The Bible


Matthew 5:1-12 : The Beatitudes


Study the Inner Meaning

1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 1017, 2371, 2658, 3863, 8002, 9263, 9818

Apocalypse Revealed 209, 285, 323, 526, 956

Conjugial Love 482

Divine Providence 33

The Lord 49

Sacred Scripture 51, 57

Life 17, 84

Heaven and Hell 357

True Christian Religion 96, 156, 226, 440

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 118, 122, 304, 386, 612, 695, 746, ...

Spiritual Experiences 1325

Marriage 96

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 6, 12, 20, 30, 68, 81, ...

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

2 Kings 22:20

Psalms 17:15, 24:3, 4, 37:9, 11, 22, 29, 34, 41:2, 119:28, 126:5

Proverbs 2:21, 11:17, 12:20, 21:21

Isaiah 51:1, 57:15, 61:2

Jeremiah 15:15, 31:25

Word/Phrase Explanations

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...

'A multitude' relates to truths.

into a mountain
'To be taken up into a mountain,' as in Revelation 21:10, signifies being taken up into the third heaven, because it says 'in the spirit.'...

A disciple in Matthew 10:41 signifies charity and at the same time, faith from the Lord. It disciple signifies the truth of life, and a...

To open,' as in Revelation 9, signifies communication and conjunction.

"The Word talks frequently about aiding the poor and needy. People in possession of external truths who have not yet been brought to internal truths...

'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'...

In the most general sense, a kingdom in the Bible represents a church. In a more specific sense, a kingdom represents a church in regards...

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

'Hunger,' or 'famine,' signifies evils of life. 'Hunger,' or 'famine,' signifies desiring good from affection, because 'bread,' in the internal sense, is the good of...

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...

'To be satiated,' as in Revelation 19:21, signifies being nourished by lusts, and taking them in with delight.

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...

There are only a few references to "persecution" in Swedenborg, but they say it means "to harrass and slander out of hatred," and it generally...

To revile something – or "reproach," as it is often translated – represents making a direct and deliberate attack on what is spiritually true, in...

There are only a few references to "persecution" in Swedenborg, but they say it means "to harrass and slander out of hatred," and it generally...

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...

Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...

Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...

A "reward" in the Bible represents something that brings people together, or brings spiritual states together, and binds them. It's easy to see this in...

Videos from the Swedenborg Foundation

The videos shown here are provided courtesy of our friends at the Swedenborg Foundation. You can find out more about them here:

What is Meant by The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth?

What did Jesus mean by this phrase? Chelsea digs into Swedenborg's writings and the Bible for insights about the importance of humility in our earthly lives.

The Difference Between Grace and Mercy

Grace and mercy are mentioned a lot in the Bible and both come from God, but what's the difference? We dig into the spiritual difference between these two divine auras and how we can open ourselves up to them.

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.

 Acknowledging Our Mistakes
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Attitudes for Heavenly Happiness
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Be A Peacemaker
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
In the process of trying to be a person who is growing spiritually, there will be mourning. We will see things that are not the way they should be - in ourselves and in the world around us. This sermon examines ways in which we can be comforted?
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Blossoming from the Lord
When we perform acts that agree with the Lord’s teachings in the Word, the Lord will guide them and be in them. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Cleaning Up Our Act
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

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

 Does the Lord Forgive?
Lesson and activities looking at the Lord's love and mercy in forgiving us.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Echo the Ten Blessings
Help children learn the Ten Blessings by echoing (repeating) each line or finishing each line for you.
Activity | Ages 4 - 10

 He Makes His Sun Rise on the Evil and the Good
Illustrate the sun shining or the rain falling and being received by two very different kinds of plants: a thorny bush and a fruit tree.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

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

 Inspirational Quotation - Let Your Light Shine
Poster showing a lighthouse with the Lord's words telling us to let our light shine.
Picture | Ages over 8

 Let Your Light Shine
Take turns lighting a candle as you "give glory to the Lord" for letting you help Him touch the lives of people around you.
Activity | Ages 11 - 17

 "Let your light shine…" Calligraphy
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Loving One Another
This sermon shows that someone who really cares about others will seek to understand the truth so that he may serve in intelligent ways. When this happens, greater blessings are achieved for all. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Loving Others
The Lord wants us to love everyone but the way we love friends will be different than the way we love those who harm us or others.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Matching Quotes with the Ten Blessings
Match each of the Ten Blessings with a quotation from the Old Testament.
Activity | Ages 11 - 17

 Memory Verse: Being a Good Neighbor
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: The Ten Blessings
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Peace Like a River
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Power Under Control
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Protecting Marriage
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Quotes: The Ten Blessings
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

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

 Separation and Divorce
Marriage is a civil and spiritual covenant. Spiritual laws about divorce and remarriage are not always in agreement with what civil law permits.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

