The Bible speaks of Elijah going up by a whirlwind into Heaven. Christ claims that no one has ascended into heaven except him, the Son of Man. How can this be then? Where did Elijah go if it were not to the Heaven of God? Does this mean that he was taken up to heaven meaning the sky? Where then was he taken? Did Elijah ever die? Does the Bible contradict itself?


I had this question a while back as well. Elijah didnt go to Heaven, but a place traditionally called “Abraham’s bosom” which is kind of described in Luke 16:22-23 where Lazarus went.

When Jesus arose He opened the gates of Heaven and led all the Old Testament Saints there in triumph.


The texts about Elijah in 1 Kings 18-2 Kings 2 do two things: they tell stories about what he did; & they do so, by presenting the prophet as a Baal-like figure; which makes them all the more effective, because his task was to counter the worship of Baal.

In 2 Kings 2, Baal, who is called “rider of the clouds”, is ridiculed by having his chariot take from him, & applied to the prophet - B. was a weather god. (One another way of opposing the cult of Baal, was to take his attributes, & give them to the God of Israel instead - as in Psalm 18). Earlier, Elijah had “shut up” heaven, so that the rain would not fall - Baal was a giver of fertility. And so it goes on - those chapters are in effect a duel between the Canaanite god & the Israelite prophet, & the prophet, after a set-back or two, gets the better of the god. So the cycle of tales about Elijah tells, not only of what he did, but also of the meaning of what he did.

As for the words about Christ, there is a difficulty: in John 3.13 (where they occur), it is not always clear where the words spoken by Jesus end, & those spoken about by the Evangelist begin - as can be seen from a comparison of translations. So the speaker could be
*]the Evangelist
*]or, one through the other[/LIST]2 Kings & John 3 are talking about different things - John 3 is not primarily about an ascent of Jesus, but about who Jesus is: it’s about His identity as the pre-existent Son of Man, the “Man from Heaven”, as St.Paul says. (As a guess, ISTM that the Evangelist is the speaker of 3.13, & that he is the one talking about the Ascension.) The question of just who Jesus is, comes up in the gospels again & again - it’s a major Gospel theme; in John as elsewhere; who He is, where He is from, the source of His authority, the mystery of the Kingdom of God, His Messiahship, His miracles, all go together.

Hope that is (some) help


According to a Q and A on Catholic.com Elijah was assumed into heaven.

Elijah being in heaven does not contradict Christ words about no one ascended into heaven except him, the son of man.

Being assumed into heaven is different then ascending into heaven. When Elijah was assumed into heaven he was taken up by the power of God. That is to say God put Elijah into heaven.

Christ ascended into heaven by his own power. Christ put himself in heaven.


There seems to be some confusion here. Is there any unified Catholic view on this?


Hi Mommyof02green

Your “q and a” link actually links back to this thread. If you could try to post it again I would be interested in reading it. I do agree with you that there is a difference between being assumed into heaven by God and Christ ascending into heaven on His own power. However, setting that issue aside, I have also read that the “heaven” referred to in 2 Kings 2:11 (or 4 Kg 2:11 in DRV) is actually more literally “heavens” as in up into the sky (the lower part of heaven according to Haydock commentary and the commentary on my DRV site) , not necessarily heaven where God “lives”. Also, Heb 11:13 says that they (those who descended from Abraham) died according to the faith, but did not receive the promise.

So, back to the OP, I don’t think the Bible contradicts, but the modern English translations of the 2 Kings 2:11 passage is not very good. If it read “heavens” then it would make a lot more sense. By the way, I checked an online parallel bible. There are two bibles that say “heavens” but almost all of them, including the Catholic translations, say “heaven”. Go figure…:shrug:


I call this the universal qualifier error. There is often an exceptional case which the speaker is aware of, but doesn’t exclude for simplicty. For instance “Christ was the only man to be born without original sin”. (Adam?) “All Britons are subjects of the Queen” (the Queen, the Queen Mother?). All canonised saints are baptised Catholics (John the Baptist, St Joseph?).


Sorry!! Didn’t mean to do that!!! Thanks for letting me know about the mistake.

Here is what the original one that it was suppose to be. Again I’m sorry for the mistake. However, this mistake may have been a good thing. While looking for the Q and A that I originally meant to post I came across a Q and A that more directly answered the question regarding Elijah and Heaven.

This one states these are the possibilities in regards to Elijah:

  1. He didn’t really go to heaven but to the abode of the dead where the souls of the righteous were waiting for the Messiah to open heaven.

  2. He was taken up but to a different kind of heaven than the one Christ opened.

  3. He received entrance to heaven as a grace which came from the redemption Christ wrought – only he received it early, as did Mary when she was immaculately conceived. Click Here to see the whole Q and A

I still believe that one major difference between Elijah and Christ is that Elijah was assumed into heaven and Christ ascended into heaven. What’s the difference between assumed and ascended? Elijah was taken up by the power of God. That is to say that God placed Elijah in Heaven. Christ ascended into heaven by his own power. Christ placed himself in heaven. So Christ was right when we said that no one ascended to Heaven except him.

After reading the second Q and A it just reaffirmed my belief that Elijah was taken to Heaven. Elijah received grace early like Mary did when she was immaculately conceived.

I’ve seen the Immaculate Conception explained like this:

God can “save” a person from a sin by forgiving them, or by providing them the grace never to fall into that particular sin. An ancient analogy is often useful to explain this: A person can be saved from a pit in two ways; one can fall into it and be brought out, or one can be caught before falling into it. Mankind is saved in the first manner, and Mary in the second. Both are saved from the pit of sin. If Jesus wished to save his mother from the stain of sin, what is to prevent him?

Source: How to Defend the Immaculate Conception

Perhaps a similar thing can be said about Elijah.


Please don’t mind it. Elijah went to heaven alongwith his chariot and horses on a whirlwind as per OT long before Jesus was even born. The true answer should be from the OTBible for a claim and reason on the issue. This also proves that ascension does not transform a man to god. Elijah ascended to heaven as per OTBible;

  1. What is or was his utility there if he was not to return literally or physically before Jesus as prophesized in OTBible? Jews were waiting for him in fact and asked Jesus about his descent from him. Jesus told that John the Baptist is Elijah and when they asked John about this he denied that he was Elijah.
  2. What about the chariot and horses; what are they doing there?
  3. Why this solitary confinement/punishment for Elijah?
  4. Elijah did not become god because of ascension, so can’t Jesus.
    I think that these and perhaps many more questions were being asked by the common man from the Catholic Clergy, finding no rational or reasonable answers from the OTBible, they prepared such answers as an eyewash, perhaps a brainchild of their imaginations. My Catholic friends are free to believe whatever they wish to, it is their discretion, no compulsion. I respect your faith.

Deuteronomy 18:20-22. "But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death."
Because of his righteousness, Jesus prayers were heard, and he was saved from killing on Cross.
Hebrews 5:7 (NIV)
7During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.


As they walked on conversing, a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind

To ascend means to do so on your own power only God can do that. Elijah was taken.

“Ascension” does not make Jesus, God

May I suggest you invest in Wuest’s translation of the NT?
Yes, Wuest is a prostant translation, but he goes overboard in bringing out the meaning of Greek verbs, and that is helpful in understanding that text.

Basically, no one under their own POWER ascended to heaven expect Jesus. It is really that simple.

“Ascension” does not make Jesus, God

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