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Arcana Coelestia #9372

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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9372. And He said unto Moses. That this signifies that which concerns the Word in general, is evident from the representation of Moses, as being the Word (of which below); and from the signification of “He said,” as involving those things which follow in this chapter, thus those which concern the Word (see n. 9370). (That Moses represents the Word, can be seen from what has been often shown before about Moses, as from the preface to Genesis 18; and n. 4859, 5922, 6723, 6752, 6771, 6827, 7010, 7014, 7089, 7382, 8601, 8760, 8787, 8805.) Here Moses represents the Word in general, because it is said of him in what follows, that he alone should come near unto Jehovah (verse 2); and also that, being called unto out of the midst of the cloud, he entered into it, and went up the mount (verses 16-18).

(References: Exodus 24:16, 24:18)


[2] In the Word there are many who represent the Lord in respect to truth Divine, or in respect to the Word; but chief among them are Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist. That Moses does so, can be seen in the explications just cited above; that so do Elijah and Elisha, can be seen in the preface to Genesis 18; and n. 2762, 5247; and that John the Baptist does so is evident from the fact that he was “Elias who was to come.” He who does not know that John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, cannot know what all those things infold and signify which are said about him in the New Testament; and therefore in order that this secret may stand open, and that at the same time it may appear that Elias, and also Moses, who were seen when the Lord was transfigured, signified the Word, some things may here be quoted which are spoken about John the Baptist; as in Matthew:

After the messengers of John had departed, Jesus began to speak concerning John, saying, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken by the wind? But what went ye out to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft things are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, even more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, Behold I send Mine angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee. Verily I say unto you, Among those who are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist; nevertheless he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he. All the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye are willing to believe, he is Elias who was to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matthew 11:7-15; and also Luke 7:24-28).

No one can know how these things are to be understood, unless he knows that this John represented the Lord as to the Word, and unless he also knows from the internal sense what is signified by “the wilderness” in which he was, also what by “a reed shaken by the wind,” and likewise by “soft raiment in kings’ houses;” and further what is signified by his being “more than a prophet,” and by “none among those who are born of women being greater than he, and nevertheless he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he,” and lastly by his being “Elias.” For without a deeper sense, all these words are uttered merely from some comparison, and not from anything of weight.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135)


[3] But it is very different when by John is understood the Lord as to the Word, or the Word representatively. Then by “the wilderness of Judea in which John was” is signified the state in which the Word was at the time when the Lord came into the world, namely, that it was “in the wilderness,” that is, it was in obscurity so great that the Lord was not at all acknowledged, neither was anything known about His heavenly kingdom; when yet all the prophets prophesied about Him, and about His kingdom, that it was to endure forever. (That “a wilderness” denotes such obscurity, see n. 2708, 4736, 7313.) For this reason the Word is compared to “a reed shaken by the wind” when it is explained at pleasure; for in the internal sense “a reed” denotes truth in the ultimate, such as is the Word in the letter.

[4] That the Word in the ultimate, or in the letter, is crude and obscure in the sight of men; but that in the internal sense it is soft and shining, is signified by their “not seeing a man clothed in soft raiment, for behold those who wear soft things are in kings’ houses.” That such things are signified by these words, is plain from the signification of “raiment,” or “garments,” as being truths (n. 2132, 2576, 4545, 4763, 5248, 6914, 6918, 9093); and for this reason the angels appear clothed in garments soft and shining according to the truths from good with them (n. 5248, 5319, 5954, 9212, 9216). The same is evident from the signification of “kings’ houses,” as being the abodes of the angels, and in the universal sense, the heavens; for “houses” are so called from good (n. 2233, 2234, 3128, 3652, 3720, 4622, 4982, 7836, 7891, 7996, 7997); and “kings,” from truth (n. 1672, 2015, 2069, 3009, 4575, 4581, 4966, 5044, 6148). Therefore by virtue of their reception of truth from the Lord, the angels are called “sons of the kingdom,” “sons of the king,” and also “kings.”

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2233-2234, 7996-7997)


[5] That the Word is more than any doctrine in the world, and more than any truth in the world, is signified by “what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet;” and by, “there hath not arisen among those who are born of women a greater than John the Baptist;” for in the internal sense “a prophet” denotes doctrine (n. 2534, 7269); and “those who are born,” or are the sons, “of women” denote truths (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 2803, 2813, 3704, 4257).

[6] That in the internal sense, or such as it is in heaven, the Word is in a degree above the Word in the external sense, or such as it is in the world, and such as John the Baptist taught, is signified by, “he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he;” for as perceived in heaven the Word is of wisdom so great that it transcends all human apprehension. That the prophecies about the Lord and His coming, and that the representatives of the Lord and of His kingdom, ceased when the Lord came into the world, is signified by, “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” That the Word was represented by John, as by Elijah, is signified by his being “Elias who is to come.”

[7] The same is signified by these words in Matthew:

The disciples asked Jesus, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? He answered and said, Elias must needs first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias hath come already, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they wished. Even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them. And they understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist (Matthew 17:10-13).

That “Elias hath come, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they wished” signifies that the Word has indeed taught them that the Lord is to come, but that still they did not wish to comprehend, interpreting it in favor of the rule of self, and thus extinguishing what is Divine in it. That they would do the same with the truth Divine itself, is signified by “even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them.” (That “the Son of man” denotes the Lord as to truth Divine, see n. 2803, 2813, 3704)

[8] From all this it is now evident what is meant by the prophecy about John in Malachi:

Behold I send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Jehovah cometh (Malachi 4:5).

Moreover, the Word in the ultimate, or such as it is in the external form in which it appears before man in the world, is described by the “clothing” and “food” of John the Baptist, in Matthew:

John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, had His clothing of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:1, 4).

In like manner it is described by Elijah in the second book of Kings:

He was a hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins (2 Kings 1:8).

By “clothing,” or a “garment,” when said of the Word, is signified truth Divine there in the ultimate form; by “camel’s hair” are signified memory-truths such as appear there before a man in the world; by the “leathern girdle” is signified the external bond connecting and keeping in order all the interior things; by “food” is signified spiritual nourishment from the knowledges of truth and of good out of the Word; by “locusts” are signified ultimate or most general truths; and by “wild honey” their pleasantness.

