Commentary

 

The Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles      

By Joe David

The Last Supper, an 1896 work by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret.

The Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles

The Lord left his apostles with instructions and with great gifts. The instructions are listed in several distinct places, but the the gifts are more scattered, both in the four gospels and in the book of Acts later, being given as the apostles needed them.

First, about the apostles... just to clarify, here I'm referring to "the disciples" as including anyone who has followed along to hear the Lord, and "the apostles" to mean the twelve men that the Lord recruited specifically, as listed in Matthew 10, Mark 3, and Luke 6.

Who were the apostles? From the lists in Matthew and Mark, which are the same, we have: Simon (Peter), James and John the sons of Zebedee, Andrew (Peter’s brother), Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew (the publican), Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, (as is Matthew, so they are brothers, too), Thaddeus, (also known as Libbeus), Simon the Canaanite (also called Simon the Zealot), and Judas Iscariot. Bartholomew is almost undoubtedly another name for Nathaniel, see John 1. The list in Luke includes another Judas, "Judas the brother of James" and doesn’t have Thaddeus.

The stories of how they were individually chosen differ, especially in the gospel of John, but that these twelve were appointed by the Lord is clear. A point of interest is that - other than Simon the Canaanite and Judas Iscariot they are all from towns around the sea of Galilee - and perhaps those two are as well. These twelve have their names inscribed on the twelve foundations of the walls of the holy city New Jerusalem, in Revelation 21:14 in which there are also the twelve gates. These men were chosen to represent all the different states of the natural human being that can be receptive of the Lord. They are from Galilee because Galilee represents that natural state of the human mind. The number twelve in the Word represents all possible states of mankind.

What is indicated here is that all people, everywhere, can be saved or regenerated if they repent and turn to the Lord in their lives. No one is "outside" of His reach. We are born natural, everyone is, but we are so formed that our minds can be raised to what is higher, called spiritual for our conceptions of Divine truth, or Celestial for our perceptions of Divine good. But we all start in a natural state and can only move upward by listening to the Lord’s teachings in His Word, and following Him as those Apostles did.

Not all of our natural states are states of good; they can be selfish, domineering, and cruel. But the Lord said that He came "not to save the just but to call sinners to repentance". Perhaps this is why Simon the Canaanite and Judas were two that He called. Simon is little known, but in some places in the Word, "Canaan signifies an external worship without a true internal worship". (See Arcana Coelestia 1060). Can the Lord work with that - with external worship that's internally barren? Yes, as a starting point. And, even Judas, who betrayed the Lord so terribly, we are told, repented of his betrayal of the Lord. (Matthew 27:3-5)

The Lord's Instructions to the Apostles

The two most comprehensive sets of instructions are in Luke 10:1-17 where seventy Disciples are sent out two by two, apparently to a specified list of cities that Jesus intends to visit, and then in Matthew 20:1-19 where the chosen twelve Apostles are sent out to all Israel. Later, as recorded in different epistles, the Apostles go out further, through a wide region.

The basic instructions were to preach that the kingdom of heaven is near, that all should be led to repent of their sins, and that all who wish should be baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles should not take any money or extra clothing along, and they were to depend entirely on the Lord’s providence with no doubt that they shall be welcomed, fed, and sheltered. If they were welcomed, they should stay and preach the good news about the risen Lord and His teachings, and if they were not, they should shake from their feet the dust of that place and go on to a place where they were welcome. See Matthew 10, 28, Mark 13, 16, Luke 9, 10:24.

There are several assurances for the twelve. The Lord has told them to stay in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit is sent to strengthen them, and in John 20 where the ten are gathered it is said that He breathed on them and said, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit". Also, in his long talk with them in John 14, 15, 16) He assures them that his crucifixion and death are necessary to his mission and they should even rejoice that it is coming. He shows them from scripture that it has all been prophesied from long ago, (see Mark 4:34) and that what seems to them a tragedy, is truly His glorification and the end of the work He came to do. They, His twelve, are in the same steam of providence and will be protected. "Don’t be anxious," He tells them, "I will put into your mouths what you are to say, I will bring into your memories the incidents to tell to the people".

Here is a listing of the chapters and verses in John where such things are said: John 14:1-3, 10, 16-18, 26-28, 15:11, 16, 26-27, 16:7, 13-15, 22, 26-27, 33. Or simply read the three chapters and pick out your favorites.

A marvelous gift is mentioned in Matthew 10:13, "But blessed are your eyes for they see and blessed are your ears, for they hear…".

