John 1:51
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
He then added, "Very truly I tell you, you will see 'heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on' the Son of Man."

New Living Translation
Then he said, "I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth."

English Standard Version
And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Berean Study Bible
Then He declared, "Truly, truly, I say to all of you that you will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

Berean Literal Bible
And He says to him, "Truly, truly, I say to all of you, you will see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

New American Standard Bible
And He said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

King James Bible
And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Then He said, "I assure you: You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

International Standard Version
Then he told him, "Truly, I tell all of you emphatically, you will see heaven standing open and the angels of God going up and coming down to the Son of Man."

NET Bible
He continued, "I tell all of you the solemn truth--you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

New Heart English Bible
And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
He said to him: “Timeless truth I speak to you all: From this hour you shall see Heaven being opened and the Angels of God as they ascend and descend unto The Son of Man.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Jesus said to Nathanael, "I can guarantee this truth: You will see the sky open and God's angels going up and coming down to the Son of Man."

New American Standard 1977
And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Jubilee Bible 2000
And he said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see the heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

King James 2000 Bible
And he said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter you shall see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

American King James Version
And he said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man.

American Standard Version
And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And he saith to him: Amen, amen I say to you, you shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

Darby Bible Translation
And he says to him, Verily, verily, I say to you, Henceforth ye shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man.

English Revised Version
And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

Webster's Bible Translation
And he saith to him, Verily, verily, I say to you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

Weymouth New Testament
"I tell you all in most solemn truth," He added, "that you shall see Heaven opened wide, and God's angels going up, and coming down to the Son of Man."

World English Bible
He said to him, "Most certainly, I tell you, hereafter you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

Young's Literal Translation
and he saith to him, 'Verily, verily, I say to you, henceforth ye shall see the heaven opened, and the messengers of God going up and coming down upon the Son of Man.'
Study Bible
Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael
50Jesus said to him, “Do you believe just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51Then He declared, “Truly, truly, I say to all of you that you will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Cross References
Genesis 28:12
He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

Ezekiel 1:1
Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

Matthew 3:16
As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. Suddenly the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and resting on Him.

Matthew 8:20
Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head."

Luke 3:21
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as He was praying, heaven was opened,

John 1:50
Jesus said to him, "Do you believe just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these."

Acts 7:56
"Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."

Acts 10:11
He saw heaven open and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.

Revelation 19:11
Then I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse. And its rider is called Faithful and True. With righteousness He judges and wages war.
Treasury of Scripture

And he said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man.

Verily.

John 3:3,5 Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except …

John 5:19,24,25 Then answered Jesus and said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, …

John 6:26,32,47,53 Jesus answered them and said, Truly, truly, I say to you, You seek …

John 8:34,51,58 Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits …

John 10:1,7 Truly, truly, I say to you, He that enters not by the door into the …

John 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the …

John 13:16 Truly, truly, I say to you, The servant is not greater than his lord; …

John 13:20,21,38 Truly, truly, I say to you, He that receives whomsoever I send receives …

John 14:12 Truly, truly, I say to you, He that believes on me, the works that …

John 16:20,23 Truly, truly, I say to you, That you shall weep and lament, but the …

John 21:18 Truly, truly, I say to you, When you were young, you gird yourself, …

Hereafter.

Ezekiel 1:1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in …

Matthew 3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: …

Mark 1:10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, …

Luke 3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus …

Acts 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing …

Acts 10:11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending on him, as …

Revelation 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven…

Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat …

and the.

Genesis 28:12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the …

Daniel 7:9,10 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days …

Matthew 4:11 Then the devil leaves him, and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.

Luke 2:9,13 And, see, the angel of the Lord came on them, and the glory of the …

Luke 22:43 And there appeared an angel to him from heaven, strengthening him.

Luke 24:4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, …

Acts 1:10,11 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, …

2 Thessalonians 1:7,-9 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall …

1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was …

Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for …

Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, …

the Son.

John 3:13,14 And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from …

John 5:27 And has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he …

John 12:23,24 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of …

Daniel 7:13,14 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man …

Zechariah 13:7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is …

Matthew 9:6 But that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive …

Matthew 16:13-16 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his …

Matthew 16:27,28 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his …

Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels …

Matthew 26:24 The Son of man goes as it is written of him…

Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, I am: and you shall see the Son of man sitting on …

Luke 22:69 Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.

(51) Verily, verily.--This is the first use of this formula of doubled words, which is not found in the New Testament outside St. John's Gospel. They are always spoken by our Lord, and connected with some deeper truth, to which they direct attention. They represent, in a reduplicated form, the Hebrew "Amen," which is common in the Old Testament as an adverb, and twice occurs doubled (Numbers 5:22; Nehemiah 8:6). In the Hebraic style of the Apocalypse the word is a proper name of "the faithful and true witness" (Revelation 3:14).,

I say unto you . . . ye shall see.--The earlier words have been addressed to Nathanael. The truth expressed in these holds for all disciples, and is spoken to all who were then present--to Andrew and John and Peter and James (John 1:41) and Philip, as well as to Nathanael.

