Spiritual Meaning of REVELATION 2:20
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AR 131. Verse 20. But I have a few things against thee, signifies that the following things may possibly be a stumbling block to them. For what now follows relates to faith separated from charity, which may be a stumbling block to those who are in faith from charity.

AR 132. That thou permittest the woman Jezebel, signifies that among them there are some in the church who separate faith from charity, and make faith alone saving. That faith separated from charity is meant by "the woman Jezebel," is evident from the things which now follow, when they are unfolded in series by means of the spiritual sense and when they are compared with that faith; for these were the evil deeds of Jezebel the wife of Ahab:--

That she went and served Baal, and built him an altar in Samaria, and made a grove (1 Kings 16:31-33).

That she slew the prophets of Jehovah (1 Kings 18:4, 13).

That she wished to kill Elijah (1 Kings 19:1, 2).

That through deceit by substituting false witnesses, she took away the vineyard from Naboth, and killed him (1 Kings 21:6, 7).

That on account of these evil deeds, it was foretold to her by Elijah, that the dogs should eat her (1 Kings 21:23).

That she was thrown down from the window where she stood painted, and that some of her blood was sprinkled upon the wall, and upon the horses which trampled her (2 Kings 9:30-33).

As all the historical as well as the prophetical parts of the Word signify the spiritual things of the church, so also do these; and they signify faith separated from charity, is evident from the spiritual sense, and from collating them together; for by "going and serving Baal," and "building him an altar," and "making a grove," is signified to serve lusts of all kinds, or what is the same, the devil, not thinking of any evil lust, nor of any sin, as they do who have no doctrine of charity and life, but of faith only. By "slaying the prophets," is signified to destroy the truths of doctrine from the Word. By "wishing to kill Elijah," is signified to wish to do the same to the Word itself. By "taking away the vineyard from Naboth and killing him," is signified the church, for "the vineyard" is the church: by "the dogs" which ate her, are signified lusts. By "casting from the window, sprinkling the blood on the wall, and being trampled by the horses," is signified their destruction, for the particulars signify that also; "window" signifies truth in the light; "blood" falsity; "wall" truth in ultimates, "horse" the understanding of the Word. Hence it may be concluded, that these things, collated together, coincide with faith separated from charity, as may further appear from what follows in the Apocalypse, where this faith is treated of.

AR 133. Who calleth herself a prophetess, signifies, and who make it the very doctrine of the church, and found all theology upon it. That by "prophet" in the Word is signified the doctrine of the church, may be seen in (n. 8); therefore the like is signified by "prophetess." It is known that in the Reformed Christian church faith alone has been accepted as the only means of salvation, and that thence the works of charity have been separated from faith, as not saving: hence it is that the entire doctrine of the salvation of man, which is called theology, at this day is that faith, consequently "the woman Jezebel."

AR 134. To teach and to seduce My servants to commit whoredom, signifies, from which it comes to pass that the truths of the Word are falsified. By "to teach and to seduce the servants of the Lord," is meant those who are able and willing to be instructed in truths from the Word; that they are called "servants of the Lord" who are in truths, may be seen in (n. 3, 128); and by "committing whoredom," is signified to adulterate and falsify the Word: that this is signified by "committing whoredom," is, because in every particular of the Word there is the marriage of good and truth, and this marriage is broken when good is separated and taken away from truth. That in every particular of the Word there is the marriage of the Lord and the church, and thence the marriage of good and truth, may be seen in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture (Sacred n. 80-90). From this it is, that "to commit whoredom" signifies to adulterate the goods and falsify the truths of the Word; and because this is spiritual whoredom, therefore also they who from their own reason have falsified the Word, after death, when they come into the spiritual world, become whoremongers: and, what has hitherto been concealed from the world, they who have confirmed themselves in faith alone to the exclusion of works of charity, are in the lust of committing the adultery of a son with his mother. That they are in the lust of committing so abominable a kind of adultery, has often been perceived in the spiritual world. Remember this, and inquire after death, and you will be confirmed. I have not ventured to reveal this before, because it offends the ears. This adultery is signified by the adultery of Reuben with Bilhah his father‘s concubine (Gen. 35:22); for by "Reuben" that faith is signified, for which cause he was cursed by his father Israel, and afterwards his birthright was taken away from him; for his father Israel, prophesying concerning his sons, said of Reuben:--

Reuben my first-born, thou art my strength, and the beginning of my power, light as water, thou shalt not excel, because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then thou didst profane it: he went up to my couch (Gen. 49:3, 4).

Therefore his birthright was taken from him.

Reuben was the first-born of Israel; but because he polluted his father‘s couch, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph (1 Chron. 5:1).

That by "Reuben" was represented truth from good, or faith from charity, and afterwards truth separated from good, or faith separated from charity, will be seen in the explanation of (Apoc. 7:5). That by "whoredoms" are signified adulterations of good and falsifications of truth in the Word, may appear from the following passages:--

When Joram saw Jehu, he said, Is it peace, Jehu? Who said, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel, and her incantations are so many? (2 Kings 9:22).

By "the whoredoms of Jezebel" are not meant any whoredoms, but her deeds, of which in (n. 132).

Your sons shall be pasturing in the wilderness forty years, and they shall bear your whoredoms (Num. 14:33).

And I will cut off the soul that looketh back to pythons and soothsayers to go a whoring after them (Lev. 20:6).

Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods (Exod. 34:15, 16).

Jerusalem thou didst trust in thy beauty, and didst commit whoredom on account of thy fame, even so that thou didst pour out thy whoredoms on everyone that passed by. Thou didst commit whoredom with the sons of Egypt, thy neighbours, great of flesh, and didst multiply thy whoredom. Thou didst commit whoredom with the sons of Assyria even when there was no satiety to thee with whom thou didst commit whoredom. Thou hast multiplied thy whoredom even to Chaldea. A woman, an adulteress, that taketh strangers instead of her husband. All give reward to their harlots; but thou hast given rewards to all, that they may come unto thee on every side in thy whoredoms. Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of Jehovah (Ezek. 16:15, 16, 26, 28, 29, 32, 33, 35).

"Jerusalem" in this passage is the Israelitish and Jewish church; by her "whoredoms" are meant adulterations and falsifications of the Word; and because in the Word by "Egypt" is signified the science of the natural man, by "Assyria" ratiocination thence, by "Chaldea" profanation of truth, and by "Babylon" profanation of good, therefore it is said that she committed whoredom with them.

There were two women, the daughters of one mother; they committed whoredom in Egypt; they committed whoredom in their youth; one committed whoredom under Me, and she doted on her lovers, the Assyrians her neighbours. Thus she gave her whoredoms with them; yet she did not abandon her whoredoms in Egypt. The other corrupted her love more than she, and her whoredoms more than the whoredoms of her sister. She added to her whoredoms, she loved the Chaldeans. The sons of Babel came to her to the bed of loves, and they polluted her by their whoredoms (Ezek. 23:2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 11, 14, 16, 17).

Here "the two daughters of one mother" are likewise the Israelitish and Jewish church, whose adulterations and falsifications of the Word are here described as above by "whoredoms." So in the following passages:--

Thou hast committed whoredom with many companions; thou hast profaned the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness. Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? going up upon every high mountain, and committing whoredom. Also perfidious Judah went and committed whoredom. So that by the voice of her whoredom, she hath profaned the land; she hath committed adultery with stone and wood (Jer. 3:1, 2, 6, 8, 9).

Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, seek if you can find a man, who doeth judgment, and seeketh the truth. When I had satiated them, they committed whoredom and came into the harlot’s house in a crowd (Jer. 5:1, 7).

I have seen thy adulteries, thy neighings, the crime of thy whoredoms, thy abominations on the hills in the field. Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem, wilt thou not be made clean? (Jer. 13:27).

I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem a horrible stubbornness, in committing adultery and walking in lies (Jer. 23:14).

They have committed foolishness in Israel, they committed whoredom and spoke My word in My name with lying (Jer. 29:23).

They sinned against Me, I will turn their glory into reproach; they committed whoredom, because they have forsaken Jehovah. Whoredom occupied their heart. Your daughters commit whoredom, and your daughters in law commit adultery (Hos. 4:7, 10, 11, 13).

I know, Ephraim, that he hath altogether committed whoredom, and Israel is polluted (Hos. 5:3).

I have seen a foul thing in the house of Israel; there Ephraim committeth whoredom; Israel is polluted (Hos. 6:10).

"Israel" here is the church, and "Ephraim" is the understanding of the Word, from which, and according to which, the church is; therefore it is said "Ephraim hath committed whoredom, and Israel is polluted." Because the church had falsified the Word, the prophet Hosea was commanded to take unto himself a harlot to wife, saying:--

Take unto thee a woman of whoredoms, and children of whoredoms; for the land, by committing whoredom, hath committed whoredom against Jehovah (Hos. 1:2).


Love a woman beloved of her companion, and an adulteress (Hos. 3:1).

As the Jewish church was such, therefore the Jewish nation was called by the Lord "an adulterous generation" (Matt. 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:38); and in Isaiah, "a seed of adulterers" (Isaiah 57:3); and in Nahum:--

Woe to the city of bloods, wholly in a lie, a multitude of those pierced, above the multitude of the whoredoms of the harlot, that selleth nations by her whoredoms (Nahum 3:1, 3, 4).

Since "Babylon" adulterates and falsifies the Word more than others in the Christian world, she is therefore called "the great harlot," and the following is said of her in the Apocalypse:--

Babylon hath made all nations to drink of the wine of the anger of her whoredom (Rev. 14:8).

For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her whoredom, and the kings of the earth have committed whoredom with her (Rev. 18:3).

The angel said, I will show unto thee the judgment of the great harlot, with whom the kings of the earth have committed whoredom (Rev. 17:1, 2).

He hath judged the great harlot, which did corrupt the earth with her whoredom (Rev. 19:2).

From these passages it manifestly appears, that "to commit adultery" and "to commit whoredom" signify to adulterate and falsify the goods and truths of the Word.

AR 135. And to eat idol-sacrifices, signifies the defilement of worship thence, and profanations, as is clear from the explanation given in (n. 114); for they who adulterate goods appropriate to themselves unclean things, by which they defile and profane worship.

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