The Bible


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


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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

The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Sacred Scripture 29

The Last Judgment 39

True Christian Religion 211, 764

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 122

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

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

Bible Word Meanings

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...

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

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...

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...

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...

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

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,...

'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.

'To glorify' signifies acknowledgment and confession.

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...

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...

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...

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

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...

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...

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 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 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



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.

From Swedenborg's Works


Apocalypse Explained #195

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)      

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195. (v. 4) Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments. That this signifies those whose life has been moral from a spiritual origin, through having applied the knowledges of truth and good from the Word to the uses of their life, is evident from the signification of name, as denoting the quality of the state of a man's life (concerning which see above, n. 148) - here, therefore, names signify men who are of such a quality - and from the signification of the church in Sardis, as being those whose life is moral but not spiritual, because they lightly esteem the knowledges of truth and good from the Word (concerning which also see above, n. 148) - here, however, those are meant who live morally from a spiritual origin, for it is said, Who have not defiled their garments - and from the signification of garments, as denoting the scientific truths (scientifica vera) and knowledges (cognitiones) in the natural man, of which we shall speak presently. Hence by not defiling their garments is signified that they live morally not for the sake of self and the world, that is, for the sake of the body only and its life, but for the sake of the Lord and of heaven, that is, for the sake of the soul and its life. It is therefore evident that by these words, "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments," are signified those who are of such a quality that they live morally from a spiritual origin, by applying the knowledges of truth and good from the Word to their life.

(References: Revelation 3:4; The Apocalypse Explained 148, The Apocalypse Explained 182)

[2] But because few know what it is thus to live, and what it is to apply the knowledges of truth and good from the Word to the uses of life, the matter shall therefore be explained. Man lives morally from a spiritual origin, when he lives from religion, thus when he thinks, when what is evil, insincere or unjust occurs to him, that it ought not to be done because it is contrary to the Divine laws. He who does this, since he abstains from what is wrong on account of the Divine laws, procures to himself spiritual life, and then his moral life is from the spiritual. For by such thought and faith he communicates with the angels of heaven, and by such communication his internal spiritual man is opened, the mind of which is a higher mind, being such as the angels of heaven have; and he is thence filled with heavenly intelligence and wisdom.

It is therefore evident that to live morally from a spiritual origin, is to act from religion, and within the church from the Word. For those who thus live from religion and from the Word, are raised up above their natural man, and thus above their proprium, and are led by the Lord by means of heaven. This is why they possess faith, the fear of God and conscience, and also the spiritual affection of truth, which is an affection of the knowledges of truth and good derived from the Word; for to them these are Divine laws, according to which they live. Such a moral life, many of the Gentiles live; for they think that evil ought not to be done because it is contrary to their religion. This is the reason why so many of them are saved.

[3] But, on the other hand, to live a moral life which is not from religion, but only from the fear of law in the world, from the fear of the loss of reputation of honour, and of gain, is not from a spiritual, but from a natural origin, and therefore those who live in this way have no communication with heaven. And because they think insincerely and unjustly of their neighbour, although they speak and act otherwise, the internal of their spiritual man is closed, and only the internal natural man opened; which being opened they are in the light of the world, but not in the light of heaven; therefore they lightly esteem Divine and heavenly things, and some deny them, believing nature and the world to be everything.

From these considerations it is now evident what it is to lead a moral life from a spiritual origin, and what it is to lead it from a natural origin. (But these things may be seen expounded in clearer light in the work, Heaven, and Hell, n. 528-535.) Concerning those whose life is moral from a natural origin only, it is said that they defile their garments, for by garments is meant that which is outside the man himself and invests him, thus his natural man with what it contains, which are scientifics (scientifica) and knowledges (cognitiones); these, when from the Word, are defiled by the fact that he earns and retains them solely for the sake of reputation, that he may be accounted learned and well informed, or that he may thereby acquire honours and gain wealth; were it not for these ends he would care nothing about them. Thus are knowledges from the Word polluted and defiled by the loves of self and of the world, for they have their abode together with the evils and falsities that flow forth from these loves as from their own founts.

