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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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 Revealed #962

Apocalypse Revealed (Rogers translation)      

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962. The second account:

Since the Lord has granted me to see marvels that exist in the heavens and beneath the heavens, I am obliged by command to relate something I saw:

I saw a magnificent palace and at its center a large chapel. In the middle of the chapel there was a table of gold on which lay the Word, with two angels standing beside it.

Placed around the table were three rows of chairs. The chairs in the first row were covered with a purple-colored silk cloth, the chairs in the second row with a blue-colored silk cloth, and the chairs in the third row with a white cloth.

Hanging high up over the table from the ceiling I saw a canopy glistening with precious stones, whose radiance shone like that of a rainbow when the sky grows calm after a rain.

Suddenly then I saw, sitting on the chairs, as many of the clergy as there were seats, all attired in the vestments of their priestly office.

On one side there was a vestry where an angel custodian stood, and in it lay a beautiful array of shining vestments.

(References: Revelation 15:5)

[2] It was a council convened by the Lord, and I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Deliberate!"

However, they said, "About what?"

They were told, "About the Lord and the Holy Spirit."

But when they began to consider these, they found themselves without enlightenment and therefore prayed for it. And light then shone down from heaven, which illumined first the backs of their heads, next their temples, and finally their faces. With that they began, and as they were commanded, they considered first the Lord.

The first question proposed and discussed was who assumed the humanity in the virgin Mary.

One of the angels standing beside the table on which lay the Word read to them the following verses in Luke:

(The angel said to Mary,) "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest?." Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" And the angel answered and said..., "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore... that Holy One who is to be born (from you) will be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:31-32, 34-35)

The angel also read the verses found in Matthew 1:20-25, and with emphasis what is said there in verse 25. 1

He read in addition more verses from the Gospels, where in respect to His humanity the Lord is called the Son of God, and where from the perspective of His humanity He calls Jehovah His Father. And from the Prophets as well, where it is foretold that Jehovah Himself would come into the world, including among others the following two passages in Isaiah:

It will be said in that day: "Behold, this is our God... This is Jehovah; we have waited for Him; we will exult and rejoice in His salvation." (Isaiah 25:9)

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of Jehovah; make straight in the desert a highway for our God... (For) the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together... Behold, the Lord Jehovih shall come with might... He will feed His flock like a shepherd. (Isaiah 40:3, 5, 10-11)

[3] The angel said moreover, "Since Jehovah Himself came into the world and assumed human form and by it saved and redeemed men, therefore in the Prophets He is called a Savior and Redeemer." And He read to them then the following passages:

Surely God is in you, and there is no other (God).... Truly You are God, who hide Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior! (Isaiah 45:14-15)

Am I not Jehovah? And there is no other God besides Me. There is no just God and Savior besides Me. (Isaiah 45:21-22)

...I am Jehovah, and besides Me there is no savior. (Isaiah 43:11)

I am Jehovah your God..., and you shall acknowledge no God but Me; there is also no Savior besides Me. (Hosea 13:4)

...that all flesh may know that I, Jehovah, am your Savior and your Redeemer... (Isaiah 49:26, cf. 60:16)

As for our Redeemer, Jehovah Zebaoth is His name... (Isaiah 47:4)

Their Redeemer is strong; Jehovah Zebaoth is His name. (Jeremiah 50:34)

...O Jehovah, my rock and my Redeemer. (Psalms 19:14)

Thus said Jehovah, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am Jehovah your God...." (Isaiah 48:17, cf. 43:14; 49:7; 54:8)

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

Thus said Jehovah, your Redeemer...: "I am Jehovah, who makes all things, ...all alone, Myself." (Isaiah 44:24)

Thus said Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah Zebaoth: "I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God." (Isaiah 44:6)

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

Behold, the days are coming... when I will raise to David a righteous Branch, who shall reign a King... And this is His name...: JEHOVAH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jeremiah 23:5-6, cf. 33:15-16)

In that day... Jehovah shall become King over all the earth. In that day there shall be one Jehovah and His name one. (Zechariah 14:8-9)

(References: Zechariah 14:9)

[4] Having been convinced by all these passages, the clergymen sitting on the chairs unanimously said that Jehovah Himself assumed human form in order to save and redeem men.

But at that a voice was heard from a group of Roman Catholics who had hidden themselves in a corner of the chapel, saying, "How can Jehovah, the Father, become a man? Is He not the Creator of the universe?"

Then one of the clergymen sitting on the chairs in the second row turned and said, "Who assumed human form then?"

And from the corner the Roman Catholic responded, "The Son from eternity."

But he received the reply, "Is not the Son from eternity, according to your belief, also the Creator of the universe? And what is a Son or God born from eternity? How can the Divine essence, which is a single entity and indivisible, be divided, and one part of it descend and take on human form, and not at the same time the whole of it?"

[5] A second discussion regarding the Lord considered whether God the Father and the Lord were not thus one, as soul and body are one. The clergymen said that it followed as a consequence, because the father is the origin of the soul. And then one of those who were sitting on the chairs in the third row recited the following from the statement of faith called the Athanasian Creed:

But although (our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God) is God and man, nevertheless there are not two Christs but one...; indeed, being completely one... by the unity of His person. For as the soul and the body are one person, so God and man are one Christ.

The clergyman reciting this said that this is the accepted faith throughout the Christian world, accepted also by Roman Catholics. And they all said then, "What need is there of more? God the Father and the Lord are one, as soul and body are one."

Then they said, "This being the case, we see that the Lord's humanity is Divine, because it is Jehovah's humanity. And we see that one must turn to the Lord in His Divine humanity, this being the only way that one can approach the Divine called the Father."

