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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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.

From Swedenborg's Works


Arcana Coelestia #9263

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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9263. The expressions the righteous, righteousness, and justifying 1 occur many times in the Word; but what they mean specifically is not yet known. Their specific meaning is not yet known because up to now no one has known that all the different expressions in the Word are used to mean such things as belong to the internal Church and such as belong to heaven, thus such things as belong to the internal man since the internal aspect of the Church, also heaven, has a place in the internal man. Nor has anyone known that these interior things in the Word are different from its exterior ones, that is, from those in the letter. They are as different as spiritual things are from natural ones or heavenly things from earthly ones, the difference between which is so great that to the natural man there seems to be scarcely any similarity at all, when yet they are in perfect accord with one another. Since none of this has been known no one has been able to know what 'the righteous', 'righteousness', and 'justifying' denote in the Word on its spiritual and heavenly level of meaning. Leaders of the Church suppose that the righteous and the justified are those who have learned the truths of faith from the teachings of the Church and from the Word, and from this knowledge are given the trust or assurance that they are saved through the Lord's righteousness, and that the Lord acquired righteousness by fulfilling all things of the Law, also merit because He endured the Cross, thereby making atonement for and redeeming mankind. By this faith alone, they suppose, is a person justified; and they also suppose that people such as this are the ones whom the Word calls 'the righteous'.

[2] These however are not the ones whom the Word calls 'the righteous' but those who are governed by the good of charity towards the neighbour, received from the Lord. For the Lord alone is righteous, since He alone is Righteousness; and therefore in the measure that a person receives good from the Lord, that is, in the measure that what composes the Lord's essential nature resides with him, he is righteous and has been justified. The Lord became Righteousness through making His Human, by His own power, Divine. This Divine virtue residing with a person who receives it is the Lord's Righteousness with him. And it is the true good of charity towards the neighbour; for the Lord is within the good of love and through this within the truth of faith, the Lord being Divine Love itself.

[3] The good of charity towards the neighbour is exterior good, which is meant by 'the righteous', whereas the good of love to the Lord is interior good, which is meant by 'the innocent', dealt with immediately above in 9262. The fact that the good of love towards the neighbour, received from the Lord, is meant by 'righteous' in the proper sense may be recognized from places in the Word in which the expressions 'the righteous', 'righteousness', and 'being justified' occur, such as in Matthew,

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, When did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? But the King answering will say to them, Truly I say to you, Insofar as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers you did it to Me. And the righteous will go into eternal life. Matthew 25:37-40, 46.

[4] Here those people are called 'the righteous' who have performed the good deeds of charity towards the neighbour that are recounted in this passage. The fact that those good deeds of charity constitute the Lord's presence with them is explicitly stated in the words, 'Insofar as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers you did it to Me', see 4807-4810, 4954-4959, 5063-5071. Those people are also called 'the sheep', for those governed by the good of charity from the Lord are meant by 'sheep', 4169, whereas 'the goats', who are on the left and are damned, means those who adhere to faith separated from charity, 4169 (end), 4769. The same people are meant by 'the righteous' elsewhere in Matthew,

The angels will come out and separate the evil from the midst of the righteous. Matthew 13:49.

And in Luke,

You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. Luke 14:14.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 4954, 5063)

[5] This shows what the meaning is of the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father, 2 Matthew 13:43, namely people governed by the good of love, received from the Lord. For the Lord is the Sun in the next life; and the good of love flows from the Lord as the Sun there, see 1053, 1521, 1529-1531, 2441, 2495, 3636, 3643, 4060, 4321 (end), 4696, 5097, 7078, 7083, 7171, 7173, 7270, 8487, 8812. This is why the Lord is called the Sun of Righteousness in Malachi 4:2. In Daniel,

Those who have intelligence will shine like the brightness of the expanse, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever. Daniel 12:3.

'Those who have intelligence' are people with whom the truth and good of faith are present, 'those who turn [many] to righteousness' are people who lead others by means of the truth and good of faith to the good of charity. 'Shining like the stars' means having an intelligent understanding of truth and a wise discernment of good, as a result of which they possess eternal happiness; for 'the stars' are cognitions or knowledge of truth and good, which lead on to intelligence and wisdom, 2495, 2849, 4697.

[6] 'A righteous person' is described in David as follows,

Jehovah upholds the righteous. The righteous shows mercy and gives. The righteous shows mercy all the day and lends. The righteous will possess the land and dwell in it forever. The mouth of the righteous utters 3 wisdom and his tongue speaks judgement. The law of his God is in his heart. Psalms 37:16-34.

