Friday, March 17, 2017

The Spiritual Meaning of Matthew 10

In the revelations of the New Church, it is revealed that the Second Coming of the Lord is not a Second Coming in person, but it is a heavenly revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word. In the first coming, the Word was made flesh. In the Second Coming, the Divine truth has revealed Himself in the literal sense of the Word, which is symbolically portrayed as "the clouds of heaven."  With this revelation, there is no need to look up to the sky, but rather, one should look for the kingdom of God within.

With this knowledge there are many passages of the Bible that open up and reveal higher level spiritual teachings. These areas of scripture are "closed off" to those of the older churches, so they simply pass over them. So I thought I would share here the spiritual sense of Matthew 10, where Jesus commissions his disciples to go out to declare the kingdom of God. Because as I read it I found some spiritual insight and direction as to how these teachings of the New Church should be handled with outsiders, or those who have no knowledge of the inner spiritual sense of the Word.

I will quote directly from scripture, then explain the spiritual sense, and here just reference some passages scattered throughout the writings of Swedenborg for those of you who want to dive deeper.


First off, this passage is given to the 12 disciples. In the spiritual sense, a disciple is anyone who is good and truth from the Lord, or one who follow's the Lord's teaching.

Go not into the way of the Gentiles,
And into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 10:5-6)

In the literal sense, one may think one must go hunting around searching for the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel. Gentiles would be non-Jews, and the Samaritans is an ancient sect which only follows the first 5 books of Moses whose population is less than 800. So what to do with this passage of the Bible? Most will skip over it.  In fact, most of modern Christianity is composed entirely of Gentiles, and in the literal sense its stating we should look for Jewish people who forgot their ancestors were Jewish.  But that is not what it is saying at all. Here is the spiritual sense:

ISRAEL is the CHRISTIAN CHURCH, wherever they may be.
SAMARITANS are those in FALSE/ALTERNATIVE RELIGIONS who do not acknowledge or know Jesus Christ is Divine.
GENTILES are those outside the Church, who follow an evil way of life, who do not acknowledge sin. Gentiles are those whose priority is food, money, clothing, and their own selfish ego. (Heavenly Arcana, 4169.2, Apocalype Explained, 223.20)

What this is saying here, is the priority for the New Church is to address Christians who have been misled by false teachings. They are lost sheep, and don't know it. For most, Christianity is but an external appearance or ritual. To renew Christianity, one must expose the falsehoods, but this requires a bit of tact, because no one wants to hear their religious belief is incorrect. Most everyone has the "I am right you are wrong" kind of mentality.

The spiritual direction is to teach those who have some level of foundation or knowledge or openness to Christianity. Those who follow an evil way of life despise and hate any sort of religion. Those who follow false religions are locked in a particular sort of mindset. Gentiles are those who are not open to truth due to an evil will, Samaritans are not open to truth due to a false way of thinking.

Samaritans represent those who are in a false religion, but are not necessarily evil, in fact it refers to those who may be good, thus we have the parable of the "Good Samaritan." At this point its worth quoting this other passage about Samaritans:

And he sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did?
But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. (Luke 9:52-56)

In the spiritual sense, to "command fire to come down from heaven" is to spiritually condemn someone to hell. Jesus here commands that no one should be condemned to hell on the basis of religion. Unfortunately many disobey this guidance. See here the previous post, What did Jesus say about Other Religions  This passage also confirms the spiritual interpretation of the Samaritans, referring to who those who have a particular religious mindset who are not open to receive the truth about Jesus Christ. So back to Matthew 10:

And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons:
Freely ye have received, freely give (Matt. 10:7-8)

In the literal sense, it states we must perform miracles. But external physical healing is representative of internal spiritual healing. The kingdom of heaven is the Lord's kingdom of heaven on earth which is the church (Apocalypse Revealed, 749.2), for it to be at hand is a renewal of the church in love and truth after the former church has been falsified and corrupted. To be sick, in the spiritual sense, signifies suffering due to sin (Heavenly Arcana 10360.9) and to heal is salvation through repentance. Thus after physical healing, Jesus often commanded the person "to sin no more," showing a connection between physical health and internal sin. Leprosy is representive of profanation of holy things (Heavenly Arcana,  716.3, 3301.8) and thus there are several Old Testament laws for the priest to cleanse leprosy. "Death" in the spiritual sense is spiritual death of a mere natural life, to raise the dead is to lead one into spiritual regeneration to live a spiritual moral life (Apocalype Explained 899.12). To cast out demons in the literal sense is to heal demoniacs, but in a spiritual sense it refers to obsessive thoughts that control our behavior. It also refers to removing falsities that infest the church from within (Apocalype Explained 586.6).

