The Bible


Luke 1:26-38 : The Annunciation to Mary


Study the Inner Meaning

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 2798, 2921, 3305, 3421, 5313, 9229, 10248

Apocalypse Revealed 56, 173, 294, 373, 481, 504, 520, ...

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 44, 120

Conjugial Love 82

The Lord 19, 29, 40, 42

True Christian Religion 82, 88, 92, 93, 98, 111, 112, ...

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 253, 328, 376, 677, 815, 852, 1069, ...

On the Athanasian Creed 30, 38, 216

Canons of the New Church 17, 39, 40, 43

De Domino 38

Justification 10, 13

Spiritual Experiences 4332

Marriage 82, 88, 92, 93, 98, 111, 112

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 13

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

  Spiritual Topics:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Judges 5:24, 6:12, 16

Ruth 3:11

2 Samuel 7:12, 13, 16, 23:5

1 Chronicles 17:12

Psalms 2:7, 45:7, 132:11

Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, 49:1, 5

Jeremiah 23:5

Daniel 2:44, 7:14

Obadiah 1:21

Micah 4:7

Word/Phrase Explanations

Like most numbers in the Bible, "six" can have various meanings depending on context, but has a couple that are primary. When used in relation...

"Angels" in the Bible represent qualities of the Lord himself, or a variety of things that come directly from the Lord. On a lower level...

Gabriel signifies an angelic society in heaven that is made up of people who teach from the Word, particularly about the Lord’s advent.

Cities of the mountain and cities of the plain (Jer. 33:13) signify doctrines of charity and faith.

Galilee was the northernmost province of Biblical Judea, a hilly area relatively remote from the center of Jewish culture in Jerusalem and bordered by foreigners...

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...

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...

Fear not
Fear not, as in Revelation 1:17; Daniel 10:5, 12; Matthew 17:5, 7; 28:10, etc., signifies resuscitation to life, and at the same time adoration from...

Father, son, mother, and daughter, as in Luke 12:51, 53: By father against son, and by son against the father, is understood evil against truth,...

It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

'Highest' denotes the 'inmost,' because interior things, with person who is in space, appear as higher things, and exterior things as lower. But when the...

'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

Jacob is told twice that his name will now be Israel. The first time is when he wrestles with an angel on his journey to...

“Age” is used in slightly different ways in natural language, and those differences are reflected in the word’s spiritual meanings. All the variations, though, reflect...

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...

To "answer" generally indicates a state of spiritual receptivity. Ultimately this means being receptive to the Lord, who is constantly trying to pour true ideas...

'The seven spirits' in Matthew 12:45 signify all falsities of evil, and as a result, a total extinction of goodness and truth. 'The seven spirits'...

Son of God
The Lord, in some places, calls Himself 'the son of God,' at other times, 'the son of man (ἄνθρωπος).' This is always according to the...

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.

 Angel Appears to Joseph
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Angel Appears to Mary
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Angel Appears to Zacharias
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Angelic Appearances at the Time of the Advent
A sermon about the angel Gabriel's appearances to different people and how this pictures aspects of the preparation we must do for the Lord's birth in our own lives. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Angel with Mary
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Angel with Zacharias
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Birth of the Lord
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Blessings: Good Tidings of Great Joy
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Call His Name Jesus
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Christmas Joy and Happiness
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Elizabeth Greets Mary
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 His Name Is John
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 His Name Will Be Called: The Development of the Lord in Our Lives
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Jesus' Childhood
People are born without a set purpose and develop a purpose as they learn and choose a pathway. Jesus was born with an identity and a purpose; He had to discover His identity and become true to it.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

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

 Mary and Elizabeth
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Mary's Song of Praise
Mary's song of praise, often called the Magnificat, in a color border.
Picture | Ages over 15

 Mary Visits Elizabeth
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Naming John the Baptist
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Our Savior
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Picture of the Angel Gabriel
Project | Ages up to 10

 Prophecies of the Advent
Prophecies of Jesus' advent on earth often use the image of new light dawning in darkness to describe the spiritual impact His birth would have on the world.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Quotes: Good Tidings of Great Joy
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Prophecies of the Advent
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Scroll of Angelic Appearances in Christmas Story
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 The Angel Appearing to Mary
Use oil pastels and watercolors to show the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 The Angel Appears to Mary
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Angel Appears to Mary
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Angel Appears to Mary Mobile
Make a simple mobile to show the angel Gabriel coming to tell Mary that she would give birth to a Son and should name Him Jesus.
Project | Ages 3 - 8

