The Bible

Exodus 20:1-6 : The First Commandment: False Gods

Study the Inner Meaning

1 And God spake all these words, saying,

2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 8860, 8861, 8862, 8863, 8864, 8865, 8866, ...


Other references to this story:

Arcana Coelestia 2575, 6239, 8715, 8753, 8805, 8859, 9349

Apocalypse Revealed 601

Doctrine of the Lord 59

Life 59

True Christian Religion 9, 284, 291


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 405, 532, 827, 950, 954, 1024

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 35, 43, 49

Marriage 9

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  Spiritual Topics:


Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Exodus 13:3, 14, 20:23, 22:19, 23:24, 29:46, 32:4, 8, 34:7, 14, 17

Leviticus 11:45, 19:4, 20:5, 25:38, 42, 55, 26:1, 13

Numbers 14:18, 25:11

Deuteronomy 4:16, 23, 25, 5:4, 6, 6:14, 7:9, 16:22, 20:1, 27:15

Joshua 23:7, 24:19

Judges 6:10, 17:3

1 Kings 11:4, 12:28, 18:39

2 Kings 5:18, 27, 17:7, 12, 35

2 Chronicles 7:19, 33:7

Job 21:19

Psalms 50:7, 81:7, 10, 11, 109:14

Jeremiah 16:14, 32:18

Ezekiel 18:2, 20:5, 7

Daniel 3:18, 9:4

Hosea 12:10

Matthew 27:25

John 9:2

Acts of the Apostles 17:29

Word/Phrase Explanations

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...

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

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

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

Land
Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

land of
'The land of Rameses,' as in Genesis 47:11, signifies the inmost of the spiritual principle in the natural mind.

egypt
In the Bible, Egypt means knowledge and the love of knowledge. In a good sense that means knowledge of truth from the Lord through the...

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...

gods
The Lord is called "Jehovah" in the Bible when the text is referring to his essence, which is love itself. He is called "God" when...

before
In most cases, the meaning of "before" is pretty straightforward, both as a way of assessing relative time, and in its use meaning "in someone's...

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,...

Graven image
A graven image, as in Exodus 20:4, which we are commanded not to make, signifies those things in us which are not from the Lord,...

Image
'An image' signifies falsities from self-derived intelligence.

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...

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...

water
Water was obviously of tremendous importance in Biblical times (and every other time). It is the basis of life, the essential ingredient in all drinks,...

under
Generally speaking things that are seen as lower physically in the Bible represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases this...

bow
To bow in prayer is common in most religious practices, so it's not surprising that “to bow” in the Bible represents humility and worship in...

down
"Down" is used many different ways in natural language, and its spiritual meaning in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Phrases like "bowing down,"...

serve
Generally speaking, those who are at lower levels of an organization serve those at higher levels. Bosses boss and their employees serve; coaches devise strategy...

Jealous
Jealous' or 'zealous,' in Genesis 30:1, signifies an aspect of indignation.

visiting
There is a long history of using travel to round out an education, from the 19th-century “world tours” taken by Oxford and Cambridge graduates to...

iniquity
Folly, iniquity, hypocrisy, and error, as in Isaiah 9:17: Folly has respect to the false, iniquity signifies evil, hypocrisy, the evils spoken against goods, and...

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

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....

third
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...

fourth
The number "four" in the Bible represents things being linked together or joined. This is partly because four is two times two, and two represents...

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...

hate
If you truly hate someone, that means you would kill them and destroy their reputation if you could do so without repercussion – not a...

love
To some degree, there really is no spiritual meaning to the word “love” in the Bible. Why? Because if you truly love another, that is...

keep
"Keeping" in the Bible generally has to do with controlling the actual actions of life, though in some cases it can mean holding something away...

commandments
In Deuteronomy 11:1, 'statutes' signify the external parts of the Word, such as rituals, and representations of the internal sense. 'Judgments' signify the internal parts...

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.


