Matthew 12

Study the Inner Meaning

English: King James Version

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1 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.

2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.

3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;

4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?

5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?

6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.

7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.

8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

9 And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:

10 And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.

11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?

12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.

13 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.

14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.

15 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;

16 And charged them that they should not make him known:

17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,

18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.

19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.

20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.

23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?

24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:

26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?

27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.

28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.

29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.

34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.

44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.

45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.

47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.

48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?

49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

← Matthew 11   Matthew 13 →
   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 794, 901, 1017, 1749, 2159, 2371, 2574, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 10, 32, 134, 160, 194, 206, 350, ...

Conjugial Love 119, 120

Divine Providence 98, 133, 231, 233

Doctrine of the Lord 27, 35, 42, 48, 50

Sacred Scripture 51

Life 28, 51, 79, 104

Heaven and Hell 287, 507

True Christian Religion 102, 137, 138, 299, 301, 306, 314, ...

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 169, 172


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 46, 108, 109, 205, 223, 239, 254, ...

Canons of the New Church 37

De Domino 10, 65, 68

Spiritual Experiences 299, 2706, 5992

Marriage 102, 122

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 13, 14, 88

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Exodus 16:29

Leviticus 24:9

Numbers 28:9

Joshua 14:7

1 Samuel 21:4, 7

1 Kings 10:1, 13:3

Job 15:6

Proverbs 4:23, 10:32

Ecclesiastes 12:14

Isaiah 7:11, 11:2, 4, 10, 32:6, 8, 35:5, 42:1, 4, 49:25, 51:5, 57:15, 61:1

Jeremiah 13:23, 23:36

Hosea 6:6

Jonah 2:1, 3:5

Word/Phrase Explanations

time
Time is an aspect of the physical world, but according to Swedenborg is not an aspect of the spiritual world. The same is true of...

corn
The word “corn” can be a bit tricky when looking at spiritual meanings, because there are two different Hebrew words with different meanings which are...

disciples
When we read the Gospels and see Jesus addressing the disciples, we assume His words are meant for us as well. And indeed they are!...

began
In the Word, "beginning" in doesn't just mean the beginning of something in time. In the inner sense, it means the initial phase of a...

eat
When we eat, our bodies break down the food and get from it both energy and materials for building and repairing the body. The process...

Pharisees
The Pharisees were a sect of the Jewish church at the time of the New Testament. The name comes from a root that means "separate",...

saw
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...

upon
'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

david
David is one of the most significant figures in the Bible. He was a musician, one of history’s greatest poets, the boy warrior who killed...

house
A "house" is essentially a container - for a person, for a family, for several families or even for a large group with shared interests...

God
The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

Priests
Priests' represent the Lord regarding His divine good. When they do not acknowledge the Lord, they lose their signification of the Lord.

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...

days
"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

the temple
'Solomon's temple' represents heaven and the church.

Temple
'A temple' represents heaven and the church. The sacred place where the ark was, represents the inmost, or third heaven, and the church among people...

Place
'A dry place,' as in Luke 11:24, signifies states of evil and falsity which are in the life of someone who does the work of...

one
A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

mercy
In regular language, "mercy" means being caring and compassionate toward those who are in poor states. That's a position we are all in relative to...

son
Marriages in the Bible represent the union we all can have between the desire for good and the understanding of truth (or an understanding of...

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...

man
"Man" is a tricky word to discuss, because the Hebrew of the Old Testament uses six different words that are generally translated as "man," with...

hand
Scientists believe that one of the most crucial developments in the evolution of humans was bipedalism – walking on two legs. That left our hands...

withered
In the Bible (and in life), the idea of withering is usually connected to plants, and plants generally wither if they don't get enough water....

asked
The words "ask" and "question" are used a number of different in natural language, and a number of different ways in the Bible. The spiritual...

Might
'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

accuse
To “accuse” in the Bible represents a sort of spiritual accusation: It’s an attack aimed not at a person, but at the spiritual ideas represented...

sheep
It’s pretty easy for most people to read the Bible and get a sense for what “sheep” means without any help. They are simple, peaceful,...

fall
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "fall" is highly dependent on context in regular language, and is highly dependent on context in a spiritual...

pit
In Job 9:30, 'waters of snow' denotes truths which are or appear genuine. 'Lye' denotes the good which purifies, and 'the ditch' denotes falsity.

Hold
'A hold,' 'a den,' or 'dungeon,' as mentioned in Revelation 18:2, signifies hell, because people who are there are in confinement.

lift
The idea of "lifting" is used in a number of different ways in the Bible. In general, it means connecting with a higher spiritual state...

much
Intellectual things – ideas, knowledge, facts, even insight and understanding – are more separate and free-standing than emotional things, and it’s easier to imagine numbering...

well
A pit,' or 'well which has no water,' as in Jeremiah 2:13, signifies doctrines which have no truths.

saith
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...

stretched
The hand in the Bible represents power, which is easy to understand, so to reach out or stretch out the hand means to exercise power,...

restored
Everyone knows the phrase "the natural order of things." It means that everything is in its proper place, occupying the niche it is meant to...

knew
Like so many common verbs, the meaning of "know" in the Bible is varied and dependent on context. And in some cases – when it...

