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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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

seeing
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...

multitudes
'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.'...

disciples
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...

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

poor
"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...

spirit
'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'...

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

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

hunger
'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...

righteousness
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...

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

see
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...

persecuted
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...

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

persecute
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...

say
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

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...

glad
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...

reward
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: swedenborg.com.


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
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 Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
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Help children learn the Ten Blessings by echoing (repeating) each line or finishing each line for you.
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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.
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 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
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Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

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

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 Memory Verse: The Ten Blessings
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Activity | Ages over 18

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 Quotes: The Ten Blessings
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Article | Ages 15 - 17

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Commentary

 

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.

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Apocalypse Explained #746

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)      

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746. For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, signifies when those have been separated from heaven and condemned to hell who have assaulted the life of faith, which is charity. This is evident from the signification of "cast down," as being, in reference to the dragon, that those who are meant by "the dragon" have been separated from heaven and condemned to hell (of which above, n. 739, 742); also from the signification of "the accuser of our brethren," as being those who have assaulted the life of faith, which is charity, for an "accuser" signifies one who attacks, denounces, and reproaches, for he that accuses also attacks, denounces, and reproaches. Moreover, the same term in the original tongue means an adversary and one who reproaches; and what is wonderful, those who are "dragons," although they make no account of the life, yet in the spiritual world they accuse the faithful if they observe any evil of ignorance, for they inquire into their life for the purpose of arraigning and condemning, and thence they are called accusers.

(References: Revelation 12:10; The Apocalypse Explained 739, 742)


[2] But "the brethren" whom they accuse mean all who are in the heavens as well as all on the earth who are in the good of charity; such are called "brethren" because they all have one Father, namely, the Lord, and those who are in the good of love to the Lord and in the good of charity towards the neighbor are His sons, and are called "sons of God," "sons of the kingdom," and "heirs." It follows, therefore, that as they are the sons of one Father they are brethren. Moreover, it is the primary commandment of the Lord, the Father, that they should mutually love one another, consequently it is love from which they are brethren; and love also is spiritual conjunction. From this it came that with the ancient people in the churches in which charity was the essential, all were called brethren, so likewise in our Christian Church at its beginning. This is why "brother" in the spiritual sense signifies charity. That formerly all who were of one church called themselves brethren and that the Lord calls those brethren who are in love to Him and in charity towards the neighbor, can be seen from many passages in the Word. But in order that what is signified by "brother" may be distinctly perceived it shall be illustrated from the Word.

[3] 1. That all who were of the Israelitish Church called themselves "brethren" can be seen from the following passages. In Isaiah:

Then shall they bring all your brethren out of all nations an offering unto Jehovah (Isaiah 66:20).

In Jeremiah:

No one shall cause a Jew to serve his brother (Jeremiah 34:9).

In Ezekiel:

Son of man, thy brethren, thy brethren, the sons 1 of thy kindred, and the whole house of Israel (Ezekiel 11:15).

In Micah:

Until the remnant of his brethren return unto the sons of Israel (Micah 5:3).

In Moses:

Moses went out unto his brethren that he might see their burdens (Exodus 2:11).

Moses said unto Jethro his father-in-law, Let me return to my brethren that are in Egypt (Exodus 4:18).

When thy brother shall be waxen poor (Leviticus 25:25, 35, 47).

But in reference to your brethren, the sons of Israel, a man shall not rule over his brother with rigor (Leviticus 25:46).

Would that we had died when our brethren died before Jehovah (Numbers 20:3).

Behold a man of the sons of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman (Numbers 25:6).

Thou shalt open thine hand to thy brother; when thy brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, shall be sold to thee he shall serve thee six years (Deuteronomy 15:11, 12).

If anyone shall steal a soul of his brethren, and he shall make gain of him (Deuteronomy 24:7).

Forty times thou shalt strike 2 him, and he shall not add, lest thy brother be accounted vile in thine eyes (Deuteronomy 25:3; and elsewhere).

