The Bible

 

Matthew 3:1-12 : John the Baptist (Matthew)

     

Study the Inner Meaning

1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,

6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 794, 1017, 1861, 2371, 2708, 3301, 3540, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 315, 350, 378, 400, 553, 749, 839, ...

Doctrine of the Lord 15, 30, 51

Doctrine of Life 93, 104

Heaven and Hell 570

True Christian Religion 113, 144, 468, 483, 668, 677, 684, ...


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 109, 183, 374, 376, 395, 475, 504, ...

Marriage 113

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 4, 6, 13, 33, 67

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Leviticus 11:22

1 Samuel 14:25

2 Kings 1:8

Isaiah 40:3, 56:1, 57:14, 59:5

Jeremiah 7:4

Daniel 2:44

Word/Phrase Explanations

days
"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

john the baptist
Jesus as a man in the Bible represents Divine Truth, the pure and perfect expression of the Lord's infinite love. That truth is contained within...

Wilderness
'Wilderness' signifies something with little life in it, as described in the internal sense in Luke 1:80 'Wilderness' signifies somewhere there is no good because...

kingdom
In the most general sense, a kingdom in the Bible represents a church. In a more specific sense, a kingdom represents a church in regards...

heaven
"Heaven" and "heavens" are used many times in the Bible, with a couple of variations of meaning. Sometimes it is relatively literal, including times when...

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

spoken
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

prophet
The idea of a "prophet" is very closely tied to the idea of the Bible itself, since the Bible was largely written by prophets. At...

voice of one crying
'A voice crying,' and 'the voice of a cry,' are common expressions in the Word, and are applied whenever there is a noise or disturbance,...

voice
In Genesis 27:22, 'voice' relates to truth, and 'hand,' to good.

one
A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

crying
As with most common verbs, the spiritual meaning of “crying” or “crying out” (meaning a shout or wail, not weeping) is highly dependent on context....

Way
'To set a way,' as in Genesis 30:36, signifies being separated.

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

Make
'To make,' as in Hosea 8:11, refers to good. In the opposite sense it refers to evil. To make heaven, and earth, and the sea,...

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

Raiment
Soft raiment,' as in Matthew 11:9, represents the internal sense of the Word.

Camel
A camel (Matt. 22:24) signifies scientific knowledge. Camels are confirming scientifics, and cattle are the knowledges of good and truth (Jer. 49:32.)

hair
The hair is the very outermost part of the body, and "hair" in the Bible represents the outermost expression of whatever the body represents. In...

Leathern girdle
'The leathern girdle' which John the Baptist wore signifies an external band that receives and contains interior things.

girdle
In a sense, the whole point of trying to accept the Lord and align ourselves with His love and His leading is so that we...

Loins
'Loins' in general, signify love, and when referring to the Lord, divine love. 'Loins' signify the interiors of conjugial love. Loins,' as in Isaiah 11:5,...

Meat
'Meat,' as in Genesis 40:17, signifies celestial good, because 'the meat of the angels' are nothing but the goods of love and charity, which not...

Locusts
'Locusts' signify falsities in the extremes, which consume the truths and goods of the church in a person. 'The locusts' which John the Baptist ate...

Honey
'Honey' signifies the delight derived from good and truth or from the affection thereof, and specifically the external delight. Thus it signifies the delight of...

Round
Something 'round' relates to good. 'A small round thing,' as in Exodus 16:14, refers to the good of truth in its first formation. This is...

Round about
'Round about' denotes the things most distant from the middle, or from good and truth.

Jordan
The land of Jordan,' as in Psalm 42:6, signifies what is lowly, consequently, what is distant from the celestial, as the external parts of a...

sins
'Bound up transgressions,' as in Lamentations 1:14, stands for falsities coming up towards interior or rational things.

saw
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...

many
Intellectual things – ideas, knowledge, facts, even insight and understanding – are more separate and free-standing than emotional things, and it’s easier to imagine numbering...

Pharisees
The Pharisees were a sect of the Jewish church at the time of the New Testament. The name comes from a root that means "separate",...

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

vipers
'Viper' signifies mortal hatreds and also extremely deceitful people.

Flee
To flee signifies to escape, and be rescued. To flee signifies to be overcome.

wrath
'Wrath,' as in Genesis 49:7, signifies aversion from truth. 'Great wrath,' as in Revelation 12:12, signifies hatred against the new church.

bring
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “bring” is highly dependent on context, but in general it represents an introduction to a new...

fruits
We tend to think of "fruit" in two ways in natural language. One is as food that grows on trees and vines, sweet and delicious,...

say
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

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

father
Father in the Word means what is most interior, and in those things that are following the Lord's order, it means what is good. In...

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

stones
Stones in the Bible in general represent truths, or things we know concerning the Lord and what He wants from us and for us in...

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

Axe
The work of the hands of the workman with the axe, signifies that which is from man's proprium and from his own intelligence.

Root
'A root,' as in Malachi 4:1, signifies charity. The dried up root,' as in Hosea 9:16, 17, signifies charity which could not bear fruit.

tree
In general, plants in the Bible represent facts, thoughts and ideas – intellectual things. This makes sense: Plants are rooted in place, but can grow...

good
It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

fruit
In Zechariah 8:12, 'the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground her increase,' signifies that the spiritual affection of truth produces the good of...

down
"Down" is used many different ways in natural language, and its spiritual meaning in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Phrases like "bowing down,"...

cast
For something to be cast down or cast out generally refers to a rather dramatic move from a higher spiritual state to a lower one....

fire
Just as natural fire can be both comforting in keeping you warm or scary in burning down your house, so fire in the spiritual sense...

water
Water was obviously of tremendous importance in Biblical times (and every other time). It is the basis of life, the essential ingredient in all drinks,...

