Heaven and Hell #1

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1. In the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, we find the Lord talking to his disciples about the close of the age, the last time of the church. 1 At the end of his prophecies concerning the sequence of states of its love and faith 2 he says:

Immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Human-born One will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will lament. And they will see the Human-born One coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a trumpet and a loud voice, and they will gather his chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the heavens all the way to the other end. (Matthew 24:29-31)

When people understand these words according to their literal meaning, they can only believe that all these things are going to happen just as this meaning describes them, at that end of time called the Last Judgment. This does not mean only that the sun and moon will be darkened and that the stars will fall from heaven, that the sign of the Lord will appear in heaven, and that he will be seen in the clouds with angels blowing trumpets. It also includes matters prophesied elsewhere, statements that the whole visible world is going to be destroyed and that afterward a new heaven and a new earth will come into being.

Many people in the church these days are of this opinion. However, people who believe such things are not aware of the hidden depths that lie within the details of the Word. There is in fact spiritual meaning in these details, for they intend not only the outward and earthly events that we find on the literal level but spiritual and heavenly events as well. This holds true not just for the meaning of phrases but even for each word. 3

The Word is in fact written in pure correspondences 4 so that there may be deeper meaning in the details. Questions about the nature of this meaning can be resolved by all the things I have set forth about it in Secrets of Heaven. A selection of these may be found also in my explanation of the white horse in the Book of Revelation. It is in this deeper sense that we are to understand what the Lord said in the passage just cited about coming in the clouds of heaven. The sun that will be darkened means the Lord in respect to love, 5 the moon means the Lord in respect to faith. 6 The stars mean insights into what is good and true, or into love and faith. 7 The sign of the Human-born One in heaven means the appearing of divine truth. The wailing tribes of earth mean all the elements of what is true and good, or of faith and love. 8 The Lord's coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory means his presence in the Word, and revelation. 9 The clouds refer to the literal meaning of the Word 10 and the glory to the Word's inner meaning. 11 The angels with a trumpet and a loud voice mean heaven, which is where divine truth comes from. 12

This enables us to see what these words of the Lord mean. They mean that at the end of the church, when there is no longer any love and therefore no longer any faith, the Lord will open the Word by disclosing its deeper meaning and will reveal the heavenly contents hidden within it. The particular hidden contents to be disclosed in the pages that follow have to do with heaven and hell and with our own life after death.

Church people these days know practically nothing about heaven and hell or their life after death, even though there are descriptions of everything available to them in the Word. In fact, many who have been born in the church deny all this. In their hearts they are asking who has ever come back to tell us about it.

To prevent this negative attitude - especially prevalent among people who have acquired a great deal of worldly wisdom - from infecting and corrupting people of simple heart and simple faith, it has been granted me to be with angels and to talk with them person to person. I have also been enabled to see what is in heaven and in hell, a process that has been going on for thirteen years. Now I am being allowed therefore to describe what I have heard and seen, in the hopes of shedding light where there is ignorance, and of dispelling skepticism.

The reason this kind of direct revelation is taking place today is that this is what the Coming of the Lord means.


1. On the close of the age as the last time of the church: 4535, 10672 [10622?].

2. For explanations of what the Lord said in Matthew 24:25 about the close of the age, his coming, and thus the gradual destruction of the church and the Last Judgment, see the material prefaced to chapters 5-24 [ 26-40] of Genesis. In particular, see 3353-3356, 3486-3489, 3650-3655, 3751-3759 [3751-3757], 3897-3901, 4056-4060, 4129-4231 [4229-4231], 4332-4335, 4422-4424, 4535, 4635-4638, 4661-4664, 4807-4810, 4954-4959, 5063-5071.

3. There is deeper meaning in every detail of the Word: 1143, 1984, 2135, 2333, 2395, 2495, 4442, 9049, 9086.

4. The Word is composed using pure correspondences, so that its every detail points to something spiritual: 1404, 1408-1409, 1540, 1619, 1659, 1709, 1783, 2900, 9086.

5. The sun in the Word means the Lord in respect to love, and therefore love for the Lord: 1529, 1837, 2441, 2495, 4060, 4696, 4996 [4966?], 7083, 10809.

6. The moon in the Word means the Lord in respect to faith, and therefore faith in the Lord: 1529-1530, 2495, 4060, 4996 [4696?], 7083.

7. Stars in the Word mean insights into what is good and true: 2495, 2849, 4697.

8. Tribes mean all true and good elements in a single complex, or all elements of faith and love: 3858, 3926, 4060, 6335.

