Spiritual Meaning of REVELATION 1:4
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AR 10. Verse 4. John to the seven churches, signifies to all who are in the Christian world where the Word is, and by it the Lord is known, and who draw near to the church. By the "seven churches" are not meant seven churches, but all who are of the church in the Christian world; for numbers, in the Word, signify things, and "seven," all things and all, and thence, also, what is full and perfect, and it occurs in the Word where anything holy is treated of, and in the opposite sense, of anything profane; consequently, this number involves what is holy, and, in the opposite sense, what is profane. The reason why numbers signify things, or rather resemble certain adjectives to substantives adding some quality to the things, is, because number is, in itself, natural; for natural things are determined by numbers, but spiritual things by things and their states. Therefore, he who does not know the signification of numbers in the Word, and especially in the Apocalypse, cannot know the many arcana which are contained therein. Now, since "seven" signifies all things and all, it may appear that by the "seven churches" are meant all who are in the Christian world where the Word is, and by it the Lord is known. These, if they live according to the Lord’s precepts in the Word, make the church itself. Hence it is that the Sabbath was instituted on the seventh day, and the seventh year was called the sabbatical year; and the seven times seventh year the Jubilee, by which was signified everything holy in the church: for this cause, also, a week, in Daniel, and elsewhere, signifies an entire period from beginning to end, and is predicated of the church. Similar things are signified by seven in the following passages, as by:--

The seven golden candlesticks, in the midst of which was the Son of Man (Apoc. 1:13).

The seven stars in his right hand (Apoc. 1:16, 20).

The seven spirits of God (Apoc. 1:4; 4:5).

The seven lamps of fire (Apoc. 4:5).

The seven angels, to whom were given seven trumpets (Apoc. 8:2).

The seven angels having the seven last plagues (Apoc. 15:5, 6).

The seven vials full of the seven last plagues (Apoc. 16:1; 21:9).

The seven seals with which the book was sealed (Apoc. 5:1).

In like manner in the following places that:--

Their hands should be filled seven days (Exod. 29:35).

They should be sanctified seven days (Exod. 29:37).

When they were consecrated they should go clothed in the garments of holiness seven days (Exod. 29:30).

They were not to go out of the door of the tent seven days, when they were initiated into the priesthood (Lev. 8:33, 35).

An atonement was to be made seven times upon the horns of the altar (Lev. 16:18, 19).

The altar was to be sanctified with oil seven times (Lev. 8:11).

The blood was to be sprinkled seven times before the veil (Lev. 4:16, 17).

And also seven times toward the east (Lev. 16:12-15.)

The water of separation was to be sprinkled seven times towards the tent (Num. 19:4).

The passover was celebrated seven days; and unleavened bread was eaten seven days (Exod. 12:15; Deut. 16:4-7).

In like manner:--

The Jews were to be punished seven times more for their sins (Lev. 26:18, 21, 24, 28).

Wherefore David says:--

Recompense unto our neighbor seven-fold into their bosom (Ps. 79:12).

Seven-fold is fully. Likewise in these places:--

The sayings of Jehovah are pure sayings, silver purified in the furnace seven times (Ps. 12:6).

The hungry ceased, so that the barren hath borne seven, but she that hath many children lacketh (1 Sam. 2:5).

"The barren" is the church of the Gentiles, who had not the Word; "she that hath many children" is the church of the Jews, who had the Word.

She who had borne seven languisheth, she shall breathe out her soul (Jer. 15:9).

In like manner:--

They that dwell in the cities of Israel shall set on fire and burn up the arms, and they shall kindle them with fire seven years: they shall bury Gog, and seven months shall they be cleansing the land (Ezek. 39:9, 11, 12).

The unclean spirit will take with him seven other spirits worse than himself (Matt. 12:45).

Profanation is here described, and by "the seven spirits" with which he would return, are signified all the falsities of evil; thus the plenary extinction of good and truth. By "the seven heads of the dragon," and "the seven diadems upon his heads" (Apoc. 12:3), is signified the profanation of all good and truth. From these things it is evident, that "seven" involves what is holy or profane, and signifies all and full.

