1. And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary [the mother] of James, and Salome, had bought spices, that when they came they might anoint Him.
2. And very [early] in the morning the first [day] of the week, they come to the sepulcher as the sun was rising.
3. And they said among themselves, “Who shall roll away for us the stone from the door of the sepulcher?”
4. And when they looked, they beheld that the stone was rolled away; for it was very great.
5. And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right, arrayed [in] a white robe; and they were astounded.
6. But he says to them, “Be not astounded. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified; He is risen; He is not here; see, the place where they put Him.
7. But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goes before you into Galilee; there you shall see Him, as He said to you.”
8. And going out quickly, they fled from the sepulcher, with trembling and amazement; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
The angel speaks to the women
When Joseph of Arimathea placed Jesus in the tomb on Friday evening, it must have felt as though all hope was lost. Their beloved leader had been crucified, and now His body was in a tomb. The people had expected wonderful things. Their Messiah had come to usher in a new kingdom. A new era of prosperity was about to dawn. The crucifixion seemed to say that these hopes and aspirations were nailed to the cross. Hearts were broken, and dreams were shattered. It is not difficult to imagine that terrible doubts and tormenting questions may have arisen. “What if Jesus were not the promised Messiah?” they may have asked themselves. “What if He were an imposter who claimed to be the promised king? Questions like these may have arisen, along with what may have been the most difficult question of all: “What now?” It was, to be sure, a devastating time for those who loved Jesus.
As the next episode begins, it is very early on Sunday morning. The women who had watched the crucifixion from afar on Friday afternoon are on their way to Jesus’ tomb. They are expecting to anoint Jesus’ body in accordance with the rite of purification for the dead. As Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome approach the tomb where they expect to find Jesus’ body, they are concerned about the large stone that will block their entrance. “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?’ they wonder (Mark 16:2-3).
When they arrive at the tomb, they are surprised to discover that the stone has already been rolled away. As they enter the tomb, they see something much more surprising than the rolling away of the stone. They are greeted by a young man, clothed in a white robe, sitting on the right side of the tomb. Noticing that the women are amazed, the young man says to them, “Do not be astonished. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen” (Mark 16:6). Then, to
emphasize this point, the young man brings their attention to the place where Jesus had been placed. “He is not here,” he says to the women. “Behold the place where they laid Him” (Mark 16:6). The young man is surely an angel.
Having made it clear to the women that the Lord is not in the tomb, the angel then gives them specific instructions. “Go and tell His disciples, and Peter, that He goes before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you” (Mark 16:7). In a previous episode, Peter had proudly asserted His loyalty to Jesus. “Even if I should die with You,” Peter said to Jesus at that time, “I will not betray You.” (Mark 14:31). But Jesus knew otherwise. “All of you shall fall away,” Jesus said, “for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered’” (Zechariah 13:7). Jesus then added this promise, “After I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee” (Mark 14:28). This is why the angel instructs the women to tell the disciples that Jesus has risen and will meet them in Galilee, just as He promised.
Before continuing with the literal narrative, we need to take a closer look at the interior meaning of these events. First of all, the women were expecting to find Jesus’ lifeless body in the tomb. Instead, they encountered an angel with a powerful message. “He is risen,” said the angel. There are times when the Word seems to be a lifeless tomb, just words on paper. However, if we continue to read reverently, like the women who come to anoint the Lord’s body, we receive messages of hope. These messages are the voice of the angel in the tomb, who represents the inner meaning of the Word. These messages tell us that if we really hope to connect with the risen Lord, we will meet Him in Galilee. Spiritually speaking, Galilee symbolizes a life of useful service. Doctrinal teachings are necessary and wonderful, but they are meant to direct us to lives that are rich with purpose and meaning. As we follow the teachings of the Word, shunning evils as sins against God, we grow in our love to the Lord and love to the neighbor. This is what it means to “meet the Lord in Galilee.” We connect with the Lord’s loving presence in every act of loving service. 1
There will be times, however, when our faith will be tested. This is especially true of that place within us that is represented by Peter. We can feel sure about our commitment to keeping the commandments and living lives of useful service. We can say with Peter, “Even if I have to die doing so, I will never give up my devotion to the Lord.” But there will be times when our faith, represented by Peter, goes through trials, and we may experience failure. There may be times when we might feel disappointed with ourselves, times when we fail to live up to our faith. But failure is never the end, especially when we learn from it. In fact, faith can be strengthened during times of trial. Therefore, the message to go meet the risen Lord in Galilee is for all the disciples in us, but especially for Peter who has stumbled. As it is written in the Hebrew scriptures, “Though they stumble, they shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholds them” (Psalms 37:24).