Worthy
People in truths from the Lord, because they are in conjunction with Him, are called 'worthy,' as in Revelation 3:4. All worth in the spiritual...

bear
Like many verbs, the spiritual meaning of "bearing" something depends greatly on context – what it is that's being borne, and why. It is further...

holy
The Bible describes many things as being holy, or sacred. The Ark of the Covenant is one very holy object. The inmost chamber of the...

Fan
A fan, referred to in Matthew 3:12, signifies the separation of falsities from goods.

Floor
The floor, as in Matthew 3:12, signifies the world of spirits which is between heaven and hell, and where the separation of evils and falsities...

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

wheat
In Revelation 18:13, 'wine, oil, flour, and wheat' signify celestial principles of worship.

Garner
A garner, granary, or barn, as in as in Matthew 3:12 and 8:30, signify where there is a collection of the good.

Chaff
Chaff is mentioned in Matthew 3:12 signifies falsity of every kind, derived from an in­fernal origin.

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.


 Baptism of the Lord
Use felt tip markers to draw a picture of John baptizing the Lord in the Jordan River. Then dip a paintbrush in water and go over the picture to give the effect of watercolor. 
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Dove Poster or Mobile
The dove symbolizes purification by Divine truth. Make a poster or mobile with the color picture of a dove and truths which can help us "clean up" our lives.
Project | Ages 11 - 17

 Flight into Egypt
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 God Is a Divine Man
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Jesus Comes to John the Baptist
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 John the Baptist
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Lord's Baptism
Put together this project to make a picture of the Lord that can be moved to show Him going into the waters of the Jordan to be baptized. 
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Quotes: The Promise of Baptism
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 The Dove
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 The Lord’s Baptism
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Lord’s Baptism (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Lord’s Baptism (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Lord’s Baptism (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Lord's Baptism: Matthew
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 You Are My Beloved Son (sheet music)
Song | Ages over 11

Commentary

 

The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand      

By Rev. William Woofenden

"Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:3
Additional readings: Isaiah 1:1-20

In the childhood of the human race, before men had departed from right ways of life, heaven was near to them. They could be led directly by the Lord, for their hearts and minds were open to him. Of this Golden Age of the human race it is written, "Man walked with God." But we have all read in the history of the human race as revealed in the Scripture the account of how many departed from the way of life and, following the devices of his own heart, closed his mind to the direct reception of goodness and truth from the Lord, until finally he reached a state in which all true knowledge of God and heaven was lost.

Then the Lord came to bring salvation to mankind, and preparation for His reception was made through John the Baptist, the messenger sent in fulfillment of a prophecy given centuries before. John’s message is our text: "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." And when John was put to death, and the Lord began His active ministry in the world, the words of our text were also His first message. For He came to make clear the way of life, and wrong ideas held possession of the minds of men then, as they do of many minds today.

It is not by chance that this first message turns our thoughts to heaven. The purpose of our creation is that we may so live that we shall find our homes in heaven. Belief in heaven had been lost, along with the knowledge about it. And today belief in heaven is for the most part vague, and many think that eternal life does not mean personal existence in the spiritual world, but only the persistence of one’s influence in this world. Great men like Homer, Plato, Moses, Shakespeare, Gladstone, Lincoln, Pasteur, and many others perpetuate themselves in the influence they exert in the minds of living men. This, they say, is what is meant by immortality, by everlasting life. But we should realize that this type of everlasting life is open to the evil as well as to the good. A Diocletian may be remembered forever as well as the beloved Apostle. We need to know the truth that men and women, as individuals, live forever after death in the spiritual world.

But this is not the implication of the text which I have chosen for consideration this morning." The kingdom of heaven is at hand." We know that heaven is not in some remote part of the natural sky, that we cannot say, "Lo, here, or Lo, there" (Luke 17:21). But we are still apt to think of it as far away. We are also inclined to think of it as remote in time. We speak commonly of the "future" world. In the thought of some even, it lies at the indefinitely remote time, when they expect a general resurrection along with others; death is the gateway of heaven, but heaven still seems too distant to be of much practical and present interest.

But the truth is that heaven is far away neither in space nor in time. It is here, it is now, it is "at hand." We live in it now, or we may do so. It is a present reality, the most real and the most important element of the life we are now living. When we speak of heaven, and of living for heaven, we are not, as some charge, setting our hearts on something far away, and despising the real world in which we now are. If one lives for a far-off heaven — and no doubt some have lived so — he may be careless of this world’s joys and sorrows, of opportunities for usefulness, keeping his eyes fixed on some vision of the future. But we may live for heaven and still live thoroughly in the present. We ought to value heaven as the most real of present realities. The Gospel is true: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."

We are taught in the New Church that heaven is essentially a state of human feeling, thought and life, a state in which love to the Lord and love to the neighbor are the ruling motives. We are taught that no outward paradise which could be made by human or by Divine skill would be a heaven if those affections were absent from the heart, that there is no real or lasting satisfaction except in the exercise of these affections. It follows that we can come into heaven in this world, and live in heaven while we live on earth, for we may learn here to love the Lord and one another, and to find our chief enjoyment in the exercise of these heavenly loves.

