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Whenever we come across a difficult passage we need to look at the context more closely. A difficult passage is one that seems to contradict the plain teachings of Scripture found elsewhere.

We know from Scripture about the translation of Enoch and Elijah into Heaven without seeing death.

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him. (Hebrews 11:5)

And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. (2 Kings 2:11)

So what was Jesus saying to Nicodemus actually? Christ talked to the ruler of the Jews about being born again. And Nicodemus was unable to grasp the true meaning of it because he took it literally. He replied:

How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? (John 3:4)

We might feel he was quite foolish for not understanding the actual meaning of these words of Christ. He got into a mess because he took it literally! And aren’t most of the people today like Nicodemus, getting into a mess again, by taking the other part of the dialogue literally? The other part is:

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

What did Christ mean by this? For sure it cannot mean that no man has ascended to Heaven, as we have seen at least Enoch and Elijah did. Let us look at the context.

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. (John 3:11)

One can “testify” only what he has “seen”, and what he knows.

Jesus continued:

If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? (John 3:12)

Christ was qualified to testify about “heavenly things” because He has seen it, having come from there! He said to a group of Jews elsewhere:

Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. (John 8:23)

(Of Course, He was not just from Heaven, but the Lord, the Creator of Heaven and earth!)

There is no one who can teach about Heaven like Christ because He was the only one come from Heaven! The prophets, who have seen Heaven, saw it only in visions. And if they had authority to speak about Heaven because of what was revealed to them, how much more Christ could speak about Heaven and spiritual things having been the only Person come down from there! In that context He told Nicodemus:

And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. (John 3:11-13)

Enoch and Elijah, for instance, after they ascended to Heaven did not come back to teach the people about Heaven. They ascended to Heaven but did not come back to “testify” to man what they have “seen”. Yes, Elijah and Moses come back, but only spoke to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, and to no one else (Matthew 17:1-5). For sure they did not come to tell Jesus what Heaven is like, for Jesus was from Heaven! And the phrase, “The Son of man which is in Heaven” (John 3:13) simply means Christ belongs to Heaven, He has come from Heaven, and is going to Heaven. That is His place! He also said on another occasion:

I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. (John 16:28)

Nicodemus did not argue with Christ (as he did about being born again,) when Christ told him “No man has ascended to Heaven,” because he knew what Christ meant!