The Bible

 

John 21:1-14 : Breakfast by the Sea of Galilee

        

Study the Inner Meaning

1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.

2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.

3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.

4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.

6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They Cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.

8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.

9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.

10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.

11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, and hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.

12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.

13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.

14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 2921, 4973, 7852, 10061

Apocalypse Revealed 405, 890

Conjugial Love 316


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 513, 600, 820

De Domino 45

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Psalms 127:2

Bible Word Meanings

disciples
When we read the Gospels and see Jesus addressing the disciples, we assume His words are meant for us as well. And indeed they are!...

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

simon
'Simon, son of Jonah,' as in John 21:15, signifies faith from charity. 'Simon' signifies worship and obedience, and 'Jonah,' a dove, which also signifies charity.

peter
Peter – born Simon, son of Jonah – is certainly one of the Bible's most important figures, second only to Jesus in the New Testament....

cana
The village of Cana is mentioned just three times in the Bible, all in the Book of John. At a wedding there, Jesus performed his...

galilee
Galilee was the northernmost province of Biblical Judea, a hilly area relatively remote from the center of Jewish culture in Jerusalem and bordered by foreigners...

saith
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...

go
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

say
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...

answered
To "answer" generally indicates a state of spiritual receptivity. Ultimately this means being receptive to the Lord, who is constantly trying to pour true ideas...

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...

cast
For something to be cast down or cast out generally refers to a rather dramatic move from a higher spiritual state to a lower one....

net
To cast the net on the right side,' as in John 21:6, signifies teaching the good of life.

side
'Side' signifies good or spiritual love.

fishes
Fish signify sensual affections which are the ultimate affections of the natural man. Also, those who are in common truths, which are also ultimates of...

disciple
When we read the Gospels and see Jesus addressing the disciples, we assume His words are meant for us as well. And indeed they are!...

heard
Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

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...

fish
Fish signify sensual affections which are the ultimate affections of the natural man. Also, those who are in common truths, which are also ultimates of...

bread
The idea of a “loaf” in the Bible is very closely tied to the idea of “bread,” and is often used to mean bread: Jesus...

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

third
The Writings talk about many aspects of life using the philosophical terms "end," "cause" and "effect." The "end" is someone’s goal or purpose, the ultimate...

risen
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

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What the Bible Is - Swedenborg and Life

Is the Bible just an outdated book of confusing and contradictory moral lessons? Here’s one spiritual explorer’s philosophy on the hidden meaning of the Word.

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.


 Breakfast by the Sea
Provides an overview of the story, key points, and discussion ideas for use at home or with a Sunday School class.
Activity | All Ages

 Breakfast with the Risen Lord
Shows the Lord by the sea having breakfast with disciples.
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Casting Our Net on the Right Side
Activity | All Ages

 Flowers and Faith
As we appreciate the flowers around us, we can reflect on the way flowers bloom in the springtime when warmth and light are both present.
Activity | All Ages

 Genuine Faith in Marriage
The pathway to conjugial love in marriage involves looking to the Lord for enlightenment by reading His Word and applying it to our lives. We must be willing to work together in marriage and use the truths of the Word to serve others.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Jesus Appears
The Lord was not like you and me. When we die we lay aside our earthy body for ever. The Lord did not lay aside His earthly body—He made it Divine.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Quotes: Having Faith in the Risen Lord
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Seeing the Lord
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Charge to Peter
This sermon describes the meaning of the Lord's charge to Peter to feed and tend His flocks. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Disciples See the Lord After His Resurrection
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Drawing Power Of Love
If we remember to approach life from “the right side” (from love, charity, kindness) we will be fruitful.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Lord and His Disciple, Simon Peter
Four scenes about the Lord and Peter from the gospels of Matthew and John, and two later scenes from the book of Acts.
Activity | Ages 11 - 14

 The Lord's Breakfast by the Sea
This is a re-telling of John 21:1-14 for young children with beautiful color pictures. 
Story | Ages 4 - 10

 The Miraculous Catch of Fish
The Lord did this miracle twice. Once when He called fishermen to be His disciples, and again, when He had breakfast with them by the Sea of Galilee. What is the same? What is different?
Activity | All Ages

 The Miraculous Catch of Fish
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 The Miraculous Catch of Fishes
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 To Love Is To Do
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

Commentary

 

The Breakfast by the Sea of Galilee      

By Joe David

The net was so full that they could not draw it into the boat.

