The Bible

 

John 21:15-25 : Feed my lambs, Feed my sheep

        

Study the Inner Meaning

15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.

19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?

21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.

25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 1017, 2371, 2788, 2921, 3934, 3994, 4169, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 17, 23, 383, 505, 879

Divine Love and Wisdom 19

Sacred Scripture 29

The Last Judgment 39

True Christian Religion 211, 764

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 122


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 9, 10, 195, 228, 229, 250, 295, ...

On the Athanasian Creed 208

Divine Love 19

Divine Wisdom 11

An Invitation to the New Church 33

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 6, 36, 68

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Joshua 22:22

Psalms 116:1, 139:1

Word/Phrase Explanations

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...

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

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....

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...

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...

all things
The Lord is life itself, is the Creator of the universe, and is the source of life on an ongoing basis. So in a literal...

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...

gird
To gird one’s self, as in John. 21:18, signifies to know and perceive truths in the light from good.

stretch
The hand in the Bible represents power, which is easy to understand, so to reach out or stretch out the hand means to exercise power,...

hands
'Washing of the hands' was an ancient declaration of innocence, and signifies purification from evils and falsities, as in Psalms 73:13 and Matthew 27:24.

glorify
'To glorify' signifies acknowledgment and confession.

turning
Swedenborg says that the Lord is the sun of heaven, and like the natural sun of our world shines on everyone, good or evil. What...

disciple
A disciple in Matthew 10:41 signifies charity and at the same time, faith from the Lord. It disciple signifies the truth of life, and a...

seeing
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...

come
Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

die
Death in the Bible represents spiritual death, or the destruction of everything that is good and all true beliefs in someone. This happens when people...

written
If knowing what’s right were the same as doing what’s right, we would all be thin, healthy, hard-working, law-abiding, faithful to our spouses and free...

world
The term "world" has both general and more specific meanings in the Bible, including the relatively literal sense of the natural, physical world. In more...

Amen
Amen signifies divine confirmation from truth, consequently from the Lord himself.Amen signifies truth, because the Lord was truth itself, therefore he so often said Amen...

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

 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
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
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
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

 

An After-Breakfast Conversation      

By Joe David

This inscription is on a stone at the church hall in South Ronaldsey, in the Orkneys, northeast of Scotland.

An After-Breakfast Conversation
(A commentary on John 21:15-25)

In the first part of this chapter, seven disciples had come home to Galilee. They had gone fishing, seen Jesus on the shore, followed his instructions to fish on the right side of the boat, dragged a net loaded with 153 fish to shore, and... as the second half of the chapter begins, they have just finished breaking their fast with Him. Now they are relaxing.

Jesus says to Peter,"Do you love me?" and Peter, perhaps a little startled at the question, thinking that the answer is obvious, answers "yes", and Jesus responds, "Feed my lambs". Twice more this sequence is repeated, but with some changes. Then, after this unusual conversation, the Lord tells them all a little parable about being young and later being old. Then the Lord tells Peter to follow him, and Peter, apparently jealous, asks what John is supposed to do. The Lord mildly rebukes Peter’s jealousy by saying, "If this man tarry until I come what is that to you?", but then He tells John also to follow him.

Finally, the gospel of John, and indeed the collection of all four gospels, closes with an explanation by John that he is the writer of this gospel.

So now, let’s look more closely at the conversation, the parable, and the outbreak of jealousy.

Only two of the seven disciples, Peter and John, are mentioned in this part of the story. Peter represents faith, or truth, but truth about spiritual things that we really believe are from God. John represents good, or love to the neighbor. The former resides in the understanding part of the mind and the latter in the will part of the mind.

In telling Peter to feed His sheep, the Lord is saying that to follow Him means to preach the truths that all the disciples now know about the Lord, His coming, and about how a life should be led, in order to be a follower of the Lord in a new church. In the conversation the Lord is direct and probing. "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?" I think Peter is being asked whether he loves the Lord, Jesus, more than he loves his fellow Galilean friends, though it’s ambiguous, it could mean "do you love me more than these other six do?’ When Peter answers the first time he says "Lord thou knowest that I love thee."

With this first of the three probing questions, the Lord answers "Feed my lambs," while after that the response is "Feed my sheep." Sheep and lambs both represent people who are in a love of doing good, but while sheep means those who love to do good for the sake of the neighbor, lambs mean those who do good for the sake of the Lord. The first is spiritual good, and the second is higher, and is called celestial good. But people who wish to do good at first don’t know what is good; they need to learn that from the Word and be taught. This is why Peter is told to "feed them", which is to say that truth must indicate how good is to be done. In order to do things that are good, the will's wanting to, and the understanding's knowing how to go about it, must be conjoined. For a successful Christian life, or on a larger scale, a Christian church, 'Peter' and 'John' must work in harmony.

