The Bible

Matthew 6:24-34 : Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

Study the Inner Meaning

24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 1, 1749, 1839, 2357, 3069, 3875, 5449, ...

Divine Providence 18, 233

Doctrine of Life 28

Heaven and Hell 64, 281

True Christian Religion 383, 416, 536

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 144

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 193, 683, 750, 847, 902, 1193

Charity 156

Spiritual Experiences 252, 1312

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Exodus 15:24, 16:19

Joshua 24:14

1 Kings 3:13, 17:4, 9, 18:21

2 Kings 17:33

2 Chronicles 29:3, 31:21

Job 7:1, 12:7

Psalms 145:15, 147:9

Song of Solomon 2:1

Zephaniah 1:5

Haggai 2:19

Malachi 3:10

Word/Phrase Explanations

The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

Generally speaking, those who are at lower levels of an organization serve those at higher levels. Bosses boss and their employees serve; coaches devise strategy...

The number "two" has two different meanings in the Bible. In most cases "two" indicates a joining together or unification. This is easy to see...

If you truly hate someone, that means you would kill them and destroy their reputation if you could do so without repercussion – not a...

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

To some degree, there really is no spiritual meaning to the word “love” in the Bible. Why? Because if you truly love another, that is...

'A hold,' 'a den,' or 'dungeon,' as mentioned in Revelation 18:2, signifies hell, because people who are there are in confinement.

We tend to think of "despising" something or someone as just a strong way of expressing dislike, but there is a further shade of meaning...

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

"Mammon" is an ancient word that means "wealth" or "riches," and is used in the Bible in a negative way, denoting worldly wealth as opposed...

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...

Those who are 'anxious' are not content with their own lot, and do not trust the Divine, but only themselves. They only look to worldly...

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...

When we eat, our bodies break down the food and get from it both energy and materials for building and repairing the body. The process...

Food in the Bible represents the desire for good, and water and other drinks represent the understanding and true ideas we need to recognize what...

The body (Matt. 6:22), signifies the man (homo). "His body shall not remain all night upon the tree" (Deut. 21:23), signifies lest it should be...

Put on
'To put on' is communication and imbuement.

'To put' has reference to order, arrangement, application, and influx.

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

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

'To sow,' as in Isaiah 28:24, signifies learning. 'To sow beside all waters,' as in Isaiah 32:20, relates to people who allow themselves to be...

'To reap' signifies executing judgment. 'Reaping' denotes the reception of truth in good.

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

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

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

When we have a desire to be good people and to do good things, the natural first questions are "What does that mean?" "What should...

‘To grow’ signifies to be perfected.

Solomon was permitted to institute idolatrous worship to provide an image of the Lord's kingdom or the church in all the religions of the whole...

Glory, wisdom, and thanksgiving signify the Lord's divine spiritual principle. Honor, virtue and might signify his divine celestial principle, as in Revelation 7:12.

Grass signifies the scientific principle. Just as green grass serves animals for support, scientific truth serves men for spiritual nourishment. ‘Grass’ is scientific truth, and...

'An oven,' as in Malachi 4:1, signifies hell, where the people live who confirm themselves in false doctrines and evils of life from earthly and...

It's interesting to note that despite the prominent place of faith in mainstream Christian belief systems, the word itself appears exactly twice in the King...

The meaning of "to seek" in the Bible is pretty straightforward, but there is a bit of nuance: Swedenborg tells us that in most cases...

Why would it be insulting for a man to refer to his married partner as his “first wife”? Because it implies there will be a...

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...

The word "righteous" has taken on a bit of negative shading in modern language. That may be because we hear it most often as part...

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.

 Analyzing the Lord's Prayer
Look at the Prayer to see which parts are statements and which are requests. 
Activity | Ages over 11

 Blessings: Life Is Eternal
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Blessings: The Word of God
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Border for the Lord's Prayer Calligraphy
Color the border around this calligraphy of the Lord's Prayer.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Clothes That Angels Wear
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Conversation with God
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Dare to Give
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Divine Providence and Tragedy
The Lord respects our freedom because He loves us. He respects it so much that He allows us to get into trouble, and then as far as we are willing, He brings us new strength out of our troubles
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Do Not Worry
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 Earthly vs. Heavenly Treasures
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 For Reflection: Treasure of the Heart
How can we gather spiritual treasure and bring forth good?
Activity | Ages over 15

 Give Us This Day
Project | Ages up to 6

 Golden Rule and Prayer Crossword Puzzle
Crossword puzzle about the Golden Rule and the Lord's Prayer.
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Heavenly Clothing
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 His Kingdom
Article | Ages over 18

 Identify and Name False Gods
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Infinite Meaning in the Lord's Prayer
Think of ways that you can become more “connected” with the Lord and the people around you.
Activity | Ages over 15

 Kingdom of God
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Looking More Closely at Flowers
Ways to help children appreciate the beauty of flowers the Lord has created. 
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Lord's Prayer Book
Illustrate your own book about the Lord's Prayer, following the suggestions given below each phrase of the prayer.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Lord's Prayer in Folding Hands
Put the text of the Lord's Prayer in hands that can be folded in prayer.
Project | Ages up to 10

