“While He was seated on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately and said, Tell us, when will this take place, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end (the completion, the consummation) of the age?” (Matthew 24:3 Amplified Version)
Abstract: This is meant to be an introductory study of Matthew 24 in the spiritual meaning, which is as the angels of heaven read the Holy Bible. For they exist in the spiritual kingdom and not in the earthly kingdom. This is a summary of teaching by the Reverend John Clowes. It is collated and drawn from the Bible commentaries and writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. Although Swedenborg never wrote a Bible commentary on the Book of Matthew (or the other gospel books) he used many gospel Bible verses to illustrate his Bible commentaries and writings. For this reason, this commentary put together by Rev. Clowes may have some gaps or verses assembled that Swedenborg did comment on. And these are the source for Rev. Clowes. I have added my emphasis in parentheses to illustrate a simple English text for a beginner of the spiritual meaning of the Bible for people such as myself.
The Lord spoke plainly and openly about the end of the age just before he returns to set up His final and everlasting kingdom on the earth.
Key to Blog Text,
Bold highlighting = Important terms and concepts. Blue highlighting = words, terms, and concepts containing primarily a spiritual sense or TRUTH. Red highlighting = words, terms, and concepts containing a sense directly related to The Lord Himself or LOVE. Gray highlighting = words, terms, and concepts relating to evil and hell. Italic letters in (parentheses) = my emphasis.
Here’s an excerpt from “Secrets of Heaven”#3353 by Swedenborg,
Here first let the words be explained which appear in Matthew [24:3-8]… Those who confine themselves to the sense of the letter (words and letters) cannot know whether these words and those that follow in this chapter refer to the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews, or whether they refer to the end of days which is called the Last Judgement. But those admitted into the internal sense see clearly that the end of the Church is being referred to, this end being that which here and in other places is called “the coming of the Lord” and “the close of the age”. And since the end of the Church is meant one can see that all these statements made by the Lord (in the Book of Matthew) mean such things as have to do with the Church. But their overall meaning may be seen from the individual meaning below which each of them has in the internal sense (spiritual meaning).
”Many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ; and they will lead many astray” “Name” here does not mean name, nor “the Christ” the Christ, but “name” means that by which the Lord is worshipped, while “the Christ” means truth itself, Thus the meaning is that people will come who say that this is the sum and substance of faith, that is, it is the truth, when in fact it is neither the sum and substance of faith, nor the truth, but falsity (wrong interpretation of the Bible and teachings of Jesus)
”They will hear of wars and rumors of wars” means that arguments and disagreements over truths (a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by churches) will arise which are wars in the spiritual sense.
“Nation will be roused against nation and kingdom against kingdom” means that evil will conflict with evil, and falsity with falsity, “nation” meaning good, but in the contrary sense evil, see and “kingdom” meaning truth, but in the contrary sense falsity, “And there will be famines, and plagues, and earthquakes in various places” means that no cognitions (the ability of the mind to see or to do) of good (of having love to the Lord and the neighbor) and truth (to see the teaching of the Lord and to do them) will exist anymore (it will be so hard to find in those institutions of faith), and thus that the state of the Church is altered (the change is so great it seems like a spiritual earthquake is taking place), meant by “an earthquake”.
That’s how Swedenborg described the inner meaning (or spiritual meaning). Not surprisingly, it’s pretty consistent with his exegesis (interpretation of religious texts) of other books (of the Holy Bible texts). It’s interesting to see it applied to the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament), where often the literal meaning (things understood by letters and words) seems easier to apply to our lives than the stories of the Old Testament (people naturally just want everything to make sense from our view of the world on earth and not so much from a view from heaven which is a spiritual world).
Next, we’ll append (add-in) the commentary on this chapter that Rev. John Clowes wrote back in the 1850s. (Scripture followed by Commentary)
“And Jesus went out and departed from the temple. And His disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, There shall not be left here one stone on another that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:1-2)
Verses 1, 2. The Lord predicts the vastation (falling away, “evening”) and destruction (end) of the (Christian) church.
