Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 1690

Previous Number Next Number Next Translation See Latin 

1690. That 'the rest fled to the mountain' means that it did not happen to all of them is clear without explanation from the fact that they had now become 'the rest', who fled away. The subject in the internal sense is the temptations which the Lord underwent in childhood, about which nothing is recorded in the New Testament Word. No temptations are recorded there apart from the temptation in the wilderness, or shortly after He came out of the wilderness, and the last temptation later on in Gethsemane and after that. The fact that the Lord's life from earliest childhood right through to the last hour of His life in the world consisted in constant temptation and constant victory is clear from many places in the Old Testament Word; and the fact that it did not end with His temptation in the wilderness is clear from the following in Luke,

After the devil had ended every temptation he departed from Him for a time. Luke 4:13,

as well as from His undergoing temptations right through to His death on the Cross, and so to the last hour of His life in the world. From these considerations it is evident that the whole of the Lord's life in the world from earliest childhood consisted in constant temptation and constant victory. The last was when on the Cross He prayed for His enemies, and so for all people in the whole world.

[2] In the part of the Word where the Lord's life is described - in the Gospels- no other temptation, apart from the last, is mentioned than His temptation in the wilderness. More than this was not disclosed to the disciples; and the things which were disclosed seem in the sense of the letter so slight as to amount to scarcely anything at all. For the things that are said, and the replies that are given, do not seem to constitute any temptation at all; yet in fact His temptation in the wilderness was more severe than the human mind can possibly comprehend and believe. Nobody can know what temptation is except someone who has experienced it. The temptation that is recorded in Matt 4:1-11; Mark 1:12, 13; Luke 4:1-13, incorporates in a summary form all temptations, namely this, that out of His love towards the whole human race He fought against self-love and love of the world, with which the hells were filled completely.

[3] All temptation is an attack against the love present in a person, the degree of temptation depending on the degree of that love. If love is not attacked there is no temptation. Destroying another person's love is destroying his very life, for his love is his life The Lord's life was love towards the whole human race; indeed it was so great and of such a nature as to be nothing other than pure love. Against this life of His, temptations were directed constantly, and this was happening, as has been stated, from earliest childhood through to His last hour in the world. The love that was the Lord's very life is meant by His being hungry and by the devil's saying,

If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread And Jesus answered, It is written that man will not live by bread alone but by every word of God. Luke 4:2-4; Matt 4:2-4.

[4] That He fought against love of the world, or against all that constitutes love of the world, is meant by the devil's taking Him on to a high mountain and showing Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time and saying,

To you I will give all this power and their glory, for it has been given to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship before me, it will all be yours. But answering him Jesus said, Get behind Me, satan! for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve. Luke 4:5-8; Matt 4:8-10.

[5] That He fought against self-love, and all that constitutes self-love, is meant by these words,

The devil took Him into the holy city, and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, He will give His angels charge regarding you, and on their hands they will bear you, lest you strike your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, Again it is written, You shall not tempt the Lord your God. Matt 4:5-7; Luke 4:9-12.
Constant victory is meant by the statement that after temptation angels came and ministered to Him, Matt 4:11; Mark 1:13.

[6] To sum up, the Lord was attacked by all the hells from earliest childhood right through to the last hour of His life in the world. The hells were constantly overpowered, subdued, and vanquished by Him; and this He did solely out of love towards the whole human race. And because this love was not human but Divine, and because the intensity of the love determines that of the temptation, it becomes clear how severe His conflicts were, and on the part of the hells how fierce. That all this was indeed the case I know for sure.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

© 2000-2001 The Academy of the New Church