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

Explanation of John 21      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Explaining the Inner Meaning of John 21

Verses 21:1, 2. That after his resurrection, the Lord manifested himself in common or general principles to those who were principled in good and truth.

Verse 21:3. And this at a time, when they were teaching the knowledges of truth and good for the reformation of mankind, but whereas they taught from themselves, and not from the Lord, therefore their teaching was fruitless.

Verses 21:4, 5, 6. On which account they are gifted with interior light, yet faint, from the Lord, instructing them that they ought to do all things from the good of love and charity, and that thus natural men might be converted to the truth.

Verses 21:7, 8. Which instruction is perceived to be from the Lord by those who are principled in the good of life, and also by those who are in the good of faith, therefore these latter are more and more confirmed in truth, though as yet it was in common or general principles, whilst the former, by the truth of doctrine, seek to lead natural men to the good of life.

Verses 21:9, 10, 11. Therefore they are made sensible of the divine presence in the truth of good, and in the good of love, and obeying the divine command, they acknowledge the fruitfulness and multiplication of good and truth, in all their fullness in the church, and in their coherence, to be of the Lord.

Verses 21:12, 13, 14. Yet it is granted them of the divine mercy to appropriate to themselves that fruitfulness and multiplication, by incorporating into their own minds and lives both good and truth from the Lord, whereby all doubt is removed concerning the divine presence, and they are fully convinced of the glorification of the Lord's Humanity.

Verses 21:15, 16, 17. On which occasion exploration is made concerning the conjunction of truth and good in the church, and divine admonition given, that it is the office of truth, or of those who are principled in truth, to instruct all who are in innocence, likewise all who are in the good of charity, and lastly, all who are in the good of faith.

Verses 21:18, 19. Divine warning is also given at the same time concerning the separation of truth, or faith, from good, or charity, teaching that the faith of the church in its rise is in the good of innocence, but when it is in its setting, it would no longer be in that good, nor in the good of charity, but would be led by evils and falsities.

Verses 21:20, 21, 22, 23. But still the good of charity would remain with those who are of the Lord, even to the end of the church, and when there is a new church, and not with those who are in truth separate from good.

Verses 21:24, 25. For they, who are principled in the good of charity, bear faithful witness to the truth, being convinced of the truth by its light in their own minds, yet they cannot unfold the whole of the divine operation, because the church is not in a state to receive it.

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

Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture 29

The Last Judgement 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 (Whitehead translation)      

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195. Verse 4. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis that have not defiled their garments, signifies those who live a moral life from a spiritual origin, by applying the knowledges of truth and good from the Word to the uses of their life. This is evident from the signification of "name," as being the quality of the state of man's life (see above, n. 148); here, therefore, "names" signify men who are such. It is evident also from the signification of "the church in Sardis," as being those who live a moral life but not a spiritual life, because they have little regard for the knowledges of truth and good from the Word (see also above, n. 148, 182); but here those are meant who live a moral life from a spiritual origin, for it is said, "that have not defiled their garments." It is evident also from the signification of "garments," as being knowledges [scientifica] and cognitions in the natural man (of which presently). "Not defiling their garments," therefore, signifies living as a moral man not for the sake of self and the world, which is for the sake of the body and its life only, but for the sake of the Lord and of heaven, which is for the sake of the soul and its life. From this it is clear that "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis that have not defiled their garments," signifies such as live a moral life 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 as few know what it is to live a moral life from a spiritual origin, and what it is to apply the knowledges of truth and good from the Word to the uses of their life, it shall be told. Man lives a moral life from a spiritual origin when he lives it from religion; that is, when he thinks, when anything evil, insincere, or unjust presents itself: that this must not be done because it is contrary to the Divine laws. When one abstains from doing such things in deference to Divine laws he acquires for himself spiritual life, and his moral life is then from the spiritual; for by such thoughts and faith man communicates with the angels of heaven, and by communication with heaven his internal spiritual man is opened, the mind of which is a higher mind, such as the angels of heaven have, and he is thereby imbued with heavenly intelligence and wisdom. From this it can be seen that to live a moral life from a spiritual origin is to live from religion, and within the church, to live from the Word; for those who live a moral life from religion and from the Word are elevated above their natural man, thus above what is their own [proprium], and are led by the Lord through heaven; consequently they have faith, the fear of God, and conscience, and also the spiritual affection of truth, which is the affection of the knowledges of truth and good from the Word, for to such men these are Divine laws, according to which they live. Many of the heathen live such a moral life, for they think that evil must not be done because it is contrary to their religion; this is why so many of them are saved.