 Make a Border for the Lord's Prayer Calligraphy
Make your own border for the Lord's Prayer.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Make a Mural of the Lord's Prayer
Make a mural with a section depicting each portion of the Lord's prayer. Then illustrate what each part means to you.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Memory Verse: Our Daily Bread
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: The Lord Protects Us
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Trusting in the Lord
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 No Other Gods
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Our Father, Who Art in Heaven
How, then, should we pray, and what should we ask for from the Lord? One of His disciples asked the Lord this while He was on earth.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Quotes: Holy Is His Name
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Praying to the Lord
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Trusting in the Lord
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Relationship With God
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Seek First the Kingdom of God
The most important thing for us to do is to think about the Lord and try to obey what He says.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

In order for us to receive the Lord's words, we must be simple - simple in the sense of being single-minded, looking to one source of truth, and in having our internal and external thoughts agree. 
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Spiritual Treasure
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Taking Care for the Morrow
We must work and plan for the future but trust that the Lord has the ability and the desire to lead us to heavenly happiness. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Glory of the Lord
We can know and love the Lord in His glorified human even better than the disciples did.
Article | Ages over 18

 The Life Which Lasts Forever
Death is a new beginning. We continue to be the same people. We meet up with people we know. And husbands and wives who had been separated by death are reunited. This is a beautiful picture, and it can provide tremendous reassurance.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Lord Is Our Heavenly Father
Make a picture of the Lord who is our Father in heaven, always looking out for us. 
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 The Lord Is Our Heavenly Father (version 1)
Color picture of the Lord with children.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 The Lord Is Our Heavenly Father (version 2)
Color picture of the Lord with children.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 The Lord's Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer is a way of talking directly to the Lord who is our Heavenly Father. The Lord gave us this prayer because it can lead our minds to the important things that will make our spirits grow strong. Sample from the Jacob's Ladder Program, Level 1, for ages 6-7.
Religion Lesson | Ages 6 - 7

 The Lord's Prayer
The Lord's prayer in a color border.
Picture | Ages over 15

 The Lord’s Prayer
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Lord’s Prayer
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Lord's Prayer Calligraphy with Violet Border
The Lord's Prayer with a lovely border of violets around it.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 The Second Coming
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 The Sermon on Mount: Do Not Worry
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Sermon on Mount: How to Pray
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Sermon on the Mount
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

 The Sermon on the Mount (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer
Activity | Ages over 15

 Thy Kingdom Come
Activity | Ages over 15

 Treasures in Heaven
What would you put in a treasure box for life here on earth? What would you put in a treasure box for heaven?
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Treasures in Heaven, Treasures on Earth
On one chest, write what you would put in a treasure box for life here on earth. In the other treasure chest, write what you would want to pack in a treasure box for heaven.
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 Trusting in the Lord's Providence Bookmarks
Print out these beautiful bookmarks with quotes about trusting in the Lord. 
Project | Ages over 15

 Understanding the Meaning of the Lord's Prayer
This is an overview of the deeper meaning of the prayer.
Activity | Ages over 11

 Vain Repetitions
Activity | Ages over 15

 Why Did God Create Me?
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18


Worrying About the Future

By Rev. Brian W. Keith

A little boy, hands clasped tightly and eye squinched shut, says his prayers.

Consider the simple faith expressed in this psalm to the Lord. A confidence that evil will be punished and that good will always prevail. The future is bright. There is no need to worry.

We might assume that the author was an idealistic youth - one who has never experienced pain or disappointment. Yet this psalm did not come from any naive child. It was written by a very old man, a man who had known incredible hardships. It is a psalm of David.

Think of David. Although from a shepherd he became king, he also knew hardship. As a youth he had to flee for his life from the jealous Saul. He felt the grief over being responsible for the death of his infant son. Later, as king, he saw his children rape and kill one another. He was forced to flee Jerusalem for his life, because his own son Absalom had rebelled. Then he regained his throne at the cost of his beloved Absalom's life.

David experienced intense pain. Yet he could advise us not to worry about those who do evil. All we need do is trust in the Lord and do good. Indeed, he claims that those who commit their way to the Lord will have everything they need, even if it be but a little in comparison with those who are evil. There is nothing in the future to fear. The good will be rewarded for their efforts.

Comparing this psalm with David's life, we may think that he had an unrealistic view of providence. But consider a similar teaching from the doctrines of the New Church: "When the Lord is present with someone, he leads him, and provides that all things which happen, whether sad or joyful, befall him for good; this is the Divine providence" (Arcana Coelestia 6303). Whatever happens - being promoted or fired, realizing our dreams or having them dashed - all result in good!

A difficult idea to accept - in large part because it seems like the Lord thereby is just manipulating us, causing evil to come into our lives.

But such is not the case. The Lord would never make anything bad happen. And He would prefer that we never suffer any pain. His providence is a gentle leading which causes good things to happen, and tolerates evil things. However He permits us to hurt ourselves and He allows others to cause us pain. Not as punishment, but as the result of free choices by individuals and groups.

One of the greatest stumbling blocks to sensing mercy in His providence is that when we feel pain or worry about serious problems we think that is all there is in life. We cannot see beyond the suffering, the hurt. But while we are occupied with worry, the Lord is already looking ahead - to what can come from the experience, to how He can lead us to grow in spite of the difficulty. For the Lord's view is eternal. He sees hope when we see none. He leads to happiness when we feel hurt.

