Spiritual Meaning of
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8. And unto the angel of the church of Smyrna write; These things saith the First and the Last, who was dead, and is alive.
9. I know thy works, and affliction, and poverty, and the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
10. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer. Behold, the devil will cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried: and ye shall have affliction ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
11. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
To the churches in the Christian world:
To those there who are in goods as to life and in falsities as to doctrine, who are meant by the church of Smyrna
THE CONTENTS OF EACH VERSE.
Ver. 8. "And unto the angel of the church of Smyrna write," signifies to those and concerning those who are in goods as to life, but in falsities as to doctrine alone (AR 91). "These things saith the First and the Last," signifies the Lord, that He alone is God (AR 92). "Who was dead and is alive," signifies that He is neglected in the church, and His Human not acknowledged to be Divine, when yet as to that also He alone is life, and from Him alone is eternal life (AR 93).
Ver. 9. "I know thy works," signifies that the Lord sees all their interiors and exteriors at once (AR 94). "And affliction and poverty," signifies that they are in falsities, and thence not in goods (AR 95). "And the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews, and are not," signifies the false assertion that they are in the goods of love, when yet they are not (AR 96). "But are the synagogue of Satan," signifies, because they are in falsities as to doctrine (AR 97).
Ver. 10. "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer," signifies, despair not when infested by evils and assaulted by falsities (AR 98). "Behold the devil will cast some of you into prison," signifies that their good of life will be infested by evils from hell (AR 99). "That ye may be tried," signifies by falsities fighting against them (AR 100). "And ye shall have affliction ten days," signifies that it will endure its full time (AR 101). "Be thou faithful unto death," signifies reception of truths until falsities are removed (AR 102). "And I will give thee a crown of life," signifies that they will then have eternal life, the reward of victory (AR 103).
Ver. 11. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches," signifies here, as before (AR 104). "He that overcometh," signifies he that fights against evils and falsities, and is reformed (AR 105). "Shall not be hurt of the second death," signifies that afterwards they will not succumb to evils and falsities from hell (AR 106).
AR 91. Verse 8. And unto the angel of the church of Smyrna write, signifies to those and concerning those, who are in goods as to life, but in falsities as to doctrine. That these are meant by "the church of Smyrna," is clear from the things written to it when understood in the spiritual sense.
AR 92. These things saith the First and the Last, signifies the Lord, that He alone is God. That the Lord calls Himself "the First and the Last," also "the beginning and the End," and "Alpha and the Omega," and "He Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come," may be seen (Apoc. 1:4, 8, 11, 17); and what they signify in (AR 13, 29-31, 38, 57), where it is evident that by it is also meant, that He alone is God.
AR 93. Who was dead and is alive, signifies that He is neglected in the church, and His Human is not acknowledged to be Divine, when yet as to that also He alone is life, and from Him alone is eternal life. That this is meant by these words, may be seen in (AR 58-60), where they are explained. Why these and the preceding things are said, is, because the primary falsity of those who are described by this church, is, that they do not acknowledge the Lord’s Divine Human, and therefore do not approach Him.
AR 94. Verse 9. I know thy works; that this signifies that the Lord sees all their interiors and exteriors at once, is evident from the things explained in (AR 76); here that He sees that they are in falsities, and yet as to life in goods, which they believe to be the goods of life, when yet they are not.
AR 95. And affliction and poverty, signifies that they are in falsities and thence not in goods. "To know their affliction" signifies to see that they are in falsities, and "to know their poverty" signifies to see that they are not in goods, for in the Word, "affliction" is predicated of falsities (AR 33); and "poverty" of the lack of goods; spiritual poverty is nothing else. " The poor and needy" are often mentioned in the Word, and in the spiritual sense by "poor" is meant one who is not in truths, and by "needy" one who is not in goods. These words are also added, "yet thou art rich," but in a parenthesis, and this because in some codices they are omitted.
AR 96. And the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews, and are not, signifies the false assertion that the goods of love are with them, when yet they are not. "Blasphemy" here signifies a false assertion; by "Jews" are not signified Jews, but they who are in the good of love, and, abstractly, the goods of love; so by "the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not," is signified the false assertion that the goods of love are with them, when yet they are not. By "Jews" are meant they who are in the good of love, because in the Word by "Judah," in the supreme sense, is meant the Lord as to the Divine good of Divine Love, and by "Israel," the Lord as to the Divine truth of Divine wisdom; hence by "Jews" are signified they who are in the good of love from the Lord, and by "Israel" they who are in Divine truths from the Lord. That these are meant by "Jews," may appear from many passages, which will be adduced below (AR 350); something may also be seen on this subject in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture (Sacred n. 51). In the abstract sense the goods of love are meant by "Jews," because the spiritual sense is abstracted from persons, as may be seen in (AR 78, 79). He who does not know that by "Jews," in the Word, are meant those who are of the Lord‘s celestial church, who are they that are in love to Him, may fall into many mistakes when reading the Word in the prophets; but see below (AR 350).