[3] But on the other hand, to live a moral life not from religion, but only from the fear of the law in the world, and of the loss of fame, honor, and gain, is to live a moral life not from a spiritual but from a natural origin; therefore to such there is no communication with heaven. And as they think insincerely and unjustly regarding the neighbor, although they speak and act otherwise, their internal spiritual man is closed, and the internal natural man only is opened; and when this is open they are in the light of the world, but not in the light of heaven. For this reason such persons have in them little regard for Divine and heavenly things, and some deny them, believing nature and the world to be everything. (From this it can now be seen what it is to live a moral life from a spiritual origin, and what it is to live it from a natural origin; but these things may be seen set forth in clearer light in the work on Heaven and Hell 528-535.) Of those who live a moral life from a natural origin only, it may be said that they "defile their garments," for "garments" mean that which is outside the man himself and which clothes him, thus his natural man with the things that are in it, which are knowledges [scientifica] and cognitions; and when these are from the Word they are defiled by the fact that he learns and holds them only for the sake of reputation, that he may be thought learned or well informed, or that he may thereby acquire honors and gain wealth; and except for such ends he has no regard for them. Thus it is that the knowledges from the Word are polluted and defiled by the loves of self and the world, for these knowledges dwell in the same place with the evils and falsities that gush out from those loves as from their fountains.

[4] It was said above, that man becomes spiritual by means of the knowledges of truth and good from the Word applied to the uses of life. Why men become spiritual by means of knowledges from the Word, and not by means of other knowledges, shall now be told. All things that are in the Word are Divine, and they are Divine for the reason that they have in them a spiritual sense, and by that sense communicate with heaven and with the angels there. When, therefore, man has knowledges from the Word and applies them to life, then through these he has communication with heaven and by that communication becomes spiritual; for man becomes spiritual by his being in like or in corresponding truths with the angels of heaven. It is said in "corresponding" truths, because each and all things in the sense of the letter of the Word are correspondences, for they correspond to the truths that angels have. But the knowledges derived from other books, which set forth and by various means establish the doctrines of the church, do not effect communication with heaven except by the knowledges from the Word they contain; such knowledges do give communication if they are rightly understood and are applied to life, and not to faith alone. Everyone can see that this is so from this, that the Word in itself is Divine, and what is Divine in itself can become Divine with man by his applying it to life. "Becoming Divine with man" means that the Lord can have His abode with man (John 14:23), thus dwelling with him in what is His own (that the Lord dwells in His own with man and angel, and not in what is their own [proprio illorum], see in the work on Heaven and Hell 12). The Lord dwells in His own when He dwells in those things with man that are from the Word, for the Lord is the Word (John 1:1, 2, 14); and the words that He spoke, that is, that are in the Word:

Are spirit and life (John 6:63, 68; 12:50).

(References: John 1:1-2)

[5] That "garments" signify the things that are in the natural man, which are knowledges [scientifica], 1 true or false, or cognitions, is from the spiritual world; for in the spiritual world all, however many, appear clothed according to their moral life; consequently those who have lived a moral life from a spiritual origin appear clothed in shining white garments, like fine linen; but those who have lived a moral life from a natural origin only, appear according to the nature of that life, those who have polluted their life by evils and falsities appearing in dark garments, mean, torn, and hideous to behold (see the work on Heaven and Hell 177-182). From this now it is that "garments" in the Word signify truths from good, and in the contrary sense falsities from evil, both of them in the natural man; truths and falsities in the natural man are called knowledges [scientifica] and cognitions.

