Friday, November 24, 2017

Did Any Human Enter Heaven Prior to Jesus

Reading Hebrews makes me seriously doubt that any
human ascended to heaven before the Risen Christ did.
When writing to first-century Christians living in
Jerusalem and Judea, the author of Hebrews speaks of
"the hope set before us" (Heb. 6:18). This hope is
apparently the hope of eternal, immortal, and
incorruptible life that anointed Christians will enjoy
in the heavens of God's presence for all eternity (2
Cor. 1:21-22; 5:1-2; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

This hope (says the author) serves as "an anchor for
the soul, both sure and firm" since it has entered
within the curtain where a PRODROMOS has advanced in
behalf of his people, whence he serves as "a high
priest according to the manner of Melchizedek" (Heb.

The literary context of Heb. 6:19-20 shows that the
writer is contrasting the tabernacle in the wilderness
with God's "true tent" (THS SKHNHS THS ALHQINHS)
constructed by Godself, not humans (Heb. 8:1-2). The true
tent is evidently God's antitypical tabernacle that
contains, among other things, a greater Most Holy,
which is heaven itself (Heb. 9:24). Jesus entered into
this holy place to appear before the Person of God for
us. (The "us" in Heb. 9:24 refers to anointed
Christians, although others likewise benefit from the
high-priestly services of Jesus Christ.) He passed
beyond the curtain (his flesh) by virtue of being raised a
life-giving spirit and subsequently ascending to his
Father, the One who is greater than the Son (Jn. 14:28;
Heb. 4:14; 10:19-20).

As forerunner, Jesus was not simply the first human to
ascend into the heavens of the heavens: he opened the
way for others to see God and be like Him (1 Jn.
3:1-3). Heb. 6:19-20 therefore appears to serve as one
text that indicates humans did not ascend to the
heavens of God's presence prior to Christ's death.

Furthermore, Heb. 9:8 relates: "Thus the holy
spirit makes it plain that the way into the
[antitypical] holy place [i.e., heaven] had not yet
been made manifest while the first tent was standing."

The way into the antitypical Most Holy (sanctum sanctorum)
was not made manifest until Christ became
flesh, suffered, died, was resurrected and
subsequently passed through the heavens.


Duncan said...

Edgar Foster said...

Concerning the second link, I once read O'Neill's book about ancient Judaism and the Trinity. It's been years ago, but I recall being totally unconvinced. Michael Heiser apparently loves O'Neill's work. On the other hand, Darrell L. Bock analytically discusses the book here:'neill%20who%20did%20jesus%20think%20he%20was%3F&f=false

BTW, I have read Bock and love his monograph although some call it "dull."

Edgar Foster said...

Here's a little more about Bock's study:

Duncan said...

I think that Vermes may have put a different slant on the trial. Can't remember which book though but might have been "The Passion".

These points still bring me back to Matthew 3:16 & who actually saw it?

Edgar Foster said...

Vermes usually reads the NT differently from basically anybody else, and the trial of Jesus is a hotly contested issue as Bock demonstrates with his research.

In terms of who saw what's recorded at Mt 3:16, what about John the Baptist?

From Ellicott's Commentary:

The heavens were opened.—The narrative implies (1) that our Lord and the Baptist were either alone, or that they alone saw what is recorded. “The heavens were opened to him” as they were to Stephen (Acts 7:56). The Baptist bears record that he too beheld the Spirit descending (John 1:33-34), but there is not the slightest ground for supposing that there was any manifestation to others.