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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 43:23

Numbers 6:26

Psalms 22:17, 84:4

Word/Phrase Explanations

'A week' signifies state, and 'the seventh week,' a holy state. The ancients understood 'a week' to mean any period divided into seven, whether days,...

In a general sense, doors in the Bible represent the initial desires for good and concepts of truth that introduce people to new levels of...

A disciple in Matthew 10:41 signifies charity and at the same time, faith from the Lord. It disciple signifies the truth of life, and a...

It would be simple to think that when the Bible mentions "Jews" it is simply talking about the descendants of the tribe of Judah, the...

As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

In ordinary life, we tend to think of "peace" as essentially "a lack of conflict." As a nation, if we're not at war, it's a...

As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

'Washing of the hands' was an ancient declaration of innocence, and signifies purification from evils and falsities, as in Psalms 73:13 and Matthew 27:24.

'Side' signifies good or spiritual love.

Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...

The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

There are two aspects to the life of each person. We might call them "heart" and "mind," a part of us that wants and feels...

'To forgive seven times' signifies forgiving at all times.

'To hold fast' signifies permanence in a state of good of love and faith up to the visitation.

'Twelve' and 'twenty-four' signify everything, and refer to truths.

The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

'To put' has reference to order, arrangement, application, and influx.

The meaning of "believe" in the Bible is pretty straightforward, but runs deeper than what appears on the surface. When in the Old Testament people...

The hand in the Bible represents power, which is easy to understand, so to reach out or stretch out the hand means to exercise power,...

To "answer" generally indicates a state of spiritual receptivity. Ultimately this means being receptive to the Lord, who is constantly trying to pour true ideas...

The meaning of "believe" in the Bible is pretty straightforward, but runs deeper than what appears on the surface. When in the Old Testament people...

The Bible often speaks of signs and miracles as things that convinced people of the Lord's leading. Swedenborg divides the two, identifying "signs" as things...

If knowing what’s right were the same as doing what’s right, we would all be thin, healthy, hard-working, law-abiding, faithful to our spouses and free...

'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

Christ is one of the names of the Lord. It derives from Greek, and means "the anointed one," a King or Messiah. Christ as King...

son of god
The Lord, in some places, calls Himself 'the son of God,' at other times, 'the son of man (ἄνθρωπος).' This is always according to the...

The meaning of "believe" in the Bible is pretty straightforward, but runs deeper than what appears on the surface. When in the Old Testament people...

In John 14:6, 'the way is doctrine,' 'the truth' is every thing pertaining to doctrine, and 'the life' is the essential good which is the...

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
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Crucifixion Prophecies Fulfilled
Jesus could have saved Himself from the cross, but then He would not have been able to show us with the great miracle of His resurrection that the death of the body is not the end of life. Sample from the Jacob's Ladder Program, Level 3, for ages 8-9.
Religion Lesson | Ages 8 - 9

 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. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

Article | Ages over 18

 Easter Diorama
Color and assemble a diorama showing Mary looking into the tomb and seeing the two angels. 
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Easter Morning
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Easter Morning
The story of Easter morning teaches that the Lord Jesus, who came to earth and touched us with His great love and wisdom, is more than a man. He is our God.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Easter Representation
Make a miniature garden scene to illustrate the Easter story in the gospel of John.
Project | Ages over 7

 Family Worship: Mary Magdalene Sees the Lord
Read the story in the gospel of John (20:1-16) about Mary Magdalene seeing the Lord. Use the discussion questions to talk about this story. 
Religion Lesson | All Ages

 Finding the Lord
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 For Reflection: Doubting Thomas
Think about the development of your faith and how it might relate to the disciple, Thomas.
Activity | Ages over 15

 For Reflection: Joy Comes in the Morning
Activity | Ages over 15

 Jesus and Mary Magdalene in the Garden
A picture of Mary Magdalene meeting the risen Lord, with native spring plants of the Holy Land 
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Jesus' Final Words
After the crucifixion Jesus appeared to His disciples, offering reassurance of His continued presence and commissioning them to love and follow Him.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Jesus' Words on the Cross
Jesus made seven statements from the cross. Discover how New Church teachings give insight into Jesus' message.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Looking into the Tomb
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Mary Magdalene and the Risen Lord
This talk focuses on Mary Magdalene being the first person to see the Risen Lord in the garden on Easter morning. 
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Mary Magdalene in the Garden
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Mary Magdalene Sees the Lord
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Peace Be with You
Heavenly peace transcends every idea of earthly happiness.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Prayers for Adults: Joy Comes in the Morning
Activity | Ages over 18

 Prayers for Teens: Joy Comes in the Morning
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 Questions Asked by God
Article | Ages over 15

 Quotes: I Am with You Always
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Joy Comes in the Morning
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

An in-depth look at the internal meaning or representation of Mary Magdalene and her recognition of the Risen Lord. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Remembering the Lord’s Resurrection
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Resurrection and Glorification
When Jesus rose He left the tomb empty. Through overcoming temptations He had glorified His body, or made it Divine.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Easter Story in John
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 The Easter Surprise
Surprise! Surprise! The Lord was alive and standing in front of Mary.
Story | Ages 4 - 6

 The First Easter
On the morning of the first easter, the Lord showed us that life goes on forever and that we never really die. Sample from the Jacob's Ladder Program, Introductory Level, for ages 5-6.
Religion Lesson | Ages 5 - 6

 The Joy of Seeing the Risen Lord
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord and Mary
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord Appears to His Disciples
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord Appears to the Disciples
Color the picture of the disciples and then insert the Lord through a slit in the page into their midst.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord Appears to the Disciples
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Lord as Comforter
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord's Message to Thomas
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Miracle of Easter
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 The Prince of Peace
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Resurrection
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 The Resurrection
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Resurrection (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Resurrection (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Resurrection (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 There You Will See Him
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Uses of Doubt
Doubt is not a weakness or failure of faith. It is a powerful tool in the Lord's hands.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

What was the purpose of - the Lord's resurrection from the dead by His own power - the greatest of all miracles? What was the Divine Plan and what is the promised victory for our own lives? 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18



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


Divine Wisdom #6

Divine Wisdom (Mongredien translation)      

Go to section / 12  

← Previous   Next →


This is something of which the world is in ignorance, because it has been in ignorance of what Correspondence is and of there being correspondence between everything in the world and everything in heaven: and likewise of there being in man correspondence between everything in his body and everything in his mind, for there is correspondence between natural things and spiritual things. What "Correspondence" is, however, also what the nature of it is, and with what things in the human body there is correspondence, has been already stated [No. 73].

As in man there is correspondence between everything in his body and everything in his mind, this is so in the first place with the heart and lungs. This correspondence is universal because the heart reigns throughout the body, as do the lungs also. The heart and lungs are as it were the two fountainheads of all the natural motions in the body, while the Will and Understanding are the two fountainheads of all the spiritual activities in that same body; and the natural motions of the body must correspond to the activities of its spirit, for unless they correspond, the life of the body as well as the life of the lower mind (animus) would cease. It is correspondence that causes both of these to have existence and to continue in existence.

[2] [88.] That the heart corresponds to the Will, or, what is the same thing, to the love, is evident from its pulse varying with each affection. Its variations consist in beating either slowly or rapidly, strongly or feebly, easily or with difficulty, regularly or irregularly, and so on; thus it is different in joy from what it is in sorrow, different in peace of mind from what it is in a fit of anger, different in bravery from what it is in fear, different when the body is heated from what it is when chilled: it differs in various ways in diseases: and so on.

[3] All affections are of the love, and are therefore of the Will. It is because the heart corresponds to affections that are of the love, and therefore of the Will, that wise men in ancient times referred the affections to the heart, some even laying it down that the seat of the affections was there. Owing to this, it has entered into common speech to say "kind-hearted," "fainthearted," "light-hearted," "sad-hearted," "softhearted," "hard-hearted," "great-hearted," "to have little heart for," "whole-hearted," "brokenhearted," "a heart of flesh," "a heart of stone," "heavy-hearted," "tender-hearted," "base hearted," "heartless," "putting one's heart into one's work," "giving one's whole heart to," "putting new heart into," "laying a thing to heart," "taking to heart," "one's heart not being touched," "hardening one's heart against," "lifting up one's heart," "a bosom friend": hence, too, the terms "concord," 1 "discord," "accord" and many others. Moreover, throughout the Word, by "heart" is signified the Will, or the love, the Word having been composed entirely by means of correspondences.

[4] [89.] It is the same with the lungs, by the breath (anima) or breathing (spiritus) of which is signified the Understanding 2 ; for, as the heart corresponds to the love or the Will, so the breath (anima) or breathing (spiritus) of the lungs, which is respiration, corresponds to the Understanding. It is on this account that it is said in the Word that man is to love God "with all his heart and all his soul (anima)," 3 by which is signified that he is to love Him "with all his Will and all his Understanding"; again it is said that God will create in man "a new heart and a new spirit (spiritus), 4 where by "heart" is signified the Will, and by "spirit" the Understanding, because a man is being created anew when he is being regenerated; hence, also, it is said of Adam that "Jehovah God breathed into his nostrils the breath (anima) of lives" 5 and made him a "living soul (anima)," by which is signified that God breathed into him "wisdom." Moreover, the "nostrils," by reason of the correspondence of the breathing effected through them, signify "perception," and it is owing to this that an intelligent person is said to "have a sharp nose," and an unintelligent person to "have a dull nose." For this reason also the Lord breathed upon His disciples, and said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit (spiritus) (John 20:22).

[5] By "His breathing" upon them is signified the intelligence they were to receive, and by the "Holy Spirit" is meant the Divine Wisdom teaching and enlightening men. This was done to show that the Divine Wisdom, understood by the Holy Spirit, proceeds from Himself. It is well known, too, from common speech that "soul (anima)" and "spirit (spiritus)" are used in reference to respiration, for when any one dies it is said that "he gives up the ghost (anima)" or that he "yields up his spirit (spiritus)," for he ceases then to breathe in and out. Besides, in most languages the word "spirit (spiritus)" means the two things, "a spirit in heaven" and "man's breathing," also "wind". This is the origin of the idea prevailing with many people that spirits in the heavens are like "air," and that so also are the souls of men after death, and even that God Himself is, because He is called a Spirit; whereas, on the contrary, God Himself is a Man; so, too, is a man's soul after death, and so is every spirit in the heavens. They are so called, however, because, in accordance with correspondence, "soul (anima)" and "spirit (spiritus)" signify wisdom.

