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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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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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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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 #419

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)      

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419. That the wind should not blow.- That this signifies lest the good should be hurt, and the evil rejected before the day, is evident from the signification of wind as denoting the proceeding Divine, which is the Divine Good united with the Divine Truth; therefore, that "the wind should not blow," signifies that it might flow in softly and gently. "That that wind should not blow upon the earth" signifies that the good should not be injured, and the evil rejected before the day, for the reason that separations of the good from the evil, and castings out of the evil, in the spiritual world, are effected by various degrees of modification and of intensity of the Divine which proceeds from the Lord as the Sun. When this flows in gently, then the good are separated from the evil; and when powerfully, the evil are rejected. The reason for this is that when the Divine from the Lord flows in gently, there is everywhere a state of calm and serenity, in which every one appears such as he is as to the state of his good, for then every one stands forth in the light; wherefore, those who are in good from a spiritual origin are then separated from those who are in good from a natural origin only; for the Lord looks upon those who are in spiritual good, leads them, and thus separates them. Those who are in good from a spiritual origin, are they of whom it is afterwards said, that they are sealed upon their foreheads, for they are spiritual, and angels of heaven; but those who are in good from a natural origin only, are not good, because they are not spiritual, for the good which they seem to have is evil, because it regards itself and the world as an end. They do good in an external form for their own glory, honour, and gain, and not for their neighbour's good; and, therefore, they do good only to gain the respect of men. The merely natural are those who are not sealed, and who are afterwards rejected. But when the Divine from the Lord flows in powerfully, then the goods which the evil have are dissipated, because in themselves they are not goods, but evils, and evils cannot sustain the influx of the Divine; therefore it comes to pass, that their exteriors are closed, and this being the case, their interiors are opened, in which there is nothing but evils and the falsities thence; and so they come into grief, anguish, and torment, and, on account of these, cast themselves down into the hells, where there are similar evils and falsities.

(References: Revelation 7:1)

[2] When the influx of the Divine is intensified, which is the case when the evil are to be removed, then lower down in the spiritual world there arises a strong wind, like a storm or tempest; this wind is what is called in the Word the east wind, which we shall also speak of presently. Hence also the casting down of the evil is described in the Word by strong and impetuous winds, by storms and tempests. By the wind of Jehovah is signified the same as by the spirit of Jehovah, for the wind of respiration is meant, which is also called breath; therefore in the Hebrew tongue, and in many other languages, spirit and wind are expressed by the same word. This is the reason why the greater part of men have no other idea of spirit and of spirits, than as of wind, such as the wind of respiration; and so the opinion prevails in the learned world also that spirits and angels are like wind, possessing only the power of thought. This also is the reason why few suffer themselves to be convinced that spirits and angels are men, possessing a body, face, and organs of sensation, like men in this world. The reason why by wind and breath, when used in reference to man, is signified the life of truth, or a life according to the truths or precepts of the Lord, is that respiration, which is the function of the lungs, corresponds to that life, while the heart and its motion correspond to the life of good; for there are two lives, which make one in man, the life of truth, and the life of good. The life of truth is the life of his understanding, but the life of good is the life of his will; for truths reside in the understanding, because they constitute the understanding, but goods reside in the will, because they constitute the will. The same is signified in the Word by the soul and heart, when they are mentioned together.

[3] From these considerations it is evident that the wind and spirit of Jehovah mean the Divine Truth; and the four winds, the Divine Truth united with Divine Good. Since wind means the wind or breath of respiration, which signifies Divine Truth and spiritual life in those who receive it therefore that wind is also called the breath of the nostrils of Jehovah, the breath of his mouth, and respiration, as is evident from the following passages.

In Ezekiel:

"I beheld, and sinews and flesh came up" upon the dry bones, "and the skin covered them above, but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit, Thus saith the Lord Jehovih; Come from the four winds, O spirit, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live" (xxxvii. 8, 9).

