodiment of divine truth, which indeed made the world.

This verse offers another level, though. "World" represents the church, which is defined in the Writings as "where the Lord is known and where the Word is." By that definition a "church" can be as small as one person, or as large as billions of people worshiping through a wide variety of denominations. And the Writings tell us that the Lord has made sure that such a church always existed, from prehistoric times when the Lord offered "the Word" – His truth – to people directly up through today, when we have the Word in the form of the Bible.

But the world did not know him. At the time the Lord came among us as Jesus, people had turned away from the deeper meanings of the Word (which they then had in the form of the Old Testament), and had little to no concern for knowing the Lord. His church – the church among the Children of Israel – had turned away.

This might seem like a merely historic idea, something that happened then but has little to do with us now. But each one of us is a "church," and each one of us can know the Lord and the Word, or turn away. We all go through states when we are like the church at the time the Lord was born, and He can rebuild us now even as He rebuilt the church then. For that to happen, though, we need to turn to the Word – the Bible – and know the Lord.

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Study the Inner Meaning

Commentary on this text:


Explanation(s) or references from Swedenborg's works:

Arcana Coelestia 1069, 2349, 9399, 9407, 9410

Apocalypse Revealed 200

Conjugial Love 129

Heaven and Hell 137

Interaction of the Soul and Body 5

True Christianity 50, 76, 224

Show references from Swedenborg's unpublished works