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Luke 24:13-35 : The Road to Emmaus



13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.

14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.

15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.

16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?

18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass therein these days?

19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:

20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.

21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;

23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.

24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:

26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.

29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.

31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,

34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

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On the Road to Emmaus


By Joe David

Lelio Orsi's painting, Camino de Emaús, is in the National Gallery in London, England.

Each of the four gospels contains a story about Jesus appearing to His disciples after the Sunday morning when they had found the sepulcher empty. For example, see Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-19; Luke 24:13-33; John 20:19-31, and John 21.

In Luke, there’s a story of two disciples walking from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus, a walk of about seven miles. Shortly after they leave the city they are approached by another traveler who has noticed their troubled faces and serious talk and asks them what is troubling them. Walking along together, they ask the stranger, “Haven’t you heard of the troubles in Jerusalem, how the prophet from Galilee, who we hoped would be the one to save Israel, was given up to be crucified? And strange to say, when some of the women went on the third day to anoint His body, they saw angels who told them that he was not there but was risen from the dead.”

On hearing this, the traveler chides them for not believing, and says “Don’t you see that Christ had to suffer these things and to enter into his glory?” The stranger then tells the two disciples many things concerning Jesus, from the books of Moses, and the prophets, in the Old Testament. The two disciples listen with awe, but do not recognize the stranger. At length they arrive at Emmaus. The stranger appears to want to go on when the two stop, but they beg him to stop also, because it’s getting late in the day, and they want to hear more. So they all sit down to share the evening meal, and when the stranger takes up the loaf of bread and breaks it and gives them pieces, their eyes are opened and they recognize Him, and He vanishes.

One can imagine the stunned awe that came over them both as they realized that this was Jesus. They knew He was crucified, and yet He had walked and talked to them for several hours. The women were right! The angels were right! He was alive!

The New Church believes that there are internal meanings to all the stories in the Word of the Lord, the sacred scriptures, and that this internal meaning, within the literal stories about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joshua, Samuel, David, and the rest, and all the sayings of the prophets from Isaiah to Malachi, and the four gospels… this meaning is what makes the Word holy.

So what can we see here in this story? Well, that internal meaning in “Moses and the prophets” is the story of Jesus’ life in the world, from His birth in Bethlehem through all His growing years until His “death” and then His rising. Because Jesus knew that, and had certainly read the Scriptures and understood them internally, He knew for a long time how His earthly life was going to close, and that it was necessary for it to close as had been “written”, in order to save the human race. So He told the two disciples that story as they walked toward Emmaus.

More about that walk... In the Word, any mention of walking is really referring to how we live our lives from day to day. In many stories of the Word, it is said that someone walked with God. It is said that we should walk in His ways and that we should walk the straight and narrow path.

Also in this story we are told that this was a journey of sixty stadia (in the original Greek). Sixty (or other multiples of "six") represents the lifelong work of rejecting the temptations that come from our inborn selfishness. Apocalypse Explained 648. So, this journey to Emmaus means our life’s journey - as a person that is trying to follow the Lord’s teachings and become an angel.

The destination was Emmaus. In the Word any city represents a doctrine, an organized set of truths that we have put in order so that we can live according to them -- our rules of life. See Arcana Coelestia 402. They are not necessarily good, as with Jerusalem or Bethlehem, but can also be evil doctrines, e.g. Sodom or Babylon. My dictionary tells me that the name Emmaus means “hot springs”. Another universal meaning in the Word is that water means truth in its beneficial uses, but can also mean truth twisted into falsity by those in hell, in an opposite sense. See, for example, Arcana Coelestia 790. Think of the wells that Abraham dug, or the waters that Jesus promised to the woman of Samaria as they talked by Jacob’s well, or the pure river of water flowing out from under the throne in the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation. In its converse sense, where water is destructive, think of the flood that destroyed all but Noah and his family, or the Red Sea that had to be parted so that the children of Israel could cross. The springs represented by Emmaus were holy truths bubbling up from the Word for us to use. And these are hot springs, and heat means love. So that's our destination, where truth and love together are flowing out for us to use, in a continual stream from the Lord.

This plain little anecdote about the disciples meeting the Lord on the road to Emmaus isn't just a story about Jesus's resurrection with a spiritual body. It is also a story of how we should be living our lives. We can be traveling toward heaven, listening to the Lord, walking in the way with him, and at the end He will break bread and have supper with us.

