Why the Ascension was necessary

Today, May Day, is also Ascension Day, in the western church calendar. The pagan and Christian festivals coincide today for the first time in nearly a century, because Easter was exceptionally early this year, and because it is always on the fortieth day after Easter (based on Acts 1:3 and counting inclusively) that the church marks the Ascension to heaven of the risen Jesus. And because this fortieth day is not a Sunday, the Ascension is often ignored by the church, perhaps marked by a poorly attended midweek service, but not taught about in a prominent way.

The Ascension is the one known incident in Jesus’ life which is not definitely reported in any of the four gospels. The mention in Luke 24:51 is both textually and contextually rather doubtful. But it is clearly narrated in Acts 1:1-11. It is also a difficult doctrine for modern Christians, because it seems to imply a rather primitive worldview that heaven, the home of God, is literally in the sky. We are used to artistic representations based on that worldview, but we find it hard to believe that they represent what really happened.

One such representation illustrates Michael Barber’s post Five Reasons the Ascension Was Necessary. In this post Michael follows up earlier seasonal posts on the Cross and the Resurrection with a similar summary of Thomas Aquinas’ teaching on the Ascension. Here are his five points:

  1. The Ascension helps foster faith in Christ;
  2. It inspires hope;
  3. It impels us to grow in charity (I didn’t understand the connection here);
  4. It helps us grow in our reverence for Christ;
  5. In it Jesus enters into heaven with our humanity.

I would say that here there are three or four reasons why the Ascension was helpful, and one, the fifth, why it was necessary for the completion of our salvation. For indeed it was necessary for Jesus, the pioneer or trailblazer, and perfecter, of faith (Hebrews 12:2), to open the way for our redeemed humanity to be taken up along with his humanity into God’s presence.

Michael finishes with this quote from Aquinas:

Christ’s Passion is the cause of our ascending to heaven, properly speaking, by removing the hindrance which is sin, and also by way of merit: whereas Christ’s Ascension is the direct cause of our ascension, as by beginning it in Him who is our Head, with whom the members must be united.

But let’s not think of the Ascension as Jesus being taken from the earth into a heaven situated in the sky. Under point 5 Michael quotes Aquinas quoting Ephesians 4:8-10. This passage is perhaps the clearest biblical teaching on the meaning of the Ascension, and shows that Paul’s worldview is not the “primitive” one that Jesus went upwards to a heaven in the sky. For it teaches that Christ

ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.

Ephesians 4:10 (TNIV)

So we should not think of the risen and ascended Jesus today as having gone away to some distant heaven far above us in the sky. This is not the time referred to in Mark 2:20 and parallels, when the wedding guests will fast because the bridegroom has been taken from them. No, the outcome of the Ascension is that the risen Jesus is with us always (Matthew 28:20), wherever we go, because he fills the whole universe. This outcome is confirmed by the pouring out, ten days later at the feast of Pentecost, of the Holy Spirit, who is the agent through whom the continuing presence of Jesus is made manifest in his people.

So let’s not forget about the Ascension of Jesus, neither because it took place mid-week nor because we are embarrassed by how it has been depicted in art. Instead, let us celebrate this day as assuring us that our humanity is fully acceptable in God’s presence and that Jesus is with us always and wherever we go.

25 thoughts on “Why the Ascension was necessary

  1. Hello, Peter. We’ve met before.

    I found your blog of interest since the primitive cosmology of the Bible is one of the primary reasons that I deconverted. Your “workaround” was valiant, but quite dishonest.

    First of all, your reading of Ephesians 4:10 is incorrect, but secondly, even if it *were* correct, it would merely demonstrate more Biblical incongruity, rather than “overturn” other passages. What kind of hermeneutic allows you to find a proof text that heals the wounds of all other texts – as if they did not even exist?

    The problems in the cosmology of the Bible do not begin or end in Eph 10. In fact, understood without manipulation, that is really yet another example of contra-scientific views that should be quickly discarded by modern people. You can’t fix this fissure between reality and the Bible by misinterpreting a verse in Eph 4.

