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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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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jews
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midst
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remit
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retain
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one
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twelve
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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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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

 

True Christian Religion #188

True Christian Religion (Chadwick translation)      

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188. The fourth experience 1 .

Since I have been allowed by the Lord to see the wonders in the heavens and in the regions below the heavens, my instructions impose on me the duty of relating what I have seen.

I saw a magnificent palace, and at its heart a church. In the middle of this was a table made of gold, on which was the Word, with two angels standing by it. Seats were arranged around it in three rows. The seats of the first row were covered in silk cloth of purple colour, those of the second row in silk cloth of blue colour, those of the third row in white cloth. Beneath the roof, high above the table, was to be seen a curtain drawn across, glittering with precious stones, from which shone a radiance resembling the rainbow to be seen when the sky clears after rain. Then suddenly there appeared clergy to the same number as the seats, all dressed in their priestly vestments. At one side was a strong-box guarded by an angel, in which lay splendid vestments arranged in beautiful order.

[2] It was a council summoned by the Lord; and I heard a voice from heaven saying: 'Debate.' 'But on what subject?' they said. They were told to debate about the Lord the Saviour and the Holy Spirit. When they began to think about these subjects, they had no enlightenment; so they prayed for it, and then light poured down from heaven, which first of all lit up the backs of their heads, then their temples, and finally their faces. Then they began, speaking first as instructed about the Lord the Saviour.

The first question proposed for discussion was: who was it that took upon himself human form in the Virgin Mary? The angel who stood by the table holding the Word read to them this passage from Luke:

The angel said to Mary, Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and will give birth to a son; and you are to call his name Jesus. He will be mighty, and will be called the Son of the Most High. And Mary said to the angel, How will this be, seeing I have no knowledge of a man? And the angel answered and said, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; hence what is born of you will be holy, and will be called the Son of god, Luke 1:31-32, 34-35.

He also read this passage in Matthew:

The angel said to Joseph in a dream, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your betrothed, for what is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And Joseph did not know her, until she had given birth to her first-born son; and he called his name Jesus, Matthew 1:20, 25.

In addition he read many passages from the Gospels (such as Matthew 3:17; 17:5; John 1:18; 3:16; 20:31), and many other passages where the Lord in His Human is called the Son of God, and where He from His Human calls Jehovah His Father, for instance, the passages in the Prophets which predict the coming of Jehovah Himself into the world. Among these were the following two from Isaiah:

On that day it will be said, Behold, He is our God, whom we have awaited to free us. He is Jehovah, whom we have awaited, let us exult and rejoice in His salvation, Isaiah 25:9.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of Jehovah, make smooth in the desert a path for our God. For the glory of Jehovah will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together. Behold, the Lord Jehovih comes in might, like a shepherd will He feed His flock, Isaiah 40:3, 5, 10-11.

[3] The angel said: 'Since Jehovah Himself came into the world and took upon Himself human form, [and by this means saved and redeemed man] 2 therefore in the Prophets He is called the Saviour and the Redeemer.' Then he read to them the following passages:

Only among you is God, and there is no God besides. You surely are the hidden God, the God of Israel, the Saviour, Isaiah 45:14-15.

Am I not Jehovah, and there is no God besides me, there is no righteous God and Saviour beside me, Isaiah 45:21-22.

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

I am Jehovah your God; and you are not to acknowledge any God beside me, and there is no Saviour beside me, Hosea 13:4.

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

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

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

Jehovah, my rock and my Redeemer, Psalms 19:14.

Thus spoke Jehovah your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, I am Jehovah your God, Isaiah 48:17; 43:3 3 ; Isaiah 49:7; 54:8.

You are Jehovah our Father, our Redeemer from eternity is your name, Isaiah 63:16.

Thus spoke Jehovah your Redeemer, I am Jehovah the maker of everything, and I alone by myself, Isaiah 44:24.

Thus spoke Jehovah, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, Jehovah Zebaoth; I am the first and the last and there is no God beside me, Isaiah 44:6.

