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 #4843

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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4843. 'To Tamar his daughter-in-law' means a Church representative of spiritual and celestial things, which is called 'a daughter-in-law' from truth. This is clear from the representation of 'Tamar' as a Church representative of spiritual and celestial things, dealt with above in 4831, and from the meaning of 'a daughter-in-law' as the spiritual element of the Church, which is truth. The reason 'a daughter-in-law' has this meaning in the internal sense is that everything connected with a marriage, and all persons who were the offspring of a marriage, represented the kinds of things that belong to the heavenly marriage, see above in 4837, and consequently the kinds of things that belong to good and truth since these are the two partners in the heavenly marriage. This is why in the Word 'husband' means good and 'wife' truth, and also why 'sons and daughters' means the forms of truth and good which are the offspring of these. Consequently, being the wife of a son who has now become a husband, 'a daughter-in-law' means the truth of the Church which has been joined to good, and so on. But the meaning is different in the case of those who belong to the celestial Church from that of those who belong to the spiritual Church; for in the spiritual Church the husband is called 'the men' and means truth, while the wife is called 'the woman' and means good, see above in 4823.

[2] As regards 'a daughter-in-law' in the internal sense of the Word meaning the truth of the Church linked to its good, and consequently in the contrary sense meaning the falsity of the Church linked to its evil, this may also be seen from places in the Word where the expression 'daughter-in-law' is used, as in Hosea,

They offer sacrifice on mountain-tops and burn incense on hills, under oak. and poplar, and hard oak, because its shade is good. Therefore your daughters commit whoredom, and your daughters-in-law commit adultery. Shall I not punish 1 your daughters, in that they commit whoredom and your daughters-in-law in that they commit adultery? Hosea 4:13-14.

This refers to the worship of evil and falsity, the worship of evil being meant by 'offering sacrifices on mountain-tops' and the worship of falsity by 'burning incense on hills'. A life of evil is meant by 'daughters committing whoredom', and the teaching of what is false from which a life of evil results is meant by 'daughters-in-law committing adultery'. As regards acts of adultery and whoredom in the Word meaning adulterations of what is good and falsifications of what is true, see 2466, 2727, 3399. 'Daughters-in-law' therefore stands here for affections for falsity.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2729)

[3] In Micah,

The great man utters the perversity of his soul. and he twists it out of shape. The best of them is like a brier, the upright like a thorn-bush. The son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man's enemies are those of his own household. Micah 7:3-4, 6.

This refers to falsity that is the offspring of evil and which exists with the Church in the last times when it has been laid waste, in the proximate sense as it existed with the Jewish Church. 'The daughter rises up against her mother' means that the affection for evil stands opposed to truth, and 'the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law' that the affection for falsity stands opposed to good.

[4] Because the experience of a person undergoing temptations is of a similar nature to this - for in temptations a conflict takes place between evil and truth and between falsity and good, spiritual temptations being nothing else than experiences when the falsity and evil present in a person are laid waste - temptations or spiritual conflicts are described by the Lord in practically the same words,

Jesus said, Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be these of his own household. Matthew 10:34-36, 38.

The words from the Prophet that are similar to these, quoted a little above them, meant the laying waste of the Church. But here the temptations of those who belong to the Church are meant, for, as has been stated, temptations are nothing else than experiences in which falsity and evil are laid waste or taken away. For this reason also temptations as well as vastations are meant and described by deluges and floods of waters, 705, 739, 756, 790. Here also therefore 'daughter against mother' means the affection for evil standing opposed to truth, and 'daughter-in-law against mother-in-law' the affection for falsity standing opposed to good. Now because the evils and falsities present with a person undergoing temptation exist inwardly, or are his own, they are called members of his own household in the words 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household'. The fact that temptations are described in this passage is evident from the Lord's saying that He had not come to bring peace on earth but a sword; for 'a sword' means truth engaged in conflict, and in the contrary sense falsity engaged in conflict, 2799, 4499. (Yet He did come to bring peace, John 14:27; 16:33.) The description of temptations in this passage is also clear from what the Lord goes on to say - 'He who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me'.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 907)

[5] Similarly in Luke,

Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division; for from now on there will be in one house five divided, three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Luke 12:51-53.

From these words too it is evident that 'father', 'mother', 'son', 'daughter', 'daughter-in-law', and 'mother-in-law' mean the kinds of things that originate in the heavenly marriage, namely goods and truths in their own order, and also their opposites; as also in Mark,

Jesus said, There is no one who has forsaken house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or fields, for the sake of Me and of the Gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold, now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. Mark 10:29-30.

Anyone unacquainted with the internal sense of the Word will think that 'house', 'brothers', 'sisters', 'father', 'mother', 'wife', 'children', and 'fields' mean house, brothers, sisters, father, mother, wife, children, and fields. But the meaning here is this: The kinds of things present in a person which are properly his own must be forsaken by him, and instead of these, spiritual and celestial things which are the Lord's must be received by him. This change is effected by means of temptations, which are meant here by 'persecutions'. Anyone can see that if he forsakes his mother he is not going to receive mothers, nor likewise to receive brothers and sisters by forsaking these.


1. literally, visit


(References: Genesis 38:11)

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   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 4844, 4845, 4869, 4903

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 433

Other New Christian Commentary

Daughter 1

Foes of his own household 1

Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg

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

The Bible


John 14:26-28

English: King James Version      

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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

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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.

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