    So, you get a big E for effort, but a zero in accuracy, because of your deranged thinking.

    The theme of the outdated cosmology of “the Bible” permeates my book:

    http://bibleshockers.com

    I invite you to check it out – if you really want to move beyond pious but fallacious thinking…

    Bill Ross
    http://bibleshockers.blogspot.com

  2. Hello, Peter. We’ve met before.

    I found your blog of interest since the primitive cosmology of the Bible is one of the primary reasons that I deconverted. Your “workaround” was valiant, but quite dishonest.

    First of all, your reading of Ephesians 4:10 is incorrect, but secondly, even if it *were* correct, it would merely demonstrate more Biblical incongruity, rather than “overturn” other passages. What kind of hermeneutic allows you to find a proof text that heals the wounds of all other texts – as if they did not even exist?

    The problems in the cosmology of the Bible do not begin or end in Eph 10. In fact, understood without manipulation, that is really yet another example of contra-scientific views that should be quickly discarded by modern people. You can’t fix this fissure between reality and the Bible by misinterpreting a verse in Eph 4.

    So, you get a big E for effort, but a zero in accuracy, because of your deranged thinking.

    The theme of the outdated cosmology of “the Bible” permeates my book:

    http://bibleshockers.com

    I invite you to check it out – if you really want to move beyond pious but fallacious thinking…

    Bill Ross
    http://bibleshockers.blogspot.com

  3. Hello, Peter. We’ve met before.

    I found your blog of interest since the primitive cosmology of the Bible is one of the primary reasons that I deconverted. Your “workaround” was valiant, but quite dishonest.

    First of all, your reading of Ephesians 4:10 is incorrect, but secondly, even if it *were* correct, it would merely demonstrate more Biblical incongruity, rather than “overturn” other passages. What kind of hermeneutic allows you to find a proof text that heals the wounds of all other texts – as if they did not even exist?

    The problems in the cosmology of the Bible do not begin or end in Eph 10. In fact, understood without manipulation, that is really yet another example of contra-scientific views that should be quickly discarded by modern people. You can’t fix this fissure between reality and the Bible by misinterpreting a verse in Eph 4.

    So, you get a big E for effort, but a zero in accuracy, because of your deranged thinking.

    The theme of the outdated cosmology of “the Bible” permeates my book:

    http://bibleshockers.com

    I invite you to check it out – if you really want to move beyond pious but fallacious thinking…

    Bill Ross
    http://bibleshockers.blogspot.com

  4. Hello, Peter. We’ve met before.

    I found your blog of interest since the primitive cosmology of the Bible is one of the primary reasons that I deconverted. Your “workaround” was valiant, but quite dishonest.

    First of all, your reading of Ephesians 4:10 is incorrect, but secondly, even if it *were* correct, it would merely demonstrate more Biblical incongruity, rather than “overturn” other passages. What kind of hermeneutic allows you to find a proof text that heals the wounds of all other texts – as if they did not even exist?

    The problems in the cosmology of the Bible do not begin or end in Eph 10. In fact, understood without manipulation, that is really yet another example of contra-scientific views that should be quickly discarded by modern people. You can’t fix this fissure between reality and the Bible by misinterpreting a verse in Eph 4.

    So, you get a big E for effort, but a zero in accuracy, because of your deranged thinking.

    The theme of the outdated cosmology of “the Bible” permeates my book:

    http://bibleshockers.com

    I invite you to check it out – if you really want to move beyond pious but fallacious thinking…

    Bill Ross
    http://bibleshockers.blogspot.com

  5. Bill, I am aware of your site, but cannot recommend it. If you think that my reading of Ephesians 4:10 is incorrect, please explain why and offer your own reading of it. But please refrain from ad hominem remarks like “dishonest” and “deranged thinking”, as I do require a certain civility from those I allow to comment here.

  6. Thanks for this Peter,
    I hadn’t even clicked that it was Ascension Day until I found out I’d missed an early morning service. I think your reflections on the importance of the ascension are helpful.

    I do wonder though, if there is an important sense in which Jesus is still absent, despite being universally present through the Spirit: He is not with us bodily.

