What does John 1:51 mean?
ESV: And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
NIV: He then added, 'Very truly I tell you, you will see 'heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on' the Son of Man.'
NASB: And He *said to him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.'
CSB: Then he said, "Truly I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
NLT: Then he said, 'I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth. '
KJV: And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus gives a tiny preview of the miracles in store for the disciples. When speaking to Nathanael, Jesus had mentioned Israel, who was formerly named Jacob. In Genesis 28:12, Jacob dreamed about a ladder between earth and heaven, with angels on it. Jesus is making a subtle reference to the reason for His ministry: to serve as the connection between men and God. Christ also uses the seventh and most important of the seven names of chapter 1: "The Son of Man." This is one of Jesus' favorite terms for Himself. It refers to a major prophecy of the Messiah, in Daniel 7:13. Jewish people who heard the phrase, "Son of Man" would know exactly what He was referring to: the Savior and King of Israel. True miracles are always meant to deliver a message from God. The gospel of John records seven miracles specifically to prove that Jesus is God. When Jesus says, "You will see," the Greek word is plural. In other words, "you (all) will see…" which means His prediction was for all of the disciples.
Verse Context:
John 1:43–51 shows Jesus recruiting Philip and Nathanael. Philip seems eager to follow Jesus. Nathanael is skeptical, especially because Jesus is from a back-water town like Nazareth. When Jesus demonstrates His supernatural wisdom, Nathanael proclaims Him as the “Son of God” and “The King of Israel.” Jesus responds by predicting even more spectacular signs, and refers to Himself using the term “Son of Man,” an important figure in Jewish prophecy.
Chapter Summary:
The first chapter of John introduces Jesus as “the Word,” from the Greek Logos. This chapter clearly describes Jesus as identical to God. After this prologue, the chapter describes Jesus recruiting the first of His disciples, as well as a conversation between John the Baptist and the Pharisees. There are seven names for Christ in this chapter, including “The Son of God,” “The Word,” and “The King of Israel.”
Chapter Context:
The first chapter of the gospel of John equates Christ with God, and introduces John the Baptist. The Baptist specifically points to Jesus as the Promised One. Jesus collects the first five of His disciples. In this chapter, Jesus is given seven descriptive names, including “The Word,” “The Son of God,” and “The King of Israel.” This chapter sets the stage for the rest of the gospel, by giving the reader a sense of who Jesus truly is, and why He has come. The rest of the gospel is an exploration of the claims made in this initial passage.
Book Summary:
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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