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

Revelation 21:14

English: King James Version

Study the Inner Meaning

← Revelation 21:13    Full Chapter    Revelation 21:15 →

14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Apocalypse Revealed 902, 903


Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 648, 3272, 3858, 6419, 9643, 10132

Apocalypse Revealed 79, 876, 915

Sacred Scripture 43

True Christian Religion 217

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 1


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 39, 100, 257, 430, 431

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


Word/Phrase Explanations

Wall
In Lamentations 2:8-9, 'wall,' 'rampart,' 'gates,' and 'bars' signify doctrines.

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...

twelve
'Twelve' and 'twenty-four' signify everything, and refer to truths.

Foundations
The foundations of a wall signify the knowledges of truth, whereupon doctrinals are founded.

names
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

Lamb
'A lamb' signifies the good of the innocence of infancy. 'A lamb' signifies the Lord regarding His divine humanity. The lamb,' as in Revelation 8:11,...

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.


 All Things New
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 A “Most Precious” Revelation
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 A New Heaven and a New Earth
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Angel Shows John the Holy Jerusalem
Color picture of Revelation 21:2
Picture | Ages up to 14

 Cut-Out Model of Holy City
This is a lovely model of the city designed by Leon Rhodes which could be suspended in the air. 
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 He Showed Me That Great City
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Holy City Candle Holder
Color a picture of the holy city to place in front of a candle or in a window. 
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 How Big Is the Holy City?
Looking at the mathematical dimensions of the Holy City, New Jerusalem makes it clear that the dimensions are spiritual rather than natural.
Activity | Ages 7 - 17

 I Saw a New Heaven (sheet music)
Song | Ages 4 - 14

 John Seeing the Holy City Diorama
Use pipe cleaners and a shoebox to make this diorama of John seeing the Holy City.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 John Sees the Holy City
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 John’s Vision on the Isle of Patmos
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Leaves for Healing of the Nations
Activity | Ages over 15

 Make a Golden Word Cover or Mat
Make a golden covering or mat for the Lord's Word. Let it remind you of how much the Lord loves you and wants to help you see and understand the truths of the Word in all their beauty.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Make Your Own Picture of a Beautiful Bride
When seen as a bride, the Holy City symbolizes our loving response to the Lord and the truths which He gives us. This project invites you to picture a beautiful bride!
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 Making All Things New
As we develop a clearer understanding of the Lord's Word, we will be able to make better use of His wondrous truths to renew our lives. Is there a teaching about the Lord, eternal life, marriage, the spiritual meaning of the Word, or true love of the neighbor that could help you reinvigorate some aspect of your life?
Activity | Ages over 15

 Memory Verse: The Holy City
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: The Tree of Life and the Crystal River
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 New Church Day
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 New Church Day: A New Revelation
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

 New Church Day: Something New
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

 New Jerusalem and Its Precious Stones
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Open the Pearl Gate and See an Angel
This project illustrates the concept that each gate of the city is made of a single pearl and guarded by an angel. 
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Overview of Five Parables of Heaven Levels A, B, C Ages 3-14
Overview of the Youth Journey Program Five Parables of Heaven featuring the parables of the Sower, Pearl of Great Price, Wise and Foolish Virgins, Workers in the Vineyard and The Great Supper. For ages 3-14, Levels A, B and C.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Prepared as a Bride
If the marriage of the Lamb is to come, we much know the Lord as one God.
Worship Talk | Ages over 15

 Quotes: The Holy City
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: The Tree of Life and the Crystal River
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Representation: City Prepared as a Bride
Use a doll and beautiful white fabrics to set up a representation of the holy city as a bride.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Revealed Out of Heaven
Lesson and activities looking at the history of revelation, and the new teachings from the Lord in Heavenly Doctrine.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Teaching the Way to Heaven
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Beauty of the New Church
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Coming of the New Church
Prophecies helped prepare people for the Lord’s birth on earth, and prophecies would also help prepare the way for His second coming. The Lord called His disciple, John, to serve as a revelator, opening his spiritual eyes and telling him: “Write the things which you have seen...and the things which will take place after this” (Revelation 1:17-19). Sample from the Jacob’s Ladder Program, Level 6, for ages 11-12.
Religion Lesson | Ages 11 - 12

