John 1:51

51 And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you,[a] you will see 1heaven opened, and 2the angels of God ascending and descending on 3the Son of Man."

John 1:51 Meaning and Commentary

John 1:51

And he saith unto him, verily, verily, I say unto you
Not only to Nathanael, but to the rest of the disciples that were then with him; and to show himself to be the "Amen", and faithful witness, as well as more strongly to asseverate what he was about to say, he doubles the expression:

hereafter you shall see heaven open;
either in a literal sense, as it had been at his baptism; or, in a mystical sense, that there should be a clearer manifestation of heavenly truths made by his ministry; and that the way into the holiest of all should be made more manifest; and a more familiar intercourse he opened between God and his people; and also between angels and saints:

and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the son of man;
or to the son of man, as the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions render it; meaning himself in human nature; the second Adam, and seed of the woman; and is expressive both of the truth, and infirmity of that nature. Reference may here be had to the ladder Jacob dreamed of, in ( Genesis 28:12 ) , which was a representation of Christ, in his person, as God-man; who, as God, was in heaven, whilst he, as man, was on earth; and in his office, as Mediator between God and man, making peace between them both; and in the ministration of angels to him in person, and to his body the church. And it is observable, that some of the Jewish writers F25 understand the ascent, and descent of the angels, in ( Genesis 28:12 ) , to be, not upon the ladder, but upon Jacob; which makes the phrase there still more agreeable to this; and so they render (wyle) , in ( Genesis 28:13 ) , not "above it", but "above him". Or the, sense is, that there would be immediately made such clearer discoveries of his person, and grace by his ministry, and such miracles would be wrought by him in confirmation of it, that it would look as if heaven was open, and the angels of God were continually going to and fro, and bringing fresh messages, and performing miraculous operations; as if the whole host of them were constantly employed in such services: and this the rather seems to be the sense, since the next account we have, is, of the beginning of Christ's miracles to manifest forth his glory in Cana of Galilee, where Nathanael lived; and since the word, rendered "hereafter", signifies, "from henceforward"; or, as the Persic version renders it, "from this hour"; though the word is left out in the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions.


F25 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 68. fol. 61. 2. & sect. 69. fol. 61. 3, 4.

John 1:51 In-Context

49 Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"
50 Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these."
51 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."

Cross References 3

  • 1. Ezekiel 1:1; Matthew 3:16; Luke 3:21
  • 2. [Genesis 28:12]
  • 3. See Daniel 7:13

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. The Greek for you is plural; twice in this verse
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.