“And when he was sitting on mount Olivet, the disciples came to him privately, saying: Tell us when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the consummation of the world? And Jesus answering, said to them: Take heed that no man seduce you” (Matthew 24:3-4)
Verses 3, 4. And from His Divine Love teaches, that the understanding (of the church) ought to be opened to the light of truth, to prevent it’s being misled by falsities (wrong interpretation of the Bible).
“For many will come in my name saying, I am Christ. And they will seduce many” (Matthew 24:5)
Verse 5. Because those are about to come who will say that this is of faith, or this is truth, when yet it is neither of faith nor is it truth, but what is false (wrong interpretation of the Bible).
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled, for all these things must occur; but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6)
Verse 6. Debates also and disputes will exist concerning truths (Bible) (arguments within the church).
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and pestilences and earthquakes in different places” (Matthew 24:7)
Verse 7. And the evil is about to fight against good, and the false (wrong interpretation of the Bible) against truth (Truth of God’s Word), and there will no longer be any knowledge of what is good and true, but perversion (twist around or to practice sophistry; change the meaning of or be vague about to mislead or deceive). instead thereof, whereby the state of the church (its love and truth) will be changed.
“Now all these are the beginnings of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8)
Verse 8. That this is the first state of the perversion (twist around truths into lies to be found) of the church.
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted and shall put you to death: and you shall be hated by all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9)
Verse 9. That the second state is when good (love to the Lord and charity to the neighbor) and truth (the teachings of the Bible) are about to perish (not to be seen), first by perversion (twisting around truths into lies), next by denial (refusing to hear the truth), and then by contempt (self-righteousness) for, and aversion (anger) from, all things which are of good and truth (hatred of Christians who do good and teach truths).
“And then many will be offended, and will betray one another, and will hate one another” (Matthew 24:10)
Verse 10. That hence will come enmities (hostile anger) against the Lord’s Divine Humanity (the man Jesus Christ), and likewise against all truth (God’s perfect Word) and good (God’s perfect love).
“And many false prophets shall rise and shall seduce many” (Matthew 24:11)
Verse 11. Also false doctrines (false teachings within the church) and derivations (falling away from God’s Word) thence.
“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many will become cold” (Matthew 24:12)
Verse 12. And with faith will expire charity (both will disappear within the church) according to the falsities (false teachings within the church) of (regarding) faith.
“But he who endures to the end, the same shall be kept safe” (Matthew 24:13)
Verse 13. But they who are in charity (love to Lord and love to neighbor), and do not suffer themselves to be seduced (led away), will be saved.
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world, for a testimony to all nations: and then shall the consummation come” (Matthew 24:14)
Verse 14. And these things will first be made known in the Christian (church) world, that none (of those who call themselves Christian) may pretend that they were ignorant (did not know the Lord’s Word), and then will be the consummation (the end).
“Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand)” (Matthew 24:15)
Verse 15. And when such things are observed (seen), which had been predicted concerning vastation (falling away from the TRUTH in the Bible) as to all things that are of good and truth (love to Lord and love to neighbor), they ought to be carefully attended to, especially by those who are in love and faith (see that they are falling away and keep a distance away from them. Do not be seduced to join them in their nonsense).
“Then let those in Judea flee into the mountains” (Matthew 24:16)
Verse 16. Who, on such occasion (when troubles in the spiritual war are so strong), ought not to look elsewhere (not to the world but) than to the Lord, thus to love to Him and charity towards the neighbor (do not lose your faith in the Lord and his power to keep you safe)
“Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house:” (Matthew 24:17)
Verse 17. And they who are in the good of charity (love to the Lord and love to neighbor), ought not to take themselves thence (they should not be silly to go there) to those things which are of the doctrines of faith (they should continue to trust Jesus for the path they must take and not the old church which is quickly falling behind).
”Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes” (Matthew 24:18)
Verse 18. And they who are in the good of truth (they see the love of Jesus in reading the Holy Bible and they want to do what He tells them to do), should not take themselves from its good (love to God and love to the neighbor) to the doctrines of truth (go back into old church teachings).