 The Gates of the City
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Golden Street
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Great City the Holy Jerusalem
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Holy City
Color picture of the Holy City, New Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 The Holy City
The Holy City in Revelation is a picture of what our lives can be like when we live in the radiant light of the three-fold Word.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Holy City 1
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 Holy City 2
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 Holy City (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Holy City (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Holy City (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Holy City Crossword Puzzle
This crossword puzzle about the Holy City gives clues and helpful Bible references to find the answers.
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 The Holy City Descending
What John saw on the isle of Patmos was a vision foretelling the establishment of a new church.
Worship Talk | Ages over 15

 The Holy City New Jerusalem
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

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

 The Holy City, New Jerusalem
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Holy City Prepared As a Bride
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Judgment and the Holy City
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 Judgment and the Holy City
Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..
Religion Lesson | Ages 4 - 17

 The Judgment and the Holy City (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Judgment and the Holy City (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Judgment and the Holy City (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Lord Jesus Christ Reigns
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Meaning of the Tree of Life
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The New Jerusalem Descends
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Tree of Life (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Tree of Life (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Tree of Life (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 Twelve Gates, Twelve Truths
List 12 pearls of truth that could interest someone into the New Church.
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 Walled Model of the Holy City
This project was designed by Kent Cooper and includes the surrounding wall with its 12 pearl gates and the golden city inside. 
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Why a “New Church”?
Article | Ages 15 - 17

The Bible

Matthew 10

English: King James Version

Study the Inner Meaning

← Matthew 9   Matthew 11 →

1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;

3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;

4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:

6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,

10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.

12 And when ye come into an house, salute it.

13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.

14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.

22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.

25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?

26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.

27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.

28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.

42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

← Matthew 9   Matthew 11 →

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 197, 249, 1748, 2009, 2220, 2397, 2724, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 8, 12, 23, 52, 81, 306, 455, ...

Conjugial Love 394

Divine Providence 230, 231, 310

The Lord 20, 48

Doctrine of Life 20, 99

Heaven and Hell 278

True Christian Religion 92, 303, 440, 532, 682


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 102, 120, 122, 131, 200, 223, 228, ...

Marriage 92

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 3, 5, 12, 27, 64

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 19:24, 25

Exodus 4:12

Numbers 18:31

Deuteronomy 13:7, 11, 33:9

1 Kings 17:15

2 Kings 4:8, 17, 5:16, 17:24

Ezra 4:10

Job 12:22

Psalms 119:46

Proverbs 19:17

Isaiah 51:7

Jeremiah 1:8, 50:6

Lamentations 4:6

Daniel 3:13, 17

Micah 7:6

Word/Phrase Explanations

twelve disciples
'The twelve disciples' of the Lord represent the whole church, regarding everything related to faith and charity, the same as the twelve tribes of Israel.

twelve
'Twelve' and 'twenty-four' signify everything, and refer to truths.

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...

Spirits
'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'...

cast
For something to be cast down or cast out generally refers to a rather dramatic move from a higher spiritual state to a lower one....

Sickness
'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...

names
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

the first
'Resurrection' signifies salvation and eternal life. 'The first,' mentioned in Revelation 20:5, 6, does not mean a first resurrection, but the essence and primary part...

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...

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

brother
There are two ways "brother" is used in the Bible, ways that are still reflected in modern language. One denotes an actual blood relationship; the...

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

son
Marriages in the Bible represent the union we all can have between the desire for good and the understanding of truth (or an understanding of...

Surname
To 'surname' and 'to name,' as in Isaiah 45:4, signifies foreknowledge of a quality.

Judas Iscariot
'Judas Iscariot,' represents the Jewish church.

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...

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...

way
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...

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...

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...

sheep
It’s pretty easy for most people to read the Bible and get a sense for what “sheep” means without any help. They are simple, peaceful,...

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...

Israel
'Israel,' in Jeremiah 23:8, signifies the spiritual natural church. The children of Israel dispersed all the literal sense of the Word by falsities. 'The children...