From Swedenborg's Works


Arcana Coelestia #6752

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6752. 'And she called his name Moses' means the essential nature of the state then. This is clear from the meaning of 'name' and 'calling the name as the essential nature, dealt with in 144, 145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 2714, 3006, 3421, 6674, at this point the essential nature of a state because when someone's name is mentioned, that particular name used then means the state, 1946, 2643, 3422, 4298. This essential nature of a state that is meant is the nature of the state of the law of God as it was in the beginning with the Lord, and the nature of the state of God's truth as it is in the beginning with a person who is being regenerated. There are two people primarily who represent the Lord with respect to the Word, namely Moses and Elijah. Moses represents the Lord with respect to the historical books, Elijah with respect to the Prophets. In addition to those two there is Elisha, and lastly John the Baptist, who is therefore the one who is meant by 'the Elijah who is to come', Matthew 17:10-13; Luke 1:17. But before one can show that Moses represents the law of God, one must say what the law of God is. In a broad sense God's law means the whole Word; in a narrower sense it means the historical section of the Word; in a restricted sense it means what was written through Moses; and in a very restricted sense it means the Ten Commandments written upon Mount Sinai on tablets of stone. Moses represents the law in the narrower sense as well as in the restricted sense and also in the very restricted.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 144-145, Arcana Coelestia 2724 [1-3])

[2] In a broad sense the Law is the whole Word, both the historical section and the prophetical part. This is clear in John,

We have heard from the Law that the Christ (the Messiah) remains forever. John 12:34.

The fact that 'the Law' here is used to mean the prophetical part as well is self-evident, for this is a reference to what is written in Isaiah 9:6-7; in David, Psalms 110:4; and in Daniel 7:13-14. In the same gospel,

In order that the Word written in the Law might be fulfilled, They hated Me without a cause. John 15:25.

Much the same applies here, for it is a reference to what is written in David, Psalms 35:19. In Matthew,

Truly I say to you, Even until heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one small part of a letter will not pass from the Law till all things are done. Matthew 5:18.

Here 'the Law' in a broad sense stands for the whole Word.

[3] The Law in a narrower sense is the historical section of the Word. This is clear in Matthew,

All things whatever you wish people to do to you, do also to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12.

Here the Word is divided into 'the Law' and 'the Prophets'; and as the Word has been divided into the historical section and the prophetical part, it follows that 'the Law' is used to mean the historical section of the Word, and 'the Prophets' to mean the prophetical part. A similar example occurs in the same gospel,

On these two commandments hang the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 22:40.

And in Luke,

The Law and the Prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God is proclaimed. Luke 16:16; Matthew 11:13.

[4] In a restricted sense the Law is the Word that was written through Moses. This is clear in Moses,

When Moses had finished writing the words of this Law in a book, even until he had completed them, Moses commanded the Levites carrying the ark of Jehovah, saying, Take the book of this Law, and put it at the side of the ark of the covenant of Jehovah your God. Deuteronomy 31:14-26.

'The book of the Law' stands for the Books of Moses. In the same book,

If you do not take care to do all the words of this Law which are written in this book, Jehovah will send 1 upon you every sickness and every plague that is not written in the book of this Law, until you are destroyed. Deuteronomy 28:58, 61.

The meaning is similar here. In David,

In the Law of Jehovah is his delight, and in His Law he meditates day and night. Psalms 1:2.

'The Law of Jehovah' stands for the Books of Moses, for the prophetical books had not yet been written; nor had the historical books apart from the Book of Joshua and the Book of Judges. In addition this restricted meaning of 'the Law' occurs in places containing the expression 'the Law of Moses', which are dealt with immediately below.

(References: Deuteronomy 28:24-26, 31:24-26)

[5] In a very restricted sense the Law is the Ten Commandments written upon Mount Sinai on the tablets of stone, as is well known, see Joshua 8:32. This Law is also called the Testimony, Exodus 25:16, 21.

[6] Moses represents the Law in the narrower sense, which is the historical section of the Word, also the Law in the restricted sense, and in the very restricted sense too. This is clear from those places in the Word in which the name Moses is used instead of the Law, and those in which the Law is called the Law of Moses, as in Luke,

Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them. If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead. Luke 16:29, 31.

Here 'Moses and the Prophets' has the same meaning as 'the Law and the Prophets', which is the historical section and the prophetical part of the Word. From this it is evident that 'Moses' is the Law or historical section of the Word. In the same gospel,

Jesus beginning at Moses and all the prophets explained in all the scriptures the things that concerned Himself. Luke 24:27.

In the same chapter,

All things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me. Luke 24:44.

