The Church’s Body of Teaching Is to Be Drawn from the Literal Meaning of the Word and Is to Be Supported by It (Continued)

2. A body of teaching must be drawn from the literal meaning of the Word and supported by it (Cont’d)

A body of teaching made up of genuine truth can actually be drawn entirely from the literal meaning of the Word because in that meaning the Word is like a clothed person whose hands and face are bare. Everything that has to do with how we live and therefore with our salvation is bare, while the rest is clothed; and in many places where the meaning is clothed it shows through like a face seen through a thin veil.

As the truths of the Word are multiplied by being loved and in this way gain coherence, they shine through their clothing more and more clearly and become more visible. A body of teaching is the means to this too.

from Sacred Scripture: White Horse, Section 55

The Church’s Body of Teaching Is to Be Drawn from the Literal Meaning of the Word and Is to Be Supported by It (Continued)

2. A body of teaching must be drawn from the literal meaning of the Word and supported by it (Cont’d)

The reason the Word is not only understood but also shines with the aid of a body of teaching is that the Word is not understandable apart from a body of teaching but is like a lampstand with no lamp, as just noted [Section 52]. So the Word understood by means of a body of teaching is like a lampstand with a burning lamp on it. We then see more than we had seen before and understand what we had not understood before. Things that are obscure and contradictory we either do not see and ignore or we see and explain in such a way that they harmonize with our body of teaching.

The experience of the Christian world bears witness to the fact that people see the Word through their body of teaching and explain it from that perspective. Obviously, all Protestants see the Word in the light of their teachings and explain it accordingly. Catholics too see it and explain it in the light of their teachings, and Jews see it and explain it in the light of theirs. A body of false teaching yields false beliefs, and a body of true teaching yields true beliefs. We can therefore see that a body of true teaching is like a light in the darkness and like signposts along the way.

However, our body of teaching must not only be drawn from the literal meaning of the Word, it must be supported by it as well, since if it is not supported by it, the truth of our body of teaching would seem to contain only our own intelligence and none of the Lord’s divine wisdom. That would make our body of teaching a castle in the air and not on the ground, a castle with no foundation.

from Sacred Scripture: White Horse, Section 54

Section 52: Published 8/14/2022

The Church’s Body of Teaching Is to Be Drawn from the Literal Meaning of the Word and Is to Be Supported by It (Continued)

2. A body of teaching must be drawn from the literal meaning of the Word and supported by it.

Word and supported by it. This is because there and only there the Lord is present with us, enlightening us and teaching us the truths of the church. Further, the Lord never does anything in a way that is less than complete, and it is in its literal meaning that the Word is in its fullness, as explained above [Sections 37–49]. That is why a body of teaching must be drawn from the literal meaning.

from Sacred Scripture: White Horse, Section 53

Sections 37-49: Published 7/28/2022-8/9/2022

The Church’s Body of Teaching Is to Be Drawn from the Literal Meaning of the Word and Is to Be Supported by It (Continued)

We can tell from all this that people who read the Word without a body of teaching or who do not get themselves a body of teaching from the Word are in complete darkness about truth.

Their minds are wandering and unstable, prone to error and liable to heresies. Such people will in fact embrace heresies if those heresies have gained any popularity or authority and their own reputation is therefore not in danger.

For them the Word is like a lampstand without a lamp, and while they seem to be seeing a great many things in their darkness, they actually see practically nothing because a body of teaching is the only lamp. I have seen people like this examined by angels, and it was found that they can use the Word to justify whatever they choose; and the things they justify are those that appeal to their self-centeredness and their love for people who are on their side. I have also seen them stripped of their clothing, a sign of their lack of truths. In that world, truths are clothing.

from Sacred Scripture: White Horse, Section 52

The Church’s Body of Teaching Is to Be Drawn from the Literal Meaning of the Word and Is to Be Supported by It (Continued)

  1. The Word is not understandable without a body of teaching.

This is because in its literal meaning the Word is entirely made up of correspondences, to allow spiritual and heavenly matters to be gathered within it in such a way that each word can be their container and support. That is why in many passages the literal meaning is not made up of bare truths but of clothed truths, which we may call semblances of truth. Many of them are adapted to the comprehension of ordinary people who do not raise their thoughts above what they can see with their eyes. There are other passages where there seem to be contradictions, though there are no contradictions in the Word when it is seen in its own light. Then too, there are places in the prophets where we find collections of personal names and place-names that make no sense to us—see the examples in Section 15 above.