It was shewn in the preceding article, that dry bones here denote those in whom there is no spiritual life, or in whom there is not any life by means of the Divine Truth. The inbreathing of it by the Lord, is signified by, "Prophesy unto the spirit, and say to the spirit, Come from the four winds, O spirit, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live." It is evident that by the spirit here named is meant the spirit of respiration, for there were nerves, flesh, and skin, but as yet there was no respiration; therefore it is said, "Say unto the spirit, Breathe upon these." Hence it is evident that spirit or wind signifies spiritual life. That common respiration is not meant, is plain from the fact that it is said, that those dry bones were the house of Israel, that is, that it was destitute of spiritual life; and from its being afterwards said of them, "I will put my spirit in you, that ye may live, and I will place you in your own land" (Ezek. xxxvii. 14); which signifies that they were to be regenerated in order that a church might be formed from them. Regeneration is effected by a life according to Divine Truth, from which there is spiritual life; and to be placed in their own land, signifies to become a church, the land of Canaan signifying the church.

(References: Ezekiel 37:8-9, 37:14)

[4] In Moses:

Jehovah "breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives, and man became a living soul" (Gen. ii. 7).

Here also, in the sense of the letter, is meant the wind of respiration, since it is said he breathed into his nostrils; but that spiritual life is meant, which is the life of intelligence and wisdom by means of Divine Truth, is evident from its being said that He breathed the breath of lives, and that man thus became a living soul. The breath of lives and living soul denote spiritual life; for, without this soul man is called dead, although he lives so far as the body and the senses are concerned. It is therefore plain that soul, spirit, and wind, in the Word, mean spiritual life.

(References: Genesis 2:7)

[5] In John:

Jesus said to the disciples, "Peace be unto you; as the Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit" (xx. 21, 22).

By the Lord's breathing and saying to them, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit," is signified the same as by Jehovah breathing into Adam's nostrils the breath of lives, which means spiritual life; for the Holy Spirit signifies Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord, from which arises spiritual life. That they should teach this from the Lord, is signified by these words: "As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you." For the Lord when in the world was the Divine Truth itself, which He taught from His Divine Good which was in Him from conception. This Divine is what the Lord here and in other places calls the Father; and because, when He went out of the world, He united Divine Truth with Divine Good, in order that they might be one in Himself, and as the Divine Truth then proceeded from Him, He therefore said, "As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you." That the wind of respiration signifies spiritual life, and this from correspondence, may be seen in Arcana Coelestia (n. 3883-3896). All who are in the spiritual world also are known as to their quality from their respiration alone. Those who are in the life of the respiration of heaven, are amongst the angels; but those who are not in that respiration, cannot breathe if they come into heaven, and so they suffer pain as though from suffocation. Concerning this fact, see Arcana Coelestia (n. 1119, 3887, 3889, 3892, 3893). It is in agreement with this correspondence that the term inspiration is used, that the prophets are said to be inspired, and the Word divinely inspired.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1119, 3883-3896, 3887, 3889, 3892-3893; John 20:21-22)

[6] From these observations the signification of these words of the Lord in John is evident:

"Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the spirit" (iii. 5, 7, 8).

To be born again means to be regenerated; and because man is regenerated by a life according to Divine Truth, and all Divine Truth by which he is regenerated proceeds from the Lord, and flows into man without his knowledge, it is therefore said, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth." Thus is described the life of the spirit of man, which he has by regeneration; wind denoting the Divine Truth, by which that life is acquired. Man during his abode in the world, does not at all know how this flows in from the Lord, for he then thinks from his natural man, and has a faint perception only of anything which flows from the spiritual man into the natural, therefore this is what is meant by "Thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth." The water of which man is born signifies truth from the Word, and the spirit a life according to it.

(References: John 2:5, 2:7-8, 3:5, John 3:7-8, 3:8; The Apocalypse Explained 71)

[7] That water signifies truth, may be seen above (n. 71).

In Lamentations:

"The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of Jehovah, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the nations" (iv. 20).