Through the words of the angel, and the promise of Jesus, we can remember that the Lord is always with us, even during those times when we experience what seems to be a failure of faith. These “dark nights of the soul” are inevitable on the path to a new day. It is for this reason that the angel tells the women to proclaim the good news to the disciples — and especially to Peter. 2
When the women hear the message of the angel, they flee from the tomb, “trembling and amazed.” And while they are on their way to deliver the good news to the disciples, “they say nothing to anyone because they are afraid” (Mark 16:8). Their fear is understandable. So much has happened, so unexpectedly. The great stone that that blocked the entrance to the tomb had been rolled away. Inside, Jesus’ body was gone, and an angel told them that Jesus had risen. Now, as the angel sends them to the disciples to deliver the exciting news, they are trembling with holy fear. 3
Jesus Reveals Himself to Mary Magdalene
9. And when He rose again in the morning on the first [day] of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.
10. She having gone forth reported [it] to those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept.
11. And they, when they had heard that He was alive and was observed by her, believed not.
12. And after these things He was manifested in another form, to two of them as they were walking, as they were going into the country.
13. And these, going away, reported [it] to the rest; neither did they believe them.
The joy of meeting God
It has been an exciting morning. When the women came to the tomb, they discovered that the stone had been rolled away, and an angel was sitting in the tomb. The angel first assured the women that Jesus had risen and then the angel directed the women to tell the disciples that Jesus would meet them in Galilee. As that episode ends, the women are racing off to tell the disciples. Somewhere along the way, Mary Magdalene has an encounter with Jesus. As it is written, “And when He rose again, early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene” (Mark 16:9).
Many commentators believe that this verse is the beginning of an unnecessary “add on” written by a scribe who did not want the gospel to end at 16:8. According to this theory, a longer ending was made up and added on. But, as we shall see, an understanding of the internal sense demonstrates that verses 9-20 are not only essential to a complete understanding of this gospel but are also an indispensable part of the “seamless garment” that is the hallmark of God’s Word. 4
As we take a more interior look at this episode, it is especially significant that Jesus chose to appear first to Mary Magdalene. After all, she is a person “out of whom He had cast seven devils” (Mark 16:9). This is one of the most beautiful and significant moments in the gospel. A woman who had spent much of her life as a sinner, but was delivered from many demons, is the first to see the risen Lord. In the Word, “demons” represent the many forms of evil that attack and infest us. And the number “seven,” which often represents holiness, also represents the complete perversion of everything that is holy. Being delivered from “seven demons,” then, represents deliverance from a state of total perversion and profanation. 5
The story of Mary Magdalene’s deliverance brings to mind the story of the Gadarene man from whom Jesus cast out a legion of demons (Mark 5:14-15). Up until that point in the Gospel According to Mark, Jesus had expressly forbidden people to speak about the healings they had witnessed. In the case of the Gadarene man, however, who had a first-hand experience of deliverance, Jesus said, “Go and tell your friends what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you” (Mark 5:19).
