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 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.

Genesis 1:1-5 >> 03:55
Genesis 1:6-8 >> 10:28
Genesis 1:9-13 >> 15:10
Genesis 1:14-19 >> 27:16
Genesis 1:20-23 >> 31:59
Genesis 1:24-31 >> 40:26

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
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Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..
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 The Story of Creation: Family Worship Ideas
Detailed notes on the seven days of creation.
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Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
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 The Third Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

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 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
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 Where Did Everything Come From?
Grandpa explains to Annika and Peter where everything came from.
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 Why Are We Here?
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From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #487

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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487. 'Days means periods of time and states in general. This has been shown in Chapter 1, where the 'days of creation' have no other meaning. In the Word it is very common for a whole period of time to be called 'a day', as it clearly is in the present verse and in verses 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 27, 31, below; and therefore the states that belong to periods of time in general are meant by 'days' as well. And when 'years' is attached, then periods of years mean the natures of those states, and so the states in particular.

[2] The most ancient people had their own particular numbers which they would use to mean different aspects of the Church - for instance, the numbers three, seven, ten, twelve, and many which they obtained from these and other numbers - and in so doing incorporated states of the Church. These numbers therefore contain arcana that would require considerable effort to unravel. Really a number was an evaluation of the states of the Church. The same feature occurs throughout the Word, especially in the prophetical. And the religious ceremonies of the Jewish Church also entail numbers specifying periods of time as well as quantities; for example, in connection with sacrifices, minchahs, oblations, and other practices, which in every case have special reference to holy things. Consequently eight hundred in this verse, nine hundred and thirty in the next, and the numbers of years mentioned in the verses that follow after that, embody in particular more matters than can possibly be retold; matters, that is to say, which have to do with changes in the state of their Church in relationship to their own general state. Later on, in the Lord's Divine mercy, the meaning of the simple numbers up to twelve will be given, for without knowing these first of all no one can grasp what compound numbers mean.

(References: Genesis 5:4)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 893, 931, 1105, 1332, 1429, 1963, 1988, 2075, 2103, 2109, 2111, 2199, 2213, 2252, 2269, 2575, 2636, 2649, 2726, 2788, 2838, 2905, 3016, 3176, 3251, 3252, 3281, 3298, 3390, 3405, 3419, 3462, 3469, 3498, 3613, 3703, 3785, 3824, ...

The White Horse 10

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 1, 259


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 39, 124


   Swedenborg Research Tools


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

The Bible

 

Mark 4:28

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28 For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Mark 4      

By Rev. Dr. Ray Silverman

Chapter Four

The Parable of the Sower

1. And again He began to teach by the sea, and a crowd of many was gathered to Him, so that He stepped into a ship to sit in the sea; and all the crowd was near the sea on the land.

2. And He taught them many things in parables, and said to them in His teaching,

3. Hear: Behold, a sower went out to sow.

4. And it came to pass, as he sowed, it indeed fell along the way, and the birds of the sky came and devoured it.

5. And other fell on a rocky [place], where it had not much earth, and straightway it sprang up, on account of not having depth of earth;

6. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and because of not having root, it withered away.

7. And other fell into thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and yielded not fruit.

8. And other fell into good earth, and gave fruit, coming up and growing, and brought [forth] by thirty, and by sixty, and by a hundred.

9. And He said to them, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”

10. And when He was alone, they that were about Him with the twelve asked Him the parable.

11. And He said to them, “To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to those that are outside, all things are done in parables;

12. That looking they may look, and not see; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest they should be converted and [their] sins should be forgiven them.”

13. And He says to them, “Do you not know this parable? And how will you know all parables?

14. The Sower sows the Word.

15. And these are they along the way, where the Word is sown; and when they have heard, straightway Satan comes and takes away the Word that was sown in their hearts.

16. And these are they likewise that are sown on rocky [places], who, when they have heard the Word, straightway receive it with joy,

17. And do not have root in themselves, but are temporary; afterwards when affliction or persecution arises because of the Word, straightway they are caused to stumble.

