229. The beginning of the working of God signifies faith from Him, which in appearance is the first thing of the church. This is evident from the signification of "beginning," as being the first; and from the signification of "the working of God," as being the church (of which presently). Faith is what is meant by "the beginning of the working of God," for this is the subject treated of in what is written to the angel of this church; but that faith is "the beginning of the working of God," that is, in appearance the first thing of the church, shall now be explained. By faith here is meant faith from the Lord, for faith not from the Lord is not the faith of the church; but faith from the Lord is the faith of charity. This faith is in appearance the first thing of the church, because it is the first to appear to the man of the church. But charity itself is actually the first thing of the church, because this is what makes the church with man.
 There are two things that make the church, charity and faith. Charity is of affection, and faith is of thought therefrom. Affection is the very essence of thought, for apart from affection no one can think; everything of life that is in thought is from affection. From this it is clear that the first thing of the church is the affection that is of charity or love. But faith is called the first thing of the church because it is the first to appear; for what a man believes, that he thinks, and by thought sees; but that whereby he is spiritually affected he does not think, and therefore does not see in thought, but he perceives it by a certain sensation that has no relation to sight, but to another feeling called the feeling of enjoyment. This enjoyment, as it is spiritual and is above the sense of natural enjoyment, man does not perceive, except when he has become spiritual, that is, when he has been regenerated by the Lord. For this reason the things that are of faith, and thus of sight, are believed to be the first things of the church, although they are not first except in appearance. This therefore is called "the beginning of the working of God," because the Word in the letter is according to appearance, since it is for the simple. But spiritual men, like the angels, are lifted above appearances, and perceive the Word as it is in its internal sense; consequently they perceive that charity is the first thing of the church, and that faith is therefrom; for as was said above, the faith that is not from charity and that is not of charity, is not faith (about which , see also in the small work on The Last Judgment 33-39).
 Even from ancient times, what the first thing of the church is, whether faith or charity, has been a disputed point; and those who have not known what charity is have declared that faith is the first things; but those who have known what charity is have declared that charity is the first thing, and that faith is charity in its manifestation, since the affection of charity made manifest to sight in thought, is faith; for when the delight of affection passes from the will into the thought it takes form, and presents itself to view in a variety of forms. This the simple have not apprehended, consequently they have taken that which appeared before the sight of their thought to be the first thing of the church; and because the Word in the letter is according to appearances, this therefore is there called "the first," "the beginning," and "the firstborn. " For the same reason, Peter, by whom the faith of the church was represented, was called the first of the apostles; when yet John was the first, because by "John" the good of charity was represented. That John, not Peter, was the first of the apostles, is clear from this, that it was John who leaned on the breast of the Lord, and that he, and not Peter, followed the Lord (John 21:20-22). (That the twelve disciples of the Lord represented all the truths and goods of the church, see Arcana Coelestia 2129, 3354, 3488, 3858, 6397; that Peter represented faith, n. 4738, 6000, 6073, 6344, 10087, 10580; and that John represented the good of charity, n. 3934, 6073, 10087).
 For the same reason, by Reuben also, because he was the firstborn of the sons of Jacob, faith was represented, and it was believed that the tribe that had its name from him was the first; but yet that tribe was not the first, but the tribe of Levi, since by Levi the good of charity was represented; and for this reason the tribe of Levi was appointed to the priesthood, and the priesthood is the first of the church. (That the twelve sons of Jacob, or the twelve tribes named from them, represented all the truths and goods of the church, see , n. Arcana Coelestia 3858, 3926, 3926, 4060, 6335, 7836, 7891, 7996; that Reuben represented faith, n. 3861, 3866, 4605, 4731, 4734, 4761, 6342-6345; and that Levi represented the good of charity, n. 3875, 4497, 4502, 4503.) For the same reason in the first chapter of Genesis, where in the sense of the letter the creation of heaven and earth is treated of, but in the internal sense the new creation or regeneration of the man of the church at that time, it is said that light was first made, and afterwards the sun and the moon (see verses 3-5, 14-19); when yet the sun is first, and light is from it. Light was said to be the first of creation, because "light" signifies the truth of faith, and "the sun and moon" the good of love and of charity. (That by the creation of heaven and earth in the first chapter of Genesis, in the spiritual sense, the new creation of the man of the celestial church, or his regeneration, is meant and described, see the explanation of that chapter in The Arcana Coelestia, also n. 8891, 9942, 10545. That "light" signifies truth from good, thus also the truth of faith, see in the work on Heaven and Hell 126-140; and that "the sun" signifies the good of love, and "the moon" the good of charity, both from the Lord, in the same work, n. 116-125, 146.) From this it can now be seen what "the beginning of the working of God" signifies, namely, faith from the Lord, which in appearance is the first thing of the church.
Arcana Coelestia 4502-4503, 6342, Genesis 1:3-5, 1:14-19; Revelation 3:3-5, 3:14-19, 3:14)