[6] That "garments" in the Word signify truths or falsities can be clearly seen from the following passages. In Isaiah:

Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion, put on the garments of thy splendor, O Jerusalem; for henceforth there shall no more come to thee the uncircumcised and the unclean (Isaiah 52:1).

"Zion" in the Word signifies the Lord's celestial kingdom, thus also the celestial church, and "Jerusalem" the spiritual kingdom and the spiritual church (what the celestial kingdom is, and the spiritual kingdom, see in the work on Heaven and Hell 20-28). The "garments of splendor that Jerusalem must put on" are Divine truths; the "uncircumcised and the unclean that shall not come to them" are those who are in evils and falsities.

[7] In Ezekiel:

Jerusalem, I clothed thee with broidered work, I shod thee with badger's skin, I girded thee about with fine linen. I adorned thee with ornament, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy throat, and a jewel upon thy nose, and earrings upon thine ears, yea, a crown of ornament upon thy head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver, and thy garments were fine linen, silk, and broidered work, whence thou becamest exceeding beautiful, and didst prosper even unto the kingdom. But thou didst take of thy garments, and didst make to thee high places with divers colors, that thou mightest commit whoredom upon them; thou also didst take garments of thy broidered work, and didst cover the images of a male, with which thou didst commit whoredom (Ezekiel 16:10-13, 16-18).

Here what the church was when it was first established by the Lord is described; the "garments" that are mentioned are truths from good; "broidered work" is true knowledge [scientificum]; "fine linen and silk" are truths from a celestial source; the "bracelets," "chain," "jewel," "earrings," and "crown," are decorations signifying things spiritual of various kinds; the "gold and silver" with which she was decked are the good of love and its truth. Then the same church when perverted is described, by this, that "she took of the garments, and did make to herself high places with divers colors," signifying truths falsified; and that "she took the garments of broidered work, and covered the images of a male," signifies that they applied the truths of the sense of the letter of the Word to so confirm falsities even so as to make them appear like truths; "committing whoredom with them" and "under them" signifies making doctrine and worship out of falsities (that this is to "commit whoredom," see above, n. 141, 161).

(That "Jerusalem" is the church where there is true doctrine, see Arcana Coelestia 402, 3654, 9166. That "broidered work" is knowledges [scientificum], n. Arcana Coelestia 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 chain [for the neck]" is representative of the conjunction of interior and exterior things, n . 5320; that "jewels [for the nose]" and "earrings" are representatives of perception and obedience, n. Arcana Coelestia 4551. That "a crown" means wisdom, see above, n. 126. That "gold" is the good of love, see Arcana Coelestia 1551, 1552, 5658, 6914, 6917, 9510, 9874, 9881; that "silver" is truth from that good, n. 1551, 1552, 2954, 5658. That "high places with divers colors" are truths falsified, n. 796, 4005. That the "male" or "masculine" is truth, n. 749, 2046, 4005, 7838; therefore "images of a male" are appearances of truth.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1551-1552; Ezekiel 16:10-18; 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 purple from the isles of Elishah was thy covering. Syria was thy merchant in purple, and broidered work, and fine linen, with chrysoprasus. Dedan was thy merchant with garments of liberty for the chariot; Asshur and Chilmad with bales of blue and of broidered work, and with treasures of precious garments (Ezekiel 27:7, 16, 20, 23-24).

Here Tyre and her wares are treated of, and "Tyre" signifies the knowledges of truth and good, and "trading" and "trafficking," signify acquiring for oneself and communicating such knowledges; "purple and blue" signify the celestial love of good and truth; "Egypt," the knowledge belonging to the natural man; by "broidered work from Egypt" the like; "Syria" the church in respect to the knowledges of truth and good; "Asshur" the rational of that church; "Dedan" those who are in the knowledges of celestial things. From this it can be seen that the "wares of Tyre," treated of in the whole of that chapter, do not mean wares, but each and all these things mean spiritual things, which man ought to acquire, be imbued with, and communicate. (That "Tyre" signifies the knowledges of good and truth, see Arcana Coelestia 1201. That "Egypt" signifies the knowledges [scientificum] belonging to the natural man, n. 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462, 5700, 5702, 6015, 6651, 6679, 6682, 6683, 6692, 7296, 9340, 9391. That "Syria" is the church in respect 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" is the rational therefrom, n. 119, 1186. That "purple" is the celestial love of good, n. Arcana Coelestia 9467. That "blue" is the celestial love of truth, n. 9466, 9687, 9833; likewise "chrysoprasus," n. Arcana Coelestia 9868. What "fine linen" and "broidered work" signify, see just above.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1164-1165, Arcana Coelestia 3240-3241, 6682-6683)

[9] In David:

The king's daughter is all glorious within, her clothing is inwrought with gold. She shall be brought unto the king in broidered work (Psalms 45:13-14).