By the anointed of Jehovah is here meant the Lord as the Divine Truth, for the anointed of Jehovah signifies the same as king. That a king in the highest sense signifies the Lord as to Divine Truth, may be seen above (n. 31), and that the anointed of Jehovah signifies the same, see above (n. 375). Hence it is said, "the breath of our nostrils, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live;" for breath and wind of the nostrils, in the highest sense, signify the Divine Truth, as said above. That the Divine Truth perished by means of the falsities of evil, is signified by being taken in their pits, pits denoting the falsities of evil.

(References: Lamentations 4:20; The Apocalypse Explained 31, The Apocalypse Explained 375)

[8] Again, in Lamentations:

"Thou hast heard my voice," Jehovah "hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry" (iii. 56).

"To hide thine ear at my breathing, at my cry," signifies, in regard to worship, confession, and prayers, which are from truths and goods, for all worship, confession, and prayer must be from both truths and goods, in order to be heard. If from truths alone, they are not heard, because there is no life in them, for the life of truth is from good. Breathing is there spoken of truths, and cry, of goods. That cry is spoken of goods will be seen elsewhere.

(References: Genesis 7:22; Lamentations 3:56)

[9] Again, in Moses:

"All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of lives, of all that was upon the dry land, died" (Gen. vii. 22).

Every one can see that these words in the sense of the letter mean, that every thing upon the earth was destroyed by the flood, thus all men, except Noah and his sons; but what they signify in the spiritual sense, may be seen in the Arcana Coelestia (n. 805, 806), where it is shewn that by the breath of the spirit of lives in the nostrils is meant spiritual life, such as the men of the Most Ancient Church had; for the flood signifies the end of that church and a last judgment, which took place at the time when everything of the church had become extinct.

So in David:

"They have ears, but they hear not; yea, there is no breath in their mouth" (Psalm cxxxv. 17).

No breath in their mouth, signifies that there was no truth in their thought, for mouth signifies thought.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 805-806, Genesis 7:22; Psalms 135:17)

[10] Again, in Jeremiah:

"And the wild asses breathed out the wind like whales; their eyes are consumed because there is no herb" (xiv. 5, 6).

To breathe out the wind like whales, signifies, that no truth was granted them; and "because there is no herb," denotes that there was no truth in the church. Since the evil are cast down by a more vehement influx of Divine Truth and Good, proceeding from the Lord as the Sun, as stated above, therefore, also, the casting down of those who are in the falsities of evil is described by the breath of the nostrils of Jehovah; as in Isaiah:

"For Tophet is prepared of old; the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of Jehovah like a stream of brimstone doth kindle them" (xxx. 33).

In David:

"The channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at the rebuke of Jehovah, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils" (Psalm xviii. 15).

In Moses:

"And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were heaped up together. Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them" (Exod. xv. 8, 10).

And in Job:

"They that plough iniquity, by the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed" (iv. 8, 9).

By the blast, breath, and breathing of the nostrils of Jehovah, is meant the proceeding Divine, by which the evil are dispersed and cast down, when it flows in strongly and with intensity. But this influx will be spoken of in what follows, where storms, tempests, and the east wind, are treated of.

(References: Acts of the Apostles 4:8-9; Exodus 15:8, 15:10; Isaiah 30:33; Jeremiah 14:5-6, 14:6; Job 4:8-9; Psalms 18:15)

[11] That the wind of the earth signifies the proceeding Divine, arises also from correspondence with the winds in the spiritual world. For winds also exist in the spiritual world, arising from the direction of the influx of the Divine, and they extend to the lower parts of the earth there. In the heavens rarely any but gentle winds are perceived; but they are frequently perceived with those who dwell below upon the lands (terroe), for they increase in proportion to descent. Their directions are from the quarters into which the Divine flows, especially from the north; and because the winds there have a spiritual origin, they therefore also signify spiritual things, in general the Divine Truth, from which they exist. Thus, in David:

Jehovah "layeth his chambers in the waters; he maketh the clouds his chariot; he walketh upon the wings of the wind; he maketh his angels winds; his ministers a flaming fire" (Psalm civ. 3, 4).