But this is an abstract way of speaking. Concretely, heaven is not merely a heavenly state in ourselves; it is the great world of human beings who are living in that state, those people in whose hearts are heavenly affections, whose minds are bright with spiritual light, and whose hands are busy with heavenly works. There are many such people in this world. There are countless more who have gone from the earth to the spiritual world, and are there living the same good life under freer and happier conditions. All these people are heaven.

When we have love to the Lord and the neighbor in ourselves, we are brought spiritually near to those in like affections, both of this world and of the spiritual world. It is not a figure of speech when we say that heaven is about us when we are in heavenly states. It is a literal and positive fact. Heaven is so really around us at such times that if it were granted to us, as it was to Elisha’s servant and to others in Bible days to have our spiritual eyes opened, we should see the angels who are our companions and the beautiful land in which they dwell. Among them we should see and recognize some who were dear to us on earth, who still love and help us, and there would be some whom we had not known before but who would from the first glance seem to us as old friends, because they have similar desires and thoughts. And we should recognize them as the source of our happiness.

The Lord created the world and all things in it. All things in the world were made for man to use and enjoy, from the very materials of the earth to all the myriad things of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, the beast of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea. For man’s needs of food, clothing, shelter, for gratification of his senses, and the improvement of his mind these things were made. All these were created and given to man for blessings. But they are subject to one important condition: man must indeed labor to make these things of service to himself, but he must also use them in the service of others. Only so can he have any security or peace. The world of nature and of human beings is not for one man, or a few men, or a nation to control or exploit. Indeed we cannot rightly claim sovereignty over ourselves. We need the guidance of the Lord. And whatever under the Divine Providence we have been able to acquire, whether of material wealth, or of skill, or of learning, we did not acquire it by our unaided efforts. Our daily knowledge of the happenings in the world, our libraries, our schools are made possible by the labor of mind and body of other men and women, great or humble, living or dead. We depend on others and they on us, and life and security today, as always, depend upon the honesty and good will of the community in which we live.

Yet we should also realize that behind the labors and sufferings and the honesty and good will of men stands the Lord. Through His power alone man achieves progress. It is a law of the Divine Providence that man must act in freedom according to reason. This applies to the life of nations as well as to the life of individuals. But the Lord is present and operative always.

For infinitely wise and good reasons, the Lord does not draw the veil aside for us and allow us to see the heavenly world. Some argue that if only they could see heaven, they would believe in it. But to see that world as an outward, objective reality would destroy our freedom. We should be lured by its outward attractiveness, and it would be less possible for us to come into its true spirit.

When we are living in selfish and evil affections, we are in hell. Not only is hell within us at such times but it is also about us, not by a figure of speech, but actually. We are breathing its poisoned atmosphere and, if our eyes were opened, we should see the forms and faces of those who find their life in evil and who exult in influencing others to evil. Why, at least then, does the Lord not draw the veil aside and show us the terribleness of evil? The sight might for the moment frighten us, but we should be less able to shun evil freely because it is evil, and our power to escape permanently from it would be greatly lessened.

If we are tempted to question the Lord’s Providence in not revealing to us more openly the conditions of the good and evil in the spiritual world, we do well to remember His words, "They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them….If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:29-31).

The Lord said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). We should seek those good things which endure forever, and should not sacrifice them for the sake of money or health or life itself. To acquire love to the Lord and to the neighbor is the only thing worth living for. Our business dealings should have as their motive the love of use, of service to others. The most necessary thing in making a home is having in it the sunshine of heaven. The only absolute requirement for our happiness as we go to and fro in the ways of the world is that heaven shall go with us. This is to live for heaven, and yet to live must fully in the present. This is the practical meaning of living for heaven.

It may be stated still more simply. Heaven is not heaven from locality, neither is it heaven from anything which belongs to the angels as their own. It is heaven from what is received from the Lord into the lives and hearts of the angels. To be near the Lord, not in place merely, but in heart, to feel the protection and peace of His presence is heaven. Heaven is being near to the Lord and keeping near to Him. There is no other heaven for men or angels.

"The kingdom of heaven is at hand." When John first spoke this message, the kingdom of heaven was in a special sense at hand, because the Lord had come to live with men and to make Himself accessible to them. A power to heal and bless went forth from the Lord during His life on earth. Men obsessed felt his saving power and sat at His feet clothed and in their right mind.

At the Transfiguration Peter said, "Lord, it is good for us to be here" (Matthew 17:4, Mark 9:5, Luke 9:33). In following the Lord, in hearing His Word and in doing His work, they were tasting of heaven. But we need to note that the mere physical nearness of the Lord did not make heaven. Some cried out with fear at His approach. It was not heaven to them. It was not heaven to those who followed Him to accuse and to betray Him. His presence was a blessing only to those who in some measure drew near to Him in spirit.

Even in the Lord’s coming on earth the kingdom of heaven was not forced on me. It was made accessible to them; it was brought within their reach.