Hereafter is omitted by several ancient authorities, including the Sinaitic and Vatican MSS., but there is early evidence for the insertion, and as the omission removes a difficulty in the interpretation, it is probably to be traced to this source. If retained, the better rendering is, henceforth, from this time onwards.

Heaven opened.--More exactly, the heaven opened, made and continuing open. The thought was familiar, for Psalmist and Prophet had uttered it to God in the prayers, "Bow Thy heavens, O Lord, and come down" (Psalm 144:5); "O that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that Thou wouldest come down" (Isaiah 64:1). The Presence then before Nathanael was the answer to these longings of the soul.

The angels of God ascending and descending.--Referring again to the history of Jacob (Genesis 28:12-13).

The Son of man.--This is probably the first time that this phrase, which became the ordinary title used by our Lord of Himself, fell from His lips; but it meets us more than seventy times in the earlier Gospels, and has been explained in the Note on Matthew 8:20. It will be enough to observe here that it is suggested by, and is in part opposed to and in part the complement of, the titles used by Nathanael. He could clothe the Messianic idea only in Jewish titles, "Son of God," "King of Israel." The true expression of the idea was not Hebrew, but human, "the Son of Man," "the Word made flesh;" the Son, the true representative of the race, the Second Adam, in whom all are made alive; the Son of Man. The word is ????????, not ????; homo, not vir. It is man as man; not Jew as holier than Greek; not free-man as nobler than bond-man; not man as distinct from woman: but humanity in all space and time and circumstance; in its weakness as in its strength; in its sorrows as in its joys; in its death as in its life. And here lies the explanation of the whole verse. The ladder from earth to heaven is in the truth "The Word was made flesh." In that great truth heaven was, and has remained, opened. From that time onwards messengers were ever going backward and forward between humanity and its God. The cry of every erring and helpless child to its Father for guidance and strength; the silent appeal of the wronged and down-trodden to the All-Just Avenger; the fears and hopes of the soul burdened by the unbearable weight of sin, and casting itself on the mercy of the Eternal Love--all these are borne by messengers who always behold the face of God (Matthew 18:10). And every light that falls upon the path, and strength that nerves the moral frame; every comfort to the heart smarting beneath its wrong; every sense of forgiveness, atonement, peace--all these like angels descend that ladder coming from heaven to earth. Ascending precedes descending, as in the vision of old, Heaven's messengers are ever ready to descend when earth's will bid them come. The revelation of the fullest truth of God is never wanting to the heart that is open to receive it. The ladder is set up upon the earth, but it reaches to heaven, and the Lord stands above it. It goes down to the very depths of man's weakness, wretchedness, and sin; and he may lay hold of it, and step by step ascend it. In the Incarnation, Divinity took human form on earth; in the Ascension, Humanity was raised to heaven.

Verse 51. - And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you. The reduplicated Ἀμὴν occurs twenty-five times in John's Gospel, and is in this form peculiar to the Gospel, although in its single form it occurs fifty times in the three synoptists. The word is, strictly speaking, an adjective, meaning "firm," "trustworthy," corresponding with the substantive אמֶן, truth, and אָמְנָה and אֲמָנָה, confidence, the covenant (Nehemiah 10:1). The repetition of the word in an adverbial sense is found in Numbers 5:22 and Nehemiah 8:6. In Revelation 3:14 "Amen" is the name given to the Faithful Witness. The repetition of the word involves a powerful asseveration, made to overcome a rising doubt and meet a possible objection. The "I say unto you" takes, on the lips of Jesus, the place which "Thus saith the Lord" occupied on those of the ancient prophets. He speaks in the fulness of conscious authority, with the certain knowledge that he is therein making Divine revelation. He knows that he saith true; his word is truth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, [From henceforth] ye shall see the heaven that has been opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. Notwithstanding the formidable superficial difficulty in the common reading, which declares that from the moment when the Lord spake, Nathanael should see what there is no other record that he ever literally saw; yet a deeper pondering of the passage shows the sublime spiritual sense in which those disciples who fully realized that they had been brought into blessed relationship with the "Son of man," saw also - that heaven, the abode of blessedness and righteousness, the throne of God, had been opened behind him and around him. The dream of Jacob is manifestly referred to - the union between heaven and earth, between God and man, which dawned like a vision of a better time upon the old patriarchal life. That which was the dream of a troubled night may now be the constant experience of the disciples of the Lord. The ascension of the angelic ministers is here said to precede their descent. This is due to the original form of the dream of Jacob, but must be supplemented by the Lord's own statement (John 3:13), "No one hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended out of heaven." The free access to the heart of the Father, and to the centre of all authority in heaven and earth, is due only to those who have come already thence, who belong to him, "who go and return as the appearance of a flash of lightning." They ascend with the desires of the Son of man; they descend with all the faculty needed for the fulfilment of those desires. He, "the Son of man," is now on earth to commence his ministry of reconciliation, and is thus now equipped with all the powers needed for its realization. The same truth is taught by our Lord, when he said (cf. notes on John 3:13) that "the Son of man is in heaven," even when he walked the earth. The angelic ministry attendant upon our Lord is so inconspicuous that it does not fulfil the notable description of this verse, nor fill out its suggestions. The miraculous energies, the Divine revelations, the consummate heavenliness of his life, the power which his personality supplied to see and believe in heaven - in heaven opened, heaven near, heaven accessible, heaven propitious, heaven lavish of love - answers to the meaning of the mighty words. Thoma ('Die Genesis des Johannes-Evan.') sees the Johannine interpretation of the angels who ministered to Jesus after the conclusion of his temptation. But why does he call himself "the Son of man," in sharp response to, or in comment, on, the ascription by John the Baptist and Nathanael of the greater title "Son of God" (see Matthew 8:20; Mark 2:28)?