”And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!” (Matthew 24:19)
Verse 19. For they who are imbued (they have earned the gift) with the good of love to the Lord (they worship Jesus in truth and not in fake), and with the good of innocence (they trust their heavenly Father completely), will then be in danger of profaning (grossly irreverent toward the holiness of Jesus) those goods, and thus of eternal damnation (during this time of intense war and attacks from darkness we must never drop our spiritual amour or we too could fall into hell if we are not careful. We cannot let ourselves become too comfortable).
”But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:” (Matthew 24:20)
Verse 20. They, therefore, who are principled (been taught in kingdom life that is found in heaven) in good and truth (which is love and wisdom), ought to take heed (please be careful) lest a removal (your mind wanders and you are not carefully paying attention) from those principles (love and wisdom) should be made precipitately (you may fall into the trap) in a state (spiritual) of too much cold (not spiritually listening and following Jesus) arising (which happens because) from self-love (thinking only about what we need, what we want and what we must have), and in a state (in our mind) of too much heat (unholy fire) arising from a holy external (from showing worship to the Lord while in inside we are), concealing inwardly (in our heart) the loves of self (thinking only about what we need, what we want, and what we must have) and of the world (of all the things we want to do, the money we must have, and the people and places we must see and go).
”For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21)
[the spiritual meaning of the word “tribulation” = the time at the end of the church when there are no longer any “goods” (love to the Lord and love to the neighbor) and “truths” (the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ will have been extinguished and cannot be seen anymore inside the church]
Verse 21. For on that occasion (when the church reaches this time near the end of the old church), this will be the highest degree (this will be the worst ever time) of perversion (the truth of the Holy Bible twisted around to mean something completely else) and vastation (those in the church think they know what the Bible teaches but they have it completely wrong) of the church as to good (the practice of love to the Lord and the practice of love to the neighbor) and truth (wisdom in the spiritual living of life), which is profanation (grossly irreverent toward sacred things and the Holy Bible).
“And unless those days should be shortened, no flesh would be saved. But for the elect’s sake, those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:22)
Verse 22. So that for the salvation of those who are in the life of good (those people who love the Lord and show love to the neighbor), it will be necessary that they who are of the church should be removed from interior goods and truths to exterior (they will begin to be separated from each other).
“Then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ! Or, There! Do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders; so much so that, if it were possible, they would deceive even the elect” (Matthew 24:23–24)
Verses 23, 24. And the doctrine (a belief or set of beliefs held and taught) of those who are in a holy external principle (they may attend a church and read the Bible), but in a profane internal (but in their hearts love themselves and the world too much), is to be guarded against (the true church must not be seduced into the things that the Lord has said are not good), because it abounds with falsities (by opening the door to a little evil much more will then come in).
Verse 24, latter (second) part. Which falsities (lies) are supported by confirmations and persuasions grounded in external appearances (by looking at the world only where the body exists) and fallacies (they interpret the Scriptures from only things seen in time and the world), whereby the simple suffer themselves to be seduced (they trust the clergy to teach them but they also are in error), but against which they are guarded (they are taught to ignore those) who are in the life of good and truth (that love God and the neighbor and follow the truth found in the holy Scriptures)
“Behold, I tell you beforehand” (Matthew 24:25)
Verse 25. Therefore there is need of prudence (wisdom in making decisions) and caution (thinking carefully before you make any moves). (“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions” Proverbs 8:12)
“Therefore if they shall say to you, Behold, He is in the desert! Do not go out. Behold, He is in the secret rooms! Do not believe it” (Matthew 24:26)
Verse 26. Since they are not to be believed either as to what they speak about truth (what they teach in the Bible), or what they speak about good (they do not speak the truth about God’s love).
“For as the lightning comes out of the east and shines even to the west, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:27)
Verse 27. For as the lightning is instantly dissipated (the light of the Scriptures is here for a short time and then it is gone), so the internal worship of the Lord will at that time be dissipated also (without the truth of the Scripture true worshipers will be hard to find).
