The Bible

 

Matthew 24

American Standard Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

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1 And Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on his way; and his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple.

2 But he answered and said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

3 And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what [shall be] the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man lead you astray.

5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am the Christ; and shall lead many astray.

6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for [these things] must needs come to pass; but the end is not yet.

7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and earthquakes in divers places.

8 But all these things are the beginning of travail.

9 Then shall they deliver you up unto tribulation, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all the nations for my name's sake.

10 And then shall many stumble, and shall deliver up one another, and shall hate one another.

11 And many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray.

12 And because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold.

13 But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto all the nations; and then shall the end come.

15 When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let him that readeth understand),

16 then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains:

17 let him that is on the housetop not go down to take out things that are in his house:

18 and let him that is in the field not return back to take his cloak.

19 But woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days!

20 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on a sabbath:

21 for then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be.

22 And except those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ, or, Here; believe [it] not.

24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

25 Behold, I have told you beforehand.

26 If therefore they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the wilderness; go not forth: Behold, he is in the inner chambers; believe [it] not.

27 For as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west; so shall be the coming of the Son of man.

28 Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

29 But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

30 and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

31 And he shall send forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

32 Now from the fig tree learn her parable: when her branch is now become tender, and putteth forth its leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh;

33 even so ye also, when ye see all these things, know ye that he is nigh, [even] at the doors.

34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished.

35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

36 But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only.

37 And as [were] the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man.

38 For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,

39 and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the Son of man.

40 Then shall two man be in the field; one is taken, and one is left:

41 two women [shall be] grinding at the mill; one is taken, and one is left.

42 Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh.

43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken through.

44 Therefore be ye also ready; for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh.

45 Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath set over his household, to give them their food in due season?

46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

47 Verily I say unto you, that he will set him over all that he hath.

48 But if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord tarrieth;

49 and shall begin to beat his fellow-servants, and shall eat and drink with the drunken;

50 the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not,

51 and shall cut him asunder, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.

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   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of Matthew 24      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Matthew 24 and 25 are the only chapters in the four gospels that receive systematic commentary by Swedenborg. That makes them really interesting, because we get a glimpse of how to look for the inner meaning using methods like the ones he used to study Genesis, Exodus, and Revelation.

We find this commentary deep in the middle of "Arcana Coelestia". For chapter 24, it starts in Arcana Coelestia 3353, (and continues in 3487-3489, 3650-3655, 3750-3757, 3897-3900, 4056-4060, 4229-4335, 4422-4424). Here's an excerpt from no. 3353:

* * * *

"Here first let the... words be explained which appear in Matthew [24:3-8].... Those who confine themselves to the sense of the letter cannot know whether these words and those that follow in this chapter refer to the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews, or whether they refer to the end of days which is called the Last Judgement. But those admitted into the internal sense see clearly that the end of the Church is being referred to, this end being that which here and in other places is called 'the coming of the Lord' and 'the close of the age'. And inasmuch as the end of the Church is meant one is able to see that all these statements made by the Lord mean such things as have to do with the Church. But their overall meaning may be seen from the individual meaning below which each of them has in the internal sense.

Many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ; and they will lead many astray. 'Name' here does not mean name, nor 'the Christ' the Christ, but 'name' means that by which the Lord is worshipped, 2724, 3006, while 'the Christ' means truth itself, 3009, 3010. Thus the meaning is that people will come who say that this is the sum and substance of faith, that is, it is the truth, when in fact it is neither the sum and substance of faith, nor the truth, but falsity.

They will hear of wars and rumours of wars means that arguments and disagreements over truths will arise which are wars in the spiritual sense.

Nation will be roused against nation and kingdom against kingdom means that evil will conflict with evil, and falsity with falsity, 'nation' meaning good, but in the contrary sense evil, see 1259, 1260, 1416, 1849, and 'kingdom' meaning truth, but in the contrary sense falsity, 1672, 2547. And there will be famines, and plagues, and earthquakes in various places means that no cognitions of good and truth will exist any more, and thus that the state of the Church is altered, meant by 'an earthquake'.'

* * * *

That's how Swedenborg described the inner meaning. Not surprisingly, it's pretty consistent with his exegesis of other books. It's interesting to see it applied to the Gospels, where often the literal meaning seems easier to apply to our lives than the stories of the Old Testament.

Next, we'll append the commentary on this chapter that Rev. John Clowes wrote back in the 1850's:

Verses 1, 2. The Lord predicts the vastation and destruction of the church.

Verses 3, 4. And from His Divine Love teaches, that the understanding ought to be opened to the light of truth, to prevent its being misled by falsities.

Verse 5. Because those are about to come who will say that this is of faith, or this is truth, when yet it is neither of faith nor is it truth, but what is false.

Verse 6. Debates also and disputes will exist concerning truths.

Verse 7. And the evil is about to fight against good, and the false against truth, and there will no longer be any knowledge of what is good and true, but perversion instead thereof, whereby the state of the church will be changed.

Verse 8. That this is the first state of the perversion of the church.

Verse 9. That the second state is when good and truth are about to perish, first by perversion, next by denial, and then by contempt for, and aversion from, all things which are of good and truth.

Verse 10. That hence will come enmities against the Lord's Divine Humanity, and likewise against all truth and good.

Verse 11. Also false doctrines and derivations thence.

Verse 12. And with faith will expire charity, according to the falsities of faith.

Verse 13. But they who are in charity, and do not suffer themselves to be seduced, will be saved.

Verse 14. And these things will first be made known in the Christian world, that none may pretend that they were ignorant, and then will be the consummation.

Verse 15. And when such things are observed, which had been predicted concerning vastation as to all things that are of good and truth, they ought to be carefully attended to, especially by those who are in love and faith.

Verse 16. Who, on such occasion, ought not to look elsewhere than to the Lord, thus to love to Him and charity towards the neighbour.

Verse 17. And they who are in the good of charity, ought not to take themselves thence to those things which are of the doctrines of faith.

Verse 18. And they who are in the good of truth, should not take themselves from its good to the doctrines of truth.

Verse 19. For they who are imbued with the good of love to the Lord, and with the good of innocence, will then be in danger of profaning those goods, and thus of eternal damnation.

Verse 20. They, therefore, who are principled in good and truth, ought to take heed lest a removal from those principles should be made precipitately in a state of too much cold arising from self-love, and in a state of too much heat arising from a holy external, concealing inwardly the loves of self and of the world.

Verse 21. For on that occasion will be the highest degree of perversion and vastation of the church as to good and truth, which is profanation.

Verse 22. So that for the salvation of those who are in the life of good, it will be necessary that they who are of the church should be removed from interior goods and truths to exterior.

Verses 23, 24. And the doctrine of those who are in a holy external principle, but in a profane internal, is to be guarded against, because it abounds with falsities.

Verse 24, latter part. Which falsities are supported by confirmations and persuasions grounded in external appearances and fallacies, whereby the simple suffer themselves to be seduced, but against which they are guarded who are in the life of good and truth.

Verse 25. Therefore there is need of prudence and caution.

Verse 26. Since they are not to be believed either as to what they speak about truth, or what they speak about good.

Verse 27. For as the lightning is instantly dissipated, so the internal worship of the Lord will at that time be dissipated also.

Verse 28. And confirmations of what is false will be multiplied by reasonings in the vastated church.

Verse 29. And where there is no longer any faith remaining, all love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbour will disappear, and the knowledges of good and truth will perish, and thus the foundations of the church will be removed.

Verse 30. And then shall be the appearing of Truth Divine, and all who are in the good of love and the truth of faith will be in grief, and then shall be revealed the Word as to its internal sense, in which the Lord is.

Verse 31. And then shall be election by the influx of holy good and truth from the Lord by the angels, and thus the establishment of a new church.

Verse 32. And when this new church is creating by the Lord, then first of all appears the good of the natural principle with its affections and truths.

Verse 33. And when all the things above spoken of appear, then will be the consummation of the church, that is the last judgement and coming of the Lord, consequently then the old church will be rejected, and the new established.

Verse 34. And the Jewish nation in the mean time will not be extirpated like other nations.

Verse 35. And the internals and externals of the former church will perish, but the Word of the Lord will remain.

Verse 36. And the state of the church at that time, as to goods and truths, will not appear to anyone, neither in earth nor in heaven, but to the Lord alone.

Verse 37. But the state of the vastation of those who are of the church will resemble that of the first or most ancient church, the consummation of whose age, or whose last judgement, is described by a flood.

Verse 38, 39. For they will appropriate evil and the false, and will conjoin those principles in themselves, and will not know that they are inundated by them, because they will be ignorant what the good of love to the Lord is, and the good of charity towards the neighbour, also what the truth of faith is, therefore they will not receive the Divine Truth.