The apparently random and purposeless events in life are described in the Heavenly Doctrines with pebbles. The Lord allows a person "to go here and there, so that the moments of his life appear like scattered pebbles. But the Lord then sees whether he fills up that space between them; He sees what is lacking and where; and then, continually, what is next in order, after a hundred or a thousand years" (Spiritual Experiences 4692[m]). The Lord's sight and providence encompasses eons of time. He sees all we are, and all we might become. He then gradually provides for it - not immediately, but over the course of an eternal lifetime. Whatever happens, whatever decisions we make, or whatever others do to us - the Lord eventually turns everything to good.

Unfortunately, our view is seldom as long. We cannot see how things will turn out in twenty, much less two thousand years. And when we are suffering our sight is even more limited. So we worry about what will happen. We may try to trust in His guidance, but we are more likely to feel abandoned by the Lord. Whatever He might be doing is both invisible and insensible to us.

In such a frame of mind we might wish we could see the future, be certain of how things will work out. If we were assured of the specific outcome, or knew exactly which path were the best to follow, we could really trust in the Lord - have confidence in Him to lead us.

Yet, in this, as in all other things, the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves. He does not hide the workings of providence from us as a test of our trust, or a puzzle for us to sort out. The Divine does not tease us. But the Lord is fully aware that if we were to know the future, or if we received the "right" answers to our specific questions by a voice out of heaven, we would wind up destroying ourselves.

Imagine what we would feel like if someone predicted every last thing that we would experience for the 24 hours. At first we would disbelieve, but what if the predictions started coming true? It would be disturbing, to say the least. And would we not begin to feel restricted, and try to prevent the predictions from coming true?

We value our freedom, our sense of self. We will protect it at all costs. When we are forced to do something, or if we are pressured into one course of action, do we not rebel, wanting to act against that pressure?

Such resistance is not adolescent or infantile reaction to authority. It stems from our inner freedom of thought. For us to be human beings we need to think things out for ourselves and then act in freedom. Whatever choices we make determine the kind of person we become - and whether our choices are good or bad, at least they make us who we choose to be, not who someone else forces us to be.

Yet, when we are confused or suffering, we have a tremendous yearning to see something of the potential the Lord sees for us and those we love. Unfortunately, if we were able to glimpse it, we would probably work against it. A paradox which can be frustrating and lead us to worry about the future.

It would be much better if we could just let go and trust the Lord to make the best of whatever we do. That is what the angels do. They have no memory of past events from their earthly life to trouble them. Nor do they have any desire to know what is to come. For they are content in the present. Imagine if we could be so fully engaged in our present activities, dealing with what we can do rather than what is beyond our power, that we had no time to worry about the future! It is a goal worth striving for.

But for now, we tend to worry. We tend to worry about our jobs, our health, our children, the international situation, our spiritual state. It can on go on and on. Certainly some amount of thoughtful consideration is important. We are meant to make plans for the future - use good judgment to provide for our families. And we can delight in looking forward to continued productivity or happier times. But planning and worrying about what might or might not occur can become excessive.

The Psalms admonish us: "Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret - it only causes harm" (37:8). Do not worry, it only causes pain. Thinking too much of the future can lead us to forget that the Lord's providence is silently guiding us. The doctrines of the New Church point out that, "a longing to know the future is innate with most people; but this longing derives its origin from the love of evil" (Psalm 179).

Anxiety about the future stems from a lack of confidence that the Lord can lead us to happiness. Since He works invisibly, we can think that we are the only ones who have any direct influence upon what happens. It is a subtle trust in self, and denial that the Lord can be relied upon. Certainly it appears as if we have to do all the work, but it is not the reality. For we could not have created ourselves. We can't even make ourselves happy!

So the Heavenly Doctrines describe the Lord's providence "as when one walks in thick forests, the exit out of which he does not know; but when he finds it, he attributes the discovery to himself, whereas providence meantime is as one who stands in a tower, sees the wanderings of such a person, and leads him without his knowing it to the place of exit" (Spiritual Experiences 4393). The Lord is in the tower, inspiring our thoughts, motivating our actions so that we can be led from darkness into light.

But His guiding can only be effective when we cooperate. We have to search for ways out of the forest. The Lord gave us the ability to think so we would use it. If we sit back and ponder our situation, how hopeless it may seem, little is accomplished. Can we add one cubit to our height by worrying about it? We also need to act. If we stand around and complain about how lost we are, or how unfair life is, it is very difficult for the Lord to lead us anywhere. He will not drag us out of our forests against our wills.

It is as the Psalm said: "Trust in the Lord and do good." Such simple advice, but so true! We cannot alter the past, but we can do something in the present, enabling the Lord to create a happy future.

There will still be times of selfishness where we long to know how things could possibly work out, and there will still be things happening to us which are not pleasant. We cannot control life. But we can avoid being defeated by it. We have been given the knowledge of how the Lord operates to bring about happiness in the long term. We have been given the freedom to act with reason. We have the basis for trusting in Him.

