The Bible

 

Genesis 1

Study the Inner Meaning

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1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first Day.

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

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   Study the Inner Meaning

Genesis 1: The Creation and Development of our Spiritual Life      

By Rev. William Woofenden

The first book of the Bible is "Genesis", which means "creation". It's a very, very ancient story - one of the oldest stories of humankind, and it's full of symbolic meaning that - still - gets to the core of what it is to be truly human.

The first three days of creation describe the development of the natural degree of man's life. They come first as a preparation for the opening of the spiritual degree of our minds. The creation of the grass, herbs, and trees took place on the third day, and constitutes the third step in regeneration. The creation of the fowl and fish was on the fifth day. Between these on the fourth day the sun, moon, and stars were created.

From the beginning man had light, for all light is from the Lord, but it was not direct light. He was not at first in the clear light of the sun, moon, and stars, which are set in the firmament. The firmament is the internal man. There is a preparation that has to be made before the internal man is opened. At first we think we see the truth and do good from ourselves. Hence only inanimate things are produced. All truth and good are from the Lord who alone is truth and goodness, and only when we come to acknowledge this can we have true love from him, true faith in Him, and true knowledge of spiritual things. These are not seen from the external or natural degree of life.

Again we should note a change of language. It was said, "Let the earth bring forth" the grass, herb, and fruit trees. Now and through the remaining days it is said that "God created." Man has a part to play in his regeneration. There must be in his mind forms into which the warmth of love and the light of faith and of spiritual truths can flow.

When the mind is so prepared, influx from the Lord can be received, with greater power. "And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven." It should be noted that it is the waters that are commanded to bring forth the moving creature that hath life, and that it is not the seas but the waters which are to produce the living creatures. The seas represent the gathering together of knowledges, but by the "waters" are meant the spiritual truths in the mind. So in the Lord's words to the woman of Samaria, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst" (John 4:14). In Ezekiel it is the "waters" issuing from the sanctuary that give life (Ezekiel 47:1). The Psalmist writes, "Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters" (Psalm 104:3). It is not in natural waters that the Lord lays the beams of His chambers. His chambers are the interior principles of His church; the beams give them support and strength. These are said to be laid in the waters because they rest and have their foundation in the genuine truths of the Word. So in Revelation the Word itself is described as a pure river of water of life.

The will faculty in man embraces all his affections and is the internal man. When the sun, moon, and stars—love, faith, and knowledges of spiritual truth—are set in this heaven and begin to impart their warmth and light to the external man, enabling him to think and act from these higher and purer principles, then the external man is gifted with a new life. There may be no apparent change in his outward conduct—he may already be living a moral life—but the motives that direct his acts will be wholly different. And it is the motive that gives character to the act as well as to the actor. He no longer thinks of the truths that he has learned, either natural or spiritual, as the product of his own mind nor of the good, that he does as the result of his own efforts, but thinks of them as wholly from the Lord, who alone is the source of all true light and life.

Before one recognizes clearly that all good and truth come from the Lord, he can bring forth only inanimate things, the grass, herb, and fruit tree, however good and useful these may be. But when he is enlightened by genuine love and faith, his knowledges become the basis for the development of spiritual life and God can create in him the living creatures that have life. First the fishes are created; then the fowl of the air. There is a difference between fishes and birds. The fishes, living in water, represent our affections for natural truths. The great whales, the largest of living creatures, are affections for the great general principles that control the mind. The principle may be either true or false. Of Pharaoh or Egypt it is written, "Thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou earnest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouled at their rivers" (Ezekiel 32:2) Here is pictured a ruling false principle from the natural degree of the mind — Egypt. That is, when the ruling principle is false, it will be a monster making the truths in the mind obscure like filthy or muddy waters.

Another example of the meaning of the whale in a bad sense is in the story of Jonah. When the principle is false it swallows up for a time all the truths that are in the mind. This is the whale swallowing Jonah the prophet. But Divine truth cannot be used by a false principle so as to become a part of its organic structure. Nor can the Divine truth perish. So the whale could not digest Jonah, nor could the prophet perish, but the whale vomited him up.

Spiritually there are whales trying to swallow prophets today, evil principles that try to use Divine truths to attain their ends. In the creation story, however, the whales are affections for the principles of natural truth for the sake of uses to the spiritual man. There is one source of genuine love. The creatures of the fifth day are living because they are animated by this love. Birds fly in the air above the earth. They have the power of flight and enjoy broader views. They represent affections for truth that rise above the natural. They are the thoughts that look at life from the heights of spiritual perception, ideas about the Lord, heaven, and spiritual things. Isaiah writes, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles" (Isaiah 40:31). Birds represent spiritual intelligence, the power to lift us up to understand spiritual truth in heavenly light, through which truth the Lord can impart to us something of the Divine intelligence. So at the baptism of the Lord "The heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him" (Matthew 3:16). So a new knowledge of heavenly life is given, a new perception of our possibilities, and in this higher intelligence a basis for further development is laid. This further development is pictured in the creation of the living creatures upon the earth. These are symbols of the affections. Here, too, it is said, "Let the earth bring forth" and also "And God made the beast of the earth." The creation of living animals on the earth and of man in the image and likeness of God marks the completion of the six days of creation—the six stages in regeneration. Man has first to learn what is to be believed and done and then to do it.