    Perhaps the ascension reminds us both of the presence of the risen Lord with us by his Spirit, and his bodily absence from us:

    “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

  7. Thanks, Matthew. Yes, I agree that there is a sense in which Jesus is now absent as well as one in which he is now present. Paul was happy to die because then he would be with Christ, Philippians 1:23. As taught for example in Acts 1:11, at the end Jesus will come again in a kind of reversal of the Ascension and again be located at a particular place. As in many other areas of theology, here there is a tension between the “already” and the “not yet”, and there is a danger of taking either extreme to the exclusion of the other.

    By the way, from a quick glance I like your blog, and I wish I had the chance to study 1 Corinthians under Thiselton.

  8. As I said, it is not necessary to refute your reading of Ephesians 4:10 because even as you represent it to speak of Jesus “filling the Universe” it has no bearing on the Biblical cosmology represented anywhere else. That is simply absurd. What hermeneutic allows one verse to trump all others?

    But as to Eph 4:10, note what it asserts:

    10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

    I believe you want us to believe that references to Jesus going “up” are not to be taken literally but to actually refer to his “crossing into a state of being infinite” – or some other such concept other than a change of coordinates. Please correct me if I have not understood your position.

    But look at the verse. It speaks of descending into the ground. Is this not literal, geographic direction being referred to? Then, it says he ascended “up above all of the skies.” What part of “up” don’t you understand? How can you suggest that this verse single-handedly eliminates the “primitive cosmology problem” of the Bible? What is your syllogism?

    The part I believe you think makes short work of cosmological problems in the Bible is the reference to his having ascended in order that he might fill up all things.” The problem with this view is that it presumes, without any justification in the context, that the reference is to him filling the universe **with his own disembodied person** – which it clearly does not. Note the way Paul speaks repeatedly of the assembly being filled:

    Eph 1:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
    Eph 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
    Eph 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
    Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

    My take is that, given the context, TA PANTA refers to the assembly being made completely supplied.

    This, of course, agrees with the ubiquitous assertion that Jesus is at the right hand of God in the sky.

    Note that by “deranged” I did not mean that your were foaming at the mouth. I meant that your thoughts on this subject were unreasonable – such is the primary meaning of the word in the English language:

    ****
    Modern Language Association (MLA):
    “deranged.” Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary. MICRA, Inc. 02 May. 2008. .

    Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary – Cite This Source – Share This
    Deranged

    De*range”, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Deranged; p. pr. & vb. n. Deranging.] [F. d[‘e]ranger; pref. d[‘e]- = d[‘e]s- (L. dis) + ranger to range. See Range, and cf. Disarrange, Disrank.]

    1. To put out of place, order, or rank; to disturb the proper arrangement or order of; to throw into disorder, confusion, or embarrassment; to disorder; to disarrange; as, to derange the plans of a commander, or the affairs of a nation.

    2. To disturb in action or function, as a part or organ, or the whole of a machine or organism.

    A sudden fall deranges some of our internal parts. –Blair.

    3. To disturb in the orderly or normal action of the intellect; to render insane.

    Syn: To disorder; disarrange; displace; unsettle; disturb; confuse; discompose; ruffle; disconcert. Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.
    ****

    I would also point out that the PLHRWSH (aorist) of the assembly does not refer to the current state of the assembly, but rather of the completed transition that occurred through the ministry of Paul. That is, these ambassadors were to effect the Pauline style “New Man” where Judaism has been expunged. Paul considers this a completed event:

    Eph 4:13 Till we all [hOI PANTES = Ex-Jews and gentiles] come [AORIST – “arrive”] in the unity of [“the unity that is”] the faith, and of [“the unity that is”] the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man [], unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

    This Paul sees he has accomplished:

    Eph 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
    Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
    Col 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

    So, the primitive cosmology of the Bible remains critical evidence that the Bible was not directed by the creator of the Universe.

    Bill Ross
    http://bibleshockers.com

  9. As I said, it is not necessary to refute your reading of Ephesians 4:10 because even as you represent it to speak of Jesus “filling the Universe” it has no bearing on the Biblical cosmology represented anywhere else. That is simply absurd. What hermeneutic allows one verse to trump all others?

