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Answering The Atheist
September 15, 2002 / Volume 2, Issue 37

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
The Bible says that no one has ascended into heaven before Jesus (John 3:13), and yet also tells us that Elijah ascended into heaven (2 Kings 2:11). Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
Let us look at the passages in question:

John 3:13
No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

2 Kings 2:11
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.

The statement made by Jesus in John 3:13 needs to be understood in it's context. Notice, "...Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven." (John 3:11-13). The point is not on people have not ascended to heaven, but rather that none have ascended and returned to speak of the heavenly things. Thus, there has been none qualified to speak of such things but the One who came down from heaven, Jesus Christ.

Indeed, Elijah ascended to the heavens, as it also seems that Enoch did (Genesis 5:24; cf. Hebrews 11:5), but neither have returned to reveal the things of the heavenly realm.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible