John 3:13
And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) And no man hath ascended up.—There can be no other means of receiving heavenly truth. No man hath learnt it, and is able to teach it, except the Son of Man, who ever was, and is, in heaven. The thought has met us before (John 1:18). To Nicodemus it must have come as an answer to the words of Agur, which had passed into a proverb to express the vanity of human effort to know God. “Who hath ascended up into heaven or descended?. . . . What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?” (Proverbs 30:4). No man had so passed to heaven and returned again to earth; but there was One then speaking with him who had been in heaven with God, and could tell him its eternal truths. He had that knowledge which a man could obtain only by ascending to heaven, and He came down from heaven with it. From the human point of view He was as one who had already ascended and descended. (Comp. Note on John 1:51.) This is the evident meaning of the sentence, and the form is quite consistent with it. To explain the perfect tense of the future ascension, or to introduce the idea of the “hypostatic union,” by virtue of which the human nature may be said to have ascended into heaven with the divine, is, to give an explanation, not of the text, but of a misunderstanding of it. (But comp. John 6:62.)

Which is in heaven.—These words are omitted in some MSS., including the Sinaitic and the Vatican. The judgment of most modern editors (not including Westcott and Hort) retains them. It is an instance where it is hard to account for the insertion by a copyist, but where the omission is not unlikely, owing to their seeming difficulty. And yet the difficulty is one which vanishes before the true idea of heaven. If heaven is thought of as a place infinitely distant beyond clouds and sky, or as a time in the far future when this world’s life shall end, then it is indeed hard to understand what is here meant by “the Son of Man which is in heaven;” and a copyist may well have found in omission the easiest solution of the difficulty. But if heaven is something wholly different from this coldness of distance in space or time; if it is a state, a life, in which we are, which is in us—now in part, hereafter in its fulness—then may we understand and with glad hearts hold to the vital truth that the Son of Man, who came down from heaven, was ever in heaven; and that every son of man who is born of water and of the Spirit is “made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor (in the present, κληρονόμος) of the kingdom of heaven.”

