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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...

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

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #3301

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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3301. 'A hairy garment' means the truth of the natural. This is clear from the meaning of 'a tunic' as something that clothes another thing - that something being in this case truth because this serves to clothe good (for truth is like a garment, 1073, 2576, or what amounts almost to the same, truth is the recipient vessel for good, 1469, 1496, 1832, 1900, 2063, 2261, 2269); and also from the meaning of 'hairy' as the natural as regards truth. Hair, or the hair on the head, is mentioned several times in the Word, and in those places means that which is natural, the reason being that hairs are outgrowths on the most exterior parts of a person, as also is the natural in relation to its rational and to the interior parts of the rational. During his lifetime it seems to everyone as though the natural within him is all there is to him, but this is so far from being true, that the natural is rather an outgrowth from the internal parts of him, like hairs from the parts of the body. They also stem from internal parts in almost the same way. This also is why people who have been wholly natural during their lifetime are seen in the next life to have faces covered almost entirely with hair when a visual presentation is made of that state. What is more, man's natural is represented by 'the hair'. When it is an outgrowth from good it is represented by attractive and neatly arranged hair, but when it is not the outgrowth from good by unattractive and dishevelled hair.

[2] It is from this representation that in the Word 'hair', or 'the hair on the head' is used to mean the natural, especially as regards truth, as in Zechariah,

It will happen on that day, that the prophets will be ashamed, [every] man on account of his vision when he has prophesied. And he will not put on a hairy garment in order to deceive. Zechariah 13:4.

'The prophets' stands for people who teach truths, here for those who teach falsities, 2534. 'Vision' stands for truths, here for falsities, 'hairy garment' for the natural as regards truth. But because it was not truth but falsity the phrase 'in order to deceive' is used. Such clothing was worn by the prophets so that truth, being external, might be represented by them. This also was why, dressed in a similar way, Elijah the Tishbite is called a hairy man, 2 Kings 1:8, and why John, the last of the prophets, had a garment of camel hair, Matthew 3:4 - 'camels' being facts in the natural man, see 3048, 3071, 3143, 3145, and facts being the truths of the natural man, 3293.

[3] That 'the hair' meant the natural as regards truth is quite clear from the Nazirites who were commanded not to shave their heads with a razor all the days of their Nazirite vow, not until their days of abstinence to Jehovah had been completed. Then they were to let down the hair on their heads and at the door of the Tent of Meeting were to shave the head of their Naziriteship and put the hair on to the fire which was beneath the eucharistic sacrifice, Numbers 6:5, 18-19. They represented the Lord's Divine Human, and from this the person belonging to the celestial Church, who was a likeness of the Lord, 51 - representing that person's natural man by 'the hair'. When they were being sanctified therefore they were to lay aside their old or previous natural man into which they had been born and were to assume the new. This was meant by the requirement, when the days of abstinence to Jehovah had been completed, to let down the hair on their heads and to put it on to the fire beneath the sacrifice. For the state of the celestial man is a state in which good is present in him and from that good he has a knowledge of all truths. He never thinks and talks from truths about good, still less from facts about good, see 202, 337, 2715, 2718, 3246. Furthermore those who are celestial are of such a nature that before they lay aside that state into which they were born their natural has become so powerfully equipped with truth that they are capable of fighting with the hells; for it is truth, never good, that goes into battle. The hells cannot make even the remotest approach towards good. That truth is of such a nature, and good of such a nature, see 1950, 1951.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1950-1951; Numbers 6:18)


[4] From this it is evident how it was that Samson had strength from his hair, referred to as follows,

The angel of Jehovah appeared to Samson's mother, saying, Behold, you will conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come up over his head; the boy shall be a Nazirite of God from the womb. Judges 13:3, 5.

Later on he revealed to Delilah that if he were shaved his strength would leave him and he would be rendered powerless. And immediately he had been shaved, his strength did leave him and the Philistines seized him. And when subsequently the hair on his head started to grow again, where he had been shaved, his strength returned to him, enabling him to dislodge the pillars of the house, Judges 16:1-end. Who does not see that this description holds a heavenly arcanum within it, and that nobody knows what that arcanum is unless he has been taught regarding representatives, that is to say, that a Nazirite portrayed the celestial man, and as long as he had his hair he portrayed the natural part of that man, with whom, as has been stated, such strong and powerful truth was present? And Samson had such strength because at that period of time all representatives which the Lord had commanded had such force and effect. But he was not a consecrated Nazirite like those mentioned above, that is to say, someone who had put on a state of good instead of truth. The chief reason why the ultimate existence of his strength lay in his hair was so that he might represent the Lord who from the natural man as regards truth was to fight the hells and overcome them. This He did before putting on Divine Good and Truth even as regards the natural man.

