The Bible


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


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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.

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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 drafts, indexes & diaries:

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

Marriage 113

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

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

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1 Samuel 14:25

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

Jeremiah 7:4

Daniel 2:44

Bible Word Meanings

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...

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...

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...

"Air" in the Bible represents thought, but in a very general way – more like our capacity to perceive ideas and the way we tend...

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

In general, when something is "prepared" in the Bible it means that it is in the proper spiritual order, which happens when our hearts and...

In John 14:6, 'the way is doctrine,' 'the truth' is every thing pertaining to doctrine, and 'the life' is the essential good which is the...

'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,...

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....

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

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

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...

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",...

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

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...

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

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

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....

There are two aspects to the life of each person. We might call them "heart" and "mind," a part of us that wants and feels...

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

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...

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

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

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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)
Sheet music for a beautiful song about the Lord’s baptism.
Song | Ages over 11



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 #475

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)      

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475. And they did wash their robes.- This signifies the removal of falsities by means of temptations, as is evident from the signification of washing, which denotes to purify from falsities and evils, consequently to remove them; for the evils and falsities which men, spirits, and angels have, are not taken away, but removed, and when removed they appear as though taken away (concerning this fact see the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, n. 166, 170); washing therefore signifies to remove falsities, and thus to purify; and from the signification of robes as denoting truths in general, protecting, see above (n. 395). But in the present case "by robes" before they were washed and made white, are signified falsities from which they were purified. For those who are in falsities from ignorance appear in the spiritual world at first in dusky garments of various colours, and while in temptations, in squalid garments; but when they come out of temptations, they appear in white robes, which shine according to their state of purification from falsities. Every one in the other life appears in garments which accord with the truths and the falsities which he has; for this reason garments signify truths, and in the opposite sense, falsities, as may be seen above (n. 195, 271). It is evident from these things, what is signified by washing their robes and making them white.

(References: Revelation 7:14; The Apocalypse Explained 195, 271, 395; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 166, 170)

[2] In ancient times, when all the external things of the church were representative and significative of things spiritual and celestial, washings were customary, and they represented purifications from falsities and evils. Washings had this signification, because waters signified truths, while filth signified falsities and evils, and all purification from falsities and evils takes place by means of truths. That waters signify truths may be seen above (n. 71). Washings were therefore instituted with the sons of Israel by command. For a representative church was established among them, everything pertaining to which signified spiritual things, and the washings signified purifications from evils and falsities, and thence regeneration. On this account a laver of brass was placed at the door of the tent of the congregation, (Exod. xxx. 18-20); and also lavers of brass were placed without the Temple, one great [laver] called "the molten sea," and ten smaller lavers (1 Kings vii. 23-39).

(References: 1 Kings 7:23-39; Exodus 30:18-20, The Apocalypse Explained 71)

[3] Because washings signified such things, therefore when Aaron and his sons were inaugurated into the priesthood, Moses was commanded to wash them with water at the door of the tabernacle, and so to sanctify them (Exod. xxix. 4; xl. 12; Levit. viii. 6). For priests represented the Lord as to Divine Good, as kings represented Him as to Divine Truth; consequently the priests also represented the Divine sanctity, which is pure without blemish. Aaron and his sons received this representation through the washing by Moses; wherefore it is said, that they should thus be sanctified, although they themselves received no sanctity by the washing.

(References: Exodus 29:4, Exodus 40:12; Leviticus 8:6)

[4] Therefore it was also commanded that Aaron and his sons should wash their hands and feet before they entered the tent of the congregation, and before they ascended the altar to minister, and it is said "that they die not," and that it should be to them "a statute of an age" (Exod. xxx. 18-21, chap. xl. 30, 31); and that Aaron should wash his flesh before he put on the garments of the ministry (Levit. xvi. 4, 24). By washing the hands and feet was signified the purification of the natural man, and by washing the flesh, the purification of the spiritual man. Hence also it was commanded, that the Levites should be sanctified by being sprinkled with the water of expiation, and by shaving their flesh, and washing their garments (Num. viii. 6, 7). This was done to the Levites because they attended to the external things of the church under Aaron and his sons; and the purification of the external things of the church was represented by the sprinkling of the water of expiation, by shaving their flesh, and washing their garments.

