The Word Cannot Be Understood Without Doctrine

From Doctrine of Sacred Scripture ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

The Word cannot be understood without doctrine. This is because the Word in the sense of the letter consists exclusively of correspondences, to the end that things spiritual and celestial may be simultaneous or together therein, and that every word may be their container and support. For this reason, in some places in the sense of the letter the truths are not naked, but clothed, and are then called appearances of truth. Many truths also are accommodated to the capacity of simple folk, who do not uplift their thoughts above such things as they see before their eyes. There are also some things that appear like contradictions, although the Word when viewed in its own light contains no contradiction…

But to illustrate this by examples.


It is said that Jehovah repents (Exod. 32:12, 14; Jonah 3:9; 4:2);


And also that Jehovah does not repent (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29).


Without doctrine these passages cannot be reconciled.


It is said, That Jehovah visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and fourth generation (Num. 14:18);


And it is also said that, The father shall not die for the son, nor the son for the father, but everyone for his own sin (Deut. 24:16).


Interpreted by doctrine these passages are not discordant, but are in agreement.


Jesus says, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for everyone that asketh shall receive, and he that seeketh shall find, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened (Matt. 7:7-8; 21:21-22).


Without doctrine it might be believed that everyone will receive what he asks for; but from doctrine it is believed that whatever a man asks not from himself but from the Lord is given; for this also is what the Lord says, If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you (John 15:7).


The Lord says, Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God (Luke 6:20).


Without doctrine it may be thought that heaven is for the poor and not for the rich, but doctrine teaches that the poor in spirit are meant, for the Lord says, Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3).


The Lord says, Judge not, that ye be not judged; for with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged (Matt. 7:1-2; Luke 6:37).


Without doctrine this might be cited to confirm the notion that it is not to be said of what is evil that it is evil, thus that an evil person is not to be judged to be evil; yet according to doctrine it is lawful to judge, but justly; for the Lord says, Judge righteous judgment (John 7:24).


Jesus says, Be not ye called Teacher, for One is your Teacher, even the Christ. And call no man your father on the earth; for One is your Father in the heavens. Neither be ye called masters; for One is your Master, the Christ (Matt. 23:8-10).


Without doctrine it would seem that it is not lawful to call any person teacher, father, or master; but from doctrine it is known that in the natural sense it is lawful to do this, but not in the spiritual sense.


Jesus said to His disciples, When the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28).


From these words it may be inferred that the Lord’s disciples will sit in judgment, when yet they can judge no one. Doctrine therefore must reveal this secret by explaining that the Lord alone, who is omniscient and knows the hearts of all, will sit in judgment, and is able to judge; and that His twelve disciples mean the church as to all the truths and goods it possesses from the Lord through the Word; from which doctrine concludes that these truths will judge everyone, according to the Lord’s words in John 3:17-18; 12:47-48.


He who reads the Word without doctrine does not see the consistency of what is said in the prophets about the Jewish nation and Jerusalem – that the church with that nation, and its seat in that city, will remain to eternity; as in the following passages:


Jehovah will visit his flock the house of Judah, and will make them as a horse of glory in war; from him shall come forth the corner stone, from him the nail, and from him the bow of war (Zech. 10:3-4, 6-7).


Behold I come, that I may dwell in the midst of thee. And Jehovah shall make Judah an inheritance, and shall again choose Jerusalem (Zech. 2:10, 12).


It shall come to pass in that day that the mountains shall drop new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and Judah shall be to eternity, and Jerusalem from generation to generation (Joel 3:18-20).


Behold, the days come in which I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and in which I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; and this shall be the covenant, I will put My law in their inward parts, and will write it upon their heart and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Jer. 31:27, 31, 33).


In that day ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, of the skirt of a man that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you (Zech. 8:23).


So in other places, as Isa. 44:21, 24, 26; 49:22, 23; 65:9; 66:20, 22; Jer. 3:18; 23:5; 50:19, 20; Nahum 1:15; Mal. 3:4.


In these passages the Lord’s advent is treated of, and that this [establishment of the Jews] will then come to pass.

But the contrary is declared in many other places, of which this passage only shall be adduced:

I will hide My face from them, I will see what their latter end shall be, for they are a generation of perversions, sons in whom is no faithfulness. I said, I will cast them into outermost corners, I will make the remembrance of them to cease from man, for they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there understanding in them; their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of gall; their clusters are of bitternesses; their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps. Is not this hidden with Me, sealed up among My treasures? To Me belongeth vengeance and retribution (Deut. 32:20-35).


It is of that same nation that these things are said. And things of the same purport are said elsewhere, as in Isa. 3:1-2, 8; 5:3, 6; Deut. 9:5-6; Matt. 12:39; 23:27-28; John 8:44; and in Jeremiah and Ezekiel throughout.


These passages which seem contradictory will however from doctrine be seen to accord, for this teaches that in the Word “Israel” and “Judah” do not mean Israel and Judah, but the church in both senses, in one that it is devastated, in the other that it is to be set up anew by the Lord.


Other things like these exist in the Word, from which it plainly appears that

(Doctrine of Sacred Scripture 51)
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About mike

Finding out that the Lord is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, and from the human race the angelic heaven would be formed, my entire focus on life changed. The reason for my creation was to perform Divine uses - The Divine Providence looks to eternal ends. My gain, honor or reputation no longer could be the focal point of what drives the engine. One day I will lay aside this material body and will wake up in the spiritual world never to return; there will be a continuation of life, and my ruling love will be what guides me to my final situation. 'Where a tree falls, there will it lay' (Ecc 11:3) We only have a few years in these bodies compared to eternity. What is fossilized on our souls in this short period is important to how we spend eternity. We are not left to blind faith, The Lord has come in His Word to reveal rationally how we can be made 'a vessel of honor, able for the master's use.' I truly hope the post create a thirst. If I can be of service, please do not hesitate to email me. --Mike
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