Then comes the parable. "When you were young you got yourself ready and did what you wanted on your own. But when you become old, you have to reach out for help and another shall carry you where you don’t want to go."

This doesn’t seem to fit in here, but of course it does, and in two ways. The first way is given in the Biblical text; it is about the Lord’s death, that all the prophecies were leading Him to His crucifixion, as is mentioned. The second way is a lesson for all of us. When we are young, confident, and strong, we feel that we can do what we want and don’t need any help. Temptations to do evil we ourselves can deal with. But when we grow wiser we realize that all our strength comes from the lord, and if we continue to depend only on ourselves, the temptations from the hells will be too strong and we will be led into doing what the hells want for us, not what we want. We must learn at the start to follow the Lord and depend on Him. This he says at the end of the parable, where it seems not to fit until we understand the parable. "And when He had spoken this He saith unto (them), follow Me." That’s what we need to do also.

Peter is happy to do this preaching of the truth and maybe feels that he has been singled out, but he also realizes that John also loves the Lord and is loved in return. So he asks "And what is this man supposed to do?" It seems that the needed harmony is not yet present, and that Peter is jealous of the bond, and probably hopes to be assured that he is number one... but that doesn’t happen. Peter is simply told that it doesn’t matter; he needs to do the job he has been given.

I’m reminded of the story of Jacob and Esau, in Genesis 25, where Esau is the firstborn and will inherit the birthright and blessing from Isaac, as his due. Jacob by craft devised by his mother deceives Isaac and steals what is Esau’s. Then he runs off to Padan-Aram and stays there with his uncle and becomes rich. It is only on his return journey that he wrestles with the angel and has his name changed to Israel, that he again meets Esau. The change of name means that now that Jacob is rich with truth from the Word, now with the friendly meeting with Esau, also rich, that the two twins can in parable, be merged into one personage, called Israel, meaning the joining of good and truth in the mind.

Esau means something similar to John, they both represent goodness or true charity. Jacob means something similar to Peter, they both represent truth learned from the Word. Any seeming enmity between them as to which is more important can make them both useless, and in a person who is becoming angelic (as everyone should be aiming for), there is no enmity. Truth enables good, and good inspires truth in order to get something done. Although we can think and speak of them separately, they are (perfectly in the Lord and less so in angels) conjoined into a oneness so as to be seen as married. The marriage of the Lord's Divine good and Divine truth is the origin of all creation. Yes, all creation.

This marriage of good and truth, and the need for both to work in our lives, in balance and harmony, is a core New Christian concept.

In the Gospels, there is just one more story that takes place after this one. In it, the rest of the disciples join the seven mentioned here to hear the Lord’s last commands.

The Bible

 

Genesis 25

English: King James Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

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1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah.

2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.

3 And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim.

4 And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.

5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.

6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.

7 And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.

8 Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.

9 And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;

10 The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.

11 And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi.

12 Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham:

13 And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam,

14 And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa,

15 Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah:

16 These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations.

17 And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people.

18 And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren.

19 And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac:

20 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan-aram, the sister to Laban the Syrian.

21 And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD.

23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.

25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.

26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.

27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.

28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:

30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.

31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.

32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?

33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

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   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 115, 259, 1259, 1358, 1928, 1951, 2643, ...


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 331, 364, 406, 430, 659, 710

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 11:30, 15:15, 16:7, 12, 14, 15, 17:20, 21:3, 5, 22:23, 23:9, 17, 19, 20, 24:35, 36, 67, 25:8, 17, 26:12, 27:3, 11, 29, 36, 37, 43, 28:9, 29:1, 30:22, 32:4, 35:28, 29, 36:1, 3, 8, 19, 38:27, 47:28, ...

