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.

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #1060

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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1060. Verse 18 And Noah's sons who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan.

'Noah's sons who went out of the ark' means those who constituted the Ancient Church, 'who went out of the ark' meaning those who had been regenerated. 'Shem' means the internal Church, 'Ham' the corrupted Church, 'Japheth' the external Church. 'Ham was the father of Canaan means that from the corrupted Church arose worship in external things devoid of internal, which worship is meant by Canaan.

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

The Bible

 

Mark 13

King James Version         

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1 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!

2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,

4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?

5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:

6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.

8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.

9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.

10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.

11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.

13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:

16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.

17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.

19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.

21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:

22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,

25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:

29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

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Explanation of Mark 13      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Explaining the Inner Meaning of Mark 13

Verses 1, 2. THAT the state of the church is not to be judged of from the external aspect of the truths, which the members of the church profess to believe, since if these truths be separated from the good of charity, the church itself must come to vastation and destruction.

Verses 3-6. For which reason the understandings of the members of the church ought to be opened to the light of truth, to prevent their being misled by falsities, since those are about to come, who will say that this is of faith, or that this is truth, when yet it is neither of faith, nor is it truth, but what is false.

Verse 7. Debates also and disputes will exist concerning truths.

Verse 8. And evil is about to fight against evil, and the false against the false, so that the state of the church will be changed, and there will no longer be any knowledge of what is good and true, but infection from falsities.

Verse 9. They, therefore, who are principled in what is good and true, will be in danger, first, from the perversion of truth; next, from its captivity by falsities; and all on account of the goods of love and the truths of faith from the LORD.

Verse 10. Which goods and truths must first be made known to all who are principled in good.

Verse 11. To whom instruction is given, under all infestation by falsities, to consult Divine Truth for security, rather than depend on their own prudence.

Verse 12, and first part of 13. For evil will destroy good, and what is false will destroy what is true, by bringing those heavenly principles into contempt and aversion.

Verse 13, latter part. Nevertheless no injury can be done to those who abide patiently in the LORD.

Verse 14. And who therefore are forewarned, when they observe the predicted vastation of good and truth, not to look elsewhere than to the LORD, thus to the love of Him and neighbourly love.

Verse 15. And they who are in the good of charity, ought not to take themselves to those things which relate to the doctrinals of faith.

Verse 16. And they who are in the good of truth, ought not to take themselves to the doctrinals of truth.

Verse 17. For they who are imbued with the good of love to the LORD, and with the good of innocence, will then be in danger of profaning those goods, and thus of eternal damnation.

Verse 18. They, therefore, who are principled in good and truth, ought to take heed lest a removal from those principles should be made precipitately, in a state of too much cold arising from self-love.

Verse 19. For on that occasion will be the highest degree of perversion and vastation of the church as to good and truth, which is profanation.

Verse 20. So that for the salvation of those who are in the life of good, it will be necessary that they who are of the church should be removed from interior goods and truths to exterior.

Verses 21-23. And the doctrine of those who are in a holy external principle, but in a profane internal, is to be guarded against, because abounding with falsities.

Verses 24, 25. And when there is no longer any faith remaining, all love to the LORD and neighbourly love will disappear, and the knowledges of good and truth will perish, and thus the foundations of the church will be removed.

Verse 26. And then shall be the appearing of Truth Divine through the revelation of the Word as to its internal sense.

Verse 27. Then too shall be election through the influx of holy good and truth from the LORD by the angels, and thus the establishment of a New Church.

Verse 28. And when this New Church is erecting by the LORD, then first of all appears the good of the natural principle, with its affections and truths.

Verse 29. And when all the things above spoken of appear, then will be the consummation of the church, that is, the last judgement and coming of the LORD, consequently then the Old Church will be rejected, and the New established.

Verse 30. In the meantime the Jewish nation, together with their worship, will not be extirpated like other nations.

Verse 31. And the internals and externals of the former church will perish, but the Word of the LORD will remain.

Verse 32. And the state of the church at that time, as to goods and truths, will not appear to any one, either in earth or in heaven, but to the LORD alone.

Verse 33. Therefore man ought to procure to himself spiritual life, which is life from the LORD, because be is in ignorance what the state of his life is, which is to remain to eternity.

Verse 34. For the LORD gives to all who are in the church the knowledges of truth and good from the Word, with the faculty of perceiving them, and of securing them from injury.