It is the office of the understanding to hear the Word and of the will to do it. In this way the truths are made our own, and the will and understanding make one mind. And when one begins to act from love as well as from faith, he becomes a spiritual man, who is called an image of God, and is given dominion over all things. Thus all things natural and spiritual come to be a delight to him and serviceable to him. To be an image and likeness of God one must act from impulses similar to those of God. This he cannot do until he comes into the final state of regeneration. Then he will not act from selfish motives, as does the natural man, nor from mere obedience to truth, but from love to the Lord and the neighbor. When these loves are developed and rule, to them is given the dominion over all subordinate affections and the fruits of all the growths of intelligence. These are what make man to be a man and cause him to be in the image and likeness of his Maker. Each step in the formation of a truly human character the Lord saw and pronounced good, but of the work of the sixth day it is said, "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, ...

Apocalypse Explained 257

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 402


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 246, 300, 476, 478, 480, 670, 709, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 200, 414

Conjugial Love 132, 156

Divine Love and Wisdom 11, 18, 287, 358

Divine Providence 123, 328

Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Sacred Scripture 14, 103

Heaven and Hell 137

The Last Judgement 20

True Christian Religion 20, 34, 46, 48, 364, 490


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 229, 294, 401, 513, 526, 527, 555, ...

Canons of the New Church 45

Charity 91

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 23, 25, 28

De Verbo (The Word) 14

Spiritual Experiences 1973, 1974, 5605, 6110

Marriage 20, 34, 46, 48, 71

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 2:3, 7, 16, 19, 5:1, 2, 6:1, 21, 8:17, 9:1, 2, 3, 6, 11:7

Exodus 20:11

Deuteronomy 4:19, 32:4

2 Kings 19:15

2 Chronicles 2:11

Nehemiah 9:6

Job 12:7, 9, 26:8, 38:8

Psalms 8:4, 7, 19:2, 24:2, 33:6, 7, 9, 74:16, 95:5, 104:6, 14, 19, 25, 115:15, 16, 121:2, 136:5, 7, 9, 148:4, 7

Proverbs 8:29

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Isaiah 40:26, 45:7, 61:11

Jeremiah 4:23, 10:12, 31:35

Jonah 1:9

Zechariah 12:1

Matthew 19:4

Mark 4:28, 10:6

Luke 3:38

Acts of the Apostles 4:24, 17:29

1 Corinthians 11:7, 15:38

2 Corinthians 4:6, 6:14

Colossians 3:10

1 Timothy 4:4

Hebrews 6:8, 11:3

James 3:9

2 Peter 5, 6

Revelation 4:11

Bible Word Meanings

beginning
In the Word, "beginning" doesn't just mean the beginning of something in time. In the inner sense, it means the initial phase of a spiritual...

God
When the Bible speaks of "Jehovah," it is representing love itself, the inmost love that is the essence of the Lord. That divine love is...

created
The creation of heaven and earth in the first chapter of Genesis means the new creation of the celestial church called 'Man'.

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...

earth
Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

form
A person who has yet to be regenerated is called 'a void and an empty earth', and also 'ground where no good or truth has...

darkness
"Darkness" is a state without light. "Light" is truth from the Lord, so "darkness" represents a state where truth is lacking. Here's a cogent passage...

Face of the deep
The face of the deep (Gen. 1:2) signifies the lust of the unregenerate man, and the falsities thence originating.

face
“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

Spirit of God
'The spirit of God,' as in Genesis 1:2, signifies the divine mercy of the Lord. 'The spirit of God' is His emanation. 'The spirit of...

Face of the waters
The face of the water (Gen. 1:2) signifies the knowledges of good and truth.

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...

light
In the Word, “light” in the highest sense represents Divine Truth: knowledge, ideas, understanding that come to us from the Lord. In lesser degrees...

saw
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...

good
It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

called
'To proclaim' signifies exploration from influx of the Lord.

day
The expression 'even to this day' or 'today' sometimes appears in the Word, as in Genesis 19:37-38, 22:14, 26:33, 32:32, 35:20, and 47:26. In a...

night
The sun in the Bible represents the Lord, with its heat representing His love and its light representing His wisdom. “Daytime,” then, represents a state...

evening
Since the light and warmth of the sun represent the Lord’s wisdom and love, it makes sense that evening, a time when the light and...

morning
Morning comes with the rising of the sun, and the sun – which gives life to the earth with its warmth and light – represents...

Firmament
The firmament, as in Genesis 1, signifies the internal man. The firmament of heaven is mutual love.

midst
The "midst" of something in the Bible represents the thing that is most central and most important to the spiritual state being described, the motivation...

under
Generally speaking things that are seen as lower physically in the Bible represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases this...

one
A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

place
'A room' or 'place' denotes state.

land
Generally in the Bible a "country" means a political subdivision ruled by a king, or sometimes a tribe with a territory ruled by a king...

seas
Water generally represents what Swedenborg calls “natural truth,” or true concepts about day-to-day matters and physical things. Since all water ultimately flows into the seas,...

grass
Every herb in the Word signifies some species of scientifics. 'Herb bearing seed,' as mentioned in Genesis 1:29, signifies every truth which regards use. 'Green...

herb
Every herb in the Word signifies some species of scientifics. 'Herb bearing seed,' as mentioned in Genesis 1:29, signifies every truth which regards use. 'Green...

seed
'A seed' signifies love, and everyone who has love, as in Genesis 12:7. 8:15, 16. 'A seed' signifies faith grounded in charity. 'A seed' signifies...

fruit
We tend to think of "fruit" in two ways in natural language. One is as food that grows on trees and vines, sweet and delicious,...

tree
'Trees,' in general, signify the perceptions when discussing the celestial self, but when related to the spiritual church, they signify knowledges. A person in the...

