Matthew 11

Study the Inner Meaning

English: King James Version         

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1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.

2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,

3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:

5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.

9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.

10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.

15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,

17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.

19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:

21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.

27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

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   Study the Inner Meaning
Chapter summary

Explanation of Matthew 11      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Verse 1. When the Lord, from His Divine Humanity, had restored the goods and truths of the church to order, He flowed in with truth and good into doctrinals.

Verses 2, 3. Hence enquiry is made concerning Him, by those who have received instruction from the Word, but are yet in obscurity and bondage respecting the nature of that salvation which He came to accomplish.

Verses 4, 5, 6. To whom it is given to perceive, that from the Lord's Divine Humanity, they receive intelligence who were in ignorance of truth; and they receive the good of faith who were in evil of life; and they who had falsified truths are delivered from such falsification; and they hearken to and obey the Word, who before were disobedient; and they receive spiritual love, who were before in mere natural love; and they begin to know the Lord who had no knowledge of Him; and whosoever does not reject the Lord's Divine Humanity, through unbelief grounded in evil of life is accepted of Him, and conjoined with Him.

Verse 7. Therefore all ought to examine themselves concerning the understanding of the Word, so as to discover that the Word is in general misunderstood, and thereby is obscure, being interpreted merely according to the letter, and thus appearing rude.

Verse 8. When yet in its internal sense it is soft and bright, being replete with heavenly goods and truths.

Verse 9. And is more than any doctrine in the world.

Verse 10. Bearing testimony to the Lord's coming in the flesh, and preparing men to receive him.

Verse 11. And is more than any truth in the world, especially in its internal or spiritual sense, which is in a degree superior to its external or literal sense.

Verse 12. Hence truth divine from Divine Good is urgent to be received, and is received by those who love it above all other things.

Verse 13. For the prophecies concerning the Lord and His kingdom, together with the representatives of the Lord and His kingdom, ceased; when the Lord came into the world.

Verse 14. And the Word was represented by John, as by Elias.

Verse 15. Therefore every one, who is of the church, ought to attend to what the Word teaches, that he may understand and do it.

Verses 16, 17. And not to be as the Jews, who neither obeyed the interior nor exterior truths of innocence derived from the Word.

Verses 18, 19. But falsified and perverted both, when yet the Word taught them otherwise.

Verses 20, 21, 22. And thus increased their own condemnation, since it is better not to know the truth, than to know it, and still continue in evil of life.

Verses 23, 24. Inasmuch as doctrine the most celestial cannot deliver from condemnation, unless the life be formed accordingly, by rejecting evil, since in all evil there is hell.

Verses 25, 26. Therefore it ought to be acknowledged with thankfulness, that the Divine Mercy is alike operative to conceal truth from those who are in false intelligence, as to make it manifest to the simple and sincere.

Verse 27. That the all of Divinity is in the Lord Divine Humanity, which cannot be fully comprehended by man or angel; but that what proceeds from the Lord's Divine Humanity may be comprehended.

Verse 28. That no other Divine [being or principle] ought to be acknowledged, but only the Lord's Divine Human, because deliverance from evils and falsities, and thus from hell, cannot come from any other.

Verse 29. That therefore all ought to seek conjunction of life with the Lord's Divine Humanity, and to submit all things of the will to His guidance and government, even as He, when in the world, submitted His Human Essence to the guidance and government of the Divine in Himself.

Verse 30. When the dominion of evil and of evil spirits is destroyed, is gentle and pacific.

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 905, 1607, 2026, 2542, 2576, 3038, 3428, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 87, 294, 492, 502, 553, 788, 839

Doctrine of the Lord 9

Sacred Scripture 17

Heaven and Hell 5, 353, 359, 365, 533

True Christian Religion 111, 113, 135, 370, 572

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 283, 291

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 108, 114, 118, 200, 239, 612, 624, ...

On the Athanasian Creed 39

Charity 170, 201

Marriage 111, 113

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 12

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 18:20

1 Kings 17:1

Job 37:24

Psalms 38:5, 45:5

Isaiah 8:14, 14:15, 28:23, 29:18, 35:5, 6, 42:18, 55:3, 61:1

Jeremiah 6:16, 31:25

Ezekiel 28:1, 2, 21

Jonah 3:6

Zechariah 9:9

Malachi 3:1

Word/Phrase Explanations

came to pass
The phrase “it came to pass,” often also translated as “it happened,” generally indicates the end of one spiritual state and the beginning of a...

