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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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


A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine #120

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine (Stanley translation)      

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120. The third Memorable Experience from THE APOCALYPSE REVEALED. 1 As I have been permitted by the Lord to see the wonderful things which are in the heavens and under the heavens, I am obliged, as commanded, to describe what I have seen. There appeared a magnificent palace with a temple in its innermost part. In the middle of the temple stood a table of gold, on which lay the Word; and two angels stood beside it. Round about the table was a triple row of seats. The seats of the first row were covered with a silken cloth of crimson those of the second row with a silken cloth of blue and those of the third row with a white cloth. Below the roof, high above the table, appeared a canopy of tapestry, shining with precious stones, from whose lustre there shone forth, as it were, a rainbow, as when the sky is clear after rain. Then suddenly there appeared sitting on the seats a number of the clergy clothed in the garments of their priestly office. On one side was a wardrobe, where stood an angel custodian, and within the wardrobe lay splendid vestments in beautiful order.

(References: Isaiah 45:21-22, Isaiah 59:19-20; Matthew 1:20-25)

[2] It was a Council convened by the Lord; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Deliberate." But they said, "On what?" The reply was, "Concerning the Lord the Saviour, and concerning the Holy Spirit." But when they thought on these subjects they were not in a state of illumination wherefore they made supplication, and immediately light streamed down out of heaven, first illuminating the back part of their heads, afterwards their temples, and lastly their faces. Then they began deliberating as commanded; first, concerning the Lord the Saviour. The first question to be considered was Who assumed the Human in the Virgin Mary? And the angel standing at the table on which was the Word read these words from Luke in their presence: The angel said to Mary, Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called The Son of the Highest.... And Mary said to the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answering said, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore, also, that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Luke 1:31-32, 34-35.

Then he also read from the first chapter of Matthew, verses 20-25, and when he came to the 25th verse he read it with a loud voice. In addition he read many passages from the Evangelists, as Matthew 3:17, 17:5; John 20:31; with other statements where the Lord as to His Human is called the Son of God, and where, from His Human, He calls Jehovah His Father. Further, he read from the Prophets, where it is foretold that Jehovah Himself was about to come into the world; among them were these passages from Isaiah:

It shall be said in that day, Lo This is our God, for Whom we have waited to deliver us; this is Jehovah, for Whom we have waited; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation. Isaiah 25:9.

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah; make level in the desert a pathway for our God.... And the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.... Behold, the Lord Jehovah cometh in strength.... He shall feed His flock like a shepherd. Isaiah 40:3, 5, 10-11.

(References: Luke 1:31-35; Matthew 1:20-25)

[3] Then the angel said, "As Jehovah Himself came into the world and assumed a Human, and by it has redeemed and saved mankind, therefore He is called by the Prophets the Saviour and the Redeemer. And then he read to them the following passages:

Surely God is in thee, and there is no God else. Verily Thou art a hidden God, O God of Israel the Saviour. Isaiah 45:14-15.

Am not I Jehovah, and there is no God else besides Me? A just God and there is no Saviour besides Me? Isaiah 45:21.

I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no Saviour. Isaiah 43:11.

I am Jehovah thy God.., and thou shalt acknowledge no God besides Me; and there is no Saviour besides Me. Hosea 13:4.

That all flesh may know that I Jehovah am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer. Isaiah 49:26; 60:16.

As for our Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts is His name. Isaiah 47:4.

Their Redeemer, the mighty Jehovah of Hosts is His name. Jeremiah 50:34.

Jehovah, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14.

Thus saith Jehovah thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, I am Jehovah thy God. Isaiah 48:17; 43:14; 49:7; 54:8.

Thou, Jehovah, art our Father; our Redeemer from of old is Thy name. Isaiah 63:16.

Thus saith Jehovah thy Redeemer...I am Jehovah that maketh all things...and by Myself alone. Isaiah 44:24.

Thus saith Jehovah, the king of Israel, and His Redeemer, Jehovah of Hosts; I am the First and the Last, and besides Me there is no God. Isaiah 44:6.

Jehovah of Hosts is His name, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall He be called. Isaiah 54:5.