Third day
'The third day' signifies the end of a state of preparation for reception, and so an end of purification, as in Exodus 19:16. 'The third...

third
'Three' denotes fullness, and 'a third,' not full.

lights
'The two luminaries' denote love and faith in the internal self.

signs
'A token,' as in Genesis 9:12, 13, 17, signifies causing it to be.

days
"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

two
The number "two" has two different meanings in the Bible. In most cases "two" indicates a joining together or unification. This is easy to see...

Great lights
Great lights, as in luminaries, signify love and faith, and are called in Genesis 1:14-17, the sun, moon, and stars.

great
The word "great" is used in the Bible to represent a state with a strong degree of love and affection, of the desire for good;...

greater
The word "great" is used in the Bible to represent a state with a strong degree of love and affection, of the desire for good;...

give
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

fourth
The number "four" in the Bible represents things being linked together or joined. This is partly because four is two times two, and two represents...

life
'Lives' is used in the plural, because of the will and understanding, and because these two lives make one.

fowl
Fowl signify spiritual truth; a bird, natural truth; and a winged thing, sensual truth. Fowl signify intellectual things. Fowl signify thoughts, and all that creeps...

fly
To fly, when spoken of the Lord, signifies to foresee and to provide. To fly, when predicated of the Lord, also signifies omnipresence. To fly...

open
To open,' as in Revelation 9, signifies communication and conjunction.

whales
'A whale,' as in Jeremiah 51:34, signifies people who possess the universal aspects of the knowledges of faith, as known, and apply them to evil...

living
'Lives' is used in the plural, because of the will and understanding, and because these two lives make one.

winged
'Wings' signify spiritual truths. 'Wings,' when related to the Lord, signify the divine spiritual. In the opposite sense, 'wings' relate to falsities and rationalizations from...

blessed
The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

fruitful
To be fruitful is predicated of goodnesses, and to be multiplied, of truths.

multiply
'Spreading themselves on the earth,' as in Genesis 8:17, signifies the internal self operating on the external.

fill
There are two ways something can be filled: It can be filled with something bad against the wishes of its owner, or it can be...

beast
"Beasts" represent the affection for doing good things, a true desire to do them from the heart. In the negative sense, "beasts" stand for the...

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,...

image
'An image' signifies falsities from self-derived intelligence.

sea
'The sea and the waves roaring' means heresy and controversies in the church and individual.

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

own
In many cases, the spiritual meaning of "own," both as a verb and as an adjective, is relatively literal. When people are described as the...

male
Because of their understanding of spiritual marriage, the people of the Most Ancient church perceived 'male and female' as two faculties in the spiritual self:...

male and female
Because of their understanding of spiritual marriage, the people of the Most Ancient church perceived 'male and female' as two faculties in the spiritual self:...

female
Female signifies good.

given
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

sixth
Like most numbers in the Bible, "six" can have various meanings depending on context, but has a couple that are primary. When used in relation...

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.


Our Bodies Connect to God's Design of the Universe

The human body is a microcosm of the divine design. Join us to learn about its connection to heaven and what its form can teach us about spiritual reality and how our minds work.


The Creation Story: Signs of Life - S&L Short Clips

The Biblical creation story is about the re-creation of our minds. Learn how the first signs of life on the third day symbolize heavenly ideas taking root in our lives.


Swedenborg 101: The Basic Nature of Everything - Swedenborg and Life

In this episode, host Curtis Childs and featured guests explore what eighteenth-century Christian mystic and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg learned during his mystical explorations of the spiritual world. They delve into his life, spiritual awakening, and resulting philosophies about the relationship between this life and the afterlife.


What the 7 Days of Creation Mean - Swedenborg and Life

Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


What the 7 Days of Creation Mean - Swedenborg and Life

Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


What the 7 Days of Creation Mean - Swedenborg and Life

Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


What the 7 Days of Creation Mean - Swedenborg and Life

Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


What the 7 Days of Creation Mean - Swedenborg and Life

Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


What the 7 Days of Creation Mean - Swedenborg and Life

Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


Does God Want us to Dominate Nature? - Swedenborg Minute

Is there a religious call to exploit nature? Here, Swedenborg tackles a bit of text that has led some people to believe just that.

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.


 Animals and Plants in Heaven
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Celebrating the Seven Days of Creation
Offers a wide array of ideas for play time, art projects, field trips, and more.
Activity | Ages up to 10

 Correspondences of Light
Illustrations of three stories in the Word that talk about light. (Quotations are the King James translation.)
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Creation Chain
Make a paper chain with the names (or pictures) of the people in your family and other things that the Lord has made. Or make a paper chain that illustrates several things in creation that depend on one another. 
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Creation Diorama
A great family project to build and display in your home.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Creation Mobile
Assemble this lovely mobile to remind you of all the Lord's precious gifts to us.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Creation Poem with Hand Motions
A lovely poem about creation with hand motions.
Activity | Ages up to 10

 Creation | Seas to Trees Pop-up
Color cut-and-fold pop-up project showing dry land rising out of the water and then growing a tree illustrating Genesis 1:9-13. Sample activity from Creation: reflection of God, Level C, ages 11-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Creation Sequencing Cards
Children can color and cut out these cards, then practice putting them in order from day 1-7.
Activity | Ages 4 - 10

 Creation Story (circle book project)
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Creation | The First Day - Level A
Complete lesson with activity choices: light and darkness game and song, separate light and darkness collage, scripted story discussion, coloring page, and a memory verse. Sample lesson from Creation: reflection of God, Level A, ages 3-6.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 6

 Creation | The First Day - Level B
Complete lesson with activity choices: light and darkness experiment with accompanying video, let there be light folding paper project, scripted story discussion, coloring page, and a memory verse. Sample lesson from Creation: reflection of God, Level B, ages 7-10.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Creation | The First Day - Level C
Complete lesson with activity choices: living in the dark--group blindfold games, video and discussion on the bible, creation and a can of peaches, scripted story discussion, and an illustrated quotation card. Sample Lesson from Creation: reflection of God, Level C.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Family Worship: The Story of Creation
Ideas for reading and discussing the story of creation in Genesis 1. Includes suggestions for extending the experience such as going for a nature walk.
Religion Lesson | Ages 3 - 15

 God Said What? The Creation Story
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Memory Verse: Giving Thanks for Creation
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Life Is Eternal
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Men and Women Are Different
Studies confirm that differences between men and women extend beyond the physical body, affecting engagement on all levels of life.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Overview of Creation Reflection of God Levels A, B, C for ages 3-14
Overview of Creation: reflection of God, Levels A, B, C for ages 3-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Prophecies of the Advent
Prophecies of Jesus' advent on earth often use the image of new light dawning in darkness to describe the spiritual impact His birth would have on the world.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Qualities of the Lord
Look at colored pictures of stories from the Word. Using a word bank, identify the quality of the Lord shown in each picture.
Project | Ages 9 - 14

 Quotes: Giving Thanks for Creation
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Stars
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Summary of Creation and Thankfulness
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Sun and the Fruit of Creation
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Thankfulness
A Thanksgiving "wreath" to color and display.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Thanking the Lord for Creation
How can your words and actions show the Lord that you appreciate His creation?
Activity | Ages over 15

 The Creation
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Creation: A General View
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Creation: The Fifth and Sixth Days
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Creation: The First Four Days
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Days of Creation Collage Book or Mural
Ideas from an art teacher for making a creation book or mural.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 The Fifth Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Fifth Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The First Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The First Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Fourth Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Fourth Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Greatest Gift
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 The Meaning of the Tree of Life
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Purpose of Creation
Birth brings a person into the natural world, but God's ultimate purpose is that a person be born again into heavenly life, the life of the spirit.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Second Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Second Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Seven Days of Creation
An illustrated story of the seven days of creation.
Story | Ages 3 - 7

 The Sixth Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Sixth Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Story of Creation
Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..
Religion Lesson | Ages 4 - 17

 The Story of Creation: Family Worship Ideas
Detailed notes on the seven days of creation.
Article | Ages over 18

 The Third Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Third Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Universe
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Word Made Flesh
Like Genesis, the Gospel of John begins with creation. While Genesis describes the creation of natural light, John describes a second creation into spiritual light.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Two Great Lights
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Using the Lord’s Creation
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Where Did Everything Come From?
Grandpa explains to Annika and Peter where everything came from.
Story | Ages 4 - 6

 Why Are We Here?
Lesson and activities to explore why we were created - what God intends for us.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

Commentary

 

Genesis 1: The Creation and Development of our Spiritual Life      

By Rev. William Woofenden

The first book of the Bible is "Genesis", which means "creation". It's a very, very ancient story - one of the oldest stories of humankind, and it's full of symbolic meaning that - still - gets to the core of what it is to be truly human.

The first three days of creation describe the development of the natural degree of man's life. They come first as a preparation for the opening of the spiritual degree of our minds. The creation of the grass, herbs, and trees took place on the third day, and constitutes the third step in regeneration. The creation of the fowl and fish was on the fifth day. Between these on the fourth day the sun, moon, and stars were created.

From the beginning man had light, for all light is from the Lord, but it was not direct light. He was not at first in the clear light of the sun, moon, and stars, which are set in the firmament. The firmament is the internal man. There is a preparation that has to be made before the internal man is opened. At first we think we see the truth and do good from ourselves. Hence only inanimate things are produced. All truth and good are from the Lord who alone is truth and goodness, and only when we come to acknowledge this can we have true love from him, true faith in Him, and true knowledge of spiritual things. These are not seen from the external or natural degree of life.

Again we should note a change of language. It was said, "Let the earth bring forth" the grass, herb, and fruit trees. Now and through the remaining days it is said that "God created." Man has a part to play in his regeneration. There must be in his mind forms into which the warmth of love and the light of faith and of spiritual truths can flow.