[9] That such things are signified by “clothing” and “food” has its origin in the representatives of the other life, where all appear clothed according to truths from good, and where food also is represented according to the desires of acquiring knowledge and growing wise. From this it is that “clothing,” or a “garment,” denotes truth (as may be seen from the citations above; and that “food” or “meat” denotes spiritual nourishment, n. 3114, 4459, 4792, 5147, 5293, 5340, 5342, 5576, 5579, 5915, 8562, 9003; that “a girdle” denotes a bond which gathers up and holds together interior things, n. 9341; that “leather” denotes what is external, n. 3540; and thus “a leathern girdle” denotes an external bond; that “hairs” denote ultimate or most general truths, n. 3301, 5569-5573; that “a camel” denotes memory-knowledge in general, n. 3048, 3071, 3143, 3145, 4156; that “a locust” denotes nourishing truth in the extremes, n. 7643; and that “honey” denotes the pleasantness thereof, n. 5620, 6857, 8056). It is called “wild honey,” or “honey of the field,” because by “a field” is signified the church (n. 2971, 3317, 3766, 7502, 7571, 9139, 9295). He who does not know that such things are signified, cannot possibly know why Elijah and John were so clothed. And yet that these things signified something peculiar to these prophets, can be thought by everyone who thinks well about the Word.

[10] Because John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, therefore also when he spoke of the Lord, who was the Word itself, he said of himself that he was “not Elias, nor the prophet,” and that he was “not worthy to loose the latchet of the Lord’s shoe,” as in John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. The Jews from Jerusalem, priests and Levites, asked John who he was. And he confessed, and denied not, I am not the Christ. Therefore they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? But he said, I am not. Art thou the prophet? He answered, No. They said therefore unto him, Who art thou? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet. They said therefore, Why then baptizest thou, if thou art not the Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet? He answered, I baptize with water; in the midst of you standeth one whom ye know not; He it is who is to come after me, who was before me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose. When he saw Jesus, he said, Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man who was before me; for he was before me (John 1:1, 14, 19-30).

From these words it is plain that when John spoke about the Lord Himself, who was Truth Divine itself, or the Word, he said that he himself was not anything, because the shadow disappears when the light itself appears, that is, the representative disappears when the original itself makes its appearance. (That the representatives had in view holy things, and the Lord Himself, and not at all the person that represented, see n. 665, 1097, 1361, 3147, 3881, 4208, 4281, 4288, 4292, 4307, 4444, 4500, 6304, 7048, 7439, 8588, 8788, 8806.) One who does not know that representatives vanish like shadows at the presence of light, cannot know why John denied that he was Elias and the prophet.

[11] From all this it can now be seen what is signified by Moses and Elias, who were seen in glory, and who spoke with the Lord when transfigured, of His departure which He should accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:29-31); namely, that they signified the Word (“Moses” the historic Word, and “Elias” the prophetic Word), which in the internal sense throughout treats of the Lord, of His coming into the world, and of His departure out of the world; and therefore it is said that “Moses and Elias were seen in glory,” for “glory” denotes the internal sense of the Word, and the “cloud” its external sense (see the preface to Genesis 18, and n. 5922, 8427).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135; Exodus 24:1-2)

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Arcana Coelestia 9374, 9378, 9379, 9382, 9386, 9429, 9504, 9779, 9806, 9828, 9954, 10027, 10090, 10215, 10251, 10337, 10355, 10375, 10396, 10397, 10400, 10432, 10450, 10460, 10468, 10528, 10549, 10551, 10635, 10636, 10641, 10690


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Apocalypse Explained 19, 64, 66, 83, 130, 355, 375, 701, 710, 735, 746


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Arcana Coelestia #2015

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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2015. Kings shall go forth from thee. That this signifies that all truth is from Him, is evident from the signification of a “king,” in both the historical and the prophetic Word, as being truth (stated above, n. 1672, but not yet fully shown). From the signification of “nations” as being goods, and from the signification of “kings” as being truths, we can see the nature of the internal sense of the Word, and also how remote it is from the sense of the letter. He who reads the Word, especially the historical portion, has no other belief than that the nations there are nations, and the kings kings, and thus that nations and kings are treated of in the very Word itself. But the idea of nations, as well as that of kings, altogether perishes when it is received by the angels, and in their place there succeed good and truth. This cannot but appear as strange and indeed as a paradox, but still it is really so, and the truth of it may appear to everyone from considering that if, in the Word, nations were signified by “nations,” and kings by “kings,” then the Word of the Lord would involve scarcely anything more than any other history, or any other writing, and thus would be a merely worldly affair, when yet there is nothing in the Word that is not Divine, and therefore celestial and spiritual.

[2] Take as a single instance what is said in this verse, that Abraham should be made fruitful and should be made nations, and that kings should go forth from him-what is this but a merely worldly matter, and in no respect heavenly? For in these things there is only the glory of the world, which is nothing at all in heaven; but if this is the Word of the Lord, there must be in it the glory of heaven, and none of the world’s glory. Therefore the sense of the letter is altogether obliterated and vanishes when it passes into heaven; and it is so purified that nothing that is worldly is intermingled. For by “Abraham” is not meant Abraham, but the Lord; by his being “made fruitful” is not meant that his posterity should increase exceedingly, but that the good of the Lord’s Human Essence should increase to infinitude; by the “nations” are not meant nations, but goods; and by the “kings,” not kings but truths. Still the history according to the sense of the letter remains true; for it is true that it was so said to Abraham; also that he was made fruitful, and that nations and kings came from him.

[3] That “kings” signify truths, may be seen from the following passages.

In Isaiah:

The sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee; thou shalt suck the milk of the nations, and the breast of kings shalt thou suck (Isaiah 60:10, 16);

what it is to “suck the milk of nations” and “the breast of kings,” is by no means plain from the letter, but it is from the internal sense, in which it signifies to be gifted with goods, and instructed in truths.

In Jeremiah:

There shall enter in by the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses (Jeremiah 17:25; 22:4);

to “ride in chariots and on horses” is a prophetical saying which signifies an abundance of intellectual things, as may appear from very many passages in the Prophets; and thus by “kings entering in by the gates of the city” is signified in the internal sense that they should be imbued with truths of faith. This is the heavenly sense of the Word, into which the worldly literal sense passes.

[4] Again, in the same Prophet:

Jehovah hath despised in the indignation of His anger the king and the priest; the gates of Zion have sunk into the earth; He hath destroyed and broken her bars; her king and her princes are among the nations; the law is not (Lam. 2:6, 9);

“the king” here denotes the truth of faith; “the priest” the good of charity; “Zion” the church which is being destroyed, and whose bars are being broken; hence “the king and the princes are among the nations,” that is, truth and the things which are of truth will be banished to such an extent that there will be no “law,” that is, nothing of the doctrine of faith.

In Isaiah:

Before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the ground shall be forsaken, which thou loathest in the presence of her two kings (Isaiah 7:16); where the Lord’s coming is treated of; the “ground which shall be forsaken” denotes faith, of which there would then be none, and the truths of which are the “kings that would be loathed.”