Like the Gadarene man, Mary Magdalene has also experienced a great deliverance. In both cases, there was an experience of a deep, interior healing. The Gadarene man experienced what it was like to be in his right mind again after a legion of demons were cast out, and Mary Magdalene experienced what it was like to be freed from seven demons, a number which represents deliverance from a total and complete profanation of goodness and truth. Unlike those who had witnessed Jesus healing others, or those who were healed of physical afflictions, a complete internal healing represented by a total casting out of demons is altogether different. It represents much more than a physical recovery, or even a change in one’s understanding. It represents a change of heart — one that can only come about through a direct experience of Jesus’ love. And this can only come about through repentance — shunning evils as sins against God. 6
In brief, to repent is to cast out demons. This is what enables us to rise up with Jesus, filled with His goodness and led by His truth. Whenever we have this experience of freedom from inner demons, we feel uplifted and inspired. Nothing can stop us from the holy desire to proclaim the gospel. We can go forth fearless and unafraid. As it is written of Mary Magdalene, “She went forth and reported it to those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept” (Mark 16:10).
Mary Magdalene’s meeting with Jesus on that memorable morning is significant. She has not only heard the good news from the angel, but she has experienced the risen Lord for herself. It is similar for each of us. It is one thing to be inspired by the truth of the Lord’s Word. This is what it is like to meet the angel. But when we carry out the directive of the angel, living according to the holy teachings of the Word, we meet the Lord along the way.
This is the experience of everyone who lives according to the truth. At a certain point, the Lord “meets” that truth that we carry within us and fills it with goodness. In the end, we act not so much from truth we have believed but rather from the goodness that has infilled that truth. This is another way of explaining what it means to “meet the Lord.” The truth that we have received “meets” the goodness that flows into that truth. When this happens, the Lord adapts and uses that truth in numerous ways to bless the lives of others. 7
The disciples refuse to believe
When Mary Magdalene “met Jesus” along the way, it was a direct result of doing what the angel said. She was on her way to announce to the disciples that Jesus had risen. This was truly exciting news. Jesus had not only risen from the tomb, but He had risen in her heart as well. And so, “She went forth to report to those who had been with Him as they mourned and wept.” It was, to be sure, an exciting moment in the life of Mary Magdalene. Sadly, however, when she announced the news, “they did not believe it” (Mark 16:10-11).
The refusal to believe the news about Jesus’ resurrection now becomes a major theme in this next episode. Jesus has already revealed Himself to Mary. Now He reveals Himself to two of the disciples as they are walking in the country. When these two disciples take the news back to the others, none of them believe their words. As it is written, “When they reported it to the rest of the disciples, they did not believe them” (Mark 16:13). In both cases, whether it was Mary Magdalene reporting that she had seen Jesus, or the two disciples reporting the same news, they were met with unbelief.
Why did the disciples stubbornly refuse to believe? After all, Jesus had risen from the grave, just as He said He would. And He was coming back to meet with them, just as he promised. It must have been disappointing to be the bearer of such wonderful news and yet meet with such unbelief, especially from the disciples. Their unbelief, which seems incredible, contains a more interior message. We cannot transfer the joy of “meeting God” to others. This is because belief is dependent upon one’s readiness to receive. In order to receive the good news, “good ground” must be prepared, and this can only take place through the shunning of evils. That kind of goodness — the kind that makes people ready to receive — is not transferable. Everyone must prepare the ground for themselves. This is the meaning of repentance. 8
Prior to the crucifixion, Jesus had told them many times that He would rise again on the third day (8:31; 9:31; 10:34). At the Last Supper, Jesus told them He would no longer be drinking wine with them until “that day” when He would again drink it with them “in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25). And He told them that after the crucifixion He would rise again and meet them in Galilee (Mark 14:28) None of these statements seem to have registered with the disciples. Instead, they continue to mourn. They do not believe.
Becoming an Apostle
14. Afterwards He was manifested to the eleven as they sat, and reproached them for their unbelief and hard-heartedness, because they believed not those that had observed Him when He was risen.
15. And He said to them, “Going [forth] into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature.
16. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be condemned.