By waters, clouds, and wings of the wind, is signified Divine Truth in ultimates, which is the truth of the sense of the letter of the Word; because this is in ultimates it is said, "He layeth his chambers in the waters; he maketh the clouds his chariot; he walketh upon the wings of the wind;" waters denoting truth in ultimates, and similarly clouds and wings of the wind; chariot signifies truth of doctrine. "He maketh his angels winds, his ministers a flaming fire," signifies that He makes them recipients of Divine Truth and Divine Good. By angels are meant those who are in the spiritual kingdom of the Lord, and because they are recipients of Divine Truth, it is said, He maketh them winds. By ministers are meant those who are in the celestial kingdom of the Lord, and because they are recipients of the Divine Good, it is said, He maketh them a flaming fire, a flaming fire denoting the good of love and thence truth. That those who are in the spiritual kingdom of the Lord are recipients of the Divine truth, and those who are in the celestial kingdom recipients of the Divine Good, may be seen in the Heaven and Hell (n. 20-28). That angels are called angels from the reception of Divine Truth, may be seen above (n. 130:2, 412:7), and that ministers are called ministers from the reception of Divine Good, may also be seen above (n. 155); and that fire signifies the good of love (n. 68).

(References: Heaven and Hell 20-28; Psalms 104:3-4; The Apocalypse Explained 68, The Apocalypse Explained 130, The Apocalypse Explained 155, The Apocalypse Explained 412)

[12] Again, in David:

Jehovah "Bowed the heavens, and came down; and thick darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly; yea, he was borne upon the wings of the wind" (Psalm xviii. 9, 10).

By Jehovah bowing to the heavens and coming down, is signified the visitation, which precedes a last judgment; by the thick darkness under His feet, are signified falsities of evil in the lower parts; by His riding upon a cherub, His flying, and being carried upon the wings of the wind is signified Omnipresence with the Divine, and the wings of the wind denote Divine Truth in ultimates, as above.

(References: Psalms 18:9-10)

[13] Again, in Jeremiah:

"He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his understanding. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the end of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasuries" (x. 12, 13; li. 15, 16).

And again, in David:

"He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries" (Psalm cxxxv. 7).

These things in the spiritual sense, describe the reformation of man, and the establishment of the church. From this reformation and this establishment the Lord is called the Maker of the earth, and elsewhere the Former and Creator; earth denoting the church. The Divine Good by means of which reformation is effected, is signified by His establishing the world by His wisdom; world denotes the church, and has reference to good. The Divine Truth by means of which this is also effected, is signified by, the voice which he uttereth, a multitude of waters in the heavens. The voice which he uttereth, signifies the influx of the Divine Truth; the multitude of waters in the heavens, signifies reception, waters denoting truths. Ultimate truths, which are knowledges from the sense of the letter of the Word, are signified by vapours from the end of the earth; spiritual things thence are signified by lightnings for the rain, lightnings having reference to the light of heaven, and rain to influx; reformation thence by means of Divine Truth from the Lord, is signified by, "He bringeth forth the wind out of his treasuries." All these things are in this way understood in the heavens.

(References: Jeremiah 10:12-13, Jeremiah 51:15-16; Psalms 135:7)

[14] Again, in David:

"He casteth forth his hail like morsels: who can stand before his cold? He sendeth out his Word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow. He declareth his Word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel" (Psalm cxlvii. 17-19).