AR 97. But are the synagogue of Satan, signifies because they are in falsities as to doctrine. It is called "synagogue," because the Jews are mentioned, and as they taught in synagogues, by "synagogue" is signified doctrine; and because by "Satan" is meant the hell of those who are in falsities, therefore it is called "the synagogue of Satan." Hell is called "the Devil" and "Satan," and by the hell which is called "the Devil," are meant such there as are in evils, properly who are in the love of self; and by the hell which is called "Satan," are meant such there as are in falsities, properly who are in the pride of their own intelligence. The hells are called the "Devil" and " Satan," because all who are in them are called devils and satans. Hence then it may appear, that by their being "the synagogue of Satan," is signified that as to doctrine they are in falsities. But as they who are in good as to life, and in falsities as to doctrine, are here treated of, and as such know no other than that they are in good, and that their falsities are truths, something shall be said respecting them. All the good of worship is formed by truths, and all truth is formed from good, therefore good without truth is not good, neither is truth, without good, truth; they appear indeed in external form to be so, but still they are not. The conjunction of good and truth is called the heavenly marriage; from this is the church with man, and it is heaven with him. If therefore there are falsities instead of truths with man, then he does the good of falsity, which is not good, for it is either pharisaical or meritorious, or innate natural good. But examples will illustrate this. He who is in this falsity, that he believes he does good from himself, because he has the faculty of doing good; his good is not good, because he himself is in it, and not the Lord. He who is in this falsity, that he can do good which is in itself good, without a knowledge of what evil is in himself, thus without repentance, although he appears to do good, yet he does not do good, because without repentance he is in evil. He who is in this falsity, that good purifies him from evils, and does not know anything of the evils in which he is, he does no other good than spurious good, which is inwardly contaminated by his evils. He who is in this falsity, that there are many gods, and confirms himself in this, the good which he does is divided good, and divided good is not good. He who is in this falsity, that he believes the Divine in the Lord’s Human is not like the soul in the body, cannot do good from Him, and good not from the Lord is not good, for it is contrary to these words of the Lord:--
Except one abide in Me and I in Him, he cannot bring forth any fruit; for without Me ye cannot do anything. Except one abide in Me, he is cast forth as a dried branch, and is cast into the fire and burned (John 15:4-6).
For good derives its quality from truths, and truths derive their esse from good. Who does not know, that the church is not a church without doctrine; and doctrine must teach how a man shall think of God and from God; and how he shall act from God and with God; therefore doctrine must be from truths, to act according to which is called good; whence it follows, that to act according to falsities is not good. It is believed, that in the good which a man does, there is not anything from truths or falsities, when yet the quality of good is from no other source, for they cohere together like love and wisdom, and also like love and foolishness; it is the love of the wise which does good, but the love of the foolish does what is like good in externals, but totally unlike it in internals; therefore the good of the wise is like pure gold, but the good of the foolish is like gold covering over dung.
AR 98. Verse 10. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer, signifies, despair not when ye are infested by evils and assaulted by falsities, since with those who are in goods as to life, and in falsities as to doctrine, it cannot be otherwise. This is plain from what now follows.
AR 99. Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, signifies that their good of life will be infested by evils which are from hell. That this is signified by "being cast into custody," or into "prison" by the devil, is, because by "the devil" is meant the hell where they are who are in evils, and thus, abstractly, the evil which is there and from thence (AR 97). To be cast "into custody" or "prison," is to be infested, because they who are infested by evils from hell are as if they were bound in prison, for they cannot think anything but evil, when yet they will good; hence there is combat and interior anxiety, from which they cannot be released, being scarcely otherwise than like persons who are in chains; the reason is, that their good is not good so far as it coheres with falsities, and so far as it coheres with falsities evil is in it; therefore this is what is infested. But this infestation does not exist in the natural world, but in the spiritual world, thus after death. It has often been granted me to see their infestations. They lament, saying that they have done good, and wish to do good, and yet now they cannot, because of the evils which surround them. But still they are not all infested alike, but more severely according as they have confirmed themselves in falsities, therefore it is said "the devil shall cast some of you into prison." That the confirmation of what is false is hurtful, may be seen in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture (Sacred n. 91-97). In the Word, by "the bound" the like is signified as here by those "cast into prison," as in these places:--
I will give thee for a covenant of the people, to bring out the bound from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house (Isa. 42:6, 7; 49:8, 9).
Jehovah hath sent me to preach liberty to the captives, and to the bound (Isa. 61:1).
By the blood of Thy covenant I will send forth the bound out of the pit (Zech. 9:11).
God bringeth out those which are bound with fetters (Ps. 68:6).
Let the groaning of the bound come before thee (Ps. 79:11).
To hear the groaning of the bound, to open to the sons of death (Ps. 102:20).
Jehovah who looseth the bound (Ps. 146:7).
It is plain that by " the bound" in these places are not meant those who are bound in the world, but those who are bound by hell, thus by evils and falsities. Similar is the signification of these words of the Lord:--
I was in prison, and ye came not unto Me (Matt. 25:43).
