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:

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

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.

Videos from the Swedenborg Foundation

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Why Is God So Angry in the Bible? - Swedenborg & Life Live

The Bible gives us mixed messages about God: all-loving, yet angry. We offer a new perspective on this seeming contradiction.

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


Arcana Coelestia #9809

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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9809. 'So that they may serve Me in the priestly office' means that which is representative of the Lord. This is clear from the representation of 'the priestly office' in the highest sense as all the service performed by the Lord as the Saviour. And the moving force behind whatever He does as the Saviour is Divine Love, thus Divine Good since all good is an aspect of love. So it is also that in the highest sense 'the priestly office' means the Divine Good of the Lord's Divine Love. There is Divine Good and there is Divine Truth. Divine Good exists within the Lord, and so is His Essential Being (Esse), which in the Word is called Jehovah. But Divine Truth is an emanation from the Lord, and so is the Coming-into-being (Existere) from that Essential Being; this is meant in the Word by God. And since that which is the Coming-into-being from Himself is nonetheless Himself, the Lord is also Divine Truth, which is what is Divine and His in the heavens. For the heavens are a coming-into-being from Him, because the angels there are recipients of what is Divine and His, celestial angels being recipients of the Divine Good which emanates from Him, but spiritual angels recipients of the Divine Truth springing from that Good. All this helps to make clear what it was belonging to the Lord that was represented by the priestly office, and what it was belonging to the Lord that was represented by the royal office, namely the Divine Good of His Divine Love by the priestly office, and the Divine Truth springing from that Good by the royal office.

[2] The truth that the priestly office represented the Divine Good of the Lord's Divine Love, thus all the service performed by the Lord as the Saviour, is clear from the following declarations in the Word: In David,

Jehovah said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies as Your footstool. Jehovah will send the rod of strength from Zion; have dominion in the midst of Your enemies. Your people will be prompt to offer themselves on the day of Your power, in the beauty of holiness. From the womb of the dawn You have the dew of Your birth. Jehovah has sworn and will not repent, You are a priest for ever, after the manner 1 of Melchizedek. The Lord is on Your right hand; He struck kings on the day of His anger. He has judged among the nations, He has filled [the places] with dead bodies, He has stricken [one who was] head over much land. He will drink from the stream by the way; therefore he will lift up his head. Psalms 110:1-7.

These declarations show what the Lord as a priest, consequently what the priestly office within the Lord represented, namely the whole work of saving the human race. For the subject in this Psalm is the Lord's conflicts with the hells when He was in the world. Through those conflicts He acquired for Himself a power over the hells that was almighty and Divine, by means of which He saved the human race and also today saves all who accept Him. This very salvation, because the Divine Good of Divine Love is the moving force behind the accomplishment of it, is the reason why it says in reference to the Lord, 'You are a priest for ever, after the manner of Melchizedek'. The name Melchizedek means King of Righteousness, which the Lord was called because He had become [the One in whom there was] righteousness and consequently salvation, as accords with what has been shown in 9715.

[3] But since the declarations in this Psalm each contain arcana which have to do with the Lord's conflicts when He was in the world, and those arcana cannot be revealed without the internal sense, let a brief explanation of them be supplied. Jehovah said to my Lord means that the subject is the Lord when He was in the world. 'Lord' here is used to mean the Lord's Divine Human, as is clear in Matthew 22:43-45; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42-44. Sit at My right hand means the almighty power of Divine Good, exercised through Divine Truth, the Lord being Divine Truth at that time, and Divine Truth being that with which He entered into and won the battle. For the meaning of 'sitting at the right hand' as a state of power, and in reference to the Divine as almighty power, see 3387, 4592, 4933, 6948, 7518, 7673, 8281, 9133; and the fact that all the power which good possesses is exercised through truth, 6344, 6423, 8304, 9327, 9410, 9639, 9643.

