By New Christian Bible Study Staff
Most places in Swedenborg identify “ten” as representing “all,” or in some cases “many” or “much.” The Ten Commandments represent all the guidance we get from the Lord in life; the ten horns on the beast of Revelation represent all power of falsity; the ten virgins with lamps in Matthew 25 represent all people of the church.
Yet in other places Swedenborg identifies ten, and especially a “tenth,” as representing remnants, or the tiniest scraps of goodness preserved for the future. These can be the remnants of a church - a few good people that can be built up into a new church. Or they can be tiny subconscious memories of love and joy which the Lord stores in each of us in early childhood, feelings He can use later to draw us toward a life of goodness and affection.
These two meanings seem nearly opposite, but they're not. That's because love is whole and indivisible, so that the tiniest feeling buried inside someone contains all elements of the love it can become. In a similar way, a remnant of a church that has preserved that church's knowledge has everything it needs to grow into a new church. In a sense, then, those remnants are indeed “all,” they're just a version of “all” that is still in a state of potential.