3:1-8 Nicodemus was afraid, or ashamed to be seen with Christ, therefore came in the night. When religion is out of fashion, there are many Nicodemites. But though he came by night, Jesus bid him welcome, and hereby taught us to encourage good beginnings, although weak. And though now he came by night, yet afterward he owned Christ publicly. He did not talk with Christ about state affairs, though he was a ruler, but about the concerns of his own soul and its salvation, and went at once to them. Our Saviour spoke of the necessity and nature of regeneration or the new birth, and at once directed Nicodemus to the source of holiness of the heart. Birth is the beginning of life; to be born again, is to begin to live anew, as those who have lived much amiss, or to little purpose. We must have a new nature, new principles, new affections, new aims. By our first birth we were corrupt, shapen in sin; therefore we must be made new creatures. No stronger expression could have been chosen to signify a great and most remarkable change of state and character. We must be entirely different from what we were before, as that which begins to be at any time, is not, and cannot be the same with that which was before. This new birth is from heaven, ch. 1:13, and its tendency is to heaven. It is a great change made in the heart of a sinner, by the power of the Holy Spirit. It means that something is done in us, and for us, which we cannot do for ourselves. Something is wrong, whereby such a life begins as shall last for ever. We cannot otherwise expect any benefit by Christ; it is necessary to our happiness here and hereafter. What Christ speak, Nicodemus misunderstood, as if there had been no other way of regenerating and new-moulding an immortal soul, than by new-framing the body. But he acknowledged his ignorance, which shows a desire to be better informed. It is then further explained by the Lord Jesus. He shows the Author of this blessed change. It is not wrought by any wisdom or power of our own, but by the power of the blessed Spirit. We are shapen in iniquity, which makes it necessary that our nature be changed. We are not to marvel at this; for, when we consider the holiness of God, the depravity of our nature, and the happiness set before us, we shall not think it strange that so much stress is laid upon this. The regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is compared to water. It is also probable that Christ had reference to the ordinance of baptism. Not that all those, and those only, that are baptized, are saved; but without that new birth which is wrought by the Spirit, and signified by baptism, none shall be subjects of the kingdom of heaven. The same word signifies both the wind and the Spirit. The wind bloweth where it listeth for us; God directs it. The Spirit sends his influences where, and when, on whom, and in what measure and degree, he pleases. Though the causes are hidden, the effects are plain, when the soul is brought to mourn for sin, and to breathe after Christ. Christ's stating of the doctrine and the necessity of regeneration, it should seem, made it not clearer to Nicodemus. Thus the things of the Spirit of God are foolishness to the natural man. Many think that cannot be proved, which they cannot believe. Christ's discourse of gospel truths, ver. 11-13, shows the folly of those who make these things strange unto them; and it recommends us to search them out. Jesus Christ is every way able to reveal the will of God to us; for he came down from heaven, and yet is in heaven. We have here a notice of Christ's two distinct natures in one person, so that while he is the Son of man, yet he is in heaven. God is the HE THAT IS, and heaven is the dwelling-place of his holiness. The knowledge of this must be from above, and can be received by faith alone. Jesus Christ came to save us by healing us, as the children of Israel, stung with fiery serpents, were cured and lived by looking up to the brazen serpent, Nu 21:6-9. In this observe the deadly and destructive nature of sin. Ask awakened consciences, ask damned sinners, they will tell you, that how charming soever the allurements of sin may be, at the last it bites like a serpent. See the powerful remedy against this fatal malady. Christ is plainly set forth to us in the gospel. He whom we offended is our Peace, and the way of applying for a cure is by believing. If any so far slight either their disease by sin, or the method of cure by Christ, as not to receive Christ upon his own terms, their ruin is upon their own heads. He has said, Look and be saved, look and live; lift up the eyes of your faith to Christ crucified. And until we have grace to do this, we shall not be cured, but still are wounded with the stings of Satan, and in a dying state. Jesus Christ came to save us by pardoning us, that we might not die by the sentence of the law. Here is gospel, good news indeed. Here is God's love in giving his Son for the world. God so loved the world; so really, so richly. Behold and wonder, that the great God should love such a worthless world! Here, also, is the great gospel duty, to believe in Jesus Christ. God having given him to be our Prophet, Priest, and King, we must give up ourselves to be ruled, and taught, and saved by him. And here is the great gospel benefit, that whoever believes in Christ, shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and so saving it. It could not be saved, but through him; there is no salvation in any other. From all this is shown the happiness of true believers; he that believeth in Christ is not condemned. Though he has been a great sinner, yet he is not dealt with according to what his sins deserve. How great is the sin of unbelievers! God sent One to save us, that was dearest to himself; and shall he not be dearest to us? How great is the misery of unbelievers! they are condemned already; which speaks a certain condemnation; a present condemnation. The wrath of God now fastens upon them; and their own hearts condemn them. There is also a condemnation grounded on their former guilt; they are open to the law for all their sins; because they are not by faith interested in the gospel pardon. Unbelief is a sin against the remedy. It springs from the enmity of the heart of man to God, from love of sin in some form. Read also the doom of those that would not know Christ. Sinful works are works of darkness. The wicked world keep as far from this light as they can, lest their deeds should be reproved. Christ is hated, because sin is loved. If they had not hated saving knowledge, they would not sit down contentedly in condemning ignorance. On the other hand, renewed hearts bid this light welcome. A good man acts truly and sincerely in all he does. He desires to know what the will of God is, and to do it, though against his own worldly interest. A change in his whole character and conduct has taken place. The love of God is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost, and is become the commanding principle of his actions. So long as he continues under a load of unforgiven guilt, there can be little else than slavish fear of God; but when his doubts are done away, when he sees the righteous ground whereon this forgiveness is built, he rests on it as his own, and is united to God by unfeigned love. Our works are good when the will of God is the rule of them, and the glory of God the end of them; when they are done in his strength, and for his sake; to him, and not to men. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a subject to which the world is very averse; it is, however, the grand concern, in comparison with which every thing else is but trifling. What does it signify though we have food to eat in plenty, and variety of raiment to put on, if we are not born again? if after a few mornings and evenings spent in unthinking mirth, carnal pleasure, and riot, we die in our sins, and lie down in sorrow? What does it signify though we are well able to act our parts in life, in every other respect, if at last we hear from the Supreme Judge, Depart from me, I know you not, ye workers of iniquity?And no man hath ascended into heavens - No man, therefore, is qualified to speak of heavenly things, John 3:12. To speak of those things requires intimate acquaintance with them - demands that we have seen them; and as no one has ascended into heaven and returned, so no one is qualified to speak of them but He who came down from heaven. This does not mean that no one had Gone to heaven or had been saved, for Enoch and Elijah had been borne there (Genesis 5:24; compare Hebrews 11:5; 2 Kings 2:11); and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and others were there: but it means that no one had ascended and "returned," so as to be qualified to speak of the things there.

