Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The adverb ανω (ano) means upwards (when combined with verbs of motion) or aloft, on high, up and upper (when combined with static verbs) or above (when combined with the genitive). Still, the ancients had a different sense of relativity than we moderns do, and their use of the idea of height, or the proverbial top, rarely had something to do with physical elevation, but often (literally, not metaphorically) spoke of a high point in time (a very important ancestor or patriarch, his legacy or commands or anything "coming down" or being "handed down" from history), a political high point (a capital city, the temple), a fundamental truth or rule from which a lot of secondary conclusions and legislations derive (and see Matthew 7:12 for one of those), and even the beginning (or rather the core motivation) of a story or mission of other such effort.
Said somewhat more curtly: when Jesus said, "I am from above" (John 8:23), he didn't mean to say he was from outer space, or even from the top of the mountains or a castle in the clouds or something like that (Deuteronomy 30:11-14, Luke 17:21). Instead, he referred to the fundamental law that creates, governs and maintains the whole universe (Colossians 1:16-17), which can be known by reasonable man (Romans 1:20, Colossians 2:3), in which case it (he) becomes the Word in the Flesh (John 1:14), which in turn embodies the Creator (John 17:26, Hebrews 1:3).
Etymologically, our adverb ανω (ano) is related to the familiar prefix ανα (ana), meaning on, and the identical verb ανω (ano), meaning to come to an end, accomplish or finish (this verb isn't used in the New Testament). This adverb is used 9 times, see full concordance, and from it come:
- Together with the otherwise unused noun γαια (gaia), ground (but see γη, ge, earth, and γαιω, gaio, to rejoice): the noun ανωγεον (anogeon), literally meaning off-ground, or extra-terrestrial if you will, but practically referring to a room on the first (or higher) floor (Mark 14:15 and Luke 22:12 only). In a world that was predominantly agricultural, an upper room, or a room that was lifted off the earth, was a rather special affair and understandably associated with spiritual realities (see Colossians 3:2, which uses ανω (ano), or James 3:15, which uses ανωθεν, anothen, see next).
- The adverb ανωθεν (anothen), meaning from the top or originating in a higher, earlier or more fundamental place. This adverb is formed by postfixing the parent adverb ανω (ano), above, with the localizing -θεν (-then), meaning "from" (comparable to the English "-ian"). Our adverb certainly doesn't merely speak of a physical elevation, but may mean: from the heartland of a country, from a certain ancestor, from more basic or universal principles (John 19:11, James 1:17), from the most important point of a story, from the chronological beginning of a story (Luke 1:3), or the entirety (from the very beginning) of a certain corrected sequence (John 3:3). This adverb is used 13 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the preposition επι (epi), meaning on or upon: the adverb επανω (epano), meaning on top of, or high upon. It's used 20 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the preposition υπερ (huper), meaning over or beyond: the adverb υπερανω (huperano), meaning far over or far above (Ephesians 1:21, 4:10 and Hebrews 9:5 only).