(References: Heaven and Hell 528-535)

[4] It was said above, that a man becomes spiritual by means of knowledges of good and truth from the Word applied to the uses of life; but why he becomes spiritual by means of those knowledges which are from the Word, and not by any other, shall now be explained. All things in the Word are Divine, and this because they contain in them a spiritual sense: and because by means of that sense they communicate with heaven, and with the angels there, therefore, when a man possesses knowledges from the Word, and applies them to his life, he has communication through them with heaven, and by that communication he becomes spiritual; for a man becomes spiritual by the fact that he is in similar or correspondent truths with the angels of heaven. It is said in correspondent truths, because all things in the sense of the letter of the Word are correspondences, for they correspond to the truths which the angels have. But knowledges from other books which teach, and by various things confirm the doctrinals of the church, do not bring about communication with heaven, unless those knowledges are from the Word. These knowledges do open a communication if they are properly understood, and are not applied to faith alone, but to life. That this is the case, any one may know from this consideration that the Word in itself is Divine, and that which is Divine in itself may become Divine in man if he applies it to life. By its becoming Divine in man is to be understood that the Lord can therein have His abode with him (John xiv. 23), thus can dwell with him in that which is His own. (That the Lord dwells in His own both with men and angels, and not in their proprium, may be seen in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 12). And the Lord dwells in His own when in those things with man which are from the Word; for the Lord is the Word (John i. 1, 2, 14); and the words which He himself spoke, that is, which are in the Word, are "spirit and life" (John vi. 63, 68; xii. 50).

(References: Heaven and Hell 12; John 1:1-2, 1:14, John 6:63, 6:68, John 12:50, 14:23)

[5] The signification of garments as denoting those things that are in the natural man, which are scientific truths, or falsities, or knowledges (scientifica vera aut falsa aut cognitiones) is derived from the spiritual world. For there all, however many they are, appear clothed according to their moral life. Those, therefore, whose life has been moral from a spiritual origin appear clothed in shining-white garments, as it were of fine linen; but those whose moral life has been from a natural origin alone appear according to its quality: those who have polluted their life with evils and falsities appear in garments of a dark colour, vile, torn and foul to the sight (concerning which see in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 177-182). Hence then it is that garments in the Word signify truths from good, and, in the opposite sense, falsities from evil, and both the one and the other in the natural man, in which truths and falsities are called scientifics and knowledges.

(References: Heaven and Hell 177-182)

[6] That garments in the Word signify truths or falsities, is quite evident in the following passages. In Isaiah:

"Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion, put on the garments of thy gracefulness, O Jerusalem; for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean" (lii. 1).

Zion in the Word signifies the celestial kingdom of the Lord, thus also the celestial church, and Jerusalem the spiritual kingdom and the spiritual church. (What the celestial kingdom is, and what the spiritual kingdom, may be seen in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 20-28.) The garments of gracefulness which Jerusalem should put on are Divine truths; the uncircumcised and the unclean, which shall no more come into her, are those who are in evils and falsities.

(References: Heaven and Hell 20-28; Isaiah 52:1)

[7] In Ezekiel:

Jerusalem, "I have clothed thee with embroidery; I have shod thee with badger's skin, I have begirt thee with fine linen and adorned thee with ornament, and I have put bracelets upon thine hands and a chain on thy throat (guttur), and a jewel upon thy nose, and ear-rings upon thine ears, yea, a crown of ornament upon thy head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver, and thy garments fine linen, silk and embroidery, whence thou wast made exceedingly beautiful, and didst prosper into a kingdom. But thou hast taken of thy garments, and hast made to thee variegated heights, that thou mightest commit whoredom upon them; thou hast also taken the garments of thy embroidery, and hast covered" images of a male, with which thou hast committed whoredom (xvi. 10-14, 16-18).

