Ascension Notes

“Ascension” stained glass, 16th century from Chavanges Saint-Georges. Wikimedia.

Luke 24:50-53


  • “Christ has fulfilled his part, and now they [the apostles] must preach his message of repentance and forgiveness
  • Apostles have to, “wait in Jerusalem until they are ‘clothed with power from on high’” on Pentecost
  • “Jesus leads the group.. toward Bethany – still Easter Sunday night… Bethany is close to Jerusalem… [perhaps they] went far enough that they were by themselves
  • “Jesus blesses them, just as Raphael blessed Tobit and Tobias before he ascended (Tobit 12:6-22) or Moses blessed Israel before he died (Deut 33:1-29)”
  • Posture of blessing presumably held while ascending
  • Apostles worship and return to Jerusalem as ordered; stayed in the Temple like Simeon and Anna; also looks forward to the early church in acts 1-6, also steadily in the temple as a witness to Jesus.
  • Source: ​(Vinson 2008)​

Other Ascensions

  • Ascension showed that a remarkable person (like the Emperor) was being deified. Within the context of Judaism, it was a sign of God’s favor ​(“Ascension of Jesus,” n.d.)​
  • Enoch from Genesis and 1 Enoch
    • “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more because God took him” (Gen 5:24)
    • “Enoch pleased the Lord and was taken up, an example of repentance to all generations” (Sir 44:16) [written approximately 200-175 BCE]
    • “Few have ever been created on earth like Enoch, for he was taken up from the earth” (Sir 49:14) [written approximately 200-175 BCE]
    • “And it came to pass that his name during his lifetime was raised aloft to that Son of Man and to the Lord of Spirits from amongst those who dwell on the earth. And he was raised aloft on the chariots of the spirit and his name vanished among them. And from that day I was no longer numbered amongst them: and he set me between the two winds, between the North and the West, where the angels took the cords to measure for me the place for the elect and the righteous. And there I saw the first fathers and the righteous who from the beginning dwell in that place. And it came to pass after this that my spirit was translated and it ascended into the heavens: and I saw the holy sons of God… And I fell on my face, and my whole body became relaxed, and my spirit was transfigured; and I cried with a loud voice,…with the spirit of power, and blessed and glorified and extolled. (1 Enoch 70:1-4 & 71:1a,11 )[written approximately 100 BCE]
    • “By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death…For it was attested before he was taken away that ‘he had pleased God’” (Heb 11:5) [written approximately 63 or 64 CE]
  • Elijah
    • “As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven.” (2 Kgs 2:11)
  • Teacher of Righteousness of the Qumran community
    • “There are none comparable to me in my glory, no one shall be exalted besides me; none shall associate with me. For I dwelt in thte…in the heavens and there is no one…I am reckoned with the gods and my abode is in the holy congregation…everything precious to me is in the glory of the holy habitation. ​(“War Scroll [4Q491]” n.d.)​ [12b-15a] [either 165-164 BCE, 143 BCE, or 135-104BC, or mid 1st Century BCE to 9 CE]
  • Children of Job in the Testament of Job who ascended to heaven following their resurrection from the dead
    •  “I saw with mine own eyes my longed-for children carried by angels to heaven” (Testament of Job 5:10) [written in the 1st century BCE or 1st century CE]
    • “they looked and saw my children with crowns near the glory of the King, the Ruler of heaven” (Testament of Job 9:13)
  • Moses who was deified on entering heaven
    • “Now as soon as they [Moses, Joshua, Eleazar the high priest, and the seventy elders] were come to the mountain called Abarim, he dismissed the senate; and as he was going to embrace Eleazar and Joshua, and was still discoursing with them, a cloud stood over him on the sudden, and he disappeared in a certain valley, although he wrote in the holy books that he died, which was done out of fear, lest they should venture to say that, because of his extraordinary virtue, he went to God” ​(Josephus 1900)​ [written in 1st century CE]
    • “Moses ascended in the cloud, was hidden by the cloud, and was sanctified by the cloud” (Babylonian Talmud Yoma 4a)
    • “When Moses was to ascend, a cloud descended and lay before him…And the cloud covered Moses and carried him up.” (Pesikta Rabbati 20:4)
  • Ezra
    • “In the seventh year of the sixth week, five thousand years and three months and twenty-two days after creation. At that time, Ezra was caught up, and taken to the place of those who are like him, after he had written all these things. And he was called the Scribe of the knowledge of the Most High forever.” (4 Eza 14:49-50) [written in the 90s CE]
  • Baruch, companion of Jeremiah, from 2 Baruch in which Baruch is promised he will ascend to heaven after 40 days
    • “Because you have been astonished at what has befallen Zion, you shall therefore be assuredly preserved to the consummation of the times, that you may be for a testimony” (2 Bar 13:3) [written in the late 1st century or early 2nd century AD – Jewish pseudepigraphical text]
    • “And He answered and said unto me: ‘You too shall be preserved till that time till that sign which the Most High will work for the inhabitant of the earth in the end of days” (2 Bar 25:1)
    • “For you shall surely depart from this earth, nevertheless not unto death, but you shall be preserved unto the consummation of the times. GO up therefore to the top of that mountain and there shall pass before you all the regions of that land, and the figure of the inhabited world, and the top of the mountain, and the depth of the valleys, and the depths of the seas, and the number of the rivers, that you may see what you are leaving, and whither you are going. Now this shall befall after forty days. Go now therefore during these days and instruct the people so far as you are able, that they may learn so as not to die at the last time, but may learn in order that they may live at the last times.’” (2 Bar 76:2-4)
  • Levi, ancestor of priests
    • “then there fell upon me a sleep and I beheld a high mountain, and I was upon it. And behold the heavens were opened, and an angel of God said to me, Levi, enter. And I entered from the first heaven, and I saw there a great sea hanging…the angel said to me, “Marvel not at this, for thou shalt see another heaven more brilliant and incomparable. And when thou hast ascended thither, thou shalt stand near the Lord, and shalt be His minister, and shalt declare His mysteries to men, and shalt proclaim concerning Him that shall redeem Israel (Testament of Levi 1:5-7, 9b-10) [final form in 2nd century CE]
  • Non-Jewish Ascensions:
    • “Emperor Augustus whose ascent was witnessed by senators; Romulus, founder of Rome, who, like Jesus, was taken to heaven in a cloud; the Greek hero Heracles (Hercules)” ​(“Ascension of Jesus,” n.d.)​
    • Babylonian legend of Xisuthros ​(Kohler and Ginzberg 1906)​
    • Babylonian legend of Etana-Gilgamesh riding on an eagle to heaven ​(Kohler and Ginzberg 1906)​

Work Cited

  1. “Ascension of Jesus.” n.d. Wikipedia.
  2. Josephus, Flavius. 1900. “Moses.” In Antiquities of the Jews, translated by Siwart Haverkamp, 4:325–26. New York: Bigelow, Brown.
  3. Kohler, Kaufmann, and Louis Ginzberg. 1906. “Ascension.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 1906.
  4. Vinson, Richard B. 2008. Luke. Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary 21. Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc.
  5. “War Scroll [4Q491].” n.d. Qumran.Org. Accessed November 13, 2019.

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