But he that came down ... - The Lord Jesus. He is represented as coming down, because, being equal with God, he took upon himself our nature, John 1:14; Philippians 2:6-7. He is represented as "sent" by the Father, John 3:17, John 3:34; Galatians 4:4; 1 John 4:9-10.

The Son of man - Called thus from his being "a man;" from his interest in man; and as expressive of his regard for man. It is a favorite title which the Lord Jesus gives to himself.

Which is in Heaven - This is a very remarkable expression. Jesus, the Son of man, was then bodily on earth conversing with Nicodemus; yet he declares that he is "at the same time" in heaven. This can be understood only as referring to the fact that he had two natures that his "divine nature" was in heaven, and his "human nature" on earth. Our Saviour is frequently spoken of in this manner. Compare John 6:62; John 17:5; 2 Corinthians 8:9. Since Jesus was "in" heaven - as his proper abode was there - he was fitted to speak of heavenly things, and to declare the will of God to man And we may learn:

1. that the truth about the deep things of God is not to be learned from "men." No one has ascended to heaven and returned to tell us what is there; and no infidel, no mere man, no prophet, is qualified of himself to speak of them.

2. that all the light which we are to expect on those subjects is to be sought in the Scriptures. It is only Jesus and his inspired apostles and evangelists that can speak of those things.

3. It is not wonderful that some things in the Scriptures are mysterious. They are about things which we have not seen, and we must receive them on the "testimony" of one who has seen them.

4. The Lord Jesus is divine. He was in heaven while on earth. He had, therefore, a nature far above the human, and is equal with the Father, John 1:1.

13. no man hath ascended, &c.—There is something paradoxical in this language—"No one has gone up but He that came down, even He who is at once both up and down." Doubtless it was intended to startle and constrain His auditor to think that there must be mysterious elements in His Person. The old Socinians, to subvert the doctrine of the pre-existence of Christ, seized upon this passage as teaching that the man Jesus was secretly caught up to heaven to receive His instructions, and then "came down from heaven" to deliver them. But the sense manifestly is this: "The perfect knowledge of God is not obtained by any man's going up from earth to heaven to receive it—no man hath so ascended—but He whose proper habitation, in His essential and eternal nature, is heaven, hath, by taking human flesh, descended as the Son of man to disclose the Father, whom He knows by immediate gaze alike in the flesh as before He assumed it, being essentially and unchangeably 'in the bosom of the Father'" (Joh 1:18). No man hath so ascended up to heaven, as to know the secret will and counsels of God, for of such an ascending it must be meant; otherwise, Elijah ascended up to heaven before our Saviour ascended. Thus the phrase is supposed to be used, Proverbs 30:4. None but Christ (who as to his Divine nature came down from heaven) hath ever so ascended thither;