[5] In the same Prophet:

I will lift up My hand to the nations, and raise up My ensign to the peoples; and they shall bring thy sons in their bosom, and thy daughters shall be carried upon the shoulder; and kings shall be thy nourishers, and their queens those that give thee suck (Isaiah 49:22-23);

“the nations” and “the daughters” denote goods; and “the peoples” and “the sons” truths (as shown in Part First, where it may be seen that “nations” denote goods, n. 1259, 1260, 1416, 1849; and that “daughters” have a similar signification, n. 489-491; also that “peoples” denote truths, n. 1259, 1260; and “sons” likewise, n. 489, 491, 533, 1147). “Kings” therefore denote truths in general, by which they will be nourished, and their “queens” the goods from which they will be “suckled.” Whether you say goods and truths, or those who are in goods and truths, it is the same.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1259-1260)


[6] Again in the same Prophet:

He shall sprinkle many nations, upon him kings shall shut their mouth-for that which was [not] told them have they seen; and that which they did not hear have they understood (Isaiah 52:15),

where the Lord’s coming is spoken of; the “nations” denote those who are affected by goods, and “kings” those who are affected by truths.

In David:

Now, O ye kings, be intelligent; be instructed, ye judges of the earth; serve Jehovah with fear, and exult with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish in the way (Psalms 2:10-12).

“Kings” denote those who are in truths; who also from their truths are often called “king’s sons;” “the Son” here denotes the Lord, who is here called “the Son” because He is the truth itself, and because all truth is from Him.

[7] In John:

They shall sing a new song, Worthy art Thou who takest the book, and openest the seals thereof; Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests, that we may reign upon the earth (Revelation 5:9-10); where they who are in truths are called “kings.” The Lord also calls such persons “the sons of the kingdom,” in Matthew:

He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the seed is the sons of the kingdom, and the tares are the sons of the evil one (Matthew 13:37-38).

In John:

The sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the Kings that are from the sun rising might be prepared (Revelation 16:12).

That by the “Euphrates” is not meant the Euphrates, nor by “the kings from the sun-rising” any kings therefrom, is evident (what is meant by the “Euphrates” may be seen above, n. 120, 1585, 1866); so that “the way of the kings that are from the sun-rising” means the truths of faith that are from the goods of love.

[8] In the same:

The nations that are saved shall walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honor into it (Revelation 21:24); where “the nations” denote those who are in goods, and “the kings of the earth” those who are in truths, as may be inferred from the fact that these words are prophetic, and not historical. In the same:

With the great harlot that sitteth upon many waters the kings of the earth have committed whoredom, and have been made drunken with the wine of her whoredom (Revelation 17:1-2).

And again:

Babylon hath made all the nations drink of the wine of her whoredom, and the kings of the earth have committed whoredom with her (Revelation 18:3, 9); where in like manner it is evident that kings are not meant by “the kings of the earth;” for the falsification and adulteration of the doctrine of faith, that is, of truth, is treated of, and this is the “whoredom;” “the kings of the earth” denote the truths that are falsified and adulterated.

(References: Revelation 17:2)


[9] In the same:

The ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, that have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority [potestas] as kings with the beast for one hour. These shall have one mind, and shall give their power and authority to the beast (Revelation 17:12-13).

That these “kings” are not kings, is evident to everyone; for if so it would be wholly unintelligible that the ten kings should receive authority as kings one hour. So too in another passage:

I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war with him that sat upon the horse, and with his army (Revelation 19:19).

That “he that sat upon the horse” is “the Word of God,” is openly stated in verse 13; and it is against this that the kings of the earth are said to have been gathered together. “The beast” denotes the goods of love, profaned; and “the kings” denote the truths of faith, adulterated; these are called “the kings of the earth,” because they are within the church. (That “the earth” is the church may be seen above, n. 662, 1066, 1067, 1262.) The “white horse” denotes the understanding of truth; and “he that sat upon the horse,” the Word. This meaning is still more manifest in Daniel (chapter 11), where the war between “the king of the south” and “the king of the north” is treated of; by which terms are signified the truths and falsities that had fought, the combats being described here also in an historical manner by this “war.”

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1066-1067; Daniel 11; Revelation 19:13)


[10] As “a king” signifies truth, it may be seen what is meant in the internal sense when the Lord is called a King and also a Priest; and also what it was in the Lord that was represented by kings, and what by priests. Kings represented His Divine truth, and priests His Divine good. All the laws of order by which the Lord governs the universe as King, are truths; but all the laws by which He governs the universe as Priest, and by which also He rules truths themselves, are goods; for government from truths alone would condemn everyone to hell; but government from goods lifts everyone out thence and uplifts him into heaven (see n. 1728). Because in the Lord’s case these two are conjoined, they were anciently represented by kingship conjoined with priesthood; as with Melchizedek, who was king of Salem and at the same time priest to God Most High (Genesis 14:18); and afterwards with the Jews, among whom the representative church was instituted in its own form, by judges and priests, and afterwards by kings.

[11] But as the kings represented truths, which ought not to have command, for the reason, as before said, that they condemn, therefore the desire to have kings was so displeasing as to call for rebuke, and the nature of truth as regarded in itself was described by the rights [jus] of the king (1 Samuel 8:11-18); and at an earlier day it was commanded by Moses (Deuteronomy 17:14-18) that they should choose genuine truth which is from good, and not spurious; and that they should not defile it by reasonings and memory-knowledges [scientifica]. This is what is involved in the directions concerning a king, given in Moses in the place just cited; which no one can possibly see from the sense of the letter, but yet is evident from the several points contained in the internal sense; so that “king” and “kingship” evidently represented and signified nothing else than truth.

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Arcana Coelestia 2069, 2089, 2466, 2504, 2509, 2567, 2761, 2781, 2826, 2830, 2832, 2851, 2906, 3009, 3105, 3325, 3355, 3365, 3441, 3703, 3708, 3858, 3863, 3875, 3969, 4391, 4402, 4575, 4669, 4677, 4728, 4763, 4809, 4876, 4973, 5038, 5044, 5068, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 854

The White Horse 10

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 1, 259, 309


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 27, 31, 126, 155, 236, 701


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 The Choosing of Saul
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Matthew 13:37-38

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37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

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Exploring the Meaning of Matthew 13      

By Rev. Dr. Ray Silverman

Chapter 13. Parables of Regeneration

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1. And in that same day, Jesus, going out from the house, sat by the sea.

2. And many crowds gathered together to Him, so that stepping into a ship, He sat; and all the crowds stood on the shore.
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This episode begins with the words, “On the same day” (13:1). It is still the Sabbath, and Jesus is still active; this time, however, instead of healing the multitudes, He is preaching to them: “And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat: and the whole multitude stood on the shore” (13:2).