Near the end of the gospel of John, (in John 21:1-14), we find a story where, some days after Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, seven of Jesus's disciples have travelled north from Jerusalem to the sea of Galilee. At Peter's suggestion they have all gone out in his boat to fish. But they try all night, and have no luck and catch nothing. They are close to the shore, and as the early morning light begins to grow they see a man standing by the water. He calls out to them asking if they have caught anything. When they answer "no", He tells them, "try the other side of the boat". When they do this they catch so many fish they can't haul the net into the boat, it's too heavy. So they row toward shore letting the net full of fish drag on the bottom.

At first they don't recognize that the man they are seeing is Jesus. He has a small fire burning, and is cooking fish, and He invites them to have breakfast with Him. Then John says quietly to Peter that it's Jesus. Peter grabs his cloak, belts it around himself to cover his nakedness, and jumps in to swim to shore, since they are very close already.

This story has some interesting details to explore. The first of the stories of things that happened after the Lord's rising took place in or near Jerusalem, but this one is in Galilee. Five of these disciples are named, and at least four of the five we know are from Galilee, so in coming there they are at home, and these are fishermen, so to go fishing is in their blood. The five named are Simon (or Peter), the brothers James and John, Thomas, and Nathaniel, and then two more who are not named, to make up the seven. It would be reasonable to guess that the unnamed two are Andrew, Peter's brother, and Philip, a friend of Nathaniel's, both of whom we know are from that area near the lake.

The angels that Peter and John saw at the sepulcher had told them that Jesus would meet them in Galilee on "the mountain", and perhaps these seven, because they came from Galilee, hurried on ahead of the others.

Let's look at their names and see what the literal meaning is, and what they represent in a spiritual way.

- Simon was renamed by Jesus as ‘Peter' which in the Greek means a rock, and in his case, the firmest and most critical rock, or truth, of Christianity, that Jesus was from God.

- John means love or charity.

- John's brother James means the doing of charity.

- Nathaniel means a gift from God, and being a friend of Philip, I think it might be that the gift from God that he represents is the love of learning things that fill the understanding, our curiosity.

- Thomas, in Greek, means a twin, and since he is named right after Peter perhaps he has a similar representation. Peter believes in the Lord easily because of what he has seen and what the Lord has told him whereas Thomas believes, and believes just as strongly, but only after his doubts have been erased, after he has been shown.

The towns most mentioned in the stories that take place around the "Sea of Galilee" in the gospels are Bethsaida, Capernaum, Cana, and Nazareth. Bethsaida itself means "a place of fishing." The maps I have of the area are small scale and not all exactly the same, but the indication is that it is at the northern end of the lake or even on the upper Jordan river just before it runs into the lake. Capernaum and Magdala are on the northwestern shore and Cana and Nazareth are inland, but only four or five miles west of this corner of the lake. This area was where most of these disciples had been brought up, and fishing was a common occupation.

The name Galilee means "a circuit". The Word teaches us that Jesus taught in the towns all around the lake, so that a reading of all that Jesus taught and did in that country could be thought of as a "circuit" of His teachings.

The next detail of interest is that when the Lord suggests the other side of the boat and the result is a large catch of fish after a long night of nothing. This is reminiscent of the fishing incident given in Luke 5:4-7. Since the disciples are to become "fishers of men" (as in Matthew 4:19) and they are to persuade people into the knowledge and worship of the Lord, the Christ, it is perhaps a lesson that in their ministry they must always be guided by the Lord.

Then John realizes, and whispers to Peter, "it's the Lord" (John 21:7) and Peter quickly puts his cloak on and jumps in to get to shore faster. Why is it John that first realizes? John represents love and affection while Peter represents faith or truth. While truth is the means of acting, as Peter does, love is the means of connecting, which is what John did. And why did Peter need to grab his cloak and put it on? Clothing in the Word represents the truths about spiritual things that all people may have if they look for them and it is the particular truths that form Peter as a disciple, "Thou art the Christ" (Matthew 16:16-18) that he answers to the Lord, and this truth is the rock of the Christian church. Having this truth as part of himself is necessary to meet the Lord.

When they are all on shore, Jesus says to them to bring some of the fish they have caught, so Peter goes to the water and drags the full net up onto the sand and counts out the fish, one hundred and fifty three. Then Jesus invites them all to come and eat.

Now a strange comment is put into the story: "…none of the disciples durst ask him, 'who art thou?', knowing that it was the Lord." (John 21:12). It seems that they should have known, they had been following Him for several years. I wonder if this is a reminder that the Christian church has yet to understand the true reality of the Lord - was He God, or was He man? The Catholic church argued this for more than three hundred years, and the council that was supposed to decide came up with three separate persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all in one Godhead. Some of the Christian churches of today seem to focus on two, the Father, and a Son born from eternity, who apparently both rule together.

