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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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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 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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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 #839

Apocalypse Revealed (Rogers translation)      

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839. I looked out into the world of spirits and saw an army on fiery red and black horses. The riders looked like apes with their faces and chests facing backward toward the horses' haunches and tails, and the rear of their heads and their backs facing forward toward the horses' necks and heads; and the reins hung from the riders' necks. They kept crying, moreover, "Let us fight against riders on white horses!" But they kept pulling on the reins with both hands, so that they drew the horses back from battle. And this again and again.

Two angels then descended from heaven, and approaching me they said, "What do you see?"

So I told them that I was seeing the ludicrous display of the horsemen described, and I asked the angels what was going on and who the riders were.

(References: Matthew 6:9-13, 6:9-10)

[2] To that the angels replied, "They come from the place called in Revelation 16:16 Armageddon, where several thousand of them gathered to fight against people who belong to the Lord's New Church, which is called the New Jerusalem. They talked in that place about the church and religion, and yet they had nothing of the church among them, because they lacked any spiritual truth, neither did they have any element of religion, because they lacked any spiritual goodness. They spoke there with the mouth and lips about the church and religion, but only to gain mastery by means of them.

"They learned in their youth to affirm faith alone, a trinity in God, and a duality in Christ. But when they advanced to higher offices in the church, they retained what they had learned only for a time. Then, because they began to think no more about God and heaven, but about themselves and the world, thus not about eternal bliss and happiness, but about temporal status and wealth, they expelled the doctrines they had learned in their youth from their rational mind's interiors which communicate with heaven and so are in the light of heaven, and retained them only in their rational mind's exteriors which communicate with the world and so are only in the light of the world. And eventually they pushed them aside into the sensual level of their natural mind.

"As a consequence the church's doctrines with them have become ones of the mouth only, and no longer matters of thought in accord with reason, still less matters of their love's affection.

"Moreover, because they have made themselves such, they do not accept any of the church's genuine truths, nor any of religion's genuine goods. The interiors of their minds have become comparatively like jars filled with iron filings mixed with powdered sulfur, a mixture which becomes first hot if water is introduced into it, and then bursts into flame, breaking the jar. So it is with these people. When they hear something regarding living water, namely, the Word's genuine truth, and it enters their ears, they become exceedingly heated and inflamed, and reject it as something that will cause their heads to burst.

[3] "These are the people who looked to you like apes riding backward on fiery red and black horses with the reins around their necks, since people who do not like the church's truth and goodness from the Word also do not wish to look at a horse's foreparts, but at its hindparts. For a horse symbolizes an understanding of the Word - a fiery red horse an understanding of the Word extinguished as to goodness, and a black horse an understanding of the Word extinguished as to truth.

"They cried out for battle against riders on white horses because a white horse symbolizes an understanding of the Word as to its truth and goodness. They appeared to draw back their horses with their necks because they were afraid to fight, lest the Word's truth spread to many and so come to light.

"This is the explanation."

[4] The angels went on to say, "We come from a society in heaven called Michael, and have been commanded by the Lord to go down to the place called Armageddon, from which the company of horsemen you saw broke out.

"Armageddon to us in heaven symbolizes a state and disposition to fight on behalf of falsified truths, arising from a love of mastery and great status. And because we perceive in you a desire to know about the combat there, we will tell you something about it.

"After we descended from heaven, we went to the place called Armageddon and saw some several thousand people gathered there. However, we did not join their company, but there were two buildings on the place's southern side in which there were some boys with their teachers. We entered the buildings, and the boys and teachers received us kindly. We were delighted with their company. All were fair of face because of the life in their eyes and the zeal in their speech. The life in their eyes was due to their perception of truth, and the zeal in their speech to their affection for truth. Therefore they were also given caps from heaven, and they decorated the edges of them with gold braid interwoven with pearls. They were given garments, too, with varying patterns of white and blue.

"We asked them whether they had looked over at the place nearby called Armageddon. They said that they had seen it through a window up under the building's roof. They saw a gathering there, they said, but one of figures under various forms that appeared now and then as dignified men, and now and then as not human, but as statues and carved idols, surrounded by a crowd of people on bended knee. These people also appeared to us under various forms, sometimes as human, sometimes as leopards and sometimes as goats. As goats they appeared with their horns pointed downward, using them to dig up the ground.

"We interpreted these changes in appearance for them, saying what they represented and what they symbolized.

[5] "But in response to your question, when the people who were gathered there heard that we had gone into those buildings, they said to each other, 'What do they have to do with those boys? Let's send some of our company to throw them out.'

"So they sent some of them, and when they arrived they said to us, 'Why did you go into those buildings? Where are you from? By the authority invested in us we order you to go!'

