Thursday, April 17, 2014

John MacArthur and Madison N. Pierce on John 3:13

Here's an addendum to the recent post on knowledge of heaven.  I just came across a former OBU student's own post about a recent article she coauthored on John 3:13 here.  I haven't read the article, but the claim is that John 3:13 shouldn't be read as indicating (the unorthodox proposition) that Jesus (bodily) ascended and descended before a second ascension.  Rather,
"We think that Jesus was making a more universal statement about who would have the same knowledge as he (no one)."

I wondered about that myself, since the parallel with Proverbs 30 is striking and that seems to be (roughly) its main point as well.  I haven't looked into this at all, but I wouldn't be surprised if Jesus were making an oblique reference to that chapter, and thereby making an allusion to his divinity and divine knowledge.

Surely I am more stupid than any man,
And I do not have the understanding of a man.
Neither have I learned wisdom,
Nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has wrapped the waters in [b]His garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name or His son’s name?
Surely you know!

If these are rhetorical questions, the answer is obviously God.  But perhaps it's better to see the point as, even if we're morons like the author and don't know the answers, God surely KNOWS.  At any rate, it's a major interpretive stretch to take this passage as indicating that no one other than God has ascended in any way to heaven.  And if John 3:13 is also making a claim about Jesus's knowledge, we'd need some independent reason to think that he's also making a point about where people go or don't go after death until the general (bodily) resurrection of the dead.

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