Behold, the days come when I will raise unto David a righteous Branch Who shall reign a king ...and this is His name, Jehovah our Righteousness. Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15-16.

In that day Jehovah shall be King over all the earth in that day there shall be one Jehovah, and His name One. Zechariah 14:9.

(References: Isaiah 45:21-22)

[4] From all these passages, those who sat on the seats were convinced, and unanimously declared, that Jehovah Himself assumed the Human to redeem and save mankind. But then a voice was heard from the Roman Catholics who had hidden themselves behind the altar, saying, "How could Jehovah, the Father, become a man? Is He not the Creator of the universe?" And one of those who sat on the second row of seats turned round and said, "Who was it, then?" Then the one from behind the altar, advancing to its side, replied, "The Son from eternity." But he was answered: "Is not the Son from eternity, according to your own confession, also the Creator of the universe? And what is a Son, or a God, born from eternity? And how is it possible for the Divine Essence, which is one and indivisible, to be separated, and for one part to descend and not at the same time the whole?"

[5] The other matter of enquiry concerning the Lord was: Whether the Father and He are One, as the soul and the body are one? They said that this follows of necessity because the soul is from the father. Then one of those who sat on the third row of seats read out of the Confession of Faith, called the Athanasian Creed, the following passage: Although our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man...yet they are not two, but one altogether ... by unity of Person. For as the soul and body are one man, so God and man is one Christ. "This faith," said the reader, "is received throughout the whole Christian world, even by the Roman Catholics." Then they said, "What need have we of further proof? God the Father and He are one, as the soul and body are one." And they continued, "Because this is so, we perceive that the Lord's Human is Divine, for it is the Human of Jehovah also that the Lord ought to be approached as to His Divine Human, and that thus and not otherwise can the Divine, which is called the Father, be approached."

[6] This conclusion of theirs the angel confirmed by many passages from the Word, among them were these from Isaiah:

Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given ...Whose name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God, Hero, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6.

Abraham knows us not, and Israel does not acknowledge us. Thou, Jehovah, art our Father, our Redeemer from of old is Thy name. Isaiah 63:1, 6

And in John:

Jesus said, He that believeth on Me ...believeth on Him that sent Me. And he that seeth Me, seeth him that sent Me. John 12:44-45. Philip said to Jesus, Show us the Father ...Jesus said to him, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not 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.

Jesus said, I and the Father are one. John 10:30.

All things that the Father hath are Mine ...and all Mine are the Father's. John 16:15; 17:10.


Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one cometh to the Father, but by Me. John 14:6.

When they had heard these statements, they all declared with one voice and heart that the Lord's Human is Divine, and that this should be approached in order that the Father may be approached; since Jehovah God, Who is the Lord from eternity, sent Himself by this means into the world, and made Himself visible to men's eyes, and thus accessible. Likewise, He made Himself visible and thus accessible to men of olden times in a human form, but then by means of an angel.

[7] After this followed a discussion concerning the Holy Spirit. First the idea held by many people regarding God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit was disclosed, which was this; that God the Father sat on high, with the Son at His right hand, and that they sent forth the Holy Spirit from themselves to enlighten and instruct mankind. But then a voice was heard from heaven saying, "We cannot endure such an idea. Who does not know that Jehovah God is omnipresent? And whoever knows and acknowledges this, should also acknowledge that it is He Himself who enlightens and instructs, and that there is not a mediating God distinct from Him, much less from two, as one person is distinct from another. Wherefore, let the former idea which is false be removed, and let this other idea which is sound be received, and then you will see this clearly."

[8] But then a voice was heard again from the Roman Catholics who had concealed themselves behind the altar of the temple, saying, "What then is the Holy Spirit, who is mentioned in the Word by the Evangelists and Paul, and by whom so many of the learned among the clergy, particularly of our Church, profess to be led? Who in the Christian world at this day denies the Holy Spirit and His operations?" Upon this, one of those who were sitting on the second row of seats turned round and said, "You say that the Holy Spirit is a Person by Himself, and a God by Himself. But what is a person going forth and proceeding from a person but operation going forth and proceeding? One person cannot go forth and proceed from another by another, but operation canon Or what is a God going forth and proceeding from a God but the Divine going forth and proceeding? One God cannot go forth and proceed from another by another, but the Divine canon Is not the Divine Essence one and indivisible? And since the Divine Essence, or the Divine Esse, is God, is not God therefore one and indivisible?"

