Pre-existence Part 2
All references to humans coming from Heaven imply that they have been divinely appointed as messengers or agents, nothing more. When Jesus used phrases such as “came down from heaven” or “the Father has sent me”, he was asserting his authority as an agent to teach in God’s name. Three such occasions are recorded in John, Chapters 3, 5, and 6.
The prime example is John 6:28-64. Contention centres on verse 62:
"What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up (anabainonta) where he was before? (KJV).
Because the Greek word anabainonta has been translated into English as “ascend”, it is asserted that this verse refers to the Ascension of Jesus, as recorded in Acts 1:9.
However, Acts 1:9 uses a different Greek word epairo meaning to “lift up” whereas anabaino means to “get up”.
The Greek word anabaino is used in its various verbal forms to refer to Jesus “coming up” from under the water at his baptism (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10), to refer to plants that “grow up” out of the ground (Matthew 13:7; Mark 4:7, 8, 32), and even to refer to the act of climbing a tree.
Verse 6:62 does not refer to Jesus returning to Heaven, i.e. “where he was before” as the Pre-existence teaching would have us believe. Rather, this verse refers to the Resurrection and Jesus “coming up” out of the grave to the earth, i.e. “where he was before” his death. It is a contextless absurdity to claim otherwise.
The Physical Food
John Chapter 6 is mainly about food, and the difference between merely physical food and a vastly more nourishing spiritual food.
The circumstances which gave rise to the statement by Jesus in verse 62 were that certain persons wished him to identify himself as the Messiah by giving them a sign, just as the authority of Moses was established in the wilderness by manna "coming down from heaven." This 'food' was of no value other than to satisfy a physical need.
The Spiritual Food
Jesus needed no such sign for he himself was his own sign. He was spiritual bread which had "come down from heaven" exactly as the manna was desribed as "coming down from heaven." He claimed that the witness of this truth was the works that he did and the words that he spoke. He was the "Living Word of God" and in his teachings were to be found the secrets of eternal life "kept in silence since times eternal."
He was not referring to his physical body as bread to be eaten.* Some of his disciples misunderstood his words as referring to his physical body and these he castigated. To eat the Word of Eternal Life - metaphorically Jesus - is to become one with it, and become eligible to be raised up at the last day.
The abode of God
Heaven being the abode of God, those who were "sent" from God to accomplish his works on earth were regarded as having "coming down from heaven." This principle was applied to the Israelite prophets long before it was similarly applied to John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth.
"The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or from men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why did ye not believe him? But if we shall say, From men; all the people will stone us: for they are persuaded that John was a prophet." (Luke 20:4-6)
"There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John (the Baptist)." (John 1:6)
"But the witness which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father hath given me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me." (John 5:36)
The author of John also applied the principle of "coming down from heaven" in a way which showed it had other applications apart from Jesus and John the Baptist: "John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it have been given him from heaven." (John 3:27)
These words of Jesus bear repeating:
"It is the spirit that giveth life, the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit and are life."
* Watch for future posts on the doctrine of Transubstantiation.