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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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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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

 

Canons of the New Church #43

Canons of the New Church (Mongredien and Coulson translation)      

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43. CHAPTER V

A TRINITY OF PERSONS IN THE GODHEAD IS A PRODUCT OF THE NICENE COUNCIL, AND HAS BEEN DERIVED THEREFROM IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND IN THE CHURCHES AFTER IT. IT SHOULD THEREFORE BE CALLED THE NICENE TRINITY, BUT A TRINITY OF GOD IN ONE PERSON, THE LORD GOD THE SAVIOUR, IS OF CHRIST HIMSELF, AND WAS THENCE IN THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH, AND SHOULD THEREFORE BE CALLED THE CHRISTIAN TRINITY. THIS TRINITY OF GOD IS THE NEW CHURCH'S TRINITY

1. There are three summaries of the Christian Church's doctrine concerning the Divine Trinity as well as Unity, which are called Creeds, the Apostolic, the Nicene, and the Athanasian. The Apostles' Creed was drawn up by men termed the Apostolic Fathers; the Nicene Creed by an assembly of bishops and priests summoned by Emperor Constantine to the city of Nicaea for the purpose of dispelling the scandals of Arius in regard to his having denied the Divinity of the Son of God; and the Athanasian Creed by some person or persons immediately 1 after that Council. These three Creeds have been acknowledged and accepted by the Christian Church as ecumenical and catholic, that is, as the universals of doctrine in regard to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

2. The Apostles' Creed teaches thus:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, God 2 of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ His Son, our Lord, who was conceived from the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary ... I believe in the Holy Spirit, etc.

The Nicene Creed teaches thus:

I believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth ....

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; who came down from heaven and was incarnate from the Holy Spirit out of the virgin Mary, and was made Man ....

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the Prophets . . . .

The Athanasian Creed teaches thus:

The Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity. That there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit . . . That Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have one Godhead and coeternal majesty. That the Father is uncreate, immeasurable, eternal, almighty, God and Lord, in like manner the Son, and in like manner the Holy Spirit; nevertheless there are not three uncreates, immeasurables, eternals, almighties, gods and lords, but One. The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor created but begotten; the Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son, not made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. In this Trinity none is before or after another, none is greater or less than another, but the whole three Persons are co-eternal and co-equal. But since we are compelled by Christian verity to confess each Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic religion to say three Gods and three Lords.

Furthermore, in regard to the Lord Jesus Christ, thus:

That although He is God and Man, yet He is not two but one Christ.

3. From the pronouncements in the three creeds it may be gathered how God's Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity is understood in each case. For the Apostles' Creed declares in regard to God the Father, that He is the Creator of the Universe; in regard to His Son, that He was conceived from the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary; and in regard to the Holy Spirit, that it exists.

The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, declares in regard to God the Father, that He is the Creator of the Universe; in regard to the Son, that He was begotten before all ages and that He came down and was incarnate; and in regard to the Holy Spirit, that it proceeds from them both.

Whereas the Athanasian Creed declares in regard to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that they are three co-eternal and co-equal Persons, and that each one of them is God nevertheless there are not three Gods, but one and that although from Christian verity each Person by Himself is God, yet, from the Catholic religion, you may not say three Gods.

4. It is evident from these three Creeds that two Trinities have been handed down, one that came into existence before the world was created, the other that came into existence after that. A Trinity before the world was created is in the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, whereas a Trinity after the world was created is in the Apostles' Creed. Consequently, the Apostolic Church knew nothing of a "Son from eternity", but only of a Son born in the world; and so it is this Son that it invoked, not one born from eternity. On the other hand, the Church after the Nicene Creed, just as though it was established afresh, acknowledged as God a Son from eternity, but not the Son born in the world.

5. Those two Trinities differ as much from each other as evening and morning, or rather as night and day; accordingly, both of them together cannot possibly be affirmed as true in a member of the Church, because with him religion might perish, and with religion, sound reason. This is because it is not possible from the Nicene and Athanasian Trinities to think of one God, but it is possible to do so in the case of the Apostolic Trinity; and one God may be thought of in the latter case, because this Trinity exists in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God born in the world.

6. That the Divine Trinity is in the Lord God the Saviour Jesus Christ, He Himself teaches; for He says:

that the Father and He are one [John 10:30.]

that He is in the Father, and the Father in Him [John 14:10-11.]

that all things of the Father are His [John 3:35; 16:15.]

that he who sees Him sees the Father [John 14:9.]

also:

that he who believes in Him, believes in the Father [John 12:44.]

and, according to Paul,

In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily [Col. 2:9]

according to John,

He is the true God and eternal life [1 John 5:20.]

and according to Isaiah,

He is the Father of Eternity [Isa. 60:6.]

and elsewhere in the same He is "Jehovah the Redeemer", "the only God" 3 , and that, because of Redemption, He is "Jehovah our Righteousness" 4 ; and, where it treats of Him, that He is "God, Father" [Isa. 60:6; 63:16]; "His glory will He not give to another" [Isa. 42:8; 48:11; then that "the Holy Spirit is from Him" [John 20:22].

As, then, God is One and there is a Divine Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, according to the Lord's words, [Matt. 28:19], it follows that this Trinity is in one person, and that it is in the Person of Him who was conceived from God the Father, and born of the virgin Mary, and called, on that account, "Son of the Most High", "Son of God", "Only-begotten Son" [Luke 1:31-35; John 1:18; 20:31; Matt. 3:17 16:16; 17:5]. It is obvious to both internal and external sight that in all these places, and in those quoted above, there is not meant any Son from eternity. Accordingly, with this Divine Trinity, which is indeed the "Fullness of the Godhead, dwelling in Him bodily", [according to Paul], 5 being in the Lord God the Saviour Jesus Christ, it follows that He alone is to be approached, to be appealed to for help, and to be worshipped; and that, when this is done, the Father is being approached at the according to John, same time, and [the man] receives the Holy Spirit; for He teaches that He Himself is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life"; that no one cometh to the Father except through Him; and that he that does not by Him as the Door enter into the sheepfold (i.e. the Church), is not a shepherd, but a thief and a robber [John 14:6; 10:1-9]; then too, that they who believe on Him have eternal life, and they who do not believe, shall not see life, [John 3:15-16, 36; 6:40; 11:25-26; 1 John 5:20].

7. The Divine Trinity, and with it the Divine Unity, being in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer and Saviour of the world, this Trinity is the Trinity of the New Church.

[Chapter VI and the first part of Chapter VII are missing. The two pages of the original on which they were written could not be found when the two existing copies were made.]

-----
Footnotes:

1. The word statim (immediately) is not found in Sk.

2. The word "God" is here in both MSS. Worcester alters it to "Creator", which agrees with the usual form of the Creed. See paragraph 3 of this chapter.

3. See Isa, 43:10-14; 44:6, 24; 14:21-22; etc.

4. See Jer. 23:6.

5. The words, "according to Paul", are found here in N. but not in Sk.

-----

(References: Hebrews 2:9; Isaiah 9:6, 45:21-22, 62:8; John 1:2, 16:10-11; Luke 5:20; Matthew 3:16-17, 24:1)

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


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