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

Luke 10:1-17

English: King James Version

Study the Inner Meaning

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1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.

2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.

5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.

6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.

7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.

8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:

9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,

11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

12 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.

13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

14 But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.

15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.

16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.

17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.

← Luke 9   Full Chapter   Luke 11 →

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 2220, 2397, 3780, 3994, 4779, 5023, 6441, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 306, 492, 502, 553, 637, 645, 664, ...

The Lord 20, 42

Heaven and Hell 287

True Christian Religion 113, 303


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 239, 314, 365, 376, 637, 652, 653, ...

On the Athanasian Creed 13

De Domino 68

Marriage 113

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  Spiritual Topics:



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Ezekiel 26:2, 28:22

Word/Phrase Explanations

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

Sent
'Being sent' everywhere signifies, in an internal sense, going forth, as in John 17:8. In similar manner, it is said of the holy of the...

Two and two
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two
The number "two" has two different meanings in the Bible. In most cases "two" indicates a joining together or unification. This is easy to see...

face
“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

city
In the ancient world cities were very nearly nations unto themselves – they existed within walls, with their own laws and customs, generally centered on...

Place
'A dry place,' as in Luke 11:24, signifies states of evil and falsity which are in the life of someone who does the work of...

come
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

Harvest
'A harvest' symbolizes the state of the church with respect to Divine truth. The reason is that a harvest yields the grain used to make...

pray
When people pray in the Bible, it means they are opening up their internal states. When it is the Lord praying, or a figure who...

Send
'To send' signifies revealing.

go
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

ways
These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

man
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

Way
'To set a way,' as in Genesis 30:36, signifies being separated.

house
A "house" is essentially a container - for a person, for a family, for several families or even for a large group with shared interests...

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...

first
Why would it be insulting for a man to refer to his married partner as his “first wife”? Because it implies there will be a...

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...

peace
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...

Son
'A son,' as in Genesis 5:28, signifies the rise of a new church. 'Son,' as in Genesis 24:3, signifies the Lord’s rationality regarding good. 'A...

rest
'To slumber' and 'sleep' denotes the state of a person who is not in truths, as in Jeremiah 51:39, 57, Psalm 8:3 and 76:5, and...

upon
Over' or 'upon' in the Word, signifies being within, because the highest part in successive order becomes inmost in simultaneous order. This is why the...

drinking
Food in the Bible represents the desire for good, and water and other drinks represent the understanding and true ideas we need to recognize what...

give
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

Worthy
People in truths from the Lord, because they are in conjunction with Him, are called 'worthy,' as in Revelation 3:4. All worth in the spiritual...

Hire
'Hire,' as mentioned in Genesis 30:33, referring to the Lord, signifies His proprium, that is, what was acquired from His own proper ability.

eat
When we eat, our bodies break down the food and get from it both energy and materials for building and repairing the body. The process...

before
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Sick
'The sick,' as in Matthew 25:35, signify people in evil, and those who acknowledge that in themselves there is nothing but evil.

kingdom
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God
The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

Nigh
'Nigh' denotes truth in affinity with good.

Streets
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Dust
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Us
Because people are governed by angels and spirits, in Genesis 1:26 it says 'let us make man into our image.' But because the Lord alone...

sodom
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Woe
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Bethsaida
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Mighty
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Works
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Tyre
'Tyre,' as in Ezekiel 27:13-14, represents people with knowledge of celestial and spiritual things.

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

sitting
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...

Sackcloth
'Being clothed in sackcloth' signifies lamentation because of the devastation of truth in the church. 'Sackcloth,' as in Revelation 6:12, relates to destroyed good.

Ashes
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Judgment
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heaven
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down
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Hell
'Hell,' as mentioned in Jonah 2:3, signifies the earth below.

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...

name
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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.


 A Golden Heart
Make a golden heart to illustrate the beautiful heart of a person who is kind to others. 
Project | Ages up to 10

 Being a True Friend and Neighbor
If we want to be good friends, we must listen and look for the times when our friends really need us. We mustn’t just use our friends for what we can get out of them, and then leave them alone when they are in trouble.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Be Like the Good Samaritan
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Compassion
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Dramatize the Story of the Good Samaritan
Dramatize the parable of the Good Samaritan with this simple retelling of the story, 5 characters, and suggested props.
Activity | Ages up to 10

 For Discussion: Wine and Oil
Discuss ways that the "wine" in the parable of the Good Samaritan is like true ideas and the "oil" is like kindness. When might it be helpful to offer this kind of wine and oil to others?
Activity | Ages 7 - 17

 Go and Do Likewise
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 How Am I Saved?
The Lord wants to save all people but gives people the freedom to reject His love and choose the selfishness of hell instead, if they wish to.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Imagine the Lord's Joy!
 Picture the Lord's joy each time we take a step toward heaven. 
Activity | Ages over 15

 In His Name
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Keeping in a State of Hope
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

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

 Overview of Hands of Love Levels A B C for ages 3-14
Overview of the Youth Journey Program Hands of Love Inherit the Kingdom, Levels A, B and C, for ages 3-14 for Sunday schools, camps, classrooms and families.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Picture the Samaritan Helping a Stranger
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Play: The Good Samaritan
A script for dramatizing the parable.
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Qualities of Friendship
The Bible says we are to love the Lord and our neighbors, to value others lives more than our own life. Doing this depends on healthy relationships. Discover New Church teachings on healthy friendship.
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 Quotes: Being a Good Neighbor
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Samaritan Is Good Neighbor
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 Sending Out the Seventy
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 Serving The Needs Of Others
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Good Samaritan
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Good Samaritan
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 Good Samaritan
We might never be on that road from Jerusalem to Jericho, but we will meet people in need of help. What will you do when you see someone in need of help at school, at home or in the neighborhood? Will you pass by on the other side or be like the good Samaritan? Sample from the Jacob's Ladder Program, Level 3, for ages 8-9.
Religion Lesson | Ages 8 - 9

 The Good Samaritan
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

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

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A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Oil of Human Kindness
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Value of Work
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Who Is My Neighbor?
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Why Did God Create Me?
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

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Why did the Lord tell His disciples to go out in twos? What are some of the advantages to having friends support us in challenging situations?
Activity | Ages over 15


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