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Luke 9:1-6 : Gathering and Sending Out the Disciples

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1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.

2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

3 And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.

4 And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.

5 And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.

6 And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.

Commentary

 

Gathering and Sending Out the Disciples

     

In a casual reading, the story at the beginning of Luke chapter 9 doesn't seem to have much relation to the events of the previous chapter. But, looking deeper, it does.

At the end of Luke chapter 8, when the little girl who seemed to be dead was brought back to life, Jesus commanded that her parents give her something to eat. In sacred scripture, giving someone “something to eat” is about spiritual nourishment. It refers not only to teaching, but also spiritually nourishing one another with words of encouragement that align with spiritual truth. To the extent that we do this for one another, we become God’s disciples and apostles, cooperating with Him in the work of salvation. We are “disciples” while in His presence, learning from His Word. And we are His “apostles” when we are being sent out to minister to others, through our words and actions.

It's appropriate, then, that chapter 9 begins with Jesus calling together His twelve disciples, and then sending them out to minister to others:

“Having called together His twelve disciples, He gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. And He sent them out to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:1-2).

In a deep sense, the gathering together of the twelve disciples, before sending them out as apostles, represents an important step in our spiritual development. This begins when Jesus “calls His twelve disciples together” in us, which represents that time in our lives when we begin to understand matters of the spirit more deeply. Every “disciple” represents an essential spiritual principle. As we “gather” these principles together in our minds, striving to see how they cohere and relate to the larger whole, we begin to see the connections between ideas, and we develop a keener discernment between what is primary and what is secondary. As a result, we can apply the truth we have been learning more usefully in our lives. 1

After gathering the disciples together, Jesus sends them forth as His apostles, giving them specific instructions for the journey. “Take nothing for your journey,” He says to them. They are not to take a staff, or a backpack, or bread, or silver, or even an extra change of clothes. Every word has spiritual significance. They will not be needing a “staff,” because they will be relying on the Lord alone. They will not need a “pack” to store up what they have learned, because the Lord will give them what to say. They will not need “bread” or “silver,” because the Lord will provide all the goodness (“bread”) and all the truth (“silver”) they need. And they will not need an extra tunic because they will be clothed in truth from the Lord, and will not need anything additional from themselves.

In this case, less is more. When there is less of self, there is more of God. 2

Shaking off the dust:

Jesus then says to them, “And into whatever house you enter, there remain, and thence go out. And as many as shall not accept you, when you come out of that city, shake off even the dust from your feet for a testimony against them” (Luke 9:4-5). A “house,” as we have mentioned before, represents the human mind. It is the place where we think things over, consider our options, and dwell on those matters that are significant to us. Our “house,” then, is our spiritual residence, our “dwelling-place.”

Spiritually speaking, everyone has a dwelling-place — a set of beliefs about themselves, about others, and about God. Because of this, some people will accept the teachings of the apostles gladly, while others will reject them. Knowing this in advance, Jesus tells them that if their teachings are rejected, the apostles should leave the house, come out of the city, and “shake the dust from off their feet.”

In sacred scripture, the term “dust” refers to things that are low and relate to the world of the external senses. Just as dust settles to the earth, there is a tendency to remain focused on things that gratify our worldly senses without lifting our minds to higher things. In the Hebrew Scriptures, this is represented by the lowly serpent who deceived Eve. As it is written, “So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this … you shall eat dust all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:14). 3

Jesus’ instruction to “shake off the dust” is sound advice, not only for the apostles, but for each of us. Along the spiritual journey, as we are learning truth and putting it into our lives, we may, at times, find ourselves being dragged down to lower things — those things that are merely worldly and temporal. This is, spiritually, “the dust on our feet.” Whether the dust comes through the negative influence of others or the self-serving thoughts we entertain, Jesus tells us to “shake the dust from off our feet,” and continue our journey. 4

This is precisely what the apostles do. As it is written in the next verse, “And going out, they passed into the villages, announcing the gospel and curing everywhere” (Luke 9:6).

