Spiritual Meaning of REVELATION 20:4
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AR 845. Verse 4.And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them, signifies that the truths of the Word, according to which all are judged, were opened, and that then they were taken up from the lower earth, who had been concealed by the Lord, lest they should be seduced by the dragon and his beasts. The reason why this is the signification of these words, is because by "the thrones" upon which they sat, are not signified thrones, but judgment according to the truths of the Word; that by "the thrones" seen in heaven is represented judgment, may be seen above (n. 229). That nothing else is signified by "the thrones," upon which the twenty-four elders sat, and upon which the twelve apostles are to sit, and that all are judged according to the truths of the Word, may also be seen above (n. 233); from which it is plain, that by "judgment was given unto them," is signified that judgment was given to the truths of the Word. The reason why they are meant who were taken up by the Lord from the lower earth into heaven, and who in the meanwhile had been concealed there lest they should be seduced by the dragon and his beasts, is because this is said of "the souls which had been beheaded," and of "the dead," afterwards mentioned, not that they were dead to themselves, but to others. The place where they were concealed is called the lower earth, which is next above hell, under the world or spirits, and there by communication with heaven and by conjunction with the Lord, they are in safety. There are many such places, and there they live cheerfully with one another, and worship the Lord, nor do they know anything about hell. They who are there are at times elevated by the Lord into heaven after the Last Judgment, and when they are elevated those who are meant by the dragon are removed. It has been frequently granted me to see them taken up and consociated with the angels in heaven. This is what is meant in the Word by "the graves were opened," and "the dead were raised up."

AR 846. And the souls of them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the Word of God, signifies that they were rejected by those who are in falsities from their own intelligence, because they worshiped the Lord, and lived according to the truths of His Word. By "the souls of them that were beheaded (smitten with the axe), for the testimony of Jesus and for the Word of God" are meant men after death, who are then called spirits, or men clothed with a spiritual body, who were concealed by the Lord in the lower earth, until the evil were removed by the Last Judgment. They are said "to be beheaded," because they were rejected by those who were in falsities from their own intelligence, all of whom are in evils and thence in falsities, or in falsities and by them in evils, and yet in externals are in Divine worship. That this kind of falsity is signified by an axe, will be seen in the next article. By "the testimony of Jesus and the Word of God," is signified the acknowledgment of the Lordís Divine in His Human, like as by these passages above:--

John testified of the Word of God and of the testimony of Jesus Christ (Apoc. 1:2).

Michael and his angels overcame the dragon by the blood of the Lamb and by the Word of their testimony (Apoc. 12:11).

The dragon went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments, of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Apoc. 12:17).

I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus Christ; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Apoc. 19:10).

That by these passages is signified the acknowledgment of the Divine of the Lord in His Human, and a life according to the truths of His Word, and in particular according to the commandments of the Decalogue, may be seen in the explanations given above. These souls are the same as are spoken of above in these words:--

I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held; and they cried with a great voice, saying, How long, O Lord, who art holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell upon the earth? And white robes were given unto everyone of them, and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little time, until their fellow-servants and their brethren, who should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled (Apoc 6:9-11);

which may be seen explained (n. 325-329).

AR 847. In many parts in the Word it is said that some "were slain," "thrust through," and "dead," and yet it is not meant that they were slain, thrust through, and dead, but that they were rejected by those who were in evils and falsities (n. 59, 325, 589). The like is signified by "the dead" in the following verse, where it is said, that "the rest of the dead lived not again, until the thousand years were finished," from which it is plain, that by those who are said "to have been beheaded," are signified that they were rejected by those who were in falsities from their own intelligence. That by "an axe" is signified falsity from their own intelligence, appears from the following passages:--

The statutes of the nations are vanity, if one cutteth wood out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe (Jer. 10:3).

The voice of Egypt shall go like a serpent; they shall come with axes like hewers of wood (Jer. 46:22).

He is known as one lifting up axes in the thicket of trees. And now they break down the carved work thereof with axe and hammers; they have profaned the habitation of Thy name to the earth (Ps. 74:5-7).

When thou shalt besiege a city, thou shalt not destroy the tree thereof by forcing an axe against it (Deut. 20:19).

By "an axe" in these passages is signified falsity from their own intelligence; the reason is because "iron" signifies truth in ultimates, which is called sensual truth, which when separated from rational and spiritual truth, is turned into falsity; the reason why it means falsity from their own intelligence, is because the sensual is in the proprium (n. 424). On account of this signification of "iron" and of "an axe," it was commanded that:--

If an altar was built of stone, it should be built of whole stones, and that iron should not be moved upon the stones, lest it be profaned (Exod. 20:25; Deut. 27:5).

Therefore of the temple of Jerusalem it is said:--

The house itself was built of whole stone; neither hammers nor axe, nor any instrument of iron, were heard in the house while it was building (1 Kings 6:7);

and, on the contrary, when graven images are treated of, by which is signified falsity from their own intelligence, these things are said:--

That he maketh it with iron, with tongs, or with the axe and hammers (Isa. 44:12).

That falsity from their own intelligence is signified by "a graven image" and "an idol," may be seen above (n. 459).)

AR 848. And who had not adored the beast, nor his image, nor had received his mark upon their forehead, and upon their hand, signifies who did not acknowledge and receive the doctrine of faith alone, as is evident from the explanation above (n. 634), where are similar words.

AR 849. And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years, signifies who have been already for some time in conjunction with the Lord and in His kingdom. "Who lived with Christ," signifies who were in conjunction with the Lord, because these live. "Who reigned with Christ," signifies who were in His kingdom, of which presently; that by "a thousand years" is signified some time, may be seen above (n. 842). This is said of those who doing their life in the world worshiped the Lord, and lived according to His commandments in the Word, and after death were guarded lest they should be seduced by the dragonists, thus who had been already for some time conjoined with the Lord and consociated as to their interiors with the angels of heaven. That "to reign with the Lord" does not mean to reign with Him, but to be in His kingdom by conjunction with Him may be seen above (n. 284). For the Lord alone reigns, and everyone in heaven, who is in any function, performs his office in his society, as in the world, but under the auspices of the Lord; they act indeed as of themselves, but because they regard uses in the first place, they act from the Lord, from whom is all use.

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