The Bible


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


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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 Christianity 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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 43:23

Numbers 6:26

Psalms 22:17, 84:4

Word/Phrase Explanations

'A week' signifies state, and 'the seventh week,' a holy state. The ancients understood 'a week' to mean any period divided into seven, whether days,...

In a general sense, doors in the Bible represent the initial desires for good and concepts of truth that introduce people to new levels of...

A disciple in Matthew 10:41 signifies charity and at the same time, faith from the Lord. It disciple signifies the truth of life, and a...

It would be simple to think that when the Bible mentions "Jews" it is simply talking about the descendants of the tribe of Judah, the...

As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

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

'Washing of the hands' was an ancient declaration of innocence, and signifies purification from evils and falsities, as in Psalms 73:13 and Matthew 27:24.

'Side' signifies good or spiritual love.

Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...

Father, son, mother, and daughter, as in Luke 12:51, 53: By father against son, and by son against the father, is understood evil against truth,...

'The seven spirits' in Matthew 12:45 signify all falsities of evil, and as a result, a total extinction of goodness and truth. 'The seven spirits'...

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

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

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

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

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

The hand in the Bible represents power, which is easy to understand, so to reach out or stretch out the hand means to exercise power,...

To "answer" generally indicates a state of spiritual receptivity. Ultimately this means being receptive to the Lord, who is constantly trying to pour true ideas...

'A sign' is mentioned in the Word in reference to the future, which constitutes revelation. This also refers to truth, when it constitutes testification. It...

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

'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

Christ is one of the names of the Lord. It derives from Greek, and means "the anointed one," a King or Messiah. Christ as King...

Son of God
The Lord, in some places, calls Himself 'the son of God,' at other times, 'the son of man (ἄνθρωπος).' This is always according to the...

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

In John 14:6, 'the way is doctrine,' 'the truth' is every thing pertaining to doctrine, and 'the life' is the essential good which is the...

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

 Compare the Easter Story in 4 Gospels
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 Crucifixion Prophecies Fulfilled
Jesus could have saved Himself from the cross, but then He would not have been able to show us with the great miracle of His resurrection that the death of the body is not the end of life. Sample from the Jacob's Ladder Program, Level 3, for ages 8-9.
Religion Lesson | Ages 8 - 9

 Death and Resurrection
There is an old saying that no one can get out of this world alive! We must all die, and, sad as that eventuality may seem at the time, the only way we can make sense of it is by believing the Lord's words: those who believe in Him can never die. 
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Color and assemble a diorama showing Mary looking into the tomb and seeing the two angels. 
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The story of Easter morning teaches that the Lord Jesus, who came to earth and touched us with His great love and wisdom, is more than a man. He is our God.
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Make a miniature garden scene to illustrate the Easter story in the gospel of John.
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Read the story in the gospel of John (20:1-16) about Mary Magdalene seeing the Lord. Use the discussion questions to talk about this story. 
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 For Reflection: Doubting Thomas
Think about the development of your faith and how it might relate to the disciple, Thomas.
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 Jesus and Mary Magdalene in the Garden
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 Jesus' Words on the Cross
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 Looking into the Tomb
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This talk focuses on Mary Magdalene being the first person to see the Risen Lord in the garden on Easter morning. 
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Mary Magdalene in the Garden
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

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Heavenly peace transcends every idea of earthly happiness.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

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Article | Ages over 15

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An in-depth look at the internal meaning or representation of Mary Magdalene and her recognition of the Risen Lord. 
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 Resurrection and Glorification
When Jesus rose He left the tomb empty. Through overcoming temptations He had glorified His body, or made it Divine.
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 The Easter Story in John
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 The Easter Surprise
Surprise! Surprise! The Lord was alive and standing in front of Mary.
Story | Ages 4 - 6

 The First Easter
On the morning of the first easter, the Lord showed us that life goes on forever and that we never really die. Sample from the Jacob's Ladder Program, Introductory Level, for ages 5-6.
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 The Joy of Seeing the Risen Lord
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 The Lord and Mary
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord Appears to His Disciples
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 The Lord Appears to the Disciples
Color the picture of the disciples and then insert the Lord through a slit in the page into their midst.
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This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
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 The Miracle of Easter
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 The Resurrection
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
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What was the purpose of - the Lord's resurrection from the dead by His own power - the greatest of all miracles? What was the Divine Plan and what is the promised victory for our own lives? 
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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 #130