In John,

Philip said, We have found him of whom Moses wrote in the Law - Jesus. John 1:45.

In the same gospel,

In the Law Moses commanded us. John 8:5.

In Daniel,

The curse and the oath which was written in the Law of Moses the servant of God has come down onto us, because we have sinned against Him. As it is written in the Law of Moses, All this evil has come upon us. Daniel 9:11, 13.

In Joshua,

Joshua wrote on the stone of the altar a copy of the Law of Moses. Joshua 8:32.

[7] The expression 'the Law of Moses' is used because Moses represents the Lord with respect to the Law, that is, the Word, and in a narrower sense the historical section of the Word. This explains why what is the Lord's is ascribed to Moses, as in John,

Moses gave you the Law, Moses gave you circumcision. If a man (homo) receives circumcision on the sabbath, so that the Law of Moses may not be broken... John 7:19, 22-23.

In Mark,

Moses said, Honour your father and your mother. Mark 7:10.

In the same gospel,

Jesus answering said to them, What did Moses command you? They said, Moses permitted him to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away. Mark 10:3-4.

And because what is the Lord's is ascribed to Moses on account of his representation, both 'the Law of Moses' and 'the Law of the Lord' are used in Luke,

When the days of their purification according to the Law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it has been written in the Law of the Lord, that every male opening the womb is to be called holy to the Lord) and to offer a sacrifice according to what has been stated in the Law of the Lord, A pair of turtle doves and two young pigeons. Luke 2:22-24, 39.

[8] Because Moses represented the Law he was allowed to go in to the Lord on Mount Sinai, not only to receive there the tablets containing the Law but also to hear the statutes and judgements belonging to the Law, and to enjoin these commands on the people. It is also said that the people should therefore believe in Moses forever,

Jehovah said to Moses, Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak to you, and also may believe in you forever. Exodus 19:9.

The expression 'in a thick cloud' is used because 'cloud' means the letter of the Word. Here also is the reason why it says, when Moses went in to the Lord on Mount Sinai, that he went 'into the cloud', Exodus 20:21; 14:2, 18; 34:2-5. For the meaning of 'the cloud' as the literal sense of the Word, see the Preface to Genesis 18, and also 4060, 4391, 5922, 6343 (end).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135; Exodus 20:18, 24:2, 24:18, 34:2, 34:5)

[9] And since Moses represented the Law or the Word, it also says that when he came down from Mount Sinai the skin on his face shone whenever he spoke, and so he would put a veil over his face, Exodus 34:28-end. 'The shining of his face' meant the inner spirit of the Law, for this dwells in the light of heaven and is therefore called the glory, 5922. While 'the veil' meant the outward form of the Law. The reason why he veiled his face whenever he spoke to the people was that the inner spirit was concealed from them, and had become so obscure to that people that they could not bear any light from it. For the meaning of 'the face' as that which is internal, see 1999, 2434, 3527, 7577, 4066, 4796-4805, 5102, 5695. Since 'Moses' represented the Lord with respect to the historical section of the Word and 'Elijah' represented the Lord with respect to the prophetical part, Moses and Elijah were therefore seen talking to the Lord at His transfiguration, Matthew 17:3. No others except those who represented the Word could have talked to the Lord when He manifested His Divinity in the world; for talking to the Lord is done through the Word. Regarding Elijah's representation of the Lord with respect to the Word, see 1762, 5247 (end).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2762, 3573; Exodus 34:29-35)

[10] And since these two together, both Moses and Elijah, represented the whole Word, both are mentioned in Malachi where the sending of Elijah before the Lord is referred to,

Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel - the statutes and judgements. Lo, I am sending you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrifying day of Jehovah comes. Malachi 4:4-6.

These words imply that one was to go before who was to announce the [Lord's] Coming, in accordance with the Word.


1. Following the Latin version of Sebastian Schmidt Swedenborg adds a word meaning secretly, which does not represent any word in the Hebrew.

(References: Deuteronomy 31:24-26; Exodus 2:10, Exodus 34:29-35; Malachi 4:4-5)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 6771, 6827, 6864, 6866, 6869, 6943, 6947, 6980, 6996, 7010, 7089, 7104, 7158, 7201, 7215, 7226, 7233, 7244, 7381, 7395, 7463, 7678, 7710, 7721, 7912, 8106, 8127, 8170, 8241, 8351, 8420, 8443, 8444, 8563, 8644, 8668, 8692, 8695, ...

The White Horse 11

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 107, 260

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 36, 63, 64, 204, 222, 272, 277, 329, 392, 735, 746

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