Since that is what the literal meaning of the Word is like, it stands to reason that it cannot be understood without a body of teaching.

Some examples may serve to illustrate this. It says that Jehovah repents (Exodus 32:12, 14; Jonah 3:9; 4:2). It also says that Jehovah does not repent (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29). Without a body of teaching, these statements do not agree.

It says that Jehovah visits the iniquities of the parents on the children to the third and fourth generation (Numbers 14:18), and it says that parents will not be put to death for their children and children will not be put to death for their parents, but each will die in his or her own sin (Deuteronomy 24:16). Seen in the light of a body of teaching, these statements do not disagree but agree.

Jesus said,

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Everyone who asks receives, those who seek find, and to those who knock it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8; 21:21-22)

In the absence of a body of teaching, people would believe that everyone’s request is granted, but a body of teaching yields the belief that we are given whatever we ask if we ask it not on our own behalf but on the Lord’s. That is in fact what the Lord tells us:

If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you will ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)

The Lord says “Blessed are the poor, because theirs is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). Without a body of teaching, we might think that heaven belongs to the poor and not to the rich. A body of teaching instructs us, though, that this means those who are poor in spirit, for the Lord said,

Blessed are the poor in spirit, because theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. (Matthew 5:3)

The Lord says,

Do not judge, or you will be judged; with the same judgment you pass [on others] you yourself will be judged. (Matthew 7:1-2; Luke 6:37)

In the absence of a body of teaching, this could be used to support the assertion that we should not say that an evil act is evil or judge that an evil person is evil. A body of teaching, though, tells us that it is permissible to pass judgment if we do so in an upright, righteous way. In fact, the Lord says,

Judge with righteous judgment. (John 7:24)

Jesus says,

Do not be called teacher, because one is your Teacher: Christ. You should not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, and he is in the heavens. You should not be called masters, because one is your Master: Christ. (Matthew 23:8-10)

In the absence of a body of teaching, it would turn out that it was wrong to call anyone a teacher or a father or a master; but from a body of teaching we come to know that this is permissible in an earthly sense but not in a spiritual sense.

Jesus said to the disciples,

When the Son of Humanity sits on the throne of his glory, you will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28)

These words could lead us to believe that the Lord’s disciples will be passing judgment, when quite the contrary, they cannot judge anyone. So a body of teaching unveils this mystery by explaining that only the Lord, who is omniscient and knows the hearts of all, will judge and can judge, and that his twelve disciples mean the church in the sense of all the true and good principles that it has received from the Lord through the Word. A body of teaching leads us to the conclusion that these principles will judge everyone, which follows from what the Lord says in John 3:17-18 and 12:47-48.

People who read the Word without the aid of a body of teaching do not know how to make sense out of what it says in the prophets about the Jewish nation and Jerusalem, namely, that the church will abide in that nation and that its seat will be in that city forever. Take the following statements, for example.

Jehovah will visit his flock, the house of Judah, and transform them into a glorious war horse; from Judah will come the cornerstone, from Judah the tent peg, from Judah the battle bow. (Zechariah 10:3-4)

Behold, I am coming to dwell in your midst. Jehovah will make Judah his inheritance and will again choose Jerusalem. (Zechariah 2:10-12)

On that day it will happen that the mountains will drip with new wine and the hills will flow with milk; and Judah will abide forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. (Joel 3:18, 20)

Behold, the days are coming in which I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humankind, and in which I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. This will be the covenant: I will put my law in their midst and I will write it on their heart, and I will become their God and they will become my people. (Jeremiah 31:27, 31, 33)

On that day ten men from every language of the nations will take hold of the hem of a man of Judah and say, “We will go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.” (Zechariah 8:23)

There are other passages of the same nature, such as Isaiah 44:24, 26; 49:22-23; 65:18; 66:20, 22; Jeremiah 3:18; 23:5; 50:19-20; Nahum 1:15; Malachi 3:4. In these passages the subject is the Lord’s Coming and what will happen at that time.