By these words also, reformation is described, but in regard to the natural man; the scientifics therein, and the knowledges which a man possesses before reformation are signified by, "Hail like morsels; who can stand before his cold?" For man previous to reformation is altogether cold, and that cold is also distinctly felt when the Divine flows in out of heaven; and because such cold is dissipated when the Divine Good and the Divine Truth are received, that is when reformation takes place, it is therefore said, "He sendeth out his Word, and melteth them; he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow." By the Word is signified the Divine Good united with the Divine Truth; by the wind is signified Divine Truth, and by the waters flowing, the reception of truth; and because this is the signification of the above words, it is therefore added, "He declareth his Word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel." Jacob and Israel signify the church, the former, the church which is in good, the latter, the church which is in truths. Statutes and judgments denote external and internal truths from good.

(References: Psalms 147:17-19)

[15] So again:

"Praise Jehovah; fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his Word" (Psalm cxlviii. 7, 8).

It is evident that fire and hail, snow and vapour, and wind signify things different from these; for what purpose could be served in the Divine Word by saying that they should praise Jehovah? But by fire and hail, snow and vapours, are signified the delights of the loves of the natural man, and his scientifics and knowledges; for these, before man is reformed and made spiritual, are fire, and hail, and snow and vapour; and the sphere of their life, when it flows forth from them causes similar things to appear in the spiritual world. To worship the Lord from those things, is signified by their praising Jehovah, for to praise is to worship. But by the stormy wind is signified the Divine Truth as to reception; wherefore it is also said, stormy wind fulfilling his Word. To fulfil His Word signifies to receive in the life the things pertaining to doctrine.

(References: Psalms 148:7-8)

[16] Because everything in the Word has also an opposite sense, so also has wind, and in that sense it signifies falsity, as in the following passages.

In Isaiah:

"Behold they are all iniquity, their works are naught; their molten images are wind and emptiness" (xli. 29).

Wind and emptiness denote the falsities of evil, and the evils of falsity; wind denotes the falsities of evil, and emptiness, the evils of falsity; for where there is emptiness and vacuity, or, in other words, where there is neither good nor truth, there are evil and falsity. That falsities are there signified by wind is plain, from the fact that it is said, "They are all iniquity, their works are naught"; and also because it is said, "their molten images are wind and emptiness"; for molten images signify the things which man brings forth from his own intelligence, all of which are evils and falsities.

In Jeremiah:

"The prophets shall become wind, and the Word is not in them" (v. 13).

Prophets signify those who teach truths, and in the abstract, truths of doctrine, but in this case falsities of doctrine which are signified by wind; therefore it is also said, "the Word is not in them," the Word signifying the Divine Truth.

(References: Isaiah 41:29; Jeremiah 5:13)

[17] Again:

"I will scatter them as the stubble that passeth away unto the wind of the desert" (xiii. 24).

The wind of the desert signifies where there is no truth, consequently, where there is only falsity; for desert in the Word signifies where there is no good, because there is no truth.

Again in the same prophet:

"The wind shall feed all thy shepherds, and thy lovers shall go into captivity" (xxii. 22).

Shepherds in the Word signify those who teach the good of life and lead to it, this being accomplished by means of truths, but in this case, by shepherds are meant those who do not teach the good of life, still less lead to it, because they are in falsities; this is meant by, "the wind shall feed all thy shepherds," wind denoting the falsity which they seize upon and love. The lovers who shall go into captivity signify the delights of the love of self and the love of the world, and therefore the delights of the evil; lovers denote those delights, and captivity denotes detention in the hells.

(References: Jeremiah 13:24, Jeremiah 22:22)

[18] Again in Hosea:

"Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind; he daily multiplieth lies and desolation; and they make a covenant with the Assyrian, and oil is carried into Egypt" (xii. 1).

