The Bible

Genesis 1

English: King James Version

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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.

Genesis 2 →

Study the Inner Meaning

Main explanation(s) from Swedenborg's works:

Arcana Coelestia 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 ...

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 402

Commentary on this chapter:


Other references by Swedenborg to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 4, 6, 221, 246, 300, 435, 476 ...

Apocalypse Revealed 200, 414

Conjugial Love 132, 156

Divine Love and Wisdom 11, 18, 287, 358

Divine Providence 123, 328

Sacred Scripture 14, 103

Heaven and Hell 137

The Last Judgment 20

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

Show references from Swedenborg's unpublished works

From Swedenborg's Works

Divine Providence #328

Divine Providence (Dole translation)

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328. These items need now to be presented in their sequence.

(a) Every religion eventually wanes and comes to completion. There have been several churches on our planet, one after the other, since wherever the human race exists there is a church. As already noted, heaven, which is the ultimate goal of creation, comes from the human race, and no one can get to heaven without the two universal principles of the church, belief in God and leading a good life (see 326 above). It follows that there have been churches on our planet from the earliest times all the way to the present day.

These churches are described in the Word, though only for the Israelite and Jewish church are we given historical accounts. There were several churches before them, but these are described only by the names of some people and nations and a few facts about them.

[2] The earliest church, the very first, is described by Adam and his wife Eve. The next church, called the early church, is described by Noah, his three sons, and their descendants. This was extensive, and spread through most of the nations of the Near East: the land of Canaan on both sides of the Jordan; Syria; Assyria and Chaldea; Mesopotamia; Egypt; Arabia; and Tyre and Sidon. They had an early Word that is discussed in Teachings for the New Jerusalem on Sacred Scripture 101-103. The existence of the church in these kingdoms is witnessed by various statements about them in the prophetical books of the Word.

This church changed significantly with Eber, though, who marks the beginning of the Hebrew church. This was the point at which sacrificial worship was established. From the Hebrew church, the Israelite and Jewish church was born, formally established for the sake of the Word that would be authored in it.

[3] These four churches are meant by the statue that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, with its head of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, and its legs and feet of iron and clay (see Daniel 2:32-33). This is exactly what is meant by the Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Iron Ages mentioned by ancient authors. It is well known that the Christian church followed after the Jewish church.

We can also see from the Word that each of these churches declined to its close, called a "consummation," with the passage of time. The consummation of the earliest church, brought about by eating from the tree of knowledge (meaning pride in our own intelligence) is described by the Flood [Genesis 3:6; ].

[4] The consummation of the early church is described by the destruction of the nations mentioned in the historical and prophetic books of the Word, and especially by the Israelites' expulsion of the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. The consummation of the Israelite and Jewish church is meant by the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, by the carrying off of the people of Israel into permanent captivity and of the nation of Judah into Babylon, and ultimately by the second destruction of the temple and Jerusalem and the scattering of the people. This consummation is foretold in many passages in the prophets, and in Daniel 9:24-27.

The Lord describes the eventual total destruction of the Christian church in Matthew 24 Mark 13 and Luke 21 but the consummation itself is found in the Book of Revelation.

This shows that with the passage of time the church wanes and reaches its consummation, as does its religion as well.

[5] (b) Every religion wanes and comes to completion by inverting the image of God within us. We know that we were created in the image of God and after the likeness of God (Genesis 1:26), but what is this image and what is this likeness of God? Only God is love and wisdom. We are created to be recipients of both, so that our volition may be a recipient of divine love and our discernment a recipient of divine wisdom.

I have already explained [324] that we have these two recipient vessels in us from birth, that they are what make us human, and that they are formed within us in the womb. Our being images of God is our being open to divine wisdom, and our being likenesses of God is our being open to divine love. This means that the vessel we call "discernment" is the image of God and the vessel we call "volition" is the likeness of God. This then means that since we have been created and formed to be vessels, it follows that we have been created and formed to have our volition accept love from God and our discernment accept wisdom from God. We do in fact accept them when we believe in God and live by his commandments. We do this to a lesser or greater extent, though, depending on what we know about God and his commandments from our religion. Specifically, our acceptance depends on what truths we know, since truths are what tell us what God is and how we are to acknowledge him, what his commandments are and how we are to live by them.