The "king's daughter" signifies the spiritual affection of truth, and therefore the church consisting of those who are in that affection; "king" signifies the Lord in respect to Divine truth; "clothing inwrought with gold," intelligence and wisdom from that truth; the "broidered work" 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, see Arcana Coelestia 2362, 2623, 3373, 3963, 4257, 6729, 6775, 6779, 8649, 9055, 9807. That "king" signifies the Lord in respect to Divine truth, see above, n. 31.)

(References: 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, and who put an ornament of gold upon your apparel (2 Samuel 1:24).

This is in the lamentation of David over Saul, which he wrote:

To teach the sons of Judah the bow (2 Samuel 1:18);

by "bow" is signified truth combating against falsities (see Arcana Coelestia 2686 Arcana Coelestia 2686[1-8] Arcana Coelestia 2686 Arcana Coelestia 2686[1-8], 2709); "Saul" here, as a king, signifies such truth; the "sons of Judah" signify those who are in truths from good; "to clothe the daughters of Israel in scarlet," and "to put ornaments of gold upon the apparel," is to impart intelligence and wisdom to those who are in the spiritual affection of truth.

[11] In Matthew:

When the king came in to behold those reclining to eat, he saw there a man that had not on a wedding garment; and he said unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? He was speechless. Then said the king, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him out into outer darkness (Matthew 22:11-13).

A "wedding garment" signifies the intelligence of the spiritual man, which is from the knowledges of truth and good; but "he that had not on a wedding garment" signifies a hypocrite, who by a moral life counterfeits the spiritual life when yet he is merely natural; "to bind him hand and foot" signifies the deprivation of the knowledges from the Word, by which he has put on the likeness of a spiritual man; "to be cast out into outer darkness" signifies among those who are in falsities from evil (for "outer darkness" signifies falsities from evil).

[12] In Zephaniah :

I will visit upon the princes, and upon the king's sons, and upon all that are clothed with the garments of the alien (Zephaniah 1:8). "Princes" and "king's sons" signify those who are in truths, and in a contrary sense, as here, those who are in falsities; these are said to be "clothed with the garment of the alien," because "garment" signifies falsity, and "alien" those who are out of the church and do not acknowledge the truths of the church.

[13] In Matthew:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing; inwardly they are ravening wolves (Mat. Matthew 7:15).

"False prophets in sheep's clothing, who inwardly are ravening wolves," are those who teach falsities as if they were truths, and who in appearance live a moral life, but who by themselves, when they think from their spirit, think of nothing but themselves and the world, and are eager to deprive all others of truths.

[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 thy hands and another shall gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldest not (John 21:18).

What these words signify in the spiritual sense may be seen above n. 9; namely, that by "Peter" is meant the faith of the church; when he "was younger and girded himself and walked whither he would" means the faith of the church at the beginning, when men are in the good of charity, that they then think about the truths of the church from the spiritual man, which is to think from their spirit, thus from the spiritual affection of truth, that is, from freedom. But by "Peter when old, that he should stretch forth his hands and another should gird him," is meant the faith of the church at its end, when faith would be without charity, that they then would think nothing about the truths of the church from themselves, but from others, thus from doctrine only and not from the Word, which is relatively a servile state. For to believe what another says is servile, but to believe what one himself thinks from the Word is freedom; according to the Lord's words in John:

If ye abide in My Word, ye are truly My disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32).

