The Bible


Matthew 24



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.




Explanation of Matthew 24


By New Christian Bible Study Staff

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:

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"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'.'

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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.