'Twelve' and 'twenty-four' signify everything, and refer to truths.

twelve disciples
'The twelve disciples' of the Lord represent the whole church, regarding everything related to faith and charity, the same as the twelve tribes of Israel.

A disciple in Matthew 10:41 signifies charity and at the same time, faith from the Lord. It disciple signifies the truth of life, and a...

Cities of the mountain and cities of the plain (Jer. 33:13) signify doctrines of charity and faith.

Jesus as a man in the Bible represents Divine Truth, the pure and perfect expression of the Lord's infinite love. That truth is contained within...

Christ is one of the names of the Lord. It derives from Greek, and means "the anointed one," a King or Messiah. Christ as King...

As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

look for
The meaning of "to seek" in the Bible is pretty straightforward, but there is a bit of nuance: Swedenborg tells us that in most cases...

To "answer" generally indicates a state of spiritual receptivity. Ultimately this means being receptive to the Lord, who is constantly trying to pour true ideas...

In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

'Shew' signifies instruction to the life.

Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

The meaning of “blind” in the Bible is not hard to see (no pun intended!). If light represents the flow of truthful ideas from the...

The lame' signify people who are in a not genuine good, because they are in ignorance of truth. The lame leaping' signifies joy from perception...

To walk in the Bible represents living, and usually means living according to the true things taught to us by the Lord -- to "walk...

The poor, maimed, lame, and blind,' as in Luke 14:21, signify the uninstructed Gentiles who were in lives of good.

'A multitude' relates to truths.

Reed shaken with the wind
'A reed shaken with the wind,' as in Matthew 11:7, signifies the Word, when explained at pleasure, because 'a reed' in the internal sense is...

'Robes,' as in Revelation 7, signify truths of defense. Before they were washed they signified falsities. People in falsities from ignorance in the spiritual world,...

Soft raiment,' as in Matthew 11:9, represents the internal sense of the Word.

If knowing what’s right were the same as doing what’s right, we would all be thin, healthy, hard-working, law-abiding, faithful to our spouses and free...

"Angels" in the Bible represent qualities of the Lord himself, or a variety of things that come directly from the Lord. On a lower level...

In John 14:6, 'the way is doctrine,' 'the truth' is every thing pertaining to doctrine, and 'the life' is the essential good which is the...

It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

In the most general sense, a kingdom in the Bible represents a church. In a more specific sense, a kingdom represents a church in regards...

"Air" in the Bible represents thought, but in a very general way – more like our capacity to perceive ideas and the way we tend...

the law
Jews at the time of Jesus had a number of ways to break down and describe the books of the Old Testament. Among the more...

If you think about sitting, it seems fair to say that where you're sitting is more important than that you're sitting. Sitting in a movie...

son of man
The Lord, in some places, calls Himself 'the son of God,' at other times, 'the son of man (ἄνθρωπος).' This is always according to the...

Father, son, mother, and daughter, as in Luke 12:51, 53: By father against son, and by son against the father, is understood evil against truth,...

A friend, as in John 15:14, 15, signifies the spiritual man.

'Wisdom,' as in Revelation 5:12, related to the Lord, signifies His divine providence.

'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

'Woe' signifies lamentation over evils and falsities which devastate the church.

Bethsaida (Mark 8:22) signifies condemnation from non-reception of the Lord.

Tyre and Sidon
'Tyre and Sidon' were the outer borders of Philisthea. They were near the sea, so 'Tyre' signifies interior knowledges, and 'Sidon,' exterior knowledges, both of...

'Sidon' denotes people who possess celestial and spiritual riches which are knowledges.

'Long' and thence to prolong, refer to good.

the wise
'Wise men,' as in Matthew 23:34, signify the good of doctrine. 'The wise' signify people who teach the Word. 'They that be wise' signify being...

At its heart, wisdom is love's imperative desire to take form. That's a tricky statement, but think of it this way: If you love someone,...

all things
The Lord is life itself, is the Creator of the universe, and is the source of life on an ongoing basis. So in a literal...

'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

To learn,' as in Revelation 14:3, signifies an interior perception in one's self that 'it is so,' which means understanding, and then receiving and acknowledging....

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

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