(References: Luke 20:41-44; Mark 12:35-36; Matthew 22:41-43)

[4] Till I make Your enemies as Your footstool means until the time when the evils which exist in and spring from the hells have been subdued and made subject to His Divine power. Jehovah will send the rod of strength from Zion means the power at that time received from celestial good, 'Zion' meaning this good, see 2362, 9055. Have dominion in the midst of Your enemies means that this good has dominion over evils. Evils are enemies because they are contrary to what is Divine, especially to the Lord. Your people will be prompt to offer themselves on the day of Your power means the Divine Truths engaging in conflict then. In the beauty of holiness means which spring from Divine Good. From the womb of the dawn You have the dew of Your birth means conception from Divine Good itself, from which He had Divine Truth. Jehovah has sworn and will not repent means what is sure and certain.

[5] You are a priest for ever means the Divine Good of Divine Love within Him. After the manner of Melchizedek means that His Divine Human is of a like nature. The name Melchizedek means King of Righteousness, thus Jehovah who has become Righteousness through conflicts and victories, 9715. The Lord is on Your right hand means Divine Truth from Him at that time, through which almighty power is exercised, as above. He struck kings on the day of His anger means the destruction of falsities then, 'the day of anger' being the time when He fought against evils and destroyed them. 'Kings' are truths and in the contrary sense falsities, 2015, 2069, 4575, 4581, 4966, 5044, 5068, 6148. He has judged among the nations means the dispersion of evils; for 'nations' are forms of good and in the contrary sense evils, 1259, 1260, 1849, 6005. He has filled [the places] with dead bodies means the resulting spiritual death, which is a total deprivation of truth and good. He has stricken [one who was] head over much land means casting hellish self-love down into the hells, and the damnation of that love. He will drink from the stream by the way; therefore he will lift up his head means the endeavour to rise up from there by means of reasonings about truths. This is the meaning which those in heaven perceive within these words when that Psalm is read by someone in the world.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1259-1260)

[6] Since the priestly office was representative of the Lord's whole work of salvation which was motivated by Divine Love, the performance of all the worship of God furthermore belonged to the office of the priest. Acts of worship at that time consisted first and foremost in offering burnt offerings, sacrifices, and minchahs, in setting the loaves on the table of the Presence, in keeping the lamps alight day by day, and in offering incense, and consequently in expiating or making atonement for the people and forgiving sins. In addition to all this their office consisted, when they were at the same time prophets, in explaining God's law and in teaching. The fact that all these duties were performed by Aaron and his sons is clear from the description in Moses of the establishment of the priesthood; and all those duties, it is self-evident, were representative of the Lord's acts of salvation. All this also explains why the portions of the sacrifices and minchahs that were Jehovah's, that is, the Lord's, were given to Aaron, likewise various kinds of first fruits as well as tithes, see Exodus 29:1-36; Leviticus 7:35-36; 23:15-22; 27:21; Numbers 5:6-11; 18:8-20, 25-end; Deuteronomy 18:1-4. The firstborn were also given; but in place of all the firstborn of human beings stood the Levites, who were given as a gift to Aaron, see Numbers 1:47; 3:9, because they were Jehovah's, Numbers 3:12-13, 40-45.

(References: Deuteronomy 18:1-5; Leviticus 23:15-21; Numbers 5:6-10, 18:8-19, 18:25-32)

[7] Because the Lord as regards His whole work of salvation was represented by the high priest, and the actual work of salvation by his office, which is called the priestly office, no inheritance and portion among the people was given to Aaron and his sons; for it says that Jehovah God is their inheritance and portion, Numbers 18:20. Nor was any given to the Levites, because they belonged to Aaron, Numbers 26:58-63; Deuteronomy 10:9; 18:1-2. For the people represented heaven and the Church; but Aaron and his sons, and the Levites, represented the good of love and faith, which composes heaven and the Church, and so represented the Lord, who is the source of that good. Therefore He gave over the land to the people as an inheritance, but not to the priests, for the Lord is present in people, but not among them as an individual person.

(References: Numbers 26:62)

[8] Something similar is implied by the following words in Isaiah,

You will be called the priests of Jehovah, you will be spoken of as the ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of the gentiles, and in their glory you will glory. Isaiah 61:6.