"But we replied, 'You have no power or authority to tell us to go. In your own eyes, indeed, you are like Anakim, 1 and the people here like dwarfs, but still you have no power or right here, beyond that perhaps of the cunning arts emanating from the three lodging places you have here, arts which nevertheless will be of no avail. Report to your companions, therefore, that we have been sent here from heaven to find out whether you have among you any religion or not, and if not, you will be expelled from this place.

"'Put to your companions, then, this question, in which lies the most essential element of the church and so of religion: How do they understand these words in the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father, who are in heaven. Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, as in heaven, so upon the earth."'

"On hearing this, the people first said, 'What do you mean?' But then that they would put the question.

"So they went away and put it to their companions. And their companions replied, 'What kind of question is this?'

"However, they understood the hidden purpose, that the angels wanted to know whether the words support the path of their faith to God the Father. So they said, 'The words clearly say that we are to pray to God the Father, and because Christ is our Savior, that we are to pray to God the Father for the sake of the Son.'

"And presently, with some irritation, they decided they would come to us and tell us this with their own mouths, saying as well that they would tweak our ears.

"So they came from that place, and entered a grove near the two buildings where the boys were with their teachers. There was a raised level area there, a kind of arena. And holding each other by the hand, they entered that arena, where we were waiting for them.

"There were mounds of turf there, forming hillocks. They seated themselves on them, for they said to each other, 'Let us not stand in their presence, but sit.'

"And then one of them, who had the ability to disguise himself as an angel of light, 2 and who was told by the rest to speak with us, said, 'You have put to us that we disclose our thinking regarding the first words in the Lord's Prayer, as to how we interpret them. I accordingly say to you that we interpret them to mean that we are to pray to God the Father, and because Christ is our Savior and we are saved by His merit, that we are to pray to God the Father with faith in Christ's merit.'

[6] "But then we said to them, 'We come from a society in heaven called Michael, and we have been sent to look and see whether those of you gathered in this place have any religion or not. This we could not discover except by asking you about God. For the idea of God enters into every aspect of religion and makes possible a conjunction, and through conjunction salvation. In heaven we recite the Prayer daily, as people do on earth, and we think then not of God the Father, because He is invisible, but of God in His Divine humanity, because in this He can be seen. Moreover, you call Him in that humanity Christ, but we call Him the Lord, and thus for us the Lord is our Father in heaven.

"'The Lord also taught us that He and the Father are one; 3 that the Father is in Him, and He in the Father; 4 that whoever sees Him, sees the Father; 5 and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. 6 Moreover, He also said that it is the will of the Father that people believe in the Son, 7 and that whoever does not believe in the Son does not see life, 8 indeed that the wrath of God abides on him. 9 It is apparent from this that one goes to the Father through the Son and in Him. And because this is the case, He also taught that He had been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 10

"'It says in the Prayer, "Hallowed be Your name," and "Your kingdom come." And we showed from the Word that the Lord's Divine humanity is the name of the Father, and that the Father's kingdom exists when people go directly to the Lord, and not at all when they go directly to God the Father. Therefore the Lord also told His disciples to preach the kingdom of God. 11 This, then, is the kingdom of God.

(References: Luke 11:2)

[7] "We further instructed them from the Word," the angels said, "that the Lord came into the world to glorify His humanity, in order that angels in heaven and people in the church might by united to God the Father through Him and in Him. For He taught that people who believe in Him are in Him and He in them, meaning that, as the church teaches, they are in the body of Christ.

"Finally we informed them that the Lord is at this day establishing a new church, one meant by the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation, that the worship in it will be worship of the Lord alone, as is the case in heaven, and that everything contained in the Lord's Prayer from beginning to end will be thus fulfilled.

"Everything we have just said we confirmed from the Word in the Gospels and from the Word in the Prophets, so extensively that they tired of listening.

[8] "First, we confirmed that 'our Father in heaven' is the Lord Jesus Christ from the following passages:

...unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given... And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, ...God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

...You (Jehovah) are our Father...; our Redeemer from everlasting is Your name. (Isaiah 63:16)

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

If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him. (John 14:7)

Philip said..., "Lord, show us the Father...." Jesus said to him, ."..He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how then can you say, 'Show us the Father'..." (John 14:8-9)

I and the Father are one. (John 10:30)

All things that the Father has are Mine. (John 16:15, cf. 17:10)

...the Father is in Me, and I in (the Father). (John 10:38, cf. 14:10-11, 14:20)

"And that no one has seen the Father but the Son alone, who is in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18, cf. 5:37; 6:46).

"Consequently the Lord also says that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6), and that one comes to the Father through Him, from Him, and in Him (John 6:56; 14:20; 15:4-6; 17:19, 23)."

(But for more on the unity of God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - see the account in no. Arcana Coelestia 962.)

(References: Apocalypse Revealed 962; John 6:57)

[9] "Second, that 'hallowed be Your name' means to go to the Lord and worship Him - this we confirmed from the following:

Who does not... glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. (Revelation 15:4)

"This in reference to the Lord.

(Jesus said,) "Father, glorify Your name." And a voice came from heaven, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it." (John 12:28)

"The Father's name that was glorified is His Divine humanity.

(Jesus said,) "I come in My Father's name...." (John 5:43)

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

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

As many as received Him, to them He gave the power to be children of God, to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12)

Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13-14)

...he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:15-16, 18)

...where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:19-20)

"Jesus also told His disciples to preach in His name (Luke 24:47). And so on elsewhere, in places that mention the Lord's name, meaning Himself in respect to His humanity, as in Matthew 7:22; 10:22; 18:5; 19:29; 24:9; Mark 11:10; 13:13; 16:17; Luke 10:17; 19:38; 21:12, 17; John 2:23.

"It is apparent from this that the Father is hallowed in the Son, and by angels and people through the Son, and that this is the meaning of 'hallowed by Your name,' as is further evident in John 17:19, 21-23, 26.

(References: Matthew 24:9-10)

[10] "Third, that 'Your kingdom come' means let the Lord reign - this we confirmed by the following:

The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God is preached... (Luke 16:16)

Jesus..., preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, (said,) "The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God is at hand...." (Mark 1:14-15, cf. Matthew 3:2)

"Jesus Himself preached the gospel of the kingdom, and said that the kingdom of God was at hand (Matthew 4:17, 23; 9:35). He commanded the disciples to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God (Mark 16:15, Luke 8:1; 9:60). He spoke similarly to the seventy He sent out (Luke 10:9, 11). And so on elsewhere, as in Matthew 11:5; 16:27-28.

"The kingdom of God whose gospel they were to proclaim was the Lord's kingdom, and thus the Father's kingdom. The reality of this is apparent from the following:

The Father... has given all things into (the Son's) hand. (John 3:35)

(The Father gave the Son) authority over all flesh... (John 17:2)

All things have been delivered to Me by My Father. (Matthew 11:27)

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

And further from the following:

...Jehovah of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth He is called. (Isaiah 54:5)

I watched..., and behold, One like the Son of Man..., and to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, and all peoples (and) nations... will worship Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not perish. (Daniel 7:13-14)

(When) the seventh angel sounded..., there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" (Revelation 11:15, cf. 12:10)

(This kingdom of the Lord is the subject of the book of Revelation from beginning to end, and all those who will belong to the Lord's New Church, namely, the New Jerusalem, will come into it.)

(References: Luke 1:19, 2:10-11, 4:43, 7:22, Luke 17:20-21, 21:30-31, 22:18; Mark 8:35, 9:1, 9:47, 10:29-30)

[11] "Fourth, 'Your will be done, as in heaven, so upon the earth' - this we confirmed by the following:

(Jesus said,) "This is the will of My Father..., that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life. (John 6:40)

...God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:15-16)

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36)

"And so on elsewhere. To believe in the Son is to turn to Him and have confidence that He saves, because He is the Savior of the world.

"Furthermore, it is known in the church that the Lord Jesus Christ reigns in heaven. He Himself also says that His kingdom exists there. Accordingly, when the Lord reigns likewise in the church, then the will of His Father is done, as in heaven, so upon the earth.

[12] "To this we will finally add the following," the angels said. "It is said throughout the whole Christian world that people who belong to the church constitute the body of Christ and are in His body. How then can a person in the church go to God the Father except through Him in whose body he is. Otherwise he must have to leave the body and go.

[13] "When the people from Armageddon heard these and many other things from the Word, they tried now and then to interrupt us and to cite the kinds of things the Lord addressed to His Father in a state of exinanition. 12 But their tongues then stuck to roofs of their mouths, since they were not permitted to contradict the Word.

"Eventually, however, the reins on their tongues were loosened and they cried out, 'You have spoken against the doctrine of our church, namely that we should turn to God the Father directly and believe in Him. Thus you have made yourselves guilty of violating our faith. Leave this place, therefore, and if you don't, we will throw you out.'

"Then, their passions fired up, they proceeded from threats to the attempt. But by a power then given us we struck them blind, so that not seeing us, they broke out into a level stretch of land, which was a desert. And of those that the boys saw from the window, some became as statues and idols, before whom the rest knelt, and they are the ones who appeared to you as apes on horses."


1. A legendary race of giants mentioned in the Old Testament. Goliath may have been one of their descendants.

2. Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:14.

3John 10:30; 17:11, 21.

4John 10:38; 14:20; 17:21.

5John 14:9.

6John 14:6.

7John 3:16, 18.

8John 3:16, 18; 6:40.

9John 3:36.

10Matthew 28:18.

11Luke 9:2, 60.

12. A term employed in 17th, 18th, and 19th century theology to mean the action or process of emptying out the self, used especially of the Christ, with reference to Philippians 2:7, 8


(References: John 3:35-36, John 14:6-7; Luke 11:2; Matthew 6:9-13)

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