From Swedenborg's Works


Divine Wisdom #1

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In the Lord there is Love and there is Wisdom: Love in Him is Being (Esse), and Wisdom in Him is Existing (Existere) 1 ; nevertheless, these in Him are not two, but one; for the Wisdom is of the Love, and the Love is of the Wisdom, and by reason of this union, which is reciprocal, there results a One. This One is the Divine Love that in the heavens becomes visible to angels as a Sun. The reciprocal union of the Divine Wisdom and the Divine Love is meant by these words of the Lord:

Believest thou not, Philip, that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me (John 14:10-11).


I and the Father are one (John 10:30).

[65.] These two things, which in the Lord are a One, do indeed proceed forth as two distinct things from Himself as a Sun, the Wisdom as light and the Love as heat; yet it is only to outward appearance that they proceed forth as two distinct things: in themselves they are not distinct, the light being of the heat, and the heat being of the light; for just as they are one in the Sun, so they are one in the least point. That which proceeds forth from the Sun is also the Sun in the least parts of it, and consequently is the Sun universally in every point. The expressions "every point" and "least part" are used, but spatial points and spatial parts are not meant, for there is nothing of space in what is Divine, this being spiritual, not natural.

[2] [66.] The fact that Love and Wisdom, in proceeding forth from the Lord as a Sun, are to outward appearance two distinct things, the Wisdom visible as light, and the Love perceptible as heat, has this result that they are received as two distinct things by angels; some angels receive more from the heat, which is Love, and some receive more from the light, which is Wisdom. Accordingly the angels comprising the heavens are distinguished into two kingdoms. Those who have received more from the heat, which is Love, than from the light, which is Wisdom, make one kingdom, and are called celestial angels; the highest heavens consist of these. Whereas those who have received more from the light, which is Wisdom, than from the heat, which is Love, make the other kingdom, and are called spiritual angels; the lower heavens consist of these. These latter are said to have received more from the light, which is Wisdom, than from the heat, which is Love, but this "more" is only an apparent "more," for they are no wiser than in proportion as the love with them makes one with their wisdom; this is the reason spiritual angels are called intelligent rather than wise. These things are concerning the light in the Lord, the light proceeding forth from Him, and the light in angels.

[3] [67.] The Divine Wisdom, appearing in the heavens as light, in its essence is not light: it clothes itself with light, so as to appear before the sight of angels. In its essence that Wisdom is Divine Truth, and the light is the outward appearance of it and the correspondent of it. With the light of wisdom it is the same as with the heat of love, spoken of above. As the light corresponds to the Wisdom, and as the Lord is the Divine Wisdom, therefore also in the Word in many places He is called "light," as in the following:

That was the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world (John 1:9).

Jesus said, I am the Light of the world: he that followeth Me, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life (John 8:12).

Jesus said, Yet a little while is the Light with you: walk while ye have the Light, lest darkness take possession of you.... While ye have the Light, believe in the Light, that ye may be sons of light.... I am come a Light into the world, that whosoever believeth in Me should not abide in darkness (John 12:35-36, 46).

And a number of other places. Furthermore, the Lord's Divine Wisdom was represented by His garments at the transfiguration, in that

their appearance was like light, "shining and white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them" (Mark 9:3; Matthew 17:2).

"Garments" in the Word signify truths of wisdom; on this account all angels in the heavens appear clothed in accordance with the truths of their knowledge, of their intelligence, and of their wisdom.