18. And these are they that are sown among thorns, such as hear the Word,

19. And the anxieties of this age, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things going in, choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful.

20. And these are they which are sown on good earth, such as hear the Word and receive [it], and bear fruit, some thirty, and some sixty, and some a hundred.”
---

We come now to the parable of the sower, which begins with the words, “And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea” (Mark 4:1). The opening image of this episode continues the theme of the preceding series. The Lord can only plant His seeds of truth in a good heart, a heart that is willing to receive His words, and do His will.

The picture of Jesus and those who receive His words is a deeply symbolic one. Jesus sitting in a boat on the sea pictures the preaching of divine truth. Ideally, the picture of the people standing “on the land facing the sea” should picture goodness of heart looking to the Lord for divine truth. This is the ideal state of reception, one in which an individual yearns for the truth, not just to satisfy the intellect, but, more importantly, to bring it into one’s life. 1

In reality, however, people are in differing states of reception. Although they may seek to hear Jesus’ words, they do so for different reasons. These differing states of receptivity are now described in the parable of the sower. The parable begins with a sower going out to plant seed. Along the way he scatters seed “by the wayside,” “on stony ground,” “among thorns,” and, finally, “in good ground.” This parable describes different states of reception in human beings. For some people, Jesus’ words will be wasted (seeds that fall by the wayside). In others, His words will bring about an initial excitement, but the early enthusiasm will not be sustained (seeds that fall on stony ground). And then there will be people who would like to do the Lord’s will but get sidetracked by worldly concerns (seeds that fall among thorns). Finally, there will be some people who hear the Lord’s words and do His will (Mark 4:2-9).

Later, when Jesus is alone with His disciples and the others have been close to Him, they ask Him to talk about the parable. “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God,” says Jesus. But to those who are outside, all things come in parables” (Mark 4:11). Here again, as in the preceding episode, we notice the distinction between those who are “inside” (whoever does the will of God) and those who are “outside” (those who are less inclined to do the Lord’s will). It is to these “insiders” that Jesus now opens the meaning of the parable. In fact, it will be the key to the understanding of all other parables. As Jesus puts it, “If you don’t understand this parable, how then will you understand all the parables ?” (Mark 4:13).

His first words of explanation are especially telling: “The sower sows the word.” (Mark 4:14). Jesus is the “sower”; and “the seeds” that He sows are the divine truths that are found in the Word of God. We too have our part to play in this parable. We are the “good ground” — good-hearted people who not only hear the Word but also to do it. As a result, we bear fruit “some thirty fold, some sixty, and some a hundred” (Mark 4:20).

Becoming Sowers of Truth

---
21. And He said to them, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a bushel or under a bed, and not to be put on a lampstand?

22. For there is nothing secret which shall not be manifested; neither was [anything] hidden but that it should come into what is manifest.

23. If anyone have ears to hear, let him hear.”

24. And He said to them, “Look to what you hear. With what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you; and [more] shall be added to you that hear.

25. For whoever has, to him shall be given; and he that has not, from him shall be taken even that which he has.”

26. And He said, “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed upon the earth,

27. And should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and rise up, while he is unaware.

28. For of its own accord the earth bears fruit, first a blade, then an ear, then full wheat in the ear.

29. But when the fruit is ripe, straightway he sends in the sickle, because the harvest stands [ready].”

30. And He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we compare it?

31. [It is] as a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is smaller than all the seeds in the earth.

32. And when it is sown, it grows up, and becomes greater than all herbs, and makes great branches, so that the birds of heaven may nest under the shadow of it.”

33. And with many such parables He spoke the Word to them, as they were able to hear.

34. But without a parable spoke He not to them; but He unfolded all things to His disciples [when] by themselves.
---

On one level, the parable of the sower is about Jesus and the way He plants His seeds of goodness and truth in each of us. On another level, however, each of us, in our own way, is called to be a sower. This is the evangelical call to every person, the call to go forth as a sower, looking for those receptive hearts — the people of “good ground” who will hear the Word, accept it, and bear fruit.

