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 Christianity 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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works: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...

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...

Father, son, mother, and daughter, as in Luke 12:51, 53: By father against son, and by son against the father, is understood evil against truth,...

'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...

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

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...

'A sign' is mentioned in the Word in reference to the future, which constitutes revelation. This also refers to truth, when it constitutes testification. It...

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.

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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


True Christianity #188

True Christianity (Rose translation)      

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188. The fourth memorable occurrence. Since the Lord has allowed me to see amazing things in the heavens and below them, I have been commanded and am obligated to pass on what I have seen.

I saw a magnificent palace that had a chapel in its center. In the middle of the chapel there was a golden table that had the Word on it. Two angels were standing next to the table. Around the table there were three rows of chairs. The chairs in the first row were covered in pure silk of a purple color, the chairs in the second row in pure silk of a sky blue color, and the chairs in the third row in white cloth. High above the table a canopy was suspended beneath the ceiling. It gleamed so brightly with precious stones that it created an effect like a glowing rainbow [that appears] when the sky begins to clear after a rain shower.

Suddenly members of the clergy appeared, occupying all the chairs. They were all wearing the robes of their priestly ministry.

To one side there was a cabinet with an angel guard standing nearby. Inside the cabinet there were shining pieces of clothing laid out in a beautiful array.

[2] It was a council that had been called by the Lord. I heard a voice from heaven that said, "Discuss. "

The participants said, "About what?"

"About the Lord the Savior and about the Holy Spirit," the voice said.

When they began thinking about these topics they had no enlightenment, so they prayed. Then a light flowed down from heaven that first lit up the backs of their heads, then their temples, and finally their faces.

Then they began. They started where they had been told to, with the first topic, the Lord the Savior. The first issue to be discussed was, "Who took on a human manifestation in the Virgin Mary?"

An angel standing next to the table that had the Word on it read to them the following words in Luke:

The angel said to Mary, "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and will bear a Son, and you will call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest. " And Mary said to the angel, "How will this take place, since I have not had intercourse?" The angel replied and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will descend upon you, and the power of the Highest will cover you; therefore the Holy One that is born from you will be called the Son of God. " (Luke 1:31-32, 34-35)

Then the angel read these words in Matthew:

In a dream an angel told Joseph, "Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your bride, for the Child that has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. " And Joseph did not have intercourse with her until she gave birth to her firstborn Son and called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:20, 25)

In addition to these passages, the angel read many things 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 manifestation is referred to as the Son of God, and where from his human manifestation he calls Jehovah his Father. The angel also read from the Prophets where it is foretold that Jehovah himself is going to come into the world. Two of the latter passages were the following from Isaiah:

It will be said in that day, "Behold, this is our God. We have waited for him to free us. This is Jehovah whom we have waited for. Let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation. " (Isaiah 25:9)

The voice of one crying in the desert, "Prepare a way for Jehovah; make a level pathway in the solitude for our God. For the glory of Jehovah will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together. Behold, the Lord Jehovih is coming with strength; like a shepherd he will feed his flock. " (Isaiah 40:3, 5, 10-11)

[3] The angel said, "Since Jehovah himself came into the world and took on a human manifestation, therefore in the Prophets Jehovah is called the Savior and the Redeemer. "

Then the angel read them the following passages:

"The only God is among you; there is no other God. " Surely you are the God who was hidden, O God the Savior of Israel. (Isaiah 45:14-15)

Am not I Jehovah? There is no other God except me. I am a just God, and there is no Savior except me. (Isaiah 45:21-22)

I am Jehovah, and there is no Savior except me. (Isaiah 43:11)

I am Jehovah your God, and you are not to acknowledge a God except me. There is no Savior except me. (Hosea 13:4)

So that all flesh may know that I, Jehovah, am your Savior and your Redeemer. (Isaiah 49:26; 60:16)

As for our Redeemer, Jehovah Sabaoth is his name. (Isaiah 47:4)

Their Redeemer is strong; Jehovah Sabaoth is his name. (Jeremiah 50:34)

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

Thus says Jehovah, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am Jehovah, your God. " (Isaiah 48:17; 43:14; 49:7; 54:8)

You, Jehovah, are our Father; our Redeemer from everlasting is your name. (Isaiah 63:16)

