Apocalypse Explained #1182

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

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1182. And one strong angel tools up a stone, as it were a great millstone, and cast it into the sea.- That this signifies the confirmations of their doctrines from the Word cast down into hell with them, is evident from the signification of a strong angel, as denoting Divine truth in its power, concerning which see n. 130, 200, 302, 593, 800; and from the signification of a millstone, as denoting the confirmation of truth from the Word, and also the confirmation of falsity from the same, of which we shall speak presently; and from the signification of casting into the sea, as denoting into hell with them. That the sea also signifies hell, may be seen above (n. 537, 538).

The reason why a millstone signifies confirmation from the Word in both senses, is because wheat signifies good, and fine flour its truth; therefore a millstone, by which wheat is ground into fine flour, or barley into meal, signifies the production of truth from good, or the production of falsity from evil, thus also the confirmation of truth or falsity from the Word. This is also evident from the following passages.

In Jeremiah:

"I will take from them the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of the millstones, and the light of the lamp" (xxv. 10).

The joy of heaven and the Church is there also described. The voice of joy signifies exultation of heart from the good of love, and the voice of gladness signifies glorification of soul from the truths of faith; for joy, in the Word, is said of good, and gladness of truth. The voice of millstones signifies the same as the voice of joy, and the light of the lamp the same as gladness, namely, from the truth of faith. The reason why the voice of millstones signifies joy of heart from the good of love, is, that a millstone grinds wheat into fine flour; and wheat signifies the good of love, and fine flour truth from that good.

(References: Jeremiah 25:10; Revelation 18:21; The Apocalypse Explained 130, 200, 302, 537-538, 593, 800)

[2] Similar things are mentioned in this chapter of the Apocalypse, namely,

"The voice of the mill shall be heard in thee no more, and the light of a lamp shall shine in thee no more, and the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, shall be heard in thee no more" (verses 22, 23).

These words will be explained presently.

So in Isaiah:

"Take the millstone and grind meal, make bare the thigh, passing through the rivers" (xlvii. 2).

This is said of Babel and Chaldaea. To take the millstone and grind meal signifies to produce falsities from evil, and confirm them by the Word; while to uncover the thigh, passing through the rivers, signifies to adulterate goods by reasonings.

In Lamentations:

"The young men they have led away to grind, and the boys fall in wood" (v. 13).

To take away the young men to grind, signifies to compel those who are capable of understanding truth to falsify truths. The boys fall in wood, signifies to compel those who are capable of being in the will of good, to adulterate goods. To grind denotes to falsify truths, or to confirm falsities by the Word, and wood denotes good.

In Moses:

"Thou shalt not take a mill (mola) or an upper millstone (molaris) to pledge, for he taketh the soul to pledge" (Deut. xxiv. 6).

This was among the laws of the Israelites, all of which corresponded to spiritual things. That they should not take a mill or the upper millstone to pledge signifies in the spiritual sense, that they should not take away from any one the power to understand truths from good, thus that they should not deprive any one of goods and truths. It is because of this signification that it was said, "For he taketh the soul to pledge," which signifies that thus he would spiritually perish.


"They shall die even to the first-born of the maidservant who is behind the mill" (Exod. xi. 5).

The first-born of the maid-servant who is behind the mill, signifies the primary things of the faith of the natural man, which have been falsified.

In Matthew:

In the consummation of the age, "two women shall be grinding, one shall be taken, the other shall be left" (xxiv. 40, 41).

The consummation of the age is the last time of the church. The two women grinding mean those who confirm themselves in truths, and those who confirm themselves in falsities from the Word; those who confirm themselves in truths being meant by her "who shall be taken"; and those who confirm themselves in falsities by her "who shall be left."

(References: Deuteronomy 24:6; Exodus 11:5; Isaiah 47:2; Lamentations 5:13; Matthew 24:40-41; Revelation 18:22-23)

[3] In the Evangelists: Jesus said,

"He who shall cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it is better for him that an ass-millstone be hanged about his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matt. xviii 6; Mark ix. 42; Luke xvii 2).