“For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered” (Matthew 24:28)
Verse 28. And confirmations (the worldly church saying yes we have the best teachings) of what is false (this is just not true) will be multiplied (the heart will grow darker and darker) by reasonings (this stubborn thinking that they hold on to) in the vastated (those in the church think they know what the Bible teaches but they have it completely wrong) church.
“And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from the heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Matthew 24:29)
Verse 29. And where there is no longer any faith (faith in a higher power) remaining (the earth will have little evidence of it to be seen), all love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbor will disappear, and the knowledge of good and truth will perish, and thus the foundations of the church will be removed (the Ten Commandments will no longer be observed or obeyed)
“And then the sign of the Son of Man shall appear in the heavens. And then all the tribes of the earth shall mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30)
Verse 30. And then shall be the appearing of Truth Divine (the real Jesus Christ will appear), and all who are in the good of love (love to the Lord and love to the neighbor) and the truth of faith (the teachings of Jesus and faith in Him) will be in grief (they will sad that their Lord has been forgotten), and then shall be revealed the Word (Holy Bible) as to its internal sense (the spiritual meaning as the angels in heaven read and understand it), in which the Lord is (the true Lord-God will be found there).
“And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matthew 24:31)
Verse 31. And then shall be election (the revealing of the true followers) by the influx (flowing in from heaven) of holy good (the Lord’s Spirit as to LOVE) and truth (the Lord’s Spirit as to TRUTH) from the Lord by the angels (the angels will be messengers carrying holy good and truth from the Lord), and thus the establishment of a new church (those in the church that openly and gladly receive this LOVE and TRUTH are called the “elect”. Those that frown and reject this LOVE and TRUTH spiritually are called“the bidden” because everyone is called but this group has not listened or come to the Lord in their hearts).
“And hope does not make us ashamed, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us” (Romans 5:5)
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree. When its branch is still tender and puts out leaves, you know that summer is near” (Matthew 24:32)
Verse 32. And when this new church (the elect) is creating (first coming into being) by the Lord, then, first of all, appears the good of the natural principle (it is much like first being born again the wood is not hard and inflexible) with its affections and truths (it is eager to spend time with the Lord and learn from Him).
“So you, likewise, when you see all these things, shall know that it is near, at the doors” (Matthew 24:33)
Verse 33. And when all the things above spoken of appear (in the verses we looked at in Matthew chapter 24), then will be the consummation of the church (the old hard church), that is the last judgment and coming of the Lord, consequently, then the old church will be rejected (because they have rejected the Lord), and the new (church) established.
“Truly I say to you, This generation shall not pass until all these things are fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34)
Verse 34. And the Jewish nation (“This generation”) in the meantime will not be extirpated (not be pulled up by or as if by the roots) like other nations.
“The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but My Words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35)
Verse 35. And the internals (of the heart which is “heaven”) and externals (the desire to do good works which is “earth”) of the former church will perish (those things they did that made them think they deserved to go to heaven), but the Word of the Lord will remain (“He who rejects Me and does not receive My Words has one who judges him; the Word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” John 12:48)
“But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not the angels of Heaven, but only My Father” (Matthew 24:36)
Verse 36. And the state (relating to the mind and emotions) of the church at that time (at the end of the old church), as to goods (their condition of love to the Lord) and truths (if they obey the Lord’s teachings), will not appear to anyone (the condition of their hearts cannot be seen), neither in the earth (by other people) nor in heaven (hidden even from the angels), but to the Lord alone (for He alone is worthy to look at such things).
“But as the days of Noah were, so shall be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37)
Verse 37. But the state of the vastation (falling away of church worship neither hot nor cold) of those who are of the (old hard church) church will resemble that of the first or most ancient church (the spiritual falling away just before the flood), the consummation (the end of one church and the beginning of another) of whose age, or whose last judgment, is described (words used) by a flood (the group of God’s people at that time had fallen so far away it could no longer be repaired).