(1) The phrase is one that our Lord currently used for himself, as especially descriptive of his position. It has been said that its origin must be looked for in the prophecies of Daniel (Daniel 7:13), where angelic powers are seen in loving lowly attendance on "one like to the Son of man," one whose human-hearted force contrasts with the "beast forces," the uncouth, sphynx-like blending of animal faculties which characterizes all the kingdoms and dynasties which the empire of the one like the Son of man would supersede. The term, "Son of man," is used repeatedly by Ezekiel for humanity set over against the Divine voice and power. There it corresponds with the Aramaic "Bar-Enosh," Son of man - a simple paraphrasis for "man" in his weakness, and often in his depression and sin. The 'Book of Henoch,' in numerous places, identifies "Son of man" with the Messiah (ch. 46. and 48.), but it cannot be clearly proved that the term was popularly current for the Messiah. Christ seems, in one place, to discriminate the two terms in popular expectation (Matthew 16:13, 16); and in Matthew 8:20 he discriminates his earthly ministry as that of Son of man, from the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, though the dispensation of his human life, and of his eternal Spirit, constitute that of the one Christ.

(2) Another very remarkable fact is that, though Jesus calls himself "the Son of man" no fewer than seventy times, the apostles never attribute the favourite expression to him. The only instances of its use by other than the Lord himself, is by the dying Stephen, who thus describes his power and exalted majesty (Acts 7:56), and John in the Apocalypse, who says the vision of the Lord was of one like unto the Son of man - a phrase clearly built upon the passage in Daniel 7.

(3) The Saviour did not throughout the Gospel of John proclaim himself openly to the people as the Christ, avoiding a term which was so miserably degraded from his own conception of it; but he used a multitude of expressions to denote the spiritual force and significance of the Messianic dignity. Thus he described himself" as he that came down from heaven;" as the "Bread of heaven;" as the "Light of the world;" as "the good Shepherd; .... I am he;" "that which I said from the beginning," etc.; and therefore, when he adopted the phrase, "the Son of man," he attributed to it very special powers and dignities. The word seems to involve the Man, the perfect Man, the ideal Man, the second Adam, the supreme Flower engrafted on the barren stock of humanity, the Representative of the whole of humankind. Chronologically, this must have been the primary revelation. Through humanity that was archetypal and perfect, answering God's idea of man, the thought of the race has risen to a conception of Divine sonship. But metaphysically, logically, he could only fulfil the functions of Son of man, of the Man, because he was essentially the Son of God.

