“These things I have spoken to you in parables, but the hour is coming when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but will announce to you plainly concerning the Father.” - John 16:25
Kempton New Church

Week 2
Day 1


Luke 20‒21

By what authority do You do these things?

Luke 20

1 And it came to pass on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and brought good tidings1, the chief priests and the scribes stood by with the elders,
2 and spoke to Him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest Thou these things, or who is he who gave Thee this authority?
3 And He answered and said to them, I will also ask you one word, and answer Me:
4 the baptism of John, was it from heaven, or from men?
5 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we say, From heaven, He will say, Why then did you not believe him?
6 But if we say, From men, all the people will stone us; for they are persuaded that John was a prophet.
7 And they answered that they did not know not where it was from.
8 And Jesus told them, Neither do I say to you by what authority I do these things.

AE 293. “Power [or authority]” here signifies salvation, because all Divine power looks to salvation as the end. For by Divine power man is reformed, and afterwards introduced into heaven, and there he is withheld from evil and falsity and held in good and truth; and only the Lord can make this happen....

Moreover, the Lord has power over all things because He alone is God; but the salvation of the human race is the principal object of power, since for the sake of it, the heavens and the worlds were created; and salvation is the reception of the proceeding Divine.

AC 10795. Priests must not claim for themselves any power [or authority] over the souls of men, because they do not know in what state are a man’s interiors; and still less must they claim for themselves the power of opening and closing heaven, because this power belongs to the Lord alone.

AC 7456:2. As regards the signification of “stoning,” be it known that there were two death penalties among the Israelites and Jews, with whom the representative of a church had been instituted, of which the one was stoning, and the other was hanging upon wood. Stoning was for anyone who desired to destroy the truths of worship that had been commanded, and hanging was for anyone who desired to destroy the good of life. That those were stoned who desired to destroy the truths of worship, was because a “stone” signified truth, and in the opposite sense falsity... and that those were hanged upon wood who desired to destroy the good of life, was because “wood” signified good, and in the opposite sense the evil of cupidities....

AC 7456:8. In Luke:

They concluded among themselves that if they were to say that the baptism of John was from heaven, He would say, Why did you not believe him? But if they said, From men, all the people would stone them (Luke 20:5-6); where also “stoning” is predicated of what is contrary to truth. The Jews desired to stone Jesus because He said that before Abraham was, He was (John 8:58, 59); and this was because that nation believed it to be false. It was the same when they desired to stone Jesus because He said that He and His Father are one (John 10:30- 33); for this they believed to be blasphemy, as is said there.

From all this it is now evident what “stoning” involves, and why it was commanded, and also that the penalty of stoning, being in Egypt from ancient times, had been derived from the representatives of the Ancient Church.

1 Or “preached the gospel”

Questions and Comments
  1. The Lord was exercising the authority to expel people from the temple who were selling and buying animals for sacrifices. He was showing that the time of worshiping by sacrificing animals was over—a huge change. No wonder the leaders wanted to know who gave Him authority to make such a change. (Besides, they may have profited from the sale of the sacrificial animals.)
  2. We can ask ourselves which kind of authority or power means more to us, the authority of heaven or the authority of man. Does social pressure push us away from believing and following the Lord?
  3. Why is it that if people do not acknowledge the authority of John’s baptism of repentance, neither will they acknowledge the authority of the Lord, who brings the promise of eternal life?
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