The Bible

John 20:19-31 : Christ Appears to the Disciples in an Upper Room, and Doubting Thomas

Study the Inner Meaning

19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

27 Then saith he to Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 96, 2397, 2628, 2724, 2798, 2921, 3006, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 12, 81, 343, 520, 618, 839, 962

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 32, 120

Divine Love and Wisdom 383

Divine Providence 230, 324

The Lord 19, 20, 35, 41, 51

Faith 10

Heaven and Hell 287, 461

True Christian Religion 140, 146, 153, 188, 298, 303, 337, ...

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 286


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 53, 102, 130, 183, 254, 365, 419, ...

Canons of the New Church 39, 43

Divine Wisdom 6

Miracles and Signs 18

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 5, 14, 64

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



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Evening
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the first
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first
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day of
'Day of vengeance' signifies a state of damnation.

Week
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doors
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shut
There are only a couple of references in the Writings to "close" used as a verb, and both stem from Amos 9:11, which talks about...

disciples
When we read the Gospels and see Jesus addressing the disciples, we assume His words are meant for us as well. And indeed they are!...

fear
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jews
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came
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midst
The "midst" of something in the Bible represents the thing that is most central and most important to the spiritual state being described, the motivation...

saith
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...

peace
In ordinary life, we tend to think of "peace" as essentially "a lack of conflict." As a nation, if we're not at war, it's a...

hands
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Side
'Side' signifies good or spiritual love.

Glad
To make glad signifies influx and reception from joy of heart.

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

father
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send
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holy
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sins
'Bound up transgressions,' as in Lamentations 1:14, stands for falsities coming up towards interior or rational things.

remit
'To forgive seven times' signifies forgiving at all times.

retain
'To hold fast' signifies permanence in a state of good of love and faith up to the visitation.

one
A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

twelve
'Twelve' and 'twenty-four' signify everything, and refer to truths.

called
To call someone or summon someone in the Bible represents a desire for conjunction between higher and lower states of life. For instance, imagine someone...

see
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

hand
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Put
'To put' has reference to order, arrangement, application, and influx.

believe
The meaning of "believe" in the Bible is pretty straightforward, but runs deeper than what appears on the surface. When in the Old Testament people...

eight
According to Swedenborg, the number eight represents something that is complete within itself, in every respect. Two reasons are offered for this. First, eight is...

days
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reach
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my lord
Characters in the Bible will often address others using the term “my lord,” and it seems to be no more than an expression of respect....

God
The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

blessed
The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

many
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signs
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written
If knowing what’s right were the same as doing what’s right, we would all be thin, healthy, hard-working, law-abiding, faithful to our spouses and free...

Book
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Might
'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

christ
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son
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son of god
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life
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name
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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.


 Compare the Easter Story in 4 Gospels
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 Crucifixion Prophecies Fulfilled
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Religion Lesson | Ages 8 - 9

 Death and Resurrection
There is an old saying that no one can get out of this world alive! We must all die, and, sad as that eventuality may seem at the time, the only way we can make sense of it is by believing the Lord's words: those who believe in Him can never die. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

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Color and assemble a diorama showing Mary looking into the tomb and seeing the two angels. 
Project | Ages 7 - 14

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Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

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Make a miniature garden scene to illustrate the Easter story in the gospel of John.
Project | Ages over 7

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Read the story in the gospel of John (20:1-16) about Mary Magdalene seeing the Lord. Use the discussion questions to talk about this story. 
Religion Lesson | All Ages

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Project | Ages 4 - 10

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Think about the development of your faith and how it might relate to the disciple, Thomas.
Activity | Ages over 15

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Heavenly peace transcends every idea of earthly happiness.
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 Prayers for Adults: Joy Comes in the Morning
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 Quotes: Joy Comes in the Morning
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 The Easter Story in John
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Color the picture of the disciples and then insert the Lord through a slit in the page into their midst.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

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Commentary

Two Meetings in Jerusalem after the Resurrection

By Joe David

The risen Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room. 22.4.2010: Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Emilio Romagna, Italy.

Late on the first Easter Sunday, after the Lord had risen from the sepulcher, ten of the disciples gathered for the evening in the upper room of a house in Jerusalem (John 20). They were afraid and probably confused. Since their leader had been crucified by the Roman power, as organized by their own Jewish leaders, they feared that now his followers might also be hunted down and punished. They closed and locked the doors. Were any of the women there? The story does not say, but Peter and John were, who saw and talked with the angels that morning, and the stories of the women were known. Some time must have been spent wondering and perhaps arguing - was He really alive? How could they know it was really Him? This kind of thing, coming back to life after you’re dead, this doesn’t happen in this real world, there must be some mistake!

Then two of the followers, not of the twelve, but the two that had gone to the village of Emmaus, came in, excited and bursting with their news. They had seen Him! They had walked with Him for seven miles and He had told them wondrous things! They had only recognized Him when He broke bread and ate with them. "Don’t doubt us, it really was Jesus!"

And then as they all talked and argued, there He was, standing with them in the room. "Peace be unto you," He said, and He showed them His hands and feet and His side, where he was wounded. He calmed them, and told them that just as he had come down to mankind, so they must go out and teach to all people all the true things that He had taught in the years He was with them.

It was these truths about how to live one’s life that were saving, not the disciples themselves. These saving truths have the power to remit or retain sins, because they were from the Lord, the disciples only transmitted them from the Lord to those who would listen and take them to heart. Then He breathed on them - representing His holy spirit - so that they would not only want to pass these truths on to people, but would also be given the words to say whenever the times came. And then He was gone again.

Thomas was not there that night. We don’t know why. And Thomas, when he heard the story, just could not swallow it. "Except I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe", he said. (John 20:25.)

The next verse tells us that the next Sunday they gathered again, and that Thomas was present this time. As before, the Lord was suddenly there, saying again, "Peace be unto you", and then directly to Thomas, "Reach hither thy finger… and reach hither thy hand… and be not faithless but believing". Now Thomas's response was, "my Lord and my God". It seems as if the Lord came this time just to convince Thomas, because it was Thomas who needed Him.

I think He does work this way. I am reminded of another story, from the gospel of Mark (Mark 9:17-27) where a father comes to Jesus with a young son who is possessed by a devil, and asks Jesus to cure him, and is asked in turn: "Do you believe I can do this?" In Mark 9:24 the father responds. Crying out, he said with tears, "I believe, help thou my unbelief."

I think many people have this conflict between lingering doubts and a desire to have the doubts taken away. If we carry on and make our decisions in life as if the doubts were indeed gone, then indeed they will lose their strength and actually will be gone.

These are the only details given of these two meetings in Jerusalem. Chronologically the next post-Easter stories are the ones that take place in Galilee.

John does go on to say at the end of his gospel "...many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples which are not written in this book. But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God...." (John 20:30-31). Perhaps there were more post-Easter stories that weren't written down, but the ones we do have are strong. For the disciples who were involved, there was an unstoppable impact from the life and teachings of the Lord, and His crucifixion, and physical death, and now - in these stories - His resurrection. Hearing the Lord's charges to them, these Galilean fishermen and their colleagues launch out into the wide world, and work to achieve the Great Commission, enduring hardships and persecution, and succeeding - probably beyond their wildest dreams!

Commentary

Christ

Previous Word Next Word

Christ is one of the names of the Lord. It derives from Greek, and means "the anointed one," a King or Messiah. Christ as King brings to mind the infinite Divine truth, while Jesus as savior brings to mind the infinite Divine mercy and love. Together they mean both of these qualities conjoined, and so bring to mind the very essence of the Lord.

(References: Apocalypse Revealed 520 [1,2,3]; Arcana Coelestia 1999 [2], 3004, 3005, 3006; True Christian Religion 298)


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