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.

   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 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:



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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...

john
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...

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

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...

prepare
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...

way
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...

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.

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

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

said
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...

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

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...

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....

ghost
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...

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...

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.

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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

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 #395

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)      

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395. Verse 11. And white robes were given to every one of them, signifies Divine truth from the Lord with them, and protection. This is evident from the signification of "a white robe" as being Divine truth from the Lord, for "robe" signifies truth in general, because it is a general covering; and "white" is predicated of truths which are from the Lord; for whiteness pertains to light, and the light proceeding from the Lord as a sun is in its essence Divine truth. That "white robes were given to everyone of them" signifies also protection, will be told further on; but let it first be told why "a white robe" signifies Divine truth from the Lord. All spirits and angels are clothed according to their intelligence, or according to their reception of truth in the life, this constituting intelligence; for the light of their intelligence is formed into garments, and when these are thus formed they do not merely appear as garments, but they also are garments. For all things that exist in the spiritual world, and appear before the eyes of those there, exist from the light and heat that proceed from the Lord as a sun; from that origin have been created and formed not only all things in the spiritual world, but also all things in the natural world; for the natural world exists and subsists by means of the spiritual world from the Lord. From this it can be seen that the appearances that exist in heaven before the angels are altogether real; in like manner also the garments. As spirits and angels are clothed according to intelligence, and all intelligence is of truth, and angelic intelligence is of Divine truth, so they are clothed according to truths; this is why "garments" signify truths; "the garments" that are next to the body, that is, the inner garments, signify interior truths; but the garments that are outside of these and encompass them, signify exterior truths; therefore "a robe," "a mantle," and "a cloak," which are general coverings, signify truths in general, and "a white robe" Divine truth in general, which they have from the Lord. (But see what has been shown respecting The Garments with which Angels are Clothed, in the work on Heaven and Hell 177-182; and what has been said above about the signification of garments, n. 64-65, 195, 271.)

(References: Revelation 6:11)


[2] "There were given to those who were under the altar white robes" signifies also protection by the Lord, because "the white robes" given to them represented the presence about them of the Lord with Divine truth; and by means of Divine truth the Lord protects His own, for He surrounds them with a sphere of light, from which they have white robes; and when encompassed by this sphere they can no longer be infested by evil spirits; for, as said above, they were infested by evil spirits, and were therefore hidden by the Lord. This also takes place with those who are elevated by the Lord into heaven. They are then clothed with white garments, which is an indication that they are in Divine truth, and thus in safety. But respecting those who were clothed in white robes more will be shown in the explanation of the following chapter (Revelation 7:9, 13-17).

[3] That "robe," "mantle," and "cloak" signify Divine truth in general can be seen also from the following passages. In Zechariah:

The prophets shall be ashamed every man of his vision which he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a mantle of hair to dissemble (Zechariah 13:4).

"Prophets" signify those who teach truths from the Word, and in an abstract sense, the truths of doctrine from the Word; and because of this signification of "prophets" they were clothed with a mantle of hair, "the mantle of hair" signifying Divine truth in ultimates, which is Divine truth in general, for the ultimate contains all things interior; "hair," too, signifies the ultimate. This is why:

Elijah, from his mantle, was called a hairy man (2 Kings 1:7-8);

And John the Baptist, who was as Elijah by reason of a like representation, had a garment of camel's hair (Matthew 3:4).

This makes clear the signification of "the prophets shall not wear a mantle of hair to dissemble," namely, that they shall not declare truths to be falsities, and falsities to be truths; this is what is signified by "dissembling."

[4] Because Elijah represented the Lord in relation to the Word, which is the doctrine of truth itself, and Elisha continued the representation, and because "mantle" signified Divine truth in general, which is the Word in ultimates, so the mantle divided the waters of Jordan, according to the following in the books of the Kings:

When Elijah found Elisha he cast his mantle upon him (1 Kings 19:19).

Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters of Jordan, and they were divided hither and thither, and they two passed over on the dry ground (2 Kings 2:8).

Elisha seeing when Elijah was carried up by a whirlwind into heaven, took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; and he took that mantle and smote the waters; and they were divided hither and thither, and he passed over (2 Kings 2:12-14).