 The Angel's Promise to Mary
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Annunciation
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Birth of John
Zacharias and Elizabeth were very good people who wanted a child very much. The Lord answered their prayers. John was born to help prepare people to learn from the Lord. Sample from the Jacob's Ladder Program, Introductory Level, for ages 5-6.
Religion Lesson | Ages 5 - 6

 The Birth of John the Baptist
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 Birth of John the Baptist
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Magnificat
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Maidservant of the Lord
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Mother of the Lord
Imagine what it must have been like to suddenly see an angel and be told such great news.
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 The Name Mary
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 The Savior
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Spread of the Lord's Word
We can be like the shepherds and others who have spread the good news as we learn about the Lord and find ways to tell people. Maybe this Christmas you can share your enjoyment of the story of the Lord’s birth with a friend or neighbor. Sample from the Jacob’s Ladder Program, Level 5, for ages 10-11.
Religion Lesson | Ages 10 - 11

 Understanding the Virgin Birth
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Zacharias and the Angel
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Zacharias’s Dumbness
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Zacharias Sees Angel
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14



You Shall Bear a Son      

By Rev. Eric Carswell

The Annunciation, 1898, Philadelphia Museum of Art.
By Henry Ossawa Tanner -, Public Domain,

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God." Luke 1:35

What amazing words these must have been to Mary, a young woman, when she first heard them. Just minutes before she had probably been engaged in some mundane task of daily life in her mother's home, perhaps grinding flour or baking bread, maybe weaving or spinning wool into yarn. If she was like most young women who are shortly to be married, her mind would have been turned to her future life with Joseph, what their home would be like, the children they would have and the life that they would lead together. Happy images of the future would have filled her thoughts. She would have had her hopes, dreams and expectations--images of how her life would be as the future wife of Joseph.

Suddenly with the appearance of the angel Gabriel, her visions of the future contained a new and dramatically different element. The angel told her that she was highly favored and blessed among women, that the Lord was with her and that she would soon conceive and bring forth a son whose name would be Jesus. This child would be given the throne of Mary's ancient forebear, King David, and reign forever.

Mary voiced the question of how this would take place. She knew the order of natural conception and knew that the angel's message did not fit into this order. In explanation the angel Gabriel told her of the greatest miracle of all time saying, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God."

We are called to believe that miracles do occur. Some people are troubled by the idea of miracles based on their picture of cause and effect in this world. They have accepted that the only causes are natural ones, the laws of physics and so on. For such a person the idea of Jesus being born without a natural father is fantastic beyond belief.

But we are called to believe that miracles have and do occur. There are forces that attack this belief. We have grown up in a culture that has a strong sense of natural order. Science today is capable of explaining so many events that previously were mysteries. It is capable of explaining them by means of fundamental laws of nature. For some this sense of natural law can become so strong that the Lord's active presence within creation vanishes. For some there is no Divine intervention within this system. All is fixed and moves along with changes taking place by mere random accident. But it could be noted that according to natural law most changes result in more chaos, not less chaos. Changes tend toward the break down of a higher order into a lower one.

Think of the example of a person quickly typing out a document on a computer. You would expect that errors would be introduced into the typing. What is the likelihood that the errors would improve the original document? It’s possible, but rather unexpected. But the argument for pure natural evolution is that given enough time and the forces of natural selection life as we now know it has developed. Asserting that human life came about purely by random accidents starting with the genetic code of the most primitive life millions of years ago seems akin to saying that given enough time and enough typed copies a simple child’s nursery rhyme could evolve into a Shakespearean play without any plan or higher thought being involved.