Here the church is described as to its quality when it is first established by the Lord, the garments mentioned signify truths from good; embroidery is scientific truth (verum scientificum), fine linen and silk signify truths from a celestial origin. The bracelets, the chain, the jewel, the ear-rings and the crown, are decorations which signify things spiritual of various kinds; the gold and silver with which she was decked, signify the good of love and its truth. In what follows is described the same church perverted by taking of the garments, and making to herself variegated heights, whereby are signified truths falsified and by taking the garments of embroidery and covering images of a male, is signified that they applied the truths of the sense of the letter of the Word to confirm falsities, so as to give them the appearance of truths. To commit whoredom with them, and under them, signifies to contrive doctrine and worship from falsities. (That this is to commit whoredom, may be seen above, n. 141, 161. That Jerusalem is the church where there is true doctrine, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 402, 3654, 9166. That embroidery is scientific truth, n. 9688. That fine linen is truth from a celestial origin, n. 5319, 9469. That bracelets are truths and goods of the church, n. 3103, 3105. That a necklace, is a representative of the conjunction of the interiors and exteriors, n. 5320; that jewels for the nose, and ear-rings, are representatives of perception and obedience, n. 4551. That a crown denotes wisdom, see above, n. 126. That gold is the good of love, see Arcana Coelestia, n. 1551, 1552, 5658, 6914, 6917, 9510, 9874, 9881; that silver is truth from that good, n. 1551, 1552, 2954, 5658; that variegated heights are truths falsified, n. 796, 4005; that a male or the masculine is truth, n. 749, 2016, 4005, 7838; hence images of a male are appearances of truth.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 402, 749, 796, Arcana Coelestia 1551-1552, 2046, Arcana Coelestia 2954, 3103, 3105, Arcana Coelestia 3654, Arcana Coelestia 4005, Arcana Coelestia 4551, 5319, 5320, 5658, Arcana Coelestia 6914, 6917, Arcana Coelestia 7838, Arcana Coelestia 9166, Arcana Coelestia 9469, 9510, Arcana Coelestia 9688, Arcana Coelestia 9874, 9881; Ezekiel 16:10-13, 16:10-18, 16:16-18; Isaiah 15:3; The Apocalypse Explained 126, The Apocalypse Explained 141, The Apocalypse Explained 161)

[8] In the same:

"Fine linen in broidered work from Egypt was thy spreading forth; blue and crimson from the isles of Elisha was thy covering, Syria was thy merchant in crimson, and broidered work, and fine linen, with the chrysoprasus. Dedan was thy merchant with garments of liberty for the chariot; Asshur and Chilmad with balls of blue and of embroidery, and with treasures of precious garment" (xxvii. 7, 16, 20, 23, 24).

Here Tyre and her merchandises are treated of, and by Tyre are signified the knowledges (cognitiones) of truth and good, and by merchandise and trading are signified procuring and communicating those knowledges; by crimson and blue is signified the celestial love of good and truth; by Egypt the Scientific of the natural man, and the same by embroidery. By Syria is signified the church as to the knowledges (cognitiones) of good and truth, and by Asshur the Rational of that church. By Dedan are signified those who are in the knowledges (cognitiones) of celestial things. It is therefore evident that by the merchandise of Tyre, which is treated of in the whole of this chapter, is not meant natural merchandise, but that by all things there mentioned are signified spiritual things, which must be procured, stored up in the mind, and communicated. (That Tyre signifies the knowledges of good and truth may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 1201. That Egypt signifies the Scientific of the natural man, n. 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462, 5700, 5702, 6015, 6651, 6679, 6682, 6683, 6692, 7296, 9340, 9391. That Syria denotes the church as to the knowledges of truth and good, n. 1232, 1234, 3664, 3680, 4112. That Dedan signifies those who are in the knowledges of celestial things, n. 3240, 3241. That Asshur denotes the Rational thence derived, n. 119, 1186. That crimson denotes the celestial love of good, n. 9467. That blue denotes the celestial love of truth, n. 9466, 9687, 9833; so also does chrysoprasus, n. 9898. The signification of fine linen and embroidery may be seen just above.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 119, Arcana Coelestia 1164-1165, 1186, 1201, 1232, 1234, 1462, Arcana Coelestia 3240-3241, Arcana Coelestia 3664, 3680, Arcana Coelestia 4112, Arcana Coelestia 5700, 5702, 6015, 6651, 6679, 6682-6683, 6692, Arcana Coelestia 7296, Arcana Coelestia 9340, 9391, 9466, 9467, Arcana Coelestia 9687, Arcana Coelestia 9833, 9868; Ezekiel 27:7, 27:16, 27:20, 27:23-24)

[9] Again, in David:

"The king's daughter is all glorious within, her clothing is embroidered with gold. She shall be brought unto the king in embroidery" (Ps. xlv. 13, 14).

