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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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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fear
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midst
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saith
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hands
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remit
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retain
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one
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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.


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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!

From Swedenborg's Works

Apocalypse Explained #102

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

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102. And for my name's sake hast laboured. That this signifies acknowledgment of the Lord, and of the knowledges (cognitiones) of truth which have regard to Him, is evident from the signification of the name of Jehovah, or of the Lord, as being, in the highest sense, His Divine Human (concerning which see Arcana Coelestia, n. 2628, 6887), and in the relative sense, all things of love and of faith by which the Lord is worshipped, because these are Divine things which proceed from His Divine Human (Arcana Coelestia, n. 2724, 3006, 6674, 9310). This is evident also from the signification of labouring as being earnest application of the mind, and study in order that those things may be known and acknowledged; for this is signified by labouring, when it is said of those who study the knowledges (cognitiones) of truth and good. From these considerations it follows, that by "and for my name's sake hast laboured," is signified acknowledgment of the Lord, and of the knowledges (cognitiones) which have regard to Him. The knowledges (cognitiones) which have regard to the Lord, are all those things which belong to love and faith.

In many passages of the Word, it is said, "for the sake of the name of Jehovah," "for the sake of the name of the Lord," "for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ," and that the name of God should be hallowed, and similar expressions. Those who do not think beyond the sense of the letter are of opinion, that in these passages name alone is understood: but this is not so, but everything by which the Lord is worshipped, everything which has relation to love and faith. Hence by the name of the Lord in the Word, are meant all things of love and of faith by which He is worshipped, but, in this case, the acknowledgment of the Lord, and of the knowledges (cognitiones) of truth which have regard to Him, because this is said to those only who study those knowledges (cognitiones).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2628, 2724, Arcana Coelestia 3006, Arcana Coelestia 6674, Arcana Coelestia 6887, Arcana Coelestia 9310; Revelation 2:3)


[2] The reason why by the name of Jehovah, or of the Lord, is not meant the name itself, but everything of love and faith, is found in the spiritual world. In that world, the names used on earth are not enunciated, but the names of the persons spoken of are formed from the idea of all those things that are known about them, which things are summed up in one expression. Such is the enunciation of names in the spiritual world; this is why names in that world, as well as all other things, are spiritual. Nor are the names of the Lord and of Jesus Christ uttered there as on earth, but, instead of them, a name is formed from the idea of all those things that are known and believed concerning Him, which idea is derived from everything of love and of faith in Him. The reason is, that these things in the aggregate are the Lord with them; for the Lord is present with every one in the goods of love and of faith that are from Him. This being the case, the character of every one as to his love and faith in the Lord is there immediately known, merely from his enouncing in a spiritual expression, or a spiritual name, "the Lord" or "Jesus Christ." This is why those who have no love or faith towards Him, cannot utter His name, that is, they cannot form any spiritual name of Him. From these considerations it is now clear why it is that by the name of Jehovah, of the Lord, or of Jesus Christ, in the Word, is not meant the name, but the all of love and of faith by which He is worshipped.

[3] Lest, therefore, the opinion entertained by many should prevail, that the name alone of Jesus Christ, without love and faith in Him, thus without the knowledges (cognitiones) by which love and faith exist, contributes something to salvation, I adduce herewith a few passages from the Word in which the above-mentioned expressions are found, from which those who think more deeply may see that name alone is not meant. Thus in the following:

"Jesus said, Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake" (Matt. x. 22: xxiv. 9, 10.)

"Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. xviii. 20).

"As many as received him, to them gave be power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name" (John i. 12).

"When Jesus was in Jerusalem, many believed in his name" (John ii. 23).

"He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God" (John iii. 18).

"These things 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" (John xx. 31).

"Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord (Matt. xxi. 9; xxiii. 39; Luke xiii. 35; xix. 38).

"And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundred fold, and shall inherit life everlasting" (Matt. xix. 29).

(What is here signified by houses, brethren, sisters, father, mother, wife, children, and lands, which are to be left for the sake of the name of the Lord, may be seen in Arcana Coelestia, n. 10,490.)

"Jesus said, Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will do it" (John xiv. 13, 14);

here "to ask in my name," is to ask from love and faith.

"Many shall come in my name, saying, I am: go ye not therefore after them" (Luke xxi. 8; Mark xiii. 6);

by these "coming in the name of the Lord" and saying "I am" denotes to preach false doctrines and declare that they are true, and thus lead astray. The same is signified by these words in Matthew:

"Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many" (xxiv. 5, 11, 23-27);

for by Jesus is meant the Lord as to Divine good, and by Christ, the Lord as to Divine truth (Arcana Coelestia, n. 3004, 3005, 3009, 5502), and by not being Christ, is signified, not Divine truth, but falsity.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 3004-3005, Arcana Coelestia 3009, Arcana Coelestia 5502, Arcana Coelestia 10490; John 1:12, 2:23, 3:17-18, 3:18, John 14:13-14, 20:31; Luke 13:35, 19:35, Luke 19:38, 21:8; Mark 13:6; Matthew 10:22, Matthew 18:20, 19:29, 21:9, 23:39, 24:5, 24:9-10, 24:11, 24:23-27)


[4] In the Old Testament, the name of Jehovah has a signification similar to that of the name of the Lord, because Jehovah, in the Old Testament, is the Lord. Thus it is said in Isaiah:

"And in that day shall ye say, Confess ye to Jehovah, call upon his name" (xii. 4).