We are called to believe that miracles do occur. However, the Writings for the New Church have taught us that we are not to expect to see the miracles of the Old and New Testaments performed today in the same way they were performed in the time those books were written. We read:

The reason miracles are not done at this day, as before, is that miracles compel, and take away free will in spiritual things; and from being spiritual, they make a person natural. All in the Christian world . . . can become spiritual; and they become spiritual solely from the Lord through the Word; and the faculty for this would perish if they were brought to believe through miracles. (True Christian Religion 501)

Partially based on statements such as this, a person can come to a pattern of thinking that does not believe in the Lord’s ability to affect things for good in a miraculous way even today. A person could believe in God, but still tend to view the progression of his or her life as following laws of a machine-like system. Anything that does not fit into this fixed system is believed to be a miracle that would take away spiritual freedom--the very freedom that the Lord was born into the world to reestablish.

Perhaps, though, it is too easy for us to become too limited in our view. So limited that we block out a sight of the miracles that can occur within our own lives without taking away our spiritual freedom. Perhaps it is too easy for this limited point of view to block out a sense of the Lord's presence, a sense of the Holy Spirit's presence. How does the Lord reach out to touch our lives?

What of Mary's life? The events surrounding the first Christmas were a major intervention within her life. The same is true of her husband to be, Joseph. Both of them could have denied the possibility of a miraculous conception and this state of denial would have been far more damaging than that of Zacharias's. Could the Lord's birth ever have taken place if Mary was not willing to accept the angel's words? Her firstborn was to have a continuing effect throughout her whole life. His presence was not without many events that brought a sense of awe and wonder to both Mary and Joseph. We know of at least one event that showed that raising Jesus was not always easy. At age 12, they spent three anxious days searching for Him, only to find Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of teachers, listening and asking questions.

In addition to the way in which Jesus' birth and life intervened in Joseph and Mary's life, think of the way His presence affected the disciples. Many of them were happily going about their daily jobs when they were called to leave all behind and follow Him. While this intervention sometimes involved something of the miraculous, it also involved an element of free will. Just as Joseph and Mary could have resisted the words of the angel announcing that the Lord would be born, so also the disciples could have heard the Lord call them to follow and shook their heads and returned to their work. There were many, many others who were influenced in this same way. Many others who heard the Lord's words calling to them and had their lives profoundly influenced by what He said.

The Lord comes to each of us in our lives many times each day. While we may not have anything occur in our lives that an objective observer would call miraculous, it is not true that our lives will follow some pre-established route, set by our inborn nature and directed by compelling experience of the natural world. The Lord's first birth represents the way in which He comes in any age to anyone who will receive Him. Just as the words of the angel Gabriel would have been a dramatic intervention within the happy normalcy of the future that Mary would have envisioned, so also the Lord can come to us announcing the conception of a future for us that is far different from the one our natural mind would envision. The Lord comes to us offering and promising a far different set of reactions to daily events from the ones we presently have--a different perspective, a far greater patience in some areas and a stronger resolve and commitment in others. He comes to us bringing light to areas of thoughts that we had resigned ourselves to being in deep darkness and bringing warmth to much that we might otherwise have done from need or duty.

The angel Gabriel was sent to a virgin, whose name was Mary. Ancient prophecies had promised that the Messiah would be born as the child of a young woman. Several hundred years after this prophecy was given, a Greek version of the Old Testament called the Septuagint, introduced a new element of the miraculous by using a word in this prophecy that was not the general one for a young woman, but rather the distinctive Greek term for "virgin." When the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, the gospel of Matthew records that he quoted this prophecy according to the way it is presented in the Septuagint. The Writings for the New Church make it quite clear that this seemingly added idea is correct and even essential in our understanding of the Lord's advent.

There are two distinct reasons for the importance of a belief in the virgin birth. One reason has to do with the essential need for Jesus to be born with a natural mother but without a natural father if He was going to become our Savior and Redeemer. It was crucial for the work of Jesus that He not derive from His birth any of the internal evils that are passed on through the soul provided by the natural father in any natural conception. His soul and life came directly from the infinite God. His developing mind and life were the ever more perfect manifestation in human form of the Father and creator, our Lord and God. But it was important that He take on a natural mind at first empty of any experience and knowledge as you and I were born with. It was important that He take on the hereditary inclinations to evil that birth to a natural mother brought to His life.

The second reason for believing in the virgin birth exists because of the representation of the term virgin and what this says about how the Lord comes to us in our lives. We are told that a virgin represents someone who willing to have his or her life affected by truth. In this story, Mary represents a state of mind in each of our lives that is not controlled by self interest nor committed to a determined course of action. It is a state of mind that is open to new possibilities.