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 9)

[15] In Luke:

No man putteth a piece of a new garment on an old garment; else the new will rend the old, and the piece from the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and itself be spilt, and the bottles be destroyed (Luke 5:36-37; Matthew 9:16-17; Mark 2:21-22).

Because a "garment" signifies truth, 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 spiritual truths themselves, to a piece of a new garment; He compared them likewise to bottles of wine, because "wine" in like manner signifies truth, and "bottles" mean the knowledges that contain truth. (That "wine" in the Word signifies truth, see The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem 219.)

(References: Luke 5:36-38)

[16] From this it can now be seen what is signified in the Word elsewhere by "garments," which are often mentioned there, as in the following passages. In Revelation:

And upon the thrones four and twenty elders sitting, arrayed in white garments (Revelation 4:4).


The armies of the One sitting upon the white horse followed Him, clothed in fine linen, white and clean (Revelation 19:14).


They who stood before the throne in sight of the Lamb, were clothed in white robes (Revelation 7:9).


The seven angels from the temple were clothed in linen, clean and shining (Revelation 15:6).


White robes were given to everyone of those under the altar (Revelation 6:11).


Buy gold and white garments (Revelation 3:18).

In Ezekiel:

If he giveth his bread to the hungry, and covereth the naked with a garment (Ezekiel 18:16).

"To give bread to the hungry" signifies in the spiritual sense to instruct from the good of charity those who long for truths; "to cover the naked with a garment" signifies to instruct, in like manner, those who are not in truths.

[17] In the same:

The enemies shall strip thee of thy garments, and shall take away the jewels of thine adorning (Ezekiel 23:26).

In Zechariah:

Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and thus stood before the angel. And he said to those that stood before him, Take away the filthy garments from off him. And he said, I have made thine iniquity to pass from off thee, in clothing thee with changed garments (Zechariah 3:3-5).

In Lamentations :

They have wandered blind in the streets, they have been polluted with blood; what they cannot pollute they touch with their clothes (Lamentations 4:14).

From the signification of "garments" it can be known what is meant by many statutes with the sons of Israel:

That they should not put on mixed garments (Leviticus 19:19; Deuteronomy 22:11);

That a woman should not wear the vessels of a man, nor a man be clothed with the garments of a woman (Deuteronomy 22:5);

That they should wash their garments that they might be purified, and thus sanctified (Exodus 19:14; Leviticus 11:25, 11:28, 11:40; 14:8; (Leviticus 14:8); Numbers 19:11-22);

and elsewhere:

That in mourning for transgression against Divine truths they should put off their garments and put on sackcloth (Isaiah 15:3; 22:12; 37:1-2; Jeremiah 4:8; 6:26; 48:37; 49:3; Lamentations 2:10; Ezekiel 27:31; Amos 8:10; Jonah 3:5-6, 3:8);

And that they should rend their garments (Isaiah 37:1 and elsewhere).

Also what this signifies:

That the disciples laid their garments upon the ass and the colt when the Lord was going to Jerusalem, and that the people then strewed their garments in the way (Matthew 21:7-9; Mark 11:7-8; Luke 19:35-36);

can be seen above n. 31.

(References: Leviticus 14:8-9; The Apocalypse Explained 31)

[18] That "garments" signify truths has its origin in this, that the light of heaven is Divine truth proceeding from the Lord as a sun there, and all things that have existence in the heavens have existence from the light there, and this is true in like manner of the garments in which the angels appear clothed. It is from this:

That the angels who sat at the Lord's sepulchre had raiment white as snow (Matthew 28:3);

And that their garments were shining (Luke 24:4).

(That the garments in which the angels appear clothed correspond to their intelligence, and that they have intelligence according to their reception of Divine truth from the Lord, see in the work on Heaven and Hell 177-182;and that Divine truth proceeding from the Lord is light in heaven, n. 126-135.) From this it can be seen what "garments" signify in reference to the Lord, namely, Divine truth proceeding from Him; and as Divine truth is signified, the Word also is signified, for the Word is Divine truth from the Lord on earth and in the heavens. This was represented by the Lord's "garments" when He was transfigured before Peter, James, and John, which are thus described in the Evangelists:

When Jesus was transfigured, His face did shine as the sun, and His garments became white as the light (Matthew 17:2);

And white, dazzling (Luke 9:29);

And glistering white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can whiten them (Mark 9:3).