    But as to Eph 4:10, note what it asserts:

    10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

    I believe you want us to believe that references to Jesus going “up” are not to be taken literally but to actually refer to his “crossing into a state of being infinite” – or some other such concept other than a change of coordinates. Please correct me if I have not understood your position.

    But look at the verse. It speaks of descending into the ground. Is this not literal, geographic direction being referred to? Then, it says he ascended “up above all of the skies.” What part of “up” don’t you understand? How can you suggest that this verse single-handedly eliminates the “primitive cosmology problem” of the Bible? What is your syllogism?

    The part I believe you think makes short work of cosmological problems in the Bible is the reference to his having ascended in order that he might fill up all things.” The problem with this view is that it presumes, without any justification in the context, that the reference is to him filling the universe **with his own disembodied person** – which it clearly does not. Note the way Paul speaks repeatedly of the assembly being filled:

    Eph 1:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
    Eph 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
    Eph 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
    Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

    My take is that, given the context, TA PANTA refers to the assembly being made completely supplied.

    This, of course, agrees with the ubiquitous assertion that Jesus is at the right hand of God in the sky.

    Note that by “deranged” I did not mean that your were foaming at the mouth. I meant that your thoughts on this subject were unreasonable – such is the primary meaning of the word in the English language:

    ****
    Modern Language Association (MLA):
    “deranged.” Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary. MICRA, Inc. 02 May. 2008. .

    Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary – Cite This Source – Share This
    Deranged

    De*range”, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Deranged; p. pr. & vb. n. Deranging.] [F. d[‘e]ranger; pref. d[‘e]- = d[‘e]s- (L. dis) + ranger to range. See Range, and cf. Disarrange, Disrank.]

    1. To put out of place, order, or rank; to disturb the proper arrangement or order of; to throw into disorder, confusion, or embarrassment; to disorder; to disarrange; as, to derange the plans of a commander, or the affairs of a nation.

    2. To disturb in action or function, as a part or organ, or the whole of a machine or organism.

    A sudden fall deranges some of our internal parts. –Blair.

    3. To disturb in the orderly or normal action of the intellect; to render insane.

    Syn: To disorder; disarrange; displace; unsettle; disturb; confuse; discompose; ruffle; disconcert. Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.
    ****

    I would also point out that the PLHRWSH (aorist) of the assembly does not refer to the current state of the assembly, but rather of the completed transition that occurred through the ministry of Paul. That is, these ambassadors were to effect the Pauline style “New Man” where Judaism has been expunged. Paul considers this a completed event:

    Eph 4:13 Till we all [hOI PANTES = Ex-Jews and gentiles] come [AORIST – “arrive”] in the unity of [“the unity that is”] the faith, and of [“the unity that is”] the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man [], unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

    This Paul sees he has accomplished:

    Eph 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
    Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
    Col 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

    So, the primitive cosmology of the Bible remains critical evidence that the Bible was not directed by the creator of the Universe.

    Bill Ross
    http://bibleshockers.com

  10. As I said, it is not necessary to refute your reading of Ephesians 4:10 because even as you represent it to speak of Jesus “filling the Universe” it has no bearing on the Biblical cosmology represented anywhere else. That is simply absurd. What hermeneutic allows one verse to trump all others?

    But as to Eph 4:10, note what it asserts:

    10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

    I believe you want us to believe that references to Jesus going “up” are not to be taken literally but to actually refer to his “crossing into a state of being infinite” – or some other such concept other than a change of coordinates. Please correct me if I have not understood your position.

    But look at the verse. It speaks of descending into the ground. Is this not literal, geographic direction being referred to? Then, it says he ascended “up above all of the skies.” What part of “up” don’t you understand? How can you suggest that this verse single-handedly eliminates the “primitive cosmology problem” of the Bible? What is your syllogism?