The Lord comes to us to each of us bringing the promise of a new conception of life just as the angel Gabriel came to the virgin Mary. He comes promising a rebirth or regeneration of life that is radically different from the one we come by naturally. It is not to the hustle and bustle of established life that He appears, but rather to those states of mind that, like the virgin Mary, look forward to something new and different and most importantly are willing to receive the conception of this new life. The life that comes to us naturally, apart from any presence of the Lord, is like a child conceived of a human father and mother. Without the Lord's presence, this life cannot have any other basis than self-interest and worldly concern. Experience may teach us to broaden this self-interest and to temper these concerns, but apart from the Lord's advent within our lives they will never rise above this level. The Lord is born within each of our lives within the states of mind that are willing to be affected by what the Word teaches--by the states of mind that are willing to rise above the prompting of our natural inclinations to be self-serving and natural in our interests, thoughts and actions. He is born within the states of mind that are willing to turn outward to recognize and serve the needs of those around us. He is born within the states of mind that are willing to recognize that natural things exist to serve the needs of mankind and creation as a whole and have their proper uses as well as their abuses.

Our preparation for the celebration of Christmas, more than any other event of the season, tends to turn people outward to others. It is a time that can help us to recognize the community of caring people that we live in. And it is a time that can remind us that many are in need--there are many people who can use our help. This help may be a matter of providing food, clothing and shelter for those have not been able to or have not yet come to be provident enough to provide them for themselves. It can be a matter of giving a hand to someone who could use some help with a job, sharing some burden with them. Christmas is a time when we give gifts that symbolize and love and friendship for others. The most lasting gifts are those that we give when we recognize the spiritual needs of others—when we recognize that, by our words and actions, we can help the Lord bring loving warmth to another person's life. We, by our words and actions, can bring the light of greater understanding to another person's life. We have the capability of helping others receive far greater blessings in life than they might otherwise. Our preparation for and celebration of Christmas can remind us of how a truly Christian life is one of wisely giving and of serving. The state of mind that receives this reminder is the one imaged by the virgin, Mary.

The Lord comes to each of us in our lives, just as the angel Gabriel came to Mary. He comes telling of events that can take place, if we are willing, which far exceed anything we might picture ourselves. He promises us a new life, born within our own, but not taking its source from us. He promises the presence of the Holy Spirit within this new life. He comes with a miraculous intervention in the natural course of events. The words of the angel Gabriel to Mary are also words to us with the promise of a new life that will profoundly affect what we care about, think and do each day throughout the year. These words are the promise of a new life for each of us.

After the close of this service you are invited to take the sacrament of the Holy Supper. This act of worship represents our desire to receive the Lord’s gifts of love and wisdom within our lives, represented by our eating of the bread and drinking of the wine. There is a powerful reminder of the words of the angel Gabriel in The True Christian Religion description of this sacrament

...the Holy Supper for those who approach it worthily is a kind of guarantee and seal put on their adoption as sons of God ... the Lord is then present and introduces into heaven those who are born of Him, that is, who are regenerated. (True Christian Religion 728)

As the angel Gabriel said to Mary, so the Lord would say to us, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God."

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1573; Isaiah 7:1-15; Luke 1:26-38)

From Swedenborg's Works


Apocalypse Explained #253

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)      

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253. Verse 21. He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit with Me in My throne, signifies that he who is steadfast to the end of life shall be conjoined with heaven where the Lord is. This is evident from the signification of "overcoming," as being to be steadfast in the spiritual affection of truth even to the end of life (see above, n. 128; but here it means to be steadfast in a state of faith from charity, since charity is here treated of. This is what "overcoming" means; because so long as man lives in the world he is in combat against the evils and the falsities therefrom that are with him; and he who is in combat, and is steadfast in the faith of charity even to the end of life, overcomes; and he who overcomes in the world overcomes to eternity, since man after death is such as his life had been in the world. This is evident also from the signification of "to sit with Me in My throne," as being to be conjoined with heaven where the Lord is; for "throne" signifies heaven, and to "sit with Me" signifies to be together with the Lord, thus conjoined to Him.

