Above and Beneath

In speaking of the foregoing one is thinking particularly of the superior source of some things that we find on the earth and the inferior source of others. What comes from above is morally superior to what comes from beneath. We need to be influenced by what comes down from above and not what comes up from beneath.

Christ speaks of Himself as having come down from above (John 8:23). In John 3:31 the word above is used twice and the second time in the sense of superior to, so that we have: “He who comes from above is above (superior to) all”. Other Scriptures speak of Christ as coming down out of heaven (John 3:13; 6:33, 38). Paul also speaks of Christ as “the second man, out of heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:47). The Spirit of God also came down out of heaven (Matthew 3:16; Acts 2:1-4; 1 Peter 1:12). However it is not only Christ and the Holy Spirit that have come down from above but also: “Every good gift and every perfect gift” (James 1:17). James also speaks of “the wisdom from above” in verse 17 of chapter 3. Apart from these passages we have “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of the heaven from God” in Revelation 21:2. When Christ speaks of new birth to Nicodemus in John 3:3 the note in the JND Bible makes it clear that anew means not only ‘again’ but ‘entirely afresh’. Some render the words born from above (see Marshall’s literal New Testament translation and Newberry’s marginal note).

In contrast to the foregoing we have what comes up from beneath in John 8:23. The idea of what is beneath is not confined to the New Testament for we have it in Proverbs 15:24 “The path of life is upwards for the wise, that he may depart from Sheol beneath”. Further James tells us of the wisdom which does not come down from above but which is earthly, natural, devilish (chapter 3:15). Revelation speaks of the darkening influence of what comes up from the pit of the abyss (chapter 9:1-11) and of the beast who comes up out of the abyss (chapter 11:7).

For us the point of all this is to take care what we are being influenced and affected by. Is it by what comes down from above or what comes up from beneath ? James would help us to discern. Thus he says