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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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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fear
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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.


 Compare the Easter Story in 4 Gospels
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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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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

Arcana Coelestia #4677

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)

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4677. 'And he made him a tunic of various colours' means the resulting appearances of truth by which the spiritual of the natural is recognized and distinguished. This is clear from the meaning of 'a tunic' as the truth of the natural, dealt with below; and from the meaning of 'various colours' as appearances of truth by which the spiritual of the natural is recognized and distinguished. No one can know that these things are meant by 'various colours' unless he knows that colours may be seen in the next life no less than in the world - colours which are far more beautiful and various - and unless he knows the origins of those colours. Colours seen in the next life are produced by the variegation of light there and are so to speak modifications of intelligence and wisdom, for the light which is seen there is a manifestation of Divine Truth received from the Lord, that is, it is the Divine Spiritual from Him, or what amounts to the same, is Divine Intelligence and Wisdom. These two are seen as light before the eyes of angels and spirits. From this one may see what is meant by the colours being products of that light, namely different kinds and so appearances of truth that are due to varying affections for good and truth. Regarding colours in the next life, see 1042, 1043, 1053, 1624, 3993, 4530.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1042-1043)


[2] It has been stated already in 3301 that 'a tunic' means the truth of the natural, but as this meaning was not substantiated there from other places in the Word, let these be mentioned here. Because kings in the Jewish Church represented the Lord as regards the Divine Spiritual or Divine Truth, 2015, 2069, 3009, 3670, their daughters therefore wore tunics of various colours, for 'daughters' meant affections for good and truth, and so meant Churches, 2362, 3963. The following is said of them in the second Book of Samuel,

On Tamar, David's daughter, there was a tunic of various colours, for virgin daughters of the king wore such clothes. 2 Samuel 13:18.

[3] And because high priests represented the Lord as regards the Divine

Celestial or Divine Good, Aaron therefore wore vestments which represented Divine Truth that was derived from the Lord's Divine Good; for Divine Good exists within the Lord, whereas Divine Truth proceeds from Him. This was what those vestments represented. Something similar was represented when the Lord was transfigured before Peter, James, and John, in that Divine Good was seen as the sun, and Divine Truth was manifested by means of His garments which had the appearance of light, Matthew 17:2.

[4] Regarding the vestments worn by Aaron and his sons, the following is said in Moses,

You shall make for Aaron a tunic of fine linen, and a turban of fine linen; and you shall make a girdle, the work of an embroiderer. And you shall make tunics for Aaron's sons, and you shall make girdles for them, and you shall make head-coverings for them, for glory and adornment. Exodus 28:39-40.

Each article of clothing here meant something connected with Divine Truth derived from the Lord's Divine Good, 'a tunic of fine linen' meaning specifically the Divine Spiritual. The same applies elsewhere in the same author,

You shall take the vestments, and put the tunic on Aaron, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and you shall clothe him with the girdle of the ephod. Then you shall cause his sons to come near, and you shall put them in tunics. Exodus 29:5, 8; 40:14.

What each article of clothing means here will in the Lord's Divine mercy be stated when those verses come up for consideration. 'Garments' in general are truths, see 297, 1073, 2576, 4545.

[5] Prophets too wore tunics, though theirs were made of hair. This was because prophets represented the Lord as regards truths of doctrine, and since truths belong to the natural or external man, their tunics were made of hair - 'hair' meaning the natural, see 3301.

[6] The fact that 'a tunic' means Divine Truth received from the Lord is evident further still from those places where a tunic is mentioned in the New Testament, as in John,

The soldiers took His garments and made four parts, a part for each soldier, and His tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from the top throughout. Therefore they said to one another, Let us not divide it- so that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saying They divided My garments for themselves, and for My tunic they cast lots. John 19:23-24.

Anyone reading this description supposes that it does not hold anything deeper within it than the facts that the garments were divided among the soldiers and that lots were cast for the tunic. But each detail described here represented and meant spiritually something Divine - that is to say, those two details about the garments being divided into four and about the tunic not being divided but having lots cast for it, and above all the detail about the tunic being without seam and woven from the top throughout. 'The tunic' meant the Lord's Divine Truth, which being singular - derived from Good - was represented by the tunic's being without seam and woven from the top throughout.

(References: John 20:23-24)


[7] Much the same was meant by Aaron's tunic which, as is evident in Moses, was woven or the work of a weaver,

They made tunics of fine linen, the work of a weaver, for Aaron and his sons Exodus 39:27.

Also represented by the tunic without seam was the fact that the Lord did not allow Divine Truth to be torn apart, as was done by the Jews to the lower truths of the Church.

[8] Because Divine Truth is singular - that is to say, it is derived solely from Divine Good - the twelve disciples were commanded, when they were being sent out to preach the gospel of the kingdom, not to have two tunics. This is recorded in Luke as follows,

Jesus sent the twelve disciples to preach the kingdom of God. And He said to them, Take nothing for the way, neither staves, nor bag, nor bread, nor silver, nor have two tunics each. Luke 9:2-3.

In Mark,

He charged them to take nothing for the way except a staff; not a bag, nor bread, nor bronze in the belt, but to wear sandals; and do not put on two tunics. Mark 6:8-9.

And in Matthew,

Do not possess gold, nor silver, nor bronze in your belts, nor bag for the way, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staves. Matthew 10:9-10.

[9] All the individual instructions given in these places are representative of the celestial and spiritual things of the Lord's kingdom which the disciples were sent to preach. The reason they were not to take gold, silver, bronze, bag, or bread with them was that those things meant different kinds of good and truth received from the Lord alone. 'Gold' means good, 113, 1551, 1552, while 'silver' means truth derived from that good, 1551, 2954; 'bronze' means natural good, 425, 1551, and 'bread' the good of love, which is heavenly good, 276, 680, 2165, 2177, 3478, 3735, 4211, 4217. 'Tunic' however and 'sandal' meant the truths with which they were to be endued, and 'staff the power of truth derived from good. For 'staff' means that power, see 4013, 4015; 'sandal' the lowest natural, 1748, here its truth; and 'tunic' interior natural truth. Now because these things had to be not twofold but singular, they were forbidden to have two staves, two pairs of sandals, or two tunics. These are the arcana contained in what the Lord commanded, but no one can possibly know about them except from the internal sense.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1551-1552)


[10] All the detailed instructions spoken by the Lord were representative of Divine things, and consequently of the celestial and spiritual things of His kingdom. They were accordingly suited to the mental grasp of men and at the same time to the understanding of spirits and angels. Therefore the things spoken by the Lord pervaded the whole of heaven and continue to do so. From this it is also evident how valuable and important it is to know the internal sense of the Word. Without it anyone can use the Word to support whatever dogma he likes; and because this is seen to be so by those who are subject to evil, they therefore deride the Word and think it is anything but Divine.

(References: Genesis 37:3)

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   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 4741, 4742, 4763, 4768, 4771, 4775, 4922, 5313, 5433, 9049, 9093, 9466, 9826, 9833, 9868, 9905

The White Horse 8

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 35, 121


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 269, 364

Other New Christian Commentary

Daughter 1

Coat 1

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.


 The Coat of Many Colors
In reality, the majority of our persecutions come from within ourselves. Evil spirits attack us by stirring up selfish tendencies and attitudes.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18


Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.


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