When the mind is so prepared, influx from the Lord can be received, with greater power. "And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven." It should be noted that it is the waters that are commanded to bring forth the moving creature that hath life, and that it is not the seas but the waters which are to produce the living creatures. The seas represent the gathering together of knowledges, but by the "waters" are meant the spiritual truths in the mind. So in the Lord's words to the woman of Samaria, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst" (John 4:14). In Ezekiel it is the "waters" issuing from the sanctuary that give life (Ezekiel 47:1). The Psalmist writes, "Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters" (Psalm 104:3). It is not in natural waters that the Lord lays the beams of His chambers. His chambers are the interior principles of His church; the beams give them support and strength. These are said to be laid in the waters because they rest and have their foundation in the genuine truths of the Word. So in Revelation the Word itself is described as a pure river of water of life.

The will faculty in man embraces all his affections and is the internal man. When the sun, moon, and stars—love, faith, and knowledges of spiritual truth—are set in this heaven and begin to impart their warmth and light to the external man, enabling him to think and act from these higher and purer principles, then the external man is gifted with a new life. There may be no apparent change in his outward conduct—he may already be living a moral life—but the motives that direct his acts will be wholly different. And it is the motive that gives character to the act as well as to the actor. He no longer thinks of the truths that he has learned, either natural or spiritual, as the product of his own mind nor of the good, that he does as the result of his own efforts, but thinks of them as wholly from the Lord, who alone is the source of all true light and life.

Before one recognizes clearly that all good and truth come from the Lord, he can bring forth only inanimate things, the grass, herb, and fruit tree, however good and useful these may be. But when he is enlightened by genuine love and faith, his knowledges become the basis for the development of spiritual life and God can create in him the living creatures that have life. First the fishes are created; then the fowl of the air. There is a difference between fishes and birds. The fishes, living in water, represent our affections for natural truths. The great whales, the largest of living creatures, are affections for the great general principles that control the mind. The principle may be either true or false. Of Pharaoh or Egypt it is written, "Thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou earnest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouled at their rivers" (Ezekiel 32:2) Here is pictured a ruling false principle from the natural degree of the mind — Egypt. That is, when the ruling principle is false, it will be a monster making the truths in the mind obscure like filthy or muddy waters.

Another example of the meaning of the whale in a bad sense is in the story of Jonah. When the principle is false it swallows up for a time all the truths that are in the mind. This is the whale swallowing Jonah the prophet. But Divine truth cannot be used by a false principle so as to become a part of its organic structure. Nor can the Divine truth perish. So the whale could not digest Jonah, nor could the prophet perish, but the whale vomited him up.

Spiritually there are whales trying to swallow prophets today, evil principles that try to use Divine truths to attain their ends. In the creation story, however, the whales are affections for the principles of natural truth for the sake of uses to the spiritual man. There is one source of genuine love. The creatures of the fifth day are living because they are animated by this love. Birds fly in the air above the earth. They have the power of flight and enjoy broader views. They represent affections for truth that rise above the natural. They are the thoughts that look at life from the heights of spiritual perception, ideas about the Lord, heaven, and spiritual things. Isaiah writes, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles" (Isaiah 40:31). Birds represent spiritual intelligence, the power to lift us up to understand spiritual truth in heavenly light, through which truth the Lord can impart to us something of the Divine intelligence. So at the baptism of the Lord "The heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him" (Matthew 3:16). So a new knowledge of heavenly life is given, a new perception of our possibilities, and in this higher intelligence a basis for further development is laid. This further development is pictured in the creation of the living creatures upon the earth. These are symbols of the affections. Here, too, it is said, "Let the earth bring forth" and also "And God made the beast of the earth." The creation of living animals on the earth and of man in the image and likeness of God marks the completion of the six days of creation—the six stages in regeneration. Man has first to learn what is to be believed and done and then to do it.

It is the office of the understanding to hear the Word and of the will to do it. In this way the truths are made our own, and the will and understanding make one mind. And when one begins to act from love as well as from faith, he becomes a spiritual man, who is called an image of God, and is given dominion over all things. Thus all things natural and spiritual come to be a delight to him and serviceable to him. To be an image and likeness of God one must act from impulses similar to those of God. This he cannot do until he comes into the final state of regeneration. Then he will not act from selfish motives, as does the natural man, nor from mere obedience to truth, but from love to the Lord and the neighbor. When these loves are developed and rule, to them is given the dominion over all subordinate affections and the fruits of all the growths of intelligence. These are what make man to be a man and cause him to be in the image and likeness of his Maker. Each step in the formation of a truly human character the Lord saw and pronounced good, but of the work of the sixth day it is said, "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."

The Bible

 

Matthew 3:16

Study the Inner Meaning

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16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Matthew 3      

By Rev. Dr. Ray Silverman

Chapter 3.

Preparing the Way

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1. And in those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,

2. And saying, “Repent ye; for the kingdom of the heavens is near.”

3. For this is he that was declared by Isaiah the prophet, saying, “The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.’”

4. And the same John had his clothing of camel’s hair, and a leather belt about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

5. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the countryside of the Jordan,

6. And were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

7. And seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming upon his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers, who has shown you to flee from the anger to come?

8. Therefore make fruits worthy of repentance;

9. And think it not right to say within yourselves, ‘We have Abraham [for our] father,’ for I say to you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

10. And already also the axe is laid to the root of the trees; therefore every tree which makes not good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire.