Ephraim signifies the Intellectual of the church; the Assyrian, reasoning; and Egypt, the Scientific; therefore by, "Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind," is signified that those in the church who are intelligent take up with falsities by means of which truths are completely driven out, for wind denotes what is false, and the east wind falsity withering and dissipating truths. Because of this signification of wind and the east wind, it is also said, "he daily multiplieth lies and desolation," a lie denoting falsity, and desolation the dissipation of truth. By their making a covenant with the Assyrian, and by oil being carried into Egypt, is signified, that by reasoning from scientifics falsely applied, they pervert the truths and goods of the church. To make a covenant with the Assyrian, signifies to reason from falsities and to destroy truths, and to carry oil into Egypt, signifies to destroy the good of the church by means of scientifics. For he who is in principles of falsity applies to them the scientifics which he has received from childhood, for his understanding sees nothing else, since the understanding is formed from either truths or falsities; if from truths, then a man sees truths, if from falsities, then he sees falsities, and these he sees in the natural man, in whose memory scientifics reside, from which he selects such as favour his ideas, and those which do not favour them are either perverted or rejected.

(References: Hosea 12:1)

[19] Again, in the same prophet:

"Ephraim is joined to idols. Their wine is gone; they have committed whoredom continually; they have loved; they have added shame to her shield. The wind hath bound her up in its wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices" (Hosea iv. 17-19).

Ephraim signifies the church in regard to the understanding of truth; but in the present case, the understanding of that which is not true but false, falsities of the church being meant by idols; the signification of "Ephraim is joined to idols," is therefore evident. By the wind in its wings is signified reasoning from fallacies, from which falsities arise. The signification of the rest is explained above (n. 283:16 and 376:38). The same is signified in Zechariah by the wind in the wings (v. 9).

So in Jeremiah:

"And their camels shall be a booty, and the multitude of their cattle a spoil; and I will scatter them unto every wind, the cut off of the corner" (xlix. 32).

By dispersing them into every wind is signified into every kind of falsity and evil, truths and goods having been dissipated. The rest of the prophecy is explained above (n. 417:7).

(References: Hosea 4:17-19; Jeremiah 49:32; The Apocalypse Explained 283, The Apocalypse Explained 376, The Apocalypse Explained 417; Zechariah 5:9)

[20] Again, in Ezekiel:

"And a third part thou shalt scatter to the wind, and I will draw out a sword after them" (v. 2, 12).

This is said concerning the hair of the head and of the beard, which the prophet was commanded to shave with a razor; and hair signifies the ultimate of truth in the church, for the entire heaven and the entire church in the sight of the Lord are as one man, and therefore all things of heaven and the church correspond to all things of man, both those without and those within him. See Heaven and Hell (n. 87-102). The hair of the head and the hair of the beard being the ultimates of man, correspond to the ultimates of truth and good. The ultimates of truth and good are of such a quality as the ultimate truths of the sense of the letter of the Word. That these ultimates were perverted, falsified, and adulterated by the Jews, is signified by what is stated here concerning the hair of the head and of the beard of the prophet. A third part of the hair being scattered into every wind signifies the dissipation of all truth; when this is the case mere falsities are seized upon, and it is therefore said, "I will draw out a sword after them," a sword signifying the destruction of truth by falsity. See above (n. 131). Without the knowledge of this signification of the hair, who could understand what is involved in the command given to the prophet, that he should shave off the hair of his head and of his beard, burn a third part of it with fire in the midst of the city, take a third part and smite about it with a sword, and scatter a third part into every wind, and draw out a sword after them?

(References: Ezekiel 5:2, Ezekiel 5:12; Heaven and Hell 87-102; The Apocalypse Explained 131)

[21] That the falsification of truth by the Jews is signified by these things is very evident from what follows in the same chapter, where, among other things, it is said, "This is Jerusalem. And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her" (v. 5, 6).

In the same:

"And I will scatter to every wind all his hands; and I will draw out the sword after them" (Ezekiel xii. 14).

These words have a similar meaning.

In Matthew:

"And the rain descended, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock" (vii. 25).

Here, by the rain descending, and the winds blowing, are signified temptations, and consequently also falsities rushing in; for as spiritual temptations are nothing else but infestations of the mind by falsities and evils, therefore winds also here signify falsities. The rest is explained above (n. 411).