[9] On hearing these words, those who sat on the seats concluded unanimously that the Holy Spirit is not a Person by Himself, thus not a God by Himself, but that it is the Holy Divine going forth and proceeding from the one and only omnipotent God, Who is the Lord. To this the angels who stood at the golden table on which lay the Word said, "Good; for it is nowhere written in any part of the Old Testament that the prophets spake the Word from the Holy Spirit, but from Jehovah, the Lord; and wherever the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the New Testament it signifies the Divine Proceeding, which enlightens, instructs, vivifies, reforms and regenerates.

[10] After this another subject of enquiry respecting the Holy Spirit was raised, viz., From Whom proceeds the Divine which is called the Holy Spirit, from the Divine which is called the Father or from the Divine Human which is the Son? Whilst they discussed this, a light shone from heaven, whereby they saw that the Holy Divine, meant by the Holy Spirit, proceeds from the Divine in the Lord through His glorified Human, which is the Divine Human, comparatively as all activity with man proceeds from the soul through the body. This truth the angel who stood by the table confirmed by these passages:

He Whom the Father hath sent speaketh the words of God; He hath not given the spirit by measure unto Him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand. John 3:34-35.

There shall come forth a Rod out of 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.

The Spirit of Jehovah was put upon Him, and was in Him. Isaiah 42:1; 59:19, 21; 61:1; Luke 4:18. When the Holy Spirit shall have come, whom I am about to send unto you from the Father. John 15:26.

He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine, and shall declare it unto you. All things that the Father hath are Mine; wherefore I said, He is about to receive of Mine and to declare it unto you. John 16:14-15.

If I go away I will send the Comforter unto you. John 16:7.

The Comforter is the Holy Spirit. John 14:26.

The Holy Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:39.

But after the glorification: Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, Receive ye the Holy Spirit. John 20:22.

And in the Revelation:

Who shall not glorify Thy name, O Lord, for Thou only art holy. Revelation 15:4.

(References: Isaiah 59:19-20)

[11] Inasmuch as the Divine operation of the Lord from His Divine Omnipresence is meant by the Holy Spirit, therefore when He spoke to His disciples concerning the Holy Spirit, which He was about to send from God the Father, He also said:

I will not leave you orphans...I go away...and come to you.... In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in Me, and I in you. John 14:18, 28, 20.

And just before His departure out of the world He said:

Lo I am with you all the days, even to the consummation of the age. Matthew 28:20.

Having read these words in their presence, the angel said, "From these and many other passages from the Word it is evident that the Divine which is called the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Divine in the Lord through His Divine Human. To this those who sat on the seats exclaimed, "This is Divine truth."

[12] Lastly, this decision was made: From what has been deliberated in this council we clearly see, and therefore acknowledge as holy truth, that in the Lord God, the Saviour Jesus Christ, there is a Divine Trinity which is the Originating Divine, called the Father, the Divine Human which is the Son, and the Divine Proceeding which is the Holy Spirit. Then they exclaimed together: In Jesus Christ dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Colossians 2:9. Thus, there is One God in the Church.

(References: Hebrews 2:9)

[13] After these things were concluded in that magnificent council, they arose, and the angel-custodian of the wardrobe came and brought to each of those who had sat on the seats splendid garments interwoven here and there with threads of gold; and he said, "Receive ye these wedding garments." They were then conducted in glory to the New Christian Heaven, with which the Lord's Church on earth, which is the New Jerusalem, will be united.

There shall be one day which is known to Jehovah, nor day nor night...for about evening-time it shall be light. It shall come to pass in that day, living waters shall go out from Jerusalem... and Jehovah shall be King over all the earth in that day there shall be one Jehovah, and His name one. Zechariah 14:7-9.


(References: Luke 1:31-35)

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