even the Son of man, who was in heaven; we translate it is, but the participle wn is of the preter imperfect tense, as well as the present tense: or, who is in heaven, by virtue of the personal union of the two natures in the Redeemer; as we read. Acts 20:28, the church, which he hath purchased with his own blood. By reason of the personal union of the two natures in Christ, though the properties of each nature remain distinct, yet the properties of each nature are sometimes attributed to the whole person. The Lutherans have another notion, ascribing an omnipresence even to the human nature of Christ, because of its personal union with the Divine nature; and so affirm that Christ’s human nature, while it was on earth, was also substantially in heaven; as, on the other side, they are as stiff in maintaining that, although Christ’s human nature be now in heaven, yet it is also on earth, really and essentially present wherever the sacrament of the Lord’s supper is administered; but this is to ascribe a body unto Christ which is indeed no body, according to any notion we have of a body. And no man hath ascended into heaven,.... Though Enoch and Elias had, yet not by their own power, nor in the sense our Lord designs; whose meaning is, that no man had, or could go up to heaven, to bring from thence the knowledge of divine and heavenly things; in which sense the phrase is used in Deuteronomy 30:12, and which may be illustrated by John 1:18; wherefore inasmuch as Nicodemus had acknowledged Christ to he a teacher come from God, our Lord, would have him know, that he was the only teacher of heavenly things, as being the only person that had been in heaven, and in the bosom of the Father; and therefore, if he, and the rest of the Jews, did not receive instructions from him, they must for ever remain ignorant; for there never had been, nor was, nor could be, any mere man that could go up to heaven, and learn the mysteries of God, and of the kingdom of heaven, and return and instruct men in them:

but he that came down from heaven; meaning himself, who is the Lord from heaven, and came from thence to do the will of God by preaching the Gospel, working miracles, obeying the law, and suffering death in the room of his people, and thereby obtaining eternal redemption for them. Not that he brought down from heaven with him, either the whole of his human nature, or a part of it; either an human soul, or an human body; nor did he descend locally, by change of place, he being God omnipresent, infinite and immense, but by assumption of the human nature into union with his divine person:

even the son of man which is in heaven; at the same time he was then on earth: not that he was in heaven in his human nature, and as he was the son of man; but in his divine nature, as he was the Son of God; see John 1:18; though this is predicated of his person, as denominated from the human nature, which was proper to him only in his divine nature; for such is omnipresence, or to be in heaven and earth at the same time: just as on the other hand God is said to purchase the church with his blood, and the Lord of glory is said to be crucified, Acts 20:28, where those things are spoken of Christ, as denominated from his divine nature, which were proper only to his human nature; and is what divines call a communication of idioms or properties; and which will serve as a key to open all such passages of Scripture: and now as a proof of our Lord's having been in heaven, and of his being a teacher come from God, and such an one as never was, or can be, he opens and explains a type respecting himself, in the following verse.

And no {k} man {l} hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even {m} the Son of man which {n} is in heaven.

(k) Only Christ can teach us heavenly things, for no man ascends, etc.

(l) That is, has any spiritual light and understanding, or ever had any, but only the Son of God who came down to us.

(m) Whereas he is said to have come down from heaven, this must be understood as referring to his Godhead, and of the manner of his conception: for Christ's birth upon the earth was heavenly and not earthly, for he was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

(n) That which is proper to the divinity of Christ, is here spoken of the whole Christ, to show us that he is but one person in which two natures are united.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 3:13. “And no other than I can reveal to you heavenly things.” This is what Jesus means, if we rightly take His words, not an assertion of His divinity as the first of the heavenly things (Hengstenberg), which would make the negative form of expression quite inexplicable. Comp. John 1:18, John 6:46.

The καὶ is simply continuative in its force, not antithetic (Knapp, Olshausen), nor furnishing a basis, or explanatory of the motive (Beza, Tholuck; Lücke, Lange).