Footnotes:

1Arcana Coelestia 679: “In the Word ‘gathering’ has reference to the things that are in a person’s memory, where they have been gathered together. In addition, the phrase “gathered together” refers to the gathering together of the goods and truths that need to be gathered together in a person before regeneration can take place. Indeed, unless goods and truths have been gathered together to serve as means through which the Lord may do His work, a person cannot possibly be regenerated.” See also Arcana Coelestia 2089[2]: “Each of the twelve disciples represents an essential and primary aspect of faith.”

2Arcana Coelestia 9942[12]: “Those who are in goods and truths from the Lord possess nothing of good and truth from themselves. Rather, they have all truth and good from the Lord…. Therefore, having ‘two tunics’ signifies having truth from both the Lord and from self. This is why they were allowed to have only one tunic.”

3Arcana Coelestia 249: “The term ‘dust’ signifies those who do not regard spiritual and celestial things, but only what is corporeal and earthly.” See also Arcana Coelestia 7418[4]: “"In the Word, ‘dust’ signifies what is lowly.”

4Arcana Coelestia 249: “Because ‘dust’ signifies focusing on things that are bodily and earthly, while not considering things that are spiritual and heavenly, the Lord told His disciples that if the city or house into which they entered was not worthy, they should ‘shake the dust from off their feet.’” See also Arcana Coelestia 3748[1-2]: “There are hellish spirits who think they know everything…. They want to reason about spiritual matters even though they do not know even the first thing about these matters. Their reasoning is like scattered dust where nothing coheres.”

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Arcana Coelestia #9942

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9942. 'And you shall weave the tunic in checker work of fine linen' means the inmost things of the spiritual kingdom, emanating from the truths of celestial love. This is clear from the meaning of Aaron's garments in general as the spiritual kingdom lying adjacent to the celestial kingdom, dealt with in 9814, and since the tunic was the inmost of those garments the inmost things of that kingdom are meant by it (for the meaning of 'Aaron's tunic' as Divine Truth in the spiritual kingdom, emanating directly from the Divine Celestial, see 9826); and from the meaning of 'fine linen' as truth from a celestial origin, dealt with in 9469. In the words stating that the tunic should be woven in checker work something produced by a weaver should be understood by 'checker work'; and by 'the work of a weaver' is meant that which is from the celestial, 9915. The same word is used in the original language to express the idea of producing checker work as is used to mean weaving.

[2] The fact that this tunic was woven, or was made from the work of a weaver, is clear from the following words in the Book of Exodus,

They made the tunics of fine linen, the work of a weaver, for Aaron and his sons. Exodus 39:27.

The reason why the tunic consisted of checker work or was woven from fine linen was in order that it might represent that which emanates directly from the celestial; in comparison it resembles a continuation from it. For what emanates from the celestial is akin to what does so from the will part of a person's mind, in that everything which belongs to a person's understanding emanates from that will part. What emanates from the will part and exists more internally is so to speak continuous from it, in contrast to what does so but exists more externally. Therefore that more internal emanation from the will has primarily the affection for truth within it; for all affection belonging to love that is present in the understanding flows in from its will part. A similar situation exists in the heavens, where the celestial kingdom corresponds to the will part of a person's mind, and the spiritual kingdom to the understanding part, see 9835. And since Aaron's garments represented the Lord's spiritual kingdom lying adjacent to His celestial kingdom, 9814, the tunic represented that which is inmost there, namely that which emanates from and exists closest to the celestial kingdom; for the tunic was the inmost garment. From this it is evident why it was woven or made of checker work, and why it was made from fine linen. For 'woven' means that which originates in the will part or the celestial, 9915, and 'fine linen' means truth that springs from celestial love, 9469.

[3] What is spiritual emanating from what is celestial is also meant in other places in the Word by tunics, for example by the tunics of skin which Jehovah God is said to have made for the man and his wife after they ate from the tree of knowledge, Genesis 3:20-21. No one can know that truth from a celestial origin is meant by those 'tunics' unless the inner meaning of the details of that story is unfolded; therefore it must be explained. 'The man and his wife' there is used to mean the celestial Church, 'the man' as the husband to mean that Church in respect of good, and 'his wife' that Church in respect of truth; this truth and that good were the celestial Church's truth and good. But then came the fall of that Church, which was brought about by reasonings, based on factual knowledge, about God's truths, meant in the internal sense by 'the serpent' who persuaded them. The first state after the fall of that Church is what is described here, its truth by 'the tunics of skin'.

