John 3:10-13

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by The Biblicist, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
    11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
    12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
    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.


    The context for verse 13 is introduced by acknowledging that Nicodemus is a "master of Israel" but ignorant of things he should not have been qualified to speak about but can't because he has never experienced new birth.

    Verses 11-13 provide in direct contrast the unique qualifications of Christ to teach about heavenly things on earth to men because of he has EXPERIENCED such things. So the contrast is between Nicodemus and Christ both Masters of the scriptures but Nicodemus is not qualified due to a lack of experience versus Christ is qualified to teach men heavenly things based upon experience of what he is teaching.

    The contextual issue is that Christ is uniquely qualified to teach BOTH earthly and heavenly things to men ON EARTH (v. 12) due to three specifics that no other human can claim then, now or ever. Verse 13 is designed to substantiate his claim in verse 12. His claim in verse 12 is that he is qualified to teach heavenly things ON EARTH TO MEN. That is the contextual basis for verse 13.

    1. He has already ascended into heaven BEFORE his resurrection and ascension later in Acts 1:9-11.

    2. He has already come down from heaven by his incarnation

    3. He "is" in heaven by His Divine omnipresence as He speaks.

    So he has ALREADY been up and down and still "is" in heaven and it is this three-fold uniqueness that makes him qualified more than any other man previous to him or after him to teach ON EARTH to men heavenly things.

    Some want to dissect the first leg of this argument so that it stands alone and then claim no human being has ever entered heaven before Christ did. However, Christ is arguing that his ascension into heaven has already occurred previous to this conversation with Nicodemus rather than to some future ascension after the cross. Indeed, the perfect tense is used to describe his ascension into heaven showing it was a completed action in the past in a perfected state. Hence, to argue that no man has ascended into heaven because Christ had not yet provided the redemption on the cross and ascended into heaven has no reference here, as this ascension by Christ into heaven has nothing to do with the cross and a future ascension, but is already a past completed act prior to the historical discussion in John 3:13. He was on earth in the Garden and walked with Adam and ascended back into heaven. He has been on earth and already ascended back to heaven long before He ascended to heaven in Acts 1:9-11. That is the point of the last statement which declares he "IS" in heaven as he speaks ON EARTH in the human body.

    He is not denying that any other humans have ascended into heaven previous to the point of time in John 3:13. He is only denying that any other being is qualified ON EARTH to teach about heavenly things due to these three inseparable unique qualifications of having already ascended up to heaven and already come down from heaven while remaining in heaven - no other being can claim such qualifications to speak authoritatively about heavenly things ON EARTH.

    For example, Paul was caught up to the "third heaven" where God dwells but was forbidden to teach what he has seen. Hence, up to the time of Paul, Christ alone was uniquely qualified to teach ON EARTH about heavenly things.

    This threefold argument is a direct claim to be God. As God he has already ascended up to heaven and come down from heaven and IS in heaven. That is His point, I am God and omnipresent and experientially have already been to heaven and earth many times while still remaining in heaven. No other being can claim any aspect of this unique qualification previous to the historical point of this conversation then or now. Christ was ON EARTH in Jn. 3:13 and teaching men ON EARTH in John 3:13 and uniquely qualified to do so ON EARTH. No previous human entering heaven had returned or will return ON EARTH to teach heavenly things to men. Jesus alone stands uniquely qualified ON EARTH to teach heavenly things BEFORE, DURING and AFTER his earthly ministry as no other human being BEFORE, DURING or AFTER his earthly ministry can teach men ON EARTH about heavenly things until He comes again.

    To separate one of these qualifications from the other not only destroys the wholeness of the argument but contradicts other plain scriptures that teach redeemed Saints have been taken to heaven previous to this point. Elijah and Moses on the mount of transfiguration are in heaven. David claimed that after death he would be received "into glory" and He defines that "glory" as the place where God's throne or his special presence is manifested in heaven.
     
    #1 The Biblicist, Feb 20, 2015
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  2. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    The point that Christ is establishing, is that ON EARTH, he alone has the qualifications to teach about heavenly things. All who have previously gone to heaven are NO LONGER ON EARTH. Neither do they return to earth to teach men as demonstrated in the story of Lazerus and the rich man. The Rich man asked for departed persons to return to earth to teach men about spiritual realities. So he alone qualifies to teach heavenly things ON EARTH to men, as He alone has ascended to heaven already and descended to earth already and IS presently in heaven - no man before or after can match those qualifications.

    He is not arguing that no man has ascended into heaven period! He is arguing in the context of EARTHLY OCCUPANCY no man has ascended into heaven and descended to earth and "is" presently in heaven as well as on earth, as a qualfication of personal experience to be able to teach men ON EARTH heavenly realities. Verse 13 is substantiating the claim in verse 12.
     
    #2 The Biblicist, Feb 20, 2015
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  3. jonathan.borland

    jonathan.borland
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    Although I would agree that the phrase "who is in heaven" in John 3:13 is original, most scholars today would disagree, as it is not present in the earliest surviving (some would say "best") Greek witnesses (e.g. p66 p75 Aleph B). How would you respond, including a possible reason why the phrase could have been omitted?
     
  4. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    As you know, the Roman Catholic Church went through a period where it was headed by an Arian Pope. It also went through a period where Arians and Trinitarians were inclusive in that church prior to condemning and excluding Arians. That may help to explain why some copies would omit it because it provides an unaswerable evidence for the absolute divinity of Christ.
     

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