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Jesus said in John 3:13 that “no man hath ascended up to heaven”. What does this really mean?

This statement was told to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, who knew his scripture very well. And he did not object to Jesus’ statement by saying—”What about Moses, Elijah and Enoch?” He understood what Christ meant. Let us now try to understand the deeper meaning of this passage.

 John 3:13 “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

There is another passage that begins almost the same way two chapters earlier. It says: John 1:18 “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

But we know Jacob saw “God”. For he said, Genesis 32:30 “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

Moses saw God we are told in the scriptures.

Exodus 33:11 “And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.”

So also did Abraham and many of the Bible patriarchs and prophets saw God! So what does John 1:18 mean?

We understand from other passages of scriptures (1 Corinthians 10:4, etc.) that the “God” that people saw was the “Son” and not the “Father”. Once we understand there is more than one Person in the Godhead the problem becomes simple.

So also we need to know about “heaven”. There is more than one heaven in the Bible. Paul talks about “the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2). And even in the 3rd heaven there are many mansions and rooms the Lord tells us.

John 14:2 “In my Father’s house are many mansions”.

John the revelator saw in visions one of the doors open in heaven. He writes,

Revelation 4:1, 2 “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.”

Yes, we know from scripture that Elijah was taken to heaven. For the Bible says,

2 Kings 2:1 “And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind”.

So also Enoch and Moses were taken (Hebrews 11:5, Jude 1:9 & Matthew 17:3).

But we need to keep in mind that heaven is a big place. And there is the most sacred chamber of God Almighty. We are told there are 24 elders and the 4 living creatures round about the throne along with the angels doing a special ministry. John wrote,

 Revelation 4:4 “And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.”

Revelation 4:6 “And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.”

We are told in Revelation 15 that “no man” will be able to enter the temple of God till the 7 last plagues are completed. John wrote,

Revelation 15:8 “And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.”

When Jesus comes the 2nd time after the 7 last plagues He will take us to the Father’s house and presence.

2000 years back Jesus was presenting to Nicodemus truths about heaven and heavenly things. Only the Son of God could declare such deep truths about God as no one else has been to the very presence of God, like Jesus has!  The word declares,

“The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18).

So if we put all these pieces of information together from the sacred writings we can now easily understand what Jesus must have meant when He told Nicodemus about no man ascending into heaven.

John 3:12, 13 “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

Yes, no man has ascended to heaven in the sense of ascending to the very presence of God where Jesus ascends and sits along with Him! “Heaven” in this context must mean “the throne of God” or “the most holy place”, the heart of heaven!