(References: Ezekiel 5:5-6, Ezekiel 12:14; Matthew 7:24-25, 7:25, Matthew 7:27; The Apocalypse Explained 411)

[22] It has been before stated, that in the spiritual world, just as in the natural world, strong winds and storms exist; but the storms in the spiritual world exist from the influx of the Divine into the lower parts where those are who are in evils and falsities. That influx, as it descends out of the heavens towards the lands (terroe), which are below, becomes denser and has the appearance of clouds which with the evil are dense and opaque, according to the degree and quality of their evil. These clouds are appearances of falsity from evil, and arise from the spheres of their life, for every angel and every spirit is encompassed by the sphere of his life. When the Divine goes forth powerfully from the Lord as the Sun, and flows into these dense and opaque clouds, a storm arises which is seen by the spirits there just as storms are seen by men on the earth. I was sometimes permitted to have experience of these storms, and also of the east wind, by which the evil were dispersed and cast into the hells, at the time when the Last Judgment was taking place. It is clear from these considerations what storms, tempests, and impetuous winds signify in the following passages.

In Isaiah:

"Thou shalt scatter them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall disperse them" (xli. 16).

And in Jeremiah:

"Behold, the tempest of Jehovah, his fury has gone forth, even a grievous whirlwind; it shall burst upon the head of the wicked" (xxiii. 19; xxx. 23).

And in David:

"I will hasten my escape from the stormy wind and tempest" (Psalm lv. 8).


"O my God, pursue them with thy tempest, and terrify them with thy storm" (Psalm lxxxiii. 13, 15).

And in Ezekiel:

"I will make the storm-winds to burst through in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower, in mine anger, for a consummation" (xiii. 13).

And in Jeremiah:

"Evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest shall be raised up from the sides of the earth" (xxv. 32).

Again in Isaiah:

"Thou shalt be visited by Jehovah of hosts with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire" (xxix. 6).

And in Amos:

"I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rahab, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, with a tempest in the day of the storm" (i. 14).

And in Zechariah:

"The Lord Jehovih shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with the tempests of the south" (ix. 14).

In Nahum:

"Jehovah hath his way in the tempest and in the storm" (i. 3).

In David:

"Upon the wicked, the wind of the tempests, the portion of the cup of the wicked" (Psalm xi. 6).


"God shall come and shall not keep silence; and it shall be very tempestuous round about him" (Psalm l. 3).

And in Hosea:

"They sow the wind, and they shall reap the tempest" (viii. 7).

In these passages storms and tempests signify the dispersion of falsities and evils, because those who are in falsities of evil are cast down into hell by a stormy wind.

(References: Amos 1:14; Ezekiel 13:13; Hosea 8:7; Isaiah 29:6, Isaiah 41:16; Jeremiah 23:19, 25:32, 30:23; Nahum 1:3; Psalms 11:6, Psalms 50:3, 55:8, 83:13, 83:15; Zechariah 9:14)

[23] In David:

"They who go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, and lifteth up the waves thereof. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still" (Psalm cvii. 23, 25, 29).

These things refer to temptations and liberation from them; the stormy wind, and the lifting up of the waves of the sea signify temptations, because spiritual temptations are caused by falsities rushing into the thoughts, from which arise pains of conscience and grief of mind and soul, and these are signified by "He raiseth the stormy wind and lifteth up the waves thereof." Liberation from them is signified by, "He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still."

(References: Psalms 107:23, 107:25, 107:29)

[24] The same is signified by these words in Mark:

"And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow; and they awoke him, and say unto him, Carest thou not that we perish? And he awoke, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm" (iv. 37-39).

Also in Luke:

"As they sailed he fell asleep; and there came down a storm of wind on the lake, and they were filled with water and were in jeopardy. And they came to him and awoke him, saying Master, Master, we perish. Then he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water; and they ceased, and there was a calm" (viii. 23, 24).