The previous episode, spiritually seen, was about the importance of regeneration. In this next episode, Jesus tells seven parables which describe the process He has called “the sign of the prophet Jonah.” The seven parables describe the only true miracle we should seek — the miracle of regeneration. This is a miracle that we can both understand and be a part of, for this is the miracle whereby we are changed from natural beings into spiritual beings.

Jesus reveals the details of this miracle in seven seamlessly connected parables about this process. 1

The Sower: The First Parable of Regeneration

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3. And He spoke to them many [things] in parables, saying, “Behold, there went out a sower to sow;

4. And in his sowing, some [seeds] indeed fell along the way, and the birds came, and devoured them.

5. And other [seeds] fell on rocky [places], where it had not much earth, and straightway it sprang up, on account of not having depth of earth;

6. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

7. And others fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up, and choked them.

8. But others fell on the good earth, and gave fruit, indeed some a hundred, and some sixty, and some thirty.

9. He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”

10. And the disciples coming, said to Him, “Why speakest Thou to them in parables?”

11. And He answering said to them, “Because to you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens; but to them it is not given.

12. For whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but whoever has not, even what he has shall be taken away from him.

13. On this account I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, neither do they understand.

14. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, who says, ‘By hearing you shall hear and shall not understand, and looking you shall look and shall not see.

15. For the heart of this people has become gross, and with [their] ears they hear heavily, and their eyes have they closed, lest [at any time] they should see with the eyes, and hear with the ears, and understand with the heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.’

16. But happy [are] your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.

17. For amen I say to you that many prophets and just [men] have longed to see what you look upon, and have not seen, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard.

18. Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

19. When anyone hears the Word of the kingdom, and understands not, the wicked [one] comes, and seizes upon what was sown in his heart; this is he that was sown along the way.

20. And that which was sown upon rocky [places] is he that hears the Word, and straightway with joy receives it.

21. And he has not root in himself, but is temporary; and when affliction or persecution comes because of the Word, he is straightway caused to stumble.

22. And that which is sown among thorns is he that hears the Word; and the anxieties of this age, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful.

23. And that sown upon the good earth is he that hears the Word, and understands, who also bears fruit, and does, indeed some a hundred, and some sixty, and some thirty.”
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The regeneration process begins in the same way that life begins: a seed is sown in fertile ground. As Jesus says, “Behold, a sower went out to sow” (13:1). The sower who goes forth to sow is God, and the seeds that He scatters are the truths of His Word. Now sometimes these seeds fall by the wayside and birds devour them before they can take root. This is what happens when people have no understanding of the Word. Even the seeds that would tend to take root are snatched away quickly by the “birds” — our flights of imaginative fantasy in which we invent distorted, self-serving notions of what the Word is really teaching.

And then there are the seeds that fall on stony places. Though there is little depth of earth, these seeds take root and spring up quickly. But when the sun comes out, they easily get scorched and wither away. These are compared to those times when we initially understand the Word, and are excited about our new insights. But when trials and temptations come, we cannot bear the heat. We have not taken these new teachings to heart. And so, lacking depth of root, we are not able to endure the heat of our trials. Our faith dries up and withers away.

Other seeds fall among thorns. When the thorns grow up, the new plant is smothered and choked. This represents the times when we get caught up in the cares of the world and the accumulation of riches. These materialistic concerns pile up until we are totally pre-occupied with earthly life, caring little for heaven. The cares of the world have choked out the possibility of our beginning a new life.

However, there are some seeds that fall on good ground. These represent what happens when we hear the Word, understand it, and do it. These are the seeds that “fell into good ground and brought forth fruit” (13:8).

Often regarded as ‘the parable of all parables,” this simple story is about the first step in the regeneration process. The “Sower,” who is the Lord plants seeds of goodness and truth in us. Do we take care of this seed, nurturing and cultivating it? Do we regularly water it with truth? Do we regularly expose it to the warm sunlight of loving acts of kindness? And, most importantly, have we received it in the good ground of a humble heart? If so, we have taken the first step on the journey of our spiritual development.

Wheat and Tares: The Second Parable of Regeneration

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24. Another parable He set before them, saying, “The kingdom of the heavens is likened to a man sowing good seed in his field.

25. And while the men slept, his enemy came, and sowed tares in the midst of the wheat, and went [his way].

26. And when the blade sprouted, and bore fruit, then appeared also the tares.

27. And the servants of the householder, coming, said to him, ‘Lord, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence then has it the tares?’

28. But he declared to them, ‘A man, an enemy, has done this.’ And the servants said to him,’Willest thou then that we go and collect them?’

29. But he declared, ‘No, lest while you collect the tares, you root up the wheat together with them.

30. Let both grow together even to the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, First collect the tares, and bind them into bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
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Jesus then proceeds to relate a second parable. While the first parable in the series emphasizes the sowing of good seed by God, this second parable emphasizes the sowing of evil seed by the enemy. Good seeds produce wheat that will be gathered together and put into barns; evil seeds will produce tares that will be gathered together and burnt (13:24-30). We should note that Jesus does not immediately explain this parable. At the simplest level, the well-disposed among the multitudes might take it to mean that people receive both good seeds and evil seeds — good ideas and bad ideas. They might also take it to mean that good ideas will lead to good results; bad ideas will lead to bad results.

This would be enough for those who were not yet capable of greater understanding, but the disciples want to know more. “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field,” they say (13:36). And so Jesus proceeds to tell them, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man” (13:37). By this time there can be no confusion in the minds of the disciples. He has been with them long enough, and spoken often enough about “the Son of Man,” that they know He is referring to Himself. Jesus has already said, “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (8:20); “The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” (9:6); “The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say look a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (11:19); and then, most tellingly, “The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (12:8).

To the disciples, then, it is quite clear that “He who sows the good seed” is Jesus the Divine Preacher. It is Jesus Himself who sows the seeds of truth in people’s hearts. He then adds, “The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age” (13:38-40).

Jesus now refers to “The Son of Man” again: “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those that practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (13:41-42). It should be noted that greater and greater power is attributed to the Son of Man throughout this gospel. At first He has “nowhere to lay His head”; then He has “power on earth to forgive sins,” and now, in this episode, He has power even over the angels: “The Son of Man will send out His angels.” This is another dramatic step forward as Jesus gradually unveils His true nature.

In the same way that Jesus gradually reveals His Divine identity, He also gradually opens the inner meaning of His Word. At this more interior level, Jesus unveils wonderful truths about the process of regeneration — truths that are essential if we are to undergo the inevitable combats of temptation and be regenerated.