(4) The dominant thought of the term has fluctuated between that which connotes his earthly ministry and humiliation, and lays stress on the privations and sufferings of the Son of man, and that which recites his highest claim to reverence and homage. Seeing that he claims to be the link between heaven and earth, Judge of quick and dead, the Head of the kingdom of God, who will come in his glory, with his holy angels, to divide sheep from goats, etc., as Son of man; and seeing that, as Son of man, he gave himself for a ransom, and was as one that serveth, and presented his flesh and blood as the spiritual food of all that live; - the synthetic thought that issues from the twofold survey is that his highest glory is based upon his entire and utter sympathy with man. His humanity is that which gives him all his hold upon our heart; his sacrifice is his title to universal sovereignty. "He humbled himself to the death of the cross, wherefore God also has highly exalted him, giving even to him [humanity included] THE NAME that is above every name." Archdeacon Watkins, in loco, has called attention to the fact that it is not ἀνήρ, but ἄνθρωπος, "man as man, not Jew as holier than Greek, not freeman as nobler than bondman, not man as distinct from woman, but humanity.... The ladder from earth to heaven is in the truth, 'The Word was made flesh.' In that great truth heaven was and has remained open." The cries of earth, the answers of heaven, are like angels evermore ascending and descending on the Word-made-flesh. It is perfectly true, though in a different sense than that which Thorns adopts it, that this prehistory (vorgeschichte) is the vorgeschichte of Christendom, as of each soul becoming Christian, the different eventualities which lead from one revelation to another betoken the several stations on the blessed pilgrimage (heilsweg). (Cf. Introduction; the excursuses of Godet; Westcott on 'The Son of Man;' Orme's dissertation on 'Sin against the Holy Ghost;' Schaff's note to Lange, on John, in loco; Schmidt, 'Bibl. Theol. N.T.,' pp. 107, etc.; Weiss, 'Bibl. Theol. N.T.,' § 144; Liddon, 'Divinity of Our Lord,' lect. 1; Pearson on the Creed, Oxford edit., p. 122; Andrew Jukes, 'The New Man,' lect. 2: "The Openings of Heaven in the Experience of Christ and of Christians.")



And he saith unto him, verily, verily, I say unto you,.... Not only to Nathanael, but to the rest of the disciples that were then with him; and to show himself to be the "Amen", and faithful witness, as well as more strongly to asseverate what he was about to say, he doubles the expression:

hereafter you shall see heaven open; either in a literal sense, as it had been at his baptism; or, in a mystical sense, that there should be a clearer manifestation of heavenly truths made by his ministry; and that the way into the holiest of all should be made more manifest; and a more familiar intercourse he opened between God and his people; and also between angels and saints:

and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the son of man; or to the son of man, as the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions render it; meaning himself in human nature; the second Adam, and seed of the woman; and is expressive both of the truth, and infirmity of that nature. Reference may here be had to the ladder Jacob dreamed of, in Genesis 28:12, which was a representation of Christ, in his person, as God-man; who, as God, was in heaven, whilst he, as man, was on earth; and in his office, as Mediator between God and man, making peace between them both; and in the ministration of angels to him in person, and to his body the church. And it is observable, that some of the Jewish writers (y) understand the ascent, and descent of the angels, in Genesis 28:12, to be, not upon the ladder, but upon Jacob; which makes the phrase there still more agreeable to this; and so they render in Genesis 28:13, not "above it", but "above him". Or the, sense is, that there would be immediately made such clearer discoveries of his person, and grace by his ministry, and such miracles would be wrought by him in confirmation of it, that it would look as if heaven was open, and the angels of God were continually going to and fro, and bringing fresh messages, and performing miraculous operations; as if the whole host of them were constantly employed in such services: and this the rather seems to be the sense, since the next account we have, is, of the beginning of Christ's miracles to manifest forth his glory in Cana of Galilee, where Nathanael lived; and since the word, rendered "hereafter", signifies, "from henceforward"; or, as the Persic version renders it, "from this hour"; though the word is left out in the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions,

(y) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 68. fol. 61. 2. & sect. 69. fol. 61. 3, 4. 51. Hereafter, etc.—The key to this great saying is Jacob's vision (Ge 28:12-22), to which the allusion plainly is. To show the patriarch that though alone and friendless on earth his interests were busying all heaven, he was made to see "heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon a" mystic "ladder reaching from heaven to earth." "By and by," says Jesus here, "ye shall see this communication between heaven and earth thrown wide open, and the Son of man the real Ladder of this intercourse." 1:43-51 See the nature of true Christianity, it is following Jesus; devoting ourselves to him, and treading in his steps. Observe the objection Nathanael made. All who desire to profit by the word of God, must beware of prejudices against places, or denominations of men. They should examine for themselves, and they will sometimes find good where they looked for none. Many people are kept from the ways of religion by the unreasonable prejudices they conceive. The best way to remove false notions of religion, is to make trial of it. In Nathanael there was no guile. His profession was not hypocritical. He was not a dissembler, nor dishonest; he was a sound character, a really upright, godly man. Christ knows what men are indeed. Does He know us? Let us desire to know him. Let us seek and pray to be Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile; truly Christians, approved of Christ himself. Some things weak, imperfect, and sinful, are found in all, but hypocrisy belongs not to a believer's character. Jesus witnessed what passed when Nathanael was under the fig-tree. Probably he was then in fervent prayer, seeking direction as to the Hope and Consolation of Israel, where no human eye observed him. This showed him that our Lord knew the secrets of his heart. Through Christ we commune with, and benefit by the holy angels; and things in heaven and things on earth are reconciled and united together.
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