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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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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midst
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remit
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retain
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one
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my lord
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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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 Death and Resurrection
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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

 

Divine Wisdom #6

Divine Wisdom (Mongredien translation)      

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6. [87.] VI. THERE IS CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE HEART AND THE WILL, AND BETWEEN THE LUNGS AND THE UNDERSTANDING

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.

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Footnotes:

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".

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


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