The Bible


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 #9416

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9416. 'And I will give you tablets of stone' means the book of the law, or the Word in its entirety. This is clear from the meaning of 'tablets' as objects on which matters of doctrine and life have been inscribed, in this instance matters of heavenly doctrine and of life in keeping with it. The reason why those tablets mean the book of the law or the Word in its entirety is that the things which had been inscribed on them contained in a general way all matters of life and of that heavenly doctrine. This also explains why the things inscribed on them are called the ten words, Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 10:4. For 'ten' in the internal sense means all, and 'words' means truths that are matters of doctrine and forms of good that are matters of life. For the meaning of 'ten' as all, see 3107, 4638, 8468, 8540, and for that of 'words' as truths and forms of good that are matters of life and doctrine, 1288, 4692, 5272. This is why those tablets mean the Word in its entirety, just as the Law does, which in a restricted sense means the things which had been inscribed on those tablets, in a less restricted sense the Word that was written through Moses, in a broad sense the historical section of the Word, and in the broadest sense the Word in its entirety, see what has been shown in 6752. Furthermore the things which had been inscribed on those tablets belonged to the first stage in the revelation of Divine Truth; they were also declared in actual words uttered by the Lord before all the Israelite people. What belongs to the first stage means all the rest in their proper order; and the fact that those things were declared in actual words uttered by the Lord means direct Divine inspiration in all other stages of revelation as well. The reason why those tablets were made of stone was that 'stone' means truth, 643, 1298, 3720, 6426, the lowest levels of truth, to be exact, 8609. The lowest levels of God's truth constitute the letter of the Word as it exists on this planet, 9360.

(References: Genesis 15:6, Genesis 15:8; Matthew 8:11)

[2] There was not one tablet but two, to represent the joining of the Lord to the Church through the Word, and through the Church to the human race. This also is why they are called the tablets of the covenant, Deuteronomy 9:9, 11, 15, and why the words inscribed on them are called the words of the covenant, Exodus 34:27-28, also the covenant, Deuteronomy 4:13, 23. And the ark itself in which the tablets had been deposited was called the ark of the covenant, Numbers 10:33; 14:44; Deuteronomy 10:8; 31:9, 25-26; Joshua 3:3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17; 4:7, 9, 18; 6:6, 8; 8:33; Judges 20:27; 1 Samuel 4:3-5; 2 Samuel 15:24; 1 Kings 3:15; 6:19; 8:1, 6; Jeremiah 3:16. For a covenant is a joining together, 665, 666, 1023, 1038, 1864, 1996, 2003, 2021, 6804, 8767, 8778, 9396. This explains why those tablets were divided from each other yet were joined together by being laid alongside each other. The writing on them ran across continuously from one tablet onto the other, like the writing on a single tablet. It was not, as people ordinarily think, that some commandments were written on one tablet and some on the other. For a single object divided in two, and the two parts then brought together or given each to the other, means the Lord and man joined together. The establishment of covenants was therefore accomplished in similar ways, that with Abraham for example by parting down the middle a heifer, she-goat, and ram, and laying each part opposite the other, Genesis 15:9-12; in verses 6 and 8 of the present chapter by putting blood in bowls and then sprinkling it half over the altar and half over the people; and generally in all sacrifices by burning one part on the altar and giving the other part to the people to eat. The like was also represented by the Lord when He broke bread, Matthew 14:19; 15:36; 26:26; Mark 6:41; 8:6; 14:22; Luke 9:16; 22:19; 24:30-31, 35. Here also is the reason why 'two' in the Word means things joined together, 5194, 8423, here the Lord and heaven, or the Lord and the Church, joined together, thus also goodness and truth joined together, which is called the heavenly marriage. From all this it becomes clear why it is that there were two tablets and that both sides of them were written on, from edge to edge, Exodus 32:15-16.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 665-666, Genesis 15:6, 15:8; Luke 24:30)

[3] Furthermore when the writing and engraving on tablets is mentioned in the Word it means those things that must be imprinted in people's memory and on their life, and so remain there, as in Isaiah,

Write it on a tablet among them, and express it in a book, 1 so that it may be for time to come forever, even to eternity. Isaiah 30:8.

In Jeremiah,

The sin of Judah has been written with a pen of iron; with a point of diamond it has been engraved on the tablet of their heart, and at the horns of your altars. Jeremiah 17:1.

In Habakkuk,

Jehovah said, Write the vision, and make it plain on tablets, that one running by may read it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; if it tarries, wait for it, because it will surely come. Habakkuk 2:2-3.


1. literally, on a book (i.e. on a scroll)

(References: Exodus 24:12)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 9503, 9841, 10300, 10371, 10375, 10376, 10451, 10452, 10687

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 222, 700

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