9. The Lord's coming is his presence in the Word, and revelation: 3900, 4060.

10. Clouds in the Word mean the Word in the letter or its literal meaning: 4060, 4391, 5922, 6343, 6752, 8106, 8781, 9430, 10551, 10574.

11. Glory in the Word means divine truth as it is in heaven and in the inner meaning of the Word: 4809, 5292 5922, 8267, 8427, 9429, 10574.

12. The trumpet or horn means divine truth in heaven and revealed from heaven: 8815, 8823, 8915."Voice" has the same meaning: 6971, 9926.

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Table of Contents
The Lord is God of Heaven 2-6 It Is the Lord's Divine Nature That Makes Heaven 7-12 The Lord's Divine Nature in Heaven Is Love for Him and Thoughtfulness toward One's Neighbor 13-19 Heaven Is Divided into Two Kingdoms 20-28 There Are Three Heavens 29-40 The Heavens Are Made Up of Countless Communities 41-50 Each Community Is a Heaven in Smaller Form and Each Angel a Heaven in Smallest Form 51-58 The Whole Heaven, Grasped as a Single Entity, Reflects a Single Individual 59-67 Each Community in the Heavens Reflects a Single Individual 68-72 Therefore Every Angel Is in Perfect Human Form 73-77 It Is Owing to the Lord's Divine Human That Heaven, in Its Entirety and in Its Parts, Reflects a Person 78-86 There Is a Correspondence of Everything in Heaven with Everything in the Human Being 87-102 There Is a Correspondence of Heaven with Everything Earthly 103-115 The Sun in Heaven 116-125 Light and Warmth in Heaven 126-140 The Four Quarters in Heaven 141-153 How the States of Angels in Heaven Change 154-161 Time in Heaven 162-169 Representations and Appearances in Heaven 170-176 The Clothes Angels Appear In 177-182 Angels' Homes and Houses 183-190 Space in Heaven 191-199 Heaven's Form, Which Determines How People Associate and Communicate There 200-212 Forms of Government in Heaven 213-220 Divine Worship in Heaven 221-227 The Power of Heaven's Angels 228-233 The Language of Angels 234-245 How Angels Talk with Us 246-257 Written Materials in Heaven 258-264 The Wisdom of Heaven's Angels 265-275 The State of Innocence of Angels in Heaven 276-283 The State of Peace in Heaven 284-290 The Union of Heaven with the Human Race 291-302 Heaven's Union with Us through the Word 303-310 Heaven and Hell Come from the Human Race 311-317 Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven 318-328 Children in Heaven 329-345 Wise and Simple People in Heaven 346-356 Rich and Poor People in Heaven 357-365 Marriages in Heaven 366-386 What Angels Do in Heaven 387-394 Heavenly Joy and Happiness 395-414 The Vastness of Heaven 415-420 The World of Spirits and Our State After Death 421-431 Each of Us Is Inwardly a Spirit 432-444 Our Revival from the Dead and Entry into Eternal Life 445-452 After Death, We Are in a Complete Human Form 453-460 After Death, We Enjoy Every Sense, Memory, Thought, and Affection We Had in the World: We Leave Nothing Behind except Our Earthly Body 461-469 Our Nature after Death Depends on the Kind of Life We Led in the World 470-484 After Death, the Pleasures of Everyone's Life Are Turned into Things That Correspond 485-490 Our First State after Death 491-498 Our Second State after Death 499-511 Our Third State after Death, Which Is a State of Instruction for People Who Are Entering Heaven 512-520 No One Enters Heaven on the Basis of Mercy Alone 521-527 It Is Not So Hard to Lead a Heaven-Bound Life as People Think It Is 528-535 Hell 536-544 The Lord Does Not Cast Anyone into Hell: Spirits Cast Themselves In 545-550 All the People Who Are in the Hells Are Absorbed in Evils and Consequent Falsities because of Their Love for Themselves and the World 551-565 Hellfire and Gnashing of Teeth 566-575 The Malice and Unspeakable Skills of Hellish Spirits 576-581 The Appearance, Location, and Number of the Hells 582-588 The Equilibrium between Heaven and Hell 589-596 Our Freedom Depends on the Balance between Heaven and Hell 597-603
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Doctrine of the Lord 26

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 36, 39, 594, 612, 706

   Swedenborg Research Tools

Related New Christian Commentary

  Spiritual Topics:

Heaven and Hell

Word or Phrase Explanations:


Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg
Resources for parents and teachers

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 The Second Coming
While many anticipate the return of Jesus Christ to earth, the New Church teaches the Lord has already made His second coming in the teachings for the New Church.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

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