It is brought within our reach. Just as there is no royal road to knowledge, there is no royal road to heaven. We must cease to do evil before we can learn to do well. Repentance, the willingness to recognize and acknowledge our faults and weaknesses and to struggle to overcome them opens the door. Heavenly life comes into the soul when selfish desires are replaced by kindly thoughts and the desire to serve. The Lord tell us to seek these heavenly virtues now, not for the sake of honor for ourselves, but that we may be really kind and helpful to others, that our lives may have something of the Lord’s love in them. Then we shall find that life here makes one with heavenly life, and that our Heavenly Father is the Source of happiness in both alike.

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Apocalypse Explained #406

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)      

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406. Hitherto it has been shown what mountain signifies; it now remains to be shown what island signifies, for it is said,

"Every mountain and island were moved out of their places."

And elsewhere:

"Every island fled away, and the mountains were not found" (Apoc. xvi. 20).

By islands in the Word are not meant islands, nor those who dwell upon islands, but the natural man is meant as to the truths which are in him, and hence, in the abstract, the truths of the natural man are signified. The truths of the natural man are truths scientific (vera scientifica), which are under the view of the rational man, and the knowledges (cognitions) of truth are what are under the view of the spiritual man; knowledges of truth are what the natural man knows from the Word, and truths scientific are what the natural man sees from the Rational, by which also he is accustomed to confirm the truths of the church.

There are in man two minds, the one higher or interior, called the spiritual mind, and the other lower or exterior, called the natural mind. The natural mind is first opened and cultivated in men because this is nearest the world; the spiritual mind, however, is opened and cultivated afterwards, but only in proportion as man by life receives the knowledges of truth from the Word, or from doctrine from the Word; therefore it is not opened with those who do not apply them to the life. And when the spiritual mind is opened, then the light of heaven flows in through that mind into the natural [mind], and enlightens it, and thus this mind becomes spiritual-natural; for the spiritual mind then sees in the Natural, nearly as a man sees his face in a mirror, and acknowledges those things which agree with itself; but when the spiritual mind is not opened, as is the case with those who do not apply to their life the knowledges of truth and good in the Word, then a mind is still formed with such a man inwardly in the Natural, but this mind consists of actual evils and falsities. The reason is, that the spiritual mind is not opened, by which the light of heaven can be let into the Natural by a direct way, but only through chinks round about, whence a man has the faculty to think, to reason, and speak, and also the power to understand truths; but still not that of loving them, or of doing them from affection. For the faculty of loving truths because they are truths, is only possible by the influx of the light of heaven through the spiritual mind; for the light of heaven [flowing in] through the spiritual mind is conjoined with the heat of heaven, which is love, such as the light of the world is comparatively in the time of spring; but the light of heaven flowing only through chinks into the Natural, is a light separated from the heat of heaven, which is love, such as the light of the world is comparatively in the time of winter.

Hence it may be evident, that the man with whom the spiritual mind is opened, is like a garden and a paradise; and that the man with whom the spiritual mind is not opened, is like a desert, and land covered with snow; because the mind makes the man, for the mind of man consists of understanding and will; hence it is the same whether you say the mind or the man, or whether you say the spiritual and natural mind, or you say the spiritual and natural man. The natural mind, or natural man, as to its truths and falsities, is signified by islands in the Word; as to truths, with those with whom the spiritual mind is opened, and as to falsities, with those with whom the spiritual mind is shut.

(References: Revelation 6:14, 16:20)


[2] That these are signified by islands, is evident from the following passages in the Word.

In Ezekiel:

"Thus said the Lord Jehovih to Tyre; Shall not the islands shake at the sound of thy fall, when the wounded cry, when the slaughter is accomplished in the midst of thee? And all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones. The isles shall tremble in the day of thy fall, and the isles that are in the sea shall be troubled at thy departure. All the inhabitants of the isles were astonished at thee, and their kings were sore afraid, their faces were troubled" (xxvi. 15, 16, 18; xxvii. 35).

In these two chapters the subject treated of is Tyre, by which is signified the church as to the knowledges (cognitions) of truth and good, and thence are signified in the abstract the knowledges of good and truth. The intelligence and wisdom of the men of the church, by the knowledges of truth and good from the Word, are here first treated of, and afterwards the church vastated as to these. The church vastated as to these, or where the knowledges of truth and good have perished, is described by what is said by the prophet in those verses; the vastation of the knowledges of truth and good by, "when the wounded cry, and when the slaughter is accomplished in the midst of thee," for by the wounded are meant those with whom truths are extinguished, and by the slaughter is meant the very extinction of truth and good. That then all the knowledges (cognitions) which man from his infancy has imbibed from the Word, and all the truths scientific by which he has confirmed them, are disturbed, moved out of their place, and recede, is signified by, "the islands shall shake, and all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones"; also by, "The isles shall tremble in the day of thy fall, and the isles that are in the sea shall be troubled"; the isles denoting such knowledges and scientifics as are in the natural man; the princes of the sea denoting primary things therein; the sea signifying the natural man and all things therein in general. That all the goods of truth of the natural man, from the knowledges of truth having been vastated, shall be changed as to their state, is signified by, "All the inhabitants of the isles were astonished at thee, and their kings were afraid, their faces were troubled." The inhabitants of the isles denote the goods of truth of the natural man; for by, to inhabit, in the Word, is signified to live, and by inhabitants, the goods of life; kings denote all truths from good; faces signify the interiors and the affections; to be astonished, afraid, and disturbed, signify to be altogether changed as to state. From these things it is evident what those things involve in the internal sense, namely, that all the knowledges of truth and good, and the confirming scientifics which a man from infancy has learnt from the Word, and from teachers, shall change their places and their state in the natural man, and are unseen, when falsities enter.