οὐδεὶς ἀναβέβηκεν, κ.τ.λ.] which, on account of the perfect tense, obviously cannot refer to the actual ascension of Christ[158] (against Augustine, Beda, Theophylact, Rupertus, Calovius, Bengel, etc.); nor does it give any support to the unscriptural raptus in coelum of the Socinians (see Oeder ad Catech. Racov. p. 348 ff.); nor is it to be explained by the unio hypostatica of Christ’s human nature with the divine, by virtue of which the former may be said to have entered into heaven (Calovius, Maldonatus, Steinfass, and others). It is usually understood in a figurative sense, as meaning a spiritual elevation of the soul to God in order to knowledge of divine things, a coming to the perception of divine mysteries, which thus were brought down, as it were, by Christ from heaven (see of late especially Beyschlag); to support which, reference is made to Deuteronomy 30:12, Proverbs 30:4, Bar 3:29, Romans 10:6-7. But this is incorrect, because Christ brought along with Him out of His pre-existent state His immediate knowledge of divine things (John 3:11; John 1:18; John 8:26, al.), and possesses it in uninterrupted fellowship with the Father; consequently the figurative method of representation, that during His earthly life He brought down this knowledge through having been raised up into heaven, would be inappropriate and strange. Ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρ. καταβ. also must be taken literally, of an actual descent; and there is therefore nothing in the context to warrant our taking ἀναβ. εἰς τ. οὐρ. symbolically. Hengstenberg rightly renders the words literally, but at the end of the verse he would complete the sense by adding, “who will ascend up into heaven.” This in itself is arbitrary, and not at all what we should look for in John; it is not in keeping with the connection, and would certainly not have been understood as a matter of course by a person like Nicodemus, though it were the point of the declaration: consequently it could not fitly be suppressed, and least of all as a saying concerning the future. Godet does not get beyond the explanation of essential communion with God on the part of Jesus from the time of His birth. The only rendering true to the words is simply this: Instead of saying, “No one has been in heaven except,” etc., Jesus says, as this could only have happened to any other by his ascending thither, “No one has ascended into heaven except,” etc.; and thus the εἰ μή refers to an actual existence in heaven, which is implied in the ἀναβέβηκεν. And thus Jansenius rightly renders: Nullus hominum in coelo fuit, quod ascendendo fieri solet, ut ibi coelestia contemplaretur, nisi, etc.; and of late Fritzsche the elder in his Novis opusc. p. 230; and now also Tholuck, and likewise Holtzmann in Hilgenfield’s Zeitschr. 1865, p. 222.

ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρ. καταβάς] which took place by means of the incarnation. These words, like ὁ ὢν ἐν τ. οὐρ., are argumentative, for they necessarily imply the fact of existence in heaven; but ὁ ὢν, which must be taken as an attributive definition of ὁ υἱὸς τ. ἀνθρ., and not as belonging to καταβάς, and therefore taking the article, cannot be equivalent to ὃς ἦν (Luthardt; Hofmman, I. 134; Weiss, etc.), as if ποτε, τὸ πρότερον or the like were there, but is equivalent to ὅς ἐστι, whose existence is in heaven, who has there His proper abode, His home.[159]

ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρ.] Messianic designation which Christ applies to Himself, in harmony with the fulfilment of the prophetic representation in Daniel 7:13, which began with the καταβάς (comp. on John 1:51). Nicodemus could understand this only by means of a fuller development of faith and knowledge.

[158] So also Weizsäcker, who assumes that we have here an experience belonging to the apostolic age, carried back and placed in the mouth of Christ. An anachronism which would amount to literary carelessness.

[159] Nonnus: ἀστερόεντι μελάθρῳ πάτριον οὖδας ἔχων.—John 9:25 is similar: τυφλὸς ὤν: blind from one’s birth. Schleie macher refers the coming down from heaven to the conception of His mission, and the being in heaven to the continuity of His God-consciousness. See e.g. his Leben Jesu, p. 287 ff.

