From Swedenborg's Works

Arcana Coelestia #2159

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)

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2159. That 'servant' means the Lord's human before it was made Divine becomes clear from many places in the Prophets. The reason, which has been given frequently already, is this: The Lord's human, before He cast it off and made it Divine, was nothing else than a servant. His human came from the mother and was for that reason imperfect. From her it possessed a hereditary element which He overcame and utterly cast aside by means of the conflicts brought about by temptations. He did so even to the point when nothing was left of the imperfect and hereditary element received from the mother, indeed until at length nothing whatever from the mother remained. He cast off that which came from the mother so completely that He was no longer her son, as He also Himself declares in Mark,

They said to Jesus, Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside, asking for You. And He answered them. saying, Who is My mother, or My brothers? And looking around on those who were sitting around Him He said, Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother, and My sister, and My mother. Mark 3:32-35; Matthew 12:46-50; Luke 8:20-21.

(References: Matthew 12:46-49)

[2] Once He had cast off this human He put on the Divine Human, by virtue of which He called Himself the Son of Man, as may be seen many times in the New Testament Word, and also the Son of God. By 'the Son of Man' He meant truth itself and by 'the Son of God' good itself which belonged to His Human Essence once this had been made Divine. The former state was that of the Lord's humiliation but the latter that of His glorification, which has been dealt with already in 1999.

[3] In the former state, namely the state of humiliation, when He still had the imperfect human with Him, He worshipped Jehovah as one other than Himself, and was indeed like a servant, for the imperfect human is by comparison nothing else. In the Word also therefore that human is referred to as 'a servant', as in Isaiah,

I will protect this city to save it for My own sake and for the sake of David My servant. Isaiah 37:35.

This refers to the Assyrians in whose camp an angel slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand. 'David' stands for the Lord who, because He is yet to come, is, as regards the human, called 'a servant'. That 'David' in the Word stands for the Lord, see 1888.

[4] In the same prophet,

Behold, My servant on whom I will lean, My chosen [in whom] My soul is well pleased. I have put My spirit upon him; he will bring forth judgement to the nations. Isaiah 42:1.

This is a plain reference to the Lord, of whom, when He was in the human, the expressions 'servant' and 'chosen one' are used. In the same prophet,

Who is blind but My servant, and deaf as My angel 1 whom I will send? Who is blind as the perfect one, and blind as the servant or Jehovah? Isaiah 42:19.

This too is a reference to the Lord, of whom in a similar way, when He was in the human, the expressions 'servant' and 'angel' are used.

[5] In the same prophet,

You are My witnesses, said Jehovah, and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Isaiah 43:10.

In the same prophet,

[Then] said Jehovah who formed me from the womb, to be a servant to Him, to bring back Jacob to Him, and that Israel might be gathered to Him - He said, It is a light thing that you should be a servant to Me to raise up the tribes of Jacob. I have given you as a light of the nations, to be My salvation right to the ends of the earth. Isaiah 49:5-6.

This too is a plain reference to the Lord and to His human before it was made 'a light of the nations' and 'a salvation to the ends of the earth'. In the same prophet,

Who among you fears Jehovah, hearkens to the voice of His servant who walks in darkness and has no brightness? Let him trust in the name of Jehovah and lean on his God. Isaiah 50:10.

'Servant' again stands for the Lord's human. His teaching of the way of truth, while He was in that Human, is meant by 'the voice of Jehovah's servant'.

[6] In the same prophet,

Jehovah goes before you, and the God of Israel gathers you up. Behold, My servant will deal wisely; he will be raised up and exalted and lifted up very high. Isaiah 52:12-13.

'Servant' is clearly used in reference to the Lord when He was in the human, because it is said of Him that He will be raised up, exalted, and lifted up. In the same prophet,

He had no form and no honour. We saw him, but there was no beauty in him. He was despised, a man of sorrows, acquainted with sickness. Jehovah was willing to bruise him and make him imperfect. If he makes his soul guilt he will see his seed he will prolong his days, and the will of Jehovah will prosper by his hand. He will see [the fruit of] the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge will the righteous one My servant make many righteous; and He has borne their iniquities. Isaiah 53:2-3, 10-11.

Here reference is openly made, as in the whole of this chapter, to the Lord's state of humiliation. The fact that in that state He was in the imperfect human is also declared, namely in the statements that He was 'a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief', 'was made imperfect', and experienced 'the travail of his soul', besides many other statements, in which state He is referred to as 'a servant'.


1. or messenger


(References: Genesis 18:3)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 2265, 2320, 2658, 3025, 3036, 3318, 3703, 3704, 4563, 4809, 5045, 6984, 8281, 8649, 9309, 9315, 9528

Heaven and Hell 86

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 201, 300, 302, 310

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 32, 242

Other New Christian Commentary

Servant 1

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

The Bible

Isaiah 49:5-6

English: King James Version

Study the Inner Meaning

← Isaiah 48   Full Chapter   Isaiah 50 →

5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.

6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

← Isaiah 48   Full Chapter   Isaiah 50 →

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 49

Other references to this text:

Arcana Coelestia 300, 666, 2159, 2586, 3195, 3441, 4918, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 368, 535, 796, 954

Doctrine of the Lord 34, 38

Heaven and Hell 129

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 39, 409, 433, 460, 710

Divine Wisdom 3

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 3, 14, 19, 89

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Nehemiah 8:10

Psalms 67:3

Isaiah 12:2, 42:6, 56:8

Micah 5:3

Luke 1:31, 24:47

John 8:12, 50

Acts of the Apostles 4:12, 13:47, 26:18

1 Timothy 3:16

2 Peter 1:17

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