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

 Strength Through Trials
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Ten Blessings Vocabulary Discovery
Explore the meaning of vocabulary used in the Ten Blessings to help you understand what the Lord is teaching us.
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 The Blessings of Adversity
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Kingdom of Heaven Is Within
When we think of blessings we do not usually think of sadness, difficulty or want. We usually think of happiness, peace and plenty. Indeed the word blessing means happiness. Why, then, does the Lord seem to say the opposite in the Sermon on the Mount? 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Lord and His Disciple, Simon Peter
Four scenes about the Lord and Peter from the gospels of Matthew and John, and two later scenes from the book of Acts.
Activity | Ages 11 - 14

 The Lord's Sermon on the Mount
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord’s Ten Blessings
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 The Meaning of the Ten Blessings
When the Lord gave the Sermon on the Mount, He was teaching people the steps leading to a heavenly life. The words He spoke then can still teach us how to follow Him into eternal happiness. 
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 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 Blessings
The Ten Blessings from the Sermon on the Mount in a color border.
Picture | Ages over 15

 The Ten Blessings (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Ten Blessings Word Search
Find key words of the Ten Blessings in this word search.
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

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

 What Is Heaven Like?
Emanuel Swedenborg visited heaven. His vivid accounts describe the nature of angels and the communities they live in.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Why Did the Lord Come on Earth?
A lesson and activities exploring the reasons Jesus came on earth and what He accomplished.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 You Are As Happy As You Choose To Be
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18



The Beatitudes      

By New Christian Bible Study Staff

This fresco was created by Franz Xaver Kirchebner in the Parish church of St. Ulrich in Gröden, Italy, which was built in the late 18th century.

These verses, the opening phrases of the Sermon on the Mount, hold some of the Bible’s most beautiful and best-loved poetry. Part of its beauty, though, lies in the fact that the meaning is not quite clear. What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? What does it mean to “inherit the earth” or to be called “the children of God.” The fact that there are many possibilities causes us to linger over the phrases, pondering them.

Understood in the internal sense, these blessings show the spiritual states of the various people who could be receptive of the Lord and the new church he was launching. On a deeper level it shows that states within ourselves that can lead each of us to the Lord and to a deeper understanding of His truth today.

The “poor in spirit” are those who know little about spiritual things, but want to learn. Those that “mourn” are those who want to be good, but see no desire for good in their church. The “meek” are those who love to care for and serve others. To “hunger and thirst after righteousness” shows a desire to rise up, to learn about what’s good and to come to desire it.

The “merciful” are those who love their fellow people. The “pure in heart” are those who love only what is good. “Peacemakers” are those who are in harmony with the Lord, gaining knowledge from Him and wanting what He wants. And to be “persecuted for righteousness’ sake” means acting out of love and care for others, even though you are condemned by others for it.

There’s something of a progression there, from those who simply want to learn to those who actively want to be good people to those who actually are good and acting out of love for others. None of it, though, describes those who are learned in the Jewish traditions, or even necessarily observant in terms of ritual; they are, rather, those who sense that it is possible to be a good person and are willing to make the effort.

And they are promised their rewards! The “kingdom of heaven” is the understanding the angels have of the Lord; “comfort” represents ideas that lead to the good of life; “inheriting the earth” is a state of loving others and being loved by them in return. The overall message is simple: If we truly wish to be good people, and are willing to let the Lord teach us how to be good people, we will end up filled with love and wisdom from Him. And that’s what we need to focus on: The desire to be good, and openness to ideas from the Lord. It’s not about ritual and intellectual “correctness”; it’s about ideas that lead us to be good.

But what of being reviled and persecuted? This depicts temptation, when the hells attack our newborn good desires and true understanding. They cause us to doubt our ability to be truly good and question the ideas that are leading us. And they can do it in many ways, reminding us of the fun we’ll be missing or reminding us of all the bad things we’ve ever done to render us hopeless. They will even attack the Bible and the ideas that come to us through it from the Lord; that’s represented by the idea that people also attacked the prophets.

These states, however, are blessed in their own way; only by battling these evils, which are rooted inside us, can we finally fully embrace the good life we have been striving for. That’s why it is pictured last, and that's why it leads to the “great reward” in heaven.



Why God Can Appear Vengeful      

By Rev. William Woofenden

"With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward." Psalm 18:25-26
Additional readings: Joshua 2:14-24, Matthew 7:1-20, Psalm 87, Psalm 88

The Lord says in His sermon on the mount "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:7-8). All the blessings pronounced in that sermon involve the same principle. We read also, "Give, and it shall be given unto you" (Luke 6:38), and "With the same measure that ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" (Matthew 7:2, Mark 4:24).

There are many other passages of the same import, all implying that in order to receive good we must do good. And it is a fact that in a marvelous way under the Divine Providence what we wish for others in the end becomes our own lot. If we wish good for others and work to that end, good will be our final lot; if we wish evil and failure for others, our life will end in disaster.