[4] It should be remembered that the creation of heaven and earth in the first chapter of Genesis means and describes in the internal sense the new creation or regeneration of the member of the Church then, thus the establishment of the celestial Church; that paradise means and describes the wisdom and intelligence of that Church, and eating from the tree of knowledge its fall, brought about by their reasoning, based on factual knowledge, about Divine matters. For more which demonstrates that all this is so, see what has been shown regarding these matters in the explanations to those chapters. For all the narratives contained in the early chapters of Genesis are made-up history, in the internal sense of which there are Divine matters regarding the new creation or the regeneration of the member of the celestial Church, as has been stated. This was the customary way of writing in most ancient times, not only among those who belonged to the Church but also among those outside the Church, for example among the Arabians, Syrians, and Greeks, as is evident from the books of those times, both sacred and secular.

[5] It was in imitation of those books, since he derived it from them, that Solomon composed the Song of Songs, a book that is not a sacred one because it does not inwardly contain heavenly and Divine matters forming a continuous train of thought, such as sacred books contain. The Book of Job too is a book of the Ancient Church. Mention is also made in Moses of sacred books of the Ancient Church which have now been lost, in Numbers 21:14-15, 27ff, the historical sections of which were called The Wars of Jehovah and the prophetical parts The Utterances, see 2686, 2897. The fact that such was the style in the historical narratives of the sections called The Wars of Jehovah is evident from the parts of them which were extracted and quoted by Moses. Their historical narratives were therefore such as came near to a kind of prophetic style, the kind that would allow young children and also simple people to retain things in their memory. The fact that the books referred to in Numbers 21 were sacred is evident from the parts of them extant in verses 28-30 of that chapter, when compared with Jeremiah 48:45-46, where similar words occur. This kind of style was the most common, virtually the one and only style adopted among those who were outside the Church, as is plain from the myths and legends of those writers who were outside the Church which held within them notions of right and wrong or such as have to do with what people feel and how they conduct their life.

[6] In the narratives consisting not of made-up but of genuine history - which are those that appear in the Books of Moses after the chapters of made-up history, and also those in the Books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings - spiritual truth and good of truth emanating from celestial truth and good are again meant by 'tunics'. (It should be remembered that spiritual truth and good is the kind of truth and good that spiritual angels in the middle or second heaven enjoy, but that celestial truth and good is the truth and good such as angels in the third and inmost heaven enjoy, see the places referred to in 9277.) The Books of Moses mention that Israel the father of Joseph gave his son a tunic of various colours, and that because of that tunic his brothers were annoyed; and that subsequently they stripped him of it, dipped it in blood, and sent it in that condition to their father, Genesis 37:3, 23, 31-33. All this was part of genuine history; and since it in like manner contained inwardly or in its internal sense the holy things of heaven and the Church, thus those that were Divine, that tunic of various colours served to mean the state of the good and truth which Joseph was to represent, namely the state of spiritual truth and good emanating from the celestial, see 3971, 4286, 4592, 4963, 5249, 5307, 5584, 5869, 5877, 6417, 6526, 9671. For all the sons of Jacob represented things such as belong to heaven and the Church in their proper order, 3858, 3926, 4060, 4603 and subsequent paragraphs, 6335, 6337, 6397, 6640, 7836, 7891, 7996. But in the chapter referred to above they represented the opposite.

[7] Since all things that are in the books of the Word are representative of and serve to mean Divine celestial and spiritual realities, both those things in the historical books and those in the prophetical books, the affection for spiritual truth is described in David by 'the king's daughter' and the actual truth by her garments,

Daughters of kings are among your precious ones; at your right hand stands the queen in the finest gold of Ophir. The daughter of Tyre will bring an offering, the rich of the people will entreat your face. All glorious is the king's daughter within, from woven threads (or checker work) of gold will her vesture (her tunic) be; in an embroidered [robe] she will be led to the king. Psalms 45:9ff.