As we take a closer look at this process, the first thing to be noted is that God alone sows the good seed — heavenly truths. But false ideas that spring from our own inherited evils and selfish interests immediately invade our mind. This is the “enemy” who sows tares among the wheat. We are now in “spiritual equilibrium,” a state in which we can choose between heavenly emotions and true thoughts on one side, and self-centered concerns and false thoughts on the other.

It is also interesting to note that the enemy planted tares (evil desires and false thoughts) “while they slept.” This is another reminder to remain spiritually alert and to allow no openings for the enemy to enter. It is a call to reflect on what might cause us to “fall asleep” to the presence of the Lord in our life and to increase our vigilance keeping the tares out of our garden.

The Mustard Seed: The Third Parable of Regeneration

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31. Another parable set He before them, saying, “The kingdom of the heavens is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man taking, sowed in his field,

32. Which indeed is the least of all seeds; but when it is grown, it is greater than [the] herb, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the heaven come, and nest in its branches.”
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The next parable in the series speaks of the third step in the regenerative process. Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches” (13:31-32). In this parable Jesus gives a beautiful picture of how good seed proliferates, producing more and more seeds. Good ideas generate more good ideas. A little bit of truth can go a long way.

In this context, the mustard seed represents the small amount of goodness and truth in each of us as we begin the process of spiritual development. It is considered “small” because we still believe that the good things we think and do are from ourselves. Initially, God allows us to think in this way because it produces an affection for learning truth and doing good — even though it may be for self-serving purposes. We enjoy the feelings of merit associated with learning what is true and doing what is good. We believe that we are both wise and good, and we like it when people notice. This is simply how it is in the early stages of regeneration. It is a normal and natural part of the process. 2

As more good is done and more truth is acquired, the tree continues to grow taller and taller. Gradually the person is touched by higher and higher truths as well as more interior affections: “The birds of the heavens nest in its branches” (13:32). 3

All this represents the proliferation and multiplication of truth and as we continue to evolve spiritually. We are rising higher and higher on the tree that was once just a tiny mustard seed. And yet, we still cling to the belief that these higher truths and more interior affections originate within us. There is still something of self-love and personal glory that must be identified and removed. This leads to the next step in the regeneration process.

Leavened Bread: The Fourth Parable of Regeneration

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33. Another parable spoke He to them: “The kingdom of the heavens is like leaven, which a woman taking hid in three satas of meal, till the whole was leavened.”

34. All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; and without a parable spoke He not unto them,

35. That it might be fulfilled what was declared by the prophet, saying, “I will open my mouth in parables; I will pour forth things which have been hidden from the founding of the world.”

36. Then leaving the crowds, Jesus came into the house, and His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”

37. And He answering them, said unto them, “He that sows the good seed is the Son of Man;

38. And the field is the world; and the good seed, they are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the wicked;

39. And the enemy that sows them is the Devil; and the harvest is the consummation of the age; and the reapers are the angels.

40. Therefore just as the tares are collected and burnt up by the fire, so shall it be in the consummation of this age.

41. The Son of Man shall send out His angels, and they shall collect out of His kingdom all offenses, and those that do iniquity,

42. And shall cast them into the furnace of the fire, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

43. Then shall the just give forth brightness as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”
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Jesus now gives the fourth parable in the series, saying that “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened” (13:33). The people listening to Jesus do not understood everything that He means by this brief parable, but they probably get the general idea — that heaven is a place where things keep on getting better and better. Just as good ideas generate more good ideas, good things continue to expand like warm bread rising.

At a more interior level, the parable of the leavened bread speaks about the necessity and inevitability of temptation for all those who are willing to be regenerated. The truth that we have acquired (parables of the sower, wheat and tares, and mustard seed) must be tried in the fires of temptation in order to learn that without God we can do nothing. This is the fourth step in the process of our spiritual development.

In this context, “leaven” represents false ideas which attack the true ideas that are with us from God. As these false ideas collide with true ones, a fermentation process begins, representative of the temptation combats we now undergo. In the process of fermentation, the activated yeast causes unpleasant gases to be released. This, in turn, causes the bread to rise. Eventually the gases are driven off, leaving a beautiful, delicious loaf of leavened bread, ready to be eaten. The yeast remains in the loaf, but it gradually becomes less and less active. Meanwhile, it has served an important purpose.

Similarly, the struggles of temptation bring us to the point where we see and understand that we can do nothing that is truly good from ourselves. Self-interest, self-concern and self-will all must be driven off, like unpleasant gases, leaving behind only the desire to do good because it is good, without any need for praise, recognition or recompense. This is because we are beginning to understand that all good is from God, and nothing from ourselves. This is the purpose of temptation, to reduce us to such sanity that we honestly believe we merit nothing. 4 The ego concerns that have been driving us, especially the need to be acknowledged, recognized, esteemed or rewarded for what we do become less and less active, like yeast in risen bread.

When we come into this state, we are ready to serve others without thought of reward. This is the beginning of a new state of life. The mustard seed becoming a tree whose branches are filled with birds is an image of the proliferation and multiplication of truth in our life — a necessary and important stage in our regeneration. But in the parable of the leavened bread, as the bread rises and becomes fuller and fuller, we see an image of growing goodness as the life of charity and useful service becomes our essential focus. Like bread, which nourishes and supports life, we become life-givers to others.

Most importantly, we acknowledge that the highest thoughts we think, the inmost affections we feel, and the benevolent acts of service we perform all have their origin in God. Because we understand that God is working through us, we have no desire to seek credit for our “good works.” We are like “a risen loaf of bread” — warm, nutritious, and ready to provide nourishment for others.

Treasure Hidden in a Field: The Fifth Parable of Regeneration

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44. “Again, the kingdom of the heavens is like treasure hidden in the field, which a man finding, he hides, and from the joy of it goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.”
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In this new state of life we search the Word for truths that will help us serve others more fully. As we search the Word, with love in our hearts and the uses of life in mind, we find hidden treasures: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (13:44).

It should be noted that the man in the parable purchases the whole field: “For joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

This is what happens to us when the Word comes alive, and we see it for the rare and wonderful treasure that it is. We are no longer satisfied with a small portion of the field. Our hunger for truth increases in direct proportion to our desire to be a useful human being. As a result, we love to learn more and more; we desire a greater and greater understanding of the whole field — not just a part of it. And in so doing we keep discovering new treasures — wonderful truths that will assist us in the process of regeneration, truths that will help us love God more completely, and serve others more fully.

The Pearl of Great Price: The Sixth Parable of Regeneration

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45. “Again, the kingdom of the heavens is like a man, a merchant, seeking goodly pearls;

46. Who, finding one very precious pearl, went away, [and] sold all that he had, and bought it.”
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As we continue to search the Word, we find the greatest of all treasures; it is the one pearl, exceedingly precious, called “the pearl of great price. As it is written, “And when he had found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had and bought it” (13:45).