[6] The angel confirmed this conclusion of theirs with still more passages from the Word, which included the following in Isaiah:

...unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given... whose name (is) Wonderful, Counselor, God, Hero, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Also in Isaiah:

...You are our Father; ...Abraham was ignorant of us, and Israel does not acknowledge us. You, Jehovah, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name. (Isaiah 63:16)

And in John:

Jesus... said, "He who believes in Me, believes... in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me." (John 12:44-45)

Philip said to (Jesus), ." us the Father...." Jesus says to him, ."..He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how then can you say, 'Show us the Father'... Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? ...Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me...." (John 14:8-11)

And finally the following:

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

When they heard these passages, the clergymen all said with one heart and mouth that the Lord's humanity is Divine, and that one must turn to Him in order to go to the Father, since Jehovah God, who is the Lord from eternity, by means of that humanity introduced Himself into the world and made Himself visible to the eyes of men and accessible. In like manner He made Himself visible and so accessible in human form to people in ancient times, but did so then by means of an angel.

[7] Following this they next took up a deliberation regarding the Holy Spirit. And they began by determining the idea many of them had of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, namely of God the Father sitting on high, so to speak, having the Son at His right hand, and the two sending out the Holy Spirit to enlighten and instruct mankind.

But then a voice was heard from heaven, saying, "We cannot abide that mental image! Who does not know that Jehovah God is omnipresent? Anyone who knows and acknowledges this must also acknowledge that it is He who enlightens and instructs, and that there is no intermediate God, distinct from Him, and still less distinct from two others, as one person is from another. Rid yourselves, therefore, of your earlier idea, which is an idle one, and accept this one, which is the right one, and you will see the matter clearly."

[8] However, a voice was again heard then from the group of Roman Catholics who had hidden themselves in a corner of the chapel, saying, "What then is the Holy Spirit, which is mentioned in the Word by the Gospels and Paul, by which so many of the learned in the clergy say they are led, especially in our clergy? Who today in the Christian world denies the reality of the Holy Spirit and its operation?"

At that one of the clergymen sitting on the chairs in the second row turned and said, "The Holy Spirit is the Divinity emanating from the Lord Jehovah. You say that the Holy Spirit is a distinct person and a distinct God, yet what is a person that originates and emanates from a person but an operation that originates and emanates? One person cannot originate or emanate from another one by means of another, but an operation can. Or what is a God that originates and emanates from God but a Divinity that originates and emanates? One God cannot originate and emanate from another one by means of another, but a Divinity can. Is not the Divine essence one and indivisible? And because the Divine essence or Divine being is God, is not God one and indivisible?"

[9] Hearing this, the clergymen sitting on the chairs unanimously concluded that the Holy Spirit is not a distinct person or a distinct God, but that it is the holy Divinity originating and emanating from the one and only omnipresent God, who is the Lord.

At that the angels standing beside the golden table on which lay the Word said, "Good! You do not read anywhere in the Old Testament that the prophets were inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak the Word, but that they were inspired by the Lord Jehovah. And where the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the New Testament, it means the emanating Divinity, which is the Divinity that enlightens, instructs, vivifies, reforms and regenerates."

[10] After this the clergymen took up a second discussion of the Holy Spirit, asking from whom the Divinity called the Holy Spirit emanated, whether it did so from the Divine called the Father, or from the Divine human called the Son. And as they were discussing this, a light shone from heaven which enabled them to see that the holy Divinity meant by the Holy Spirit emanates from the Divinity in the Lord by means of His glorified humanity, which is His Divine humanity, comparatively as every activity in the case of a person emanates from the soul by means of the body.

This conclusion one of the angels standing beside the table confirmed from the Word by the following verses:

...He whom (the Father) has sent speaks the words of God, ...God does not give (Him) the Spirit by measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. (John 3:34-35)

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse... The Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might... (Isaiah 11:1-2)

Also verses saying that Jehovah put His spirit upon Him, and that the spirit of Jehovah was in Him (Isaiah 42:1; 59:19-20; 61:1, Luke 4:18).

When the (Holy Spirit) comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father... (John 15:26)

He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:14-15)

...if I depart, I will send (the Counselor) to you. (John 16:7)

The Counselor is the Holy Spirit (John 14:26).

...the Holy Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:39)

After His glorification Jesus breathed on His disciples and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22).

[11] Since the Lord's Divine operation and His Divine omnipresence are meant by the Holy Spirit, therefore when He spoke to His disciples about the Holy Spirit whom God the Father would send, He also said:

I will not leave you orphans... I am going away and coming back to you. (John 14:18, 28)


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

And just before He departed from the world He said:

Lo, I am with you always, even to the culmination of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

After he read these verses to them, the angel said, "From these and many other passages in the Word, it is apparent that the Divinity called the Holy Spirit emanates from the Divinity in the Lord by means of His Divine humanity."

At that the clergymen sitting on the chairs said, "It is the Divine truth."

[12] Lastly the clergymen formed this declaration, that "from the

deliberations in this council we have clearly seen and so acknowledge as a sacred truth that there is a trinity in our Lord Jesus Christ, namely, an originating Divine called the Father, a Divine humanity that is the Son, and an emanating Divinity that is the Holy Spirit. Thus there is in the church but one God."

[13] After these proceedings in that grand council were concluded, the clergymen stood up, and the angel custodian came from the vestry, bringing for each of those sitting on the chairs shining vestments, which were interwoven here and there with gold threads. And the angel said, "Take these wedding garments."

Then the clergymen were conveyed gloriously into the New Christian Heaven, the heaven with which the Lord's church on earth, the New Jerusalem, will be conjoined.

Revelation 22:21

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.



1. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us." Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS. (Matthew 1:20-25)


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Apocalypse Revealed 21, 839

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A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 120

True Christian Religion 188

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