Let us then listen to the Psalm, not worrying about the future, not worrying about what is or what might be. Let us do the good that we can, and leave the rest to the Lord. After all, He should be able to do a much better job than we. Let us commit our ways to the Lord, trusting in Him, and He can give us the heavenly desires of our hearts.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 6303; Divine Providence 176; Spiritual Experiences 2178, 4393, 4692)

From Swedenborg's Works

Apocalypse Explained #696

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

Study this Passage

Go to section / 1232  

← Previous    Next →

696. And to those that fear thy name, the small and the great.- That this signifies, and to all those, of whatever religion, who worship the Lord, is evident from the signification of fearing the name of the Lord God, as denoting to worship the Lord (of which presently); and from the signification of the small and the great, as denoting of whatever religion; for the small mean those who know little of the truths and goods of the church, and the great, those who know much, thus those who worship the Lord little and much. For so far as a man knows the truths of faith, and lives according to them, in so far does he worship the Lord, for worship is not from man, but from the truths from good that are in man, since these are from the Lord, and the Lord is in them. Those that fear Thy name, the small and the great, mean all who worship the Lord of whatever religion, because, just previously, mention is made of servants, prophets, and saints, by whom are meant all those within the church who are in truths of doctrine, and in a life according to them. Therefore by those that fear Thy name, the small and the great, are meant all those without the church who worship the Lord according to their religion; for those who worship the Lord, and live in any kind of faith and charity, according to their religion, also fear God's name. In fact, this verse treats of the Last Judgment upon all, both the evil and the good. A last judgment takes place upon all, both those within and those without the church, and then all those who, from their religion, fear God, and live in mutual love, in uprightness of heart and sincerity, are saved; for all such by all intuitive faith in God, and by a life of charity, are associated as to their souls with the angels of heaven, and are thus conjoined with the Lord and saved. For every one after death comes to his own in the spiritual world, with whom he was associated as to his spirit during his life in the natural world.

(References: Revelation 11:18)

[2] The small and the great signify less or more, that is, those who worship the Lord less or more, thus those who are less or more in truths from good, because the spiritual sense of the Word has no reference to persons, having regard to nothing but the thing signified; and the expression the small and the great there does imply persons, for it means men who worship God. For this reason, instead of the small and the great, less or more are meant in the spiritual sense, thus those who worship less or more from genuine truths and goods. It is similar in respect to the servants, prophets, and saints, treated of just above, by whom, in the spiritual sense, are not meant prophets and saints, but, apart from persons, truths of doctrine and a life according to them. While these are meant, also all those who are in truths of doctrine and in a life according to them are included, for these things are in angels and men as their subjects. But in such case to think only of angels and men is natural, while to think of truths of doctrine and of life - these being the things that make angels and men - is spiritual. It is therefore evident how the spiritual sense, in which angels are, differs from the natural sense, in which men are, that is, in every particular which a man thinks, there inheres something of person, space, time, and matter, while angels think of things apart from these. For this reason, the speech of angels is incomprehensible to man, because it flows from intuition of the thing, and thus from wisdom separated from such things as are proper to the natural world, and thus respectively indeterminate in regard to such things.

[3] To fear Thy name signifies to worship the Lord, because to fear signifies to worship, and Thy name signifies the Lord; for in the preceding verse it is said, that the twenty-four elders gave thanks to the Lord God, Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, therefore to fear Thy name means to worship the Lord. In the Word, both that of the Old and that of the New Testament, the expressions the name of Jehovah, the name of the Lord, the name of God, and the name of Jesus Christ are used, and in such cases name means all those things whereby He is worshipped, thus all things of love and of faith; and, in the highest sense, the Lord Himself is meant, because where He is, there also are all things of love and faith. That such is the signification of the name of Jehovah, of the Lord God, and of Jesus Christ, may be seen above (n. 102, 135, 224), and it is also evident from these words of the Lord:

"If two of you shall agree on earth in my name, as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by my Father, who is in the heavens; for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. xviii. 19, 20).

Here to agree together in the name of the Lord, and to be gathered together in His name, does not mean in the name alone, but in those things that belong to the Lord, which are truths of faith and goods of love, by means of which He is worshipped.

(References: Matthew 18:19-20; The Apocalypse Explained 102, 135, 224)

[4] To fear, when spoken of the Lord, signifies to worship and to reverence, because in worship, and in all things pertaining to it, there is a holy and reverential fear, which leads one to feel that He is to be honoured, and in no way to be grieved. For it is as with children towards their parents, parents towards their children, wives towards their husbands, and husbands towards their wives, similarly as with friends towards friends, in whom there is respect and a fear of giving offence; such fear and respect are in all love and in all friendship, so that love and friendship without such fear and respect are like unsalted food which is insipid. This now is the reason why to fear the Lord means to worship Him from such love.