The pearl of great price is a true knowledge of God, and the beginning point for a true understanding God’s Word. When the true nature of God is known, every story, every parable — even every jot in God’s Word — takes on new meaning, revealing the infinite love and tender mercy of God. This precious pearl is the revelation of God’s true nature — a Divinely Human God who cares for each and every person as a loving parent cares for a child. This knowledge is the most precious knowledge we could ever discover. Therefore, among all the treasures to be found in the Lord’s Word, this is the most valuable truth of all. That’s why it’s called the “pearl of great price.” 5

There are, of course, many pearls of wisdom in the Lord’s Word. There are many “treasures in the field.” But the pearl of great price is the greatest treasure of all because it shows us the inner beauty of every other pearl. Guided by a proper understanding of God, we learn how to “dig up” precious treasures that had lain hidden in the good ground of the literal sense of the Word; we come to see the wonders contained within every story. Just as the twelve gates to heaven are made of a single substance — pearl — a true knowledge of God is the gateway to an understanding of all other truths in the Word. As our understanding grows, we see how all the other pearls are connected, how they are perfectly arranged, and how every pearl has its own special place in God’s Word. Just as the soul orders and arranges the many organs, systems, and cells of the body, a right understanding of God’s true nature reveals the perfect order of the Word. 6

The way we see God becomes, therefore, a touchstone, not only for the way we see the Word, but also for the way we see life. The tendency to see God as angry and vengeful can too easily lead into justifying our own angry vengeful behavior. The tendency to see God as rigid and unforgiving unless we appease His wrath with sacrifices, can too easily lead to justifying our own tendencies to be demanding and unforgiving — unless we are appeased with smooth words and ego-pleasing acts. 7

However, once we have a true understanding of God’s nature, we will no longer be led astray by teachings that lead us to believe that God is angry, or wrathful, and unforgiving, demanding a sacrifice in order for us to get back into His good graces. This is the kind of wrong thinking that led the ancient Israelites into the belief that God’s wrath could only be appeased through a human sacrifice. The idea that an infinitely loving God could be angry, or even look upon His children with disfavor, is unacceptable to human reason. This is because God is goodness itself, love itself, mercy itself, and forgiveness itself. It is not in His nature to look at any of His children with anger, or even with a furrowed brow. All He asks is that we keep His commandments, believing that He gives us the power to do so. In doing this, we open the way to receive the heavenly blessings that He makes available to us at all times, and in every moment. 8

The pearl of great price, then, is a true understanding of God and of God’s love for us. It is the realization that our life is directly from the Lord who loves us with an unimaginable love. Not only is our life directly from the Lord; the Lord is our life. Without the Lord in our life — specifically the goodness and truth that we receive from Him — we would have no life at all. Although our hearts would continue to beat and our lungs would continue to breathe, we would be spiritually dead.

Therefore, knowledge about God, and more specifically, knowledge about how God has manifested His love for us through Jesus, is surely the “pearl of great price.” Once we gain this priceless knowledge, we are filled with gratitude. Like the merchant in the parable, we become perfectly willing sell all that we have; we become perfectly willing to surrender all selfish desires, and, in exchange, receive the fullness of God’s life and all the blessings it contains. 9

The Dragnet: The Seventh Parable of Regeneration

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47. “Again, the kingdom of the heavens is like a seine cast into the sea, and gathering of every kind;

48. Which, when it was full, they brought [it] up to the shore, and sitting down, collected the good into vessels, and cast out the bad.

49. So shall it be in the consummation of the age; the angels shall come forth, and shall separate the wicked from the midst of the just,

50. And shall cast them into the furnace of the fire, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

51. Jesus says to them, “Have you understood all these things?” They say unto Him, “Yes, Lord.”

52. And He says unto them, “On account of this, every scribe instructed for the kingdom of the heavens is like a man, and a householder, who puts forth out of his treasure [things] new and old.”
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This brings us to the final parable in this series. Jesus says, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (13:47-50). 10

In this seventh and final parable, the “dragnet cast into the sea” describes what happens within each of us after death. Most of us are a mixture of good and evil, truth and falsity, noble aspirations and selfish desires. All this is described by the dragnet which is cast into the sea and brought to shore, filled with “some of every kind.” However, if our heart is in the right place, and if we sincerely desire to learn what is true and do what is right, our false beliefs and misguided desires can do us no permanent harm. God’s gentle leading does not end at death.

Instead, we continue on, fully human, but without material bodies. Depending on the decisions we made while on earth, we continue to learn, grow, and become the finest version of ourselves. Angel instructors guide and teach us as we continue to be prepared for heaven. They help us to gradually discard the false ideas and vain ambitions that we held onto (because we didn’t know any better). And they teach us new truths that we can use as vessels to receive God’s goodness as we continue to learn more about heavenly life.

Eventually, there will be a final separation of that which is good in us from that which is evil. At that point, evil and false things will be separated and removed far from our consciousness, while all that which is good and true in us will become a part of our essential nature. This is the final stage in the process of spiritual development. It is a process that begins on earth and continues throughout all eternity. While we will never be regenerated to the point where we can say, “Now, I am perfect,” we continue to move closer and closer to perfection forever. 11

As Jesus concludes this series of parables, He says to His disciples, “Have you understood all these things?” (13:47). At this point, their simple, sincere response is sufficient. They say, “Yes, Lord.” Jesus does not question their response or examine them on their understanding. Instead, He speaks to them as though they are now well-instructed scribes, saying, “Every scribe instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like a man, and a householder who puts forth out of his treasure things new and old” (13:52).

Biblical scholars mostly agree that this refers to the Hebrew scriptures (“old”) and the teachings of Jesus (“new”). But it could also refer to the letter of sacred scripture (“old”) and the spirit of sacred scripture which is continually new as the Lord reveals increasingly more interior truths. When the new and the old are seen as one, these teachings contain incredible power — power given to guide, protect, and bless us as we continue to grow and evolve forever. 12

“Where did this Man get this wisdom?”

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53. And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, He passed thence.

54. And coming into His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they wondered, and said, “Whence has this [Man] this wisdom, and [these] powers?

55. Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?

56. And His sisters, are they not all with us? whence then has this [Man] all these things?”

57. And they were offended in Him; but Jesus said unto them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and in his own house.”

58. And He did not many [works of] power there, because of their unbelief.
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When Jesus gave the seven parables of regeneration, He spoke to a receptive audience. But in the next episode things change. He goes home to Nazareth to confront an audience that is far less receptive. In fact, they are doubtful, skeptical, even hostile.