17. And these signs shall follow along with those that believe: in My name they shall cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues;
18. They shall take up serpents; though they drink anything deadly, it shall not harm them; they shall lay hands on those that were ailing, and they shall become well.”
The disciples had refused to believe the testimony of Mary Magdalene who had seen Jesus with her own eyes. They even refused to believe the testimony of their fellow disciples who had just seen Jesus for themselves. The next step is for Jesus to come to the disciples personally and reveal Himself in His post-resurrection body. This is exactly what He does. As it is written, “Afterwards, He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table” (Mark 16:14).
The imagery is reminiscent of the Last Supper when Jesus told His disciples that He would drink wine with them “anew” in the kingdom of God. As He presides once more at the table with them, He offers the “new wine,” but it’s not the kind of wine that they expect. Instead of drinking wine with Jesus in a joyous celebration of the new government, and in the triumphal expectation that they would soon “sit on thrones,” Jesus offers them the new wine of spiritual truth. This is the wine He promised to drink with them in His coming kingdom. 9
As Jesus shares this new wine with His disciples, the first lesson is about repentance. The disciples must first of all repent of their unbelief and their hardness of heart. In fact, this lesson has been a consistent one throughout the Gospel According to Mark. In the very first episode of this gospel, John the Baptist preaches about the “baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4). And in this final episode, Jesus continues with the theme of repentance. He tells His disciples that if they are going to preach about the kingdom of God, they will have to repent and believe that He is risen. As it is written, Jesus “rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen” (Mark 16:14). Similarly, when we give up our own unbelief and hardness of heart, we can experience the rising of the Lord’s truth and goodness within us. 10
Jesus then says to His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. But he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). When Jesus speaks about believing and being baptized, He is referring to the beginning of our spiritual development. The first stage, as we have seen in the Gospel According to Matthew, is to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus Christ who came to establish the kingdom of God on earth. “Believing,” however, must be followed by a sincere desire to live according to the truths that Jesus teaches. 11
Jesus also says, “He who does not believe shall be condemned.” This refers to the deliberate choice to turn away from the goodness and truth that flow in from God. Every time people willingly turn away from forgiveness, choosing instead to dwell in resentment, they condemn themselves to a life of misery. Every time people willingly turn away from the truth, choosing instead to remain in falsity, they condemn themselves to a life lived in darkness. This is what “condemns” a person. On the other hand, God, who is love itself and mercy itself, condemns no one. 12
The signs that follow belief
In a previous chapter, when the unbelieving religious leaders asked Jesus for a sign, Jesus said, “No sign will be given to this generation” (Mark 8:12). Jesus knows that external signs, which can momentarily compel belief, do not necessarily lead to internal change. True belief is based on the acknowledgement of God and a life according to His commandments. This is the kind of belief that produces quiet, lasting internal changes. These “internal signs” are changes in the way we think and in the way we feel. They are the true signs of spiritual development. In this regard, it is important to note that these signs follow belief; they do not precede it. Therefore, Jesus says to His disciples, “These are the signs which follow those who believe” (Mark 16:17). 13
The first sign that follows belief is, “In My name, they will cast out demons” (Mark 16:17). In the presence of the divine qualities, represented by the phrase “In My name,” negative emotions and destructive thoughts will be cast out. This is because hatred cannot bear the presence of love; resentment cannot bear the presence of forgiveness; greed cannot bear the presence of generosity, and falsity cannot bear the presence of truth. Whatever is evil and false cannot endure the presence of what is good and true. When God’s qualities lead the way in our lives, evil is cast out. 14
The next sign that follows belief is, “They will speak with new tongues” (Mark 16:17). As we go forth in the name of the Lord, our hearts will be touched by deeper, more tender affections, our minds will expand to receive heavenly truths, and our lips will be opened to share these new affections and perceptions in words that are wonderfully accommodated to those who are ready to receive them. Like the Gadarene man who was delivered from demons (Mark 5:19), we will be eager to “go home to our friends and tell them what great things the Lord has done for us. As it is written in the Hebrew scriptures, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise” (Psalms 51:15). 15
