The White Horse #1

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1. IN the Book of Revelation, this is how John describes the Word 1 in regard to its spiritual or inner meaning 2 :

"I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And the one who sat on it was called faithful and true, and with justice he judges and makes war. His eyes were a flame of fire, and on his head were many gems. He had a name written that no one knew except him. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God. The armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed him on white horses. He has on his robe and on his thigh a name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords." (Revelation 19:11, 12, 13, 14, 16)

Only from the inner meaning can anyone know what these particular details involve. It is obvious that each one represents and means something — the heaven that is opened; the horse that is white; the one who sat on it; his judging and making war justly; his eyes being a flame of fire; his having many gems on his head; his having a name that no one knew except him; his being clothed with a robe dipped in blood; the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, following him on white horses; and his having a name written on his robe and on his thigh. It says plainly that this is the Word and that it is the Lord 3 who is the Word, since it says “his name is called the Word of God” and then says “he has on his robe and on his thigh a name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

[2] If we interpret the individual words, we can see that this is describing the spiritual or inner meaning of the Word. Heaven being opened represents and means that the inner meaning of the Word is seen in heaven and therefore is seen by people in this world to whom heaven has been opened. 4 The horse that is white represents and means an understanding of the Word in regard to its deeper contents (the reason for this meaning of the white horse will become clear in what follows). Unquestionably, the one who sat on the horse is the Lord as the Word and is therefore the Word, since it says “his name is called the Word of God.” He is described as faithful and judging justly because he is good, and he is described as true and making war justly because he is true, since the Lord himself is justice. His eyes being a flame of fire means the divine truth that comes from the divine goodness of his divine love. His having many gems on his head means all the types of goodness and truth that belong to faith. His having a name written that no one knew except him means that what the Word is like in its inner meaning is seen by no one except him and those to whom he reveals it. His being clothed with a robe dipped in blood means the Word in its literal meaning, which has suffered violence. The armies in heaven that followed him on white horses mean the people who have an understanding of the deeper contents of the Word. Their being clothed in fine linen, white and clean, means that these people have an awareness of truth that comes from doing good. His having a name written on his robe and on his thigh means what is true and what is good, and what that truth and goodness are like.

[3] We can see from this and from what precedes and follows [this passage in the Word] that we have here a prediction that around the last time of the church 5 the spiritual or inner meaning of the Word will be opened. What will happen then is described in verses 17, 18, 19, 20, 21.

There is no need to demonstrate here that this is the meaning of these words, since the details have been explained in Secrets of Heaven 6 as follows:

The Lord is the Word because he is divine truth: 2533, 2813, 2894, 5272, 8535. The Word is divine truth: 4692, 5075, 9987. It says that the one who sat on the horse judges and makes war justly because the Lord is justice; the Lord is called “justice” because he saved the human race by his own power: 1813, 2025, 2026, 2027, 9715, 9809, 10019, 10152. Justice is a form of merit that belongs to the Lord alone: 9715, 9979. His eyes being a flame of fire means divine truth that comes from the divine goodness of his divine love, because eyes mean understanding and mean the truth that belongs to faith: 2701, 44034421, 45234534, 6923, 9051, 10569; and a flame of fire means the goodness of love: 934, 4906, 5215, 6314, 6832. The gems on his head mean all the types of goodness and truth that belong to faith: 114, 3858, 6335, 6640, 9863, 9865, 9868, 9873, 9905. His having a name written that no one knew except him means that no one sees what the Word is like in its inner meaning except him and those to whom he reveals it, because the name means what the named thing is really like: 144, 145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 2724, 3006, 3237, 3421, 6674, 9310. His being clothed with a robe dipped in blood means the Word in its literal meaning, which has suffered violence, because a garment means truth since truth clothes what is good: 1073, 2576, 5248, 5319, 5954, 9212, 9216, 9952, 10536 (and this has particular reference to the most external forms of truth and therefore to the Word in its letter: 5248, 6918, 9158, 9212); and because blood means the violence inflicted on what is true by what is false: 374, 1005, 4735, 5476, 9127. The armies in heaven that followed him on white horses mean the people who have an understanding of the deeper contents of the Word, because armies mean people who have the understanding of truth and the love for doing good that are characteristic of heaven and the church: 3448, 7236, 7988, 8019; a horse means understanding: 3217, 5321, 6125, 6400, 6534, 6534, 7024, 8146, 8381; and white means truth that is in heaven’s light 7 and therefore means deeper truth: 3301, 3993, 4007, 5319. Their being clothed in fine linen, white and clean, means that these people have an awareness of truth that comes from doing good, because linen or fine linen means truth of a heavenly origin, which is truth arising from what is good: 5319, 9469. His having a name written on his robe and on his thigh means what is true and what is good, and what that truth and goodness are like, because a robe means what is true and a name means what that truth is like (as noted above), and the thigh means goodness that comes from love: 3021, 4277, 4280, 9961, 10488. King of Kings and Lord of Lords is the Lord in respect to divine truth and in respect to divine goodness. The Lord is called “King” because of his divine truth: 3009, 5068, 6148. He is called “Lord” because of his divine goodness: 4973, 9167, 9194.

We can see from this what the Word is like in its spiritual or inner meaning and that there is not a word in it that does not mean something spiritual, something about heaven and the church.

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Footnotes:

1. On Swedenborg’s use of the term “the Word” for biblical material, see note 7, as well as his list of books contained in the Word in White Horse 16. [Editors]

2. On the use of the terms “spiritual meaning” and “inner meaning” in Swedenborg’s exegesis of the Bible, see White Horse 9, and also note 86. See also the fuller description of inner meaning in the later part of note 7. [Editors]

3. On Swedenborg’s use of the term “the Lord” to refer to Jesus Christ as God, see note 10. [Editors]

4. In Swedenborg’s usage, the notion of heaven’s being open to an individual has two distinct but nonexclusive meanings. It can be applied to those who have had their spiritual senses opened so that they can actually see and hear what takes place in heaven. It can also be applied to “people who love and therefore believe in the Lord” (Secrets of Heaven 2760:2), and more generally to “people who devote themselves to the goodness and truth that come from [heaven]” (Secrets of Heaven 2851:2). To put the latter meaning more simply, heaven is opened to those who are living spiritually rather than materialistically. In the present passage, the latter meaning seems to be intended more than the former, though the former is not excluded. For more detail on what opens heaven to people on earth, see Secrets of Heaven 9594, 10156; Revelation Explained (= Swedenborg 1994–1997a) Revelation Explained 800:2, 954:2, 970:23. [LSW]

5. “The church” in this context refers specifically to Christianity in its various existing branches (primarily the Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox churches) as the reigning religious paradigm in the world in which Swedenborg and his intended audience lived. In White Horse 6:3 Swedenborg defines this church as existing “where the Word exists and the Lord is known by means of it, and therefore where divine truths have been revealed.” For more on the various church eras and their beginnings and endings in biblical and human history, see note 28. [LSW]

6. Secrets of Heaven was published by Swedenborg in London in eight volumes between 1749 and 1756. [Editors]

7. On heaven’s light, see notes 54 and 248. [Editors]

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(References: Arcana Coelestia 144-145, 2025-2027, 2803, 2884, 4403-4421, 4523-4534, 6531, 7835, 8318, 10485; Revelation 19:11-14, 19:16-18, 19:17-21, 19:17-18)


  
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References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 31, 152, 175, 187, 204, 208, 239, 355


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


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