Apocalypse Explained #1

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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[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 Him to show unto His servants the things which must quickly come to pass, and signified, sending by His angel, unto His servant John.

2. Who bare witness to the Word of God, and to 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 near.

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 Firstborn from the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth. Unto 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 might 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 lament over Him. Even so; Amen.

8. I am the Alpha and the Omega, Beginning and 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 partaker in the affliction and in the kingdom and patient expectation of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, 1 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; and what thou seest write in a book, and send to the churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and Smyrna, and Pergamum, and Thyatira, and Sardis, and Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

12. And I turned to see the voice which spake with me. And having 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 at the paps with a golden girdle.

14. And His head and hairs white as white wool, as snow: and His eyes as a flame of fire.

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

16. And having in His right hand seven stars; and out of His mouth a sharp two-edged sword going forth; and His face 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 the Living One; and I became 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 sawest, and the things which are, and the things which are to 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.

1. Many have expounded this prophetical book called Revelation, but none of them understood the internal or spiritual sense of the Word. They have therefore applied the particular things in the book to the successive states of the church, which they have learned from histories; many things, moreover, they have applied to civil affairs. For this reason those expositions are for the most part conjectures, which can never appear in such light that they can be affirmed as truths. As soon, therefore, as they are read, they are put aside as speculations. The expositions of Revelation now extant are of this character, because, as has been said, their authors had no knowledge of the internal or spiritual sense of the Word. Yet, in fact, all things recorded in Revelation are written in a style similar to that of the Old Testament prophecies, and to the style, in general in which everything in the Word is written. The Word in the letter is natural, but in its bosom it is spiritual; and being such, it contains within it a sense that is not at all apparent in the letter. How the one sense differs from the other may be seen from what is said and shown in the small work on the The White Horse and in the appendix there from the Arcana Coelestia. 2


1. The Photolithograph has in every case "Parmos" for "Patmos."

2. [NCBS note: We have added links to the beginnings of the works referred to by Swedenborg in the last sentence of this section. The link to the "appendix" appears to be a reference to the appendix in The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine, which begins at section n. 255. See Heaven and Hell 73, 305 as places where similar, and more specific, references are made.

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for their permission to use this translation.