[5] It is said that to fear Thy name signifies to worship the Lord, and yet those who fear Him mean, here, those who are without the church, to whom the Lord is unknown, because they do not possess the Word. Nevertheless all such as have, in regard to God, an idea of a Human, are accepted by the Lord, for God under the Human form is the Lord; but those, whether within or without the church, who do not think of God as a Man, on their coming into their spiritual life, which takes place after their departure out of this world, are not accepted by the Lord, because they have no determinate idea concerning God, but only an indeterminate one, which is no idea at all, or if it be it is nevertheless dissipated. This is the reason why all who come from the earths (e terris) into the spiritual world, are first explored in regard to what idea of God they have held and have brought with them. If they have no idea of Him as a Man, they are sent to places of instruction, and are taught that the Lord is the God of heaven and earth, and that, when they think of God, they must think of the Lord, and that otherwise there can be no conjunction with God, nor consequently any association with angels. Then all those who have lived a life of charity receive instruction, and worship the Lord; but all those who declare that they have had faith, but who have not been in the life of faith, which is charity, do not receive instruction; they are therefore separated, and sent away into places below the heavens, some into the hells, and some into that part (terra) which is called in the Word "the lower earth," where they suffer severely. Still, however, the Gentiles, to whom the laws of religion are laws of life, receive doctrine concerning the Lord more readily than Christians, and they do so especially because their only idea of God has been that of a Divine Man. We have said these things in order that it may be known why it is that to fear Thy name means to worship the Lord.

[6] In many places in the Word the expression to fear Jehovah God is used, by which worship is meant; it therefore shall be explained in a few words what worship in particular is meant by fearing God. All worship of Jehovah God must be from the good of love by means of truths. Worship from the good of love alone is not worship, neither is that worship which is from truths alone without the good of love; but both are necessary. For the essential of worship is the good of love, but good exists and is formed by means of truths, and therefore all worship must be by means of truths from good. Because this is so, therefore in many passages in the Word, where it is said "to fear Jehovah God," it is also said "to keep " and "do His words and commandments." In these places therefore to fear signifies worship by means of truths, and to keep and do signifies worship from the good of love; for doing is of the will, thus of love and of good, and fearing is of the understanding, thus of faith and of truth, for all truth which is of faith belongs properly to the understanding, and all good which is of love belongs properly to the will. From this it can be seen, that the fear of Jehovah God has reference to worship by means of truths of doctrine, which are called also truths of faith. Such worship is meant by the fear of Jehovah God, because Divine Truth causes fear, for it condemns the evil to hell; but not so Divine Good, for so far as this is received by means of truths by men and angels, it takes away condemnation. It is consequently evident that so far as man is in the good of love there is the fear of God; and that in proportion as dread and terror pass away, and become a holy fear attended with reverence, so far man is in the good of love and in truths therefrom, that is, so far as there is good in his truths. It consequently follows, that fear in worship is varied with every one, according to the state of his life, and also that the sanctity attended with reverence that is in the fear of those who are in good, is also varied according to the reception of good in the will, and according to the reception of truth in the understanding, that is, according to the reception of good in the heart and the reception of truth in the soul.

[7] But what has just been stated will be more evident from the following passages in the Word.

In Moses:

"What doth Jehovah God require of thee, but to fear Jehovah thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve Jehovah thy God from thy whole heart, and from thy whole soul" (Deut. x. 12, 20).

It is here said to fear Jehovah God, to walk in His ways, to love Him, and to serve Him, and by all these expressions worship by means of truths from good is described, worship by means of truths is meant by fearing Jehovah God and serving Him, and worship from good by walking in His ways and loving Him. Therefore it is also said, from the whole heart, and from the whole soul, heart signifying the good of love and of charity which pertains to the will, and soul the truth of doctrine, and of faith which pertains to the understanding. The heart corresponds to the good of love, and in man to his will; and soul corresponds to the truth of faith, and in man to his understanding; for soul (anima) means the animation or respiration of man, which is also called his spirit. That soul in the Word signifies the life of faith, and heart the life of love, may be seen in the Arcana Coelestia (n. 2930, 9050, 9281).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2930, 9050, 9951; Deuteronomy 10:12, Deuteronomy 10:20)

[8] In the same:

"Ye shall go after Jehovah your God, and shall fear him, that ye may keep his precepts, and hear his voice and serve him, and cleave to him" (Deut. xiii. 4).

To go after Jehovah God, to keep His precepts, and to cleave to him, signify the good of life, thus the good of love, from which is worship; and to fear Jehovah God, to hear His voice, and to serve Him, signify the truths of doctrine, thus the truths of faith by means of which there is worship. Since all worship of the Lord must be by means of truths from good, and not by means of truths without good, nor by means of good without truths, therefore in every particular of the Word there is a marriage of good and truth, as in the passages already cited, and also in the following. (Concerning the marriage of good and truth in the particulars of the Word, see above n. 238 at the end, 288, 660).

(References: Deuteronomy 13:4; The Apocalypse Explained 238, 288, The Apocalypse Explained 660)

[9] In the same:

"Thou shalt fear Jehovah thy God, him thou shalt serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and in his name thou shalt swear" (Deut. x. 20).

Here also to fear Jehovah God, and to serve Him, involve truths of worship, and to cleave to Jehovah God, and to swear in His name, involve the good of worship. For to cleave to is an expression relating to the good of love, since he who loves also cleaves to; to swear in the name of Jehovah has a similar meaning, for what is about to be done is confirmed by that means. To serve involves truths of worship, because servants, in the Word, mean those who are in truths, and this for the reason that truths serve good, as may be seen above (n. 6, 409).

