This work is an exegesis of every verse in the book of Revelation, relating its key images to other passages in Scripture. It focuses on what Swedenborg saw as the fall of the Christianity of his time (the eighteenth century) and the predicted eventual rise of a new Christianity thereafter. Although argued in a rather terse style, its central reading is spiritual—unlike many if not most other views of the book of Revelation, which relate the text merely to world events, whether long past, present, or still to come. It is the first of Swedenborg’s works to include at the end of every chapter lengthy narrative accounts (or “memorable occurrences”) of the author’s spiritual experiences. These accounts often include his blunt declarations of the fate of various kinds of Christians (including lofty church officials) in the afterlife.
Volume 1: An exegesis of Revelation 1–13 in which John’s apocalyptic visions are interpreted as prophetic descriptions of what was to unfold (and, by the time of writing, had unfolded) spiritually in the Christian church. The central message is that false belief was corrupting the church, necessitating the establishment of a new spiritual paradigm. The letters to the seven churches symbolize a call to reformation for all Christians; the terrifying horsemen, locusts, and earthquake foretell the impending Judgment in the spiritual world on false Christian theology and its adherents; and the bitter booklet eaten by John depicts the church’s resistance to information concerning God’s true nature.