“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered into the ark. And they did not know until the flood came and took them all away. So also will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:38-39)
Verse 38, 39. For they will appropriate (take to themselves) evil and the false (they will forget the Lord and have their eyes on themselves and the world), and will conjoin those principles (the love of self and the world will begin to destroy completely their minds) in themselves, and will not know that they are inundated by them (their minds are so far away from the truth), because they will be ignorant (plain stupid) what the good of love to the Lord is (they had badly neglected their devotion to the Lord), and the good of charity towards the neighbor (they have been so busy building their own lives they have forgotten the need to help others), also what the truth of faith is (they have forgotten what the Scriptures have taught them), therefore they will not receive the Divine Truth (anything the Lord tries to speak to them will not be heard).
“Then two shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (Matthew 24:40)
Verse 40. Nevertheless they within the church (Christian), who are in good (love to the Lord), will be saved, and they within the church (Christian), who are in evil (ignore the commandments of the Lord), will be damned (the door to heaven will be closed to them).
“Two shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (Matthew 24:41)
Verse 41. And they within the church who are in truth (those that read and follow the commands of Jesus Christ), that is, in the affection thereof from good (because they love the Lord), will be saved (the door to heaven will be open to them), and they within the church who are in truth that is in the affection thereof from evil (they only want to look good in front of others), will be damned (the door to heaven will be closed to them).
“Therefore watch; for you do not know what hour your Lord comes. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore you also be ready, for in that hour you think not, the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 24:42-44)
Verses 42, 43, 44. Therefore man (those people who call on the name of Jesus) ought to procure (makes an effort to find eternal life) to himself life from the Lord, which is spiritual life (the world has many problems and temptations but eternal life is forever) because he is in ignorance what the state of his life is, which is to remain to eternity (we are given the Holy Bible as a light to our feet in the way we should walk in our spiritual life).
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord has made ruler over His household, to give them food in due season?” (Matthew 24:45)
Verse 45. And for this purpose he (to receive entrance into heaven) should make inquiry (they should carefully search the holy Scriptures) concerning the principles (the laws of the Lord’s kingdom) of heavenly good (having the love to the Lord and the love to the neighbor) and truth (to live in and obey the commandments of God), by which the natural man (the person of the world is born naturally evil) is restored to order (they are called to be born again spiritually), and made receptive (they are taught and must learn) of heavenly life (in God’s kingdom).
“Blessed is that servant whom his Lord shall find him doing so when He comes. Truly I say to you that He shall make him ruler over all His goods” (Matthew 24:46-47)
Verses 46, 47. Until he discovers (until they finally learn) that those principles (the laws of the Lord’s kingdom) are in conjunction (that person agrees with and follows the Lord unconditionally) with the Lord (Jesus Christ), and have thence dominion (with the help from the Lord’s power) over all inferior principles (until they place more importance on following the Ten Commandments than to seek their own way).
“But if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delays His coming, and shall begin to strike his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken, the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he does not look for Him, and in an hour which he does not know. And He shall cut him apart and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:48-51)
Verses 48, 49, 50, 51. And that if the natural man (the person who love themselves and the world) through unbelief (secretly believes God will not condemn them) perverts (secretly lives an evil life) those principles (the laws of the Lord’s kingdom), and appropriates (indulges in pleasures) to himself evils (turns his back on God) and falsities (and tells lies about God), he will then know nothing of the interior state of his own life (he does not even care about eternal life), but will be separated from all the goods and truths of heaven (they have made their own bad choices), and will have his lot (his eternal life will be) with those who outwardly appear in truth as to doctrine (the people in the world think he is a good Christian), and in good as to life (they act like they really like other people), but inwardly (in their hearts) believe nothing of truth (what is taught in the Bible), and will nothing of good (they could anything about other people), whose state thereof in the other life (when they die and pass from the world) is most lamentable (bad, awful, or unfortunate they did not listen) from (and this if from) the distraction between evils and goods (because they wore two faces in the world of pretending to be good but inside pure evil), and the collision of falsities with truths (because they knew the truth but inside told lies their punishment will be more severe in the other life).