[4] [68.] It is evident in heaven, though not in the world, that light is the outward appearance of Wisdom and the correspondent of it, there being no light in heaven other than spiritual light, which is the light of Wisdom, illuminating all things that come into existence there from the Divine Love. The wisdom with angels enables them to understand these in their essence, and the light enables them to see them in their form. The light in each heaven, therefore, is equivalent in degree to the wisdom with angels there. In the highest heavens the light is flame-coloured, flashing as if from lustrous gold: this is because they are in wisdom. In the heavens below these the light is white, shining brightly as if from gleaming silver: this is because they are in intelligence. And in the lowest heavens the light is like the noonday light in the world: this is because they are in knowledge. The light in the higher heavens is brilliant, exactly like a star glittering and shining brightly in itself by night, and there is light continuously because the Sun there does not set. It is this same light that enlightens the Understanding of those men in the world who are in the love of being wise, but it is not seen by them because they are natural, not spiritual; it is possible to see it, for it has been seen by me, but only with the eyes of my spirit. Moreover, it has been granted me to perceive that when I was in the light of the highest heaven, I was in wisdom, when in the light of the second heaven I was in intelligence, and when in the light of the lowest heaven I was in knowledge, whereas, when I was in natural light, I was in ignorance of spiritual things.

[5] [69.] In order that I might know in what light the learned in the world are at this day, there appeared before me two ways: one was called the Way of Wisdom, the other the Way of Folly. At the end of the Way of Wisdom stood a palace in light: at the end of the Way of Folly stood something resembling a palace, but it was in shadow. Some three hundred learned men had been assembled together and were given the choice of going which way they wished. Two hundred and sixty were seen to take the Way of Folly and only forty the Way of Wisdom. Those who took the Way of Wisdom entered the palace in light, in which were magnificent things: they were given garments of fine linen, and became angels. Those, on the other hand, who took the Way of Folly were desirous of entering what had looked like a palace when in shadow-but behold, it was an actors' stage where they donned theatrical costumes, and, wearing masks, posed as soothsayers, and became fools. I was afterwards told that at this day the foolish learned who are in natural light are, relatively to the wise learned who are in spiritual light, as many and as foolish; and that all who have a love for discerning whether a thing is true that some one else says, have spiritual light: whereas those who have a love merely for confirming what someone else has said, have natural light.


1. Swedenborg uses the two terms Esse and Existere in the sense respectively of "Being" and "that by which Being has manifest existence." See On the Divine Love 19 [57.].

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

The Bible


John 12:35-36

Study the Inner Meaning


35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.


   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of John 12      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Explaining the Inner Meaning of John 12

Verses 12:1, 2. That the Lord, during his spiritual conflicts previous to the full glorification of his Humanity, derives consolation from those in the church amongst the Gentiles, who are principled in the good of life derived from himself.

Verse 12:3. On which occasion his Humanity is admitted to closer union with his Divinity in divine good and truth, through the affection of good, and the church is made sensible of that union.

Verses 12:4, 5, 6. Nevertheless they, who are in infernal love, seek to alienate divine good from the Lord, and appropriate it to themselves, and this under specious pretences of imparting knowledge to those who are in ignorance.

Verses 12:7, 8. But they are instructed by the divine truth, to desist from such alienation, since the glorification of the Lord's Humanity requires that it be made the all of divine good, and since ignorant objects would remain in the world when that Humanity was taken out of it.

Verse 12:9. That on this occasion many, who were of the perverted church, are influenced with love, not only to the Lord's Divine Humanity, but also to that good of life which is derived from him.

Verses 12:10, 11. Nevertheless they, who are principled in the love of spiritual dominion, seek to destroy that good of life, because many are led by it to acknowledge the Lord in his Divine Humanity.

Verses 12:12, 13. Who under such acknowledgement, perceiving that the Lord was about to establish his new church, adore him as the source of every good affection and pure delight, confessing him from the heart to be also the source of every truth in the church, by reason of his union with the supreme good.

Verses 12:14, 15, 16. Wherefore, as had been predicted, the Lord in his Divine Humanity is exalted to dominion over all rational good and truth in the church, although it was not known, until this dominion was effected, what was meant by the representatives by which it had been predicted.

Verses 12:17, 18. This dominion too is confirmed by those, who witnessed the restoration of the good of life in the church, and who are thus led to seek conjunction of life with the Lord in his Divine Humanity.

Verse 12:19. But they, who are in hypocritical worship, see in that dominion the downfall of their own dominion, and the establishment of a new church.