As the Lord "brings out of prison," or delivers from infestation, those who have been in good as to life, though in falsities as to doctrine, He says: "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer;" also, "Be thou faithful, and I will give thee a crown of life."
AR 100. That ye may be tried, signifies by falsities fighting against them. The reason why this is signified is, because all spiritual temptation is a combat of the devil and the Lord, which shall have possession of man. The devil or hell brings out his falsities, and reproaches and condemns him; but the Lord brings out his truths, and withdraws him from falsities, and delivers him. It is this combat which appears to man as in himself, because it is from evil spirits who are with him, and is called temptation. That spiritual temptation is nothing else, I know from experience, because in my temptations I have seen the infernals who induced them, and have perceived the influx from the Lord, who liberated.
AR 101. And ye shall have affliction ten days, signifies that this will endure its full time, that is, as long as they are willing to remain in falsities. "Affliction" here signifies infestation (AR 33, 95), thus temptation; and "ten days" signify the duration of that state to the full; therefore it follows, "Be thou faithful unto death," by which is signified the reception and acknowledgment of truths, until by their means falsities are removed, and as it were abolished. That "ten days" signify duration of state even to the full is, because "days" signify states, and "ten" what is full: for times in the Word signify states (AR 947), and numbers describe their quality (AR 9). As "ten" signify what is full, they also signify much and many, also each and all, as may appear from these passages which follow:--
The men who have seen My glory, have tempted Me ten times (Num. 14:22).
These ten times have ye treated me with ignominy (Job 19:3).
Daniel was found ten times wiser than the astrologers (Dan. 1:20).
Ten women shall bake bread in one oven (Lev. 26:26).
Ten men out of all languages of the nations shall take hold of the skirt of a man a Jew (Zech. 8:23).
Because "ten" signifies many, and also all, therefore the things which were written upon the tables of the Decalogue by Jehovah, are called the "Ten Words" (Deut. 4:13; 10:4); the "Ten Words" signify all truths, for they include them. And because "ten" signifies all and all things, therefore the Lord compared the kingdom of the heavens to "ten virgins" (Matt. 25:1). Likewise in the parable He said of the nobleman, that he gave his servants "ten pounds" to trade with (Luke 19:12-27). Many are also signified by:--The ten horns of the beast which came up out of the sea (Dan. 7:7); And by the ten horns and the ten diadems upon the horns of the beast coming up out of the sea (Apoc. 13:1); Also by the ten horns of the dragon (Apoc. 12:3); And by the ten horns of the scarlet-coloured beast, upon which the woman sat (Apoc. 17:3, 7, 12). By " ten horns" is signified much power. From the signification of the number "ten," as being what is full, much, and all, it may be seen why it was ordained, that:--
A tenth part of all the produce of the earth was given to Jehovah, and by Jehovah to Aaron and the Levites (Num. 18:24, 28; Deut. 14:22);
also, why Abram gave Melchizedek tithes of all (Gen. 14:18, 20); for by this was signified that thus all they had was from Jehovah, and was sanctified (Mal. 3:10). From these things, it may now appear, that by having "affliction ten days," is signified that temptation will last its full time, that is, so long as they are willing to remain in falsities; for falsities are never taken away from a man against his will, but with it.
AR 102. Be thou faithful unto death, signifies reception and acknowledgment of truths, until falsities are removed, and as it were abolished. By "be thou faithful unto death," in the natural sense, is meant, that they must not depart from fidelity even to the end of life; but in the spiritual sense, that they must receive and acknowledge truths, even until falsities are removed by them, and as it were abolished; for this sense is properly for those who are in the spiritual world, for whom there is no death. Therefore by "death" is here meant the end of their temptation. It is said, until they are, as it were, abolished, because falsities and evils with man are not abolished, but removed, and when they are removed they appear as if they were abolished, because when evils and falsities are removed, man is kept in goods and truths by the Lord.
AR 103. And I will give thee a crown of life, signifies that they will then have eternal life, the reward of victory. Because temptations even unto death are here treated of, it is said that a crown of life will be given them, such as the martyrs had, who were faithful even unto death; and because the martyrs wished for it, therefore after death crowns were given them, by which was signified the reward of victory; they still appear in their crowns in heaven, which it has been granted me to see.
AR 104. Verse 11. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; that this signifies that he who understands these things, ought to obey what the Divine truth of the Word teaches those who will be of the New Church, which is the New Jerusalem, is evident from the explanation of like words in (AR 87).
AR 105. He that overcometh; that this signifies he that fights against evils and falsities, and is reformed, is evident from the explanation (AR 88), where like words occur.
AR 106. Shall not be hurt of the second death, signifies that afterwards they shall not succumb to the evils and falsities from hell. By the first death is meant the death of the body, and by the "second death" is meant the death of the soul, which is damnation (AR 853, 873); and because "Be thou faithful unto death," signifies that they ought to acknowledge truths till by their means falsities are removed (AR 102), it follows, that by "not being hurt of the second death," is signified that afterwards they shall not succumb under evils and falsities from hell, for thereby they are exempted from damnation.
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