(References: Deuteronomy 10:20; The Apocalypse Explained 6, The Apocalypse Explained 409)

[10] In the same:

"That thou mayest fear Jehovah thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments; thou shalt fear Jehovah thy God, and him shalt thou serve, and in his name shalt thou swear, ye shall not go after other gods; Jehovah hath commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear Jehovah our God" (Deut. vi. 2, 13, 14, 24).

Worship by means of truths from good, or by means of faith from love, is also described here. To fear Jehovah God and to serve Him, means worship, by means of truths of faith, and to keep and do his statutes and commandments, and to swear in the name of Jehovah, means worship from the good of love. For to keep and to do statutes and commandments is the good of life, which is the same as the good of love, since he who loves also lives. To swear in the name of Jehovah has a similar meaning, for to swear denotes to confirm by life. That to fear Jehovah and to serve Him, denotes worship according to truths of doctrine, has been shown above. For there are two things which constitute worship, namely, doctrine and life; doctrine without life does not constitute it, neither life without doctrine.

(References: Deuteronomy 6:2, 6:13-14, 6:24)

[11] Similarly in the following passages.

In Deuteronomy:

"Assemble the people that they may hear, and that they may learn and may fear Jehovah your God, and may observe to do all the words of the law" (Deut. xxxi. 12).

In the same:

"If thou wilt not observe to do all the commandments of this law, to fear this glorious and venerable name, Jehovah thy God" (Deut. xxviii. 58).

In the same:

The king "shall write for himself a copy of the law, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, wherein he may learn to fear Jehovah his God, to keep all the words of the law, and the statutes to do them" (Deut. xvii. 18, 19).

In the same:

"Thou shalt keep the commandments of Jehovah thy God, to go in his ways, and to fear him" (Deut. viii. 6).

And in the same:

"Who will give that they may have a heart to fear me, and to keep my commandments all the days?" (v. 29).

In these passages fearing Jehovah God is connected with keeping and doing the commandments of the law, also with going in his ways, because as stated, all internal spiritual worship of God, consisting in the good of life, must be performed according to truths of doctrine, since these must teach. Worship according to truths of doctrine is signified by fearing Jehovah, and worship from the good of life by keeping His commandments and going in His ways, to go in the ways of Jehovah denoting to live according to truths of doctrine; and because worship according to truths of doctrine is meant by fearing Jehovah, therefore it is said that the fear of Jehovah shall be learned from the law. But let it be observed, that the fear of Jehovah denotes internal spiritual worship, which must be in external natural worship; for internal spiritual worship consists in thinking and understanding truths, thus in thinking reverently and in a holy manner of God, which is to fear Him, while external natural worship consists in doing those truths, that is, in keeping the commandments and words of the law.

(References: Deuteronomy 5:29, Deuteronomy 8:6, Deuteronomy 17:18-19, 28:58, 31:12)

[12] In David:

"Teach me, Jehovah, thy way, teach it me in truth, unite my heart to the fear of thy name" (Psalm lxxxvi. 11).

To teach the way signifies to teach the truth in agreement with which the life ought to be lived, therefore it is said, teach it in truth. That good of love must be conjoined with truths of faith is signified by, unite my heart to the fear of Thy name, the heart signifying love, and fear the holiness of faith, which must be united, that is, must be together, in worship.

(References: Psalms 86:11)

[13] Again:

"Blessed is every one that feareth Jehovah, that walketh in his ways" (Psalm cxxviii. 1).

To fear Jehovah here also denotes to think of God in a reverent and holy manner, and to walk in His ways denotes to live according to Divine truths. There is worship by means of both of these; but in external worship, which consists in living according to Divine truths, there must be internal worship, which is to fear Jehovah, therefore it is said that he feareth Jehovah who walketh in His ways.


"Blessed is the man who feareth Jehovah, who delighteth greatly in His commandments" (Psalm cxii. 1).

The signification here is similar to that of the verse above; for to delight greatly in the commandments of Jehovah is to love them, consequently to will and to do them.

(References: Psalms 112:1, Psalms 128:1)

[14] In Jeremiah:

"They feared not, neither walked they in my law, nor in my statutes" (xliv. 10).

Not to fear denotes not to think of God from the truths of the Word, thus not reverently and in a holy manner; not to walk in the law of God, nor in His statutes, denotes not to live them, commandments denoting the laws of internal worship, and statutes the laws of external worship.

(References: Jeremiah 44:10)

[15] In Malachi:

"If I be a Father, where is my honour; if I be Lord, where is the fear of me?" (i. 6).

The terms honour and fear are used, because honour is said of worship from good, and fear of worship by means of truths. (That honour is used in reference to good, may be seen above, n. 200, 345); therefore also honour is said of Father, and fear of Lord, for Jehovah is called Father from Divine Good, and Lord, in this place, from Divine Truth.

(References: Malachi 1:6; The Apocalypse Explained 288, The Apocalypse Explained 345)

[16] In the same prophet:

"My covenant was with" Levi, "of life and of peace, which I gave him with fear; and he feared me" (ii. 5).

Levi here means the Lord as to the Divine Human, and the covenant of life and of peace signifies the union of His Divine with Himself (cum Ipso), and fear and fearing signify holy truth, with which there is union.

(References: Malachi 2:5)

[17] In Isaiah:

"The spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding; the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah, whence his offering of incense shall be in the fear of Jehovah" (xi. 2, 3).