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...

heaven
"Heaven" and "heavens" are used many times in the Bible, with a couple of variations of meaning. Sometimes it is relatively literal, including times when...

hand
In Genesis 27:22, 'voice' relates to truth, and 'hand,' to good.

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

Dead
Dead (Gen. 23:8) signifies night, in respect to the goodnesses and truths of faith.

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...

gold
Gold means good, and just as gold was the most precious metal known to ancient mankind so it represents the good of the highest and...

silver
'Spoil of gold, and silver, and cattle' signifies falsified truths.

Brass
Brass and iron as in Isaiah 48:4 and Daniel 7:19 signify what is hard.

Journey
'To journey' signifies the institutes and order of life.

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...

Workman
'A workman,' as in Hosea 8:6, signifies a person’s proprium or selfhood. 'A workman,' as in Zechariah 1:20, signifies the same thing as 'iron,' that...

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...

Meat
'Meat,' as in Genesis 40:17, signifies celestial good, because 'the meat of the angels' are nothing but the goods of love and charity, which not...

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...

hear
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...

Words
'Words,' as in Exodus 34:28, signify everything pertaining to doctrine.

Shake
'To shake bread on the palm of Aaron’s hand,' as in Exodus 29:21, denotes acknowledgment that life comes from the Lord, and that it is...

dust
'Powder' or 'dust' refers to love of self and the world.

feet
Our feet are the lowest and most utilitarian parts of our bodies, and in the Bible they represent the lowest and most utilitarian part of...

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...

land of
'The land of Rameses,' as in Genesis 47:11, signifies the inmost of the spiritual principle in the natural mind.

Land
Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

sodom
"Sodom" in the Bible represents the love of self and the love of ruling or dominating others springing from the love of self. This is...

day of
'Day of vengeance' signifies a state of damnation.

Judgment
Judgement' pertains to the Lord's divine human and holy proceeding. Judgment' has two sides, a principle of good, and a principle of truth. The faithful...

Send
'To send' signifies revealing.

midst
The "midst" of something in the Bible represents the thing that is most central and most important to the spiritual state being described, the motivation...

wolves
'A wolf' signifies eagerness to seize, but also eagerness to rescue and deliver the good.

wise
At its heart, wisdom is love's imperative desire to take form. That's a tricky statement, but think of it this way: If you love someone,...

serpents
Serpents in the Bible represent reasoning that is based on what we know through our senses. This is the lowest and most outward mode of...

before
In most cases, the meaning of "before" is pretty straightforward, both as a way of assessing relative time, and in its use meaning "in someone's...

Governors
‘Governors,’ as in Genesis 41:34, signify common or general things, because they govern over particular things. ‘Governors of Israel,’ as in Judges 5:9, signify the...

kings
The human mind is composed of two parts, a will and an understanding, a seat of loves and affections, and a seat of wisdom and...

thought
Those who are 'anxious' are not content with their own lot, and do not trust the Divine, but only themselves. They only look to worldly...

hour
The Writings tell us that time and space are aspects of the physical world, but do not exist as we know them in the spiritual...

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

spirit
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...

father
Father in the Word means what is most interior, and in those things that are following the Lord's order, it means what is good. In...

child
A child is a young boy or girl in the care of parents, older than a suckling or an infant, but not yet an adolescent....

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...

Parents
'Parents' signify the goods and truths of the church.

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

hated
If you truly hate someone, that means you would kill them and destroy their reputation if you could do so without repercussion – not a...

saved
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...

persecute
There are only a few references to "persecution" in Swedenborg, but they say it means "to harrass and slander out of hatred," and it generally...

Flee
To flee signifies to escape, and be rescued. To flee signifies to be overcome.

over
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...

son of man
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...

man
"Man" is a tricky word to discuss, because the Hebrew of the Old Testament uses six different words that are generally translated as "man," with...

disciple
When we read the Gospels and see Jesus addressing the disciples, we assume His words are meant for us as well. And indeed they are!...

servant
“Servant” literally means “a person who serves another,"" and its meaning is similar in reference to the spiritual meaninngs of the Bible. Our lives in...