From this it can be seen that all the sons of Israel were called brethren among themselves; the primary reason of their being so called was that they were all descendants of Jacob, who was their common father; but the remote reason was that "brother" signifies the good of charity, and as this good is the essential of the church, all are also spiritually conjoined by it. Another reason is that "Israel" in the highest sense signifies the Lord, and thence "the sons of Israel" signify the church.

(References: Deuteronomy 15:11-12; Leviticus 25:47-50)


[4] 2. They also called themselves "man and brother," likewise "companion and brother," as in the following passages. In Isaiah:

The land has been darkened, and the people have become as food of the fire; they shall not spare a man his brother; they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm, Manasseh Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh (Isaiah 9:19-21).

"Man and brother" signify truth and good, and in the contrary sense falsity and evil, therefore it is said "Manasseh shall eat Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh," for "Manasseh" signifies voluntary good, and "Ephraim" intellectual truth, both of the external church, and in the contrary sense evil and falsity. (But this may be seen explained above, n. 386, 440, 600, 617.)

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 386, 440, 600, 617)


[5] In the same:

I will commingle Egypt with Egypt, that they may fight a man against his brother and a man against his companion, city against city, and kingdom against kingdom (Isaiah 19:2).

"Egypt" here signifies the natural man separated from the spiritual; and because this is in no light of truth it is continually contending about good and evil and truth and falsity, and this contention is signified by "I will commingle Egypt with Egypt, that they may fight a man against his brother and a man against his companion," "brother and companion" signifying good from which is truth and truth from good, and in the contrary sense evil from which is falsity and falsity from evil; therefore it is added, "city against city, and kingdom against kingdom;" "city" signifying doctrine, and "kingdom" the church from doctrine, which will contend in like manner.

[6] In the same:

They help a man his companion, and he saith to his brother, Be strong (Isaiah 41:6).

"Companion and brother" have here a similar signification as above. In Jeremiah:

Take ye heed a man of his companion, and trust ye not in any brother; for every brother supplanteth, and every companion doth slander (Jeremiah 9:4).

In the same:

I will scatter them, a man with his brother (Jeremiah 13:14).

In the same:

Thus shall ye say a man to his companion and a man to his brother, What hath Jehovah answered? (Jeremiah 23:35)

In the same:

Ye have not hearkened unto Me, to proclaim liberty a man to his brother and a man to his companion (Jeremiah 34:9, 17).

In Ezekiel:

A man's sword shall be against his brother (Ezekiel 38:21).

In Joel:

They shall not thrust forward a man his brother (Joel 2:8).

In Micah:

They all lie in wait for bloods, they hunt a man his brother with a net (Mic. Micah 7:2).

In Zechariah:

Do mercy and compassion a man with his brother (Zechariah 7:9).

In Malachi:

Wherefore do we deal treacherously a man against his brother? (Malachi 2:10)

In Moses:

There was thick darkness of darkness over all the land of Egypt; a man saw 3 not his brother (Exodus 10:22, 23).

In the same:

At the end of seven years every creditor shall remit his hand when he hath loaned anything to his companion, and he shall not exact from his companion or his brother (Deuteronomy 15:1, 2);

and elsewhere. In the nearest sense a "man" means everyone, and "brother" one of the same tribe because in blood-relationship, "and companion" one of another tribe because allied only by affinity; but in the spiritual sense "man" signifies anyone who is in truths, then also anyone who is in falsities; "brother" signifies anyone who is in the good of charity, and in an abstract sense that good itself, and "companion" anyone who is in truth from that good, and in an abstract sense that truth itself; and in the contrary sense these signify the evil opposite to the good of charity and the falsity opposite to the truth from that good. Both terms, "brother" and "companion," are used because 4 there are two things, namely, charity and faith, that constitute the church, as there are two things that make up the life of man, will and understanding; so there are two parts that act as one, as the two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, two hands, two feet, two lobes of the lungs, two chambers of the heart, two hemispheres of the brain, and so on, of which the one has reference to good from which is truth, and the other to truth from good. This is why it is said "brother and companion," and why "brother" signifies good, and "companion" its truth.

(References: Deuteronomy 15:1-2; Exodus 10:22-23)


[7] 3. The Lord calls those of His church "brethren" who are in the good of charity, as can be seen from the following passages. In the Gospels:

Jesus stretching out His hand over His disciples said, Behold My mother and My brethren; whosoever shall do the will of My Father, he is My brother and sister and mother (Matthew 12:49, 50; Mark 3:33-35).

The "disciples" over whom the Lord stretched out his hand signify all who are of His church; "His brethren" signify those who are in the good of charity from Him, "sisters" those who are in truths from that good, and "mother" the church constituted of these.

(References: Matthew 12:49-50)


[8] In Matthew:

Jesus said to Mary Magdalene and to the other Mary, Fear not; go tell My brethren to go into Galilee, and there shall they see Me (Matthew 28:10).

Here, too, "brethren" mean the disciples by whom are signified all those of the church who are in the good of charity. In John:

Jesus said to Mary, Go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father (John 20:17).

The disciples are here again called "brethren" because "disciples," the same as "brethren," signify all those of His church who are in the good of charity.

[9] In Matthew:

The King answering said unto them, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these My brethren ye did it unto Me (Matthew 25:40).

It is evident from what there precedes that those whom the Lord here calls "brethren" are such as have done the good works of charity; but let it be known that although the Lord is their Father He still calls them "brethren;" He is their Father from the Divine love, but brother from the Divine that proceeds from Him. This is because all in the heavens are recipients of the Divine that proceeds from Him; and the Divine that proceeds from the Lord, of which they are recipients, is the Lord in heaven and also in the church; and this is not of angel or man, but is of the Lord with them; consequently the good of charity itself with them, which is the Lord's, He calls brother, in like manner also angels and men, because they are the recipient subjects of that good. In a word, the Divine proceeding, which is the Divine of the Lord in the heavens, is the Divine born of the Lord in heaven; from that Divine, therefore, angels who are recipients of it are called "sons of God," and as these are brethren because of that Divine received in themselves, it is the Lord in them who says "brother," for when angels speak from the good of charity they speak not from themselves but from the Lord. This, then, is why the Lord says, "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these My brethren ye did it unto Me." So in the spiritual sense the brethren of the Lord are the goods of charity that are enumerated in the verses preceding, and these are called by the Lord "brethren" for the reason just given. Moreover, "the King," who so calls them, signifies the Divine proceeding, which in one word is called Divine truth or the Divine spiritual, which in its essence is the good of charity.

[10] It is therefore to be kept in mind that the Lord did not call them "brethren" because He was a man like them, according to an opinion that is received in the Christian world; and for this reason it is not allowable for any man to call the Lord "brother," for He is God even in respect to the Human, and God is not a brother, but the Father. In the churches on the earth the Lord is called brother, because the idea of His Human which they have formed is the same as their idea of any other man's human, when yet the Lord's Human is Divine.

[11] As "kings" formerly represented the Lord in relation to Divine truth, and as Divine truth received by angels in the Lord's spiritual kingdom is the same as Divine spiritual good, and as spiritual good is the good of charity, therefore the kings appointed over the sons of Israel called their subjects "brethren," although on the other hand the subjects were not permitted to call their king "brother," still less should the Lord be so called, who is the King of kings and Lord of lords. So in David:

I will declare Thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee (Psalms 22:22).

In the same:

I am become a stranger to my brethren, and an alien to my mother's sons (Psalms 69:8).

In the same:

For the sake of my brethren and companions I will speak, Peace be in thee (Psalms 122:8).