(References: Ezekiel 26:15-16, 26:18, 27:35)


[3] In Isaiah:

"The king of Assyria shall lead the captivity of Egypt, and the crowd of Ethiopia [which is] to be carried away; then they shall be afraid and ashamed for Ethiopia their expectation, and for Egypt their glory; and the inhabitant of this isle shall say in that day, Behold, such is our expectation, whither we flee for help, that we may be delivered from before the king of Assyria; and how shall we be liberated?" (xx. 4-6).

From these words no one can perceive anything respecting the church, but only a something obscurely historical, the occurrence of which is not known, as that the king of Assyria shall lead away Egypt and Ethiopia into captivity, and that the dwellers of some isle would grieve in heart over it; but yet, here as elsewhere, the concerns of the church are treated of, which concerns are evident when it is known that the king of Assyria signifies the Rational perverted, and thence reasoning from false scientifics which favour the delight of the natural loves, over which the natural man grieves, because it is perverted thereby. For by, "the king of Assyria shall lead the captivity of Egypt, and the crowd of Ethiopia [which is] to be carried away," is signified, that the perverted Rational will claim to itself the scientifics of the natural man, and will confirm itself thereby, and also by its delights, which [such scientifics] favour. The king of Assyria denotes the perverted Rational; to lead captive, and carry away the crowd, denotes to apply them and to confirm them. Egypt denotes the scientific of the natural man, and Ethiopia denotes the delight which it favours. That the goods of truth of the natural man grieve on that account, or that the natural man, in which are the goods of truth, grieves, is signified by all those things that follow, namely, that "they shall be afraid and ashamed for Ethiopia their expectation, and for Egypt their glory; and the inhabitant of the isle shall say in that day"; with what follows. The inhabitant of the isle denotes the good of truth of the natural man, or the natural man in whom is the good of truth; the inhabitant signifying good, and an island truth, both in the natural man (as above). That there is such a sense in these words can hardly be believed, when yet it is therein.

(References: Isaiah 20:4-6)


[4] In the same:

"They shall lift up their voice, they shall shout; for the majesty of Jehovah they shall cry from the sea. Wherefore honour Jehovah in the fire (urim), the name of the God of Israel in the isles of the sea" (xxiv. 14, 15).

The vastation of the church is treated of in this chapter, and in these verses the establishment of a new church among the Gentiles; the joy of these is what is described by, "They shall lift up their voice, they shall shout; for the majesty of Jehovah they shall cry from the sea," or from the west. For by the sea, when the west is meant thereby, is signified the Natural. The reason is that those who dwell in the western quarter in the spiritual world are in natural good, but in the eastern quarter those who are in celestial good; and because the Gentiles, from whom the church [was formed], were in natural good, it is therefore said, honour ye Jehovah in the fire (urim), the name of the God of Israel in the isles of the sea. By this is signified that they would worship the Lord from the goods and truths of the natural man, for the term urim signifies fire, or a hearth, by which is denoted the good of love of the natural man. The isles of the sea signify the knowledges of truth and good, which are the truths of the natural man; and to honour signifies to worship and adore. By Jehovah and the God of Israel is meant the Lord, who is called Jehovah where the subject treated of is good, and the God of Israel where the subject is truth; it is therefore said, "honour ye Jehovah in the fire" (urim), that is, from good, and "the name of the God of Israel in the isles of the sea," that is, from truths. Hence also it is evident, that by the isles of the sea are signified the truths of the natural man.

(References: Isaiah 24:14-15)


[5] In the same:

"He shall not extinguish, neither break in pieces, till he have set judgment in the earth; and the isles shall hope in his law. Sing unto Jehovah a new song, his praise the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, its fulness; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof. Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit; let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto Jehovah, and declare his praise in the islands" (xlii. 4, 10-12).

The Lord and the new church to be established by Him, are also here treated of, and by the isles are meant those who are only in truths from the natural man, and, consequently, who are as yet remote from true worship; hence by, "till he have set judgment in the earth, and the isles shall hope in his law," is signified, until He has given intelligence to those who belong to the church, and knowledges of truth to those who are more remote from the church. To set judgment denotes to give intelligence; to hope in the law denotes to give the knowledges of truth, for the earth signifies those who are of the church, and, in the abstract, the church itself as to intelligence from spiritual truths; and the isles, those who are remote from the church, and, in the abstract, the church as to the knowledges of truth and good, or the church as to the truths of the natural man corresponding to spiritual truths. By, "Sing unto Jehovah a new song, his praise the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and the fulness thereof," is signified the worship of the Lord by those who are remote from the church, and, in an abstract sense, the worship of the natural man from truths and goods. To sing a song, and to praise, signify worship from a glad mind; the end of the earth signifies those who are in the ultimates of the church, and, in an abstract sense, the ultimates of it. The sea and the fulness thereof, signify the natural man and all things therein. The isles and the inhabitants signify the truths and goods of the natural man; the isles the truths thereof, and the inhabitants the goods thereof, as said above. What is signified by, "Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, and the villages that Kedar doth inhabit; let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains," see above (n. 405), where they are explained. By, "Let them give glory unto Jehovah, and declare his praise in the islands," is signified worship from internals and externals. To give glory denotes worship from internals, and to declare praise denotes to worship from externals, for externals declare; and islands denote the truths of the natural man, from which worship [proceeds].