However, it says something very different in any number of other passages, of which I will cite only the following:

I will hide my face from them. I will see what their posterity is, for they are a perverse generation, children in whom there is no faithfulness. I have said, “I will cast them into the most remote corners, I will make them cease from human memory,” for they are a nation devoid of counsel, and they have no understanding. Their vine is from the vine of Sodom and the fields of Gomorrah. Their grapes are grapes of gall; their clusters are bitter. Their wine is the venom of dragons and the cruel gall of poisonous snakes. All this is hidden with me, locked away in my treasuries. Vengeance and retribution belong to me. (Deuteronomy 32:20–35)

These words were spoken about that nation, and there are similar statements elsewhere, as in Isaiah 3:1, 2, 8; 5:3–6; Deuteronomy 9:5-6; Matthew 12:39; 23:27-28; John 8:44; and all through Jeremiah and Ezekiel. All the same, these statements that seem to contradict each other turn out to be in agreement in the light of a body of teaching, which tells us that Israel and Judah in the Word do not mean Israel and Judah but the church in each of two senses—one in which it lies in ruins and the other in which it is to be restored by the Lord. There are other contrasts like this in the Word that enable us to see that the Word cannot be understood apart from a body of teaching.

from Sacred Scripture: White Horse, Section 51

The Church’s Body of Teaching Is to Be Drawn from the Literal Meaning of the Word and Is to Be Supported by It

The preceding chapter was devoted to showing that in its literal meaning the Word is in its fullness, holiness, and power; and since the Lord is the Word (because he is everything in the Word), it follows that the Lord is most present in that meaning and that he teaches and enlightens us through it. I need to present this, though, in the following sequence.

1. The Word is not understandable without a body of teaching.

2. A body of teaching must be drawn from the literal meaning of the Word.

3. However, the divine truth that a body of teaching should have can be seen only when we are being enlightened by the Lord.

from Sacred Scripture: White Horse, Section 50

The Literal Meaning of the Word Is the Foundation, the Container, and the Support of Its Spiritual and Heavenly Meanings (Continued from 4/26/2017)

The Word in its outermost or earthly meaning, which is its literal meaning, is also meant by the wall of the holy Jerusalem, which was made of jasper, by the foundations of the wall, which were precious stones, as well as by the gates, which were pearls (Revelation 21:18-21). This is because Jerusalem means the church in regard to its teachings. There will be more on this, though, under the next heading [Section 43]. We may now conclude from what has been presented that the literal meaning of the Word, which is earthly, is the foundation, container, and support of its inner meanings, which are a spiritual meaning and a heavenly meaning.

from Sacred Scripture: White Horse, Section 36

Section 43: Published 8/3/2022

The Literal Meaning of the Word Is the Foundation, the Container, and the Support of Its Spiritual and Heavenly Meanings (Continued from 4/26/2017)

Teaching on the Lord 28 shows that the old Testament prophets represented the Lord in respect to the Word and therefore meant the teaching of the church drawn from the Word, and that because of this they were addressed as “children of humanity.” It follows from this that by the various things they suffered and endured they represented the violence done to the literal meaning of the Word by Jews. Isaiah, for example, took the sackcloth off his waist and the sandals off his feet and went naked and barefoot for three years (Isaiah 20:2-3). Similarly, Ezekiel the prophet took a barber’s razor top his head and beard, burned a third of the hair in the middle of the city, struck a third with a sword, and the scattered a third to the wind; also, he bound a few hair in his hems and eventually threw a few into the midst of a fire and burned them (Ezekiel 5:1-4).

Since the prophets represented the Word and therefore meant the teaching of the church drawn from the Word (as just noted), and since the head means wisdom from the Word, the hair and the beard mean the outermost form of truth. It is because of this meaning that inflicting baldness on yourself was a sign of immense grief and being discovered to be bald was an immense disgrace. This and this alone is why the prophet shaved off his hair and his beard–to represent the state of the Jewish church in regard to Word. This and this alone is why two she-bears tore apart forth-two boys who called Elisha bald (2 Kings 2:23-25)–because as just noted the prophet represented the Word, and his baldness signified the Word without an outermost meaning.

We shall see in Section 49 below that the Nazirites represented the Lord’s Word in its outermost forms, which is why they were commanded to let their hair grow and not to shave any of it. In Hebrew, “Nazirite” actually means “hair.” It was commanded that the high priest was not to shave his head (Leviticus 21:10) and that the fathers of their families as well were not to do so (Leviticus 21:5).

That is why they regarded baldness as such an immense disgrace, as we can tell from the following passages:

There will be baldness upon all heads, and every beard will be cut off. (Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 48:37)

There will be shame upon all faces and baldness on all heads. (Ezekiel 7:18)

Every head was made bald and every shoulder hairless. (Ezekiel29:18)

I will put sackcloth around all waists and baldness upon every head. (Amos 8:10)

Make yourself bald and cut off your hair because of your precious children; make yourself still more bald, because they have left you and gone into exile. (Micah 1:16)

Here making yourself bald and making yourself still more bald means distorting truths of the Word in its outermost forms. Once they have been distorted, as was done by Jews, the whole Word is ruined, because the outermost forms of the Word are what it rests on what holds it up. In fact, every word in it is a base and support for the Word’s heavenly and spiritual truths.