Note.

According to Beyschlag, p. 99 ff., this verse is utterly opposed to the derivation of Christ’s higher knowledge from the recollection of a pre-existent life in heaven. But we must bear in mind, (1) that the notion of an ascent to God to attain a knowledge of His mysteries (which Beyschlag considers the only right explanation) never occurs in the N. T. with reference to Jesus—a circumstance which would surprise us, especially in John, if it had been declared by Jesus Himself. But it was not declared by Him, because He has it not, but knows His knowledge to be the gift of His Father which accompanied Him in His mission (John 10:36). (2) He could not have claimed such an ascent to heaven for Himself alone, for a like ascent, though not in equal degree, must belong to other men of God. He must, therefore, at least have expressed Himself comparatively: οὐδεὶς οὓτως ἀναβέβηκεν ἐ. τ. οὐρ. ὡς ὁ, κ.τ.λ. Even the church now sings:

“Rise, rise, my soul, and stretch Thy wings

Towards heaven, Thy native place.”

But something distinct and more than this was the case with Christ, viz. as to the past, that He had His existence in heaven, and had come down therefrom; and as to His earthly presence, that He is in heaven.John 3:13. καὶ οὐδεὶς ἀναβέβηκενκαταβάς. The connection is: You have not believed earthly things, much less will you believe those which are heavenly; for not only are they in their own nature more difficult to understand, but there is none to testify of them save only that One who came down out of heaven. The sentence may be paraphrased thus: No one has gone up to heaven and by dwelling there gained a knowledge of the heavenly things: One only has dwelt there and is able to communicate that knowledge—He, viz., who has come down from heaven. “Presence in heaven” is considered to be the ground and qualification for communicating trustworthy information regarding “heavenly things”. Direct knowledge and personal experience of heavenly things alone justify authoritative declarations about them; as in earthly things one may expect to be believed if he can say, “we speak that we do know and testify that we have seen”. But this “presence in heaven” Jesus declares to be the qualification exclusively of one person. This person He describes as “He that came down out of heaven,” adding as a further description “the Son of Man” [who is in heaven]. This description identifies this person as Jesus Himself. He claims therefore to have a unique qualification for the declaration of truth about heavenly things, and this qualification consists in this, that He and He alone has had direct perception of heavenly things. He has been in heaven. By “heaven” it is not a locality that is indicated, but that condition which is described in the prologue as πρὸς τὸν θεόν. And when He speaks of coming down out of heaven He can only mean manifesting Himself to those who are on that lower level from which they had not been able to ascend to the knowledge of heavenly things. In short, we have here the basis in Christ’s own words of the statement in the prologue that the Word was in the beginning with God, and became flesh to be a light to men. Why is ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου introduced? It identifies the person spoken of, and it suggests that He who alone had the knowledge of heavenly things now wore human nature, was accessible, and was there for the purpose of communicating this knowledge. The words added in the T.R., ὁ ὢν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, affirm that although He had come out of heaven He was still in it, and they show that a condition of being, not a locality, was meant by “heaven”.13. no man hath ascended up to heaven] No man has been in heaven, so as to see and know these heavenly things, excepting Christ.

came down from heaven] Literally, out of heaven; at the Incarnation. On ‘the Son of Man’ see on John 1:51.