The New Christian Church understands that Jesus was born both God and man but that there was a slow but inevitable change going on during His lifetime. He was born with God, Jehovah, as His inmost, and a human heredity and body from Mary as a covering or cloak over this inmost. Mary was, you may recall, of the royal house of David, so her heredity was both strong and inclusive, and thus represented all that was connected to the Jewish form of worship. During Jesus' life (and starting early, though we don't know just how early), He put off things from Mary, and put on what was a corresponding Divine, from His inmost, in its place, until on Easter morning He was wholly divine, with all that came from His mother being dispersed and gone. There is only One God.

Why is it that in this little story the number of fishes that were caught in the net is mentioned, and why does it seem now so important that Peter took the time to count them as everyone waited? Something that has been revealed to the New Christian Church is that all the numbers used in the stories of the Word have a meaning that belongs to that number even outside the literal use in the story. The number 153 can be seen as the combination of 150 and 3, and both of these are strongly meaningful. Starting with the "three", there should be little doubt that it means something since it is used so often. Jesus rose on the third day. Also three is the number of things that, put together, make anything complete, the wish or desire to do it, the knowledge of how to do it, and the actual doing. This is true of any task - from baking a cake right up to the Lord's love, His wisdom, and His act put forth in creating the universe. One hundred and fifty is not so plain. I am aware of only two places it is used in the Word, and we are told that it means a total change, an ending of something and the beginning of something different. It is used here and in the story of the flood, at the end of Genesis 7 and in Genesis 8:3; "And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days." "… And the waters returned from off the earth continually; and after the end of the one hundred and fifty days the waters were abated." The use here is that it means the end of the Church called "Adam" and the start of the church called "Noah" (See on this website "The Churches", and for the meaning, see Arcana Coelestia 812, 846). In the story we are considering it means the end of the Church called Israel and the start of the Christian church, though that is probably complete a day or two later when the Lord meets with all of His disciples on the mountain and sends them out to preach and heal.

This first part of this story ends with all of the seven disciples on the shore with Jesus, and His giving to them a breakfast of bread and roasted fish, and with this giving perhaps they all fully realized who He was, as with the two at Emmaus, and the Gospel comments, "This is now the third time that Jesus showed Himself to his disciples after that He was risen from the dead.

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Conjugial Love #316

Conjugial Love (Rogers translation)      

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316. The second account:

Walking once with tranquil heart in a pleasantly peaceful state of mind, I saw in the distance a wood, which had in the midst of it an enclosed path leading to a little palace; and I saw young women and men and husbands and wives going in. I, too, in the spirit went over there, and I asked one of the keepers standing at the entrance of the path whether I might go in as well. He stared at me; and so I asked, "Why are you staring at me?"

"I am examining you," he replied, "to see whether the pleasant state of peace reflected in your face draws any of its character from a pleasant delight in conjugial love. After this path there is a little garden, and in the middle of it a house with a newly married couple in it. Their friends are coming here today to wish them happiness and joy. I do not know the people I am allowing to enter, but I was told I would recognize them from their faces. If I saw in them a delight in conjugial love, I was to let them in, and no one else."

Every angel can see from others' faces what the delights of their heart are; and because I was thinking about conjugial love, it was a delight in that love that he saw in my face. This contemplation of mine shone from my eyes and lent an inner glow to my face, so that he told me I might go in.

[2] The enclosed path through which I went was lined with fruit trees joined together by interlocking branches, thus forming an unbroken wall of trees on either side. Through this pathway I entered the little garden, which exhaled a pleasant fragrance from its bushes and flowers. The bushes and flowers grew in pairs; and I learned that gardens of this sort appear around houses where weddings are being or have been celebrated, on which account they are called wedding gardens.

After that I went into the house, and there I saw the married couple holding each other by the hand and speaking to each other out of truly conjugial love. Moreover, from their faces I was given to see then an image of conjugial love, and from their conversation, its vibrancy.

Later, when I among many others had expressed my prayers for them and wished them happiness and joy, I went out into the wedding garden; and I saw on the right side of it a group of young men, to which all who left the house went hurrying over. They all hurried over there because they were having a conversation about conjugial love, and this conversation drew the hearts of all with a kind of hidden force to it. I listened then to a wise person in the group speaking about that love, and what I heard was in summary the following:

[3] "The Lord's Divine providence is most specific and therefore most universal in connection with marriages and in its operation in marriages in heaven, because all blessings of heaven flow from the delights of conjugial love, like sweet waters from a sweetly gushing spring. It is therefore provided by the Lord that conjugial pairs be born, and they are raised and continually prepared for their marriages, neither the boy nor the girl being aware of the fact. Then, after a period of time, the girl - now a marriageable young woman - and the boy - now a young man able to marry - meet somewhere, as though by fate, and notice each other. And they immediately recognize, as if by a kind of instinct, that they are a match, thinking to themselves from a kind of inner dictate, the young man, 'she is mine,' and the young woman, 'he is mine.' Later, after this thought has for some time become settled in the minds of each, they deliberately talk about it together and pledge themselves to each other in marriage.

