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 #3780

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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3780. 'And he said to them, Does he have peace?' means, Does it - that good - come from the Lord's kingdom? This is clear from the meaning of 'peace' dealt with below. In the historical sense it is an inquiry into whether Laban 'has peace', but in the internal sense it is an inquiry concerning the good which Laban represents. For 'Laban' is a parallel good springing from a common stock, that is, the kind of good that exists among gentiles who belong to the universal Church, that is, to the Lord's kingdom, see immediately above in 3778. From this it is evident what those words mean - Does it come from the Lord's kingdom?

[2] As regards 'peace', this means in the highest sense the Lord Himself, and from this in the internal sense His kingdom. Peace is also the Lord's Divine affecting inmostly the good which governs people there. The fact that these things are meant in the Word by 'peace' becomes clear from many places, as in Isaiah,

To us a Boy is born, to us a Son is given, whose government will be upon His shoulder; and His name will be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God, Hero, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom. Isaiah 9:6-7.

Here 'Prince of Peace' clearly stands for the Lord, 'the increase of government and of peace' for the things that exist in His kingdom, and so it stands for the kingdom itself. In the same prophet,

The work of righteousness will be peace, and the labour of righteousness quietness and security for ever. And My people will abide in a habitation of peace. Isaiah 32:17-18.

This refers to the Lord's kingdom, where 'peace', 'quietness', and 'security' follow consecutively. 'A habitation of peace' stands for heaven.

[3] In the same prophet,

The angels of peace weep bitterly. The highways have been laid waste, the wayfarer has ceased. Isaiah 33:7-8.

'The angels of peace' stands for members of the Lord's kingdom, and so 'peace' stands for the kingdom itself, and in the highest sense for the Lord. 'The highways have been laid waste and the wayfarer has ceased' stands for the fact that truth existed nowhere any longer - 'highways' and 'ways' meaning truths, see 627, 2333. In the same prophet,

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of Him who is bringing good tidings, causing peace to be heard, bringing good tidings of good, causing salvation to be heard, saying to Zion, Your God reigns. Isaiah 52:7.

'Bringing good tidings and causing peace to be heard' stands for the Lord's kingdom. In the same prophet,

The mountains will depart and the hills be removed, but My mercy will not depart from you, and the covenant of My peace will not be removed. Isaiah 54:10.

In the same prophet,

The way of peace they have not known, and there is no judgement in their tracks. Isaiah 59:8.

[4] In Jeremiah,

I will assemble My peace from this people, said Jehovah, pity and mercy. Jeremiah 16:5.

In the same prophet, The folds of peace have been laid waste, because of the fierce anger of Jehovah. Jeremiah 25:37.

In the same prophet,

The prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known, that Jehovah has in truth sent him. Jeremiah 28:9.

In the same prophet,

I know the thoughts that I am thinking towards you, said Jehovah, thoughts of peace. Jeremiah 29:11.

In Haggai,

The glory of this latter house will be greater than that of the former, for in this place I will give peace. Haggai 2:9.

In Zechariah,

They will be the seed of peace; the vine will give its fruit, and the land will give its increase, and the heavens will give their dew. Zechariah 8:12.

In David,

Care for the blameless one, and behold the upright, for the latter end of that man is peace. Psalms 37:37.

In Luke,

Jesus said to the disciples, Whatever house you enter, first say, Peace be to this house! And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest on it; but if not, it shall return to you. Luke 10:5-6.

In John,

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. John 14:27.

In the same gospel,

Jesus said, These things I have said to you, that in Me you may have peace. John 16:33.

(References: Zechariah 7:12)

[5] In all these places 'peace' in the highest sense means the Lord, in the representative sense His kingdom and good from the Lord in that kingdom, and so means the Divine which flows into good or into affections for good, which also, from what is inmost, brings feelings of joy and happiness. This shows what is meant by the words of the blessing,

Jehovah will lift up His face upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:26.

It also shows what is meant by the customary greeting received from ancient times, Peace to you, the same words as were used by the Lord to greet the apostles, John 20:19, 21, 26. See also about 'peace' in 92, 93, 1726, 2780, 3170, 3696.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 92-93, Genesis 29:6)

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   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 3941, 4060, 4213, 5044, 5257, 5662, 6391, 7231, 8665, 10054

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121

Other New Christian Commentary

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

The Bible


John 14:26-28

English: King James Version      

Study the Inner Meaning

← John 13   Full Chapter   John 15 →

26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

← John 13   Full Chapter   John 15 →

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 3780, 4843, 6788, 6993, 9199, 9818, 10490

Apocalypse Revealed 173, 306, 640, 962

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 120

Conjugial Love 394

Doctrine of the Lord 51

Heaven and Hell 287

True Christian Religion 139, 153, 188, 303, 599

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 183, 365, 724

Spiritual Experiences 509

Scriptural Confirmations 3, 27

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Numbers 6:26

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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.

Worship Talk | Ages over 18

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A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
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Small poster illustration a quotation from the Word.
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Jesus' discourse on the way, the truth and the life is the first part of a farewell address to His disciples in which He charges them to believe in Him and keep His commandments.
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 The Way to Heaven
The Lord has prepared a special place in heaven for everyone, and His Word shows us the way that leads there.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

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