The third sign that follows belief is, “They will take up serpents” (Mark 16:18). In the Word, the term “serpents” refers to hypocrites, cheaters, and deceitful people who appear to be sincere and genuine on the surface but are poisonous serpents at heart. At a more interior level, these words apply to evil spirits who enjoy nothing more than insinuating false ideas that destroy our faith in the Lord and take away our desire to live according to His truths. In the Hebrew scriptures, they are described as having tongues like deadly snakes, and their words are like “the venom of vipers” (Psalms 140:3). However, as long as we are learning truth, living good lives, and are led by the Lord, we will be given the ability to see through the schemes of these deadly serpents and not be taken in by them. Their poisonous words and venomous feelings will not be able to reach us. 16
The fourth sign that follows belief is, “If they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them” (Mark 16:18). In the Word, water represents life-giving truth. A “deadly drink,” however, would be just the opposite. It would be any false teaching that might contaminate our understanding. For example, “Disease is a divine punishment” and “The day of God’s wrath is coming soon” are ideas that can be deadly. The only antidote is to learn the truth and make it our own by living according to it. Whenever we do this, our understanding cannot be polluted by these deadly doctrines. As it is written in the Hebrew scriptures, “They have contaminated the sanctuary. They give perverse interpretations of the Law” (Zechariah 3:4). The Lord, however, offers protection. “I have healed this water,” says the Lord, “Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive” (2 Kings 2:21-22). 17
Finally, the last of the signs that follow belief is, “They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:18). This sign follows the previous four. Once we have been freed of demons, we will speak with new tongues, offering words of truth that can bring comfort and healing. Once we have been protected from the deceitful words of evil spirits and are uncontaminated by false teachings, we will be able to let the Lord’s truth and goodness work through us. Once we have recovered from the spiritual ailments that afflicted us, we will be able to “lay hands on the sick and they will recover.” This means that we must first do our part by acknowledging God and doing the work of repentance. Only then will we be able to help others turn to the Lord so that they may rise above their spiritual sicknesses. In place of their anxieties and uncertainties they will find peace in God and security in the truths that are revealed in His Word. As it is written in the Hebrew scriptures, “I will bring health and healing; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and truth” (Jeremiah 33:6). 18
While these signs are clothed in natural imagery, they contain spiritual lessons. They remind us that the Lord is calling us to work first on the inside before going forth to spread the gospel. Our own demons must first be identified and cast out before we can speak with new tongues. When we are well-established in the truth through living it, we will not be deceived by inner serpents that can destroy our faith, or be led astray by false teachings that can contaminate our understanding. To the extent that we do this, we become spiritual disciples, apostles of the Lord who carry messages that will bless and heal the spiritual lives of others.
Sharing the Gospel
19. Then indeed the Lord, after speaking to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat at the right hand of God.
20. And going out, they preached everywhere, the Lord working with [them] and confirming the Word through signs following after. Amen.
The description of the five signs that follow belief ended with the words, “They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.” In the Word, “hands,” and especially the “right hand,” is a symbol of power. When referring to the Lord, it is a symbol of divine omnipotence. This is the kind of power that is being referred to as this gospel comes to its conclusion. As it is written, “Then indeed the Lord, after speaking to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19). In the language of sacred scripture, this refers to God’s omnipotent power as manifested in His life on earth as Jesus Christ. 19
As the disciples go forth to share the gospel, they will have the power to bring hope and healing to others. This, as we have said, is the power to “lay hands on the sick so that they recover.” However, they will need to remember that such power does not come from them but rather through them. If they remember that everything they do is “in the name of the Lord,” they will be able to do great wonders. As it is written in the final verse of this gospel, “And going forth, they preached everywhere, the Lord working through them, confirming what they said by miraculous signs” (Mark 16:20) 20
Looking Towards Luke and John
As we have tried to show in this study, Matthew focuses primarily on the gradual revelation of Jesus’ divinity, ending with Jesus’ declaration, “All power has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). As we turned the page from the last verse in Matthew to the first verse in Mark, we noted that Mark picks up where Matthew leaves off.