In the book of Acts, the Lord vividly shows the apostles that when they speak in their Galileen dialect every listener will hear their words as his own language in his ears; not gibberish, but Arabic to the Arabs, Greek to the Greeks, and Latin to the Romans.

When Peter starts to preach to a gathering of sympathetic Jews he speaks clearly and unafraid, saying that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God and that people should worship Him openly and repent of how they might have felt earlier. Peter’s talk in Acts 3 and 4 is a bold and powerful one. No more hiding behind locked doors.

The early history of the Christian church shows just how well all this worked out. You know what? The Apostles preached to the peoples in the Near East 2000 years ago, and their preaching is just as relevant today as it was then: "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Being at hand has nothing to do with the date or the state of political history in the world, it has to do with the inside of your mind. The Lord is just as close to you now as He was then, and He never turns away, though we might turn away from him. Remember that He said "behold I stand at the door and knock and if anyone hears and opens the door He will come right in." This hasn’t changed nor will it ever change, but He leaves us in freedom to ignore His knocking, if that is what we want. We have to make the choice, but He is always ready if we choose to open the door.

The Bible

 

John 16:22

King James Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

← Previous    Full Chapter    Next →

22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of John 16      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Explaining the Inner Meaning of John 16

Verses 16:1, 2, 3. That through the power of divine truth there is protection in the time of persecution, when worship shall become merely external, through the extinction of all heavenly good and truth, resulting from the non-acknowledgement of the divinity of the Lord's humanity.

Verses 16:4, 5, 6. Which things are manifested to the understanding, to the intent that they may affect the will and love, and be thus acknowledged to be of divine prediction, in relation to a future state of the church, when the divine operation was no longer to be external, or by truth, but internal, or by good, of which state they, who are principled in truth, are not yet aware.

Verses 16:7, 8. For truth, in its external manifestation, must apparently be taken away, to the intent that it may be received again internally, and by such internal manifestation may remove from man the powers of evil and error, and establish in him the heavenly powers of good and truth.

Verses 16:9, 10, 11. All which evil and error result from the non-acknowledgement of the Lord's Divine Humanity, whilst the glorification of this humanity, together with the subjugation of the powers of darkness, constitute the all of good and of truth.

Verses 16:12, 13. Therefore a limit is set to the instruction of truth externally, but not to the reception of truth internally, because internal truth is in connection with divine good and truth, and thus leads man to depend on the Lord in all states of life.

Verses 16:14, 15, 16. For internal truth is the operation of the Lord's Divine Humanity, and thus the medium of communication with the divine truth in its union with the divine good, and therefore it succeeds the external manifestation of truth.

Verses 16:17, 18, 19, 20. This doctrine however, is with difficulty apprehended by those who receive truth only externally, until they are instructed that the external reception of truth leads man into spiritual temptations, and that by those temptations his state is inverted, and he is thus led to receive truth internally, or in its connection with the divine truth.

Verses 16:21, 22. For every state of spiritual temptation is attended with trouble, but when the temptation is past, the trouble is succeeded by joy, through the manifestation and operation of the divine truth.

Verses 16:23, 24. On which occasion, the guidance of external truth is no longer sought for, but the guidance of internal truth in connection with the Lord's Divine Humanity, which alone brings fullness of satisfaction.

Verses 16:25, 26, 27. Therefore the instruction of external truth must precede, and be succeeded by that which is internal, in which case the Lord in his Divine Humanity will be exalted as the supreme object of worship, who from mercy intercedes for all, and conjoins himself to all, who from love acknowledge him in that Humanity as the manifested Jehovah.

Verses 16:28, 29, 30. For the divine principle itself assumed the human, and became a man, and afterwards united the human essence to the divine, thus convincing, by the light of internal truth, all who are willing to be convinced, that the human essence of the Lord is divine.

Verses 16:31, 32, 33. Nevertheless the loves of self and of the world will operate to obscure this truth even with the well disposed, and therefore all such are instructed, that the acknowledgement of this truth leads to conjunction of life with the Lord, and that therefore whatever of temptation may arise from the above evil loves, they ought the more to confide in the Lord, who has subdued all infernal evils and falsities.

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Canons of the New Church 37

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Ecclesiastes 3:4

Isaiah 66:14

Bible Word Meanings

sorrow
Grief is anxiety of heart or will.

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...

rejoice
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...

joy
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...

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.


 Entering the Narrow Way
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Father and Son Perfectly United: The Nature of the Divinity of Jesus Christ
When the Lord rose from the empty tomb on Easter morning, the Son was fully united with the Father, becoming visible as the Lord God Jesus Christ. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Quotes: A New Understanding
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 The Lord's Second Coming
Article | Ages over 18

 The Second Coming by Means of a Man
Article | Ages 15 - 17

The Bible

 

Mark 3

King James Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

← Previous   Next →

1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.

