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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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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the first
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first
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day of
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doors
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shut
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disciples
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fear
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jews
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came
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midst
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saith
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peace
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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
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father
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send
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holy
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sins
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remit
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retain
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one
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twelve
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called
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see
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hand
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Put
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believe
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eight
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days
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reach
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my lord
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God
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blessed
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many
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signs
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written
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christ
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son
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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.


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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. 
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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 #130

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

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130. (v. 12) And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write. That this signifies for remembrance to those within the church who are in temptations, is evident from the signification of writing, as being for remembrance (concerning which see Arcana Coelestia, n. 8620); from the signification of angel, as being a recipient of Divine truth, and, in the highest sense, the Divine truth itself proceeding from the Lord (concerning which more will be said in what follows); and from the signification of the church in Pergamos, as being those within the church who are in temptations. That such are meant by the church in Pergamos, is evident from the things written to that church, which follow; for from no other source can it be known what is signified by each of the seven churches. For, as was before shown, by the churches here mentioned are not meant churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea, but all those who belong to the Lord's church, and by each church something which constitutes the church with man. And because the primary things of the church are the knowledges of truth and good and the affection of spiritual truth, therefore the subject first treated of are those things, written to the angel of the church of Ephesus and Smyrna; concerning the knowledges of truth and good to the angel of the church of Ephesus, and concerning the spiritual affection of truth to the angel of the church of Smyrna. And because no one can be infilled with the knowledges of truth and good as to life, and persevere in the spiritual affection of truth, unless he undergoes temptations, therefore the subject now treated of in what is written to the angel of the church in Pergamos is those temptations.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 8620; Revelation 2:12)


[2] It is therefore clear in what order the things taught under the names of the seven churches follow. The reason why it is said, "To the angel of the church, write," and not to the church is, that by angel is signified the Divine truth which constitutes the church; for Divine truth teaches how man is to live that he may become a church. That by angel in the Word, in the spiritual sense, is not meant any angel, but, in the highest sense, the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, and, in a relative sense, he who receives it, is evident from this consideration, that all the angels are recipients of Divine truth from the Lord, and that no angel is of himself an angel; also, that in proportion as he receives Divine truth, in the same proportion he is an angel. For angels know and perceive better than men, that all the good of love and truth of faith are not from themselves, but from the Lord; and, because the good of love and truth of faith constitute their wisdom and intelligence, and these the whole angel, therefore they know and acknowledge that they are only recipients of the Divine proceeding from the Lord, and thus that they are angels in that, degree in which they receive it. This is why they are desirous that the term angels should be understood spiritually, that is, impersonally, and be interpreted as meaning Divine truths.

By Divine truth is meant also Divine good, because they proceed unitedly from the Lord (as may be seen in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 13, 140).

(References: Heaven and Hell 133-140)


[3] Now because Divine truth proceeding from the Lord constitutes an angel, therefore, in the highest sense, in the Word, by angel is meant the Lord Himself, as in Isaiah:

"The angel of the faces of Jehovah liberated them; on account of his love, and his indulgence, he redeemed them; and he bore, and carried them all the days of eternity" (Isa. lxiii. 9).

And in Moses:

"The angel who hath redeemed me from all evil, bless them (Gen. xlviii. 16).

In the same:

"Behold, I send an angel before thee to keep thee in the way; beware of his faces, and obey his voice, for my name is in the midst of him" (Exod. xxiii. 20-23).

(References: Exodus 23:20-23; Genesis 48:16; Isaiah 63:9)


[4] Because the Lord as to Divine truth is called an angel, therefore also Divine truths are meant, in the spiritual sense, by angels, as in the following passages:

"The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend. In the consummation of the age the angels shall go forth, and sever the wicked from among the just" (Matt. xiii. 41, 49).

"And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and shall gather together the elect from the four winds" (Matt. xxiv. 31).

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory" (Matt. xxv. 31).

Jesus said, "Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" (John i. 51).

In these passages, in the spiritual sense, by angels are meant Divine truths, and not angels; as in the foregoing passages, where it is said that, in the consummation of the age, the angels shall gather out all things that offend, shall sever the wicked from the just, that they shall gather together the elect with a great sound of a trumpet from the four winds, and that the Son of man with His angels shall sit upon a throne of glory. It is not meant that the angels will do these things, together with the Lord, but the Lord alone by His Divine truths; for an angel has no power of himself, but all power is from the Lord by means of His Divine truth (see the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 230-233). Similarly by the angels of God seen ascending and descending upon the Son of man is meant, that Divine truths were in Him and from Him.

(References: Heaven and Hell 230-233; John 1:51; Matthew 13:41, 13:49, 24:3, 24:31, 25:31)


[5] By angels also in other places are meant Divine truths proceeding from the Lord, consequently the Lord as to Divine truths, as where it is said, that

to the seven angels were given seven trumpets, and that the angels sounded the trumpets (Apoc. viii. 2, 6-8, 10, 12, 13; ix. 1, 13, 14).

It is said, that to the angels were given trumpets, and that they sounded them, because trumpets and the sound of them signify Divine truth to be revealed (see above, n. 55). Similar things are also meant

by the angels fighting against the dragon (Apoc. xii. 7, 9);

by the angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel (Apoc. xiv. 6);

by the seven angels pouring out the seven vials (Apoc. xvi. 1-4, 8, 10, 12);

by the twelve angels at the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem (Apoc. xxi. 12).