'Eating the wealth of the gentiles' stands for making forms of good one's own, 'glorying in their glory' for having the benefit of truths, and so for the joy and happiness which those forms of good and truths give. As regards the meaning of 'the gentiles' or 'the nations' as forms of good, see 1259, 1260, 4574, 6005; and as regards that of 'glory' as truth from the Divine, 9429.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1259-1260)

[9] Various places in the Word mention 'kings and priests', also 'kings, princes, priests, and prophets' in a series. But in these places truths in their entirety are meant in the internal sense by 'kings', and leading truths by 'princes'; forms of good in their entirety are meant by 'priests', and doctrinal teachings by 'prophets', as in the Book of Revelation,

Jesus Christ has made us kings and priests. Revelation 1:6; 5:10.

In Jeremiah,

The house of Israel is ashamed, they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets. Jeremiah 2:26.

In the same prophet,

On that day the heart of the king and the heart of the princes will perish, and the priests will be dumbfounded and the prophets left wondering. Jeremiah 4:9.

In the same prophet,

At that time they will bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of its princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets. Jeremiah 8:1.

In the abstract sense, separate from actual persons, truths in their entirety are meant by 'kings', see 1672, 2015, 2069, 4581, 4966, 5044, 6148; leading truths by 'princes', 1482, 2089, 5044; forms of good by 'priests', 1728, 2015 (end), 3670, 6148; and doctrinal teachings derived from and concerning all these by 'prophets', 2534, 7269. The Lord's kingship furthermore is meant by His name Christ, Anointed One, or Messiah, and His priesthood by the name Jesus; for Jesus means Saviour or Salvation, regarding which the following is stated in Matthew,

The angel appearing to Joseph in a dream said to him, You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:21.

Since this 2 belonged to the priestly office the high priest's duty of expiating or making atonement for people's sins had the same representation, Leviticus 4:26, 31, 35; 5:6, 10, 13, 16, 18; 6:7; 9:7; 15:15, 30.

(References: Matthew 1:20-21)

[10] Since evil cannot possibly be combined with good, because each repels the other, various kinds of acts of purification were ordained for Aaron and his sons whenever they served in the priestly office, whether at the altar or in the tent of meeting. It was also ordained for example that the high priest should not marry anyone other than a virgin; he was not allowed to marry a widow, divorced woman, or prostitute, Leviticus 21:13-15. If any of Aaron's sons who were unclean had eaten from the holy offerings they should be cut off, Leviticus 22:2-9. None of Aaron's seed who had a defect should offer bread, Leviticus 21:17-21. The high priest should not use a razor on his head, nor tear his clothes, nor defile himself with any dead body, not even for his father or mother, nor go out of the sanctuary, Leviticus 21:10-12. These and many other laws, as has been stated, were laid down because the high priest represented the Lord and His Divine Goodness, and the nature of good is such that no evil can be combined with it. For good recoils from evil, and evil has a horror of good, as hell has of heaven; therefore it is impossible for them to be joined to each other.

(References: Leviticus 21:17-20)

[11] As regards truth however, its nature is such that it can be combined with falsity, but not falsity that has evil in it, only that which has good in it. That is, it can be combined with the kind of good that exists with very young children or older boys and girls who are still at the age of innocence, or with upright gentiles who are uninformed; and it can be combined with the kind of good that exists with all who are confined to the literal sense of the Word and to teachings derived from it and yet have the good of life as their end in view. For this good, if it is the end in view, dispels from falsity all inclination towards evil, and uses it in such a way that it makes it look to outward appearance like truth.


1. The Latin means according to My word but the Hebrew means after the manner of, which Swedenborg has in some other places where he quotes this verse.

2. i.e. the work of salvation


(References: Exodus 28:1; Leviticus 21:10-15, Leviticus 21:17-20; Matthew 1:20-21)

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Arcana Coelestia 9821, 9830, 9924, 9937, 9954, 9957, 9965, 10017, 10019, 10042, 10053, 10054, 10118, 10152, 10178, 10182, 10218, 10239, 10279, 10348, 10360, 10367

Apocalypse Revealed 854

The White Horse 1

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 158, 201, 302

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 31, 155, 375, 900

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