Arcana Coelestia #4231

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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4231. But from the fig tree learn a parable. When its branch now becomes tender and leaves sprout forth, you know that summer is near means the first period of a new Church. 'The fig tree' means the good of the natural, 'branch' the affection belonging to that good, while 'leaves' means truths. 'A parable' which they were to learn from means that those things are what is really meant. Anyone unacquainted with the internal sense of the Word cannot possibly know what is included within the description in which the Lord's coming is compared to a fig tree and its branch and leaves. But since all comparisons in the Word are also meaningful signs, 3579, one can know from these what is really meant by such a comparison. Whenever 'a fig tree' is mentioned in the Word it means in the internal sense the good of the natural, see 217. The reason why 'a branch' means the affection for that good is that affection stems from good as a branch from its trunk. And as for 'leaves' meaning truths, see 885. From these considerations one may now see what is really meant by that parable, namely this: When a new Church is being created by the Lord, the good of the natural shows itself first of all, that is, good in external form together with the affection belonging to it and with truths. The expression 'the good of the natural' is not used to mean the good into which a person is born or derives from parents, but good which is spiritual in origin. Nobody is born into this kind of good but is brought into it by the Lord by means of cognitions of good and truth. Consequently until this good - that is to say, spiritual good - exists with a person, he is not a member of the Church, no matter how much he may seem to be by virtue of that good which he is born with.

[2] So also yourselves; when you see all these things, know that He is near at the doors means that when those things are apparent that are meant in the internal sense by the words spoken immediately before this in verses 29-31 as well as by these words concerning the fig tree, the end of the Church has arrived, which is the Last Judgement and the Coming of the Lord - a time therefore when the old Church is cast aside and a new one established. The phrase 'at the doors' is used because the good of the natural and its truths are the first things to be introduced into a person when he is being regenerated and becoming the Church.

Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place means that the Jewish nation will not be eradicated like other nations. For the reason why, see 3479.

[3] Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away means that the internal and the external features of the former Church will perish, but the Word of the Lord will remain. For 'heaven' means the internal aspect of the Church and 'earth' the external aspect of it, see 82, 1411, 1733, 1850, 2117, 2118, 3355 (end). The fact that the Lord's 'words' include not only those stated here concerning His coming and the close of the age but also all contained in the Word is self-evident. The words under consideration here were spoken immediately after those concerning the Jewish nation because the Jewish nation has been preserved for the sake of the Word, as may be seen from 3479, mentioned already. From all this it is now evident that these verses foretell the beginnings of a new Church.

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