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 8:12

Study the Inner Meaning


12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of John 8      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Explaining the Inner Meaning of John 8

Verses 8:1, 2. That the Lord elevated himself into his divine love, and filling his humanity with that love, he excites mutual love in the church, and from that love imparts heavenly truth.

Verses 8:3, 4, 5. On which occasion he is questioned by those, who are principled in self-intelligence and self-love, concerning the punishment due to the perversion of the affection of good in the church, which punishment, according to the Word, was deprivation of the truths of faith.

Verses 8:6, 7. But this enquiry proceeds from a purpose of deceit and evil, and therefore the Lord pronounces them damned who make it, and when the enquiry is still persisted in, he announces from his divine love, that the punishment due to the perversion of good, does not come from good, but from the perverting evil.

Verse 8:8. And therefore they are damned, who are in the perverting evil.

Verse 8:9. And in consequence of that evil, they become mere external men, without mutual love, according to the several degrees in which they have confirmed themselves in evil, separating themselves from the Lord, and from the affection of good.

Verses 8:10, 11. That on this occasion the Lord's divine love to the church is excited, and from perception of the separation of those who were in evil, the church is led to enquire concerning the accusations of evil spirits, and the condemnation which they bring, and is thus taught, that no evil condemns, which is not seen to be sinful; but when it is seen to be sinful, then it must no longer be persisted in.

Verse 8:12. Instruction is also given, that the Lord in his Divine Humanity is the divine truth itself, and that whoever acknowledges his humanity to be divine, and does his precepts, shall be preserved from falsities, and shall be principled in divine truths, which teach man eternal life, and lead to heaven.

Verse 8:13. But this instruction is rejected, as contrary to the truth, by those who are principled in self-love, and who contend, that truth cannot be its own testimony.

Verse 8:14. They are therefore instructed further, that the truth carries its own testimony along with it, because it acknowledges its divine origin, and divine end, whereas they, who are principled in self-love, know neither the origin nor the end of truth.

Verse 8:15. Thus they are guided merely by their own self-derived intelligence, which condemns all that are opposed to itself, whereas divine truth united with divine good condemns no one.

Verse 8:16. Nevertheless divine truth exercises just judgement, but then it is a judgement not derived from truth alone, but from divine good in union with it.

Verse 8:17. Agreeable to what the Word teaches, in the internal sense, concerning the testimony of two men.

Verse 8:18. Thus the Lord's humanity, which is divine truth, and his divinity, which is divine good, bear united testimony to the truth.

Verse 8:19. That they of the perverted church, who are principled in self love, are hence led to enquire concerning the divine good, and are instructed that they are ignorant both of divine truth and divine good, and that had they been acquainted with divine truth, or the Lord's Divine Humanity, they would have been acquainted also with divine good, or his divinity.

Verse 8:20. That this instruction was from the knowledges of good and truth in the Lord's humanity, to which humanity no violence was as yet offered, because the period of its glorification was not yet arrived.

Verse 8:21. Therefore the Lord, in that humanity, testifies further concerning those who are principled in self-love, that he is about to leave the world, and that they will speculate concerning him, but still will destroy in themselves all heavenly life through their evils and falsities, and thus can have no communion with him.

Verses 8:22, 23. And when this testimony is misunderstood, he testifies yet further, that all, who are principled in self-love, are in connection with infernal spirits, and are also in worldly love, whereas his humanity is in connection with divinity, and thus undefiled by worldly love.

Verse 8:24. Therefore they, who are principled in self-love, separate themselves from the life of heaven, since such separation is a certain consequence of not acknowledging the Lord in his Divine Humanity to be Jehovah.

Verses 8:25, 26. That enquiry is hence excited amongst those who are of the perverted church, concerning the Lord's humanity, and they are instructed that it is the first and supreme of all principles, agreeable to its constant testimony, being in possession of all knowledge, by reason of its union with the divine good.

Verses 8:27, 28, 29. This however is not apprehended by them, and there fore they are instructed further, that when the humanity is glorified, or made divine, then it will be seen that it is essential life, and that all its operation and thought are from that life, and therefore the divinity is always present with the humanity, and the humanity never separated from divinity, since its operation is always in accord with the divine will.