2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.

3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.

4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.

5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.

7 But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea,

8 And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.

9 And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him.

10 For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues.

11 And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.

12 And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.

13 And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him.

14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:

16 And Simon he surnamed Peter;

17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:

18 And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite,

19 And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house.

20 And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.

21 And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.

22 And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.

23 And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?

24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.

27 No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:

29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:

30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

31 There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.

32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.

33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?

34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

← Previous   Next →

   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of Mark 3      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Explaining the Inner Meaning of Mark 3

Verses 1-6. THAT the truth of the church, which had been separated from its good, is restored to conjunction, through the union of the LORD'S Divinity with His Humanity.

Verses 2-6. Which restoration, being effected on the Sabbath day, is thought to be contrary to the sanctity of the Sabbath by those in the representative church, who are not aware that the conjunction of good and truth is the very essence of that sanctity.

Verses 6- 12. That the LORD initiates His Humanity into the scientifics of the church, and His Omnipotence in the removal of evils and falsities manifests itself in every direction, so that people of all descriptions seek communication with Him, and the infernals themselves confess His Divine Power.

Verse 12. Yet He refuses to accept infernal testimony.

Verses 13-16. And entering, from His Divine Love, into reciprocal conjunction with those who are principled in the goods and truths of His church, He commits to them the testimony of His Divinity, and gives them power over all infernal evils and falsities.

Verses 16-20. The distinct qualities of these goods and truths are enumerated, from which it appears, that truth grounded in good is the first principle of the church, and that this is succeeded by truth grounded in celestial good.

Verse 20. For no good can be appropriated to man until truths are duly arranged in him, and they cannot be arranged except from good.

Verse 21. But this arrangement of truths from good is regarded by the natural man as unnecessary and inconsistent.

Verse 22. And the consequent removal of evils and falsities is imputed by those of the perverse church to infernal agency.

Verses 23-27. When nevertheless it is an eternal truth, that infernal falsities have no power, and that neither truths, nor goods, nor falsities, can endure, except there be unanimity.

Verse 27. Consequently, unless Divine Power be communicated for the subjugation of infernal falsities, it is impossible that evils with their cravings can be subdued; whereas if the dominion of infernal falsities be put down, in this case the dominion of evil and its cravings cannot long endure.

Verses 28, 29, 30. Whosoever therefore denies the power of the Divine Truth proceeding from the LORD'S DIVINE HUMANITY, that is, the Word, and adulterates its essential goods, and falsifies its essential truths, must of necessity separate himself from all conjunction with the LORD and His kingdom.

Verse 31-35. For in heaven all are consociated according to spiritual relationships, which are of the good of love and of faith, and hence by "brethren" are signified all who are in the good of charity from the LORD ; by "sisters" those who are in truths derived from that good; and by "mother" is signified the church grounded therein.

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 2159, 2574, 2649, 2708, 4191, 5023, 5409, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 32, 236

Conjugial Love 119, 120

Doctrine of the Lord 19, 35, 50

True Christian Religion 102, 301, 306, 342


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 9, 205, 273, 746, 778, 820, 821, ...

On the Athanasian Creed 84, 95

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 14, 23

De Domino 65

Spiritual Experiences 2706

Marriage 102

Scriptural Confirmations 1, 2, 4, 9, 30, 72

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Psalms 119:53

Bible Word Meanings

entered
All changes of place in the Bible represent changes in spiritual state. “Entering” – usually used as entering someone’s house or “going in unto” someone...

withered
In the Bible (and in life), the idea of withering is usually connected to plants, and plants generally wither if they don't get enough water....

heal
'Healing' signifies reformation by truth derived by good. 'Healing in his wings,' as mentioned in Malachi 3:20, signifies reformation by divine truth from good.

might
'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

saith
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...

save
To be saved or rescued means getting true ideas that we can hold to even in the face of a storm of false thinking. Sometimes...

kill
The Lord is love itself, and that love is the ultimate source of all energy and thus of all life. It follows, then, that the...

stretch
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,...

stretched
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,...

pharisees
The Pharisees were a sect of the Jewish church at the time of the New Testament. The name comes from a root that means "separate",...

disciples
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...

sea
'The sea and the waves roaring' means heresy and controversies in the church and individual.

galilee
Galilee was the northernmost province of Biblical Judea, a hilly area relatively remote from the center of Jewish culture in Jerusalem and bordered by foreigners...