Make
'To make,' as in Hosea 8:11, refers to good. In the opposite sense it refers to evil. To make heaven, and earth, and the sea,...

Fulfilled
When the Lord said that all things which were written concerning him were fulfilled, he meant that all things were fulfilled in their inmost sense.

prophet
The idea of a "prophet" is very closely tied to the idea of the Bible itself, since the Bible was largely written by prophets. At...

servant
“Servant” literally means “a person who serves another,"" and its meaning is similar in reference to the spiritual meaninngs of the Bible. Our lives in...

soul
The nature of the soul is a deep and complicated topic, but it can be summarized as "spiritual life," who we are in terms of...

Put
'To put' has reference to order, arrangement, application, and influx.

spirit
There are two aspects to the life of each person. We might call them "heart" and "mind," a part of us that wants and feels...

Shew
'Shew' signifies instruction to the life.

Judgment
Judgement' pertains to the Lord's divine human and holy proceeding. Judgment' has two sides, a principle of good, and a principle of truth. The faithful...

hear
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...

Voice
'Voice' signifies what is announced from the Word. 'Voice' often refers and is applied to things that cannot have a voice, as in Exodus 4,...

streets
Swedenborg tell us that in terms of measurement, height relates to the desire for good and breadth relates to the knowledge of truth. Following that,...

Reed
'A reed' or 'cane' signifies feeble power, like a person has from himself.

break
To “break” something creates an image that is much different from “attacking,” “destroying,” or “shattering.” It is less emotional, less violent in its intent; it...

smoking flax
'A bruised reed' signifies feeble power or ability. 'A bruised reed' signifies feeble power or ability. 'A bruised reed' signifies feeble power or ability. 'A...

flax
'Woolen and linen' means that states of good and truth should not be mixed.

Send
'To send' signifies revealing.

Victory
'Victory' signifies fighting against evils and falsities and being reformed.

name
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

blind
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...

Dumb
To be dumb, or unable to speak, as in Isaiah 35:6, signifies those who on account of ignorance of the truth, cannot confess the Lord,...

people
The Bible generally uses two different terms for large groups: “people” and “nation.” When it uses the term “nation,” it is talking about a group...

cast
For something to be cast down or cast out generally refers to a rather dramatic move from a higher spiritual state to a lower one....

Thoughts
There are thoughts from perception, from conscience, and from a lack of conscience. Thoughts from perception are only possible in the celestial, that is, people...

kingdom
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...

City
In the ancient world cities were very nearly nations unto themselves – they existed within walls, with their own laws and customs, generally centered on...

stand
'To sit before Jehovah' is to be with Him, and so, it also means willing and acting from Him. 'To stand before Him,' is to...

Satan
'Satan' signifies people who are caught up in the pride of self-derived intelligence.

children
A child is a young boy or girl in the care of parents, older than a suckling or an infant, but not yet an adolescent....

Spirit of God
'The spirit of God,' as in Genesis 1:2, signifies the divine mercy of the Lord. 'The spirit of God' is His emanation. 'The spirit of...

enter
All changes of place in the Bible represent changes in spiritual state. “Entering” – usually used as entering someone’s house or “going in unto” someone...

Strong
In the Word, people who trust to themselves and their own intelligence are sometimes called 'strong,' as in Isaiah 1:31. This is because they suppose...

Spoil
'To spoil,' as in Genesis 34:27, signifies destruction. 'Spoil,' as in Deuteronomy 13:16, signifies the falsification of truth.

goods
The “goods” that people have in the Bible – their possessions – represent spiritual possessions, which are desires to be good and knowledge that helps...

first
Why would it be insulting for a man to refer to his married partner as his “first wife”? Because it implies there will be a...

sin
In the Word three terms are used to mean bad things that are done. These three are transgression, iniquity, and sin, and they are here...

Blasphemy
'To sin against the holy spirit' is to deny the Lord’s divinity and the sanctity of the Word.

men
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

speaketh
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

Word
'Word,' as in Psalms 119:6-17, stands for doctrine in general. 'The Word,' as in Psalms 147:18, signifies divine good united with divine truth. 'Word,' as...

holy
The Bible describes many things as being holy, or sacred. The Ark of the Covenant is one very holy object. The inmost chamber of the...

tree
In general, plants in the Bible represent facts, thoughts and ideas – intellectual things. This makes sense: Plants are rooted in place, but can grow...

good
It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

fruit
We tend to think of "fruit" in two ways in natural language. One is as food that grows on trees and vines, sweet and delicious,...

vipers
'Viper' signifies mortal hatreds and also extremely deceitful people.

heart
The heart means love. A good heart means love to the Lord and to the neighbor while a hard or stony heart means the love...

mouth
In most cases, "mouth" in the Bible represents thought and logic, especially the kind of active, concrete thought that is connected with speech. The reason...