"Elijah's casting his mantle upon Elisha" signified the transference to Elisha of the representation of the Lord in relation to the Word; and that "the mantle fell from Elijah when he was taken away, and was taken up by Elisha," signified that this representation was then transferred to Elisha, for Elijah and Elisha represented the Lord in relation to the Word, and they were clothed according to what they represented, "the mantle" signifying the Word in which is Divine truth in general, or Divine truth in the whole complex. "The dividing of the waters of Jordan by Elijah's mantle," first by Elijah and afterwards by Elisha, signified the power of Divine truth in ultimates; "the waters of Jordan" signifying, moreover, the first truths through which there is introduction into the church, and these first truths are such as are in the ultimates of the Word. From this, too, it can be seen that "a mantle" and "a robe" signify Divine truth in general. (That "Elijah" represented the Lord in relation to the Word, so, too, "Elisha," see Arcana Coelestia 2762, 5247. That the ultimate contains the interior things, and thus signifies all things in general, n. 634, 6239, 6465, 9215, 9216, 9828; that thus strength and power are in ultimates, n. 9836; that "Jordan" signifies the entrance into the church, and thus "the waters of Jordan" signify the first truths through which there is entrance, n. 1585, 4255; and that "waters" mean truths, see above, n. 71.) First truths are also ultimate truths, such as are in the sense of the letter of the Word, for through these entrance is effected, for these are first learned, and in them are all interior things which constitute the internal sense of the Word.

(References: 2 Kings 2:11-14; Arcana Coelestia 9215-9216; The Apocalypse Explained 71)


[5] One who does not know what "robe" or "mantle" signifies, does not know what "cloak" signifies, for a cloak, as well as a mantle, was a general garment, encompassing the tunic or inner garment, therefore it has a like signification. Neither does he know what was signified by Saul's rending the skirt of Samuel's cloak; by David's cutting off the skirt of Saul's cloak; by Jonathan's giving David his cloak and garments; and by kings' daughters being arrayed in cloaks of various colors; neither does he know the meaning of many other passages in which cloaks are mentioned in the Word. Of Saul's rending the skirt of Samuel's cloak, we read:

Samuel turned to go away, but he laid hold upon the skirt of his cloak and it was rent. And Samuel said, Jehovah hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to thy companion, who is better than thou (1 Samuel 15:27-28).

The words of Samuel make clear that "the rending of the skirt of the cloak" signified the rending of the kingdom from Saul, for he said after it was done, "Jehovah hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day," "a king" and "his kingdom" signifying the Divine truth of the church, and "the skirt of a cloak" signifying Divine truth in ultimates, that is, all Divine truth in general; for the kings that were over the sons of Israel represented the Lord in relation to Divine truth, and their kingdom signified the church in relation to Divine truth; therefore this historical fact signifies that king Saul was such that he could no longer represent the Lord, and that the representation of the church would perish if the kingdom were not rent from him. (That "kings" represented the Lord in relation to Divine truth, and thus "a kingdom" signified the church in relation to Divine truth, see above, n. 29, 31.)

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 29, 31)


[6] The same is signified by David's cutting off the skirt of Saul's cloak, of which we read:

David entered into the cave where Saul was, and cut off the skirt of his cloak, and when he afterwards showed it to Saul, Saul said, Now I know that thou shalt reign, and the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thy hand (1 Samuel 24:3-5, 11, 20).

This was done by David of Divine Providence, that the like might be represented as above, "the skirt of the cloak," and "King Saul and his kingdom," having the like meaning as above.

(References: 1 Samuel 24:3-4)


[7] That Jonathan the son of Saul stripped himself of his cloak and his garments, and gave them to David, of which we read as follows, has a like signification:

Jonathan stripped off the cloak that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, and even his sword and his bow and even to his girdle (1 Samuel 18:4).

This signified that Jonathan, the heir of the kingdom, transferred all his right to David; for all the things that Jonathan gave to David were representative of the kingdom, that is, of the Divine truth of the church, which Saul represented; for as was said above, all the kings who were over the sons of Israel represented the Lord in relation to Divine truth, and their kingdom represented the church in relation to Divine truth.

(References: 1 Samuel 18:3-4)


[8] Because "cloaks" and "robes" signify Divine truth in general:

The king's daughters that were virgins were clad in robes of diverse colors (2 Samuel 13:18).

"The king's daughters that were virgins" signified the affections of truth, and thus the church, as can be seen from a thousand passages in the Word in which "the king's daughter," "the daughter of Zion," "the daughter of Jerusalem," also "the virgin of Zion," and "the virgin of Jerusalem" are mentioned; therefore "the king's daughters" represented also the truths of that affection by their garments, and in general by their robes, which, were therefore, variegated with diverse colors. So also truths from good, or truths from affection, are represented by the garments of the virgins in heaven; which truths are more fully described by:

The garments of the king's daughter (Psalms 45:9-10, 13-14).