 A Day of Rest
In the New Church we are told that when we are trying to be loving and kind to other people, then the Lord is at rest. And this is the real Sabbath.
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 Does the Lord Forgive?
Lesson and activities looking at the Lord's love and mercy in forgiving us.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Forgiveness and Mercy
The Lord forgives sins, because He is mercy itself. To receive forgiveness a person must admit wrongdoing, stop doing evil, and begin a new life.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 For Reflection: A Perfect Sabbath
Think about ways to look to the Lord and also get some rest and recreation as you celebrate the Sabbath day.
Activity | Ages over 4

 His Life Within You
The first commandment calls us to commit our life to the Lord, to delight in knowing Him and in feeling His life within us.
Article | Ages over 15

 Honor Your Father and Your Mother
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 I Am the Lord Your God
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Identify and Name False Gods
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Memory Verse: Holy Is His Name
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Keeping the Sabbath
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Love Me Keep My Commandments
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: The Lord Our God
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Worship of the Heart
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Moses Receiving the Ten Commandments
Color and cut out the pieces to assemble a project showing Moses receiving the Ten Commandments.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 No Other Gods
The first commandment tells us that we should worship the one true God and have no other Gods before Him. This sounds simple enough. Who would bow before a carved image or worship an idol? The fact is, we all do. The First Commandment is as important for us today as it ever was.
Worship Talk | Ages 15 - 17

 Our Covenant with God
A covenant is a promise made between two or more people. New Church teachings explain how keeping covenant joins a person with the Lord.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Our Covenant with the Lord
Lesson and activities exploring our covenant with the Lord and how we can respond to His love.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Overview of Lead and Guide Us Levels A B C for Ages 3-14
Overview of the Youth Journey Program "Lead and Guide Us", Levels A, B and C, for ages 3-14. Suitable for Sunday schools, camps, classrooms and families.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Picture the Giving of the Ten Commandments
Make a picture of Moses bringing the two tablets of stone down Mount Sinai to help you focus on the miraculous way the Lord gave us the Ten Commandments.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Quotes: Holy Is His Name
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Keeping the Sabbath
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Love Me and Keep My Commandments
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: The Lord Our God
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Remember the Sabbath
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Resting in the Lord
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Sensual Pleasure and Delights
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Taking the Lord's Name in Vain
Might you be coming close to taking the Lord's name in vain without even realizing it? 
Activity | Ages 11 - 17

 The Eighth Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Fifth Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The First Commandment
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The First Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Fourth Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Function of Wings
Compare the function of a bird's wings with how the Ten Commandments - and other parts of the Lord's Word - help us.
Activity | Ages 7 - 17

 The History and Meaning of the Sabbath
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Lord's Commandments Mobile
This complex project combines the two great commandments and the Ten Commandments in one mobile.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord Will Not Hold Him Innocent
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 The Ninth and Tenth Commandments
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Second Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Seventh Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Sixth Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Ten Commandments
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Ten Commandments
Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..
Religion Lesson | Ages 4 - 17

 The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments list actions a person must do in order to connect with God. Explore the spiritual meaning to commandments using New Church online resources.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Ten Commandments
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Ten Commandments
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Ten Commandments
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 The Ten Commandments (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Ten Commandments Calligraphy
Color the border around this calligraphy of the Ten Commandments.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 The Ten Commandments in Hebrew
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Ten Commandments Received, The Golden Calf
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Third Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Two Tablets
Use a modeling compound to make small tablets. 
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Turning Away from False Gods Collage
Make a collage showing things people might “worship” or seem to make a higher priority in their lives than the Lord. 
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 What Worship Is
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Why We Need Rules
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Worshiping the Lord Alone
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Worshiping the One True God
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 You Shall Not Take the Name of the Lord Your God in Vain
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

Commentary

False Gods: Mysteries of the 10 Commandments Explained

By Curtis Childs and Rev. Jonathan Rose

To continue browsing while you watch, play the video in a new window.

This video is a part of the "Swedenborg and Life" web series produced by the Swedenborg Foundation (www.Swedenborg.com)

At face value, the Ten Commandments can seem intense and unforgiving. But Emanuel Swedenborg’s understanding of the internal sense of the Bible—spiritual meanings that lie beneath the literal words—can give us a new perspective on these familiar rules.

In this episode of their Swedenborg and Life web series, hosts Curtis Childs and Jonathan Rose study the inner meaning of the first commandment.

(References: Apocalypse Revealed 950; Arcana Coelestia 8864, 8865, 8868, 8869, 8875, 8878, 8879, 8880, 8881)


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