11. I indeed baptize you with water to repentance; but He that comes after me is stronger than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to carry; He shall baptize you with [the] Holy Spirit and with fire,

12. Whose fan [is] in His hand; and He will purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the barn, and will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
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Taking up residence in Nazareth of Galilee, as we have seen, represents a state of receptivity to basic truth. It is that place in each of us which is eager to receive the truth when it hears it without filtering it through confusing theological systems that can introduce distortions. It represents our earliest states of receptivity before our understanding is corrupted by misleading teachings, faulty reasoning, and selfish desires (Herod and Herod’s son).

Herod and his son were the great Roman kings of Judea. This was also the land of the entrenched religious establishment. It was a time of widespread corruption in both religion and politics. In sacred scripture, then, Judea represents a spiritual state in which ideas and attitudes — many of which are diametrically opposed to the teachings of genuine religion — are deeply embedded in people’s consciousness; these false idea and negative attitudes must first be uprooted before spiritual progress can begin.

The uprooting of false religious principles is now represented by the coming of John the Baptist — the central figure of this new episode. 1 The focus now shifts not only from Jesus to John the Baptist, but also from Nazareth to Judea. This is the land of the political authorities and religious leaders. Interestingly, Judea — the region that included the thriving metropolis of Jerusalem — is described as a “wilderness.” We read, “In those days, John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea” (3:1). This accurately describes the state of religion and politics in the land of Judea at that time — a spiritual wilderness. 2

In order to have an accurate idea of what is being represented spiritually, we need to understand what the biblical writers meant by the term, “wilderness.” It does not refer (as it often does today) to a place of unspoiled growth with flourishing trees, fertile fields, and untamed wildlife. On the contrary, the biblical writers used the term “wilderness” to describe a barren place where nothing useful is produced. While Judea may have been flourishing materially, it is nevertheless called a “wilderness” because all truth was being destroyed, and spiritual values could not take root. In terms of authentic spirituality, it was more like a barren desert than a lush forest. Religious leaders ruled with an iron hand, teaching people the traditions of men rather than the commandments of God.

While the religious leaders may have thought that they were teaching people the way to heaven, they were greatly mistaken. That’s why John the Baptist’s message is so alarming to the religious establishment: “Repent,” he says, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (3:2). Apparently, the religious leaders were not promoting the kingdom of heaven. Like it or not, repentance would be necessary.

But what is repentance?

The term usually suggests feeling sorry for what we have done. It is related to words like “penitent,” (a person who is sorry for his actions), “penance” (atoning for sins), and “penitentiary” (a place where people are sent to reflect on their transgressions). While these concepts are certainly a part of repentance, it includes much more. Not only does it involve recognizing, acknowledging and feeling guilty for our sins, but it also involves prayer to God, and the resolve to begin a new life in which sinful thoughts and behaviors are put away. 3 To put away “sinful thoughts and behaviors” is to reject any thought or behavior that is opposed to the Ten Commandments. This is what prepares the way for the Lord.

John the Baptist, then, represents the basic teachings of the Word. Those who heed his warning will be baptized — that is, they will wash themselves by means of the truths of the letter of the Word. This is called a baptism by water, because water represents divine truth — especially the clear, refreshing, life-giving truths of the literal sense. These are the truths that give us spiritual life, just as water gives us natural life. 4

But the letter of sacred scripture is filled with spirit. Therefore John says, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (3:11).

Spiritually understood, John’s baptism, is an introduction to the most basic truths of scripture (baptism of water). When we strive to live according to these truths from faith, we undergo a baptism of the Holy Spirit. But when we strive to live according to these truths from love, believing that the power to do so comes from God alone, we undergo a baptism of fire. It is the fire of God’s love blazing in us. 5

When this fire arises in us, we no longer live according to the truth because of mere obedience; nor do we live according to the truth because we see and understand that it is true; rather, we live according to the truth because we love living according to the truth. This is the baptism of fire.

Love to the Lord is spiritual fire. 6 It is a fire that gives life. But when self-love and love of possessing the things of the world supplants a holy love to the Lord, a different kind of fire sets in — an “unquenchable fire” which leads to spiritual death. In sacred scripture this is described as the Lord separating the useful wheat from the useless chaff: “He will gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (3:12). 7

Why Jesus Needed to be Baptized by John

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13. Then comes Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.

14. But John forbade Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by Thee, and comest Thou to me?”

15. And Jesus answering said to him, “Let [it] now [be so]; for thus it is becoming to us to fulfill all justice.” Then he let Him.
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In the literal narrative, Jesus now approaches John. This is a picture of the spiritual sense of the Word (Jesus) approaching the literal sense (John), seeking to be baptized. But John tries to prevent Him, saying “I have need to be baptized by You, and You are coming to me?” (3:14). John has good reason to be hesitant. He knows that Jesus lives according to a higher degree of spirituality than anything that John can confer upon Him through baptism. So, why would Jesus need to be baptized by John? After all, Jesus already contains the divinity that governs the universe and provides all things.