'Daughter' in general means the affection for spiritual truth and good, and so means the Church as well, see 2362, 3024, 3963, 9055 (end); and 'king', when this refers to the Lord, means Divine Truth, 2015, 2069, 3009, 4581, 4966, 5068, 6148. From this it is evident that everything mentioned in that Psalm regarding 'the king's daughter' means such things as belong to the affection for truth and good received from the Lord in the Church. When it says that 'the daughter of Tyre will bring an offering' cognitions or knowledge of good and truth are meant, 'Tyre' meaning these, see 1201. The like is meant by 'the rich of the people', for nothing other than cognitions of good and truth is meant in the spiritual sense by 'riches', 1694, 4508. From this it is evident what the meaning is of the declaration that the king's daughter is 'all glorious within', and that her vesture was made 'from woven threads of gold'. By 'her vesture' a tunic should be understood, as is evident from the meaning that word has in the original language; for the word in that language means a garment worn next to the body. The fact that a tunic is meant is clear in John 19:24, where reference is made to the Lord's tunic, which David in Psalms 22:18 calls by the same word 'vesture'. It is also clear in 2 Samuel 13:18, where it says that the king's daughters were clothed with tunics of various colours; this matter is dealt with just below. By 'woven threads of gold' in David something similar is meant to what is meant by the checker work of Aaron's tunic, the same term being used in the original language. As regards what 'an embroidered [robe]' is in which she will be led to the king, see 9688.

[8] Since the king's daughter and her vesture or tunic served to represent such things, a king's daughters at that time wore that kind of clothing, as is clear in the second Book of Samuel,

On Tamar there was a tunic of various colours, for daughters of the king wore such clothes. 2 Samuel 13:18.

[9] Since, then, spiritual forms of good and truths were represented by tunics it may be seen what it is that Aaron's 'tunic' means, and also what is meant by his sons' tunics, mentioned in the next verse of this chapter, which says that for Aaron's sons they were to make tunics, belts, and headdresses, for glorious adornment. And since their tunics served to represent those holy forms of good and truths, it was declared that Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu, who were devoured by fire from heaven because they were offering incense on foreign 1 fire, should be taken outside the camp in their tunics, Leviticus 10:1-5. For 'foreign fire' means love from a source other than what is heavenly, since 'sacred fire' in the Word denotes love that is heavenly or Divine, 6832, 6834, 6849, 7324, 9434. Because of what his sons had done spiritual forms of good and truths, meant by their 'tunics', had been defiled, and this was why they were taken outside the camp in their tunics.

[10] 'Tunic' is used with a similar meaning in Micah,

My people have taken a stand as an enemy on account of the garment; you strip the tunic from those confidently passing through. Micah 2:8.

Here a different word is used in the original language for 'tunic'; even so spiritual truth and good is meant. 'Stripping the tunic from those passing through in confidence' means depriving of their spiritual truths those who lead a life of simple goodness. 'Having [them] as enemy on account of the garment' means doing ill to them on account of the truth they think, when in fact no one ought to suffer harm on account of whatever he believes to be true, provided that he is governed by good, 1798, 1799, 1834, 1844.

[11] From all this it may now be seen what 'tunic' means in Matthew,

Jesus said, You shall not swear at all, neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by Jerusalem, nor by [your] head. Let your words be, Yes, yes; No, no; anything beyond this is from evil. 2 If anyone wishes to drag you to court and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. Matthew 5:34-37, 40.

Anyone unacquainted with what the angelic state is like in the Lord's celestial kingdom cannot have any idea at all of what these the Lord's words imply. For they refer to the state of goodness and truth with those who are in the Lord's celestial kingdom, with whom all truth resides within, imprinted on their hearts. For the good of love to the Lord leads them to know all truth, so completely that they never engage in any reasoning about it, as those in the spiritual kingdom do. Therefore whenever truths are referred to they say simply, Yes, yes; or, No, no. Nor indeed in that kingdom do they even make mention of faith. Regarding the state of these angels, see the places referred to in 9277. From this it is now evident what the meaning is of the command that they must not swear at all; for 'swearing' means confirming truths, 3375, 9166, which is done in the spiritual kingdom by the use of reason and factual knowledge drawn from the Word. 'Dragging to court and wishing to take away the tunic' means arguing about truths and wishing to convince others that something is not true, 'tunic' meaning truth from a celestial origin; for [those who are celestial] leave every one with the truth he has and do not go on to reason with him.