"We say as though by fate and as if by instinct, when we mean by Divine providence, because when one is unaware that it is Divine providence, that is how it appears."

With respect to his statement that conjugial pairs are born, raised and prepared for their marriages without their knowing, the speaker supported it by the conjugial similarity visible in the faces of a couple, also by the innermost and eternal union of their hearts and minds, neither of which would be possible the way they are in heaven unless foreseen and provided by the Lord.

[4] Having said this - to which the group responded with applause - the wise person speaking went on to say that there is a conjugial element in the smallest particulars in every person, both male and female; only that the conjugial element in the male and the conjugial element in the female are not the same, but the conjugial element of the male possesses a capacity for conjunction with the conjugial element of the female, and vice versa, even in the least particulars.

This he showed by the marriage of will and understanding in every individual, the two of which operate together in the least constituents of the mind and in the least constituents of the body; from which it can be seen that there is a conjugial element in each component, even the least. "This is also made evident," he said, "from the composite organs of the body which are formed from its elemental constituents. We find, for example, two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, two cheeks, two lips, two arms and hands, two legs, two feet; and inside the body, two hemispheres of the brain, two ventricles of the heart, two lungs, two kidneys, two testicles. Even when an organ is not paired, still it exhibits a division into two parts. The reason there are these sets of two is that one is connected with the will and the other with the intellect, which operate in conjunction with each other so marvelously that they give the appearance of being one. Thus the two eyes produce one power of sight, the two ears one power of hearing, the two nostrils one sense of smell, the two lips one speech, the two hands one labor, the two feet one gait, the two hemispheres of the brain one habitation of the mind, the two chambers of the heart one life of the body through the blood, the two lungs one respiration, and so on. Only that in the case of a married couple, the masculine element and feminine element united by truly conjugial love produce one life that is fully human."

[5] As he was saying this, a shaft of lightning appeared in the sky to our right having a red color, and another shaft of lightning to our left that was white, neither of them very intense. These entered through our eyes into our minds and illumined them as well. Then, following these, we heard the sound of thunder - in actuality a low murmur coming from the angelic heaven and growing louder in its descent.

Hearing it, and having seen the lightning, the wise person speaking said, "These are meant for me as a signal and admonition to add to my discussion something further, that in the twinned pairs of organs I have mentioned, the one on the right symbolizes the good connected with the two, and the one on the left the truth connected with them; and that this is owing to the marriage of good and truth engraved on each person in his whole being and in his every least part, good having relation to the will and truth to the understanding, and the two together to a union of these. For this reason, in heaven 'the right eye' means the good connected with sight, and 'the left eye' the truth connected with it. So, too, 'the right ear' means the good connected with hearing, and 'the left ear' the truth connected with it. Similarly, 'the right hand' means the good connected with a person's strength, and 'the left hand' the truth connected with it. And so on with the rest of these twinned pairs.

"Moreover, because 'right' and 'left' have these symbolic associations, the Lord said:

If your right eye causes you to slip, pluck it out.... And if your right hand causes you to slip, cut it off.... 1

"He meant by this that if something good is turned to evil, it should be cast away.

"For the same reason He also told His disciples to cast their net on the right side of the boat, and when they did so, they caught a great number of fish. 2 And by this He meant they should teach the good of charity, and by doing so would gather in people."

(References: John 21:6-7)


[6] Following these remarks, the two shafts of lightning appeared again, still less intense than before. And we saw then that the lightning on the left drew the whiteness of its light from the reddish fire of the lightning on the right.

Seeing this, the speaker said, "It is a sign from heaven confirming what I have said, because something fiery in heaven means something good, and something white there means something true. As for our having seen that the lightning on the left drew the whiteness of its light from the reddish fire of the lightning on the right, this is visible evidence that the whiteness of light or light itself is nothing other than the luminance of fire."

At the end of this discourse, all in the group were fired with a joyful state of goodness and truth inspired by the shafts of lightning and what they had been told concerning them, and in this state they departed for home.

-----
Footnotes:

1Matthew 5:29-30.

2John 21:6.

-----

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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.


 The Marriage Garden
This Sunday School lesson about marriage includes two stories and a project idea.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12


Thanks to the General Church of the New Jerusalem for the permission to use this translation. The full title of this translation is "DELIGHTS OF WISDOM RELATING TO CONJUGIAL LOVE".


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