To cause one of the little ones who believe in Jesus to stumble, signifies to pervert those who acknowledge the Lord. It being better that an ass-millstone be hanged about his neck, signifies that it is better to be ignorant of any good and truth, and to know only evil and falsity, which is here meant by an ass-millstone; while to be hanged about the neck denotes cutting one off from knowing good and truth. To be drowned in the depth of the sea, signifies to be cast down into hell. The reason why this is better is that to know goods and truths and pervert them is to be guilty of profanation. What is meant by Moses burning the calf and grinding it to dust, and sprinkling it upon the faces of the waters and causing the sons of Israel to drink thereof (Exod. xxxii. 20; Deut. ix. 21), may be seen explained in the Arcana Coelestia (n. 10,462-10,466).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 10462; Deuteronomy 9:21; Exodus 32:20; Luke 17:2; Mark 9:42; Matthew 18:6, 24:40-41)

[4] Continuation.- Something shall now be said on the subject of spirits speaking with man. Many persons believe that man can be taught by the Lord by means of spirits speaking with him. But those who believe this, and desire to do so, are not aware that it is associated with danger to their souls. Man as to his spirit, as long as he lives in the world, is in the midst of spirits, but still the spirits do not know that they are with him, nor is he aware that he is with spirits. The reason is, that they are conjoined immediately as to the affections of the will, and mediately as to the thoughts of the understanding. For man thinks naturally, but spirits think spiritually; and natural and spiritual thought make one only by correspondence; it is this that prevents men and spirits from knowing anything of each other. But as soon as spirits begin to speak with man, they come out of their own spiritual state into man's natural state, and being then aware that they are with man, they conjoin themselves with the thoughts of his affection, and from these thoughts they speak with him. They can enter only into his natural state, for similar affection with the thought derived from it effects conjunction in all cases, but dissimilar affection causes separation.

It is owing to this circumstance, that when a spirit speaks he is in the same principles as the man with whom he speaks, whether these are true or false; and further, that he calls them into activity, and by means of his own affection conjoined to that of the man's strongly confirms them. Hence it is evident that only similar spirits speak with man, or manifestly act upon him; for manifest action coincides with speech. For this reason none but enthusiastic spirits speak with enthusiasts; none but Quaker spirits act upon Quakers, or Moravian spirits upon Moravians.

[5] The case would be similar with Arians, Socinians, and with other heretics (heraeticis). All spirits that speak with man were once men in the world, and were then of the same character. It has been granted me to know by repeated experience that this is the case. And what is ridiculous is that when a man imagines that the Holy Spirit is speaking with him, or acting upon him, the spirit who speaks with him also believes that he is the Holy Spirit. This is common in the case of enthusiastic spirits.

It is evident from these facts to what danger a man is exposed who speaks with spirits, or manifestly feels their operation. Man is ignorant of the nature of his own affection, whether it is good or evil, and with what other [affections] it is conjoined; and if he is proud of his own intelligence, the spirit humours every thought which proceeds from his affection. The same is the case if one has for certain principles a partiality kindled by a kind of fire which exists among those who are not in truths from genuine affection. For when a spirit from a similar affection humours a man's thoughts or principles, then one leads the other, like the blind leading the blind, until they both fall into the ditch.

The Pythonists of former times were of this description; the Magi also in Egypt and Babel; and because of their conversing with spirits, and of the action of these upon them being clearly felt in themselves, they were called wise. But it was by this means that the worship of God was converted into the worship of demons, and that the church perished. The sons of Israel were therefore, under penalty of death, forbidden to hold such intercourse.

(References: Revelation 18:21-23)

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From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 1181, 1187

Other New Christian Commentary

Psychic Powers 1

Thigh, uncover 1

Resources for parents and teachers

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Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

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Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.