(References: Exodus 30:18-21, Exodus 40:30-32, 40:30-31; Leviticus 16:4, 16:24; Numbers 8:6-7)

[5] Moreover, all who became unclean by touching unclean things also washed themselves and their garments, and thus were said to be made clean. As for example, they who had eaten of the carcase of an unclean beast, or of what was torn (Levit. xvii. 15, 16); he who touched the bed of one that had a flux, or who had sat upon the vessel, upon which that one had sat, or who had touched his flesh (Levit. xv. 5-12). The leper, after his cleansing, had to wash his garments, shave off all his hair, and wash himself with water (Levit. xiv. 8, 9); and in fact the very vessels that were made unclean by the touch of the unclean, had to be passed through waters (Levit. xi. 32); besides in many other references. He who supposes that they who washed their flesh, or hands and feet, or garments, were thereby cleansed and sanctified, that is to say, purified from their sins, is much deceived. For sins are not washed away or removed as filth is by water, or by means of water, but they are washed away, that is, removed, by means of truths, and a life according to them, and this alone was what was represented by washings; for waters signify truths, and truths, when there is a life according to them, purify men.

(References: Leviticus 11:32, 14:8-9, 15:4-12, Leviticus 15:5-13, Leviticus 17:15-16)

[6] That these external things contribute nothing to purification from evils and falsities, is clearly taught by the Lord in Matthew:

"Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside of them may be clean also" (xxiii. 25, 26).

The Lord gave similar teaching when the Jews and Pharisees rebuked His disciples for not washing their hands before they eat, for he said, that that would not defile a man, but every evil which goeth forth from the heart (Matt. xv. 1, 2, 19, 20; Mark vii. 1-23; Luke xi. 38, 39). It is therefore clear that the Jews, by their washings, were never sanctified and cleansed from their spiritual defilements, which are the evils issuing from the heart, because these evils reside within, and in the world have no relation to the filth which adheres to the body. It is said, that the inside of the cup and of the platter is to be cleansed in order that the outside may be clean also; for the exterior with man cannot be cleansed before the interior, since by means of the interior the exterior is cleansed. By the cup and platter are signified the interiors and exteriors of man, which receive truth and good, for the cup is the container of wine, and the platter the container of food; and wine (vinum) signifies truth, and food signifies good, just as bread does. It is therefore evident what is signified, in the spiritual sense, by cleansing first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside may be clean also.

(References: Luke 11:38-39; Mark 7:1-23; Matthew 15:1-2, Matthew 15:11, Matthew 15:17-20, 15:19-20, Matthew 23:25-26)

[7] The same also is meant by the washing of the feet of the disciples, concerning which the Lord thus spoke to Peter:

"He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit" (John xiii. 10).

Here by, "he that is washed," is signified inward purification; and by, "needeth not save to wash his feet," is signified, that then he is to be outwardly cleansed, for the feet signify the external or natural man, as may be seen above (n. 69). Concerning this interior truth more may be seen in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem (n. 179, 181); and in the Arcana Coelestia, where the following subjects are illustrated, namely, that each man, both the internal or spiritual, and the external or natural, must be purified in order that a man may be purified, and that the external must be purified by the internal (n. 3868, 3870, 3872, 3876, 3877, 3882). The internal man is purified before the external, because the internal is in the light of heaven, and the external in the light of the world (n. 3321, 3325, 3469, 3493, 4353, 8746, 9325). The external or natural man is purified by the Lord through the internal or spiritual (n. 3286, 3288, 3321). A man is not purified until the external or natural man is also purified (n. 8742-8747, 9043, 9046, 9061, 9325, 9334). Unless the natural man be purified, the spiritual man is closed (n. 6299); and as to the truths and goods of faith and of love he is as it were blind (n. 3493, 3969).

The internal man is purified by knowing, understanding, and thinking the truths of the Word, and the external man, by willing and doing them. From these considerations the meaning of the Lord's words to Peter is now clear, "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit;" and also the Lord's words to the Pharisees; "Cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside of them may be clean also."

(References: Arcana Coelestia 3286, 3288, 3321, 3325, 3469, 3493, 3868, 3870, 3872, 3876-3877, 3882, 3969, 4353, 6299, Arcana Coelestia 8742-8747, 8746, 9043, 9046, 9061, 9325, 9334; John 13:10; The Apocalypse Explained 69; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 179, 181)

[8] That the internal man is purified by means of the truths of faith, and the external by a life according to them, is meant also by these words of the Lord, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John iii. 5). Water signifies the truths of faith, and the spirit, a life according to them.

(References: John 3:5)

[9] From these observations the signification of washing in the following passages is evident.

Thus in Ezekiel:

"I washed thee with waters; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy bloods from upon thee, and I anointed thee with oil" (xvi. 9).

This was said of Jerusalem, which signifies the church; the purification of the church from falsities and evils is signified by, I washed thee with waters; yea I thoroughly washed away thy bloods from upon thee. To wash with waters signifies to purify it by means of truths, and to wash away bloods signifies to purify from evils and falsities. To imbue it with the good of love is signified by, I anointed thee with oil, oil denoting the good of love.

