And [on account of] their saying: "We killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, messenger of Allah." They did not kill him and they did not crucify him, but it was made to seem so to them. Those who argue about him are in doubt about it. They have no real knowledge of it, just conjecture. But they certainly did not kill him. Allah raised him up to Himself. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. (Surat an-Nisa’:157-158)
As Allah reveals in these verses, those who sought to kill the Prophet Jesus (pbuh) failed to achieve their goal, because Allah protected and rescued him by raising him to His Presence. The words raafiu'ka and rafa'ahu that appear in the verses come from the Arabic root rafa'a, which means "to rise." Islamic scholars interpret rafa'a as the opposite of "being lowered." The Islamic scholar Abu Musa al-Ash'ari interpreted Surah Al 'Imran:55 together with Surat an–Nisa':158, and wrote that: "There is a consensus among the community of the faithful [ijma' ummat] that the Prophet Jesus (pbuh) was raised alive to the heavens." (Ijma' ummat refers to the agreement on this issue of those Islamic scholars who expounded upon Islamic law and lived during the same century).
Another important proof of this event is the Arabic word bal, which appears in Surat an–Nisa':158, and has the literal translation of "on the contrary." The features of its meaning and use in Arabic linguistics indicate a very important fact: According to the rules of Arabic linguistics, the sentence that comes after it must have a meaning that is completely opposite to the preceding statement. That being the case, the verses referring to the Prophet Jesus (pbuh) "… They did not kill him," (Surat an–Nisa':157) "on the contrary [bal] Allah raised him up to Himself…" (Surat an–Nisa':158) refer to the state of being alive, rather than the state of being dead.
Sheikh al-Islam Mustafa Sabri offered the following interpretation:
If the term bal, which appears in Surat an–Nisa':158 and which I have translated as "on the contrary," comes after a sentence expressing a negativity, then, according to the rules of Arabic linguistics, the sentence following it must mean the exact opposite of the one preceding it. The opposite of death is life. This is a requirement of the rules of linguistics. If we say that "the ascension here is a spiritual one" and "the Prophet Jesus (pbuh) died in the normal sense," then we are violating that rule. In that case, the ascension following the expression "on the contrary" would not represent the opposite to the verbs of "killing" and "crucifying" in the negative sentence preceding it... There is no particular oratory here, let alone succinctness … No rational person could take the words "The elevator in my building raises me to the fourth floor every day," to mean that I am only raised to the fourth floor in spirit. Therefore, neither was the Prophet Jesus (pbuh) raised only in spirit. (Sabri, Mawqif Al-Aql, 233)
Said Ramadan al-Buti interpreted the subject in the same way:
The mutual compatibility between the verse's previous and later sections necessarily reveals a fact. For example, if an Arab says: "I am not hungry; on the contrary, I am lying on my side," this is not a correct sentence. In the same way, there is a discrepancy between the components in the sentence: "Khalid did not die; on the contrary, he is a good man." What would be correct is to say: "Khalid did not die; on the contrary, he is alive." To say: "The chairman was not killed; he is a man with a superior station in Allah's Presence" also leads to a break in meaning in the sentence, for his having a high station in Allah's Sight is no obstacle to his being killed. The term bal expresses a contradiction between the preceding and the following words. In other words, bal cancels out a previous statement. (Said Ramadan al-Buti, Islam Akaidi (Islamic Catechism) (Istanbul: Mavde Publishings: 1996), 338)