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

The Ancient of Days did sit, and His garment was like white snow (Daniel 7:9).

"The Ancient of Days" is the Lord from eternity. As "light" is Divine truth, and this in reference to the Lord is signified by "garments," therefore it is said in David:

Jehovah covereth Himself with light as with a garment (Psalms 104:2).

(References: Psalms 45:8; The Apocalypse Explained 126-135)

[19] From this it can be seen what the Lord's garments mentioned elsewhere in the Word signify. As in David:

He hath anointed all Thy garments with myrrh and aloes and cassia (Psalms 45:7-8);

where the Lord is treated of. In Moses:

He will wash His vesture in wine, and His covering in the blood of grapes (Genesis 49:11).

This is also said of the Lord. "Wine" and "the blood of grapes" signify Divine truth. Because the Lord's garments signified Divine truth, therefore also:

Those who touched the border of His garment were healed (Matthew 9:20-21; Mark 5:27-28, 30; 6:56; Luke 8:44).

In Isaiah:

Who is this that cometh from Edom, His garments bespattered from Bozrah; this that is honorable in His apparel? Wherefore art Thou red in Thine apparel, and Thy garments as of one treading in the wine-press? Their victory is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all Mine apparel (Isaiah 63:1-3).

This also is said of the Lord; "garments" here signify 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 to the Word by those who were then of the church, is described by this, that "He was red in apparel as one treading in the wine-press," and that "victory was sprinkled upon His garments," and that "He had stained all his raiment."

[20] In Revelation:

He that sat on the white horse was arrayed with a garment dipped in blood; and His name is called the Word of God (Revelation 19:13).

Here it is plainly declared that He who sat on the white horse was called "the Word of God;" and it is clear that this is the Lord, for it is immediately said of Him:

He hath on His garment and on His thigh a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).

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

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

The soldiers took His garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part, also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore one to another, Let us not divide it, but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be. These things therefore the soldiers did (John 19:23-24).

And in David:

They parted My garments, and cast the lot upon My vesture (Psalms 22:18).

"The garments of the Lord which they parted" signify the Word in the letter; His "tunic" the Word in the spiritual sense; "soldiers" signify those of the church who should fight in behalf of Divine truth; therefore it is said, "These things therefore the soldiers did." (That "tunic" signifies Divine truth, or the Word in the spiritual sense, see Arcan (Arcana Coelestia 9826, 9942) a Coelestia, n. 9826, 9942; that "soldiers" signify those who are of the church, and who should fight in behalf of Divine truth, see above, n. 64, at the end, where these things are more fully explained.) It should be known that each particular related in the Evangelists respecting the Lord's passion, involves and signifies how the church at that time, which was among the Jews, had treated Divine truth, thus the Word, for this was Divine truth with them; the Lord also was the Word, because He was Divine truth (John 1:1, 2, 14). But what each particular involves and signifies cannot be known except from the internal sense. Here it will be told only what "the Lord's garments" signified, because the meaning of "garments" is here treated of, namely, that they signify truths, and in reference to the Lord, Divine truths.

(References: John 1:1-2; The Apocalypse Explained 64)

[22] "The garments of Aaron and of his sons" have a like signification, because Aaron with his sons represented the Lord in respect to Divine good, and their garments the Lord in respect to Divine truth. (But these things may be seen explained and shown in The Arcana Coelestia; as that Aaron represented the Lord in respect to Divine good, n. 9806, 9946, 10017; also what each of their garments signified, the breastplate, the ephod, the cloak, the tunic wrought with checker work, the miter, and the belt, n. 9814, 9823-9828)


1. The Latin has "knowledge," for "knowledges."


(References: Luke 5:36-38; Psalms 45:8; Revelation 19:13-14)

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Apocalypse Explained 181, 187, 198, 240, 243, 271, 328, 329, 356, 359, 375, 386, 401, 412, 452, 475, 519, 627, 637, 655, 717, 805, 820, 922, 951, 1007, 1222

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