These words are also said of the Lord, and they describe the Divine Truth, in which and from which are all wisdom and all understanding. The Divine Truth that was in the Lord, when He was in the world, and which since the glorification of His Human goes forth from Him, is meant by the spirit of Jehovah, which rested upon Him; that He has Divine Wisdom and Divine Power therefrom, is meant by the spirit of wisdom and understanding, and by the spirit of counsel and might. That thence He has omniscience and essential holiness in worship, is meant by the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah; and because fear signifies holiness of worship from Divine Truth, therefore it is said, whence His offering of incense shall be in the fear of Jehovah; for to offer incense signifies worship from the spiritual-Divine which is Divine Truth. That this is the signification of offering incense may be seen above (n. 324, 491, 492, 494, 567). It is said, the spirit of wisdom, understanding, knowledge and fear, for spirit means the proceeding Divine, the spirit of wisdom the celestial Divine, which is the proceeding Divine received by the angels of the inmost or third heaven; the spirit of understanding the spiritual Divine, which is the proceeding Divine received by the angels of the middle or second heaven; the spirit of knowledge the natural Divine, which is the proceeding Divine received by the angels of the ultimate or first heaven and the spirit of the fear of Jehovah means all the holiness of worship from these Divines.

(References: Isaiah 11:2-3; The Apocalypse Explained 324, The Apocalypse Explained 491-492, 494, 567)

[18] In Jeremiah:

"I will give them one heart and one way, to fear me all their days for good to them; and I will make with them the covenant of an age; and my fear will I put in their heart, that they may not depart from me" (xxxii. 39, 40).

I will give them one heart and one way to fear Me, signifies one will and one understanding to worship the Lord, the heart signifying the good of the will, way the truth of the understanding which leads, and fear the holy worship therefrom. I will make with them the covenant of an age, and My fear will I put in their heart, signifies conjunction by means of the good of love, and by means of the truth of that good in worship, covenant denoting conjunction, and fear in the heart, the holiness of worship from truth in the good of love; that they may not depart from Me, signifies for the sake of conjunction. Since conjunction with the Lord is effected by means of truths from good, and not by means of truths without good, nor by means of good without truths, therefore both are here mentioned.

(References: Jeremiah 32:39-40)

[19] In David:

"O house of Aaron, trust ye in Jehovah, ye that fear Jehovah, trust in Jehovah" (Psalm cxv. 10, 11).

The house of Aaron signifies all those who are in the good of love, and those that fear Jehovah signify all those who are in truth from that good.

In the Apocalypse:

"The angel who had the eternal gospel said, Fear God, and give glory; adore him" (xiv. 7).

To fear God and give glory to Him signifies to worship the Lord from holy truths; and to adore Him signifies from the good of love.

In David:

"Let all the earth fear before Jehovah; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. Behold the eye of Jehovah is upon them that fear him, that wait for his mercy" (Psalm xxxiii. 8, 18).

In the same:

"The good pleasure of Jehovah is in them that fear him, in them that wait for his mercy" (Psalm cxlvii. 11).

Because the fear of Jehovah signifies the reception of Divine Truth, and mercy the reception of Divine Good, it is therefore said that the eye and the good pleasure of Jehovah are upon them that fear Him, upon them that wait for His mercy.

(References: Psalms 22:18, Psalms 33:8, Psalms 33:18, Psalms 115:10-11, Psalms 147:11; Revelation 14:7)

[20] In Isaiah:

"The mighty people shall honour thee, the city of the strong nations shall fear thee" (xxv. 3).

Here also to honour signifies worship from good, for honour is said of the good of love; and worship from truths is signified by fearing the Lord, as said above. By mighty people are signified the men of the church who are in truths from good, for all power is therefrom; the city of the strong nations signifies those who are in truths of doctrine, and by means of these in the good of love; and as all spiritual power is from that source, therefore they are called strong nations. From these words also it is clear that there is a marriage of good and truth in every particular of the Word; for to honour is said of good, and to fear of truth, both of them in worship. The term people is used of those who are in truths, and by means of these in good, but nations of those who are in good, and from that in truths. And because all power in the spiritual world is from the conjunction of good and truth, therefore the people are called mighty, and the nations strong.

(References: Isaiah 25:3)

[21] The fear of Jehovah also in the following passages signifies worship in which there is holiness by means of truths.

In Isaiah:

"The heart" of the people "hath departed far from me, and their fear toward me hath become a commandment taught of men" (xxix. 13).

In the same:

"Who among you feareth Jehovah, hearing the voice of his servant? He that walketh in darkness, and hath no brightness; that trusteth in the name of Jehovah, and leaneth upon his God" (l. 10).

In Jeremiah:

"They shall bear all the good which I do unto them, that they may fear and be moved for all the good, and for all the peace which I will do unto it" (xxxiii. 9).

In David:

"The angel of Jehovah encampeth round about them that fear him, to deliver them. Fear Jehovah, ye his saints, for there is no want to them that fear him" (Psalm xxxiv. 7, 9).

In the same:

"Who have no changes, neither fear they God" (Psalm lv. 19).

In the same:

"The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom, a good understanding have all they that do them" (Psalm cxi. 10).

