Apocalypse Explained #1

By Emanuel Swedenborg

Study this Passage

/ 1232  



[Note: The text from the Book of Revelation is shown first, followed by an explanation of its meaning.]

1. THE Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he signified [this], sending by his angel unto his servant John,

2. Who bare witness of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatsoever things he saw.

3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear, the words of the prophecy, and keep the things which are written therein; for the time is at hand.

4. John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you, and peace, from him who is, and who was and who is to come; and from the seven spirits which are in sight of his throne;

5. And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first born from the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. To him that loveth us, and washeth us from our sins in his blood,

6. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be the glory and the strength (robur) unto the ages of the ages. Amen.

7. Behold, he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall wail over him. Even so; Amen.

8. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.

9. I John, who also am your brother and companion in affliction, and in the kingdom and patient expectation of Jesus Christ, was in the island called Patmos, for the Word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

10. I was in the spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

11. Saying, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last; what thou seest write in a book, and send to the churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

12. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And, being turned, I saw seven golden lampstands;

13. And in the midst of the seven lampstands one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle.

14. And his head and his hairs were white as white wool, as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;

15. And his feet like unto burnished brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters.

16. And he had in his right hand seven stars; and out of his mouth went forth a sharp two-edged sword; and his face was as the sun shineth in his power.

17. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the First and the Last;

18. And am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold I am alive unto the ages of the ages, Amen; and I have the keys of hell and of death.

19. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.

20. The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands; the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches; and the seven lampstands which thou sawest are the seven churches.

MANY have expounded this prophetical book which is called the Apocalypse; but none of them have understood the internal or spiritual sense of the Word, therefore they have applied the particulars which it contains to the successive states of the church, which they have learnt from history; and in addition to this they have applied many things to civil affairs. Consequently such expositions are mostly conjectures, which can never appear in such light that they can be approved as truths; and therefore they are cast aside as mere opinions as soon as they are read. The reason why the current explanations of the Apocalypse are of this description is, as just observed, that their authors know nothing of the internal or spiritual sense of the Word; when, nevertheless, all things in the Apocalypse are written in a style similar to that of the prophetical parts of the Old Testament, and of the whole Word. And the Word is natural in the letter, but in its inner content spiritual; and consequently it contains a sense within, which does not appear at all in the letter. The nature of the difference between these two senses may be seen from what is said and shown in the small work concerning The White Horse, and in the Appendix there, taken from Arcana Coelestia.

/ 1232  

Translation by Isaiah Tansley. Many thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.