As it is written, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). Jesus is no longer the “son of David, son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). Mark begins with the bold assertion that Jesus is the “Son of God”.
Then, immediately, John the Baptist is on the scene preaching repentance for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4). While every gospel regards repentance as an essential aspect of spiritual development, Mark is the only gospel that begins with repentance within the first few verses (Mark 1:2-10). The first time that Jesus sends out His disciples in this gospel it is written that “they went out and proclaimed that all should repent” (Mark 6:12). While Matthew and Luke also record the sending out of the apostles (Matthew 10:1-42; Luke 10:1-19), Mark is the only gospel that specifically connects the apostolic commission with repentance. 21
Therefore, in the closing episode of Mark, when Jesus rebukes His disciples for their unbelief and hardness of heart, He is reminding them, one last time, that repentance is key. Jesus wants them to repent from the hardness of heart that prevents belief. A hardened heart is like hard, stony ground that cannot receive good seed. Therefore, repentance is necessary. It is through repentance, through recognizing our sins and praying to be delivered from them, that the heart can be softened and made receptive. 22
It can be said, then, that spiritual development begins with a power greater than ourselves, and especially the acceptance of Jesus’ divinity. Once that acknowledgement is made, repentance, which is a main theme in Mark, is possible. Next comes the Gospel According to Luke where the focus will be on the reformation of the understanding. This is the part of us that relates to how we think and what we believe. As human beings, each of us is endowed with the gift of rationality. We can use this gift to either accept or deny the truths that are contained in sacred scripture. We can believe or not believe. The acceptance of these truths and subsequent refinement of our understanding is called reformation. In other words, it is about the “re-formation” of our mind.
The understanding, however, is only one aspect of our fundamental humanity. The other aspect of our humanity is our will. This is not about understanding and intellect, nor is it about faith and belief. It’s about what we love, what we desire, and what we want. Therefore, this aspect of our humanity is called our “will.” Although we cannot reform the will, a new will can be born in us. We can be given new loves, new aspirations, and new desires. This new birth is called regeneration. In the language of sacred scripture, regeneration is about the new birth in us which is also called “being born again” and acquiring “a new heart.”
As we shall see, when the Four Gospels are read and understood in their order and sequence, they reveal the seamless story of our spiritual development — from our earliest awareness of Jesus’ Divinity (Matthew), to our need for repentance (Mark), to the reformation of our understanding (Luke), and finally to the experience of regeneration through the birth and development of a new will (John). 23
The Gospel According to Mark begins with the words “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” As we shall see, this is only the beginning of the gospel, but not the end. There is more to come.
1. Apocalypse Explained 447:5: “Galilee signifies … those who are in the good of life and therefore receive truths. They are in the conjunction of good and truth, and in combat against evils and falsities.” See also Apocalypse Explained 535:3: “The essential thing in heaven is the good of life, which is the same as the good of love to the Lord and the good of charity towards the neighbor. In heaven everyone has perception of truth, intelligence, and wisdom, in accordance with the good of life [that they are in].”
2. Apocalypse Explained 443:5: “Peter, signifies truth and faith, and in the contrary sense, falsity and the absence of faith.” See also Arcana Coelestia 6344:5: “The power which comes from the Lord through faith is meant by the Lord’s words to Peter, “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 16:18-19). These words were addressed to Peter because he represented faith. Also, wherever ‘rock’ occurs in the Word, as Peter is called here, faith is meant in the internal sense.”
3. Apocalypse Revealed 56: “A holy fear is sometimes combined with a reverent trembling of the interior parts of the mind, and sometimes with a standing on end of the hair. It comes over a person when life from the Lord enters in place of one’s own life.”