(References: Isaiah 42:4, 42:10-12; The Apocalypse Explained 405)


[6] In the same:

"Attend unto me, my people, and give ear unto me, O my nation; for a law shall proceed from me, and I will stir up my judgment for a light of the people. My justice is near, my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the peoples; the isles shall hope in me, and on mine arm shall they trust" (li. 4, 5).

These things are said concerning the Lord; "Attend unto me, my people, and give ear unto me, O my nation," signifies all of the church who are in truths and goods; people denoting those who are in truths, and nation those who are in goods. It is said, attend and give ear, in the plural, because all are meant. "A law shall proceed from me, and I will stir up my judgment for a light of the people," signifies that from Him [are] Divine good and Divine truth, whence is enlightenment; law signifying the Divine good of the Word, and judgment the Divine truth of the Word. For a light of the people signifies enlightenment. "My justice is near, my salvation is gone forth," signifies judgment, when those are saved who are in the good of love and in the truths thence. Justice is said of the salvation of those who are in good at the day of judgment, and salvation of the salvation of those who are in truths. "Mine arms shall judge the people," signifies judgment upon those of the church who are in falsities, people here being taken in an opposite sense. "The isles shall hope in me, and on mine arm shall they trust," signifies the approach of those to the church who are remote from the truths of the church, and their trust in the Lord; isles signifying, those who are remote from the truths of the church, because they are in natural light, and not yet in spiritual light from the Word; and to trust on His arm, signifies confidence in the Lord who has all power; arm, when said of the Lord, denoting omnipotence.

(References: Isaiah 51:4-5)


[7] In the same:

"Listen, O isles, and hearken, ye people from afar" (xlix. 1).

Isles [stand] for those who are in truths, and people from afar for those who are in goods, and, in the abstract, truths and goods, both in the natural man. From afar is said of the goods in the natural man, whereas near [is said] of the goods in the spiritual man. People here signify goods, because in the original tongue they are called by a different expression from the people by whom are signified truths; for by this expression they are also denominated nations, by whom are signified goods, as is evident from the same expression in Genesis (xxv. 26).

(References: Genesis 25:23; Isaiah 49:1)


[8] In Jeremiah:

"Hear the Word of Jehovah, ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off" (xxxi. 10).

Nations mean those who are in goods, and, in the abstract, goods; and islands mean those who are in truths, and, in the abstract, truths in the natural man. Afar off signifies remote from the truths of the church, which are spiritual (that afar off signifies this, may be seen, n. 8918); but those words, in the purely spiritual sense, signify that the internal man shall teach the external, or the spiritual the whole natural [man] the truths of the Word, for this it is that the nations declare in the islands afar off; but this pure sense, which the angels possess, can scarcely be perceived by men, because they are scarcely able to think apart from persons and places; because the thought of men is natural, and natural thought differs from spiritual thought in this, that it is tied down to places and persons, and is, consequently, more finite than the spiritual. This also is the reason why many things that have been explained, perhaps hardly fall into the ideas of the thought of those who keep the sight of the mind upon the meaning of the expressions.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 8918; Jeremiah 31:10)


[9] In David:

"The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring a present; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer a gift" (Ps. lxxii. 10).

These words relate to the Lord, and by to bring and offer a present is meant to worship. And by the kings of Tarshish and of the isles are meant the interior and exterior truths of the natural man; by the kings of Tarshish, the interior truths, and by the islands, the exterior truths thereof. By the kings of Sheba and Seba are meant the interior and exterior goods of the natural man; by Sheba, the interior goods thereof; and by Seba, the exterior goods thereof. By the truths of the natural man are meant the knowledges of truths, and by the goods of the natural man are meant the knowledges of goods. That these are meant by Sheba and Seba, may be seen, n. 1171, 3240; and that the former are meant by Tarshish, will be seen just below; and because those are meant, those also are meant who are in the knowledges of truth and good.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1171, Arcana Coelestia 3240; Psalms 72:10)


[10] In Isaiah:

"Who are these that fly as clouds, and as doves to their windows? Because the isles confide in me, and the ships of Tarshish in the beginning, to bring thy sons from far" (lx. 8, 9).

These things also are said concerning the Lord; and by them is signified that those who are in simple truth and good, who are such as perceive the truths of the Word in a natural manner, that is, according to the sense of the letter, and do them, would receive and acknowledge Him. The islands signify those who perceive the Word in a natural manner, that is, according to the sense of the letter; and "the ships of Tarshish in the beginning" denote the goods which they bear and do; for Tarshish signifies the natural man as to knowledges, and "Tarshish in the beginning" the natural man as to the knowledges of good, because there were gold and silver in Tarshish, and the ships carried these things thence (1 Kings x. 22), and gold in the beginning, by which is signified good; and because truths are from good, it is therefore said also, "to bring thy sons from far." And because by islands and the ships of Tarshish are signified the knowledges of truth and good pertaining to the natural man, it is therefore said, "Who are these that fly as clouds, and as doves to their windows?" clouds signifying the truths of the sense of the letter of the Word; doves, the goods therein; and windows, truths from good in light. (That ships signify the knowledges of truth and good from the Word, may be seen, n. 1977, 6385; and that windows signify truths in light, and thence the intellectual part, n. 655, 658, 3391.)