(References: Ezekiel 16:9)

[10] In Isaiah:

"When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and shall have purged the bloods of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, in the spirit of judgment, and in the spirit of cleansing" (iv. 4).

To wash away the filth of the daughters of Zion, signifies to purify the affections of those who are of the celestial church from the evils of the love of self, filth denoting the evil of the love of self, daughters, the affections, and Zion, the church which is in love to the Lord, and is therefore called the celestial church. To wash away the bloods of Jerusalem signifies to purify the affections from the falsities of evil, bloods denoting those falsities. In the spirit of judgment, and in the spirit of cleansing, signifies, by the understanding of truth, and by the affection for truth, for spirit denotes the Divine Truth which proceeds from the Lord, the spirit of judgment, the understanding of truth thence, and the spirit of cleansing, the spiritual affection for truth, since it is this which cleanses.

(References: Isaiah 4:4)

[11] Again, in Job:

"If I wash myself in waters of snow, and make my hands clean with lye; yet shalt thou plunge me into the pit, and mine own clothes shall abhor me" (ix. 30, 31).

These words mean, that if any one desire to purify himself, even by means of truths and goods which are, or seem to be genuine, he will still lead himself into falsities. To wash himself denotes to purify himself; waters of snow denote the truths which are, or seem to be, genuine; lye denotes the good from which [such waters come]; and the pit denotes what is false. That consequently truths falsified exist, is meant by mine own clothes shall abhor me, clothes denoting truths, which are said to abhor a man when he falsifies them, and this is the case when he thinks out and forms conclusions from his own intelligence.

(References: Acts of the Apostles 9:30-31; Job 9:30-31)

[12] In Moses:

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

These words are spoken of Judah, who there signified the Lord as to Divine Truth; that He completely purified this in His Human, when He was in the world, is signified by His washing His garment in wine, and His covering in the blood of grapes, garments and covering signifying His Human, and wine and the blood of grapes, the Divine Truth. These things are explained in the Arcana Coelestia (n. 6377, 6378).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 6377-6378, Genesis 49:11)

[13] That washing, signifies to purify from falsities and evils, is evident in Isaiah:

"Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil" (i. 16).

Because to wash signifies to remove falsities and evils, it is therefore said, "put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil."

(References: Isaiah 1:16)

[14] In Jeremiah:

"O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thoughts of thine iniquity lodge within thee?" (iv. 14).

And in David:

"Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" (Psalm li. 2, 7).

Here to wash clearly denotes to purify from falsities and evils, for it is said, "wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin," and afterwards "wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." To wash from iniquity denotes purification from falsities, and from sin denotes from evils, for iniquity is spoken of falsities, and sin, of evils. Because the water of expiation also was prepared from hyssop, it is therefore said, "purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean."

(References: Jeremiah 4:14; Psalms 51:2, 51:7)

[15] In Jeremiah:

"Though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much lye, thine iniquity is marked before me" (ii. 22).

Here also it is clear that washings only represented and thence signified spiritual washings, which are purifications from falsities and evils, for it is said, "Though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much lye, yet thine iniquity is marked before me."

(References: Jeremiah 2:22)

[16] Similarly in David:

"I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and my chastisement until the mornings" (Psalm lxxiii. 13, 14).

Here, to wash his hands in innocency, denotes to declare himself to be innocent and pure from evils and falsities; for the washing of the hands was also a testification of innocence; as also is evident from the fact that Pilate washed his hands and said, "I am innocent of the blood of this just one" (Matt. xxvii. 24).

(References: Matthew 27:24; Psalms 73:13-14)

[17] Because washings signified purifications from falsities and evils, and because the blind signified those who do not see truths, and thence are in falsities, therefore the Lord told the blind man, whose eyes he anointed with clay made of spittle, to wash himself in the pool of Siloam; and he afterwards washed and came seeing (John ix. 6, 7, 11, 15). The blind man here represented those who can see nothing of truth because they are sensual, and see only those things which appear before the external senses, and therefore they drink in fallacies instead of truths, and apply the sense of the letter of the Word to confirm them. The clay made of spittle signifies sensual truth, such as is contained in the Word for such persons. The waters of the lake or pool of Siloam signify the truths of the Word for all things even to the pools of water in Jerusalem, were significative; and by washing is signified to purify from fallacies, which in themselves are falsities. Hence the signification of these things in a series is evident; for all the miracles and works of the Lord, when He was in the world, signified celestial and spiritual Divine things, that is, such things as have reference to heaven and the church, and this because they were Divine, and the Divine always operates in ultimates from primaries (ex primis), and so in fulness. Ultimates are such things as appear before the eyes in the world; for this reason the Lord spoke, and the Word was written by means of such things in nature, which are correspondences.

