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.