This was said by David as if respecting himself, and yet in the representative spiritual sense David here means the Lord. In Moses:

Out of the midst of thy brethren shalt thou set a king over them; 5 thou mayest not put a man that is an alien over them, who is not thy brother; but let him not exalt his heart above his brethren (Deuteronomy 17:15, 20).

The "brethren" from whom a king might be set over them signify all who are of the church, for it is said, "Thou mayest not put over them a man that is an alien;" "a man that is an alien" and a "stranger" signifying one who is not of the church.

[12] In the same:

Jehovah thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren like unto me; unto him shall ye hearken (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18).

This is a prophecy respecting the Lord, who is meant by "the prophet" that Jehovah God will raise up of the brethren. They are called "thy brethren," that is, of Moses, because "Moses" means in a representative sense the Lord in relation to the Word, and a "prophet" means one who teaches the Word; thus also the Word and doctrine from the Word are meant, and this is why it is said, "like unto me." (That "Moses" represented the Lord in relation to the law, thus in relation to the Word, may be seen in the Arcana Coelestia 4859 at the end, 5922, 6723, 6752, 6771, 6827, 7010, 7014, 7089, 7382, 9372, 10234.)

[13] 4. That all those are called "brethren" by the Lord who acknowledge Him and are in the good of charity from Him, follows from this, that the Lord is the Father of all and the Teacher of all, and from Him as Father is every good of charity, and from Him as Teacher is every truth of that good. Therefore the Lord says in Matthew:

Be ye not called teacher, for one is your Teacher, Christ; but all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon earth, for one is your Father who is in the heavens (Matthew 23:8, 9).

From this it is clearly evident that the words of the Lord must be understood spiritually; for who that is a teacher may not be called teacher? Or who that is a father may not be called father? But as "father" signifies good, and "the Father in the heavens" Divine good, and as "teacher" or "rabbi" signifies truth, and "the Teacher, Christ," Divine truth, so on account of the spiritual sense in all things of the Word it is said, "Call no man your father upon earth, nor anyone teacher," that is, in the spiritual sense, not in the natural sense. In the natural sense men may be called teachers and fathers, but representatively; that is to say, teachers in the world teach truths indeed, but from the Lord, not from themselves, and fathers in the world are good, and lead their children to good, but from the Lord, not from themselves. From this it follows that although they are called teachers and fathers still they are not teachers and fathers, but the Lord alone is Teacher and Father. "To call" and "to call by a name" signifies in the Word to recognize the quality of anyone. Because all in heaven and in the church are disciples and sons of the Lord, who is their Teacher and their Father, the Lord says, "all ye are brethren;" for the Lord calls all in heaven and in the church "sons and heirs" from their consociation by love from Him, and thus by mutual love, which is charity; therefore it is from the Lord that they are brethren. In this way the common saying that all are brethren in the Lord is to be understood.

(References: Matthew 23:8-9)


[14] From this also it is clear whom the Lord means by "brethren," namely, all who acknowledge Him and are in the good of charity from Him, consequently who are of His church. Such are meant by the Lord by "brethren" in the following passages. In Luke:

Jesus said to Peter, When thou shalt be converted strengthen thy brethren (Luke 22:32).

The term "brethren" here does not mean the Jews, but it means all who acknowledge the Lord and are in good from charity and faith, thus all who were to receive the gospel through Peter, both Jews and Gentiles, for "Peter" in the Word of the Gospels means truth from good, thus also faith from charity; but here "Peter" means faith separated from charity, for just before it is said of him:

Simon, behold Satan demanded you that he might sift you as wheat. But I prayed for you that your faith fail not (Luke 22:31-32);

and afterwards it is said to him:

I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day until thou hast thrice denied that thou knowest Me (Luke 22:34).

Such is faith without charity. But "Peter converted" signifies truth from good, which is from the Lord, or faith from charity, which is from the Lord; therefore it is said, "When thou shalt have been converted strengthen thy brethren. "

(References: Luke 22:31)


[15] In Matthew:

Peter said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I should forgive him? (Matthew 18:21)

In the same:

So also shall My heavenly Father do to you if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses (Matthew 18:35).

In the same:

If thy brother hath sinned against thee go and reprove him between thee and him alone; if he hear thee thou hast gained thy brother (Matthew 18:15).

Here "brother" means the neighbor in general, thus every man; but in particular it means one who is in the good of charity and thence in faith from the Lord, whoever he may be; for these passages treat of the good of charity, since to forgive one who sins against you is of charity; also it is said, "if he hear, thou hast gained thy brother," which signifies, if he acknowledges his trespasses and is converted.

(References: Matthew 18:2)


[16] In the same:

Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say unto thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye, when yet there is a beam in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then thou shalt see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye (Matthew 7:3-5).

Here too, because this treats of charity the term "brother" is used, for "to cast out the mote out of a brother's eye" signifies to instruct respecting falsity and evil, and to reform. It is said by the Lord, "a mote out of the brother's eye," and "a beam out of one's own eye," because of the spiritual sense in every particular of what the Lord said; for without that sense, of what consequence would it be to see a mote in the eye of another and not consider a beam in one's own eye, or to cast a beam out of one's own eye before he casts a mote out of another's eye? A "mote" signifies a slight falsity of evil, and a "beam" a great falsity of evil, and the "eye" signifies the understanding and also faith. "Mote" and "beam" signify the falsity of evil, because "wood" signifies good; and thus a "beam" signifies the truth of good, and in the contrary sense the falsity of evil, and the "eye" signifies the understanding and faith. This shows what is signified by "seeing the mote and the beam," and by "casting them out of the eye." (That "wood" signifies good, and in the contrary sense evil, may be seen in (Arcana Coelestia 643 Arcana Coelestia 643[1-4] Arcana Coelestia 643 Arcana Coelestia 643[1-4], 3720, 4943, 8354, 8740; and that the "eye" signifies the understanding, and also faith, n. 2701, 4403-4421, 4523-4534, 9051, 10569; also above, n. 37, 152) Moreover, in some passages "beam" is mentioned, and it signifies the falsity of evil (as in Genesis 19:8; 2 Kings 6:2, 5, 6; Habakkuk 2:11; Song of Solomon 1:17).

(References: 2 Kings 6:5-6; Romans 1:17; The Apocalypse Explained 37, 152)


[17] In the same:

Whosoever doeth and teacheth, he shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens. I say unto you, Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees ye shall not enter into the kingdom of the heavens. Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill, but whosoever shall kill shall be liable to the judgment. But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be liable to the judgment; but whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be liable to the council; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be liable to the hell of fire. If thou offer thy gift upon the altar, and shalt there remember that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there 6 the gift before the altar, and go, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then coming offer thy gift (Matthew 5:19-24).

This whole chapter treats of the interior life of man, which is the life of his soul, consequently of his will and thought therefrom; thus it treats of the life of charity, which is the spiritual moral life. This life the sons of Jacob knew nothing about before, because from their fathers down they were external men. For this reason also they were kept in the observance of external worship, according to statutes that were external, representing the internal things of worship and of the church. But in this chapter the Lord teaches that the interior things of the church must not only be represented by external acts, but must also be loved and done from the soul and heart; therefore "whosoever doeth and teacheth, he shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens," signifies that he will be saved who from interior life does and teaches the external things of the church. "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees ye shall not enter into the kingdom of the heavens," signifies that unless the life is internal, and from that is external, heaven is not in man and man is not received into heaven; "righteousness" signifies the good of life from the good of charity, and "to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees" signifies that the life must be internal, and not external without internal. The scribes and Pharisees were only in representative externals, and not in internals. External life from the internal is taught in the commandment of the Decalogue, "Thou shalt not kill;" but they did not know that wishing to kill a man is killing him; therefore it is first said, "Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be liable to the judgment;" for the doctrine had prevailed with the Jews from ancient time, that it was admissible to kill those who injured them, especially the Gentiles, and that they were to be punished for this lightly or grievously according to the circumstances of the hostility, consequently in reference to the body only and not as to the soul; this is meant by "he shall be liable to the judgment."