(References: Revelation 8:2, 8:6-8, 8:10, Revelation 8:12-13, Revelation 9:1, 9:13-14, 12:7, 12:9, 14:6, 16:1-4, 16:8, 16:10, 16:12, 21:12; The Apocalypse Explained 55)


[6] That this is the case will also be seen in what follows. That by angels are meant Divine truths from the Lord, is quite clear in David:

Jehovah "maketh his angels winds, and his ministers a flaming fire" (Ps. civ. 4).

By these words are signified Divine truth and Divine good; for the wind of Jehovah in the Word signifies Divine truth, and His fire Divine good. (As is evident from what is shown in Arcana Coelestia, as, that the wind of the nostrils of Jehovah denotes Divine truth, n. 8286; that the four winds denote all things of truth and good, n. 3708, 9642, 9668; that hence to breathe in the Word signifies the state of the life of faith, n. 9280; from which it is evident what is signified by Jehovah breathing into the nostrils of Adam (Gen. ii. 7); by the Lord breathing upon His disciples (John xx. 22): and by these words of the Lord, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, and knowest not whence it cometh" (John iii. 8); concerning which see n. 96, 97, 9229, 9281; and, moreover, n. 1119, 3886, 3887, 3889, 3892, 3893. That flaming fire denotes Divine love, and thence Divine good see in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 133-140, 566, 567, 568; and 7 above, n. 68.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 96-97, Arcana Coelestia 1119, Arcana Coelestia 3708, Arcana Coelestia 3886-3887, 3889, 3892-3893, Arcana Coelestia 8286, Arcana Coelestia 9229, Arcana Coelestia 9281, Arcana Coelestia 9642, 9668, Genesis 2:7; Heaven and Hell 133-140, Heaven and Hell 566-568; John 3:8, 20:22; Psalms 104:4; The Apocalypse Explained 68)


[7] That an angel signifies Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, is quite clear from these words in the Apocalypse:

"He measured the wall" of the New Jerusalem "an hundred and forty-four cubits, the measure of a man, that is, of an angel" (xxi. 17).

That the wall of the New Jerusalem is not the measure of an angel anyone may see; but that the term signifies all truths for defence, which are there meant by angel, is evident from the signification of the wall of Jerusalem, and of the signification of the number one hundred and forty-four. (That a wall signifies all truths for defence, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia n. 6419; that the number one hundred and forty-four signifies all things of truth in the aggregate, n. 7973; that measure signifies the quality of a thing as to truth and good, n. 3104, 9603, 10,262. These things may also be seen explained as to the internal sense in the small work, The New Jerusalem and its Doctrine, n. 1.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 3104, Arcana Coelestia 6419, Arcana Coelestia 7973, Arcana Coelestia 9603, Arcana Coelestia 10262; Revelation 21:17; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 1)


[8] Because by angels in the Word are meant Divine truths, therefore men through whom Divine truths are made known are sometimes called angels, as in Malachi:

"The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth, because he is the angel of Jehovah" (ii. 7).

He is said to be the angel of Jehovah, because he teaches Divine truth; not that he is the angel of Jehovah, but the Divine truth which he teaches is. It is also known in the church that no one has Divine truth from himself. Lips, in the above passage, also signify the doctrine of truth, and law the Divine truth itself. (That lips signify the doctrine of truth may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 1286, 1288, and that the law is the Divine truth itself, n. 3382, 7463.) This also is why John the Baptist is called an angel:

Jesus said, "This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee" (Luke vii. 27).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1286, 1288, Arcana Coelestia 3382, Arcana Coelestia 7463, Genesis 2:7; Luke 7:27; Malachi 2:7; Revelation 8:2, Revelation 8:10, Revelation 8:12-13)


[9] The reason why John is called an angel is, because by him, in the spiritual sense, is signified the Word, which is Divine truth, just as by Elias. (See Arcana Coelestia, n. 7643, 9372; and that what is signified, the same is meant, by a person in the Word, see n. 665, 1097, 1361, 3147, 3670, 3881, 4208, 4281, 4288, 4292, 4307, 4500, 6304, 7048, 7439, 8588, 8788, 8806, 9229.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 665, 1097, Arcana Coelestia 1361, Arcana Coelestia 3147, Arcana Coelestia 3670, Arcana Coelestia 3881, Arcana Coelestia 4208, 4281, 4288, 4292, 4307, 4500, 6304, Arcana Coelestia 7048, 7439, Arcana Coelestia 7643, Arcana Coelestia 8588, Arcana Coelestia 8788, 8806, Arcana Coelestia 9229, Arcana Coelestia 9372; Luke 7:27)


[10] It is said, that by angels in the Word, in the spiritual sense, are meant Divine truths proceeding from the Lord, because these constitute angels, and when angels utter them, they do not speak from themselves but from the Lord. That this is the case, the angels not only know but also perceive. A man who believes that nothing of faith is from himself, but from God, also knows this, but he does not perceive it. That nothing of faith is from man, but all from God, is the same thing as if it were said, that nothing of truth which has life is from man, but from God; for truth has relation to faith, and faith to truth.

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From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 129, 146, 151, 155, 195, 200, 204, 205, 208, 219, 220, 256, 302, 313, 340, 412, 417, 419, 422, 504, 529, 573, 593, 650, 687, 735, 742, 800, 869, 888, 928, 1092, 1182

Other New Christian Commentary

Divine Truth 1


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


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