Verses 35-37. Wherefore all ought to keep their minds open to the light of truth, to preserve them from the darkness of evil and error.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 3353

Divine Providence 328


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 34, 336, 493, 721, 795, 820, 1050, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 24, 33, 51, 53, 158, 191, 323, ...

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 73

Divine Providence 231

Doctrine of the Lord 14, 26, 51

The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Sacred Scripture 2

Worlds in Space 171

The Last Judgement (Continuation) 13, 25

True Christian Religion 121, 146, 180, 182, 190, 757, 764


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 5, 36, 47, 72, 102, 120, 122, ...

Canons of the New Church 27

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 5

Marriage 121

Scriptural Confirmations 1, 2, 3, 4, 27, 33, 34

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



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Micah 7:6

Haggai 2:22

Bible Word Meanings

the temple
'Solomon's temple' represents heaven and the church.

disciples
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!...

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...

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...

answering
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...

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...

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...

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...

olives
'Olives' signify good.

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...

asked
The words "ask" and "question" are used a number of different in natural language, and a number of different ways in the Bible. The spiritual...

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...

us
Angels do give us guidance, but they are mere helpers; the Lord alone governs us, through angels and spirits. Since angels have their assisting role,...

sign
The Bible often speaks of signs and miracles as things that convinced people of the Lord's leading. Swedenborg divides the two, identifying "signs" as things...

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...

deceive
'To deceive,' as in Revelation 12:9, signifies perversion.

come
Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

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...

wars
'Wars,' in the Word, signify spiritual war, which consists of challenging truth, and are conducted by rationalizations from falsities. This is why the ministry of...

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...

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...

rulers
"Rulers" or "governors" in the Bible represent the most basic, most essential true ideas that guide us in life, ideas that spring directly from the...

gospel
‘Gospel’ signifies the coming of the Lord. ’To preach the gospel’ is to announce His coming. ‘Gospel’ is glad tidings, and ‘the everlasting gospel’ is...

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...

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...

ghost
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...

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...

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

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

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...

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

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...

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...

woe
'Woe' signifies lamentation over evils and falsities which devastate the church.

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...

flight
Flight, as in Matthew 14:20, signifies removal from a state of the good of love and innocence. Flight, as in Mark 8:18, signifies the last...

winter
'Winter' signifies the same thing as 'night,' that is, the end of the church.

affliction
'Tribulation,' as in Matthew 24:29, signifies the state of the church when there are no longer any goods and truths.

christ
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...

believe
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...

False Christs
False Christs, referred to in Matthew 24, are falsities, or truths that are not divine.

shew
'Shew' signifies instruction to the life.

signs
The Bible often speaks of signs and miracles as things that convinced people of the Lord's leading. Swedenborg divides the two, identifying "signs" as things...

Signs and wonders
'They shall give signs and wonders,' as in Matthew 24:24, signifies confirmation and persuasion grounded in external appearances and fallacies, by which the simple minded...

all things
The Lord is life itself, is the Creator of the universe, and is the source of life on an ongoing basis. So in a literal...

tribulation
'Tribulation,' as in Matthew 24:29, signifies the state of the church when there are no longer any goods and truths.

stars
The star which went before them [the wise men] meant knowledge coming from heaven, since stars in the Word mean pieces of knowledge. –De Verbo...

heaven
"Air" in the Bible represents thought, but in a very general way – more like our capacity to perceive ideas and the way we tend...

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...

coming
Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

great power
In Revelation 11:17, 'thou hast taken to thee thy great power' signifies divine omnipotence, which is and was His from eternity.

glory
We tend to speak somewhat casually of "truth from the Lord," but in actual fact the Writings tell us that in its true form the...

angels
"Angels" in the Bible represent qualities of the Lord himself, or a variety of things that come directly from the Lord. On a lower level...

learn
To learn,' as in Revelation 14:3, signifies an interior perception in one's self that 'it is so,' which means understanding, and then receiving and acknowledging....

branch
A branch (Matt. 24:32) signifies affection, for affection springs and flourishes from good as a branch Springs from its trunk. A branch (Mal. 4:1) denotes...

leaves
'Leaves' signify truths according to the different kinds of tree. 'The leaves of the olive tree and vine' signify rational truths from celestial and spiritual...

doors
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...

authority
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...

Watch
'Watching' denotes a course of life according to the teachings of faith.

sleeping
When the man of the church is in a natural state, and not yet in a spiritual state, natural affections, which are various cupidities arising...

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