Enough
'Sufficiency' relates to the reception of good, because good is the spiritual nourishment of the soul, as natural food is the nourishment of the body.

master
In most cases, a "master" in the Bible refers to truth: knowledge, an understanding of the situation at hand, an understanding of the Lord's wishes,...

call
To call someone or summon someone in the Bible represents a desire for conjunction between higher and lower states of life. For instance, imagine someone...

fear
Fear of the unknown and fear of change are both common ideas, and together cover a broad spectrum of the fears we tend to have...

Tell
'To tell' signifies perceiving, because in the spiritual world, or in heaven, they do not need to tell what they think because they communicate every...

darkness
"Darkness" is a state without light. "Light" is truth from the Lord, so "darkness" is a state where truth is lacking.

light
Nov. 4, 1879: Thomas Edison filed a patent for a long-burning light bulb. Nov. 5, 1879: The light bulb was universally accepted as the symbol...

Fear not
Fear not, as in Revelation 1:17; Daniel 10:5, 12; Matthew 17:5, 7; 28:10, etc., signifies resuscitation to life, and at the same time adoration from...

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...

Body
The body (Matt. 6:22), signifies the man (homo). "His body shall not remain all night upon the tree" (Deut. 21:23), signifies lest it should be...

soul
The nature of the soul is a deep and complicated topic, but it can be summarized as "spiritual life," who we are in terms of...

Hell
'Hell,' as mentioned in Jonah 2:3, signifies the earth below.

sold
'To sell,' as in Genesis 41:56, means transferring to another as their own, because what is sold becomes the property of the one who buys...

Farthing
To pay the uttermost farthing, as in Matthew 5:21, 26, signifies the punishment which is called eternal fire.

one
A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

fall
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "fall" is highly dependent on context in regular language, and is highly dependent on context in a spiritual...

ground
In Zechariah 8:12, 'the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground her increase,' signifies that the spiritual affection of truth produces the good of...

head
The head is the part of us that is highest, which means in a representative sense that it is what is closest to the Lord....

many
Intellectual things – ideas, knowledge, facts, even insight and understanding – are more separate and free-standing than emotional things, and it’s easier to imagine numbering...

earth
"Earth" in the Bible can mean a person or a group of like-minded people as in a church. But it refers specifically to the external...

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

sword
The three words, sword, famine and pestilence, appear in a group in 26 different Bible verses. That's not an accident. Sword, famine and pestilence describe...

daughter
Marriages among people – both in the Bible and in life – represent spiritual marriage. Women represent the desire to be good and to do...

mother
In general, mothers in the Bible represent the Lord's church on earth, or the church among those who know and follow the Lord. In some...

Foes
Foes, or adversaries, denote the falsities of evil. Foes, or adversaries, when predicate of the Lord, signifies to avert falsities derived from evil.

own
In many cases, the spiritual meaning of "own," both as a verb and as an adjective, is relatively literal. When people are described as the...

Find
To not to be found any more, signifies not to rise again.

life
According to Swedenborg, the Lord is life itself, and we are recipients of life. This is true even of the most evil spirits, who loved...

prophet
The idea of a "prophet" is very closely tied to the idea of the Bible itself, since the Bible was largely written by prophets. At...

reward
A "reward" in the Bible represents something that brings people together, or brings spiritual states together, and binds them. It's easy to see this in...

righteous
The word "righteous" has taken on a bit of negative shading in modern language. That may be because we hear it most often as part...

drink
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...

Cup
"Cup" in the Bible is often used as synonym for wine, and the meaning is essentially the same: Cups represent true ideas on the spiritual...

water
Water was obviously of tremendous importance in Biblical times (and every other time). It is the basis of life, the essential ingredient in all drinks,...

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.


 Answering the Call to Discipleship
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Being Healed by the Lord
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Disciples and Apostles
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Divine Providence and Tragedy
The Lord respects our freedom because He loves us. He respects it so much that He allows us to get into trouble, and then as far as we are willing, He brings us new strength out of our troubles
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Freely Give
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Helping Those Who Are "Sick"
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Prudence
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 These Twelve Jesus Sent Forth
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14


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