Verse 40. Nevertheless they within the church, who are in good, will be saved, and they within the church, who are in evil, will be damned.

Verse 41. And they within the church who are in truth, that is, in the affection thereof from good, will be saved, and they within the church who are in truth that is in the affection thereof from evil, will be damned.

Verses 42, 43, 44. Therefore man ought to procure to himself life from the Lord, which is spiritual life, because he is in ignorance what the state of his life is, which is to remain to eternity.

Verse 45. And for this purpose he should make enquiry concerning the principles of heavenly good and truth, by which the natural man is restored to order, and made receptive of heavenly life.

Verses 46, 47. Until he discovers that those principles are in conjunction with the Lord, and have thence dominion over all inferior principles.

Verses 48, 49, 50, 51. And that if the natural man through unbelief perverts those principles, and appropriates to himself evils and falsities, he will then know nothing of the interior state of his own life, but will be separated from all the goods and truths of heaven, and will have his lot with those who outwardly appear in truth as to doctrine, and in good as to life, but inwardly believe nothing of truth, and will nothing of good, whose state thereof in the other life is most lamentable, from the distraction between evils and goods, and the collision of falsities with truths.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 3353, 4535

Apocalypse Explained 573

Divine Providence 328

An Invitation to the New Church 29

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 4, 12, 33


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 32, 49, 368, 795, 1017, 1050, 1288, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 3, 4, 8, 9, 24, 27, 33, ...

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 60, 70, 71, 73, 74, 75, 77, ...

Conjugial Love 80, 81

Divine Providence 230

Doctrine of the Lord 25, 26, 42

The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Sacred Scripture 14, 25, 112

Worlds in Space 171

Heaven and Hell 1, 119, 208, 575

The Last Judgement 35, 49, 61, 73

The Last Judgement (Continuation) 25

True Christian Religion 116, 121, 174, 176, 179, 180, 181, ...

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 186


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 5, 36, 39, 47, 48, 55, 63, ...

On the Athanasian Creed 1, 173

Canons of the New Church 13, 27, 43, 46, 47

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 34, 58

De Verbo (The Word) 5, 7, 15, 17, 21

Five Memorable Relations 14, 21

An Invitation to the New Church 33, 39, 46, 52, 55

Justification 17, 18

Spiritual Experiences 211, 292, 4783, 5239, 5421

Marriage 116, 121

Scriptural Confirmations 1, 6, 34, 38, 68

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 6:11, 12, 7:7, 21, 23, 19:17, 41:56, 57

Exodus 8:3

Deuteronomy 30:4

Nehemiah 13:13

Job 37:3, 39:30

Psalms 68:35, 102:27

Ecclesiastes 8:11

Isaiah 11:12, 13:10, 19:2, 27:13, 34:4, 51:6, 65:9

Jeremiah 14:14

Ezekiel 13:6, 32:7

Daniel 7:13, 9:27, 11:31, 12:1, 11

Joel 3:3

Amos 5:18, 20

Habakkuk 1:8

Haggai 2:6

Zechariah 10, 8:7, 12:10, 14:7

Bible Word Meanings

the temple
'Solomon's temple' represents heaven and the church.

going
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

way
These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

disciples
When we read the Gospels and see Jesus addressing the disciples, we assume His words are meant for us as well. And indeed they are!...

show
'Shew' signifies instruction to the life.

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

see
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

say
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

upon
'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

sat
If you think about sitting, it seems fair to say that where you're sitting is more important than that you're sitting. Sitting in a movie...

olives
'Olives' signify good.

tell
'To tell' signifies perceiving, because in the spiritual world, or in heaven, they do not need to tell what they think because they communicate every...

us
Angels do give us guidance, but they are mere helpers; the Lord alone governs us, through angels and spirits. Since angels have their assisting role,...

sign
The Bible often speaks of signs and miracles as things that convinced people of the Lord's leading. Swedenborg divides the two, identifying "signs" as things...

answered
To "answer" generally indicates a state of spiritual receptivity. Ultimately this means being receptive to the Lord, who is constantly trying to pour true ideas...

come
Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

christ
Christ is one of the names of the Lord. It derives from Greek, and means "the anointed one," a King or Messiah. Christ as King...

hear
Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

wars
'Wars,' in the Word, signify spiritual war, which consists of challenging truth, and are conducted by rationalizations from falsities. This is why the ministry of...

rise
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

kingdom
In the most general sense, a kingdom in the Bible represents a church. In a more specific sense, a kingdom represents a church in regards...

tribulation
An affliction "such as was not from the beginning of the world, no nor ever shall be", mentioned in 'Matthew 24:21', means the infestation from...

kill
The Lord is love itself, and that love is the ultimate source of all energy and thus of all life. It follows, then, that the...

arise
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

saved
To be saved or rescued means getting true ideas that we can hold to even in the face of a storm of false thinking. Sometimes...

gospel
‘Gospel’ signifies the coming of the Lord. ’To preach the gospel’ is to announce His coming. ‘Gospel’ is glad tidings, and ‘the everlasting gospel’ is...

world
The term "world" has both general and more specific meanings in the Bible, including the relatively literal sense of the natural, physical world. In more...

spoken
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

go
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

woe
'Woe' signifies lamentation over evils and falsities which devastate the church.

pray
When people pray in the Bible, it means they are opening up their internal states. When it is the Lord praying, or a figure who...

flight
Flight, as in Matthew 14:20, signifies removal from a state of the good of love and innocence. Flight, as in Mark 8:18, signifies the last...

winter
'Winter' signifies the same thing as 'night,' that is, the end of the church.

believe
The meaning of "believe" in the Bible is pretty straightforward, but runs deeper than what appears on the surface. When in the Old Testament people...

False Christs
False Christs, referred to in Matthew 24, are falsities, or truths that are not divine.

signs
'A sign' is mentioned in the Word in reference to the future, which constitutes revelation. This also refers to truth, when it constitutes testification. It...

Signs and wonders
'They shall give signs and wonders,' as in Matthew 24:24, signifies confirmation and persuasion grounded in external appearances and fallacies, by which the simple minded...

lead astray
'To deceive,' as in Revelation 12:9, signifies perversion.

chambers
Closets, as in Luke 12:3, signify the interiors of man ; viz., that which he thinks, intends, etc.

seen
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

west
'The west' signifies people in obscured good, and in an opposite sense, people in evil. 'The west' signifies the affection of truth.

son of man
The Lord, in some places, calls Himself 'the son of God,' at other times, 'the son of man (ἄνθρωπος).' This is always according to the...

carcase
A carcass (Matt. 24:28) signifies the church void of the life of charity and faith.

stars
The star which went before them [the wise men] meant knowledge coming from heaven, since stars in the Word mean pieces of knowledge. –De Verbo...

heaven
"Air" in the Bible represents thought, but in a very general way – more like our capacity to perceive ideas and the way we tend...

heavens
"Air" in the Bible represents thought, but in a very general way – more like our capacity to perceive ideas and the way we tend...

tribes of the earth
'The tribes of the earth shall wail,' as in Revelation 1:7, and Matthew 24:30, signifies there are no more goods and truths in the church.

coming
Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

clouds of heaven
'The second coming of the Lord' is not a coming in person, but in the Word, which is from Him and is Himself. 'The clouds...

glory
We tend to speak somewhat casually of "truth from the Lord," but in actual fact the Writings tell us that in its true form the...

angels
"Angels" in the Bible represent qualities of the Lord himself, or a variety of things that come directly from the Lord. On a lower level...

learn
To learn,' as in Revelation 14:3, signifies an interior perception in one's self that 'it is so,' which means understanding, and then receiving and acknowledging....

branch
A branch (Matt. 24:32) signifies affection, for affection springs and flourishes from good as a branch Springs from its trunk. A branch (Mal. 4:1) denotes...

leaves
'Leaves' signify truths according to the different kinds of tree. 'The leaves of the olive tree and vine' signify rational truths from celestial and spiritual...

doors
In a general sense, doors in the Bible represent the initial desires for good and concepts of truth that introduce people to new levels of...

hour
The Writings tell us that time and space are aspects of the physical world, but do not exist as we know them in the spiritual...

entered
All changes of place in the Bible represent changes in spiritual state. “Entering” – usually used as entering someone’s house or “going in unto” someone...

Mill
'Grinding at the mill,' in a positive sense, means examination and confirmation of spiritual truth from Word. But in a negative sense, 'mill' signifies the...

Watch
'Watching' denotes a course of life according to the teachings of faith.

thief
In Revelation 3:3, it says 'the Lord will come like a thief,' because a person in dead worship is deprived of the external good of...

watched
'Watching' denotes a course of life according to the teachings of faith.

wise
At its heart, wisdom is love's imperative desire to take form. That's a tricky statement, but think of it this way: If you love someone,...

over
'Over' or 'upon' in the Word, signifies being within, because the highest part in successive order becomes inmost in simultaneous order. This is why the...

Videos from the Swedenborg Foundation

The videos shown here are provided courtesy of our friends at the Swedenborg Foundation. You can find out more about them here: swedenborg.com.


End Times and Jesus Christ - Swedenborg and Life

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End Times and Jesus Christ - Swedenborg and Life

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Did Jesus predict the end of the world in the New Testament or is there more to the story? Why were Christ’s messages so cryptic and what else could they really mean?


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Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Bible Jeopardy Game: Trial and Crucifixion
Use the Bible Jeopardy questions to review the story of the Tabernacle.
Activity | Ages 11 - 17

 Sending Out the Twelve Disciples
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Last Judgment
There is a last judgment of every church when there is no longer any faith in it.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

Commentary

 

Explanation of Matthew 24      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Matthew 24 and 25 are the only chapters in the four gospels that receive systematic commentary by Swedenborg. That makes them really interesting, because we get a glimpse of how to look for the inner meaning using methods like the ones he used to study Genesis, Exodus, and Revelation.

We find this commentary deep in the middle of "Arcana Coelestia". For chapter 24, it starts in Arcana Coelestia 3353, (and continues in 3487-3489, 3650-3655, 3750-3757, 3897-3900, 4056-4060, 4229-4335, 4422-4424). Here's an excerpt from no. 3353:

* * * *

"Here first let the... words be explained which appear in Matthew [24:3-8].... Those who confine themselves to the sense of the letter cannot know whether these words and those that follow in this chapter refer to the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews, or whether they refer to the end of days which is called the Last Judgement. But those admitted into the internal sense see clearly that the end of the Church is being referred to, this end being that which here and in other places is called 'the coming of the Lord' and 'the close of the age'. And inasmuch as the end of the Church is meant one is able to see that all these statements made by the Lord mean such things as have to do with the Church. But their overall meaning may be seen from the individual meaning below which each of them has in the internal sense.

Many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ; and they will lead many astray. 'Name' here does not mean name, nor 'the Christ' the Christ, but 'name' means that by which the Lord is worshipped, 2724, 3006, while 'the Christ' means truth itself, 3009, 3010. Thus the meaning is that people will come who say that this is the sum and substance of faith, that is, it is the truth, when in fact it is neither the sum and substance of faith, nor the truth, but falsity.

They will hear of wars and rumours of wars means that arguments and disagreements over truths will arise which are wars in the spiritual sense.

Nation will be roused against nation and kingdom against kingdom means that evil will conflict with evil, and falsity with falsity, 'nation' meaning good, but in the contrary sense evil, see 1259, 1260, 1416, 1849, and 'kingdom' meaning truth, but in the contrary sense falsity, 1672, 2547. And there will be famines, and plagues, and earthquakes in various places means that no cognitions of good and truth will exist any more, and thus that the state of the Church is altered, meant by 'an earthquake'.'

* * * *

That's how Swedenborg described the inner meaning. Not surprisingly, it's pretty consistent with his exegesis of other books. It's interesting to see it applied to the Gospels, where often the literal meaning seems easier to apply to our lives than the stories of the Old Testament.

Next, we'll append the commentary on this chapter that Rev. John Clowes wrote back in the 1850's:

Verses 1, 2. The Lord predicts the vastation and destruction of the church.

Verses 3, 4. And from His Divine Love teaches, that the understanding ought to be opened to the light of truth, to prevent its being misled by falsities.

Verse 5. Because those are about to come who will say that this is of faith, or this is truth, when yet it is neither of faith nor is it truth, but what is false.

Verse 6. Debates also and disputes will exist concerning truths.

Verse 7. And the evil is about to fight against good, and the false against truth, and there will no longer be any knowledge of what is good and true, but perversion instead thereof, whereby the state of the church will be changed.

Verse 8. That this is the first state of the perversion of the church.

Verse 9. That the second state is when good and truth are about to perish, first by perversion, next by denial, and then by contempt for, and aversion from, all things which are of good and truth.

Verse 10. That hence will come enmities against the Lord's Divine Humanity, and likewise against all truth and good.

Verse 11. Also false doctrines and derivations thence.

Verse 12. And with faith will expire charity, according to the falsities of faith.

Verse 13. But they who are in charity, and do not suffer themselves to be seduced, will be saved.

Verse 14. And these things will first be made known in the Christian world, that none may pretend that they were ignorant, and then will be the consummation.