Since a head of hair means truth in its outermost forms, in the spiritual world everyone who trivializes the Word and distorts its literal meaning looks bald; but those who respect and love it have good-looking hair. On this, see Section 49 below.

from Sacred Scripture: White Horse, Section 35

Section 49: Published 8/8/2022

Divine Truth, in All Its Fullness, Holiness, and Power, Is Present in the Literal Meaning of the Word (Continued)

Up to this point I have shown that in its earthly or literal meaning the Word is in its holiness and fullness. I now need to explain that in its literal meaning the Word is also in its power.

You can tell the amount and the nature of the power of divine truth both in the heavens and on earth from what has been said about the power of heaven’s angels in Heaven and Hell 228-233. The power of divine truth is exercised primarily against whatever is false and evil and therefore against the hells. These need to be resisted by the use of truths from the literal meaning of the Word. The Lord also has power to save us by means of whatever truth we have, because we are reformed and reborn by means of truths from the literal meaning of the Word; and we are then rescued from hell and brought into heaven. The Lord assumed this power in his divine human nature as well after he fulfilled all things of the Word even to the last.

That is why the Lord said to the chief priest, when he was about to fulfill what remained by suffering on the cross, “Hereafter you will see the Son of Humanity sitting at the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62). The Son of Humanity is the Lord as the Word; the clouds of heaven are the Word in its literal meaning; sitting at the right hand of God is omnipotence by means of the Word (see also Mark 16:19).

In the Jewish church, the Lord’s power through the outermost forms of truth was represented by the Nazirites and by Samson, who is described as a Nazirite from his mother’s womb and whose power was associated with his hair. “Nazirite” and “Naziriteship” also mean hair.

Samson made this clear when he said, “No razor has come upon my head, because I [have been] a Nazirite from my mother’s womb. If I am shorn, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak, and will be like anyone else” (Judges 16:17). No one could know why Naziriteship with its reference to hair was instituted, and therefore why Samson got his strength from his hair, except by knowing the meaning a head has in the Word. Heads mean the heavenly wisdom angels and people receive from the Lord by means of divine truth. So the hair of the head means heavenly wisdom in its outermost forms and also divine truth in its outermost forms.

Since this is the meaning of hair because of its correspondence with heavenly realities, the command to the Nazirites was that they should not shave the hair of their heads, because this was the Naziriteship of God upon their heads (Numbers 6:1-21); so there was also the command that the high priest and his sons were not to shave their heads or they would die and wrath would fall upon the whole house of Israel (Leviticus 10:6).

Since hair was holy because of this meaning (which comes from its correspondence), the Son of Humanity, the Lord as the Word, was described as having hair that “was white like wool, as white as snow” (Revelation 1:14), and something similar is said of the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9). See also what is said on this subject in Section 35 Above.

In short, divine truth or the Word has power in the literal meaning because that is where the Word is in its fullness and because that is where angels from both of the Lord’s kingdoms come together with people in this world.

from Sacred Scripture: White Horse, Section 49

Heaven and Hell:

Sections 228-233: Published 3/26/2018-3/27/2018

Divine Truth, in All Its Fullness, Holiness, and Power, Is Present in the Literal Meaning of the Word (Continued)

The Word in its glory was represented by the Lord when he was transfigured.

We read of the Lord, wen he was transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John, that his face shone like the sun and his clothing became like light: Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with him; that a bright cloud overshadowed the disciples; and that a voice was heard coming from the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son, Hear him” (Matthew 17:1-5).

I have been taught that at this time the Lord represented the Word. His face, which shone like the sun, represented his divine goodness; his clothing, which became like light, represented his divine truth; Moses and Elijah represented the historical and prophetic books of the Word–Moses, broadly, the books written by him and by extension the historical books, and Elijah the books of the prophets; the bright cloud that overshadowed the disciples meant the Word in its literal meaning. So it was from this that they heard the voice say, “This is my beloved Son. Hear him.” This is because all proclamations and answers from heaven, without exception, come about by means of outer forms, the kind we find in the literal meaning of the Word; they come about in fullness by means of the Lord.

from Sacred Scripture: White Horse, Section 48