Only One Has Ascended to Heaven?

Did the Lord Jesus Christ for­get about Eli­jah being tak­en upwards into Heav­en by way of whirl­wind when He stat­ed that no man has ascend­ed to Heav­en? Skep­tics of the Bible undoubt­ed­ly see this as a fac­tu­al con­tra­dic­tion in the bib­li­cal text, thus under­min­ing the verac­i­ty of the scrip­tures or the Deity of Jesus Christ. 

  • Then it hap­pened, as they con­tin­ued on and talked, that sud­den­ly a char­i­ot of fire appeared with hors­es of fire, and sep­a­rat­ed the two of them; and Eli­jah went up by a whirl­wind into heav­en. 2 Kings 2:11, NKJV
  • “No one has ascend­ed to heav­en but He who came down from heav­en, that is, the Son of Man who is in heav­en.” John 3:13, NKJV

The issue, as you can see, is sim­ple: Did Jesus err in explain­ing to Nicode­mus, “No one has ascend­ed to heav­en…”? With­out a prop­er under­stand­ing of the con­text at hand, it is easy to slip into the realm of doubt along­side the skep­tics mak­ing this accu­sa­tion against the scriptures.

Jesus is not talk­ing about those who have been tak­en to Heav­en bod­i­ly (Enoch, Moses, Eli­jah). Such events were not in view here, for the issue at hand was one com­ing from Heav­en to teach heav­en­ly things: “If I have told you earth­ly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heav­en­ly things?” says the verse pre­ced­ing out text above in John 3.

The issue of hav­ing some­one go to Heav­en to bring back heav­en­ly wis­dom has faced God’s peo­ple for thou­sands of years, and we see in Deuteron­o­my 30:11,12 that, “For this com­mand­ment which I com­mand you today is not too mys­te­ri­ous for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heav­en, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heav­en for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ ” (NKJV).

It is along this vein that John 1:18 rests: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begot­ten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (NKJV).

So we see that no man has ever gone to Heav­en for the pur­pose of return­ing with wis­dom. How­ev­er, we have the Son of God com­ing down from Heav­en as the man Christ Jesus, declar­ing heav­en­ly things.

When Jesus’ words in John 3:13 are under­stood in the con­text in which they appear, the “con­tra­dic­tion” dis­ap­pears. Praise the Lord that His word is perfect!

Updat­ed to fix entry title.

2 thoughts on “Only One Has Ascended to Heaven?”

  1. This might be out there — but per­haps Jesus meant no one has ascend­ed to heav­en by his own pow­er. Jesus was talk­ing to Nicode­mus about humil­i­ty and becom­ing a child again, mean­ing that one can­not get to God except through sim­ple faith (aka not by works). In that regard, only Jesus as sin­less and God him­self could have ascend­ed by his own volition.

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Rick Beckman