Again:

"O Jehovah, we have waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. By thee only will we make mention of thy name" (xxvi. 8, 13).

Again:

"From the rising of the sun shall my name be called upon" (xli. 25).

And in Malachi:

"From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the nations: and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering; for my name shall be great among the nations" (i. 11).

And in Isaiah:

"Every one that is called by my name, I have created him for my glory; I have formed him; yea, I have made him " (xliii. 7). And in Micah:

"All people walk in the name of their God, and we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God" (iv. 5).

And in Moses:

"Thou shalt not take the name of thy God in vain for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain" (Deut. v. 11).

Again:

"Jehovah separated the Levites, that they should minister and bless in the name of Jehovah" (Deut. x. 8).

Again:

"They shall worship Jehovah in one place, where he shall place his name" (Deut. xii. 5, 11, 13, 14, 18, 26; xvi. 2, 6, 11, 15, 16).

"Where he shall place his name," denotes where there shall be worship from the good of love and the truths of faith. This was done at Jerusalem, and therefore by Jerusalem is signified the church as to doctrine and worship (as may be seen in the small work, The New Jerusalem and its Doctrine, n, 6).

(References: Deuteronomy 5:11, 10:8, 12:5, 12:11, 12:13-14, 12:18, 12:26, 16:2, 16:6, 16:11, 16:15-16; Isaiah 12:4, 26:8, 26:13, 41:25, Isaiah 43:7; Malachi 1:11; Micah 4:5; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 6)


[5] Because by the name of Jehovah, or of the Lord, in the spiritual sense, is signified all worship from the good of love and the truths of faith, therefore, in the highest sense, by the name of Jehovah is meant the Lord as to the Divine Human, because from His Divine Human proceeds the all of love and of faith. That the Lord, in the highest sense, is meant by the name of Jehovah, is clear in John:

"Jesus said, Father, glorify thy name. A voice came from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again" (xii. 28).

And in Isaiah:

"I will give thee for a covenant to the people, for a light of the Gentiles. I am Jehovah, that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another" (xlii. 6, 8).

The coming of the Lord is here treated of. In Jeremiah:

"Behold the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign, and this is his name whereby he shall be called, Jehovah, our righteousness" (xxiii. 5, 6).

Hence it is clear that in the Lord's Prayer the words "hallowed be thy name" (Matt. vi. 9) mean, that the Divine Human of the Lord is to be regarded as holy, and to be worshipped.

(References: Isaiah 42:6, 42:8; Jeremiah 23:5-6; John 12:28; Matthew 6:9)


[6] Because the name of the Lord signifies such things, it is evident what is meant by the following passages.

In John:

"The shepherd of the sheep calleth his own sheep by name" (x. 3).

In Luke:

"Rejoice because your names are written in heaven (x. 20).

And in the Apocalypse:

"Thou hast a few names in Sardis" (iii. 4).

He who does not know what name signifies in the Word cannot possibly know how these words are to be understood in Matthew:

"He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man's reward; and whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward" (x. 41, 42).

To receive a prophet in the name of a prophet, a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, and to give drink in the name of a disciple, signifies to love truth for the sake of truth, good for the sake of good, and to exercise charity from the faith of truth. For by a prophet is signified truth, by a righteous man is signified good, and by a disciple is signified good from truth; and to give to drink of cold water is to exercise charity from obedience; in their name denotes for the sake of their quality, thus for the sake of those things. Who could ever understand these things, unless it were known what name signifies? To love and to do truth for the sake of truth, and good for the sake of good, is to be affected with truth and good for their own sake, and not for the sake of one's own fame, honour, and gain. The former affection of truth and good is an affection truly spiritual; but the affection of truth and good for the sake of one's own fame, honour, and gain, is an affection merely natural. And because those who love truth and good for their own sake, or because they are truth and good, are in the spiritual affection of truth and good, it is therefore said, that they shall receive the reward of a prophet and of a righteous man; by which is meant, that they are in the spiritual affection of truth and good, this affection having its reward in itself, because it has heaven in itself. (That the happiness of heaven is in the affection of loving and doing truth and good without regarding reward as an end, thus for the sake of truth and good, may be seen in Arcana Coelestia, n. 6388, 6478, 9174, 9984. That a prophet signifies one who teaches truth, thus also, abstractedly, the truth which is taught, see n. 2534, 7269. That a righteous man signifies the good of love to the Lord, n. 2235, 9857. That a disciple signifies good from truth, which is the good of charity, n. 2129, 3354, 3488, 3858, 6397. That to give to drink is to instruct in the goods and truths of faith, and thus to exercise charity, n. 3069, 3772, 4017, 4018, 8562, 9412; and that name signifies the quality of a thing, n. 144, 145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 3237; hence the name of Jehovah, or of the Lord, signifies all the quality by which He is worshipped, n. 2724, 3006, 6674, 9310.)

(References: John 10:3; Luke 10:20; Matthew 10:41-42; Revelation 3:4)


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From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 94, 122, 135, 148, 151, 175, 205, 224, 295, 313, 340, 383, 411, 453, 532, 676, 695, 696, 778, 798, 841, 892, 943, 1039, 1046, 1098

Other New Christian Commentary

Name of the Lord 1

Resources for parents and teachers

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 The Lord's Names
The Lord's names reveal aspects of His qualities. We can be linked to Him through baptism in His name.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17


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


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