4. Arcana Coelestia 1468: “All the historical events recorded in the Word are representative and every word carries a spiritual meaning. No other historical details have been brought in, and in no other order, nor expressed in any other words than such as in the internal sense may express these secrets of heaven.” See also Arcana Coelestia 2953: “All things described in the Word are representative, and every single expression carries a spiritual meaning…. Spiritual and celestial things in the Word follow one after another in a perfectly ordered sequence, holding that which is holy within them.”
5. Arcana Coelestia 5268:2-3: “In the Word, the number ‘seven’ signifies both holy and profane things.” See also Apocalypse Revealed 10: “The seven spirits … symbolize all falsities that arise from evil, thus a complete extinguishing of goodness and truth…. This makes apparent that ‘seven,’ which can symbolize either holiness or profanation, also symbolizes completeness and fullness.”
6. Apocalypse Explained 586:1-2: “Demons’ are evil desires … and all spirits that are in the hells are nothing but evil desires.” See also Apocalypse Revealed 458: “The words, “they should not adore demons” refer to those who are in the evils of their own lusts and make one with their like in hell…. In hell, those are called ‘demons’ who are in these same desires. Therefore, ‘to adore demons’ is to make ‘offerings’ to these desires from the love of them…. It follows that anyone who does not search out evils in oneself and shun them as sins against God … becomes a demon after death.”
7. Invitation to the New Church 57: “When people are being regenerated, that is, when they are being conjoined with the Lord, they advance towards this conjunction by means of truth….The Lord then goes to meet these truths by means of good, that is, by means of charity, and adapts this goodness to fit the truths…. The more genuine the truths are, and the more they are multiplied, the more can good … manifest itself through them. Afterwards, the truths do not appear, except insofar as good shines through them.”
8. Brief Summary of New Church Doctrine 111: “The transference of the good of one person to another is impossible. This is because everyone is born in evil, then led into good through regeneration by the Lord. This is brought about by faith in the Lord, and by a life according to His commandments…. Those who conceive regeneration and renewal in any other way know nothing about the human condition. Nor do they know that evil and good are altogether opposite to each other, and that good cannot be implanted except in so far as evil is removed.”
9. True Christian Religion 708: “The fruit of the vine that people will drink anew in the heavenly kingdom signifies heavenly truths.” See also True Christian Religion 621:13: “Spiritual bread is the holiness of love, and spiritual wine is the holiness of faith. Both of these are from the Lord, and both are the Lord. Therefore [in the Holy Supper] there is a conjunction of the Lord with a person, and of a person with the Lord. This conjunction is not with the bread and wine, but with the love and faith in the individual who practices repentance.”
10. Arcana Coelestia 2405:7: “The Lord’s resurrection on the third day in the morning … represents His rising again in the minds of the regenerate every day, and even every moment.”
11. Arcana Coelestia 10392: “The phrase ‘one who believes’ refers to a person who acknowledges the Lord and receives divine truths from Him through the Word. The words ‘one who is baptized’ is a person who is being regenerated by the Lord by means of those truths.” See also Arcana Coelestia 9032:2: “In the internal sense ‘being baptized’ means being regenerated. This means being led into the good of love and charity by means of the truths of faith.”
12. Arcana Coelestia 2335:3: “The Lord is mercy itself and good itself. Mercy itself and good itself can never condemn anyone; but people condemn themselves when they reject goodness.” See also Arcana Coelestia 1032: “People of the church say that without faith and without knowledge of the Lord there is no salvation, and thus He condemns all who are out of the church…. But this is not the case at all…. The mercy of the Lord is infinite and cannot be limited to those few who are within the church. Rather, the Lord’s mercy extends itself to all in the whole world.”
13. Divine Providence 130: “No one is reformed by miracles and signs, because they compel.”
14. True Christian Religion 124: “There is so much power in the Lord’s truth that when demons from hell merely sense that it might be present, they run away, throw themselves down into deep places, and squeeze into underground shelters to hide.” See also Apocalypse Explained 706:14: “The name of the Lord understood spiritually means everything of doctrine out of the Word from the Lord, and ‘demons’ mean falsities of every kind, and these are thus cast out, that is, taken away, by the doctrine out of the Word from the Lord.”