But this inner divinity is still clothed in fallible humanity — the heredity nature that Jesus took on through His birth into the world. If humanity had remained in its original pristine state, there would be no need for John the Baptist, or the written Word, or even the Lord’s physical advent. Humanity would have known intuitively and directly the inmost truths of heaven, and would have lived according to them. People would have acknowledged God’s presence and leading at all times, fully believing that life is from God alone and not from themselves. Over the course of many years, however, and through many generations, people came to believe that life originated with themselves rather than being a gift of God. This is represented by Adam’s eating from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” 8

As people gradually turned away from God, believing the appearance that life is from themselves, they fell away from their original state of spontaneous love for God and for the neighbor. In theological terms this is referred to as “the fall of man” and “Adam’s sin.” 9 In accommodation to this “fallen state” of humanity, and as a means of leading us back to our original awareness of God as the source of our life, it was provided that a written Word be given — the Word of God — to help lift humanity from its fallen condition. In this way, through the acquisition of truth which could be applied to life, humanity would have the chance to regain its original integrity. This would take place first through learning the literal truths of sacred scripture (being baptized by John), and later through learning and living the spiritual truths of sacred scripture (being baptized by the Holy Spirit and by fire).

In spite of the provision of a written Word, humanity continued to fall away from its original state. And as humanity continued to fall, it no longer read, studied, or understood the scriptures. Those who did read them — the religious leaders — began to twist and pervert the Word so as to serve their own ends. As a result, God could no longer reach humanity directly (as He had done in the beginning), or even indirectly through the Word. He had to come in Person, clothed in finite humanity.

Like each of us, He had to be born, to learn, to be baptized, and thus to enter upon His spiritual path according to order. Even though Jesus was God Incarnate, His life on earth would be a gradual process of casting off all that He had derived from the mother (everything that pertained to the corrupt loves of self and the world), gradually replacing those corrupted desires with pure divinity from the “Father” within Him — His Divine Soul.

This process would begin by learning truths from the literal sense of the Word — signified by being baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. In this way it was altogether fitting, and necessary, that Jesus be baptized by John. This is meant by Jesus’ words, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting to fulfill all righteousness” (3:15).

Each of us must go through a similar process, beginning with learning the simple truths of the literal sense of the Word (John the Baptist), and then applying them to our lives (Jesus). This is exactly what Jesus does, beginning where each of us must begin — with baptism, and moving gradually onward and upward. Just as Jesus gradually glorifies His humanity and becomes more fully divine, we gradually shed our inhumanity and become more fully human.

Interestingly, the words, “Permit it to be so now,” are the first words spoken by Jesus in Matthew, as well as His first recorded action. His words and this initial action indicate humility — the willingness to freely submit Himself to baptism.

These first words and this first action contain a great lesson: even Jesus needs to first learn the truths of the letter of the Word. There are times in our lives, too, when we might feel that we have “outgrown” religion, or no longer need the simple truths of the Word. But we are greatly mistaken to believe that we no longer need those basic truths. Like Jesus, we must “permit it to be so now.” We must continue to learn those basic truths, more and more deeply, so that we can continue to learn and grow.

The Heavens are Opened

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16. And Jesus, being baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and he saw the spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him;

17. And behold, a voice out of the heavens saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
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As we begin to learn, study and apply the simple truths of the letter of the Word to our lives, something wonderful happens. We read, “Then, Jesus, when He had been baptized, came up immediately from the water; and behold the heavens were opened to Him” (3:16).

The “opening of the heavens” refers to the opening of the inner meaning of the Word, the understanding of the spiritual sense which is contained within the literal words. Normally, this takes a considerable amount of time as new insights come to us through long years of study and application. But for Jesus, whose soul is Divine, this happens “immediately.” We read, “And he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’” (3:16-17). 10

Jesus being baptized by John represents the coming together of the spiritual sense of the Word (Jesus) and the literal sense of the Word (John the Baptist). The result is that the heavens are opened. The same is true when the externals of our life are in agreement with spiritual principles. The natural and the spiritual become one, and we experience the kingdom of God. The spirit of God comes upon us and “the heavens are opened.”

Our spiritual progress, while similar to the process that Jesus goes through, is much slower. And while it is true that we have His divine aid every step of the way, there are still obstacles to overcome and problems to deal with. Truths from the literal sense of the Word do indeed initiate the process for us, but we must strive to put them to use. Inevitably, we will meet opposition, because there are parts of ourselves that resist living in accordance with these truths. This resistance, in which our inherited and acquired patterns of selfishness are aroused, is called “temptation.” Because we now know what is true, we must compel ourselves to live accordingly.

Along with the acquisition of truth comes the opportunity to either confirm ourselves in it, or, if we choose, to turn away from it. This time of decision is called “temptation.” It is a moment in our life — and there will be many such moments — when we can make a newly learned truth “our own” by actually using it. As we mature, and as our love for God and for others deepens, the temptations will also deepen — to the point where it sometimes may feel like we are giving up our very lives. The greater the love, the greater the temptation. The more we love, the more we grieve. 11

While this can be a most grueling process, it is also most necessary. That’s because we become spiritual beings through the process of temptation, a process which begins as we learn the truth (baptism) and then struggle to live according to it.

Accordingly, as soon as Jesus’ baptism is accomplished, He is immediately tempted by the devil. The truth that He has learned cannot merely remain in the memory. It has to be tried in the fires of temptation. And so, as our divine narrative continues, the baptism by water leads to trial by fire.