Verse 15. And when such things are observed, which had been predicted concerning vastation as to all things that are of good and truth, they ought to be carefully attended to, especially by those who are in love and faith.

Verse 16. Who, on such occasion, ought not to look elsewhere than to the Lord, thus to love to Him and charity towards the neighbour.

Verse 17. And they who are in the good of charity, ought not to take themselves thence to those things which are of the doctrines of faith.

Verse 18. And they who are in the good of truth, should not take themselves from its good to the doctrines of truth.

Verse 19. For they who are imbued with the good of love to the Lord, and with the good of innocence, will then be in danger of profaning those goods, and thus of eternal damnation.

Verse 20. They, therefore, who are principled in good and truth, ought to take heed lest a removal from those principles should be made precipitately in a state of too much cold arising from self-love, and in a state of too much heat arising from a holy external, concealing inwardly the loves of self and of the world.

Verse 21. For on that occasion will be the highest degree of perversion and vastation of the church as to good and truth, which is profanation.

Verse 22. So that for the salvation of those who are in the life of good, it will be necessary that they who are of the church should be removed from interior goods and truths to exterior.

Verses 23, 24. And the doctrine of those who are in a holy external principle, but in a profane internal, is to be guarded against, because it abounds with falsities.

Verse 24, latter part. Which falsities are supported by confirmations and persuasions grounded in external appearances and fallacies, whereby the simple suffer themselves to be seduced, but against which they are guarded who are in the life of good and truth.

Verse 25. Therefore there is need of prudence and caution.

Verse 26. Since they are not to be believed either as to what they speak about truth, or what they speak about good.

Verse 27. For as the lightning is instantly dissipated, so the internal worship of the Lord will at that time be dissipated also.

Verse 28. And confirmations of what is false will be multiplied by reasonings in the vastated church.

Verse 29. And where there is no longer any faith remaining, all love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbour will disappear, and the knowledges of good and truth will perish, and thus the foundations of the church will be removed.

Verse 30. And then shall be the appearing of Truth Divine, and all who are in the good of love and the truth of faith will be in grief, and then shall be revealed the Word as to its internal sense, in which the Lord is.

Verse 31. And then shall be election by the influx of holy good and truth from the Lord by the angels, and thus the establishment of a new church.

Verse 32. And when this new church is creating by the Lord, then first of all appears the good of the natural principle with its affections and truths.

Verse 33. And when all the things above spoken of appear, then will be the consummation of the church, that is the last judgement and coming of the Lord, consequently then the old church will be rejected, and the new established.

Verse 34. And the Jewish nation in the mean time will not be extirpated like other nations.

Verse 35. And the internals and externals of the former church will perish, but the Word of the Lord will remain.

Verse 36. And the state of the church at that time, as to goods and truths, will not appear to anyone, neither in earth nor in heaven, but to the Lord alone.

Verse 37. But the state of the vastation of those who are of the church will resemble that of the first or most ancient church, the consummation of whose age, or whose last judgement, is described by a flood.

Verse 38, 39. For they will appropriate evil and the false, and will conjoin those principles in themselves, and will not know that they are inundated by them, because they will be ignorant what the good of love to the Lord is, and the good of charity towards the neighbour, also what the truth of faith is, therefore they will not receive the Divine Truth.

Verse 40. Nevertheless they within the church, who are in good, will be saved, and they within the church, who are in evil, will be damned.

Verse 41. And they within the church who are in truth, that is, in the affection thereof from good, will be saved, and they within the church who are in truth that is in the affection thereof from evil, will be damned.

Verses 42, 43, 44. Therefore man ought to procure to himself life from the Lord, which is spiritual life, because he is in ignorance what the state of his life is, which is to remain to eternity.

Verse 45. And for this purpose he should make enquiry concerning the principles of heavenly good and truth, by which the natural man is restored to order, and made receptive of heavenly life.

Verses 46, 47. Until he discovers that those principles are in conjunction with the Lord, and have thence dominion over all inferior principles.

Verses 48, 49, 50, 51. And that if the natural man through unbelief perverts those principles, and appropriates to himself evils and falsities, he will then know nothing of the interior state of his own life, but will be separated from all the goods and truths of heaven, and will have his lot with those who outwardly appear in truth as to doctrine, and in good as to life, but inwardly believe nothing of truth, and will nothing of good, whose state thereof in the other life is most lamentable, from the distraction between evils and goods, and the collision of falsities with truths.


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