This, like all the miracles of the Lord, contains arcana of heaven, and interior things of the church. Divine miracles differ from those that are not divine in this, that Divine miracles also signify Divine things, because the Divine is in them, but miracles not divine have no signification, because there is nothing of the Divine in them. And, moreover, in the description of the Divine miracles in the Word, and in every detail of it, there is a spiritual sense. The above miracle refers to spiritual temptations. The great storm of wind that caused the waves to beat into the ship, so that it was full, signifies those temptations; and deliverance from these is signified by Jesus awakening when they were in great fear, rebuking the wind, and saying to the sea, "Peace, be still;" and by the ceasing of the wind, and the great calm. Every word contains a spiritual sense. We shall not here however explain it in detail, but merely say that a whirlwind and a tempest signify temptations, which are irruptions of falsities, or inundations of the mind by falsities. This is also evident from the fact that the wind and the waves were rebuked, and from the Lord's words to the sea, "Peace, be still," as being said to those things, or to those who induce temptations.

(References: Luke 8:23-24; Mark 4:37-39)

[25] Moreover the winds in the spiritual world, appear to arise from different quarters, some from the south, some from the north, and some from the east. Those which come from the south disperse truths with those who are in falsities, and those which come from the east disperse goods with those who are in evils. The reason why winds disperse these, is, that winds exist from a strong and powerful influx of the Divine through the heavens into the lower parts, [of the world of spirits], and where the influx reaches, it fills truths and goods, that is the minds and souls of those who are in truths and goods, with the Divine. Therefore those whose minds and souls are merely falsities and evils as to the interiors, and truths mingled with falsities, and goods with evils as to the exteriors, cannot sustain such influx from the Divine, and consequently they betake themselves to their own falsities and evils which they actually love, and reject the truths and goods which they love merely for the sake of themselves and of appearances.

[26] The effect produced by the wind coming from the east, called the east wind, is evident from what we have stated, for it disperses all the goods and truths of which the evil had made an external display before the world, and talked about for the sake of appearance, therefore withering and drying up are ascribed to this wind. "Withered" signifies a state in which there is no good, and "dried up" a state in which there is no truth. This is evident from those passages of the Word, where this wind is mentioned.

Thus, in Ezekiel:

Behold the planted vine. "Shall it not utterly wither, when the east wind toucheth it?" (xvii. 10).

Again, in the same:

The vine "was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit; the rods of her strength were broken and withered" (xix. 12).

And in Hosea:

Ephraim, "fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of Jehovah shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up; it shall spoil the treasure of every vessel of desire" (xiii. 15).

And in Jonah:

"And it came to pass when the sun arose, that God prepared a withering east wind" (iv. 8).

(References: Ezekiel 17:10, 19:12; Hosea 13:15; Jonah 4:8)

[27] That the east wind also destroys everything where the evil are, their lands (terroe), their dwellings, and their treasures, may be seen in the small work on The Last Judgment (n. 61:1). The reason why this destruction takes place is that lands, dwellings, and treasures, in the spiritual world, are correspondences, therefore, when these perish, the things which correspond perish also, and consequently when the land where the evil dwell in that world is destroyed, the face of a new land appears for the good. Because the east wind in the spiritual world has such power, therefore, on account of its correspondence an east wind arose which divided the Sea Suph (Red Sea) (Exod. xiv. 21); which brought the locust (x. 13). It is called a rough wind (Isaiah xxvii. 8) breaking the ships of Tarshish (Psalm xlviii. 7); breaking in the heart of the seas (Ezek. xxvii. 26); and scattering enemies (Jer. xviii. 17).

(References: Exodus 10:13, 14:21; Ezekiel 27:26; Isaiah 27:8; Jeremiah 14:5-6, Jeremiah 18:17; John 3:5, 3:7-8; Matthew 7:25; Psalms 48:7; Revelation 7:1; The Last Judgment 61)

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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 415, 425, 426, 489, 493, 497, 518, 625, 654, 657, 665, 681, 687, 849, 850, 1082

Other New Christian Commentary

Wave (as in water) 1

Wind (as in west wind) 1

Breathing and a cry 1

Generated 1

Withering 1

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Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg

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