Because fear has reference to Divine Truth from which are holiness in worship, wisdom and intelligence, therefore it is said, the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom, a good understanding, that is, intelligence, have all they that do them.

In the same:

"They that fear Jehovah shall praise him; all the seed of Jacob shall honour him, and all the seed of Israel shall fear him" (Psalm xxii. 23).

(References: Isaiah 29:13, Isaiah 50:10; Jeremiah 33:9; Luke 1:50; Psalms 22:23, Psalms 34:7, 34:9, 55:19, Psalms 111:10)

[22] In Luke:

"The mercy" of God "is unto generation of generations to them that fear him" (i. 50).

That to fear Jehovah God means and therefore signifies to have a sense of holiness and reverence, consequently to worship him in a holy and reverent manner is also evident from these passages.

In Moses:

"Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and my sanctuary shall ye fear" (Levit. xix. 30);

"Ye shall reverence" (xxvi. 2).

In the same:

"The work of Jehovah, how is that to be feared (reverenced), which I will do" (Exod. xxxiv. 10).

In the same:

"And Jacob was afraid, and said, How [greatly] to be feared (reverenced) is this place; this is none other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven" (Gen. xxviii. 17).

That to fear, when said of the Divine, and of the holiness of heaven and of the church, signifies to revere and to hold in reverence, is evident from the above passages, also from this fact, that the same word which in Hebrew signifies to fear, also signifies to revere and to venerate.

This is also evident from these words in Luke:

"There was a judge in a certain city who feared not God, neither reverenced man, who said within himself, Although I fear not God, nor reverence man" (xviii. 2, 4).

It is said to fear God, and to reverence man, because to fear signifies to reverence in a higher degree.

(References: Exodus 34:10; Genesis 28:17; Leviticus 19:30, 26:2; Luke 18:2, 18:4)

[23] In Matthew:

Jesus said, "Fear not them who are able to kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna" (x. 28; Luke xii. 4, 5, 7).

Here however to fear signifies to stand in fear of dying spiritually, consequently natural fear, which is fearfulness and dread; but spiritual fear is a holy fear, that abides interiorly in all spiritual love variously according to the quality and extent of the love. In this fear is the spiritual man; he knows also that the Lord does not do evil to any one, much less does He destroy any one, as to body and soul in Gehenna, but that He does good to all, and desires to raise up every one, as to body and soul, into heaven to Himself. This is why the fear of the spiritual man is a holy fear, lest through evil of life and falsity of doctrine man should turn away from and thus injure that Divine love in himself. But natural fear is a fearfulness, dread, and terror of dangers, and punishment, and thus of hell; this fear abides in all corporeal love, and also variously according to the quality and extent of that love. The natural man who is in such fear knows no otherwise than that the Lord inflicts evil upon the evil, condemns them, casts them into hell, and punishes them, and on this account such persons are in fear and dread of the Lord. Most of the Jewish and Israelitish nation were in this fear, because they were natural men; for this reason the expression "to be afraid and to tremble before Jehovah" is so frequently used, and also "they were in fear and trembling;" for the same reason it is said of the sons of Israel that "they were sore afraid" when the Divine Law or Divine Truth was promulgated from Mount Sinai (Exod. xx. 18-20; Deut. v. 23-25).

(References: Deuteronomy 5:23-25; Exodus 20:18-20; Luke 12:4-5, 12:7; Matthew 10:28)

[24] It is this fear that is meant in part by "The dread of Isaac" by whom Jacob sware to Laban (Gen. xxxi. 42, 53); for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the Word, mean the Lord; Abraham means the Lord as to the celestial Divine, Isaac, as to the spiritual Divine, and Jacob, as to the natural Divine. The spiritual Divine signified by Isaac is the Divine Truth, which terrifies natural men, and because Laban was a natural man, it is therefore said, Jacob sware to him, by the dread or terror of Isaac. An almost similar fear is meant in Isaiah:

"Ye shall sanctify Jehovah Zebaoth, for he is your fear and your dread" (viii. 13).

Here fear has reference to the spiritual man, and dread to the natural man. As the spiritual man should not be in such fear as the natural man is in, it is therefore said, "Fear not."

In Isaiah:

Jacob and Israel "Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, calling thee by thy name, thou art mine" (xliii. 1).

In Luke:

"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (xii. 32);

and in Jeremiah:

"Fear not, Jacob my servant, and be not afraid, O Israel, for I will keep thee from afar; Jacob shall be tranquil and at rest, none making him afraid" (xxx. 9, 10)

and in many other passages. Moreover, that fear, terror, consternation, and similar expressions signify various disturbances of the feelings (animi), and changes of the state of the mind, may be seen above (n. 667, 677).

(References: Genesis 31:42, 31:53; Isaiah 8:13, Isaiah 43:1; Jeremiah 30:9-10; Luke 12:32; Psalms 33:8, 33:18; Revelation 11:18; The Apocalypse Explained 667, 677)

Go to section / 1232  

← Previous    Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 692, 701, 704, 706, 778, 798, 841, 874, 892, 942, 943, 1211, 1212

Other New Christian Commentary

Worship 1

Name of the Lord 1

Fear of God 1

Fear and dread 1

Honor 1

Ways of Jehovah 1

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