These are good deeds of charity, which are those of 'the righteous'. The fact that these good deeds of charity are inspired by the Lord, so much so that they are the Lord's with a person, is well known to the Church. 'A righteous person' is also described in Ezekiel 18:5-9, 21; 33:15ff.

(References: Ezekiel 33:15-20; Psalms 37:17, 37:21, 37:29-31)

[7] All this shows what it is that 'the righteous' and 'righteousness' mean in the following places: In Matthew,

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6.

In the same gospel,

He who welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in a righteous person's name will receive a righteous person's reward. Matthew 10:41.

In the same gospel,

Many prophets and righteous people desired to see what you see, but did not see it. Matthew 13:17.

In the same gospel,

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous. On you will come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel ... Matthew 23:29, 35.

'The prophets' stands for those who teach the truths and forms of the good of faith, and in the abstract sense for doctrinal teachings that compose faith, 2534, 7269; and 'the righteous' stands for those who lead a charitable life, and in the abstract sense for the good of charity. Abel, who is called 'righteous', represented the good of charity, see 342, 374.

[8] In Isaiah,

The righteous has perished, and no man takes it to heart; and holy men are taken away, 4 and no one understands. For because of evil the righteous is taken away. 5 Isaiah 57:1.

In the same prophet,

Your people will all be righteous; they will possess the land forever. Isaiah 60:21.

In the same prophet,

Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain with righteousness; let the earth open, in order that [its inhabitants] may bring forth the fruit of salvation, and let righteousness spring up together. I Jehovah am speaking righteousness, declaring ways that are right. 6 Isaiah 45:8, 19.

'Righteousness' stands for what comes out of the good of love, 'ways that are right' for what comes out of the truths of faith. In the same prophet,

Thus said Jehovah, Keep judgement and do righteousness, for My salvation is near [to come], and My righteousness to be revealed. Isaiah 56:1.

'Judgement' means the truth that belongs to faith, and 'righteousness' the good that belongs to charity, which is why it says 'do righteousness'. The fact that 'righteousness' is the good of charity received from the Lord is what the words 'My righteousness is near to be revealed' are used to mean.

[9] Many times also, in other places, the words 'judgement and righteousness' are used, 'judgement' meaning truth and 'righteousness' meaning good, as in Jeremiah,

Thus said Jehovah, Do judgement and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Woe to him who builds his house in unrighteousness, and his upper rooms not in judgement! Did not your father eat and drink, and do judgement and righteousness? Then it was well with him. Jeremiah 22:3, 13, 15.

'Judgement' stands for those things that are matters of truth, and 'righteousness' for those that are aspects of good. In Ezekiel,

If the wicked person turns away from his sin and does judgement and righteousness, all his sins which he has committed will not be remembered; he has done judgement and righteousness, he will surely live. When the wicked turns away from his wickedness and does judgement and righteousness he will live because of these. Ezekiel 33:14, 16, 19.

Other places similar to these include Isaiah 9:7; 16:5; 26:7, 9; 33:5, 15; 56:1; 58:2; Jeremiah 9:24; 23:5; 33:15; Hosea 2:19-20; Amos 5:24; 6:12; Psalms 36:5-6; 119:164, 172. The words 'judgement and righteousness' are used because wherever truth is dealt with in the Word, so too is good, on account of the heavenly marriage in every detail of the Word, which is the marriage of goodness and truth, spoken of in 683, 793, 801, 2173, 2516, 2712, 4138 (end), 5138, 5502, 6343, 7945, 8339. Since righteousness is associated with good and judgement is associated with truth, other places again use the words righteousness and truth, such as Zechariah 8:8; Psalms 15:2; 36:5-6; 85:11-12.


1. Three closely related Latin words are used here - justus, justitia, and justificare. The first is sometimes rendered just, at other times righteous; the second is sometimes rendered justice, at other times righteousness; and the third is sometimes rendered justify, at other times make righteous.

2. The Latin means like the sun in heaven but the Greek means like the sun in the kingdom of their father, which Swedenborg has in other places where he quotes this verse.

3. literally, meditates

4. literally, and men of holiness are collected up

5. literally, collected up

6. literally, telling of or pointing out rectitudes


(References: Arcana Coelestia 4137; Exodus 23:7; Psalms 85:10-11, 85:11, 85:13)

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   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 9264, 9267, 9385, 9391, 9471, 9717, 9789, 9806, 9868, 9955, 10137, 10154, 10177, 10261, 10424

The White Horse 11, 14

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 158, 260

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 238, 288, 466, 946

Other New Christian Commentary

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