Exodus 15:22

Numbers 20:14, 24

Deuteronomy 21:17, 23:8

Joshua 24:4

Judges 6:3, 8:24, 32

1 Samuel 9:9

2 Samuel 8:14

1 Chronicles 1:28, 29, 31, 32, 34, 23:1

2 Chronicles 24:15

Job 2:11, 6:19, 42:17

Psalms 112:2, 120:5

Isaiah 21:13, 16, 60:6, 7

Jeremiah 2:10

Ezekiel 27:15, 20, 21

Hosea 12:4

Obadiah 1:1, 21

Malachi 2

Matthew 2

Luke 7, 3:34

Acts of the Apostles 7:8

Romans 9:10, 12

1 Corinthians 15:32

Hebrews 12:16

Word/Phrase Explanations

Abraham
Abraham (or Abram, as he is named in the beginning of his story) is one of the major characters in the story of the sacred...

wife
The Hebrew of the Old Testament has six different common words which are generally translated as "wife," which largely overlap but have different nuances. Swedenborg...

name
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

keturah
'Keturah,' as in Genesis 25:1, signifies divine truth spiritual, conjoined to divine good spiritual.

bare
In a general sense, being "born" in the Bible represents one spiritual state producing another, usually some form of love or affection producing or "giving...

jokshan
'Simran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Jishbak, and Shuah,' as in Genesis 25:2, represent the general divisions of the Lord’s spiritual kingdom, in the heavens and in...

medan
'Simran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Jishbak, and Shuah,' as in Genesis 25:2, represent the general divisions of the Lord’s spiritual kingdom, in the heavens and in...

midian
'Midianites' signify people who are in the truth of simple good.

ishbak
Ishbak' represents the common lots, or heritable divisions of the Lord's spiritual kingdom.

and Shuah
'Simran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Jishbak, and Shuah,' as in Genesis 25:2, represent the general divisions of the Lord’s spiritual kingdom, in the heavens and in...

Shuah
'The daughter of Shuah' signifies evil, which is derived from falsity of evil.

begat
To beget or to be begotten is very similar in meaning to birth: It represents one spiritual state leading to the next spiritual state. "Beget,"...

Sheba
'Sheba, Havilah, Sabthah, Regmah, and Sabthecha,' the sons of Cush, as in Genesis 10:7, were several nations which were did not have internal worship, but...

dedan
Dedan (Gen. 10) signifies the knowledges of celestial things of an inferior order, such as consist in ritual observances. Dedan, in Jer. 49:8 signifies rituals...

Letushim
'Letushim' signify varieties of faith.

Leummim
'Leummim' signify the good of faith and its varieties.

ephah
The Bible uses a somewhat dizzying array of unfamiliar measurement, leaving translators a choice between being accurate and confusing or inaccurate and clear. Since they...

hanoch
'Hanoch' denotes those who are in the truth of faith.

children
A child is a young boy or girl in the care of parents, older than a suckling or an infant, but not yet an adolescent....

isaac
'Isaac' represents spiritual love. 'Isaac,' in Genesis 17:19, signifies the rational divine. 'Isaac' signifies the Lord's divine rational in reference to divine good. Isaac' signifies...

sons of the
The sons of the Javanites,' as in Joel 3:6, signify worship in externals, separate from the internal.

son
A child is a young boy or girl in the care of parents, older than a suckling or an infant, but not yet an adolescent....

gifts
The gift which Abraham gave to the sons of the concubines which he had, as in Genesis 25:6, signifies lots in the Lord's spiritual kingdom....

sent
'To send' signifies revealing.

country
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...

days
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...

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

hundred
It's a landmark for a young child to count to 100; it sort of covers all the "ordinary" numbers. One hundred is obviously significant for...

fifteen
Fifteen, as in Genesis 7:20, signifies so few as to be scarce anything.

died
'The soul going forth' and 'dying,' as in Genesis 35:18, signifies the extreme of temptation, which is when the old self dies and the new...

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...

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

gathered
To gather, as in Genesis 6:21, refers to those things which are in the memory of man, where they are gathered. It also implies that...

Ishmael
'Ishmael' represents the first rationality pertaining to the Lord. 'Ishmael' signifies rationality separate from good. 'Ishmael' signifies the Lord's merely human rational. Ishmael, in Genesis...

buried
'Being buried' or 'put into monuments' signifies resurrection and continuation of life.

Machpelah
'Macpelah,' as in Genesis 23:17, signifies regeneration by truth, which relates to faith.

field
When we have a desire to be good people and to do good things, the natural first questions are "What does that mean?" "What should...

ephron
Ephron (Gen. 23:8, 17) signifies those with whom the good and truth of faith, which are the constituents of the church, might be received.

hittite
'A Hittite' in a good sense, signifies the spiritual church, or the truth of the church. The Hittites were among the upright Gentiles who were...

before
In most cases, the meaning of "before" is pretty straightforward, both as a way of assessing relative time, and in its use meaning "in someone's...

