John 3:13 And The Omnipresence Of Jesus Christ -- By: R. Larry Overstreet

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 02:2 (Fall 2004)
Article: John 3:13 And The Omnipresence Of Jesus Christ
Author: R. Larry Overstreet


John 3:13 And The Omnipresence Of Jesus Christ

R. Larry Overstreet, Ph.D.

Director, Doctor of Ministry Program
Professor of Pastoral Theology

Northwest Baptist Seminary
4301 North Stevens Street
Tacoma, WA 98407

Introduction

The doctrine of the omnipresence of Christ, while He was alive on this earth, is an area of some disagreement among theologians. Some use texts such as Matthew 18:20 or 28:20 to acknowledge His omnipresence.1 In contrast, Erickson argues that in His incarnation, Christ voluntarily willed that “he would not have the free use of his omnipresence. It was not that he was pretending that he could not use it; he really could not.”2 The focus verse of this paper has direct relevance to this discussion.

This article purposes to interpret John 3:13 showing its relationship to the question of Christ’s omnipresence. Before doing this, however, the question related to the Greek text of the verse must be mentioned. The American Standard Version (1901) translates John 3:13: “And no one hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended out of heaven, even the Son of man, who is in heaven.” The KJV and the NKJV essentially agree with the ASV. On the other hand, the New American Standard Bible translates it: “And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who

descended from heaven, even the Son of man.” Many contemporary versions, such as ESV, NIV, agree with the NASB. The question centers on the final phrase, “who is in heaven.”

John 3:13 could constitute a strong argument in support of the doctrine of Christ’s omnipresence, but it depends on what is done with the text. If the Greek text which underlies the NASB is accepted, then John 3:13 does not contribute to the theological discussion. However, if the Greek text which underlies the ASV of this verse is the original text, then John 3:13 is a potent verse supporting the theological doctrine of the omnipresence of Christ.

A full discussion of the textual variants is beyond the scope of this present article.3 However, after thoroughly examining both the external evidence and the internal evidence, this author is convinced that both lines of evidence point to the validity of the major variant. This ...

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