(References: 1 Kings 10:22; Arcana Coelestia 655, 658, Arcana Coelestia 1977, Arcana Coelestia 3391, Arcana Coelestia 6385; Isaiah 60:8-9)


[11] In the same:

"Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for Tyre is laid waste, so that there is no house, nor doth any one enter; from the land of Chittim he shall plainly come to them. The inhabitants of the island are silent, the merchant of Zidon who passeth over the sea, they have replenished thee. Blush, O Zidon, for the sea saith, I have not travailed, neither brought forth the fortification of the sea. I have not brought up young men, I have not brought virgins to adult age. At the report from Egypt they shall be seized with grief, as at the report of Tyre. Pass over into Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle" (xxiii. 1, 2, 4-6).

The desolation of truth in the church is thus described; for by the ships of Tarshish are signified the knowledges of good from the Word, and by Tyre the knowledges of truth thence. That there is no longer good because there are no truths, is signified by, "Howl, ye ships of Tarshish, for Tyre is laid waste, so that there is no house, nor doth any one enter in." That falsities then enter until there are no longer any goods of truth and truths of good in the natural man, is signified by, "from the land of Chittim he shall plainly come to them." The inhabitants of the island are silent, the merchant of Zidon, who passeth over the sea, they have replenished thee. The land of Chittim signifies falsities; the inhabitants of the island signify the goods of truth in the natural man, as explained above; the merchant of Zidon signifies knowledges from the Word; who passeth over the sea, signifies, which are in the natural man; who have replenished thee, namely, the ships of Tarshish, signifies, who have enriched thee by them. The vastation of truth and good in the natural man is further described by, "Blush, O Zidon; for the sea saith, I have not travailed, neither brought forth the fortification of the sea. I have not brought up young men, I have not brought virgins to adult age." By Zidon, as well as by Tyre, are signified the knowledges of truth and good in the church. By, the sea, even the fortification of the sea, is signified the whole natural man; by, I have not travailed, neither brought forth, is signified that there is not anything of the church conceived or generated; by young men are signified the affections of truth, and by virgins the affections of good. That this was the case in consequence of knowledges from the Word and confirming scientifics being applied to falsities and evils, is signified by, "at the report from Egypt they shall be seized with grief, as at the report of Tyre." Egypt signifies scientifics; Tyre, knowledges (cognitions) from the Word; here those vastated by falsities and evils to which they are applied; and inasmuch as there is lamentation on this account, it is therefore said, they shall be seized with grief. That all good would thus perish in the natural man, and [all] truth therein, is signified by, pass over into Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle. Tarshish signifies the interior goods and truths in the natural [man]; the inhabitants of the isle signify the exterior goods and truths therein, as also above; to howl signifies grief on account of vastation.

(References: Isaiah 23:1-2, 23:1-6, 23:4-6)


[12] In Jeremiah:

"I took the cup out of Jehovah's hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom Jehovah sent me. All the kings of Tyre, and all the kings of Zidon, and the kings of the isle which is in the passage of the sea" (xxv. 17-22).

Many nations are enumerated there that are not here adduced; by all these are signified the goods and truths of the church in general and in particular, which are vastated. And by the kings of Tyre and Zidon are signified the knowledges of truth and good from the Word, in the natural man; for all knowledges of truth and good, so far as they are knowledges, are in the natural man. Such become truths and goods when there is a life according to them, because they are received in the spiritual man by life. By, "the kings of the isle which is in the passage of the sea," are signified the knowledges of truth in the ultimate of the natural man, which is called the Natural Sensual, because through this there is a passage into the interiors of the natural man, the sea signifying the natural man in general (as may be seen above, n. 275, 342). The vastation of these things is meant by the cup of Jehovah which he made the nations to drink.

(References: Jeremiah 25:17, 25:22; The Apocalypse Explained 275, 342)


[13] In the same:

"Because of the day that cometh to lay waste all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth; for Jehovah layeth waste the Philistines, the remnant of the island of Caphtor" (xlvii. 4).

By the Philistines are meant those who are in faith alone, or in faith separate from charity, therefore they are also called the uncircumcised, by which is signified that they have no charity (see n. 2049, 3412, 8093, 8313). By cutting off from Tyre and Zidon every helper that remaineth, is signified that they have no longer any knowledge of truth and good; the helper that remaineth signifies that they are no longer concordant; the same is also signified by the remnant of the island of Caphtor.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2049, Arcana Coelestia 3412-3413, Arcana Coelestia 8093, 8313; Jeremiah 47:4)


[14] In the same:

"Pass over into the isles of the Chittimites, and see; send into Arabia, and consider well, and see whether there be such a thing, whether a nation hath changed their gods" (ii. 10, 12).

That they would pass over and send into the isles of the Chittimites and into Arabia, does not signify that they would send thither, but to all who live naturally in truths and goods according to their religion. The isles of the Chittimites denote where those are who live naturally in truths, and Arabia where they are who live naturally in goods, namely, according to their religion. The Chittimites and Arabia signify such persons and such things; for all those who have not the Word, or any revelation from heaven, and live according to their religion, live naturally; for to live spiritually is to live only according to truths and goods from the Word, and from revelation out of heaven.

