From Heaven, From Above, From God
From Heaven, From Above, From God
These phrases do not mean something pre-existed in a different world prior.
The proper way to understand how a phrase is used is to look at how the same phrase is used elsewhere.
Of God & From God
We can find many places where Jesus is said to be from God, or sent from God.
Being “of God” means to have God as your spiritual source. This is why all true believers are said to be “of God.” And the wicked are likewise said to be “of Satan.” This is not, of course, because they pre-existed as spirit beings with Satan, but because he is their spiritual leader – the source they are following.
“He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God” (John 8:47).
“We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6).
“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
Now, what the majority of the public never notice is the fact that Bible translators (most being Trinitarian publishers) have been inconsistent. When referring to Jesus, they will likely say that he is “from God,” but when referring to believers, they will suddenly translate the exact same Greek phrase as “of God.” But the Greek preposition “ek” from which “from” and “of” is translated (G1537) is most naturally understood as “from,” considering that the definition of the word revolves around the source of something.
Similarly, the Greek preposition “para” from which “from” and “of” is also translated is naturally understood as “from,” considering that the definition of the word revolves around the source of something.
Concerning being “sent by (from) God” – many in the Bible are given this designation, including John the Baptist himself in John.
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John” (John 1:6).
Nobody would argue that John the Baptist pre-existed literally because the Bible says he came from God.
We first notice that Jesus says that he is “from above.” This phrase is rather synonymous with the aforementioned and denotes the spiritual source of something. This too can be verified by the way the Pharisees are said to be “from beneath.”
“You are from beneath; I am from above” (John 8:23).
Neither being “from above” nor being “from beneath” is a literal concept, but is rather a figurative language common to John’s works. Jesus is no more literally “from above” than the Pharisees are literally “from beneath“; and likewise, those who are “born from above” (John 3:3 YLT) are not literally pre-existent but rather have God as their spiritual source.
This phrase operates identically to the one above and is used in the same way. “Heaven” was used as a sort-of substitute word for God in the first century within Judaism. This is why Matthew says
“Kingdom of heaven”, but Luke says “Kingdom of God.” They both mean the same thing. Being “from heaven” means the same as being “from God.” This is why the question Jesus asks the Pharisees is worded as such:
“The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?” (Matthew 21:25).
Not from/of the world
When Jesus says that he is not from the world, he also says the same thing concerning his disciples and his kingdom.
“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:16).
This is not because they pre-existed in a different world prior to birth, but because their source is in God. Again this is figurative language, and the same Greek preposition “ek” shows up here as well.
All believers are said to be “of God” ( “ from God”, “of the truth”, “of the light”, “born from above”, “born of the spirit”, and “not of this world” ).
( “born of God” is “born again” )
The wicked are likewise said to be “from beneath,” and “of the devil,” and “of this world” (John 8:23, Acts 13:10, 1John 3:10).
It is simply figurative language and refers primarily to who a person follows after. The pre-existence of John is all according to the grand scheme. Because God foreknows all and knows his people beforehand, it is as if they existed beforehand, because they existed in the mind of God.
The same applies to the kingdom, which is why it was said:
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
Elsewhere Jesus does use language demonstrating a sending and returning,
“for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God” (John 16:27).
“I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father” (John 16:28).
The sending and returning is not to be understood in the exact same manner. The same could be said of believers. The Scripture says that Jesus was foreknown by God, and says the same thing concerning believers. This is a simple language. This should suffice to provide the foundation for our understanding.
“He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you” (1 Peter 1:20 ESV).
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29)
“God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew…” (Romans 11:2)
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” (Ephesians 1:4)
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