which is in heaven] These words are omitted in the best MSS. If they are retained, the meaning is ‘Whose proper home is heaven.’ Or the Greek participle may be the imperfect tense (comp. John 6:62, John 9:25, John 17:5), which was in heaven before the Incarnation. It is doubtful whether in this verse we have any direct allusion to the Ascension, though this is sometimes assumed.John 3:13. Καί) And; you will see this is properly set down, if you change the interrogation at John 3:12, with some little time’s reflection, into an absolute [categorical] form of expression. In the preceding and present verse we are marked [characterized] as of ourselves aliens to heaven. Without reposing faith in My words and in Myself, saith Jesus, ye cannot understand or attain to heavenly things. The antecedent is put for the consequent. Similarly καί, and, is used ch. John 12:35, “Lest darkness come upon you; for he that walketh,” etc. [καὶ ὁ περιπατῶν. The conjunction for the relative, in which darkness he who walketh].—οὐδείς) no man sprung on the earth. Angels evidently are not excluded: ch. John 1:51. Believers do not ascend, but are drawn by the Ascending [Saviour] after Himself, whom they have put on in their baptism. [Hence appears the indispensable need of faith.—V. g.]—εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, to heaven) He most especially speaks of the heaven of the Divine majesty.—εἰ μή, unless) Here, having changed the past time of the verb ἀναβέβηκεν, hath ascended, into the future, understand ἀναβήσεται, shall ascend: comp. ch. John 6:62, “What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before?” Nowhere before His passion has the Lord spoken more clearly concerning His ascension, than in this passage, and in its parallel, ch. John 6:62; where similarly He adduces His ascension, as something much more difficult to be believed than those things were, which were then seeming so incredible to His hearers. On the whole, the two discourses, ch. 3 and 6, have a great similarity to one another; and the one treats of the rise, the other of the nourishment of the new life, [each alike] breathing altogether of heavenly things. The objection made to the Saviour is as to the how, τὸ πῶς. He [on the other hand] insists on the whence, and the whither [quorsum, whitherwards the new birth tends].—ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς, He who descends from heaven) The Son of man, having assumed human nature, whereas He had previously been in heaven as the Son of God, began to be on earth. Therefore That One, saith Jesus of Himself, can of Himself ascend, and will ascend to heaven. Proverbs 30:4, “Who hath ascended up to heaven, or descended?—What is His name, and what is His Son’s name?”—ὁ ὤν) who was in heaven, and, before the creation of the heavens, [was] with God: ch. John 1:1, notes. Thus, we may see, He both descended and will ascend. Comp. evidently ἦν, was, ch. John 6:62, “Where He was before:” so ὤν, who was [in the bosom of the Father: not which is, Engl. Vers.], ch. John 1:18. Frequently ὤν is used of the imperfect time: ch. John 9:25, “Whereas I was blind,” τυφλὸς ὤν, John 19:38, “Being a disciple” [i.e. who was a disciple]; Luke 24:44, “I spake whilst I was yet with you,” ἔτι ὤν; 2 Corinthians 8:9, “Though He was rich,—He became,” etc., πλούσιος ὤν. So ὤν in this passage is interpreted by Raphelius in his Appendix annot. from Herodotus, p. 682. Nor is he alone in this interpretation.Verses 13-15. -