To freely receive, and freely give, it to not hide spiritual teaching but to provide and give it to those in need. Jesus commands to not hide the truth that one knows (Matt. 5:15, Mark 4:21, Luke 8:16, 11:33, etc).

Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves:
For the workman is worthy of his meat. (Matt. 10:9-10)

In the spiritual sense, this follows from the previous statement. In the spiritual sense, money represents spiritual knowledge. What this commands is the following: do not mix in self-derived knowledge with knowledge as revealed from the Lord through scripture. There are a lot of traditions that are "self derived," that is, someone just made it up and other people follow because someone said so. I have seen this sort of accusation leveled at Swedenborg, but it is false, all the statements he gives are supported from scripture, and the writing is so different from his earlier ones before his vision was opened up it is certainly not self derived.

Each particular word here has a hidden spiritual sense, which is hard to prove here so I will just summarize. A "coat" refers to interior truth from the Lord, "shoes" exterior truths, and "staff" the power of Divine truth (Heavenly Arcana 4169.2). To not have two of these is again not to mix this with anything that is derived from the self. One has to let go of the selfish ego, and acknowledge all good and truth within is from the Lord.

And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. (Matt. 10:11-14)

A city, in the spiritual sense, signifies a particular sort of doctrine, which is explained extensively throughout Heavenly Arcana (aka Arcana Coelestia). Here it is stating some sorts of doctrines will be willing to receive the truth more than others as they will have some sort of similarity. For example, in terms of how Jesus saved humanity, the doctrines of the New Church is similar to those of "Christus Victor" and that of the Orthodox Church.

To "shake the dust off the feet," in the spiritual sense, means, those who are able to recognize the truth, and yet reject it because of a falsehood they hold true, will be condemned. They may try to vilify or will be threatened by any idea that opposes their falsehood. "Dust" in the spiritual sense refers to the condemnation of hell, to shake it off means despite the discomfort or argument caused by true teaching one will not be condemned from it (Apocalype Explained 365.8). "Dust" can also refer to false external appearances derived from the senses.

Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city. (Matt. 10:15)

Sodom and Gomorrah represent those who are condemned to hell due to an evil way of life, the original story in Genesis portrays how the Lord wished to save any remnant of humanity from the condemnation of hell. Those who are in knowledge of the truth and yet live an evil life will be condemned much more than those who just live an evil life and yet have no knowledge of truth (Heavenly Arcana 7418.2). Sodom spiritually represents the lusts of evil, and Gomorrah are the falsities derived from thence (Heavenly Arcana 2220.4). Judgment refers to one's judgment after death.

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles (Matt. 10:16-18)

In scripture, each and every animal is representative of a different aspect of one's spiritual state. Sheep those in the good of faith, wolves are those who are against innocence (Heavenly Arcana 3994.3). "Wolves in sheep's clothing" are those who are externally religious but internally evil. To be "wise as serpents" means one must apply external wisdom and judgment in order to present the truth so that it can be received, to be "harmless as doves" is to not do so out of any sort of hatred but rather in the good from innocence of love towards the Lord (Heavenly Arcana 197, 6398.3; Apocalype Explained 581.9, Heavenly Arcana 10132.9)

To scourge is to pervert the Word (Apocalype Explained 655.9). Synagogues here signify false doctrine, as it was also a place of instruction (Apocalype Explained 120.3).

But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (Matt. 10:19-20)

The "spirit of the Father" is none other than the Holy Spirit. It is false to think of this as another person - the Holy Spirit is the Divine operation in us, which flows into those who reject any good and truth that is derived from the ego. To such, inspiration will be given.