Jehovah Zebaoth is His name, and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He will be called God of all the earth, Isaiah 54:5.

Behold, the days will come, when I shall raise up for David a righteous shoot, who will reign as King; and this is His name, Jehovah our righteousness, Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15-16, On that day Jehovah will be King over all the earth; on that day Jehovah will be one, and His name one, Zechariah 14:9.

(References: Isaiah 43:14)


[4] Both sets of passages were accepted as proofs by those who sat on the seats, and they said with one accord that Jehovah Himself took upon Himself human form to redeem and save mankind. But then a voice spoke up from the Roman Catholics, who had hidden behind the altar, saying: 'How can Jehovah God become man? Is He not the Creator of the universe?' One of those sitting in the second row of, seats turned round and said: 'Who did then?' The one who had been behind the altar stood up near it and replied: 'The Son from eternity.' But he received the reply: 'Is not the Son from eternity according to your creed also the Creator of the universe? And what is the Son but God born from eternity? How can the Divine essence, which is one and indivisible, be separated so that one part of it came down, and not the whole at once?'

[5] The second debate about the Lord was whether the Father and He are one, just as the soul and the body are one. They said that this followed because the soul is from the father. Then one of those sitting in the third row read the following words from the Creed known as Athanasian:

Although our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man, still there are not two, but one Christ; indeed He is utterly one. He is one person. For as the soul and body make up one man, so God and man is one Christ.

The reader said that the Creed containing these words is accepted throughout the Christian world, including the Roman Catholics.

'What need,' they said, 'is there to go on? God the Father and the Lord are one, just as soul and body are one. Since this is so, we see that the Lord's Human is Divine, because it is the Human of Jehovah; and the Lord is to be approached in His Divine Human, because this is the only possible way to approach the Divine called the Father.'

[6] This conclusion of theirs was confirmed by the angel citing many passages from the Word, including:

A child is born for us, a son is given to us, whose name is Wonderful, Counsellor, God, Hero, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace, Isaiah 9:6.

Also:

Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us. You, Jehovah, are our Father, our Redeemer from eternity is your name, Isaiah 63:16.

In John:

Jesus said, He who believes in me believes in Him who sent me, and he who sees me sees Him who sent me, John 12:44-45.

Philip said to Jesus, Show us the Father. Jesus said to him, He who has seen me has seen the Father. Why then do you say, Show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? Believe me, I am in the Father and the Father is in me, John 14:8-11. Jesus said, I and the Father are one, John 10:30.

Also:

All things which the Father has are mine, and all of mine are the Father's, John 16:15; 17:10.

Finally:

Jesus said, I am the way, truth and life; no one comes to the Father except through me, John 14:6.

The reader went on to say that similar statements to those made here by the Lord about Himself and His Father can also be made by a man about himself and his soul. On hearing this all declared with one heart and voice that the Lord's Human is Divine, and this must be approached in order to approach the Father, because by means of the Human Jehovah God brought Himself into the world and made Himself visible to human eyes, and thus accessible. Likewise He made Himself visible and accessible to the ancients in human form, but at that time by means of an angel. But because this form represented the Lord who was to come, among the ancients everything that concerned the church was representative.

[7] This was followed by a debate about the Holy Spirit. To begin it the popular idea about God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit was presented, namely, that God the Father sits on high, the Son at His right hand, and they send out from themselves the Holy Spirit, to enlighten, teach, justify and sanctify men. But a voice was then heard from heaven, saying. 'We find this mode of thought intolerable. Surely everyone knows that Jehovah God is omnipresent. A person who knows and acknowledges this will also acknowledge that it is He who enlightens, teaches, justifies and sanctifies, and that there is no mediating God separate from Himself, much less from two other Gods, as one person is separate from another. You must therefore rid yourselves of the first idea, seeing it is meaningless, and accept this, which is correct, and then you will see this plainly.'

[8] But at this point a voice was heard from the Roman Catholics who were standing near the altar of the church, saying: 'What then is the Holy Spirit who is mentioned in the Word, in the Gospels and Paul, and by which so many of the learned clergy, especially ours, allege they are guided? Is there any Christian to-day who denies the existence of the Holy Spirit and His activity?' On hearing this one of those sitting in the second row turned round and said: 'You claim that the Holy Spirit is a person by Himself and God by Himself. But what is the meaning of a person going forth and proceeding from a person, if it is not the activity which goes forth and proceeds? One person cannot go forth and proceed from another, but his activity can. What is meant by God going forth and proceeding from God, if not the Divine which goes forth and proceeds? One God cannot go forth and proceed from another by means of a third; but the Divine can from a single God.'

[9] On hearing this the assembly in session reached the unanimous conclusion that the Holy Spirit is not a person by Himself, so not God by Himself either, but the Holy Divine which goes forth and proceeds from the one omnipresent God, who is the Lord. The angels who were standing by the golden table on which the Word was placed said to this: 'Good. Nowhere in the Old Testament do we read that the prophets spoke the Word from the Holy Spirit, but from Jehovah; and where the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the New Testament, the Divine which proceeds is meant. This is the Divine which enlightens, teaches, quickens, reforms and regenerates.'

[10] This was followed by another debate about the Holy Spirit: from whom does the Divine meant by the Holy Spirit proceed, from the Father, or from the Lord? While they were discussing this, a light shone on them from heaven which allowed them to see that the Holy Divine, meant by the Holy Spirit, does not proceed from the Father by means of the Lord, but from the Lord acted upon by the Father; as for comparison in man, his activity does not proceed from the soul by means of the body, but from the body acted upon by the soul.

This was confirmed by the angel standing at the table by these passages in the Word:

He whom the Father has sent speaks the words of God; not by measure does God give him the Spirit. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand, John 3:34-35.

A shoot will come forth from the stock of Jesse; the Spirit of Jehovah will rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and intelligence, the spirit of counsel and power, Isaiah 11:1-2.

The Spirit of Jehovah was put upon him, and was in him, Isaiah 42:1; 59:19-20; 61:1; Luke 4:18.

When the Holy Spirit comes, whom I shall send you from the Father, John 15:26.

He will glorify me, because He will take from what is mine and communicate it to you. All things that the Father has are mine. That is why I have said that He will take from what is mine and communicate it to you, John 16:14-15.

If I go away, I will send the Comforter to 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 His glorification:

Jesus breathed upon the disciples and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit, John 20:22.

And in Revelation:

Who will not glorify your name, Lord, since you alone are holy? Revelation 15:4.

(References: John 8:39)


[11] Since the Holy Spirit means the Lord's Divine activity from His Divine omnipresence, so when He spoke to the disciples about the Holy Spirit, which He was to send from the Father, He also said:

I will not leave you bereft; I go away and come to you; and on that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I in you, John 14:18, 20, 28.

Shortly before He left the world, He said:

Behold, I am with you always up to the ending of the age, Matthew 28:20.

After reading these passages to them the angel said: 'It is plain from these and many other passages in the Word that the Divine called the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Lord acted upon by the Father.' Those in session replied: 'This is Divine truth.'

[12] Finally the following resolution was passed: 'We have seen clearly from the deliberations in this council, and thus acknowledge as a holy truth, that in the Lord God the Saviour Jesus Christ there is a Divine Trinity, consisting of the originating Divine called the Father, the Human Divine called the Son, and the Divine which proceeds called the Holy Spirit.' And they cried out together that in Christ all the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9). 'Thus there is one God in the church.'

[13] When this magnificent council had reached these conclusions, its members rose; and the angel in charge came and brought from the strong-box for each of those who had taken part in the session splendid garments with here and there gold threads interwoven, and said: 'Accept these wedding garments.' Then they were taken in glory to the new Christian heaven, with which the Lord's church on earth, the New Jerusalem, is to be linked.

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Footnotes:

1. This section is repeated from Apocalypse Revealed 962.
2. Restored from the parallel passage in Apocalypse Revealed 962.
3. The original has .

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From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Nine Questions 7


   Parallel Passages:

Apocalypse Revealed 962

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 120


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


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