The Greek text of John 3:13 states,
ΙΓʹ καὶ οὐδεὶς ἀναβέβηκεν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εἰ μὴ ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ὁ ὤν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ TR, 1550
which may be translated as,
13 And no one ascended into heaven except he who descended out of heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.
There are some who believe that Jesus is speaking in John 3:13. Others believe that the author of the fourth gospel (who many assume to be a certain “John”) is speaking. However, identifying the speaker is not essential for the purpose of this discourse. Rather, we shall focus on the issue of the Lord Jesus Christ being the only one to ascend to heaven.
Those familiar with the Old Testament know that both Elijah the prophet and Enoch ascended to heaven before dying. Yet, John 3:13 states that no man ascended to heaven but the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. How, then, do we reconcile this supposed contradiction?
The Lord Jesus Christ ascended (ἀνέβη) to heaven and descended (κατέβη) out of heaven under his own power and volition. On the other hand, individuals such as Enoch and Elijah were taken or brought up to heaven by God.
Regarding Enoch, Gen. 5:24 states,
24 And Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.
כד וַיִּתְהַלֵּךְ חֲנוֹךְ אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים וְאֵינֶנּוּ כִּי לָקַח אֹתוֹ אֱלֹהִים
Enoch, being a man, could not and did not ascend under his own power and volition. Rather, God took him into heaven.
Regarding Elijah, 2 Kings 2:1 states,
1 And it came to pass, when Yahveh caused Elijah to ascend to heaven in a whirlwind, that Elijah and Elisha went from Gilgal.
א וַיְהִי בְּהַעֲלוֹת יַהְוֶה אֶת אֵלִיָּהוּ בַּֽסְעָרָה הַשָּׁמָיִם וַיֵּלֶךְ אֵלִיָּהוּ וֶאֱלִישָׁע מִן הַגִּלְגָּל
The infinitive הַעֲלוֹת (haʿalot) is conjugated in binyan Hifʿil, and thus means “to cause to ascend (go up).”
The Hebrew text literally states that Yahveh caused Elijah to ascend to heaven, or in more polished English, Yahveh brought/ took Elijah up into heaven. Like Enoch, Elijah could not and did not ascend under his own power and volition.
Thus we see that in both cases of Elijah and Enoch, these individuals were taken up into heaven by God and not under their own power or volition. On the contrary, the Lord Jesus Christ descended2 from heaven (upon his incarnation) and then later ascended to heaven (after his resurrection) under his own power and volition.
Gesenius, Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm. Gesenius’s Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures. Trans. Tregelles, Samuel Prideaux. London: Bagster, 1860.
1 p. 631
2 Furthermore, no mere man has ever descended from heaven. This is conclusive evidence of the supernatural nature (i.e., deity) of the Lord Jesus Christ.