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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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

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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
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
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 Attitudes for Heavenly Happiness
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Be A Peacemaker
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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

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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

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Activity | Ages over 18

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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

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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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Activity | Ages over 18

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Poster showing a lighthouse with the Lord's words telling us to let our light shine.
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 "Let your light shine…" Calligraphy
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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
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
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 Memory Verse: The Ten Blessings
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 Peace Like a River
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Activity | Ages over 18

 Protecting Marriage
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Quotes: The Ten Blessings
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

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Activity | Ages over 18

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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

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Article | Ages 15 - 17

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 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? 
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Teaching Support | Ages over 3

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

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Picture | Ages over 15

 The Ten Blessings (9-11 years)
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Find key words of the Ten Blessings in this word search.
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

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 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

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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

 

Arcana Coelestia #8002

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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8002. 'A stranger and a hired servant shall not eat it' means that those who are prompted by a merely natural inclination to do good, and those who do it for the sake of gain, shall not be together with them. This is clear from the meaning of 'a stranger' as those who are prompted to do good by a merely natural inclination, dealt with below; from the meaning of 'a hired servant' as those who do good for the sake of gain, also dealt with below; and from the meaning of 'not eating it' as not being together with them, dealt with immediately above in 8001. 'A stranger' means those who are prompted by a merely natural inclination to do good because strangers were newcomers from other peoples. They were inhabitants, dwelling with the Israelites and Jews in one house; and 'dwelling with' means sharing in the same good. But since, as has just been said, they were from peoples outside the Church the good that is meant is not a kind of good that is prominent in the Church but is the kind to be found outside the Church. And this is called natural good because it is a product of the hereditary inclinations that a person is born with. With some people such good may also be the product of poor health or debility of mind. This is what one should understand when the good done by those meant by 'strangers' is mentioned.

(References: Exodus 12:45)


[2] This kind of good is completely different from the good prominent in the Church, for by means of the Church's kind of good conscience is established in a person; and conscience is the level on which the angels come in and which brings him into company with them. Natural good cannot provide any such level for angels to enter. Those whose good is natural do good in the dark, led by blind instinct, not in the light of truth, under the influence of heaven. In the next life therefore they are carried away like chaff by the wind, by anyone and everyone, whether evil or good, but especially by an evil person who knows how to add a certain amount of charm and persuasion to his arguments. Nor can angels at this time guide them away, for angels operate through the truths and forms of the good of faith; they enter in on the level formed within a person out of those truths and forms of the good of faith. From all this it is evident that those who are prompted by a merely natural inclination to do good cannot be integrated among angels. Regarding these people and their lot in the next life, see 3470, 3471, 3518, 4988, 4992, 5032, 6208, 7197.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 3470-3471)


[3] The fact that 'strangers' are those who are not in their own land nor in their own house but are those staying in a foreign land is clear in Moses,

The land shall [not] be sold outright, for the land is Mine; but you are sojourners and strangers with Me. Leviticus 25:23.

In David,

Hear my prayers, O Jehovah; do not be silent at my tears. For I am a sojourner with You, a stranger as all my fathers were. Psalms 39:12.

And in the Book of Genesis,

Abraham said to the sons of Heth, I am a sojourner and a stranger among you; give me possession of a grave. Genesis 13:3-4.

'A sojourner', like 'a stranger', means a newcomer and inhabitant from another land; but 'a sojourner' means those who were taught and accepted the Church's truths, whereas those who were not taught them because they were unwilling to accept them are meant by 'strangers'.

(References: Genesis 23:3-4, Genesis 23:4)


[4] As for hired servants, they were people who worked for wages; they were servants, but not ones who had been bought. The fact that they were called 'hired', see Leviticus 19:13; 25:4-6; Deuteronomy 24:14-15. Because hired servants were those who worked for wages they mean in the internal sense those who do good for the sake of gain in the world, and in a yet more internal sense those who do good for the sake of reward in the next life, thus those who wish to earn merit through works.

[5] Those who do good solely for the sake of gain in the world cannot possibly be integrated among angels, since their final objective for doing it is the world, that is, affluence and prestige, not heaven, that is, the blessedness and happiness of their souls. The final objective is what gives direction to actions and what gives them their specific character. Those who do good solely for the sake of gain are described by the Lord as follows in John,

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life 1 for the sheep. But a hired servant, he who is not the shepherd, whose sheep are not his own, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf seizes them, and scatters the sheep. But the hired servant flees because he is a hired servant. John 10:11-13.

And in Jeremiah,

A very beautiful heifer was Egypt; destruction has come from the north. Her hired servants are like calves of the stall, 2 for they also have turned about, fled away together, and not made a stand, because the day of their ruin has come upon them. Jeremiah 46:20-21.

[6] A law forbidding strangers and hired servants to share in holy things along with those belonging to the Church is stated in Moses as follows,

No outsider shall eat what is holy; a stranger staying with a priest, or a hired servant, shall not eat what is holy. Leviticus 22:10.

And a law which allowed people to buy from the sons of strangers slaves who would serve them for evermore appears in the same book,

You shall buy a male or a female slave from the nations that are around you. And also from the sons of strangers sojourning among you - from them you shall buy, and from their families which are with you, even if they were born in your land, in order that they may be your possession. And you may pass them on as an inheritance to your sons after you to inherit as a possession. Forever you shall be their masters. Leviticus 25:44-46.

'The sons of strangers' means factual knowledge acquired with the aid of merely natural light. The necessity for spiritual truths to dominate that knowledge is meant by the law that slaves should be bought from the sons of strangers as possessions for evermore.

[7] People however who do good for the sake of reward in the next life, people who are also meant by 'hired servants', differ from those spoken about immediately above, in that they have life and happiness in heaven as their final objective. But this objective turns and alters the direction of their Divine worship away from the Lord towards themselves, as a consequence of which they want things to go well only for themselves, not for others except insofar as these want the same for them. When this is so self-love resides in their every desire, not love of the neighbour; that is, they do not have any genuine charity. Nor can these people be integrated among angels, for angels utterly loathe both the word and the notion of reward or repayment. The Lord teaches in Luke that one ought to do what is good without reward as the objective,

Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing from it; then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Highest. Luke 6:32-35; 14:12-14.

Regarding the nature of good deeds performed to earn merit, see 1110, 1111, 1774, 1835, 1877, 2027, 2273, 2340, 2373, 2400, 3816, 4007 (end), 4174, 4943, 6388-6390, 6392, 6393, 6478.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1110-1111, Arcana Coelestia 6392-6393)


[8] The reason why the Lord says so many times that those who do good will have their reward in heaven - as in Matthew 5:11-12; 6:1-2, 26; 10:41-42; 20:1-16; Mark 9:41; Luke 6:23, 35; 14:14; John 4:36 - is that before a person has been regenerated he cannot help thinking about reward. But it is different once he has been regenerated. Then he is indignant if anyone thinks that he does good to his neighbour for the sake of reward; for he feels delight and bliss in the doing of good, but not in repayment. In the internal sense 'reward' is the delight belonging to the affection that goes with charity, see 3816, 3956, 6388, 6478.

-----
Footnotes:

1. literally, soul

2. i.e. mercenaries who are like fat bulls

-----

(References: Exodus 12:45; Genesis 23:4; Matthew 6:16)

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   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 8315, 9174, 9179, 9391

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 48, 158

Other New Christian Commentary

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


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