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Footnotes:

1. This is the first mention of John the Baptist. It will be important to keep in mind that John the Baptist represents the straightforward teachings of the literal sense of the Word. For example, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Like camel’s hair, these teachings come across as harsh, coarse and inflexible. They are “tough as leather.” Here how Swedenborg explains the representation of John the Baptist: Apocalypse Explained 619:16: “John the Baptist represents the exteriors of the Word [literal meaning of scripture], which are natural, like his clothing…. namely, camel’s hair and the leather belt about his loins…. The Word in its most exterior sense is called ‘the sense of the letter’ or ‘the natural sense,’ for this is was what John represented.”

2. Apocalypse Explained 730:4: “In the Word ‘wilderness’ and also ‘solitude’ and ‘waste places’ are mentioned in many passages, and these signify the state of the church when there is no longer any truth in it because there is no good. This state of the church is called a ‘wilderness’ because in the spiritual world the place where those dwell who are not in truths because they are not in good is like a wilderness, where there is no verdure in the plains, nor harvest in the fields, nor fruit trees in the gardens, but a barren land, parched and dry.” [This is the usual significance of the term “wilderness.” However, Swedenborg also describes it as a wild, uninhabitable place filled with dangerous animals — thus a correspondence of hell. See, for example, Apocalypse Explained 730:42]

3. True Christian Religion 528: “Actual repentance is examining oneself, recognizing and acknowledging one's sins, praying to the Lord, and beginning a new life.”

4. Apocalypse Revealed 378: “The Lord washes or purifies a person by the Divine truth…. ‘Water’ signifies the truth of the Word, which becomes good by living a life according to it.”

5. Arcana Coelestia 9229: “‘Baptizing with the Holy Spirit’ means regenerating by means of the good of faith; and ‘baptizing with fire’ means regenerating by means of the good of love.”

6. Arcana Coelestia 7950:2 “The good of charity is like a flame from which is light; for good is of love, and love is spiritual fire, from which comes enlightenment.”

7. Arcana Coelestia 4906: “Good is actually spiritual fire, from which comes the spiritual heat which vivifies, and evil is the fire and the consequent heat which consumes…. This spiritual fire or heat which produces life becomes a burning and consuming fire with the evil, for with them it is turned into this kind of fire.”

8. True Christian Religion 48[17]: “‘The tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ signifies a person who believes that life is from oneself, and not from God; in other words, that love and wisdom, charity and faith, that is, good and truth in the person and belong to the person rather than to God. People believe this because in whatever they think and will, say and do, they seem and appear to behave exactly as if they did so of themselves. So since they go so far as to persuade themselves that they are God, the serpent said: ‘God knows that on the day you eat of the fruit of that tree your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’”

9. True Christian Religion 444: “People were created so that everything they will, think and do appears to be inside them and so to come from them. Without this appearance a person would not be a human being, for people could not receive, retain or make as it were their own any trace of good and truth, or of love and wisdom. It follows from this that unless this were exactly the appearance, a person could not be linked with God, and so no one could have everlasting life. However, if this appearance induces people to believe that they themselves, and not the Lord, are the source of what they will, think and do, however much it looks as if they are the source, they turn good in themselves into evil and so produce a source of evil in themselves. This is called ‘Adam’s sin.’”

10. In Swedenborg’s translation, it is John the Baptist who sees the dove and hears the voice — not Jesus. In True Christian Religion 164, he writes: “When Jesus was baptized, behold, the heavens were opened, and John saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove, and alighting upon Him; and a voice from heaven saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” This is also consistent with what is written in John: “And John bore witness, saying, ‘I saw the spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on Him’” (John 1:32).

11. Arcana Coelestia 1690:3: “All temptation is an assault upon the love in which a person is, and the temptation is in the same degree as is the love.”

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From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 870, 2798, 4255, 10239

Apocalypse Revealed 504

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 32

Doctrine of the Lord 51

True Christian Religion 144, 164, 342, 668, 684


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 283, 475

Canons of the New Church 17, 39, 43

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  Spiritual Topics:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Isaiah 11:2, 42:1, 61:1

Ezekiel 1:1

Bible Word Meanings

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...

opened
To open,' as in Revelation 9, signifies communication and conjunction.

saw
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...

Spirit of God
In the Word, the 'Holy spirit' means divine truth, and also the divine virtue and operation that proceed from God. (True Christian Religion 139)In another...

spirit
'The seven spirits' in Matthew 12:45 signify all falsities of evil, and as a result, a total extinction of goodness and truth. 'The seven spirits'...

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

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.


 Baptism of the Lord
Use felt tip markers to draw a picture of John baptizing the Lord in the Jordan River. Then dip a paintbrush in water and go over the picture to give the effect of watercolor. 
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Dove Poster or Mobile
The dove symbolizes purification by Divine truth. Make a poster or mobile with the color picture of a dove and truths which can help us "clean up" our lives.
Project | Ages 11 - 17

 Flight into Egypt
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 God Is a Divine Man
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Jesus Comes to John the Baptist
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 John the Baptist
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Lord's Baptism
Put together this project to make a picture of the Lord that can be moved to show Him going into the waters of the Jordan to be baptized. 
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Quotes: The Promise of Baptism
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 The Dove
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 The Lord’s Baptism
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Lord’s Baptism (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Lord’s Baptism (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Lord’s Baptism (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Lord's Baptism: Matthew
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 You Are My Beloved Son (sheet music)
Sheet music for a beautiful song about the Lord’s baptism.
Song | Ages over 11


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