Verses 12:20, 21, 22. That some of the Gentiles, who are skilled in the doctrine of correspondence, seek acquaintance with the Lord, through intelligence, and the good of faith.

Verses 12:23, 24. And are instructed concerning the union of the Human [principle] with the Divine, which was to be effected through temptation-combats, for the salvation of mankind.

Verses 12:25, 26. And also concerning the necessity of man's renouncing self-will, or self-love, before he can be made partaker of heavenly love, and concerning the further necessity of believing in the Lord's Divine Humanity, and keeping his precepts, since these are the only means of admission into the divine presence, and of attaining conjunction with the divine good.

Verses 12:27, 28. Therefore the Lord, as to his Humanity, underwent the most grievous temptations, even to the passion of the cross, and this voluntarily, with a view to his final glorification, or the full union of his Humanity with his Divinity, which glorification is announced from heaven.

Verses 12:29, 30. But this annunciation is regarded by some as a mere natural effect, and by others as supernatural, whilst divine instruction is given, that its object is, not so much to comfort and support the Lord's Humanity, as to comfort and support his church under the process of suffering, through which that Humanity was about to pass.

Verses 12:31, 32, 33. By which process a work of judgement was to be accomplished, and the powers of darkness were to be subjugated, whilst at the same time the Lord's Humanity was to be exalted to complete union with his Divinity, and from that Humanity was to proceed divine truth united with divine good, which, influencing the minds of men, would lead them to conjunction of life with itself.

Verse 12:34. But this doctrine is regarded in the perverted church as contradictory to the Word, and therefore inquiry is made concerning the union of the Divinity and Humanity, and also concerning what is meant by the Son of Man.

Verse 12:35. And instruction is given, that by the Son of Man is meant the divine truth, manifested in the Lord's humanity, and which for a time made its abode here below, and therefore all ought to live according to that truth, lest they should be blinded by false persuasions, in which case they will not know to what end, whether of happiness or misery, their lives tend.

Verse 12:36. former part. They ought also to elevate that truth, or suffer it to be elevated, out of the memory into the understanding, and from the understanding into the will and life.

Verses 36, latter part, and 37. Nevertheless, this instruction is hid in obscurity from the men of the perverted church, and they cannot receive it, notwithstanding the miraculous testimony which attends it.

Verses 12:38, 39, 40, 41. And this rejection of the truth had been predicted, and not only so, but a reason had been assigned in the prediction, why they, whose faith is grounded in themselves, cannot admit the truth, since if they did admit it, they would only profane it, and would thus incur a greater damnation.

Verses 12:42, 43. Yet the truth is received by some who are in the knowledges of faith, but through fear they are restrained from making confession of it, which fear is occasioned by exalting human opinion above divine opinion.

Verses 12:44, 45. Therefore the divine truth again teaches, that whoever has faith in the Lord's Divine Humanity, has faith at the same time in his Divinity, and whoever has knowledge of the Humanity, has knowledge at the same time of the Divinity.

Verse 12:46. Because the Lord's humanity is divine truth, made manifest to man, in order to deliver him from infernal falsities.

Verses 12:47, 48. For the Lord in his Divine Humanity condemns no one, being desirous to save all, but every one condemns himself, who receives the knowledge of the truth, and yet cherished the love of evil which is contrary to. that knowledge.

Verses 12:49, 50. The Lord's humanity also does not think from itself, but from his divinity, from whom it derives the whole of its affection and thought, in which affection and thought there is divine love, and therefore the thought of the humanity is always under the government of that love.

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 51, 1839, 2349, 2813, 3195, 3863, 7688, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 167, 413, 553, 666, 796, 890, 954

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 98

Doctrine of the Lord 1, 2, 32

Doctrine of Life 17

Heaven and Hell 129

Interaction of the Soul and Body 6

True Christian Religion 85, 107, 337, 618, 761, 776

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 63, 97, 526, 724, 815, 852

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 54

Divine Wisdom 1

Marriage 85, 107

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 14

Related New Christian Commentary

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