    The part I believe you think makes short work of cosmological problems in the Bible is the reference to his having ascended in order that he might fill up all things.” The problem with this view is that it presumes, without any justification in the context, that the reference is to him filling the universe **with his own disembodied person** – which it clearly does not. Note the way Paul speaks repeatedly of the assembly being filled:

    Eph 1:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
    Eph 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
    Eph 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
    Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

    My take is that, given the context, TA PANTA refers to the assembly being made completely supplied.

    This, of course, agrees with the ubiquitous assertion that Jesus is at the right hand of God in the sky.

    Note that by “deranged” I did not mean that your were foaming at the mouth. I meant that your thoughts on this subject were unreasonable – such is the primary meaning of the word in the English language:

    ****
    Modern Language Association (MLA):
    “deranged.” Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary. MICRA, Inc. 02 May. 2008. .

    Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary – Cite This Source – Share This
    Deranged

    De*range”, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Deranged; p. pr. & vb. n. Deranging.] [F. d[‘e]ranger; pref. d[‘e]- = d[‘e]s- (L. dis) + ranger to range. See Range, and cf. Disarrange, Disrank.]

    1. To put out of place, order, or rank; to disturb the proper arrangement or order of; to throw into disorder, confusion, or embarrassment; to disorder; to disarrange; as, to derange the plans of a commander, or the affairs of a nation.

    2. To disturb in action or function, as a part or organ, or the whole of a machine or organism.

    A sudden fall deranges some of our internal parts. –Blair.

    3. To disturb in the orderly or normal action of the intellect; to render insane.

    Syn: To disorder; disarrange; displace; unsettle; disturb; confuse; discompose; ruffle; disconcert. Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.
    ****

    I would also point out that the PLHRWSH (aorist) of the assembly does not refer to the current state of the assembly, but rather of the completed transition that occurred through the ministry of Paul. That is, these ambassadors were to effect the Pauline style “New Man” where Judaism has been expunged. Paul considers this a completed event:

    Eph 4:13 Till we all [hOI PANTES = Ex-Jews and gentiles] come [AORIST – “arrive”] in the unity of [“the unity that is”] the faith, and of [“the unity that is”] the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man [], unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

    This Paul sees he has accomplished:

    Eph 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
    Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
    Col 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

    So, the primitive cosmology of the Bible remains critical evidence that the Bible was not directed by the creator of the Universe.

    Bill Ross
    http://bibleshockers.com

  11. As I said, it is not necessary to refute your reading of Ephesians 4:10 because even as you represent it to speak of Jesus “filling the Universe” it has no bearing on the Biblical cosmology represented anywhere else. That is simply absurd. What hermeneutic allows one verse to trump all others?

    But as to Eph 4:10, note what it asserts:

    10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

    I believe you want us to believe that references to Jesus going “up” are not to be taken literally but to actually refer to his “crossing into a state of being infinite” – or some other such concept other than a change of coordinates. Please correct me if I have not understood your position.

    But look at the verse. It speaks of descending into the ground. Is this not literal, geographic direction being referred to? Then, it says he ascended “up above all of the skies.” What part of “up” don’t you understand? How can you suggest that this verse single-handedly eliminates the “primitive cosmology problem” of the Bible? What is your syllogism?

    The part I believe you think makes short work of cosmological problems in the Bible is the reference to his having ascended in order that he might fill up all things.” The problem with this view is that it presumes, without any justification in the context, that the reference is to him filling the universe **with his own disembodied person** – which it clearly does not. Note the way Paul speaks repeatedly of the assembly being filled:

    Eph 1:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
    Eph 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
    Eph 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
    Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

    My take is that, given the context, TA PANTA refers to the assembly being made completely supplied.

    This, of course, agrees with the ubiquitous assertion that Jesus is at the right hand of God in the sky.

    Note that by “deranged” I did not mean that your were foaming at the mouth. I meant that your thoughts on this subject were unreasonable – such is the primary meaning of the word in the English language:

    ****
    Modern Language Association (MLA):
    “deranged.” Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary. MICRA, Inc. 02 May. 2008. .

    Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary – Cite This Source – Share This
    Deranged

    De*range”, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Deranged; p. pr. & vb. n. Deranging.] [F. d[‘e]ranger; pref. d[‘e]- = d[‘e]s- (L. dis) + ranger to range. See Range, and cf. Disarrange, Disrank.]

    1. To put out of place, order, or rank; to disturb the proper arrangement or order of; to throw into disorder, confusion, or embarrassment; to disorder; to disarrange; as, to derange the plans of a commander, or the affairs of a nation.

    2. To disturb in action or function, as a part or organ, or the whole of a machine or organism.

    A sudden fall deranges some of our internal parts. –Blair.

    3. To disturb in the orderly or normal action of the intellect; to render insane.

    Syn: To disorder; disarrange; displace; unsettle; disturb; confuse; discompose; ruffle; disconcert. Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.
    ****

    I would also point out that the PLHRWSH (aorist) of the assembly does not refer to the current state of the assembly, but rather of the completed transition that occurred through the ministry of Paul. That is, these ambassadors were to effect the Pauline style “New Man” where Judaism has been expunged. Paul considers this a completed event:

    Eph 4:13 Till we all [hOI PANTES = Ex-Jews and gentiles] come [AORIST – “arrive”] in the unity of [“the unity that is”] the faith, and of [“the unity that is”] the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man [], unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

    This Paul sees he has accomplished:

    Eph 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
    Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
    Col 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

    So, the primitive cosmology of the Bible remains critical evidence that the Bible was not directed by the creator of the Universe.

    Bill Ross
    http://bibleshockers.com

  12. >>>Thanks, Matthew. Yes, I agree that there is a sense in which Jesus is now absent as well as one in which he is now present. Paul was happy to die because then he would be with Christ, Philippians 1:23.

    Peter, SUN with the Dative – “with the lord” does not refer to geographic proximity but rather to “identification with” – that is, he wants to experience martyrdom to share in the anointed one’s experience.

    >>>As taught for example in Acts 1:11, at the end Jesus will come again in a kind of reversal of the Ascension and again be located at a particular place.

    Christian art reveals that this has historically always been (correctly) understood to refer to Jesus travelling rocket-like through the sky ceiling to the very physical realm of the gods. Since the invention of the telescope the ecclessiatical powers that be have been fudging, coining a new word “spirit” to refer to invisible, non-localized people and places. It has been accepted wholesale by the True Believers. But it is not Biblical.

    Bill Ross
    http://bibleshockers.com

  13. >>>Thanks, Matthew. Yes, I agree that there is a sense in which Jesus is now absent as well as one in which he is now present. Paul was happy to die because then he would be with Christ, Philippians 1:23.

    Peter, SUN with the Dative – “with the lord” does not refer to geographic proximity but rather to “identification with” – that is, he wants to experience martyrdom to share in the anointed one’s experience.

    >>>As taught for example in Acts 1:11, at the end Jesus will come again in a kind of reversal of the Ascension and again be located at a particular place.

    Christian art reveals that this has historically always been (correctly) understood to refer to Jesus travelling rocket-like through the sky ceiling to the very physical realm of the gods. Since the invention of the telescope the ecclessiatical powers that be have been fudging, coining a new word “spirit” to refer to invisible, non-localized people and places. It has been accepted wholesale by the True Believers. But it is not Biblical.

    Bill Ross
    http://bibleshockers.com

  14. >>>Thanks, Matthew. Yes, I agree that there is a sense in which Jesus is now absent as well as one in which he is now present. Paul was happy to die because then he would be with Christ, Philippians 1:23.

    Peter, SUN with the Dative – “with the lord” does not refer to geographic proximity but rather to “identification with” – that is, he wants to experience martyrdom to share in the anointed one’s experience.

    >>>As taught for example in Acts 1:11, at the end Jesus will come again in a kind of reversal of the Ascension and again be located at a particular place.

    Christian art reveals that this has historically always been (correctly) understood to refer to Jesus travelling rocket-like through the sky ceiling to the very physical realm of the gods. Since the invention of the telescope the ecclessiatical powers that be have been fudging, coining a new word “spirit” to refer to invisible, non-localized people and places. It has been accepted wholesale by the True Believers. But it is not Biblical.

