English Standard Version
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
King James Bible
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
American Standard Version
If I told you earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you heavenly things?
If I have spoken to you earthly things, and you believe not; how will you believe, if I shall speak to you heavenly things?
English Revised Version
If I told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you heavenly things?
Webster's Bible Translation
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how will ye believe if I tell you heavenly things?
Weymouth New Testament
If I have told you earthly things and none of you believe me, how will you believe me if I tell you of things in Heaven?
John 3:12 Parallel
CommentaryVincent's Word Studies
Have told (εἶπον)
Rendering the aorist more strictly, Itold.
Earthly things (τὰ ἐπίγεια)
Compounded of ἐπί, upon, and γῆ, earth. In Colossians 3:2, the adjective appears in its analyzed form, τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, things on the earth. It is in this literal sense it is to be taken here; not things of earthly nature, but things whose proper place is on earth. Not worldly affairs, nor things sinful, but, on the contrary, "those facts and phenomena of the higher life as a class, which have their seat and manifestation on earth; which belong in their realization to our present existence; which are seen in their consequences, like the issues of birth; which are sensible in their effects, like the action of the wind; which are a beginning and a prophecy, and not a fulfillment" (Westcott). The earthly things would therefore include the phenomena of the new birth.
Heavenly things (τὰ ἐπουράνια)
Compounded with ἐπί, upon or in, and οὐρανός, heaven. Not holy things as compared with sinful, nor spiritual things as compared with temporal; but things which are in heaven, mysteries of redemption, having their seat in the divine will, realized in the world through the work and death of Jesus Christ and the faith of mankind (John 5:14-16). Thus it is said (John 3:13) that the Son of man who is in heaven came down out of heaven, and in John 3:31, John 3:32 that He that cometh out of heaven beareth witness (on earth) of what He has seen and heard; and that, being sent from God, He speaketh the words of God (John 3:34).
It has been urged against the genuineness of the fourth Gospel that the lofty and mystical language which is there ascribed to Jesus is inconsistent with the synoptical reports of His words. That if the one represents truthfully His style of speaking, the other must misrepresent it. Godet's words on this point are worth quoting: "It would be truly curious that the first who should have pointed out that contrast should be the Evangelist himself against whose narrative it has been brought forward as a ground of objection. The author of the fourth Gospel puts these words (John 3:12) into the mouth of Jesus. He there declares that He came down from heaven to bring this divine message to the world. The author of the fourth Gospel was then clearly aware of two ways of teaching adopted by Jesus; the one the usual, in which he explained earthly things, evidently always in their relation to God and His kingdom; the other, which contrasted in many respects with the first, and which Jesus employed only exceptionally, in which He spoke directly, and as a witness, of God and the things of God, always naturally in connection with the fate of mankind. The instructions of the first kind had a more simple, more practical, more varied character. They referred to the different situations of life; it was the exposition of the true moral relations of men to each other, and of men to God.... But in that way Jesus could not attain to the final aim which He sought, the full revelation of the divine mystery, of the plan of salvation. Since His baptism Jesus had heaven constantly open before Him; the decree of salvation was disclosed to Him; He had, in particular, heard these words: 'Thou art my well beloved Son;' He reposed on the Father's bosom, and He could descend and redescend without ceasing into the depths of the Father's fathomless love, of which He felt the vivifying power; and when He came, at certain exceptional moments, to speak of that divine relationship, and to give scope to that fullness of life with which it supplied Him, His language took a peculiar, solemn, mystical, one might even say a heavenly tone; for they were heavenly things which He then revealed. Now such is precisely the character of His language in the fourth Gospel." Compare Luke 10:18, sqq., where Jesus' words take on a character similar to that of His utterances in John.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.
No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
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ESV Text Edition: 2016. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.