(References: Revelation 3:21; The Apocalypse Explained 128)

[2] In the Word the word "throne" is many times used, and in reference to the Lord it signifies in general, heaven, in particular the spiritual heaven, and in the abstract, Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, since this is what makes heaven. For this reason "throne" is also predicated of judgment, since all judgment is effected from truths. That such is the signification of "throne" in the Word can be seen from the following passages. In Isaiah:

Jehovah said, The heavens are My throne (Isaiah 66:1).

In David:

Jehovah hath established His throne in the heavens (Psalms 103:19).

And in Matthew:

He that sweareth by heaven sweareth by the throne of God and by Him that sitteth thereon (Matthew 23:22).

It is clear that "throne" in these passages signifies heaven; for it is said that "the heavens are His throne," that "He hath established His throne in the heavens," and that "he who sweareth by heaven sweareth by the throne of God;" not because Jehovah or the Lord there sits upon a throne, but because His Divine in the heavens is called "throne:" and also appears at times as a throne to those to whom it is given to look into heaven. That the Lord was thus seen is evident in Isaiah:

I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and His train filling the temple (Isaiah 6:1).

"His train filling the temple" signifies that Divine truth proceeding filled the ultimate of heaven and the church, for the "Lord's train" signifies in general Divine truth proceeding, and in particular Divine truth in the extremities of heaven and in the church (see above, n. 220.

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 220)

[3] In Ezekiel:

Above the expanse that was over the head [of the cherubim] there was as the appearance of a sapphire stone, the likeness of a throne, and upon the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above (Ezekiel 1:26; 10:1).

The "throne" had an appearance like a sapphire stone, because "sapphire" signified Divine truth proceeding from the Lord's Divine good, and therefore spiritual truth pellucid from celestial good (see Arcana Coelestia 9407, 9873); thus "throne" here signifies the whole heaven, for heaven is heaven from Divine truth. (What "cherub" signifies, see Arcana Coelestia 9277, 9509, 9673.)

[4] In Revelation:

Behold, a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne One sitting. A rainbow round about the throne, in aspect like an emerald. And out of the throne went forth lightnings and thunders and voices. Before the throne a glassy sea like unto crystal; and round about the throne four animals, full of eyes before and behind (Revelation 4:2-6, 9-10).

That heaven in respect to Divine truths is here described will be seen in the explanation of these words in the following chapter. There is a like meaning in the following from Revelation:

A pure river and bright as crystal went forth out of the throne of God and of the Lamb (Revelation 22:1).

"A pure river and bright as crystal" was seen "going forth out of the throne," because a "river" as well as "crystal" signifies Divine truth.

[5] "The throne of David" in the Word has a like meaning; since by "David" in the prophetic Word is meant, not David, but the Lord in respect to royalty, which is Divine truth in the spiritual heaven, which is the second heaven. So in Luke:

The angel said to Mary, He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord shall give unto Him the throne of His father David (Luke 1:32).

And in Isaiah:

Unto us a child is born, unto as a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, God, Hero, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. Of the multiplication of His government and peace there shall be no end; upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to establish it in judgment and in righteousness, from henceforth and even to eternity (Isaiah 9:6-7).

It is clear that here is not meant David, and his throne, on which the Lord was to sit; for the Lord's kingdom was not on earth but in heaven; by "the throne of David," therefore, heaven in respect to Divine truth is meant (see above, n. 205). The meaning is similar in the Psalm of David, where the Lord speaks of His throne and His kingdom; as in the whole of Psalms 89, in which are also these words:

I have sworn unto David My servant: Thy seed will I establish for ever; and thy throne to generation and generation. Judgment and righteousness are the foundation of thy throne; I will establish his throne as the days of the heavens (Psalms 89:3-4, 14, 29).

That the Lord is here meant by David, see above n. 205). The like is signified by "the throne of glory" where the Lord is spoken of, for "glory" signifies Divine truth.

As in Matthew:

When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit on the throne of His glory (Matthew 25:31).

(That "glory" signifies Divine truth in heaven, see Arcana Coelestia 4809, 5922, 8267, 8427, 9429; and above, n. 33.)

This shows what is signified by "the throne of glory" in Jeremiah:

Do not disgrace the throne of thy glory (Jeremiah 14:21; 17:12);

which signifies that Divine truth should not be disgraced. The like is signified by Jerusalem being called "the throne of Jehovah;" for "Jerusalem" signifies the church in respect to doctrine; and doctrine is Divine truth.