The scene is a synagogue in His own country. He has entered the synagogue in an attempt to instruct them, but they are not open to His teaching. They see nothing of His divinity and cannot imagine that His wisdom and power comes from heaven. Instead,

they say, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works”? (13:54). Their question is not posed from a state of respectful awe. Rather, it is said contemptuously, for we read that they are “offended” (13:57). They still see Him as the carpenter’s son, the son of Mary, and one of five brothers.

The contrast between the receptivity of the disciples, with their simple, “Yes, Lord,” and the rejection at Nazareth is striking. In a previous episode, Jesus told the religious leaders that “a prophet greater than Jonah” is in their midst, as well as a man of wisdom “greater than Solomon” (12:42). Though Jesus is indeed a prophet greater than Jonah, He also understands that “a prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house” (13:57). And because of this “He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (13:58).

The story of Jesus’ rejection in Nazareth speaks to each of us about the subtle ways that we too may reject Him. In our early reading of God’s Word, the literal stories may delight us in a childlike way, but we may never go any further than regarding them as stories for children. We do not see that each and every story of the Word is a parable that can be opened to eternity, and that the Word of God is a field filled with hidden treasures. We may simply regard it as a book for children, delightful perhaps, but not Divine. This is to regard it merely as a book about a “carpenter’s son” and to see Jesus as merely the son of Mary. The tendency to explain away the holiness of the Word leaves us in a position where we can derive little inspiration from its teachings or from Jesus’ message. And so, God can do no mighty works in us because of our unbelief. 13

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Footnotes:

1. HD 203: “All regeneration is effected by the Lord, through the truths of faith, and a life according to them.” 2. Arcana Coelestia 4145:2: “Every person who is being regenerated is first in mediate good, in order that it may serve for introducing genuine goods and truths; but after it has served this use, this good is separated, and the person is brought to good which flows in more directly. Thus, the person who is being regenerated is perfected by degrees. For example: a person who is being regenerated believes at first that the good which is thought and done is from oneself, and therefore is deserving of merit. This is because the person does not yet know, or comprehend, that good can flow in from some other source, nor that it can be otherwise than that a person should be recompensed, because it has been done from oneself. Unless at first a person believed this, the person would never do any good. But by this means people are initiated not only into the affection of doing what is good, but also into knowledge concerning good and also into knowledge concerning merit. When people are led in this manner into the affection of doing good, they then begin to think differently and to believe differently. Namely, they begin to think and believe that good flows in from the Lord, and that by the good which they do from their own they merit nothing. At last when they are in the affection of willing and doing what is good, they altogether reject self-merit, and even have an aversion for it, and are affected with good from good. When a person is in this state, good flows in directly.”

3. Most translations say, “birds of the air” or “birds of the sky,” but Swedenborg translates this as “birds of the heavens” because of the correspondence with higher thoughts. The Greek word translated as “air” or “sky” is οὐρανοῦ (ouranou) which can be translated as “air,” “sky,” or “heaven.” Birds that fly high above the earth, often have keener sight and broader vision. Because of their “bird’s-eye vision,” they often correspond to the human capacity for higher thoughts. See Arcana Coelestia 5149:3: “By ‘birds’ are meant things of the understanding such as thoughts, ideas, reasonings, principles, consequently truths or falsities…. ‘The birds of the heavens’ that dwelt in the branches of the tree signify truths.”

4. Arcana Coelestia 2273:2: “The temptations in which people overcome are attended with a belief that all others are more worthy than themselves, and that one is infernal rather than heavenly; for while in temptations such ideas are presented to a person. If after temptations people come into thoughts contrary to these . . . similar temptations must be undergone, and sometimes more grievous ones, until people are reduced to such sanity that they believe they have merited nothing.”

5. True Christian Religion 184: “The Divine Trinity is like the pearl of great price; but when it is divided into Persons, it is like a pearl divided into three parts, which is thereby completely and irretrievably ruined.” See also True Christian Religion 163: “These three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are three essential components of one God. They are one the way our soul, our body, and the things we do are one.”

6. Apocalypse Revealed 916: “The knowledge of the Lord is the universal of all things of doctrine and thence of all things of the church; from it all worship derives its life and soul, for the Lord is the all in all of heaven and the church, and thence in all things of worship. The reason why the acknowledgment and knowledge of the Lord conjoins into one all the knowledges of truth and good from the Word, is because there is a connection of all spiritual truths, and if you will believe it, their connection is like the connection of all the members, viscera, and organs of the body. Wherefore as the soul contains all these in their order and connection …the ‘one precious pearl’ is the acknowledgment and knowledge of the Lord.”

7. True Christian Religion 163: “A right idea of God is in the church like the sanctuary and altar in the temple, and like the crown on the head and scepter in the hand of a king, sitting upon his throne. On this doctrine depends the whole body of theology, like a chain upon its first link; and, if you will believe it, one’s place in heaven is according to one’s idea of God, for it is a kind of touchstone by which gold and silver, that is, the nature of good and truth in a person, are tested.”

8. True Christian Religion 56: “As God wills only what is good, He can do nothing but what is good…. [Therefore] it can be seen how deluded those are who think, and still more those who believe, and still more those who teach, that God can damn anyone, curse anyone, send anyone to hell, predestine any soul to eternal death, avenge wrongs, be angry, or punish. He cannot even turn Himself away from man, nor look upon him with a stern countenance. These and like things are contrary to His essence; and what is contrary to His essence is contrary to His very Self.”

9. Apocalypse Explained 1044:3: “The ‘one precious pearl’ means the knowledge respecting the Lord and His Divine. The words, ‘He sold all that he had and bought it’ signify to reject what is one’s own [proprium] in order to receive life from the Lord.”

10. Jesus is speaking in “the language of parable.” The phrase “fiery furnace” refers to the fiery heat of self-centeredness; the phrase “gnashing of teeth” refers to the inordinate need to be right, and the violent arguments that follow. See Heaven and Hell 573: “Since hellfire means all the craving to do evil that flows from love for oneself, that same fire also means the kind of torment that occurs in the hells. This is because the impulses that arise from that love are urges to wound people who do not offer respect and deference and reverence. To the extent that rage takes charge, and the hatred and vengefulness that come from rage, people are driven to attack others viciously. When this impulse is inherent in everyone in a community where there are no external restraints, no fears of the law or of loss of reputation or position or profit or life, everyone attacks everyone else out of sheer malice…. These acts of savagery and torture are what are meant by hellfire, because they are the results of their obsessions”