(References: Jeremiah 2:10, Jeremiah 2:10-11, 2:12)


[15] In Zephaniah:

"Jehovah will be formidable upon them: for he will make lean all the gods of the nations, that they may worship him, every one from his place; all the isles of the nations, ye Ethiopians also, shall be slain by my sword" (ii. 11, 12).

By these words in the internal sense, is signified that the falsities of evil will be dissipated, and that truths and goods will be given to those who indeed are in falsities, but not in the falsities of evil. By the gods of the nations, which Jehovah will make lean, are signified the falsities of evil; by gods, falsities; by the nations, evils; and by making lean is signified the removal of evils from falsities. By the isles of the nations, and by the Ethiopians, are signified those who indeed are in falsities, but not in the falsities of evil, and abstractedly, falsities, but not the falsities of evil. And because falsities not of evil are in the natural man, therefore, by the isles of the nations is signified the natural man as to those, or as to those falsities in the natural man; these falsities are signified by, slain by my sword. (Concerning the falsities of evil, and the falsities not of evil, see the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, n. 21.)

(References: The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 21; Zephaniah 2:11-12)


[16] In David:

"He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. The islands shall bow themselves before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust" (Ps. lxxii. 8, 9).

These things are said concerning the Lord; and by having dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth, is meant His dominion over all things of heaven and the church; for in the spiritual world the boundaries are seas, and the intermediates are earths, where there are habitations for angels and spirits. Hence by, "from sea to sea," are signified all things of heaven, and because all things of heaven all things of the church are also signified; for the goods of love, and the truths thence, constitute heaven and also the church, therefore by, "from sea to sea," are signified also all things of the church. All things of heaven and of the church are signified by, "from the river unto the ends of the earth"; but by these words are signified all things of heaven and of the church as to truths, and by, from sea to sea, all things of heaven and of the church as to goods. For seas in the spiritual world are the boundaries of the earth east and west; and in the earths from the east towards the west dwell those who are in the good of love; but the river signifies the first boundary, and the ends of the earth [signify] the last [boundaries] from south to north, where those dwell who are in truths from good, which boundaries also the rivers Jordan and Euphrates respectively represented to the land of Canaan. The places that are about the ultimate boundaries, are meant by islands, by which, therefore, are signified truths in ultimates; these, although they are not truths are still accepted as truths. For genuine truths are diminished from the centre towards the boundaries, because those who are around the boundaries are in natural light, and thus not in spiritual light. By enemies are signified evils, concerning whom it is said that they shall lick the dust, that is, that they are accursed.

(References: Psalms 72:8-9)


[17] In the same:

"Jehovah reigneth; the earth shall rejoice; many isles shall be glad" (Ps. xcvii. 1).

By these words is signified that the church where the Word is and the church where the Word is not, consequently, those who are in spiritual truths and those who are not in spiritual truths, shall rejoice on account of the Lord's kingdom. By the earth is signified the church where the Word is, and by the islands [the church] where the Word is not, consequently, those who are remote from spiritual truths; for the truths of the Word are alone spiritual, whereas with those who are outside the church, because they have not the truths of the Word, there are only natural truths; hence it is that they are called islands.

(References: Psalms 97:1)


[18] By islands in the Word are not meant some islands of the sea, but places in the spiritual world inhabited by those who are in a natural knowledge of cognitions (scientia cognitionum) in some degree harmonising with the knowledges of truth and good in the Word; these places sometimes appear there as islands in the sea; whence, in an abstract sense, by islands are signified the truths of the natural man. This denomination is from the sea, in which there are islands, for the sea signifies the generals of truth, or the truths of the natural man in general. These things are signified by islands in Genesis:

"The sons of Javan were Elishah and Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim. From these were the isles of the nations dispersed in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations" (x. 4, 5).

And in Isaiah:

"He shall come to gather all nations and tongues, that they may come and see my glory. And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations" (lxvi. 18, 19; likewise xi. 10-12).

(References: Genesis 10:4-5; Isaiah 11:10-11, Isaiah 66:18-19)


[19] Because most things in the Word have also an opposite sense, so also have islands; in which sense islands signify the falsities opposed to the truths which are in the natural man. In this sense islands are mentioned in the following passages.

In Isaiah

"I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools" (xlii. 15).

This may be seen explained in the preceding article.

In Ezekiel:

"I will send a fire on Magog, and among the careless inhabitants of the isles" (xxxix. 6).

In Isaiah:

"Anger to his adversaries, retribution to his enemies; to the islands he will retaliate retribution" (lix. 18).

In the same:

"Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as one of the least of things" (xl. 15).

The nations here mean evils, and the isles falsities.

In the same:

"Keep silence, O islands; let the people renew their strength; let them come near, then let them speak; let us come near together to judgment. The isles saw it, and feared; the ends of the earth trembled" (xli. 1, 5).

(References: Ezekiel 39:6; Isaiah 23:1-6, Isaiah 40:15, 41:1, 41:5, Isaiah 42:15, 42:15-16, Isaiah 59:18; Jeremiah 2:10, Jeremiah 2:12; Psalms 72:8-10; Revelation 6:14; The Apocalypse Explained 405)

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Apocalypse Explained 398, 408, 514, 625, 657, 724, 730, 1024

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Glory and praise 1

Honor 1

Howl 1

Islands 1

Lean 1

Tremble or be amazed 1


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