(References: John 9:6-7, 9:11, 9:15)

[18] The case is similar with the miracle wrought on Naaman the leper at the command of Elisha, recorded as follows in the second book of Kings:

Naaman the Syrian was afflicted with leprosy, and was bidden by a messenger from Elisha to wash himself seven times in Jordan, and his flesh should come again to him and he should be clean, and at length Naaman "went down and dipped himself in Jordan seven times, and then his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean" (v. 10, 14).

Naaman, of Syria, the leper, represented and signified those who falsify the knowledges of truth and good from the Word, for leprosy signifies falsifications, and Syria, the knowledges of truth and good. The waters of Jordan signified truths introductory to the church, which are the knowledges of truth and good from the Word, for the river Jordan was the first boundary by which the land of Canaan was entered, and by the land of Canaan was signified the church; hence the waters of Jordan signified introductory truths, which are the first knowledges of truth and good from the Word. On account of this signification of the waters of Jordan, Naaman was commanded to wash himself in it seven times, which signified purification from falsified truths. Seven times signify what is in fulness, and when used of holy things, it signifies such holy things as Divine truths are. By reason of this signification of seven times, it is said that his flesh was restored as the flesh of a little child, and by the flesh being restored is signified spiritual life, such as those have who are regenerated by means of Divine truths.

(References: 2 Kings 5:10, 5:14)

[19] Because the waters of Jordan signify truths introductory to the church, which are the knowledges of truth and good from the Word, and since washing therein signifies purification from falsities, and thence reformation and regeneration by the Lord, therefore baptism was instituted, and it was first administered in Jordan by John (Matt. iii. 11-16; Mark i. 4-13). The rite of baptism signified initiation into knowledges from the Word concerning the Lord, His coming, and salvation from Him. And because man is reformed and regenerated by the Lord by means of truths from the Word, therefore baptism was commanded by the Lord (Matt. xxviii. 19). For truths from the Word are the means by which man is reformed and regenerated, and it is the Lord who reforms and regenerates. More may be seen concerning this in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem (n. 202-209).

(References: Mark 1:4-13; Matthew 3:11-16, Matthew 28:19; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 202-209)

[20] John said that he baptized with water, but that the Lord baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke iii. 16; John i. 33). By this is meant, that John only inaugurated them into knowledges from the Word concerning the Lord, and so prepared them to receive Him, but that the Lord Himself regenerates man by Divine Truth and Divine Good proceeding from Himself; for John represented the Word just as Elijah did; the water with which John baptized signified introductory truths, these being knowledges concerning the Lord from the Word. The Holy Spirit signifies Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord; fire, the Divine Good proceeding from Him; and baptism, regeneration by the Lord, by means of Divine Truths from the Word.

(References: John 1:33; Luke 3:16)

[21] Washings were instituted in the ancient churches, and afterwards baptisms in their place, which nevertheless were only representative and significative rites, in order that heaven might be conjoined with the human race, and specifically with the man of the church. For heaven is conjoined to man when he is in ultimates, that is, in such things as are in the world as to his natural man, and in such things as are in heaven as to his spiritual man; there cannot be conjunction in any other way. It was for this reason that baptism and the Holy Supper were instituted, and that by means of such things as are in the world the Word was written, and that it contains a spiritual sense, wherein are heavenly things; and that the sense of the letter of the Word is natural, and contains a spiritual sense within it. That by means of this the Word conjoins the angels of heaven with the men of the church, may be seen in the work concerning Heaven and Hell (n. 303-310); and in the little work Concerning the White Horse, from beginning to end. That the Holy Supper also conjoins, may be seen [in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem] (n. 210-222); the case is the same in regard to baptism. But yet he who believes that baptism contributes anything to the salvation of man, unless he be at the same time in the truths of the church and in a life according to them, is much deceived. For baptism is an external act, and apart from what is internal, contributes nothing to salvation, but it does contribute to it where the external is conjoined with the internal. The internal of Baptism is this, that by means of truths from the Word, and a life according to them, evils and falsities are removed by the Lord, and thus man is regenerated, as the Lord also teaches in Matthew (xxiii. 26, 27), by means of the things explained above in this article.

(References: Heaven and Hell 303-310; Leviticus 15:5-13; Matthew 15:11, Matthew 15:17-20, Matthew 23:25-26, Matthew 23:26-27; Revelation 7:14; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 210-222)

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 Elisha and Naaman
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

 John the Baptist
Compare the birth of John the Baptist with the birth of Jesus Christ. What do the births of these men mean in our lives?
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

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