John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

John 1:51, Jacob’s Ladder in the New Testament

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.

//Remember the dream Jacob had, of a ladder resting on earth and reaching to heaven, with angels traipsing up and down the rungs?

Here in John’s Gospel, Jesus promises that one who sees “heaven open” will see the angels ascending and descending upon Jesus, rather than a ladder. Why the rewrite?

Let’s return to Genesis and the story of Jacob. While the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament, written a century or two before Christ) portrays angels ascending and descending upon a ladder, the original Hebrew is not so clear. Some translators say the angels climbed the ladder, others say they walked up and down Jacob. John appears familiar with this latter interpretation, and compares Jesus to Jacob.

Why? My thought is this: Jacob (known also as Israel, the father of the Hebrew nation) is being supplanted. Christ has started a new nation. John sees “Israel” as no longer the Jewish nation but as a new people reborn in Christ. The first nation is forgotten; the new nation of Christians is now in the company of angels.


  1. Laura Moreland

    I am greatly saddened by yours and others in the church taking the stand of Supersessionism or Replacement Theology. Please look at Eph 2:19 which speaks of Gentiles being “fellow citizens” along with the Jewish people (God’s people). We know he “God’s people” means the Jewish people because Paul/Saul speaks of the apostle and prophets (both groups were made up of Jews). Ephesians 2:11 on is talking about the two groups of people, Gentiles and Jews, coming together to form One-New-Man for the Lord with Jesus being the cornerstone. Also in Romans 11:1 Paul asks “‘Did God reject His people?'” the answer to the question comes in verse 2 Where Paul answers “By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject His people whom he foreknew.” For Paul to specify the tribe, Benjamin, means he was talking about the Jewish people. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 5:17 that He did not come to eliminate or void the law and the PROPHETS.(Matt. 5:17). A look at one of the prophets, Jeremiah. in verses Jeremiah 33:6 and Jeremiah 33:25. In verse 25 he speaks about as long as God has a covenant to have the day and night stand he not reject His people Israel who are the descendants of Jacob and David and will choose one of their sons to rule over their descendants… You can’t have one part of the prophesy being true, Jesus being the descendant of David, and not the other part, that God will NOT reject his people. I would caution you to be careful about what you teach. Matthew 5:18-19 states “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these requirements and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” It doesn’t say you will not be in heaven with our Lord but you will be called least! Maybe you should reconsider your stand on replacement theology and honor and bless the Jewish people. This is what Paul was doing in Rom. 15:26-27. Here he praised Archaia and Macedonia for giving to the saints in Jerusalem, which were mostly Jewish believers. You know they were primarily Jewish because in verse 27 Paul is speaking of indebtedness the Gentiles should have towards their Jewish brothers and sisters. Hopefully my small comment has made you willing to open-mindedly review your anti-jewish view.

  2. Margaret young

    So sad to see this replacement theology here …

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