[6] God's image and likeness in us have not been actually destroyed, but they have been virtually destroyed. They are still there, innate within those two abilities called freedom and rationality that I have already said so much about. They become virtually destroyed when we make the vessel of divine love--our volition--a vessel for self-love and make the vessel of divine wisdom--our discernment--a vessel for our own intelligence. By so doing we invert the image and likeness of God. We turn the vessels away from God and toward ourselves. This is why they are closed on top and open on the bottom, or closed in front and open behind, even though they were created open in front and closed behind. Once they are opened and closed in this inverted fashion, then the vessel of love, our volition, is open to an inflow from hell or from our own sense of self-importance, as is the vessel of wisdom, our discernment. This has led to the birth in our churches of the worship of particular people in place of the worship of God, and a worship based on teachings of falsity rather than on teachings of truth, the latter from our own intelligence and the former from our love for ourselves.

We can see from this that in the course of time a religion will wane and come to its conclusion by inverting the image of God within us.

[7] (c) This happens because of the constant increase of hereditary evil from generation to generation. I have already stated and explained [277] that we do not inherit evil from Adam and his wife Eve because they ate from the tree of knowledge; instead evil is gradually handed down and transplanted from parents to children, and so by constant increase gets worse with each generation. When this cumulative evil becomes strong enough among the majority, it spreads evil to even more people by its own momentum, since in every evil there is a compulsion to mislead, in some cases blazing with a rage against everything good, and so there is a consequent infectious evil. When this gets control of the leaders, managers, and chief representatives in the church, its religion is corrupted. Its means of healing, its truths, become defiled by distortions. This leads to an ongoing destruction of what is good and an abandonment of truth in the church until finally it is brought to its close.

[8] (d) The Lord still provides that everyone can be saved. The Lord provides that there will be some religion everywhere, and that in every religion there will be the two elements essential to salvation: belief in God, and not doing evil because it is against God. The other matters of intellect and thought, what we call the elements of faith, are offered to different people according to the way they live, since they are optional elements as far as living is concerned. If they are put first, we still do not receive life until we live them.

The Lord also provides that everyone who has led a good life and has believed in God will be taught by angels after death. Then people who have been devoted to the two essential principles of religion in the world accept the truths of the church as they are presented in the Word and recognize the Lord as God of heaven and of the church. They accept this more readily than Christians who have brought with them from the world a concept of the Lord's human nature as separated from his divine nature. The Lord has also provided that all the people who die in early childhood are saved, no matter where they were born.

[9] We are all given the means of amending our lives after death, if we can. The Lord teaches and leads us through angels, and since by then we know that we are living after death and that heaven and hell are real, we accept truths at first. However, if we have not believed in God and abstained from evils as sins in the world, before long we develop a distaste for truths and back away. If we have professed these principles orally but not at heart, we are like the foolish young women who had lamps but no oil. They begged others for oil and went off to buy some, but still they were not admitted to the wedding [Matthew 25:1-13]. The lamps mean the truths that our faith discloses and the oil means the good effects of our caring.

This shows that under divine providence everyone can be saved, and that it is our own fault if we are not saved.

(References: Matthew 25:3-13)

[10] (e) He also provides that a new church will take the place of the one that has been razed. This has been going on from the earliest times: once a church has been razed, a new one succeeds the former one. The early church followed the earliest church, the Israelite or Jewish church followed the early one, and after that came the Christian church. After it there is going to be still another new church, the one foretold in the Book of Revelation. That is the meaning of the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven [Revelation 21:2, 10].

For the reason the Lord provides a new church to take the place of an earlier one that has been razed, see Teachings for the New Jerusalem on Sacred Scripture 104-113.

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