From this it is clear how these words are to be understood in Jeremiah:

At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah, and all the nations shall be gathered unto it (Jeremiah 3:17).

In David:

Jerusalem is builded; thither the tribes go up; and there are set thrones for judgment, the thrones of the house of David (Psalms 122:3-5).

In Ezekiel:

The glory of Jehovah came into the house by the way of the gate whose face was toward the east. And He said unto me, Son of man, behold the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the sons of Israel for ever (Ezekiel 43:4, 7).

(That "Jerusalem" signifies the church in respect to doctrine, thus Divine truth in the heavens and on the earth, for this makes the church, see Arcana Coelestia 3654, 9166; and above, n. 223) As all judgment is effected by truths, and judgment in the heavens by Divine truth, "throne" is also mentioned where the Lord in respect to judgment is treated of, as above (Matthew 25:31; and in David, Psalms 122:3-5).

Again, in David:

Jehovah, Thou hast executed my judgment; thou sattest on the throne a judge of justice; thou hast rebuked the nations, thou hast destroyed the wicked; Jehovah shall sit for ever; He will prepare His throne for judgment (Psalms 9:4-5, 7).

(References: Mark 12:2; Psalms 89:1; The Apocalypse Explained 33, The Apocalypse Explained 205, The Apocalypse Explained 223)

[6] It is also said in many places in the Word, not only that the Lord is to sit on a throne, but that others also shall sit upon thrones, but still these "thrones" do not mean thrones, but Divine truths. Thus in the first book of Samuel:

He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth on high the needy from the dunghill, to make them sit with princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory (1 Samuel 2:8).

In Revelation:

The four and twenty elders who are before the throne of God, sitting upon their thrones (Revelation 11:16).


I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them (Revelation 20:4).

In Matthew:

Ye who have followed Me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30).

Here "thrones" mean Divine truths, according to which and from which all are to be judged; "twelve" and "twenty-four" signify all things and are predicated of truths; "elders," and "disciples" also, likewise "tribes," signify Divine truths. When this is known, what is meant by "thrones" in the above passages can be seen; as also what is meant by "throne" in these words now treated of. "He that overcometh will I give to him to sit with Me in My throne."

(That "twelve" signifies all, and that it is predicated of truths, see Arcana Coelestia 577, 2089, 2129, 2130, 3272, 3858, 3913; likewise "twenty-four" because that number is the double of the number twelve, and arises from it by multiplication, n. 5921, 5335, 5708, 7973.

That "the elders of Israel" signify all in the church who are in truths from good, n. 6524, 6525, 6890, 7912, 8578, 8585, 9376, 9404;

likewise "the Lord's twelve disciples," n. 2129, 3354, 3488, 3858, 6397;

likewise "the twelve tribes," n. 3858, 3926, 4060, 6335, 7836, 7891)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2129-2130, 6524-6525)

[7] From this it can be seen what was represented by the throne built by Solomon, thus described in the first book of Kings:

Solomon made a great ebony 1 throne, and overlaid it with pure gold. There were six steps to the throne; the head of the throne was round; and behind it were hands on either side near the place of the seat, and two lions standing near the hands; and there were twelve lions standing upon the six steps on the one side and on the other; there was not the like made in any kingdom (1 Kings 10:18-20).

Here "ebony" 1 signifies Divine truth in ultimates; "the head being round," the corresponding good; "the gold with which it was overlaid" Divine good from which is Divine truth. "The six steps" signify all things from first to last; "the two hands" all power; "lions," the truths of the church in their power; "twelve," all things. As "throne," in reference to the Lord, signifies heaven in respect to all Divine truth, so in a contrary sense it signifies hell in respect to all falsity. (In this contrary sense "throne" is mentioned Revelation 2:13; Isaiah 14:9, 14:13; 47:1; 2:22; Daniel 7:9; Luke 1:52)


1.  The Latin has "ebony"; the Hebrew is "ivory."


(References: Haggai 2:22; Mark 12:2)

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From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 226, 267, 270, 289, 297, 313, 392, 430, 456, 460, 482, 608, 630, 687, 741, 851, 858, 867, 1013, 1209

Other New Christian Commentary

Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for their permission to use this translation.