(References: Psalms 45:8-9)


[9] As mourning in the Ancient Churches signified spiritual mourning, which is from the deprivation of truth, they represented this in their mourning, then by rending their mantles or cloaks, as is evident in Job:

When Job had lost all things, then he arose, rent his mantle, and said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return (Job 1:20-21).

Job's three friends, when they saw him, wept and rent their cloaks (Job 2:12).

(That "rending the garments" was a representative of mourning because of truth injured or destroyed, see Arcana Coelestia 4763.) And again in Ezekiel:

All the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones, and shall put away their cloaks and strip off their broidered garments; they shall be clothed with terrors; they shall sit upon the earth (Ezekiel 26:16).

This is said of Tyre, which signifies the church in respect to the knowledges of truth and good, here the church where these are destroyed. That there are no longer any truths through which there can be a church, is signified by "all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones;" "the princes of the sea" meaning true primary knowledges [scientifica]; "to come down from thrones" signifying that these have been destroyed, and consequently that there is no intelligence. The like is signified by "they shall cast away their cloaks and strip off their broidered garments," "cloaks" meaning truths in general, and "broidered garments" the knowledges of truth; the consequent damnation is signified by "they shall be clothed with terrors; they shall sit upon the earth."

(References: Acts of the Apostles 1:20-21, 2:12)


[10] In Micah:

My people have set up an enemy for themselves for the sake of a garment; ye strip off the mantle from them that pass by securely, returning from war (Micah 2:8).

These words do not mean that "the sons of Israel have set up an enemy for the sake of a garment, and have stripped off the mantle from those that pass by securely;" but they mean that they held as enemies those who spoke truths, and deprived of all truth those who had lived well and had shaken off falsities, "garment" meaning truth, "mantle" all truth because it means truth in general; "to pass by securely" means to live well; "men returning from war" mean those who have shaken off falsities, "war" meaning the combat of truth against falsity. Who cannot see that this is the spiritual meaning of the Word; and not that the people of Israel held some one as an enemy for the sake of a garment, or stripped off the mantle from those who passed by?

[11] In Matthew:

The scribes and Pharisees do all their works that they may be seen of men, and make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their robes (Matthew 23:5).

This the scribes and Pharisees did, but it also represented and signified that they talked about, and applied to life and to their traditions many things from the ultimates of the Word, in order that they might appear holy and learned. "Their phylacteries which they make broad," signify goods in outward form, for "phylacteries" were worn upon the hands, and "hands" signify deeds, because these are done by the hands; "the borders of their robes which they enlarge," signify external truths; external truths are those that are in the ultimate sense of the letter; "robes" mean truths in general, and "borders" their ultimates. (That "borders of robes" signify such truths, see Arcana Coelestia 9917.)

[12] In Isaiah:

I will rejoice in Jehovah, my soul shall exult in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).

"To rejoice in Jehovah" signifies to rejoice in Divine good; "to exult in God" signifies to exult in Divine truth; for the Lord is called "Jehovah" from Divine good, and "God" from Divine truth, and from these is all spiritual joy. "To clothe with the garments of salvation" signifies to instruct and to gift with truths; and "to cover with the robe of righteousness" signifies to fill with every truth from good, "robe" meaning all truth, because it means truth in general, and "righteousness" is predicated of good.

[13] In the same:

He put on the garments of vengeance, and covered Himself with zeal as with a robe (Isaiah 59:17).

This is said of the Lord and of His combat with the hells; for when He was in the world He reduced all things in the hells and in the heavens to order, and this by Divine truth from Divine love. "Garments of vengeance" signify the truths by which, and "zeal as a robe" the Divine love from which this was done; "robe" is mentioned to signify that it was done through Divine truths from Divine love. (But what "the robe of the ephod" signifies, in which Aaron was arrayed, and upon the borders of which were pomegranates and bells, of which in Exodus 28:31-35 and Leviticus 8:7, see Arcana Coelestia 9910-9928).

(References: 1 Samuel 18:3-4; 2 Kings 2:11-14; Arcana Coelestia 9910)

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Apocalypse Explained 389, 412, 430, 457, 472, 475, 476, 553, 594, 619, 625, 637, 657, 717, 820, 951, 1007, 1222


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Teaching Support | Ages over 3

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Make a picture of the light of truth flowing from the Lord through the Word
Project | Ages 4 - 10

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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

 Symbols of the Lord's Protection
Teaching Support | Ages over 12


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