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)      

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130. Verse 12. And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write, signifies for remembrance to those within the church who are in temptations. This is evident from the signification of "writing," as being for remembrance (see Arcana Coelestia 8620); and from the signification of "angel," as being a recipient of Divine truth, and in the highest sense Divine truth itself proceeding from the Lord (of which more in what follows); and from the signification of the "church in Pergamum," as being those within the church who are in temptations.

That these are meant by the "church in Pergamum" is clear from the things written to that church, which follow. From no other source can it be known what is signified by each of the seven churches. For as was shown before, what is meant is not any church in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, or Laodicea, but all who are of the Lord's church, and by each of these churches something that constitutes the church with man is meant. And as the first things of the church are the knowledges of truth and good, and the affections of spiritual truth, these are first treated of, namely, in what is written to the angel of the Ephesian church and of the Smyrnean church; of the knowledges of truth and good to the angel of the Ephesian church, and of the spiritual affection of truth to the angel of the Smyrnean church. And as no one can be imbued with the knowledges of truth and good in respect to life, and be steadfast in the spiritual affection of truth, unless he undergoes temptations, so temptations are now treated of in what is written to the angel of the church in Pergamum. From this it appears in what order the things follow that are taught under the names of the seven churches.

(References: Revelation 2:12)

[2] It is said "To the angel of the church, write," and not, To the church, because by "angel" is signified Divine truth, which makes the church; for Divine truth teaches how man is to live that he may become a church. That "angel" in the Word, in its spiritual sense, does not mean any angel, but in the highest sense, Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, and in a respective sense, he that receives it, can be seen from this, that all the angels are recipients of Divine truth from the Lord, and no angel is of himself an angel; but he is so far an angel as he receives Divine truth; for angels more than men know and perceive that all the good of love and all the truth of faith are from the Lord, not from themselves, and as the good of love and the truth of faith constitute their wisdom and intelligence, and as these constitute the whole angel, they know and say that they are merely recipients of the Divine proceeding from the Lord, and thus are angels in the degree in which they receive it. On this account they desire that the term "angel" should be understood spiritually, that is, in a sense abstracted from persons, and as meaning Divine truths. By Divine truth is meant at the same time Divine good, because these proceed from the Lord united (see in the work on Heaven and Hell, n.

[133-140] 1 .

[3] And as Divine truth proceeding from the Lord constitutes the angel, by "angel" in the Word in the highest sense is meant the Lord Himself, as in Isaiah:

The angel of the faces of Jehovah delivered them, in His love and His pity He redeemed them, and took them up, and carried them all the days of eternity (Isaiah 63:9).

In Moses:

The angel who hath redeemed me from all evil, bless them (Genesis 48:16).

In the same:

I send an angel before thee to keep thee in the way; take ye heed of His faces, for my name is in the midst of Him (Exodus 23:20-23).

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

The Son of man shall send His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that cause stumbling. In the consummation of the age the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked out of the midst of the just (Matthew 13:41, 49).

In the consummation of the age the Son of man shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and shall gather together the elect from the four winds (Matt. 24:3, 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 (Matthew 25:31).

Jesus said, After this ye shall see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man (John 1:51).

In these passages, in the spiritual sense, by "angels" Divine truths and not angels are meant. So when it is here said that, in the consummation of the age, "the angels are to gather out all things that cause stumbling," "are to sever the wicked from the midst of the just," "are to gather together the elect from the four winds with a great sound of a trumpet," and that "the Son of man with the angels is to sit upon a throne of glory," it is not meant that angels, together with the Lord, are to do these things, but that the Lord alone will do them by means of His Divine truths; for angels have no power of themselves, but all power is the Lord's through His Divine truth (see in the work on Heaven and Hell 230-233). That "ye shall see the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man," means the like, namely, that Divine truths should be in Him and from Him.