This idea — that each of us is called to be a sower of the Word — is contained in the next verse which teaches that new truths must not remain as secrets to be hoarded up. Rather, they should be placed “on a lampstand” so that they might be proclaimed far and wide. As Jesus puts it, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret, but that it should come to light” (Mark 4:21-22). Jesus then adds that these truths should especially be proclaimed to those who have an affection for hearing them: “If anyone has ears to hear,” says Jesus, “let him hear” (Mark 4:23).

At the same time, Jesus assures His disciples that they are not responsible for other people’s state of receptivity. Their job is merely to plant the seeds. The Lord will look after the rest. This is the message of the next parable in the series which begins with these words: “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how” (Mark 4:26, 27).

It is indeed miraculous how tiny seeds can sprout and grow, secretly flourishing beneath the earth’s surface, bursting through the soil, and aspiring upwards into the world where they will perform a wide variety of uses. Even the briefest teaching of truth can have a wondrous effect. Jesus compares this to the growth of a mustard seed “which, when sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds of the earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade” (Mark 4:31-32).

The disciples, then, and those who are close to Jesus are called to join Him in the work of planting seeds. The main thing is the planting, just as the sower went out to sow. God alone can provide the sunshine, the rain, and the vital force which will cause them to keep growing. When the seeds of divine truth have taken root in the mind, they can grow tall and provide a nesting place for new thoughts. This is where “the birds of the air” (higher thoughts) can settle in and make their nests.

In this way, Jesus spoke to them in parables “and, privately, He explained everything to His disciples” (Mark 4:33-34).

At this point in our study, it is important to reflect on the fundamental theme that is developing in the Gospel According to Mark. In this gospel, Jesus asks, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand?” These words come directly after the parable about sowing seed. In Matthew, however, these same words occur during the Sermon on the Mount, right after Jesus gives the series of ten blessings.

The brief parable about the lampstand is similar in both gospels, but the different placement in each gospel is significant. In Matthew, the lampstand imagery suggests doing good works. That’s because it is followed by the words, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). In Mark, however, the lampstand imagery takes on a different meaning. In Mark, the admonition to set one’s lamp on a lampstand, and not hide it under a basket, follows directly after the parable of the sower. And immediately after the lampstand parable, Jesus says that nothing should be hidden or kept secret “except to come to light.” These words strongly suggest the need to share one’s “light” with others, or, in other words to share “the light of truth” and let nothing remain secret. “Let anyone who has ears to hear,” says Jesus, “listen” to what is being said.

The different treatment of the lampstand in the two gospels is significant. In Matthew, the lampstand imagery calls us to a life of good works; in Mark, a more specific good work is described. It is the proclamation of the good news through becoming sowers of heavenly seed. As we shall see, Jesus has been preparing His disciples for this mission.

The First Calming of The Sea

---
35. And He says to them in that day when it was evening, “Let us pass over to the other side.”

36. And leaving the crowd, they took Him as He was in the ship; and there were also with Him other boats.

37. And there came to pass a great storm of wind; and the waves were rushing into the ship, so that it was already filled.

38. And He was in the stern, sleeping on a pillow; and they awoke Him, and say to Him, “Teacher, carest Thou not that we perish?”

39. And being awakened, He rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Be silent, be speechless!” And the wind grew still, and there was a great calm.