11. For a full and comprehensive description of this stage, see Heaven and Hell, Part II: “The World of Spirits and Man’s State after Death,” 429-535. In this section of the book Swedenborg describes the World of Spirits as a temporary abode between heaven and hell. It is here where good people have the opportunity to rid themselves of the false notions that prevented them from being all they could be. Because they are good, they love truth and are therefore easily prepared for heaven by angel instructors. Evil people, on the other hand, refuse all instruction, believing that they already know what’s best. They eventually put aside their hypocritical masks and become who they truly are, taking their places in a world where everyone else thinks they know what is best — a world filled with argumentation and strife. In biblical language, this incessant disagreement and discord is called “wailing and gnashing of teeth.” It’s not a punishment; it’s just what some choose as a way of life. 12. DeVerbo 20: “All the holiness of the Word is in its literal sense, and there is no holiness in the spiritual sense without the literal sense. This would be like a house without a foundation … like a human body with no skin … like wine with no vessel to hold it…. All the power of Divine truth lies in the literal sense of the Word; the spiritual sense without the literal sense has no power, but the literal sense containing the spiritual sense has power.” 13. When Swedenborg interviewed some devils from hell, he asked them what they thought about the Ten Commandments. Here is a portion of that conversation, from Conjugial Love 521:5: “After that I turned the conversation to more serious matters, and I asked whether they ever considered that adultery is a sin. ‘What is sin?’ they replied. ‘We do not know what it is.’ I asked whether they ever remembered that adultery is against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue. They replied, ‘What is the Decalogue? Is it not the catechism? What does that children’s booklet have to do with men like us?’”

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From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 29, 39, 48, 264, 2015, 2813, 2848, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 20, 543, 565, 589, 645, 749, 948

Doctrine of the Lord 27

Doctrine of Life 90

The Last Judgement 70

The Last Judgement (Continuation) 10

True Christian Religion 606, 729


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 31, 48, 63, 237, 373, 374, 397, ...

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 33

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Bible Word Meanings

answered
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...

soweth
'To sow,' as in Isaiah 28:24, signifies learning. 'To sow beside all waters,' as in Isaiah 32:20, relates to people who allow themselves to be...

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...

world
The term "world" has both general and more specific meanings in the Bible, including the relatively literal sense of the natural, physical world. In more...

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...

tares
'Tares,' as in Matthew 13:30, signify evil and false principles.

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.


 A Sower Went Out to Sow
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Becoming Good Ground
Worship Talk | Ages over 15

 Birds in the Word
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Deeper Meaning to the Bible
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Heaven Is Like a Dragnet
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Heaven Is Like a Dragnet with Quote
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Heaven Is Like a Mustard Seed
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Heaven Is Like a Mustard Seed with Quote
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Heaven Is Like Leaven
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Heaven Is Like Leaven with Quote
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Kingdom of Heaven is Like Treasure
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Kingdom of Heaven is Like Treasure with Quote
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Kingdom of Heaven Like a Dragnet
Make a net filled with fish to picture the way the Lord wants to gather us all into heaven.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Kingdom of Heaven Matching Cards
Match each picture card with a card supplying a quote from the New Testament and another card summarizing the spiritual meaning.
Activity | Ages 11 - 17

 Kingdom of Heaven Mural
Make a mural of pictures showing the various ways the Lord describes the kingdom of heaven. Each of these parables tells us something different about what we can do to prepare for life in heaven.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Kingdom of Heaven Parables - Cards to Hand Out
Activity | Ages 11 - 17

 Kingdom of Heaven (talk about picture)
This color picture illustrates seven kingdom of heaven parables given in Matthew 13. A useful visual aid for younger children as you discuss these parables and how they help us follow the Lord.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 Memory Verse: Seeds of Truth
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: The Kingdom of Heaven
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Morality Rooted in Divine Law
Morality that has its roots in religion provides principles that will not yield to expediency.
Article | Ages over 18

 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

 Parable of the Sower
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Parable of the Sower Collage
Use pebbles, seeds, thorns, etc. to make a collage to illustrate this parable.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Parable of the Sower Experiment
An experiment designed to simulate the planting conditions in the parable of the sower.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Parables About Heaven
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven
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

 Pearl of Great Price
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Pearl of Great Price with Quote
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Prayers for Adults: Prayers for His Kingdom
Activity | Ages over 18

 Prayers for Children: Seeds of Truth
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Prayers for Teens: Kingdom of Heaven
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 Prayers for Teens: Seeds of Truth
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 Quotes: Seeds of Truth
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: The Kingdom of Heaven
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Receiving the Lord's Word
 What are some of the seeds of truth that you have found in the Lord’s Word? 
Activity | Ages over 15

 Tares Among the Wheat
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Tares Among the Wheat with Quote
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

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

 The Kingdom of Heaven
The way to build the kingdom of heaven within your mind and heart is to do the activities that are represented in these parables on a day-by-day basis
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Kingdom of Heaven
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Kingdom of Heaven (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Kingdom of Heaven (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Kingdom of Heaven (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Lord as the Sower
Make a picture of the Lord with His arms reaching out to give us seeds of truth.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 The Lord Is Like a Sower
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Meaning of the Wheat and the Tares
Look at this list of possible interpretations of this parable and check all that you think apply.
Activity | Ages 11 - 17

 The Number Twelve in the Word Crossword Puzzle
Discover times when the number twelve appears throughout the Word.
Activity | Ages 9 - 13

 The Parable of the Sower
We must keep our minds clean and ready for new seeds, so that good things can grow there.
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 The Parable of the Sower
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Parable of the Sower
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Parable of the Sower and Your Life
Look at aspects of this parable and think about how they may apply to your life.
Activity | Ages 11 - 14

 The Parable of the Tares
"Good and evil uncomfortably coexisting is the reality of life. And this story describes how we are to deal with certain evils in our lives."
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Pearl of Great Price
We can find something beautiful and precious if we are willing to work for it.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Sower
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Sower - Level A
Complete lesson with activity choices on the parable of the sower: song and video to help act the story, a collage of seeds on different grounds, scripted story discussion, coloring page, and a memory verse. Sample from the Youth Journey Program Five Parables of Heaven, Level A, ages 3-6.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 6

 The Sower - Level B
Complete lesson with activity choices on the parable of the sower: create a sower story bag, plant actual seeds, watch a song video, scripted story discussion, coloring page, and a memory verse. Sample from the Youth Journey Program Five Parables of Heaven, Level B, ages 7-10.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Sower - Level C
Complete lesson with activity choices on the parable of the sower: role play game comparing kinds of ground to kinds of listening, practice cultivating good spiritual ground, scripted story discussion, and a read-reflect-respond activity on having ears and a voice. Sample from the Youth Journey Program Five Parables of Heaven, Level C, ages 11-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 True Believer and Humble Servant
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 What Do Plants Need?
What happens if a plant does not have water, warmth, or light? Who provides these for plants and for us? These are just some of the ways that the Lord helps plants grow. 
Activity | Ages 4 - 10


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