Mamre
Mamre was an Amorite who lived in the land of Canaan, in the area called Hebron in what would much later be the kingdom of...

heth
The daughters of Heth, as mentioned in Genesis 27:46, signify the affections of truth from a ground that is not genuine. Here they are the...

sarah
'Sarah' denotes truth joined to good. Sarai was called 'Sarah' so she would represent the divine intellectual principle by adding the 'H' from the name...

after
According to Swedenborg, time and space don’t exist in spiritual reality; they are purely natural things that exist only on the physical plane. This means...

God
The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

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...

dwelt
Many people were nomadic in Biblical times, especially the times of the Old Testament, and lived in tents that could be struck, moved and re-raised...

hagar
Hagar, as mentioned in Genesis 16, signifies the affection of sciences of the outward self and also the life of the outer or natural self.

handmaid
'A handmaid' signifies the affection of rational and scientific things. 'A handmaid,' as mentioned in Genesis 30:3, signifies the affirming medium of conjoining inner truths...

names
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

firstborn
When the Bible talks about generations or birth order, the internal meaning has to do with the progression of spiritual states and their relative importance....

nebajoth
'Nebaioth,' as in Genesis 28, denotes good of the spiritual church.

Kedar
'Kedar' or 'Arabia' signifies spiritual good. Kedar' denotes people of the Gentiles who are in simple truth. 'Arabia' signifies the same thing.

Mibsam
'Mibsam' means things pertaining to the spiritual church.

Tema
'Tema' represents aspects of the spiritual church among the Gentiles.

jetur
Jetur' represents the spiritual church among the gentiles.

naphish
'Naphish' represents things in the spiritual church.

kedemah
Kedemah' represents things of the spiritual church among the Gentiles.

castles
(Gen. 25:17) signify the intellectual things of faith and of the church.

thirty
'Thirty' has a twofold significance because it is is the product of five and six, and also three and ten. From five multiplied by six,...

seven
The number 'seven' was considered holy, as is well known, because of the six days of creation, and the seventh, which is the celestial self,...

Havilah
'Havilah,' as mentioned in Genesis 10:28, signifies a ritual of the church called Eber. 'The land of Havilah,' as mentioned in Genesis 2:11, signifies the...

Shur
'Shur,' or 'Assyria,' signifies the Lord's state when He first received instruction in matters of doctrine regarding charity and faith.

egypt
'Mizraim' signifies the same thing as Egypt.

goest
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...

brethren
There are two ways "brother" is used in the Bible, ways that are still reflected in modern language. One denotes an actual blood relationship; the...

forty
'Forty' means completeness because 'four' means what is complete, as does 'ten.' Forty is the product of four and ten. Compound numbers have a meaning...

old
'Old waste places' signify the celestial aspects of faith.

rebekah
'Rebecca,' as in Genesis 24, signifies divine truth which would be joined to divine good of the Lord’s rational mind, which is 'Isaac.'

Bethuel
'Uz, Buz, Kemuel, Kesed, Haza, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel,' as in Genesis 22:22, 23, signify various religions and the kinds of worship practiced in them....

Padan-Aram
'Padan Aram,' as in Genesis 28:2, signifies the exterior knowledges of good and truth.

sister
The Lord calls people who are in truth from the good of charity from Him 'sisters,' as in Matthew 12:50. 'Sister' denotes intellectual truth, when...

laban
'Laban' signifies the affection of good in the natural self, or the affection of external good, and properly collateral good of a common stock. The...

intreated
To 'intreat' denotes humiliation.

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

lord
The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

barren
"Sarai was barren, she had no child" (Gen 11:30), signifies that evil and falsity were not productive.

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...

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...

nations
'Nations' signify people who are in the good of love and charity from the Lord. Two nations in the womb,' as in Genesis 25:23, signify...

womb
'Womb,' as in Genesis 49:25, signifies the conjunction of good and truth. The term 'belly' is used where truths are being discussed, and the term...

people
The Bible generally uses two different terms for large groups: “people” and “nation.” When it uses the term “nation,” it is talking about a group...

serve
Generally speaking, those who are at lower levels of an organization serve those at higher levels. Bosses boss and their employees serve; coaches devise strategy...

twins
'Twins in the womb,' as in Genesis 25:24, signifies that both good and truth, represented by Esau and Jacob, were conceived together.

the first
'Resurrection' signifies salvation and eternal life. 'The first,' mentioned in Revelation 20:5, 6, does not mean a first resurrection, but the essence and primary part...