And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matt. 10:21-22)

This means there will be internal dissension, but not literally among family members. This presents internal spiritual warfare from within. To deliver someone to death is to hate them, to the point of extinguishing their spiritual life (by condemning one to hell). In the spiritual sense a "brother" is one who in a similar good of faith, and this is the origin of calling one another "brethren." In the opposite sense a "brother" is one who is in evil from a false faith. A "father" is someone who is in evil, a "child" is one who is in truth from innocence, or in the opposite sense a "father" is one who is in good who is attacked by falsehoods. Every family relation here has a particular spiritual significance (Heavenly Arcana 10490.6, Apocalype Explained 724.6).  In the spiritual sense, the "Lord's name" is all doctrine concerning love and charity (Heavenly Arcana 2009.11).

But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come (Matt. 10:23)

To flee from a city is to withdraw from doctrines of falsehood (Apocalype Explained 223.21). If you find a falsehood in a religion, withdraw from it. Don't stay in something where the truth will be suppressed. To "flee from one city into the next" is also to go through a period of searching. If one is willing to question one's belief, that opens you up to receiving the truth. And eventually, one will find the Divine truth, which is signified by the coming of the Son of Man, which is the revelation of the Divine truth hidden within scripture itself (if you are reading this blog, you have found it). In the spiritual sense the "Son of Man" is a title that refers to the Lord as to the Divine truth, whereas "Son of God" refers to the Divinity in His human form.

In presenting the truth, be prepared to be rejected by the majority. But always remember:

In the end, expect to encounter a lot of hatred in presenting the truth, for falsehoods reign supreme in most people's understanding. But do it out of love, for out of the many who reject the truth, there will be a few who will hear and receive.

For He knows our form, 
He remembers that we are dust.
A man, his days are as grass, 
As a flower of the field, so he blossoms.
For the wind passes over it and it becomes nothing, 
And the place thereof shall recognize it no more.
But the mercy of Jehovah is from everlasting to everlasting, 
Upon those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to sons' sons,
To those who keep His covenant, 
And to those who remember His precepts to do them. (Ps. 103:14-18)


  1. And eventually, one will find the Divine truth, which is signified by the coming of the Son of Man, which is the revelation of the Divine truth hidden within scripture itself (if you are reading this blog, you have found it).

    I AGREE!!!

    ISRAEL is the CHRISTIAN CHURCH, wherever they may be.
    SAMARITANS are those in FALSE/ALTERNATIVE RELIGIONS who do not acknowledge or know Jesus Christ is Divine.
    GENTILES are those outside the Church, who follow an evil way of life, who do not acknowledge sin. Gentiles are those whose priority is food, money, clothing, and their own selfish ego. (Heavenly Arcana, 4169.2, Apocalype Explained, 223.20)

    1. Thank you David. The personal guidance I have received from this is that I should probably try to reach out more to other Christians about the revelation of the New Church, I was probably focusing more on those outside of the Christian church. What I have seen is they just do not have the foundational preparation in order to receive the truth.

  2. Go not into the way of the Gentiles,
    And into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
    But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 10:5-6)

    QUESTION: In the literal sense, and after his resurection, in Mark 16:15 Jesus says "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature". Literally, it was a temporary instruction to "not go to the gentiles" that changed with the vision that Peter had. Does the "inner meaning" evolve (change) as the literal did?

    1. Well again, in the spiritual sense it is not talking about Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles. In the spiritual sense it speaks of those who have some knowledge of revelation from the Divine, those who are in a false religion, and those who are in evil. You can classify people, of whatever origin, into these three classes, and then act accordingly.

      If you look at the gospel, indeed it was first preaches to the Jews, and from there it did expand to the Gentiles. But again, they often would seek out those who had some level of spiritual knowledge. Acts 17:15-23 is a good case in point, where Paul seeks out the educated philosophers of Athens, who ignorantly worshiped "the unknown God."

      Swedenborg himself was directly instructed to first instruct the ministers of the Christian church. Also in the spiritual world, Divine truth expands from Jesus Christ, the Christian heaven, to those who are more remote. So by correcting falsehoods at the source, it does indeed eventually reach those who are more remote from the truth.

      Also note, in the parallel passage of Luke 9:3-5, it does not even mention this command about Samaritans and Gentiles, nor does Mark 6:7-9. This is because Luke was written for a gentile audience, and Matthew was written for the Jews. At that time gentiles would not understand the spiritual sense of what was given to Matthew.

  3. Very good explanation. I understand it better now that you further explained it. Thanks for the follow up.


Comments, questions, corrections and opinions welcome...