[5] Moreover, in other places also "angels" mean Divine truths from the Lord, consequently the Lord in respect to Divine truths, as:

To the seven angels were given seven trumpets, and the angels sounded on the trumpets (Revelation 8:2, 6-8, 10, 12, 13; 9:1, (Revelation 9:1) 13, 14).

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

By the angel warring against the dragon (Revelation 12:7, 9);

By the angel flying in the mid-heaven, having the eternal

gospel (Revelation 14:6);

By the seven angels pouring out the seven bowls (Rev. 16:1-4, 8 (Revelation 16:8), 10, 12);

By the twelve angels upon the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:12).

That this is so will also be seen in what follows.

(References: Revelation 8:12-13, 9:13-14, 16:10, 16:12; The Apocalypse Explained 55)

[6] That by "angels" are meant Divine truths which are from the Lord is clearly manifest in David:

Jehovah maketh His angels winds, and His ministers a flaming fire (Psalms 104:4);

by which 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 can be seen from what is shown in The Arcana Coelestia, as that the "wind of the nostrils" of Jehovah is Divine truth, n. 8286; that the "four winds" are all things of truth and good, n. 3708, 9642, 9668; consequently "to breathe" in the Word signifies the state of the life of faith, n. 9281; from which it is evident what is signified by Jehovah's "breathing" into the nostrils of Adam (Genesis 2:7); by the Lord's "breathing" upon His disciples (John 20:22); and by these words, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh" (John 3:8); concerning which see n. 96, 97, 9229, 9281 also n. 1119, 3886, 3887, 3889, 3892, 3893; that "flaming fire" is Divine love, and therefore Divine good, see in the work on Heaven and Hell 133-140, 566-568; and above, n. 68).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 96-97, 3886-3887, 3892-3893, 8286; The Apocalypse Explained 68)

[7] That "angel" signifies Divine truth proceeding from the Lord is clearly manifest from these words in Revelation:

He measured the wall of the New Jerusalem, a hundred and forty-four cubits, the measure of a man, which is that of an angel (Revelation 21:17).

That the wall of the New Jerusalem is not the measure of an angel anyone can see, but that all protecting truths are there meant by an "angel" is evident from the signification of the "wall of Jerusalem," and of the number "one hundred and forty-four." (That the "wall" signifies all protecting truths, see Arcana Coelestia 6419; that the number "one hundred and forty-four" signifies all things of truth in the complex, n. 7973; that "measure" signifies the quality of a thing in respect to truth and good, n. 3104, 9603, 10262. These things may also be found explained as to the spiritual sense, in The small work on The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine 1.)

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

The priest's lips ought to guard knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth, because he is the angel of Jehovah (Malachi 2:7).

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 that he teaches is. Moreover, it is known in the church that no one has Divine truth from himself. "Lips" also here signify the doctrine of truth, and "law" Divine truth itself. (That "lips" signify the doctrine of truth, see Arcana Coelestia 1286, 1288; and that "law" signifies Divine truth itself, see n. 3382, 7463)

(References: Revelation 8:12-13)

[9] From this it is that John the Baptist also is called an angel:

Jesus said, This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send Mine angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee (Luke 7:27).

John is called an "angel," because by him, in the spiritual sense, is signified the Word, which is Divine truth, in like manner as by Elias (see Arcana Coelestia 7643, 9372, and what is signified; this is what is meant by the persons mentioned in the Word, see n. 665, 1097, 1361, 3147, 3670, 3881, 4208, 4281, 4288, 4292, 4307, 4500, 6304, 7048, 7439, 8588, 8788, 8806, 9229).

[10] It is said that by "angels" in the Word, in its spiritual sense, Divine truths proceeding from the Lord are meant, because these constitute the angels; when angels utter these truths, they speak not from themselves, but from the Lord. The angels not only know that this is so, but they also perceive it. The man who believes that nothing of faith is from himself, but that all faith is from God, also knows this, indeed, but he does not perceive it. That nothing of faith is from man, but all faith is from God, is the same as saying that nothing of truth that has life is from man, but all truth is from God, for truth is of faith and faith is of 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

Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for their permission to use this translation.