(References: Judges 16)


[5] From this it is also evident why the high priest, on whose head the anointing oil had been poured and who had been consecrated 1 to wear the garments, was commanded not to shave his head or to rend his garments, Leviticus 21:10. And in a similar way where the new Temple is referred to the Levitical priests were commanded not to shave their head or to let their hair grow long, Ezekiel 44:20; that is to say, they represented the Lord's Divine Natural as regards truth that is derived from good and is called truth grounded in good. That 'hair' or the hair on the head means the natural as regards truth is clear also from the prophetical parts of the Word, as in Ezekiel,

I gave you to be like the seed of the field, from which you grew up and became tall to full beauty; your breasts were formed and your hair had grown. Ezekiel 16:7.

This refers to Jerusalem, which is the Ancient Church here and which in process of time became perverted. 'Breasts were formed' stands for natural good, 'hair which has grown' for natural truth.

[6] In Daniel,

I saw, until thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days was seated. His clothing was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was a flame of fire. Daniel 7:9.

And in John,

In the midst of the seven lampstands one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and surrounded by a golden girdle around the breasts. His head however and hair were white, like white wool, like snow; but His eyes were like a flame of fire. Revelation 1:13-14.

'Hair white like pure wool' stands for the Divine Natural as regards truth. In the Word, and in the religious observances of the Jewish Church, truth itself was represented by 'white', and because truth is derived from good is called 'pure wool'. The reason why truth was represented by 'white' and good by 'red' was that truth is akin to light and good to fire, the source of the light.

[7] As with everything else in the Word 'the hair' also has a contrary sense and means the natural as regards truth when perverted, as in Isaiah,

On that day the Lord will shave by means of a razor hired at the crossing-places of the River - by means of the King of Asshur - the head and the hair of the feet; and it will consume the beard also. Isaiah 7:20.

In Ezekiel,

Son of man, take for yourself a sharp sword, use it as a barber's razor which you shall run over your head and over your beard. Then you are to take balances and you are to divide it. A third you are to burn with fire in the midst of the city; a third you are to strike with the sword round about it; and a third you are to scatter to the wind. You shall take from it a small number, and bind it in your skirts. Finally you are to take from these again and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them with fire, and from this, fire will come forth to the whole house of Israel. Ezekiel 5:1-4.

All this, by the use of representatives, describes how natural truth, interior and exterior, meant by 'the hair' and 'the beard', ceased to exist any longer. Its destruction by lusts is meant by its being burned with fire, by reasonings by its being struck with the sword round about the city, by false assumptions by its being scattered to the wind. These statements are similar in content to what the Lord teaches in Matthew about some seed, which is the truth, falling among thorns, some on stony ground, and some along the path, Matthew 13:1-9.

[8] That 'the heir' means the unclean truths and the falsities belonging to the natural man was also represented by the requirement that when a woman from among enemies who had been taken captive was to be married to [an Israelite], she was to be brought to his home, the hair on her head was to be shaved off, her nails were to be pared, and the garments of her captivity were to be removed, Deuteronomy 21:12-13. Also when Levites were consecrated, the water of expiation was to be sprinkled over them, they were to pass a razor over their entire flesh, and to wash their clothes, and so be pure, Numbers 8:7. Also, Nebuchadnezzar was driven from among men so that he ate grass like oxen, and his body was wet from the dew of heaven, till his hair grew to be like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws, Daniel 4:33. In the case of leprosy they were required to note the colours of hair and beard, whether these were white, reddening, yellow, or black. They were to look for the same in garments. And the person who was cleansed from leprosy was required to shave all the hair on his head, his beard, and his eyebrows, Leviticus 13:1-59; 14:8-9. The latter meant the unclean falsities that result from unholiness, which is leprosy in the internal sense.

[9] 'Baldness' however meant the natural when no truth at all is present in it, as in Isaiah,

He is going up to Bayith, and to Dibon, the high places, to weep over Nebo; and Moab will howl over Medeba. On all their heads is baldness; every beard is shaved off. Isaiah 15:2.

In the same prophet, Instead of well-set hair there will be baldness, branding instead of beauty. Isaiah 3:24

The children who said to Elisha, Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead! and who were torn apart by the bears out of the forest, 2 Kings 2:23-24, represent people who blaspheme the Word as though it had no truth within it; for Elisha represented the Lord as regards the Word, 2762. From this it is also evident how prevalent representatives were at that period of time.

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Footnotes:

1. literally, whose hand had been filled

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(References: Genesis 25:25; Judges 16)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 3526, 3527, 3652, 3812, 4007, 4677, 4779, 5113, 5144, 5247, 5319, 5433, 5569, 5954, 6380, 6432, 6437, 6524, 7643, 7918, 8521, 9166, 9372, 9407, 9814, 9828, 9836, 9873, 9960

The White Horse 1


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 66, 67, 146, 196, 401


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


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