Explore the spiritual meanings of Bible words and concepts

Using the spiritual sense of words and phrases can open up the meaning of the Bible

In many books of the Bible, the words and phrases of the text have specific, symbolic spiritual meanings. This symbolism is quite evident in some places, as in the early chapters of Genesis, and more arcane in others - but it's there, and it's important.

In his theological works, Emanuel Swedenborg published a very thorough, analytical explanation of the Word's inner, spiritual sense. Swedenborg says that in the original languages, especially ancient Hebrew, the meaning is so deep that every letter of every word contributes, painting a spiritual picture of heaven itself.

Hardly anyone today can even get close to reading Scripture that way. Few people read Ancient Hebrew, and not too many more can read the Latin that Swedenborg used - so the meanings are blurred through layers of translation. And, while Swedenborg explains the spiritual meanings of Genesis, Exodus, and Revelation, other parts of the Bible are covered in bits and pieces or not at all.

In some ways, though, this can be looked at as an invitation. We know the Bible's major spiritual themes, and we know the spiritual meaning of many specific words and ideas. By putting those pieces in place we can start to get a picture of what the true meaning might be, and the effort of doing so engages our minds and - ideally - opens us to the leading of the Lord.

So if you're reading a part of the Bible that is not explained, or are simply wondering about the meaning of specific words, you can use our library of explained keywords to explore for yourself.

Choose a word from the full list in the left column, or start reading one of the suggested word explanations below.

Photo of a sprouting flower, by Brita Conroy


According to Swedenborg, time and space don't exist in spiritual reality; they are purely natural things that exist only on the physical plane. This means that one spiritual thing can't happen "after" another spiritual thing in time, because there is no time. continue reading.

The mastaba of the official and priest Fetekti. Fifth Dynasty. Abusir necropolis, Egypt, Photo by Karl Richard Lepsius


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 Bible, but in a natural sense it simply means earthly knowledge to be stored up and possessed. continue reading.

Visit at the Nursery, by Jean-Honor Fragonard


In a general sense, being "born" in the Bible represents one spiritual state producing another, usually some form of love or affection producing or "giving birth" to truth or to desires for good. continue reading.