Arcana Coelestia #4231

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)

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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.

(References: Matthew 24:32-35)

[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.

(References: Matthew 24:29-31)

[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.

Genesis 32
1. And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
2. And Jacob said when he saw them, This is God's camp. And he called the name of that place Mahanaim.
3. And Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau, to the land of Seir, the field of Edom.
4. And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall you say to my lord Esau, Thus says your servant Jacob, With Laban I have sojourned, and have stayed until now.
5. And I have oxen and asses, flocks and men servants and women servants; and I am sending to tell my lord, so as to find favour in your eyes.
6. And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to your brother, to Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men with him.
7. And Jacob was exceedingly afraid, and was distressed; and he split up the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps.
8. And he said, If Esau comes towards one camp and smites it, the camp that is left will escape.
9. And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Jehovah, who says to me, Return to your land, and to the place of your nativity, and I will deal well with you,
10. I am not worthy of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown to Your servant, for with just my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now I have become two camps.
11. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he comes and smites me, the mother with the children. 1
12. And You have said, I will certainly deal well with you and I will make your seed like the sand of the sea which cannot be counted for multitude.
13. And he spent that night there, and took from what came into his hand a gift for Esau his brother:
14. Two hundred she-goats and twenty he-goats; two hundred sheep and twenty rams;
15. Thirty milking camels and their colts; forty young cows and ten young bulls; twenty she-asses and ten foals
16. And he gave them into the hand of his servants, drove by drove separately; and he said to his servants, Pass over in front of me and put a space between drove and drove.
17. And he commanded the first, saying, When Esau my brother meets you and asks you, saying, To whom do you belong; and where are you going; and whose are these in front of you?
18. Then you shall say, They belong to your servant Jacob; it is a gift sent to my lord Esau; and behold, he also is behind us.
19. And he commanded the second also, the third also, and all also following the droves, saying, In this manner 2 shall you speak to Esau when you find him.
20. And you shall also say, Behold, your servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the gift that is going in front of me, and after that I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.
21. And the gift passed over in front of him, and he spent that night in the camp.
22. And he rose up that night, and took his two wives (femina), and his two servant-girls, and his eleven sons, and passed over at the passage of Jabbok.
23. And he took them and made them pass over the river, and made all that he had pass over.
24. And Jacob remained alone; and a man wrestled with him until dawn came up.
25. And he 3 saw that he did not prevail against him, and he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with him.
26. And he 3 said, Let me go, for the dawn is coming up. And he said, I will not let you go unless you bless me.
27. And he 3 said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob.
28. And he' said, Your name will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for as a prince you have contended with God and with men, and have prevailed.
29. And Jacob asked and said, Tell me, I pray, your name. And he said, Why is it that you ask my name? And he blessed him there.
30. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, [saying,] For I have seen God face to face, and my soul is delivered.
31. And the sun rose on him as he passed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh.
32. Therefore the children of Israel do not eat the sinew of that which was displaced, which is on the hollow of the thigh, even to this day, because he touched, in the hollow of Jacob's thigh, the sinew of that which was displaced.


1. literally, mother over children (or sons)

2. literally, According to this word

3. i.e. the man


(References: Arcana Coelestia 2117-2118; Matthew 24:32-35)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 4332, 4422, 6895, 8281, 8904, 9052, 9277, 9960, 10137, 10402

The Last Judgment 35

True Christian Religion 757

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121, 246

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 5, 109, 386, 400

Other New Christian Commentary

Fig 1

Branch 1

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