John 3:13

No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.

  1. About the word "ascended" :
    A. resurrected then "bodily" ascend into heaven
    B. not resurrected but it is his/her spirit ascend to heaven

is it A or B ?

  1. About the whole bold sentence, Jesus say :
    A. until today, no one has ascended into heaven
    B. before My Second Coming time-frame, no one will ascend into heaven

is it A or B ?

Thank you.


I think for this question, the context is super important, here is verses 10-13 of john NKJV

Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

The context here is talking about teaching. Nicodemus is "the teacher of Israel" i have heard this to imply that he was quite possibly THE teacher in Israel, maybe there was no one above him. He was supposed to be the guy with all the answers.

But still he had doubts and questions, which is why he came to Jesus by night.

So in the context, when Jesus is saying "No one has ascended to heaven" he is referencing teaching, how he (Jesus) is not guessing, or passing along secondhand information, Jesus says

13a "Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, "

The Emphasis is that no one on earth is is able to teach the things Jesus can teach, Because no one has "Ascended" to heaven, for the purpose of returning and teaching the truths of heaven, on earth.

I believe jesus is less making a blanket statement about whether anyone has gone to heaven to that date, and making a strong point about his unique ability to teach the truths of God which he knows by personal experience, because he is come down from heaven, something no one else has ever done.

So i think to sum it all up for an answer to your question, the best understanding of the sentence

No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man

C. No living human person has gone up to heaven to learn these things and returned to teach them, Except for Jesus, who came Down from heaven already knowing them.

  • Nice answer, L1R. I can "grasp" your explanation. I will wait if there is another answer before I'm certain to vote your answer is the acceptable one (satisfied me). Thank you L1R.
    – karma
    Jul 20 '17 at 17:24
  • Good im glad i could help.
    – L1R
    Jul 20 '17 at 18:46
  • The reason I post a question is because I read somewhere on the net, Mr.X (Christian) using this verse (the bold one) then say the verse "show" that after human die, he/she is stateless. He/she will live again, resurrected then ascend to heaven in the time-frame of 2nd Jesus coming. Then indirectly, Mr.X answer to my question in this post is 1A and 2B. On the other hand, I thought that the answer is 1B and 2A. That's why I post this question here. And it turn out, this verse doesn't have anything related with "after someone died" :). I choose your answer is acceptable, L1R. Thank you.
    – karma
    Jul 21 '17 at 2:10
  • Thanks, Jesus does teach that there will be a day when the dead are risen, John 5:28-29. However, there is also several teachings to indicate that the souls of men are going to heaven/hell before that day of resurrection, examples: The thief on the cross, Jesus says you will be with me in heaven today Luke 23:43, Also Jesus tells a parable of Lazarus and the rich man, with each going to a seperate place upon death, Luke 16 :22-23. Along with the picture of Gods throne room given in Revelation having various people in it.
    – L1R
    Jul 21 '17 at 16:32
  • @L1R , Excellent answer. Noticed small error. You quoted: 13a "Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen," ... I believe that should be verse 11.
    – Austin
    Mar 29 at 3:28

L1R has a very good answer. I just want to add to your excellent answer and show that in the very same chapter John the Baptist also agrees with the way you interpreted it.

John 3 31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.

33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

Compare with Christ's words:

John 3:11-13:

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.

  • Thanks! i was searching all over to include this verse in my answer, but i couldn't find it, and it was right under my nose in the same chapter!
    – L1R
    Jul 21 '17 at 16:43

No discussion of Proverbs 30:4?
That’s what Jesus is alluding to.

It is an identity claim, using Solomon’s words, and he follows that statement with the claim that God sent the very Son that Solomon wrote about:
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭30:4‬ ESV

Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!

  • Who has ascended to heaven and come down? The Son. Who has gathered the wind in his fists? The Son. Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? The Son. Who has established all the ends of the earth? The Son. What is his name? Jesus. and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!. (???)
    – karma
    Apr 12 '20 at 3:48
  • @karma, I disagree the answer to all those questions is Jesus, since Jesus does not have a son. Instead, it must refer to the Father. His son's name is Jesus.
    – Austin
    Mar 29 at 3:20

L1R is right and you should accept his answer. Let me be more verbose and you'll see why. Let's start at the beginning of the story.

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Nicodemus is suggesting there's a disagreement within Jewish leadership: some believe Jesus is the Messiah. Others do not. Nicodemus is among the former, and he gives his reason. He calls Jesus a teacher, and since Jesus is already frustrated with how poorly Jewish leadership understand spiritual things (having fallen far from the truth they once had), He takes advantage of the situation and begins to teach.