By the king's daughter is signified the spiritual affection of truth, and hence the church from those who are in that affection; the king signifies the Lord as to Divine truth; clothing embroidered with gold signifies intelligence and wisdom from that truth; the embroidery in which she should be brought to the king signifies the knowledges of truth. (That daughter signifies the affection of truth, and the church therefrom, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 2362, 2623, 3373, 3963, 4257, 6729, 6775, 6779, 8649, 9055, 9807. That king signifies the Lord as to Divine truth, may be seen above, n. 31.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2362, 2623, Arcana Coelestia 3373, Arcana Coelestia 3963, Arcana Coelestia 4257, Arcana Coelestia 6729, 6775, 6779, Arcana Coelestia 8649, 9055, Arcana Coelestia 9807; Psalms 45:13-14; The Apocalypse Explained 31)

[10] In the second book of Samuel:

"Daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet with dainty things, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel" (i. 24).

This is the lamentation of David over Saul, which he wrote to teach the sons of Judah the bow (verse 18): by a bow is signified truth combating against falsities (see Arcana Coelestia, n. 2686, 2709). By Saul as a king, is signified that truth; by the sons of Judah are signified those who are in truths from good; by clothing the daughters of Israel in scarlet, and by putting ornaments of gold upon their apparel, is signified to impart intelligence and wisdom to those who are in the spiritual affection of truth.

(References: 2 Samuel 1:18, 1:24; Arcana Coelestia 2686, 2709)

[11] In Matthew:

"When the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment. And he said unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness" (xxii. 11-13).

By a wedding garment is signified the intelligence of the spiritual man, which is from the knowledges (cognitiones) of truth and good; but by him who had not on a wedding garment is signified a hypocrite, who by a moral life feigns a spiritual, when yet it is merely natural. To bind hand and foot, signifies deprivation of knowledges from the Word, by which such a man has counterfeited the spiritual man; to be cast into outer darkness signifies amongst those who are in falsities from evil; for outer darkness signifies falsities from evils.

(References: Matthew 22:11-13)

[12] In Zephaniah:

"I will visit upon the princes, and upon the sons of the king, and upon all who are clothed with the garments of the alien" (i. 8).

Princes and king's sons signify those who are in truths, and, in the opposite sense, as here, those who are in falsities; these are said to be clothed with the garments of the alien, because a garment signifies falsity, and an alien those who are out of the church, and do not acknowledge its truth.

(References: Zephaniah 1:8)

[13] In Matthew:

"Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing; inwardly they are ravening wolves" (vii. 15).

False prophets in sheep's clothing who inwardly are ravening wolves, are those who teach falsities as if they were truths, and in appearance live morally, but who, when they are left to themselves, think of nothing but themselves and the world, and study to deprive others of truths.

(References: Matthew 7:15)

[14] In John:

Jesus said to Peter "When thou wast younger, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest; but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thine hands, and another shall gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldest not" (xxi. 18).

The spiritual signification of these words may be seen above (n. 9); which is, that by Peter is meant the faith of the church; by his being younger and girding himself and walking whither he would is meant the faith of the church at its beginning when its members are in the good of charity, that they then think from the spiritual man concerning the truths of the church, that is, from their own spirit, thus from the spiritual affection of truth, which is from freedom. But by Peter, when he should be old, stretching forth his hands, and another girding him is meant the faith of the church at its end, when faith would be without charity, that then they would think nothing concerning the truths of the church from themselves, but from others, thus from doctrine only, and not from the Word, which state respectively is a state of servitude. For to believe what another says is servile, but to believe what one thinks oneself from the Word is freedom, according to the words of the Lord in John,

"If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (viii. 31, 32).

(References: John 8:31-32, John 21:18; The Apocalypse Explained 9)

[15] In Luke:

"No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; otherwise, the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old wineskins; else the new wine will burst the skins, and be spilled, and the skins will perish" (v. 36-38; Matt. ix. 16, 17; Mark ii. 21, 22).

Because a garment signifies truth, therefore the Lord compared the truths of the former church, which was a church representative of spiritual things, to a piece of an old garment, and the truths of the New Church, which were essentially spiritual truths, to a piece of a new garment: He also compared them to wine-skins, because by wine in like manner is signified truth, and by skins the knowledges which contain truth. (That wine in the Word signifies truth, may be seen in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, n. 219.)

(References: Luke 5:36-37, Luke 5:36-38; Mark 2:21-22; Matthew 9:16-17; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 219)

[16] From these considerations it is now evident what is signified by garments in other parts of the Word, where they are often mentioned; as in the following passages in the Apocalypse:

"Upon the thrones four-and-twenty elders sitting, clothed in white garments" (iv. 4).


The armies of him sitting upon the white horse "followed him, clothed in fine linen, white and clean" (xix. 14).


