John 1:5

English: King James Version

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5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Commentary on this verse

According to the Writings, the Lord has been expressing his love for us for as long as we have existed, varying its form to fit our ability to receive it. Among the earliest people – in what the Writings call the Most Ancient Church – this was relatively direct, with divine truth flowing through heaven into people’s internal minds. People then thought of the Lord as a spiritual human, not a natural one, but the spiritual world was as real to them as the natural world was.

But people eventually turned away, wanting to use their own intelligence to explore what is true. So the Lord adjusted, leading people to know Him through his imprint on the natural world, seeing the truth of His love in everything from the alignment of the stars to the most common plants and animals. But again people turned away, using that knowledge to think for themselves and serve themselves.

So the Lord adjusted again, imprinting His love on the stories and laws of the Old Testament, on the songs of the Psalmist and the visions of the prophets. People were largely turned away, but if they would read these words and follow these rules in their external lives, He could still flow into their internals. But again people people rejected Him, making the laws into utterly external things and twisting the prophecies to suit their own desires. At that point the darkness was nearly complete, with barely a glimmer of knowing the Lord to be found anywhere.

So the Lord adjusted again, imprinting His love – the divine truth – into natural human flesh with the birth of Jesus. Jesus would preach the love and caring that were hidden within the Old Testament, and would put ideas in new forms, that made love of the Lord and love of the neighbor paramount – once more a pure expression of the Lord’s love.

The Writings also say that Christians ultimately turned away from Jesus’s true message, first by dividing the idea of God into three people and later by making salvation simply a matter of belief – of faith alone – rather than a matter of belief that flows into life. And they say that they themselves are a new expression of divine truth, re-establishing the meaning of the Bible and the true messages delivered by the Lord during His life in the natural world.

Clearly, then, the "light" of divine truth has repeatedly "shone in the darkness" of the human mind. And repeatedly people have not comprehended it.

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Study the Inner Meaning

Commentary on this text:


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

Arcana Coelestia 20, 1069, 1839, 2894, 4415, 9410

Apocalypse Revealed 200, 413, 796, 954

Conjugial Love 129

The Lord 1, 2

Sacred Scripture 109

True Christianity 269

Show references from Swedenborg's unpublished works