40. And He said to them, “Why are you so frightened? How [is it that] you have no faith?”

41. And they feared with a great fear, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that both the wind and the sea obey Him?”
---

At times people will be inclined to doubt the usefulness of their mission, even experience a temporary loss of faith. All this is represented by the brief phrase which now occurs in the text: “When evening had come.” In sacred scripture, the mention of “evening” suggests an “evening state,” or a time of discouragement. Even though Jesus had commissioned the twelve disciples to proclaim the gospel along with the power to cast out demons (Mark 3:14-15), it is understandable that they might be experiencing doubts. Therefore, in order to bolster their faith in Him, as well as to encourage them in their efforts to carry on, even if He were not physically present, He has a plan. He says, therefore, “Let us cross over to the other side” (Mark 4:35). 2

As the story unfolds, we discover that the disciples are truly in an evening state. They are uncertain, confused, and discouraged. They are in their boat, but Jesus does not appear to be totally present. To them He is “asleep on a pillow” (Mark 4:38). This image pictures times of doubt in our own lives, times when we have misgivings about the presence and power of the Lord in our lives. We may think, How can mere words protect me from negative thoughts and emotions?” “How can a God who seems so distant be intimately present to save me?” “Could it be that God is absent or asleep?” Or, “Could it be that there is no God?” These questions symbolize the various doubts that come to us concerning Jesus and the power of His Word. For some of us, God might seem to be not there at all; for others, God is there, but doesn’t really care. He is asleep on a pillow.

This is a time of spiritual temptation. Our understanding of truth, represented by the little boat, is supposed to transport us safely through the storms of life. However, at times like this, our faith is being lashed furiously by the wind and waves; it feels as though we are sinking as problems pour into our minds, like water filling a boat. Our faith is under assault. At such times, it seems that Jesus is absent or asleep. As it is written, “And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a pillow” (Mark 4:37-38). 3

The disciples rush up to Jesus, awaken Him, and say, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38). Instead of answering them directly, Jesus arises, rebukes the wind, and says to the sea, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39). And immediately “the wind ceased, and it was completely calm” (Mark 4:39). He then turns to the disciples and says, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:41)

There is indeed peace that can come to us in the midst of any storm. Just when it seems that all hope is lost and that the Lord does not care, He rises up within us with words that calm the wind and the waves: “Peace, be still,” He says. The fears and doubts settle down; and serenity returns. 4

A practical application

Jesus asks the disciples to examine the source of their fear and doubt. “Why are you so fearful?” He says. “How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40) These are important questions for us to ponder. Whenever we are experiencing fear, or doubting God’s presence, we need to ask ourselves Why? Where do these storms come from, and what can we do to settle them down?

-----
Footnotes:

1. Arcana Coelestia 5068: “To receive divine truth is not only to have faith, but also to practice it, that is, to cause that which is of doctrine to become of the life.”

2.Arcana Coelestia 5962: “In the Word ‘evening’ occurs with the angels at the times when they do not perceive the Lord to be present; for there is in heaven a continual perception of the Lord. When they are in a state of non-perception they are not then affected with good, neither do they see truth, as before. This troubles them, but shortly afterward the dawn comes, and so the morning.”

3. Apocalypse Explained 600:7: “A ‘boat’ signifies doctrine from the Word.” See also Arcana Coelestia 6385: “In the Word, ‘ships’ signify doctrinal things because they pass through seas and rivers, carrying things useful for life. By ‘seas and rivers’ are signified knowledges and memory-knowledges. The very truths of the Word are signified by ‘ships’ that carry doctrinal things.”

4. Apocalypse Explained 514:22: “When people are in what is natural and not yet in what is spiritual … the loves of self and the world rise up and produce various commotions of the mind. In this state the Lord appears as it were absent. This apparent absence is signified by His being asleep [in the boat]. However, when people come out of a natural state and into a spiritual state, these commotions cease, and there comes serenity of mind. This is because the Lord calms the tempestuous commotions of the natural mind when the spiritual mind is opened, and through it the Lord flows into the natural [level of the mind].”

-----

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 29, 5212, 9587, 10124


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 911, 1153

Scriptural Confirmations 14

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 1:11

Psalms 104:14

Isaiah 55:10

Bible Word Meanings

Full
'To satiate' relates to the extent of a person's will, for good or evil.

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.


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