Those who stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, were "clothed in white robes" (vii. 9).


The seven angels came out of the temple, "clothed in linen clean and shining" (xv. 6).


"And white robes were given unto every one of those" who were under the altar (vi. 11).


"Buy of me gold and white garments" (iii. 18).

(References: Ezekiel 18:16; Revelation 3:18, 4:4, 6:11, 7:9, 15:6, Revelation 19:14)

[17] In Ezekiel:

"Let him give his bread to the hungry, and let him cover the naked with a garment" (xviii. 16).

To give bread to the hungry in the spiritual sense is from the good of charity to instruct those who desire to obtain truths; to cover the naked with a garment, signifies, to treat in the same manner those who are not in truth. In the same:

The enemies "shall strip thee of thy garments, and shall take the jewels of thine adorning" (xxiii. 26).

And in Zechariah:

"Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood thus before the angel, who said unto those that stood before him, Take away the filthy garments from upon him. And he said, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from upon thee, in clothing thee with changed garments" (iii. 3, 4, 5).

In Lamentations:

"They have wandered blind in the streets, they are polluted with blood, what they cannot, they touch with their garments" (iv. 14).

From the signification of garments it can be known what is meant by several statutes amongst the sons of Israel; as

That they should not be clothed with mixed garments (Levit. xix. 19; Deut. xxii. 11);

That a woman should not put on the armour of a man, nor a man be clothed with the garments of a woman (Deut. xxii. 5)

That the garments should be washed that they might be purified, and thus sanctified (Exod. xix. 14; Levit. xi. 25, 28, 40: xiv. 8, 9; Numb. xix. 11 to the end),

and elsewhere;

That in mourning for their transgression against Divine truths they should put off their garments and put on sackcloth (Isa. xv. 3; xxii. 12; xxxvii. 1, 2; Jer. iv. 8; vi. 26; xlviii. 37; xlix. 3; Lam. ii. 10; Ezek. xxvii. 31; Amos viii. 10; Jonah iii. 5, 6, 8):

And that they should rend their garments (Isa. xxxvii. 1, and elsewhere).

It may also be known what is signified

By the disciples laying their garments upon the she-ass and the colt when the Lord was going to Jerusalem, and the people then strawing their garments in the way (Matt. xxi. 7, 8, 9; Mark xi. 7, 8; Luke xix. 35, 36);

which may be seen explained above (n. 31).

(References: Amos 8:10; Deuteronomy 22:5, 22:11; Exodus 19:14; Ezekiel 18:16, 23:26, Ezekiel 27:31; Isaiah 15:3, 22:12, 37:1, 37:1-2; Jeremiah 4:8, 6:26, 48:37, 49:3; Jonah 3:5-6, 3:8; Lamentations 2:10, 4:14; Leviticus 11:25, 11:28, 11:40, 14:8-9, 14:8, 19:19; Luke 19:35-36; Mark 11:7-8; Matthew 21:7-9; Numbers 19:11-22; The Apocalypse Explained 31; Zechariah 3:3-5)

[18] The reason why garments signify truths is, that the light of heaven is Divine truth proceeding from the Lord as the Sun there; and everything that exists in the heavens exists from that light, as is the case also with the garments in which the angels are seen clothed. Hence it is

That the raiment of the angels who sat at the sepulchre of the Lord was "white as snow" (Matt. xxviii. 3);

And that their garments were shining (Luke xxiv. 4).

(That the garments in which the angels are seen clothed correspond to their intelligence, and that their intelligence is according to their reception of Divine truth from the Lord, may be seen in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 177-182; and that Divine truth proceeding from the Lord is light in heaven, n. 126-135.) It is therefore evident that garments, when spoken of the Lord, signify the Divine truth proceeding from Him; and because Divine truth is signified, the Word is also signified; for the Word is Divine truth from the Lord on earth and in the heavens. This was represented by the garments of the Lord when He was transfigured before Peter, James and John, concerning which it is thus written in the Evangelists:

When Jesus was transfigured "his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light" (Matt. xvii. 2);

And his raiment was "white, glistering" (Luke ix. 29);

And "his raiment became exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them" (Mark ix. 3).

The like is said of the Ancient of Days, in Daniel:

"The Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow" (vii. 9).

The Ancient of Days is the Lord from eternity. Because light is Divine truth, and this is signified by garments when the Lord is spoken of, therefore it is said in David,

Jehovah "covereth himself with light as with a garment" (Ps. civ. 2).