Thus said Jehovah, your Redeemer: "I, Jehovah, am the maker of all things. I alone [stretch out the heavens. I extend the earth] by myself. " (Isaiah 44:24)

Thus said Jehovah, the King of Israel and its Redeemer, Jehovah Sabaoth: "I am the First and the Last, and there is no God except me. " (Isaiah 44:6)

Jehovah Sabaoth is his name, and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. He will be called God of all the earth. (Isaiah 54:5)

Behold, the days are coming when I will raise up for David a righteous offshoot who will reign as king. And this is his name: Jehovah is our Justice. (Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15-16)

In that day, Jehovah will be king over the whole earth; in that day there will be one Jehovah, and his name will be one. (Zechariah 14:9)

[4] With the support of all these passages, the clergy sitting in the chairs unanimously stated that it was Jehovah himself who took on the human manifestation, and that he did so in order to redeem and save humankind.

At that point, though, we heard a voice from Roman Catholics who had hidden behind the altar. The voice said, "How could Jehovah God become human? He is the Creator of the universe!"

One of the clergy sitting in the second row of chairs said, "Who then was the human manifestation?"

The man who had been behind the altar before, but was now standing beside it, said, The Son from eternity.

He received this reply: "In your confession the eternally begotten Son is the same as the Creator of the universe. What is a Son and an eternally begotten God? How could the divine essence, which is one indivisible thing, be separated? How could one part of it come down and not the whole essence at once?"

[5] The second issue for discussion related to the Lord: "Surely then the Father and he are one as the soul and the body are one. "

They said that this would follow, because his soul was from the Father.

Then one of the clergy sitting in the third row of chairs read the following words from the statement of faith known as the Athanasian Creed: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and a human being. Yet still he is one Christ, not two. In fact, he is completely one; he is one person. As a soul and a body make one human being, so God and a human being is one Christ. "

The reader said, "The creed that contains these words has been accepted by the entire Christian world including the Roman Catholics. "

The participants said, "What more do we need? God the Father and he are one as the soul and the body are one. "

They added, "Because this is so, we see that the Lord's human manifestation is divine because it is the human manifestation of Jehovah. We also see that we must seek help from the Lord's divine-human manifestation. Only in this way, not in any other, can we have access to the divine nature that is called the Father. "

The angel supported their conclusion with more passages from the Word, among which were the following: "A Child is born to us; a Son is given to us. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, God, Hero, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). "Abraham did not know us and Israel did not acknowledge us. You, Jehovah, are our Father; our Redeemer from everlasting is your name" (Isaiah 63:16). And in John, "Jesus said, Those who believe in me believe in the One who sent me. Those who see me see the One who sent me" (John 12:44-45). "Philip said to Jesus, 'Show us the Father. ' Jesus said to him, 'Those who see me see the Father. Why then are you saying, Show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me'" (). "Jesus said, 'I and my Father are one'" (John 10:30). Also, "Everything the Father has is mine and everything I have is my Father's" (John 16:15; 17:10). And finally, "Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'" (John 14:6).

[6] The angel reading these quotations added that the same things the Lord says here about himself and his Father we could also say about ourselves and our soul.

When the participants had heard this they all said with one voice and one heart, "The Lord's human manifestation is divine. For us to gain access to the Father we have to go to his human manifestation, since this is how Jehovah God put himself in the world and made himself visible to human eyes. Through this he became accessible. Jehovah God also made himself visible and therefore accessible in a human form to the ancients; but back then he used an angel. Because that human form was symbolic of the Lord who was to come, everything related to the church among the ancients was symbolic. "

(References: John 14:8-11)

[7] The next discussion focused on the Holy Spirit. First there was a disclosure of the way many people picture God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They picture God the Father sitting on high with the Son at his right hand. Both of them send out the Holy Spirit to enlighten people, teach them, justify them, and sanctify them.

Then a voice was heard out of heaven saying, "We do not support these mental images. Jehovah God is omnipresent. If we know and acknowledge this, we also acknowledge that Jehovah God is the one who enlightens us, teaches us, justifies us, and sanctifies us. There is no mediating God who is distinct from him like two separate people, let alone a God who is distinct from two other gods. That earlier meaningless picture needs to be removed and this proper picture needs to be accepted. Then you will see this point clearly. "

[8] Then we heard a voice from the Roman Catholics. They were standing next to the altar in the chapel. The voice said, "What then is the Holy Spirit mentioned in the Word by the Gospel writers and Paul, by which so many learned clergy say they are led, especially in our denomination? Surely no one in the Christian world nowadays denies the existence of the Holy Spirit and its actions. "

One of the clergy in the second row of chairs turned and said, "You are saying that the Holy Spirit is a person on its own and a God on its own; but what is a 'person' going out and emanating from a person if not an influence going out and emanating? A person cannot go out and emanate from another person, but an influence can. To put it another way, a god going out and emanating from a god is actually a divine influence going out and emanating. One god cannot go out and emanate from another through yet another, but a divine influence can go out and emanate from the one God. "

[9] After hearing that, the clergy sitting in the chairs unanimously concluded that the Holy Spirit is not a person on its own or a god on its own; it is the holy divine influence that goes out and emanates from the unique and omnipresent God, who is the Lord.

The angels who were standing by the golden table that held the Word responded to that by saying, "Good! Nowhere in the Old Covenant does it say that the prophets spoke the Word of the Holy Spirit. They spoke the Word of Jehovah. When the New Covenant speaks of the Holy Spirit, it means the divine influence that goes forth enlightening people, teaching them, bringing them to life, reforming them, and regenerating them. "

[10] After that another issue related to the Holy Spirit came up: "From whom does the divine influence meant by the Holy Spirit emanate? From the Father or from the Lord?"

While they were discussing this a light shone down on them from heaven. In that light they saw that the holy divine influence meant by the Holy Spirit does not emanate from the Father through the Lord; it emanates from the Lord on behalf of the Father. It is comparable to the situation with human beings. Our actions do not emanate from our souls through our bodies; they emanate from our bodies on behalf of our souls.

An angel who was standing by the table supported this point with the following passages from the Word: "The One whom the Father sent speaks the words of God. Not in a measured way has he given him the spirit. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand" (John 3:34-35). "A branch will come out of the trunk of Jesse. The spirit of Jehovah will rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and intelligence, the spirit of counsel and strength" (Isaiah 11:1-2). "The spirit of Jehovah has been granted to him and it is in him" (Isaiah 42:1; 59:19-20; 61:1; Luke 4:18). "When the Holy Spirit comes whom I am going to send you from the Father" (John 15:26). "He will glorify me because he will take from what is mine and will make it known to you. Everything the Father has is mine. This is why I said that he will take from what is mine and will make it known 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 in existence, because Jesus was not glorified yet' (John 7:39). After he was glorified, Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22). And in the Book of Revelation, "Who will not glorify your name, O Lord? For you alone are holy" (Revelation 15:4).

(References: John 8:39)

[11] The angel continued, "Since the Holy Spirit means the Lord's divine influence that results from his divine omnipresence, when he told his disciples about the Holy Spirit that he was going to send to them from the Father he also said, 'I will not leave you orphans. I am going away and coming [back] to you; and in that day you will recognize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I am in you' (John 14:18, 20, 28). And just before he left the world he said, 'Behold I am with you every day, even to the close of the age' (Matthew 28:20). "

After reading these passages the angel said, "It is clear from these passages and many others in the Word that the divine influence called the Holy Spirit emanates from the Lord on behalf of the Father. "

In response the clergy sitting in the chairs said, "This is divine truth!"

[12] At the end the participants produced the following declaration: "From the discussions in this council, we have come to see clearly and to acknowledge as the sacred truth that the divine Trinity exists in the Lord God the Savior Jesus Christ. The Trinity is made up of the divine nature as an origin called 'the Father,' the divine-human manifestation called 'the Son,' and the emanating divine influence called 'the Holy Spirit. ' We proclaim then that 'all the fullness of divinity dwells physically in Christ' (Colossians 2:9). Therefore there is one God in the church. "

[13] After the events of this magnificent council came to an end, the participants stood up. The angel guarding the cabinet came over and brought shining clothing to each one of those who had been sitting in the chairs. The clothing was interwoven here and there with golden threads. The angel said, "Please accept these wedding garments. "

The participants were led in glory to the new Christian heaven, which is going to be connected to the church of the Lord on earth, which is the New Jerusalem.

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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 Foundation for the permission to use this translation.