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Of all the books in the Bible the Apocalypse or Book of Revelation is perhaps the most unusual and seemingly unlike any other book in the Bible. And it appears to be open to all sorts of interpretation. Over the centuries Christians from every tradition have studied it and tried to make sense of its amazing imagery.

For Emanuel Swedenborg it was a part of the Bible ranking in importance with the Gospels and the opening books of the Old Testament. Indeed looking across his writings as a whole it forms a major area of his study and written output. So much so that he wrote at length on the subject on two separate occasions.

His first exploration and interpretation was expounded in the work Apocalypse Explained, which in English translation normally occupies six volumes. This work was prepared for the printer in 1759 but then not published in Swedenborg's lifetime. Instead Swedenborg prepared a shorter and modified version of his earlier work and gave it the title Apocalypse Revealed. This was published in Amsterdam in 1766 and usually appears in two volumes in the English translation.

Swedenborg opens Apocalypse Revealed with these words at the start of the Preface:

There are many who have laboured at an exposition of the Apocalypse, but because up to this time the spiritual sense of the Word had not been known, they could not see the secrets that remain concealed therein; for only the spiritual sense discovers these. The expositors have therefore made various guesses, and most of them have applied the things that are there to the conditions of empires, intermingling some things about ecclesiastical matters also. The Apocalypse, however, like the whole Word, does not treat in its spiritual sense of worldly things at all but of heavenly things, thus not of empires and kingdoms but of heaven and the Church.

At the end of the Preface he writes:

Every one is able to see that the Apocalypse cannot possibly be expounded except by the Only Lord, for the single words there contain secrets that would never be known without a unique enlightenment and thus a revelation. It has therefore pleased the Lord to open the sight of my spirit for me, and to teach. Do not therefore suppose that I have undertaken anything there from myself, or from any angel, but from the Lord Only. The Lord indeed said to John through an angel:-

Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book Revelation 22:10.

By this it is understood that they are to be made manifest.