Verses 8:30, 31, 32. That in consequence of this instruction, faith in the Lord's humanity is excited and prevails, and they, who receive it, are further taught, that if they continue to live according to his precepts, they will be taught of him, and will understand divine truth, and will thus be delivered from the bondage of sin.

Verse 8:33. This instruction however is rejected, and it is argued that since they are in possession of the Word, and were never in bondage to sin, it is to no purpose to speak to them about escaping that bondage.

Verses 8:34, 35. Therefore they are further instructed, that in the love of evil there is servitude, and that they who are in such servitude, cannot enter into heaven, which is open only to those who are in divine truth.

Verse 8:36. If then they are in divine truth, leading them to renounce evil love, then they will attain the true freedom, which consists in being led of the Lord.

Verses 8:37, 38. It is granted that they possess the Word, but inasmuch as they reject divine truth, it is a full proof that the truth of the Word is not received by them, since the truth of the Word is from the divine good, and therefore they, who reject it, cleave to what is false derived from infernal evil.

Verses 8:39, 40, and part of 41. Still they insist that they are regenerated of the Lord ; but they are again taught, that if they were regenerated of the Lord, they would love what the Lord loves, but that in rejecting divine truth, they oppose divine love, and by so doing prove themselves to be in infernal love.

Verses: part of 8:41, 42, 43. Still they insist that they are not principled in evils and falsities, but in divine truth; and therefore they are further instructed, that if they were principled in divine truth, they would love the Lord's humanity, because that humanity was from the divine truth, and is the divine truth; and the reason why they do not understand this, is, because they are not rightly affected towards the internal sense of the Word.

Verse 8:44. Therefore they are in the false of faith, and are thus in the cravings of evil, and destroyers of all intellectual truth, cherishing evil in the will, and the false principles thence derived in the understanding.

Verses 8:45, 46. On which account they reject the Lord in his humanity, although in his humanity he was essential purity, and ought to be believed in as essential truth.

Verse 8:47. For every one, who is principled in divine truth, lives in obedience to divine truth, and if any are disobedient, it is because they are not principled in divine truth.

Verses 8:48, 49. That the perverted church reject this instruction, as proceeding from ignorance of the Word, and from infernal agency, therefore they are further taught, that the Lord's humanity is not under infernal control, but under divine government, and is therefore rejected.

Verses 8:50, 51. And that it does not exalt itself, but is exalted and instructed by the essential divinity, and therefore whoever lives according to the Lord's precepts is delivered from damnation.

Verses 8:52, 53, 54. But this instruction is also rejected by the perverted church, through misinterpretation, and regarded as a further proof of infernal agency, and as exalting the Lord's humanity in an undue measure; therefore they are again taught, that if the humanity exalted itself, its exaltation is no exaltation, but that it is exalted by the Supreme Divinity, who is regarded in the church as the supreme teacher of truth.

Verse 8:55. Who yet is unknown in the church, and known only to the assumed humanity; therefore the humanity must testify to such knowledge, because it is the truth; thus it testifies that both in understanding and in will it is one with the Supreme Divinity.

Verse 8:56. And was accordingly seen in the representative church under a human form, exciting the affections both of truth and good.

Verses 8:57, 58. And notwithstanding appearances to the contrary, arising from its being born in time, is yet the Eternal Jehovah.

Verse 8:59. That this instruction is opposed by the false persuasions originating in the natural mind, which darken the truth in such a manner, that it is no longer seen, and therefore is unnoticed, though it is the central life of all men.

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 1839, 3195, 4415, 7083

Apocalypse Revealed 167, 413, 553, 589

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 98

Doctrine of the Lord 32

Heaven and Hell 129

Interaction of the Soul and Body 6

True Christian Religion 107, 358, 474, 761

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 97, 186, 349, 526, 864

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 54

De Verbo (The Word) 17

Divine Wisdom 1

Marriage 107

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 14

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

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2 Samuel 22:29

Psalms 27:1

Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, 60:1

Micah 5:3

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