Treasure
'Treasure,' as in Matthew 13:44, signifies divine truth in the Word.

bringeth
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “bring” is highly dependent on context, but in general it represents an introduction to a new...

evil man
'Violent man' and 'evil man,' as in Psalm 140:1, signify people who pervert the truths of the Word.

give
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

day of
'Day of vengeance' signifies a state of damnation.

Words
'Words,' as in Exodus 34:28, signify everything pertaining to doctrine.

Scribes
'The chief priests and scribes,' as in Matthew 20:17, signify the adulterations of good and the falsifications of truth.

Sign
'A sign' is mentioned in the Word in reference to the future, which constitutes revelation. This also refers to truth, when it constitutes testification. It...

generation
To “generate” something is to create it, and that idea underpins the meaning of a “generation” of people – it is a group that was...

three
The Writings talk about many aspects of life using the philosophical terms "end," "cause" and "effect." The "end" is someone’s goal or purpose, the ultimate...

Whale
'A whale,' as in Jeremiah 51:34, signifies people who possess the universal aspects of the knowledges of faith, as known, and apply them to evil...

Belly
The belly (Psalms 16:4) signifies the interior understanding.

Earth
"Earth" in the Bible can mean a person or a group of like-minded people as in a church. But it refers specifically to the external...

Nineveh
'Nineveh' signifies the falsities of doctrinal matters, also the Gentiles, or the falsities originating in the fallacies of the senses, in the obscurity of an...

rise
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...

Queen
'The queen,' as in Psalm 45, signifies the church as a wife.

South
'South' denotes truth in light.

came
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

Wisdom
Throughout the Word, a distinction is made between wisdom, intelligence, and knowledge. 'Wisdom' means from good, 'intelligence' is from truth, and 'knowledge' is in a...

Solomon
Solomon was permitted to institute idolatrous worship to provide an image of the Lord's kingdom or the church in all the religions of the whole...

Unclean spirit is gone out of a man
'The unclean spirit is gone out of a man (Greek: anthrópos, ἄνθρωπος),' as in Luke 11:24, signifies removal of evils and falsities from a person...

seeking
In the prophetical writings, anything relating to faith is expressed as 'walking' and 'seeking' and anything relating to love is expressed as 'loving' and 'serving.'

rest
'To slumber' and 'sleep' denotes the state of a person who is not in truths, as in Jeremiah 51:39, 57, Psalm 8:3 and 76:5, and...

none
'No one,' or 'none' denotes the negative side of something.

goeth
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...

Seven
The number 'seven' was considered holy, as is well known, because of the six days of creation, and the seventh, which is the celestial self,...

Spirits
'The seven spirits' in Matthew 12:45 signify all falsities of evil, and as a result, a total extinction of goodness and truth. 'The seven spirits'...

Wicked
'The wicked' or 'unrighteous' denotes being not in truth of faith.

dwell
Many people were nomadic in Biblical times, especially the times of the Old Testament, and lived in tents that could be struck, moved and re-raised...

Last
'The first and the last' signifies that the Lord is the only God.

State
A general description of the six states of regeneration can be found in Arcana Coelestia 6-13, a description of a full state, in Arcana Coelestia...

the first
'Resurrection' signifies salvation and eternal life. 'The first,' mentioned in Revelation 20:5, 6, does not mean a first resurrection, but the essence and primary part...

mother
In general, mothers in the Bible represent the Lord's church on earth, or the church among those who know and follow the Lord. In some...

Brethren
Brethren (Gen. 27:29) signify the affections of good.

father
Father in the Word means what is most interior, and in those things that are following the Lord's order, it means what is good. In...

heaven
"Heaven" and "heavens" are used many times in the Bible, with a couple of variations of meaning. Sometimes it is relatively literal, including times when...

brother
There are two ways "brother" is used in the Bible, ways that are still reflected in modern language. One denotes an actual blood relationship; the...

Sister
The Lord calls people who are in truth from the good of charity from Him 'sisters,' as in Matthew 12:50. 'Sister' denotes intellectual truth, when...

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 by following this link.


 If Satan Cast Out Satan
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Ten Blessings Book
Suggests illustrations for the ten blessings. Quotes each blessing and then paraphrases it as one might explain it to children.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Walk to Emmaus
Two disciples talked to Jesus while walking to Emmaus, but did not recognize Him. The Lord talks with us in His Word but like the disciples, we do not always recognize Him.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Why We Worship the Lord on Sunday
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14


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