[12] 'Tunic' again means truth from a celestial origin elsewhere in Matthew,

Jesus sent the twelve to preach the kingdom of heaven, saying, that they should not possess gold, or silver, or bronze in their belts, nor a bag for the road, nor two tunics, or [pairs of] shoes, or rods. Matthew 10:9-10.

All this served to represent that those with forms of good and truths received from the Lord possess no good or truth at all that originates in themselves, but that every truth and form of good they have comes from the Lord. The twelve disciples represented all whose forms of good and truths come from the Lord, and in the abstract sense represented all forms of the good of love and all truths of faith derived from the Lord, 3488, 3858 (end), 6397. Forms of good and truths that originate in the self and not in the Lord are meant by 'possessing gold, silver, and bronze in their belts' and by 'a bag'. But truths and forms of good coming from the Lord are meant by 'tunic, shoe, and rod', inner truth or truth from a celestial origin by 'tunic', outer truth or truth in the natural by 'shoe', 1748, 6844, and the power of truth by 'rod', 4876, 4936, 6947, 7011, 7026. By 'two tunics' however, 'two [pairs of] shoes, and two rods' are meant truths and their powers that originate both in the Lord and in the self. The fact that they were allowed to have one tunic, one pair of shoes, and one rod is clear in Mark 6:8-9, and Luke 9:2-3.

[13] Once it is known from all this what 'a tunic' means it is evident what 'the Lord's tunic' referred to in John means,

They took the garments and made four parts, a part for each soldier, and the tunic. And the tunic was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said, Do not let us divide it, but let us cast lots for it, whose it may be - so that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saying, They divided My garments for themselves, and for My tunic they cast lots. The soldiers did these things. John 19:23-24; Psalms 22:18.

Is there anyone, thinking with reason that is to some extent enlightened, who cannot see that in all this Divine things were meant, and that if this had not been so none of it would have been prophesied in David? Yet no one can know what is meant without the internal sense, thus without knowledge gained from that sense no one can know what is meant by 'the garments', 'casting lots for' or 'dividing them', 'the tunic' and its being 'without seam' or 'woven from the top throughout', and 'the soldiers'. From the internal sense it is evident that truths are meant by 'garments', and Divine Truths by 'the Lord's garments'; 'casting lots for' and 'dividing them' pulling apart and dispersing them, 9093; and 'the tunic' Divine Truth on the spiritual level, emanating from the Divine Celestial, the same as is meant by 'Aaron's tunic' since Aaron represented the Lord, for which reason also its being 'without seam' or 'woven from the top throughout' has the same meaning as 'checkered' or 'woven', which describes Aaron's tunic. The tunic's not being divided was a sign that Divine Truth on the spiritual level, emanating directly from Divine Truth on the celestial level, could not be dispersed, because this truth is the inner truth of the Word, such as exists with angels in heaven.

[14] When it says that 'the soldiers did it' the meaning is that it was done by those who ought to have been fighting for truths, that is, the Jews themselves with whom the Word existed, but whose characters were nevertheless such that they would disperse it. For they had the Word, yet nevertheless did not wish to know from it that the Lord was the Messiah and Son of God who was to come. Nor did they wish to know anything of the inner meaning of the Word, only the outward, which they also drafted to serve their own loves, which were self-love and love of the world, and so to support their desires gushing out of those loves. These things are meant by dividing up the Lord's garments; for whatever they did to the Lord represented the state of Divine Truth and Good among them then, thus the way they treated God's truths was similar to that in which they were treating Him; for while in the world the Lord was Divine Truth itself, see the places referred to in 9199 (end), 9315 (end).

Footnotes:

1. i.e. unauthorized or profane fire

2. or from the evil one

  
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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.