first
Why would it be insulting for a man to refer to his married partner as his “first wife”? Because it implies there will be a...

called
To call someone or summon someone in the Bible represents a desire for conjunction between higher and lower states of life. For instance, imagine someone...

esau
Esau (Gen. 28:5, etc.) signifies the truth of good in the natural principle. Esau (Gen. 32:3) signifies celestial good in the natural principle.

brother
There are two ways "brother" is used in the Bible, ways that are still reflected in modern language. One denotes an actual blood relationship; the...

hand
Scientists believe that one of the most crucial developments in the evolution of humans was bipedalism – walking on two legs. That left our hands...

esau's
Esau (Gen. 28:5, etc.) signifies the truth of good in the natural principle. Esau (Gen. 32:3) signifies celestial good in the natural principle.

heel
'The heel' signifies natural things of the lowest order. 'The heel which the serpent should bruise,' as mentioned in Genesis 3:15, signifies the lowest natural...

Jacob
Jacob is told twice that his name will now be Israel. The first time is when he wrestles with an angel on his journey to...

threescore
'Sixty' means the full time and state of the implantation of truth.

boys
"Youths" or "Young men" generally represent intelligence or the understanding of truth. This is fitting, since adolescent boys tend to be more advanced intellectually than...

cunning
'A skilled man' relates to the affection of truth, or people in the affection of truth.

man
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

man of the
'The man of the right hand,' as in Psalm 80:17, signifies the Lord with respect to the Word. He is called 'the man of the...

dwelling
Many people were nomadic in Biblical times, especially the times of the Old Testament, and lived in tents that could be struck, moved and re-raised...

Tents
'The tabernacle' has almost the same meaning as 'temple,' that is, in the highest sense, the Lord’s divine humanity, and in a relative sense, heaven...

loved
To some degree, there really is no spiritual meaning to the word “love” in the Bible. Why? Because if you truly love another, that is...

venison
'Venison,' as in Genesis 26:2, signifies the truth of the natural which the good of life comes from.

came
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

edom
'Edom' or 'Idumea,' as in Isaiah 34:5, signifies those who are in evil and in falsities thence derived.

sell
'To sell,' as in Genesis 41:56, means transferring to another as their own, because what is sold becomes the property of the one who buys...

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...

die
Dead (Gen. 23:8) signifies night, in respect to the goodnesses and truths of faith.

swear
The Lord swearing by himself signifies that divine truth testifies, for He is divine truth itself, and this testifies from itself and means itself. It...

sware
'To sware' is a binding.

sold
'To sell,' as in Genesis 41:56, means transferring to another as their own, because what is sold becomes the property of the one who buys...

bread
Just as natural food feeds the natural body, so spiritual food feeds the spiritual body. And since our spiritual body is the expression of what...

eat
When we eat, our bodies break down the food and get from it both energy and materials for building and repairing the body. The process...

drink
To be drunken without wine (Isa. 29:9), are they who are unconcerned about the Word, and the truths of faith, and thus have no inclination...

rose up
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...

rose
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...

way
These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

despised
We tend to think of "despising" something or someone as just a strong way of expressing dislike, but there is a further shade of meaning...

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.


 Birth of Jacob and Esau, Jacob Steals Esau's Blessing
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Jacob and Esau
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

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

 Jacob and Esau
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Jacob and Esau - Good from Difficult Experiences
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Jacob and Esau - Level A
Complete lesson with activity choices: act out Esau selling his birthright to Jacob, make a collage showing that the Lord loves everyone, scripted story discussion, coloring picture, and a memory verse.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Jacob and Esau - Level B
Complete lesson with activity choices: act out Jacob stealing Esau's blessing, make a pictorial chart showing the differences between Jacob and Esau, scripted story discussion, coloring picture, and a memory verse.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Jacob and Esau - Level C
Complete lesson with activity choices: head or heart role play, map activity on the peaks and valleys of Canaan, and a scripted story discussion.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Jacob and Esau - Level D
Complete lesson with activity choices: mask making activity on unmasking our hidden potential, philosopher's chair activity on which is more important--the will or the understanding, and a scripted story discussion.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 15 - 17

 Overview of Jacob and Esau Levels A B C D for ages 3-18
An overview of the Youth Journey Program "Jacob and Esau", Levels A, B, D, and D, for ages 3-18.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 18

 Who Obeyed or Disobeyed the Lord?
Use names from a word bank to identify people in the Word who obeyed or who disobeyed the Lord. Story references are provided to help you.
Activity | All Ages

 Work for the Ideal
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18


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