(2) The truth concerning the Son of man and his sacrifice. Verse 13. - And. The simple copula is here fuller significance. Olshausen regards it as "adversative," equivalent to "yet." Meyer, as a simple continuation of the previous statement. The καὶ has more than a mere conjunctive force. Lance puts it thus: "And yet you must be told heavenly things by him who, being the Heavenly One, is himself the first subject of this revelation." No one hath ascended into heaven. The past tense must be honestly considered. The word cannot refer to the future ascension of Jesus the Lord of glory to where he was before - to the glory which he had with the Father before the world was (John 17:5); nor can it refer, as the Socinian interpreters supposed, to a rapture into heaven of the Divine Man between his baptism and temptation (Socini 'Opera,' 2:511, 610, quoted by J.P. Smith, 'Scripture Testimony to the Messiah,' 2, pp. 103-117), of which we have not the faintest trace either in Scripture or tradition; nor is it sufficient, with Hengstenberg and others, to regard it as a mere Hebraism for high and exalted intercourse with God and heavenly things. True, there have been many who have sought to climb the steep ascent (Genesis 11:4; Isaiah 14:13); true also that rabbis spoke of Moses having "ascended into the heavens," by which (says Whitby) they meant "admission to the Divine counsels." The authority on which he depends is the late 'Targum on Cantic. 1:5, 11, 12,' by which, however, all that is clear is that the Targnmist was referring to the ascent of Moses to the top of Sinai, i.e. above the multitude in the deserts, to the place whither Jehovah came to speak with him. But Exodus 20:22, the canonical Scripture, makes it clear that it was "from the heavens" that Jehovah spoke with his servant. There are, however, other passages quoted by Schottgen from Jerusalem Targum on Deuteronomy 30:12, and from the 'Mishna,' in which Moses is said to have "ascended into heaven, and heard the voice of God;" but further inquiry leads us to judge that the Hebrew commentators were thinking of the going up to Sinai for his lofty revelations, and their followers have supposed that this process was a synonym of the revelations themselves. Many have thought to rise above the world to the beatific vision, but Jesus says none have done it in the only sense in which they would have been thereby fitted to discourse on the heavenly things. Two things are needed for this in the main - to be in heaven, and come thence charged with its Divine communications. Enoch, Elijah, may have been translated that they should not see death, but they are not so lifted into the abode of God that they might come thence charged with heavenly truth, and able to explain the "how" of Divine grace. No one hath ascended into heaven except he who has by living there as in his eternal home come down from heaven. Meyer, Luthardt, Westcott, etc., all call attention to other and analogous usage of εἰ μὴ, which fastens upon a part of the previous negative, not the whole assertion, and therefore here upon the idea of living in heaven and coming thence (Matthew 12:4; Luke 4:26, 27; Galatians 1:7). Man, if he should presume to come with a full revelation of Divine and heavenly things, must come down from a height to which he had previously ascended; but no man has thus and for this purpose ascended, except he who has descended from heaven, having been there before his manifestation in the flesh, having been "in God." "with God," "in the bosom of the Father," and having come thence, not losing his essential ego, his Divine personality, even though calling himself the Son of man. For any other to have come down from heaven, it was necessary that he should first have ascended thither; but the Son of man has descended without having ascended. He calls himself "Son of man," and he claims to have come down from heaven without ceasing to be what he was before. Godet urges that, by the "ascended into heaven," he meant such lofty communion with God and immediate knowledge of Divine things as to differentiate him from all others, but that the phrase, "come down from heaven," implies previous existence in his native place, and that the Lord's filial intimacy with God rests on his essential sonship. Still, he conceives that Jesus asserts his own ascension in the spiritual sense to the heart of God, and his descent with consequent resultant knowledge, and expounds both statements by the explanation that as Son of man he is living the twofold life in heaven and on earth at the same time. By using the term, "Son of man," Christ emphasized the exalted dignity that is involved in the extent of his self-humiliation,, and complete sympathy with us. He was the second Adam, the Lord from heaven." Who is (not was) in heaven. If this be only an early gloss, it throws light on the two previous clauses. It declares that, though he came down, and though his introduction to this world was an incarnation, yet that he is in the deepest sense still in heaven. Such language is a vindication of his claim to reveal heavenly things. Augustine says, "Ecce hic erat et in coelo erat, hic erat in carne, in coelo erat divinitate, natus de matre, non recedens a Patre." Again, "Si Paulus ambulabat in carne in terra et conversabatur in coelo, Deus coeli et terrae poterat esse et in coelo et in terra." Archdeacon Watkins says admirably, "If heaven is a state, a life, in which we are, which is in us, now in part, hereafter in its fulness, then we may understand, and with glad hearts hold to, the vital truth that the Son of man who came down from heaven was ever in heaven." And (καὶ)

Note the simple connective particle, with nothing to indicate the logical sequence of the thought.

Hath ascended

Equivalent to hath been in. Jesus says that no one has been in heaven except the Son of man who came down out of heaven; because no man could be in heaven without having ascended thither.

Which is in heaven

Many authorities omit.

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