15. Apocalypse Explained 455:22: “The apostles and others after the Lord’s resurrection spoke with new tongues, signifying the confession of the Lord and of the truths of the new church…. Speaking with ‘new tongues’ signifies confessions from the love of truth or zeal.”
16. Arcana Coelestia 9013: “Evils done with deceit are the worst, because deceit is like a poison which infects and destroys with infernal venom, for it goes through the whole mind even to its interior…. But they who are in the faith of truth and in the life of good from the Lord, cannot be injured by the poisons of such, for they are in light from the Lord, in which the deceitful appear like serpents, and their deceits like poisons.” See also Arcana Coelestia 903:5: “But those who are led by the Lord, believing what is true and leading a good life, cannot suffer injury from their poisons…. Their preservation by the Lord is meant by the Lords words to His disciples, ‘These signs will follow those who believe, they will take up serpents.’”
17. Apocalypse Explained 706:14: “The words, ‘they would not be hurt if they drank any deadly thing’ mean that they would not be contaminated by the malice of the hells.” See also Arcana Coelestia 5719: “There are spirits who despise and ridicule what appears in the letter of the Word, and more so what is contained in the spiritual sense there…. They are like toxins which pass into all the veins and arteries and contaminate the whole of the blood.”
18. Apocalypse Explained 706:14: “The words ‘the infirm will become well by the laying on of hands’ refer to the healing of spiritual diseases. These diseases, which are called iniquities are healed by communication and conjunction with heaven, thus with the Lord. The laying on of the hands of the disciples represents communication and conjunction with the Lord, or, in other words, the removal of iniquities by His divine power.” See also 9937:10: “The words “bearing iniquities” signify the removal of sins by the Lord from those who are in good, a removal that is continually being brought about by the Lord.”
19. Divine Providence 263: “The words ‘He sits at the right hand of God’ signify that He [Jesus] is Almighty…. God is one both in Person and in Essence, in whom is a Trinity, and that this God is the Lord [Jesus].” See also Arcana Coelestia 1607:2: “It is to be known that the Lord [Jesus] had power over all things in the heavens and on earth before He came into the world; for He was God from eternity and Jehovah.”
20. Heaven and Hell 230: “It must be known, however, that the angels have no power whatever of themselves, but that all their power is from the Lord; and that they are powers only so far as they acknowledge this. If any of the angels believe that they have power from themselves, they instantly become so weak they are unable to resist able to resist even a single evil spirit. Therefore, angels ascribe no merit whatever to themselves, and are averse to all praise and glory on account of anything they do, ascribing it all to the Lord.”
21. True Christian Religion 510: “The Lord Himself preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins, teaching thereby that repentance is the first thing of the church, and that so far as people repent, their sins are put away…. Still further, the Lord commanded His twelve apostles, and the seventy whom He sent forth, to preach repentance. From all this it is clear that the first thing of the church is repentance.”
22. Spiritual Experiences 3667: “Sins are not remitted unless there is repentance from the heart.” See also True Christian Religion 510: “Acts of repentance are all such things as cause people not to will and consequently not to commit evils, which are sins against God…. Therefore, for repentance to be repentance, and to be effective in a person, it must be a repentance of the will and from that of the thought, and not of the thought only; therefore that it should be actual repentance, and not merely verbal.”
23. Apocalypse Revealed 224: “Everyone who believes in the Lord and practices repentance can be reformed and regenerated.” True Christian Religion 571: “After repentance, next in order comes reformation and regeneration…. Reformation is a state of thought from the understanding, and regeneration is a state of love from the will. When regeneration begins and is progressing, a change takes place in the mind. The mind undergoes a reversal; the love of the will flows into the understanding, acts upon it, and leads it to think in agreement with its love. Consequently, so far as the good of love becomes primary, and the truths of faith secondary, a person is spiritual and is a new creation.”