Tyre and Sidon
'Tyre and Sidon' were the outer borders of Philisthea. They were near the sea, so 'Tyre' signifies interior knowledges, and 'Sidon,' exterior knowledges, both of...

Sidon
'Sidon' denotes people who possess celestial and spiritual riches which are knowledges.

heard
Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

spake
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

multitude
'A multitude' relates to truths.

healed
'Healing' signifies reformation by truth derived by good. 'Healing in his wings,' as mentioned in Malachi 3:20, signifies reformation by divine truth from good.

pressed
These verbs in the Bible indicate a conflict between two spiritual states, and the effort it takes to attain the higher state. It's easy to...

touch
Imagine having your mother touch your cheek. Then imagine having your spouse or someone you love romantically touch your cheek. Then imagine having a baby...

plagues
'Plagues' signify evils of love, and falsities of faith. 'The plagues of Egypt' signify the falsities and lust which cause the church to perish. In...

spirits
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...

saw
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...

son of god
Swedeborg offers different angles on the phrase "the Son of God," sometimes saying that it refers to the "divine human" and sometimes saying it refers...

make
'To make,' as in Hosea 8:11, refers to good. In the opposite sense it refers to evil. To make heaven, and earth, and the sea,...

into a mountain
'To be taken up into a mountain,' as in Revelation 21:10, signifies being taken up into the third heaven, because it says 'in the spirit.'...

twelve
'Twelve' signifies all aspects of faith. This has been unknown to the world until now. Nevertheless, this is the constant significance of 'twelve,' anywhere it...

To
'To jubilate' or 'make a joyful noise' signifies worship from the delight of good.

power
Power,' as in Revelation 4, signifies salvation, because all divine power regards this as its final purpose. A person is reformed by divine power, and...

sicknesses
'The sickness prior to death means a movement towards regeneration, so the next stage towards it. A person is by nature in a state of...

simon
'Simon, son of Jonah,' as in John 21:15, signifies faith from charity. 'Simon' signifies worship and obedience, and 'Jonah,' a dove, which also signifies charity.

peter
Peter – born Simon, son of Jonah – is certainly one of the Bible's most important figures, second only to Jesus in the New Testament....

james
James' denotes faith, charity, and the goods of charity.

john
'John the apostle' signifies those who are in the good of life from charity and its faith. 'John,' as in Revelation 1:4, signifies the Lord...

Sons of thunder
'The sons of thunder,' as in Mark 3:17, signifies truths from celestial good.

thunder
When the Lord speaks through the heaven, it descends into the lower spheres and is heard as thunder. As He speaks through the whole of...

bread
The idea of a “loaf” in the Bible is very closely tied to the idea of “bread,” and is often used to mean bread: Jesus...

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

said
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...

scribes
'A scribe,' as in Isaiah 33:18, denotes intelligence. 'A scribe,' as in Matthew 23, signifies the Word from which doctrine is derived.

satan
In the Word, 'Satan' signifies people who are caught up in the pride of self-derived intelligence. Similarly, from Apocalypse Revealed 841, "they are in untruths...

kingdom
In the most general sense, a kingdom in the Bible represents a church. In a more specific sense, a kingdom represents a church in regards...

rise up
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

rise
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

enter
All changes of place in the Bible represent changes in spiritual state. “Entering” – usually used as entering someone’s house or “going in unto” someone...

say
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...

ghost
'The seven spirits' in Matthew 12:45 signify all falsities of evil, and as a result, a total extinction of goodness and truth. 'The seven spirits'...

spirit
'The seven spirits' in Matthew 12:45 signify all falsities of evil, and as a result, a total extinction of goodness and truth. 'The seven spirits'...

sat
If you think about sitting, it seems fair to say that where you're sitting is more important than that you're sitting. Sitting in a movie...

answered
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...

sister
The Lord calls people who are in truth from the good of charity from Him 'sisters,' as in Matthew 12:50. 'Sister' denotes intellectual truth, when...

Videos from the Swedenborg Foundation

The videos shown here are provided courtesy of our friends at the Swedenborg Foundation. You can find out more about them here: swedenborg.com.


The 10 Commandments: What Honoring Father and Mother Really Means

The commandment about honoring your father and mother may seem fairly straightforward but when you learn the layers of spiritual meaning within it, its relevance expands to much more than respecting your parents.

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.


 Choosing Twelve Apostles
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The History and Meaning of the Sabbath
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Power Is the Lord's
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Story of the Twelve Apostles
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Twelve Apostles
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 Twelve Apostles
Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..
Religion Lesson | Ages 4 - 17

 What Worship Is
Worship Talk | Ages over 18


Translate: