Spiritual Meaning of REVELATION 5:3
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AR 260. Verse 3.And no one in heaven, nor on earth, neither under the earth, was able, signifies that no one in the higher heavens or the lower heavens was able. "In heaven, on earth, and under the earth," mean in the higher and in the lower heavens, in like manner as in the 13th verse, where it is said:--And every created thing which is in heaven, on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying (verse 13).

Since he heard the latter and the former saying, it is evident that they were angels and spirits who spake; for John was in the spirit, as he himself says in the preceding chapter (Apoc. 4:2), in which state no other earth appeared to him than the earth of the spiritual world; for there are earths there as well as in the natural world, as may appear from the description of that world in the work concerning Heaven and Hell; as also in The Continuation concerning the Spiritual World (HH n. 32-38). The higher heavens appear there upon mountains and hills, the lower heavens in the earth beneath, and the ultimate heavens as it were under the earth. For the heavens are expanses one above another, and each expanse is like the earth under the feet of those who are there. The highest expanse is like the top of a mountain, the next expanse is under it, but extending itself more widely on all sides round about, and the lowest expanse more widely still; and since this last is under the other, they who are there are "under the earth." The three heavens also appear thus to the angels who are in the higher heavens, because to them there appear two heavens beneath them; therefore in like manner they appeared to John, because he was with them, for he had ascended to them, as is evident from chapter 4, where it is said:--

Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter (Apoc. 4:1).

He who does not know anything of the spiritual world and the earths there, can by no means know what is meant by "under the earth," nor by "the lower parts of the earth," in the Word, as in Isaiah:--

Sing, O heavens, shout, ye lower parts of the earth, resound with singing, ye mountains, for Jehovah hath redeemed Jacob (Isaiah 44:23).

Who does not see that the earths of the spiritual world are here meant? for no man lives under the earth in the natural world.

AR 261. To open the book, signifies to know the states of life of all, and to judge everyone according to his state, as appears from the explanation in (n. 259).

AR 262. Neither to look thereon, signifies not in the least. Since by "opening the book," is signified to know the states of life of all, by "looking on it" is signified to see what the state of life of this or that person is, therefore by "no one being able to open the book nor to look thereon," is signified that they were not able in the least. For the Lord alone sees the state of everyone from inmosts to outmosts, as also what a man has been from infancy to old age, and what he will be to eternity, and likewise what place will be allotted to him either in heaven or in hell; and this the Lord sees in an instant, and from Himself, because He is the Divine truth itself or the Word; but angels and man do not see this in the least, because they are finite, and the finite see only a few things, and those only external, and not these indeed from themselves, but from the Lord.

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