[6] [90.] Again, that just as the heart corresponds to the Will, so the lungs correspond to the Understanding, is evidenced in a man's thought and speech. All thought is of the Understanding, and all speech is of the thought. A man cannot think unless the breathing (spiritus) of his lungs accompanies and is concordant. And so, when he is thinking quietly, he breathes quietly: if he is thinking deeply, he breathes deeply: similarly if he is thinking slowly, hurriedly, intently, calmly, ardently, etc.; if he were to hold his breath altogether he would not be able to think, except in his spirit and by its respiration; and so on. That the mouth's speech, proceeding from the thought of a man's Understanding, makes one with the breathing of his lungs, and so much one with it that he cannot utter the slightest sound or syllable without assistance from the lungs by way of larynx and epiglottis-that this is so, every one may know, if he wishes, by practical observation upon himself.

[7] [91.] Then another thing showing that the heart corresponds to the Will, and the lungs to the Understanding, is the universal government exercised by both heart and lungs throughout the body and in each and all things in it. That in the body there is a government exercised by the heart through the arteries and veins is recognized. That there is also a government exercised by the lungs may be verified by any anatomist; for the lungs, by their respiration, act both upon the ribs and upon the diaphragm, and through these two, by means of the ligaments and by means of the peritonaeum, upon all the viscera throughout the body, and upon all the muscles in the body, too; not only do they envelop the viscera and muscles, but they also penetrate far into them, so far indeed that there is not the least part in any one of them, from surface to centre, that does not derive some effect from the ligaments, consequently from the respiration. This is the case, most of all, with the stomach, owing to the fact that the esophagus passes through the diaphragm and joins company with the trachea issuing from the lungs. For the same reason, too, the heart has, besides its own motion, another caused by the lungs, for it rests upon the diaphragm and lies in the curve of the lungs, and is, through its auricles, attached to the lungs and in continuous connection with them; by this arrangement the respiratory motion passes also into the arteries and veins. Heart and lungs therefore have a joint dwelling within an arched space separated from the rest of the body, the space called the chest.

[8] A discerning investigator can see from the above facts that all living movements, called actions and coming into effect by means of the muscles, take place through the co-operation of the two motions, cardiac and pulmonary, this co-operation being present in every part, a general co-operation that is external together with a particular co-operation that is internal. Moreover, any one possessing penetration can see that those two sources of bodily motions, because they are produced by the Will and Understanding, correspond thereto.

[92.] This has furthermore been corroborated from heaven, it being granted me to be among angels who presented it to the life. By a wonderful flowing movement into gyres, which no words can describe, they formed a figure resembling a heart and another resembling a pair of lungs, together with all the structures, inner and outer, that they contain; they then moved in imitation of the flow (fluxus) 6 of heaven, for heaven is in a constant effort towards such forms, the effect of the influx of love and wisdom from the Lord. In this way these angels represented every part of the heart and lungs, as well as their union, which they call the marriage of love and wisdom. They said, moreover, that throughout the body and in each of its members, organs and viscera, there is a similar marriage between the things there that are of the heart and those that are of the lungs; and they said further that where these do not both act and each perform separately its respective part, no motion that is of life originating from anything of Will would be possible there, nor any sense that is of life originating from anything of Understanding.

[9] [93.] From all that has now been said, anyone desiring to penetrate to causes can be instructed, and be enabled to form an idea of how the Will conjoins itself to the Understanding, and the Understanding to the Will, and how they act conjointly; an idea of how the Will conjoins itself may be had from the heart, of how the Understanding conjoins itself, from the lungs, and of the reciprocal conjunction of Will and Understanding from the conjunction of heart and lungs.

From the above the truth of the preceding section is now confirmed, namely, that with human beings the receptacle for love becomes after birth their Will, and the receptacle for wisdom their Understanding; for it is after birth that the lungs are opened and that they, with the heart, initiate the active life that is of man's Will, and the sensative life that is of his Understanding. Neither of these two lives comes into activity from either the heart's operation alone or the lungs' operation alone, but only from their co-operation; nor do they come into activity unless there is correspondence, nor in a state of unconsciousness, nor with those being suffocated.


1. The Latin for heart is cor, genitive cord-is.

2. The Latin word anima means both "breath" and "soul," and spiritus means both "breathing" and "spirit." As the argument here depends on the double meanings of these Latin words, they have been inserted in brackets in every case.

3Deuteronomy 6:5

4Ezekiel 36:26

5Genesis 2:7.

6. Translator understands "situation and flowing" to mean "How the spherules were arranged" and "The course taken by the spherules themselves, or by any motion passing from one spherule to another".


Go to section / 12  

← Previous   Next →

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