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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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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remit
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Resources for parents and teachers

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


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Commentary

Two Meetings in Jerusalem after the Resurrection

By Joe David

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Swedenborg's Works

Apocalypse Revealed #618

Apocalypse Revealed (Rogers translation)

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618. And no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand. This symbolically means that no other Christians could understand and so acknowledge out of love and faith that the Lord alone is God of heaven and earth but those received by the Lord into this new heaven.

The song symbolizes an acknowledgment and glorification of the Lord as being God of heaven and earth (nos. 279, 617). To learn means, symbolically, to perceive inwardly in oneself that something is the case, which is to understand and so to accept and acknowledge. Someone who learns without perceiving learns and does not learn, because he does not retain what he has learned. The hundred and forty-four thousand mean people who acknowledge the Lord alone as God of heaven and earth (no. 612ccc Apocalypse Revealed 612[1-4]).

Other Christians were unable to learn that song, that is, to acknowledge that the Lord alone is God of heaven and earth, because from early childhood they had had impressed on them that there were three persons in the Godhead, each distinct from the others. For the doctrine of the trinity 1 contains the statement, "There is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit," and also, "The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God." And even though they find it added there that the three are one, still in their thinking they divide the Divine essence into three, despite the fact that it cannot be divided.

For that reason they also approach the Father, because He is first in order. And church leaders moreover taught them to pray to the Father to send the Holy Spirit for the sake of the Son. This entrenched in their thinking the idea of three persons, and they could not then think of the Son as God, on a par with the Father and one with the Father, but thought of the Son as being on a par with any other person, even though He alone as to His humanity is the embodiment of righteousness and is called "Jehovah our Righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15-16).

(References: John 17; Revelation 14:3)


[2] Because of that idea in their thinking, it came about that they could not comprehend how the Lord as one born in the world could be God of heaven and earth, and still less be alone God, despite how often they heard and read all those passages we cited in no. 613 above, including the following there:

"All things that the Father has are Mine." (John 16:15)

"He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me." (John 12:45)

...the Father had given all things into (the Son's) hands... (John 13:3)

"Father..., ...You have given (Me) authority over all flesh... All that is Mine are Yours, and what are Yours are Mine...." (John 17:1-3, 10)

"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." (Matthew 28:18)

There is the further fact that He was conceived of Jehovah as His Father, and therefore that His soul came from Him (Luke 1:34-35, 38). He possesses therefore the Divine essence. Many similar statements are found in addition elsewhere. That these statements are said in reference to the Lord born in the world is something everyone can see. As for example, that He and the Father are one, and that He is in the Father and the Father in Him. Or that whoever sees Him, sees the Father. (See John 10:28-38; 14:6-11.)

Even though those Christians hear and read these things, still they cannot let go of the idea they have conceived from childhood and later had affirmed by teachers - an idea that so closed up their rationality that they could not see, that is, could not understand these words of the Lord:

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)

He who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber... I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved... (John 10:1, 9)

(References: John 10:28, 10:38, John 17:2-3; Luke 1:34)


[3] They also could not see that the Lord glorified His humanity, that is, that He united it to the Divinity of the Father, namely to the Divinity that He had in Him from conception, in order that the human race might be united to God the Father in Him and through Him. This was the reason for the Lord's advent into the world, and for the glorification of His humanity, as is plainly taught in John 14,15, 17. For He says,

In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. (John 14:20)

He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch... withered... into the fire... (John 15:5-6)

For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified in the truth... that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You..., I in them and You in Me... (John 17:19, 21, 23, 26)

See also John 6:56, and elsewhere.

It is clearly apparent from these passages that the Lord's advent into the world and the glorification of His humanity had as a goal the conjunction of people with God the Father in the Lord and through Him, thus that it is He who is to be approached.

This the Lord also confirmed by His saying so many times that people must believe in Him to have eternal life (see no. 553 above).

(References: Isaiah 5:20, Isaiah 5:22; John 17)


[4] Who cannot see that the Lord said all these things about Himself in His humanity, and that He never would have said, or could have said, that He was in people and people in Him, and that they must believe in Him to have eternal life, unless His humanity was Divine?

To ask the Father in the Lord's name 2 does not mean to go directly to God the Father, neither does it mean to ask for the sake of the Son, but it means to go to the Lord, and to the Father through Him, because the Father is present in the Son, and they are one, as the Lord Himself teaches. This is the symbolic meaning of "in His name," as can also be seen from the following:

...he who does not believe (in the Son) is judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:17-18)

...these things are written that you may believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:31)

(Jesus) said..., "Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me." (Luke 9:48)

"Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do...." (John 14:13-14)

And so on in other places, where something in the name of the Lord is mentioned: Matthew 7:22; 18:5, 20; 19:29; 23:39; Mark 9:37; 16:17; Luke 13:35; 19:38; 24:47; John 1:12; 2:23; 5:43; 12:13; 15:16; 16:23-24, 26-27; 17:6.

The symbolism of the name of God, and that the Father's name is the Lord in respect to His Divine humanity, may be seen in nos. 81, 165, 584 above.

-----
Footnotes:

1. I.e., the Athanasian Creed.

2John 15:16; 16:23

-----

(References: Isaiah 5:20, Isaiah 5:22; John 3:18; Revelation 14:3)

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   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Apocalypse Revealed 612, 661, 738

Other New Christian Commentary

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Thanks to the General Church of the New Jerusalem for the permission to use this translation.


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