Now, either we're missing part of the conversation, or Jesus through the gift of Discernment knew what was bothering Nicodemus. We don't know, but He launches into a discussion that suggests Jewish Leadership had forgotten what it means to return to the Kingdom of God.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Almost everyone focuses on "born again." Few focus on "cannot see the kingdom of God" other than as a consequence of being born again. Becoming born again was, apparently, not the gist of Nicodemus' confusion — returning or "seeing" the kingdom of God was. We need to keep this in mind, because it relates to your question.

Jesus, however, is a master teacher: and he wanted to make sure he had Nicodemus' complete attention. Baptism was common among the Jews at the time, so Nicodemus would have understood the basic idea, but Jesus' context of tying it to a rebirth was confusing to him — and so it caught his attention.

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

1 Corinthians 2:14 teaches that the "natural man" cannot receive spiritual things as they must be spiritually discerned. Thus, our "natural state" (the natural state of mortality or the world) is spiritless. Jesus is trying to help Nicodemus understand that true conversion is being reborn to a spiritually-minded person.

Why "reborn?" Because we are first "born" from a spiritual state — where we were before mortality — to a mortal or "natural" state — where we are on this earth. Hense, being "reborn" or "born a second time" combining the best of both worlds: a totally spiritual mortal person. This is the essence of true and total conversion.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Now, that last bit once confused me and I wonder if there isn't a hint of poor translation somewhere, because this concept might be the source of the idea James presents in James 1:5-6. A person not converted is no different than the sea when blown by the wind, having nothing to "interpret" the wind, it simply whips around, not really going anywhere. But add a sail, and suddenly the wind can be harnessed to take us where we want. And were do we want to go? We want to return or "see" the Kingdom of God.

All of this was obviously very confusing to Nicodemus, who had certainly bought into the idea that, as the "Chosen People," they were completely in the right and were assured of God's rewards. Suddenly all the petty behaviors he's been seeing among his fellow leaders are starting to make sense... the "natural man" that must be cleansed by water and the spirit to fully harness the power and blessings of the Spirit to obtain what he wants the most: the kingdom of God. But he hasn't quite put it all together yet.

Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 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. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Here's where Jesus nails his point home. Allow me to paraphrase:

I and My disciples have taught and we have testified, but you've not believed Me. I just taught you something you should have understood all along — and you still don't believe Me. You want to ascend to heaven, but if you won't believe earthly things, how can I expect you to believe heavenly things? And there's no one who can teach you these things but me. I want you to keep this in mind, Nicodemus, because just as Moses raised the serpent and all who believed on it were saved from the poison in their bodies, I will be raised up on the cross — and all who believe in Me will be saved from the poison in their souls.

Therefore, to answer your question, it's neither A nor B. "Ascend" is used to underscore the truth that only Jesus has all the answers, and Nicodemus needs to do a better job of paying attention.

  • 1
    Thanks, just a side note, Nicodemus would have been very familiar with this passage, which many people think Jesus was alluding to, to help him understand the "being born of water and the spirit Ezekiel 36:25-27
    – L1R
    Jul 20 '17 at 18:44
  • 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
    – L1R
    Jul 20 '17 at 18:44
  • That's a very good point. That underscores my belief that Nicodemus' problem was his desire to ascend to heaven, because suddenly discussing something he should have been familiar with was so confusing to him. Jul 20 '17 at 18:47
  • JBH, thank you for your clarification about L1R's explanation.
    – karma
    Jul 21 '17 at 2:11

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.

I think this is generally interpreted as: "No one has gone up to heaven except Jesus" whereas what it actually says is that "No one has gone to heaven except those who came down from Heaven in the first place (and that includes Jesus!)

In the Gospel of Thomas 18, the disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us how our end will be."

Jesus said, "Have you discovered, then, the beginning, that you look for the end? For where the beginning is, there will the end be. Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning; he will know the end and will not experience death."

In other words, everyone goes to Heaven on death and NO ONE will ever die This is repeated throughout the Bible!

  • Please take our Tour to understand why we do not accept personal opinions. The bible does not say everyone goes to heaven and no-one will ever die. christianity.stackexchange.com/tour
    – Lesley
    Mar 29 at 16:23

Not only does this say you do not go to Heaven but Acts 2-34 "David did not ascend into the Heavens." and if David didn't go to Heaven a Man after Gods own heart then we sure will not until Christ comes back and resurects us

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