AR 11. Which are in Asia, signifies to those who are in the light of truth from the Word. Since, by all the names of persons and places in the Word, the things of heaven and the church are meant, as was said before; thus also they are meant by "Asia" and by the names of the seven churches therein, as will appear from what follows. The reason why they who are in the light of truth from the Word, are meant by "Asia," is, because the Most Ancient Church, and, after it, the Ancient, and then the Israelitish church, were in Asia; also, because the ancient Word, and, afterwards the Israelitish, were with them; and all the light of truth is from the Word. That there were ancient churches in the Asiatic world and that they had a Word which was afterwards lost, and, lastly, the Word which is extant at this day, may be seen in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture (Sacred n. 101-103). On this account it is, that by "Asia" are here signified all who are in the light of truth from the Word. "Concerning this Ancient Word, which was in Asia before the Israelitish Word, it is fitting to relate this news: That it is still reserved there among the people who are in Great Tartary; I have spoken with spirits and angels in the spiritual world who came thence, who said that they possess a Word, and have possessed it from ancient times; and that their Divine worship is performed according to this Word; and that it consists of mere correspondences. They said that it also contains the book of Jasher, which is mentioned in (Joshua 10:12, 13; 2 Sam. 1:17, 18), and also, that with them are the books mentioned by Moses, as The Wars of Jehovah and the Propheticals, (Num. 21:14, 15, 27-30); and when I read to them the words quoted thence by Moses, they examined whether they were extant there, and found them. From these things it was manifest to me that the Ancient Word is still with them. While speaking with them they said that they worship Jehovah, some as an invisible, and some as a visible God. Moreover they related that they do not suffer foreigners to come among them, except the Chinese, with whom they cultivate peace, because the emperor of China is from their country. And further, that they are so populous, that they do not believe any region in the whole world to be more populous; which is very credible from the wall so many miles long, which the Chinese formerly constructed as a safeguard against invasion from them. Seek for it in China, and peradventure you will find it there among the Tartars."

AR 12. Grace be unto you and peace, signifies Divine salutation. What is understood specifically by "grace and peace," will be explained in what follows; that "peace be unto you" was the Lord‘s salutation to His disciples, thus the Divine salutation, may be seen in (Luke 24:36, 37; John 20:19-21); and by command of the Lord, it was the salutation of the disciples to all to whom they should enter in (Matt. 10:11-15).

AR 13. From Him who is, who was, and is to come, signifies, from the Lord who is eternal and infinite, and Jehovah. That it is the Lord, appears clearly from what follows in this chapter, where it is said that he heard a voice from the Son of man, saying:--

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last (Apoc. 1:11-13);

and afterwards:--

I am the First and the Last (Apoc. 1:17);

and in the following chapter (Apoc. 2:8); and afterwards (Apoc. 21:6; 22:12); and in Isaiah:--

Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and His Redeemer Jehovah of Hosts: I am the First, and I am the Last, and besides Me there is no God (Isa. 44:6; 48:12);

and He who is the First and the Last, is He who is, and who was, and who is to come. This also is meant by Jehovah; for the name Jehovah signifies is; and He who is, or who is Esse itself, the same is also He who was, and is to come, for in Him the past and the future are present; hence He is without time eternal, and without place infinite. This also is acknowledged by the church in the Doctrine of the Trinity, called Athanasian, in which are these words: "The Father is eternal and infinite, the Son is eternal and infinite, and the Holy Spirit is eternal and infinite, but yet there are not three eternals and infinites, but one;" that this one is the Lord, is demonstrated in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord.

AR 14. And from the seven spirits who are before His throne, signifies, from the whole heaven where the Lord is in His Divine truth, and where His Divine truth is received. By "seven spirits" are meant all who are in the Divine truth, and in the abstract sense, the Divine true or Divine truth itself. That "seven" in the Word means all and all things, may be seen in (n. 10); and that by "throne" is meant the whole heaven, will be seen presently. Hence by "before His throne," is meant where His Divine truth is; for heaven is not heaven from anything proper to the angels, but from the Divine of the Lord, as is shown in many places in The Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Providence and the Divine Love. That "the Lord’s throne" signifies heaven, is evident from the following passages:--

Jehovah saith, The heavens are My throne (Isa. 66:1).

Jehovah hath made firm His throne in the heavens (Ps. 103:19).

He that sweareth by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by Him who sitteth thereon (Matt. 23:22).

Above the expanse that was over the head of the cherubim, was as it were, the appearance of a sapphire stone, the likeness of a throne, and upon it the appearance of a Man (Ezek. 1:26; 10:1).

By "the expanse over the head of the cherubim," is meant heaven. And in the Apocalypse:--

He that overcometh, I will give him to sit on My throne (Apoc. 3:21).

"On my throne," is in heaven; specifically, where His Divine truth reigns; thus also, where judgment is treated of, it is said that the Lord will sit upon a throne, for judgment is performed by truths.

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Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info