(References: Matthew 5:1)


[18] That one who thinks ill of his neighbor without adequate cause, and turns himself away from the good of charity, will be punished lightly as to his soul, is signified by "Whosoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be liable to the judgment;" "to be angry," signifies to think ill, for it is distinguished from "saying Raca," and "saying, Thou fool." "Brother" means the neighbor, and also the good of charity, and "to be liable to the judgment" means to be examined and to be punished according to circumstances. That one who from wrong thought slanders the neighbor, and thus despises the good of charity as of little value, will be punished grievously, is signified by "whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be liable to the council," for "to say Raca" signifies to slander the neighbor from evil thought, thus to hold the good of charity to be of little value, for "to say Raca" means to hold as useless and as of little value, and "brother" means the good of charity. That one who hates the neighbor, that is, one who is altogether averse to the good of charity, is condemned to hell, is signified by "whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be liable to the hell of fire," to say "Thou fool" meaning to be altogether averse to, "brother" meaning the good of charity, and "the hell of fire" the hell where those are who hate that good and thence the neighbor. These three describe three degrees of hatred: the first is from evil thought, which is "to be angry," the second is from consequent evil intention, which is "to say Raca," and the third is from an evil will, which is "to say Thou fool." All these are degrees of hatred against the good of charity, for hatred is the opposite of the good of charity. The three degrees of punishment are signified by "the judgment," "the council," and "the hell of fire;" the punishments for lighter evils are signified by "the judgment," the punishments for the more grievous evils, by "the council," and the punishments for the most grievous evils, by "the hell of fire."

[19] As the universal heaven is in the good of charity towards the neighbor, and the universal hell is in anger, enmity, and hatred against the neighbor, and hence these are the opposites of that good; and as worship of the Lord because it is internal is worship from heaven, but it is no worship if anything of it is from hell, and yet external worship without internal is from hell, therefore it is said, "If thou offer thy gift upon the altar, and shalt there remember that thy brother hath aught against thee, go, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then coming offer thy gift upon the altar;" "the gift upon the altar" signifying the worship of the Lord from love and charity, "brother" meaning the neighbor, and in an abstract sense the good of charity; "having aught against thee" signifying anger, enmity, or hatred, and "to be reconciled" the dispersion of these and the consequent conjunction by love.

[20] From this it can be seen that the Lord means by "brother" the like as by "neighbor," and "neighbor" signifies in the spiritual sense good in the whole complex, and good in the whole complex is the good of charity. "Brother" has a similar meaning in the spiritual sense in many passages in the Old Testament. As in Moses:

Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart (Leviticus 19:17).

In David:

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity (Psalms 133:1).

In this sense, also:

Lot called the inhabitants of Sodom brethren (Genesis 19:7).

And this is meant by:

The covenant of brethren between the sons of Israel and Edom (Amos 1:9).

And by the brotherhood between Judah and Israel (Zechariah 11:14).

For by "the sons of Israel and Edom," as also by "Judah and Israel," these are not meant in the spiritual sense, but the goods and truths of heaven and the church, all of which are conjoined with each other.

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Footnotes:

1. The Hebrew has "men. "

2. The Hebrew has "he shall strike," as found in 633; Arcana Coelestia 9437.

3. The Latin has "hated," but the Hebrew has "saw," as found in Arcana Coelestia 7716.

4. The Latin has "which."

5. The Hebrew has "thee."

6. The Latin has "for thee;" as found in Arcana Coelestia 2360, 9293.

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(References: Leviticus 25:46-47; Revelation 12:10)

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From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 743, 747, 757, 1012

Other New Christian Commentary

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


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