From the letter of our text the appearance is that the Lord is merciful only to those who are merciful and that He rewards evil for evil as well as good for good. Yet God is no "respecter of persons." He loves the good and happiness of all equally. He is in fact mercy itself and goodness itself. He therefore can do only good, and that continually. God cannot be unmerciful nor can He withhold mercy where it can be received.

To understand our text we need to know the true nature of man and his relation to the Lord. That we may have a true sense of the importance of this knowledge and that we may see how true even the literal sense of our text is it may be helpful to consider briefly what has resulted from the want of such knowledge.

The Word is the same in its letter to everyone who reads it. Yet people derive exactly opposite doctrines from the same passages. This cannot be said of other writings. Why is it? The cause is not in the Lord, nor is it in the Word. It is in man. Many false systems of religious faith have been drawn from the Bible because men have not understood the principle according to which the Bible is written and have read into it their own desires.

Throughout the Scriptures God shows Himself as bestowing favors and as meeting out punishments just as an arbitrary earthly monarch might do, and as doing this "for His own glory." But this is because He has to reach mankind who, even at their very best, are selfish and perverse.

Everyone when left in freedom will incline to that idea of God and to those religious doctrines which are most in harmony with his own nature. It is true every day that to the impure the Lord appears Impure, to the revengeful He appears revengeful, to the unforgiving He appears unforgiving unless His forgiveness is purchased by penance. This is the real reason

for the great diversities in religious faith. If a man believes Christ to be a mere man or if he believes that Christ in undergoing death on the Cross expiated the sins of the world, he so believes not from rational conviction but because such teachings are in harmony with his own character. It is only as man becomes regenerated that the Lord can show Himself to him as He really is. A selfish man cannot conceive that anyone can do a really unselfish deed. The impure think that all are impure.

Man is a recipient of life from the Lord and is related to Him as a branch to the vine. And life is not given him once for all: he is a constant recipient of life. It flows into him from moment to moment. This is true also in the realm of nature. Plants receive the same heat and light from the sun and grow in the same earth. Yet they are innumerable in their varieties. But man differs from them in that he is not, as they are, a passive recipient. He chooses what he will receive.

A diseased or defective eye does not see things as does a perfect eye, though the object and. the light is the same. The principle is this: if we are good and true, we are open to the reception of goodness and truth. If we are evil, truth and goodness do not appeal to us as virtues and we do not want them. Even on the natural plane what is sweet to one may not be pleasant to another; it depends on the condition of his body.

This law works on the spiritual plane as well as on the natural because the natural and physical are only the lower effects of the same spiritual laws operating on the plane of nature. In the spiritual world the influx of heavenly life causes pain to the wicked and they cannot endure it and flee to their own abode.

Life goes forth from the Lord to all, but this life is not to be appropriated by man and used for selfish purposes if it is to retain its original quality. It is to go forth and produce good works. If shut up within one's self, it is like pure water which, when not flowing, becomes stagnant and breeds corruption. A selfish man absorbs life and does not give it forth. To receive life from the Lord into ourselves for the sake of ourselves is to gather it into dead and stagnant pools in which hideous things are bred. These seem to us then to be from God, but they are actually the offspring of our own perverted life, the creations of our own diseased vision. What a man receives from the Lord is changed to partake of his own internal nature, and consequently it and the source of it appear to him like himself, of his own quality and disposition.

Whatever is received from the Lord should be an ever-living and overflowing stream, with no stagnant pools, never stopping in its work but always going forth to bless. Life is life, love is love, mercy is mercy only as the recipient of it is a free and active medium through which it may pass on to others continually by the active cooperation of the recipient.

Thus in proportion as one is merciful the Lord appears, or shows Himself merciful; as he is pure and upright, the Lord shows Himself upright; but as he is froward, the Lord shows Himself froward. This is the great cardinal principle which characterizes all revelation.

Such is the general teaching of the text. As a man is in himself, so he judges God to be, for so God appears to him.

This doctrine explains many passages of Scripture. It enables us to understand why God is sometimes represented as being angry and as possessing other human infirmities. To reach men and meet their needs the Word must be embodied in ideas and clothed in language adapted to their states and capacities. Because men were selfish the Lord had to appear to Moses and the prophets as a vengeful God, a God delighting in sacrifices and burnt offerings, a God like themselves who, when offended, needed to be appeased. It was better for them to have such a God than to have no God, no being who could exercise any restraint over them. It was better for them even to worship the sun and moon than to acknowledge nothing higher than themselves.

In the wise providence of the Lord He appears to men in such a character as the best good of their state is capable of receiving. When man's state is such that he cannot see the light, it is in mercy provided that darkness shall appear as light to him.

There is a lesson in this for us. If we would see God as He is, a being of pure unchanging love and wisdom, the only way we can find Him is to learn and do His will. This enables Him to form us into His own image and likeness. It is when we receive His qualities in ourselves by exercising them that we really see Him and we make ourselves living receptacles of His qualities by doing what He would have us do.

"Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, 'Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?' Jesus answered and said unto him, 'If a man loves me; he will keep my words: and My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:22).