    Bill Ross
    http://bibleshockers.com

  15. >>>Thanks, Matthew. Yes, I agree that there is a sense in which Jesus is now absent as well as one in which he is now present. Paul was happy to die because then he would be with Christ, Philippians 1:23.

    Peter, SUN with the Dative – “with the lord” does not refer to geographic proximity but rather to “identification with” – that is, he wants to experience martyrdom to share in the anointed one’s experience.

    >>>As taught for example in Acts 1:11, at the end Jesus will come again in a kind of reversal of the Ascension and again be located at a particular place.

    Christian art reveals that this has historically always been (correctly) understood to refer to Jesus travelling rocket-like through the sky ceiling to the very physical realm of the gods. Since the invention of the telescope the ecclessiatical powers that be have been fudging, coining a new word “spirit” to refer to invisible, non-localized people and places. It has been accepted wholesale by the True Believers. But it is not Biblical.

    Bill Ross
    http://bibleshockers.com

  16. Seems like one of the more important points was missed, that the Ascension was also necessary so we could have the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives on a permanent basis (cf, Jn 14-16)

  17. Brian, thanks for your important point about the Holy Spirit. I did of course mention the Holy Spirit as

    the agent through whom the continuing presence of Jesus is made manifest in his people.

    I realise this is not a complete description of the Holy Spirit’s work. And I’m not sure why the Ascension was necessary for this. I take the going away of John 16:7 as referring to the crucifixion, not the Ascension, but I could be wrong.

  18. Bill, you do have a point that in Ephesians 4:10 “fill all things” or “fill the whole universe” does not necessarily refer to Jesus’ physical body and may well be related to the church, as in 1:22-23, 4:13 etc. This is complicated. But I think I understand 1:23 as well as 4:10 as teaching that Christ fills “all things”, which must mean the whole universe (without thereby implying any particular cosmology), and he does so with his body – but not his physical body infinitely expanded, but the “church”. But what it means to say that the church fills “all things”, I don’t know.

    Your interpretation of Philippians 1:23 is an intriguing possibility. But do you know of any reputable commentator who has taken this line?

  19. I guess I see Jn 16:7 as a reference to Jesus returning to the Father since, in order for Jesus to “be with [us] alway, even to the end of the age,” Jesus had to return to the Father so he could “pour out his Spirit on all flesh” and “write his law on our hearts,” and all the other wonderful things promised in the Law and the Prophets.

    The man, Jesus, was limited in his availability and in his location – with the Ascension however – Jesus’ presence and power then (and now) became accessible and available to all people universally through the Holy Spirit.

    At least, that is how I see it.

  20. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom » Another take on the Ascension

  21. I was thinking of John 16:7 as a reference to the crucifixion, because the atoning death of Jesus was necessary before the Holy Spirit could be poured out. But of course you are right that the unascended Jesus was limited in his accessibility and availability, but now through the Holy Spirit he is not.

  22. Thanks Peter for bringing this up, I have always lamented the way that the Ascension has been ignored by theology and sermons. Even Scott McKnight gave it only a passing reference in his comphrensive summary of the gospel.

    On a differing point, I am a little alarmed at your comment: The mention in Luke 24:51 is both textually and contextually rather doubtful.. Is scripture doubtful? Can you elaborate a little? I am not aware of any manuscript uncertainity here, is that what is in question?

  23. Alastair, Scripture itself is not doubtful, but our knowledge of the original text, which evangelicals consider authoritative, can be. In this case there is real uncertainty about the text of Luke 24:51. RSV relegates to a footnote the words “and was carried up into heaven”, based on an earlier edition of the Nestle-Aland text in which these words were omitted. Without these words there is no mention in Luke of the Ascension. The omission is found in the “western text”, i.e. the Greek manuscript D and the Old Latin versions, also in the original hand of Sinaiticus and some other ancient witnesses. But the great majority of manuscripts include these words, and so the UBS text committee now judges the text with the explicit mention of the Ascension to be “almost certain”.

  24. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom » Pentecost and Tongues of Fire

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