(References: Daniel 7:9; Heaven and Hell 177-182; Luke 9:29, Luke 24:4; Mark 9:3; Matthew 17:2, Matthew 28:3; Psalms 45:8, Psalms 104:2; The Apocalypse Explained 126-135)

[19] From these considerations it is evident what is signified by the garments of the Lord elsewhere in the Word. As in David:

"All thy garments are anointed with myrrh, and aloes, and cassia" (Ps. xlv. 7, 8);

where the Lord is treated of. In Moses:

"He washed his garment in wine, and his covering in the blood of grapes" (Gen. xlix. 11).

This is also spoken of the Lord. Wine and blood of grapes signify Divine truth. Because the garments of the Lord signified Divine truth, therefore also

Those who touched the border of His garment were healed (see Matt. ix. 20, 21; Mark v. 27, 28, 30; vi. 56; Luke viii. 44).

In Isaiah:

"Who is this that cometh from Edom, with garments sprinkled from Bozra? this that is honourable in his apparel? Wherefore art thou red as to thy garment, and thy garments like those of him that treadeth in the wine press? Their victory is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have polluted all my raiment" (lxiii. 1-3).

These things also are said of the Lord. By garments here is signified the Word, which, as has been said, is Divine truth from the Lord on earth and in the heavens; the violence offered to Divine truth, or the Word, by those who formed the church, is described by the Lord's garment being red as that of one treading in the wine-press, and by victory being sprinkled upon His garments, and by His raiment being polluted.

(References: Genesis 49:11; Isaiah 63:1-3; Luke 8:44; Mark 5:27-28, 5:30, 6:56; Matthew 9:20-21; Psalms 45:7-8)

[20] Again in the Apocalypse, it is said,

He who sat on the white horse "was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called the Word of God" (xix. 13).

Here it is clearly said that He who sat on the white horse was called the Word of God; and that the same is the Lord is evident, for it immediately follows, concerning Him,

"He hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords" (ver. 16).

It is therefore the Word in the letter which is signified by the vesture dipped in blood, because violence was done to it, but not to the Word in the spiritual sense: to this violence could not be done, since they knew nothing about it.

(References: Revelation 19:13, Revelation 19:16)

[21] That violence was done to the Word in the sense of the letter, but not to the Word in the spiritual sense, is also signified by the soldiers dividing the garments of the Lord, but not His tunic, of which it is thus written in John:

"The soldiers took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be. These things therefore the soldiers did" (xix. 23, 24).

And, in David:

"They parted my garments, and cast lots upon my vesture" (Ps. xxii. 18).

By the Lord's garments which they parted is signified the Word in the letter; by his tunic the Word in the spiritual sense; by soldiers are signified those who belong to the church who fight on behalf of Divine truth; and hence it is said, These things therefore the soldiers did.

(That tunic signifies Divine truth, or the Word, in the spiritual sense, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 9826, 9942; that soldiers signify those who belong to the church, and enter into warfare for Divine truth, may be seen above, n. 64, at the end, where these things are more fully explained.) It should be known that the particular things related in the Evangelist concerning the Lord's passion involve and signify how the church, at that time, which was amongst the Jews, treated Divine truth, thus the Word, for this was Divine truth with them, and the Lord was the Word, because He was Divine truth (see John i. 1, 2, 14); but what those particulars involve and signify can be known from only the internal sense. In this place it is explained only what the garments of the Lord signified, because the signification of garments is the subject here treated of, namely, that they signify truths, and when said of the Lord, Divine truth.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 9826, Arcana Coelestia 9942; John 1:1-2, John 1:14, John 19:23-24; Psalms 22:18; The Apocalypse Explained 64)

[22] Similarly the things signified by the garments of the Lord are also signified by the garments of Aaron and his sons, because they represented the Lord as to Divine good, and their garments, the Lord as to Divine truth. (But these things may be seen explained and shown in Arcana Coelestia; as that Aaron represented the Lord as to Divine good, n. 9806, 9946, 10,017; also what each of the garments signified, as the breast-plate, the ephod, the cloak, the coat wrought with chequer work, the mitre and the belt, n. 9814, 9823-9828, and the following, numbers.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 9806, Arcana Coelestia 9814, 9823-9828, Arcana Coelestia 9946, 10017; Luke 5:36-38; Psalms 45:8; Revelation 19:13-14)

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