Acts 1:11 (Please Read)


#1

Acts 1:11 is a widely known and quoted verse, but I’ve never understood its popular and common interpretation. The interpretation explains that the angels inform the “Men of Galilee”, after they watch Jesus ascend to Heaven, that he’ll return the same way as they had just seen him leave. From Heaven–or the Sky. But in any of editions of the Bible that I read (ESV, NASB, NIV, DRA, etc.), that interpretation completely ignores the first and commencing line of the angels*** “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky” (NASB)***. The angels are clearly informing them while they’re *** “gazing intently into the sky” ***that Jesus will not return the way he had just left. The angels, in the next line, instead seem to be saying–even though obliquely–that Jesus will return just in the same way he came and left. That is, from my interpretation, be born once again.

Can anyone understand my confusion of this popular interpretation of the verse? Here it is in full from Acts 1:9-11 (NASB):

"9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”


#2

Acts 1:11 is a widely known and quoted verse, but I’ve never understood its common and popular interpretation. The interpretation explains that the angels inform the “Men of Galilee”, after they watch Jesus ascend to Heaven, that he’ll return the same way as they had just seen him leave. From Heaven–or the Sky. But in any of editions of the Bible that I read (ESV, NASB, NIV, DRA, etc.), that interpretation completely ignores the first and commencing line of the angels “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky” (NASB). The angels are clearly informing them while they’re “gazing intently into the sky” that Jesus will not return the way he had just left. The angels, in the next line, instead seem to be saying–even though obliquely–that Jesus will return just in the same way he came and left. That is, from my interpretation, be born once again.

Can anyone understand my confusion of this popular interpretation of the verse? Here it is in full from Acts 1:9-11 (NASB):

"9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”


#3

I understand it to mean that Jesus will return as he was when he left, not in the manner that he left. Meaning, Jesus will return as a man and not necessarily from the sky.

There is no indication that it is the same way he 'came and went' as you describe, since only 'left/leave' is used. To do so would be to read into the text that which is not there.


#4

[quote="TimGreeley, post:1, topic:332234"]
The angels are clearly informing them while they're *** "gazing intently into the sky" *that Jesus **will not return the way he had just left. The angels, in the next line, instead seem to be saying--even though obliquely--that Jesus will return just in the same way he came and left. That is, from my interpretation, be born once again.

Can anyone understand my confusion of this popular interpretation of the verse? Here it is in full from Acts 1:9-11 (NASB):

[/quote]

I'm not sure how you came to that conclusion. It doesn't appear to me that that is what the angels were saying at all. I think they just wanted the apostles to move on with their lives and missions as Jesus wouldn't be coming back while they stood there waiting. It does say elsewhere that people at sometime will see Jesus returning in glory from heaven (1 Thessalonians)


#5

Your interpretation, Tim does not match what St. Paul revealed in his epistle:

1Thes. 4[16] For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first;
[17] then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Also, read this from Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary:

Ver. 11. So shall he come, as you have seen him going. This word going, says St. Chrysostom, sufficiently intimates, that he ascended by his own power: for so will he come by his own power to judge the world. (Witham) --- Jesus Christ shall come on the last day, in the same body, in the same majesty, to judge the living and the dead. This he had likewise promised, in more than one place of the gospel, speaking of the vengeance, which he will exercise on the city of Jerusalem. St. Jerome, St. Hilary, and many other ancients, have believed that the Son of God will appear again on Mount Olivet, and that all people shall be assembled to judgment. (St. Jerome, super Joel iii. 2.; St. Hilary, super Matthew xxiv. 32.) --- And that same body, which thus ascended to heaven, and which will thus descend, is given us in the blessed Sacrament. "O miracle! exclaims St. Chrysostom, He that sitteth with his Father above, is at the same time handled by men below. Jesus Christ ascending to heaven, both hath his flesh with him above, and hath left it with us below. Elias being taken up, left his disciple, Eliseus, his mantle and double spirit, but the Son of Man ascending, left his own flesh for us." (Lib. iii. de Sacerd. hom. 2. ad pop. Ant. hom. de divit. et paup.) --- Sulpicius Severus, and St. Paulinus, assure us, that the marks of the feet of our Saviour were imprinted in the place off which he rose to heaven; and St. Augustine informs us, that many in his time went to Judea, to venerate these sacred marks. Ven. Bede testifies the same in the eighth age *. In the time of Constantine the great, the empress Helen built a church on the place. (Calmet)

It is clear that Christ will not be re-incarnated. His risen, glorified body is "seated at the right hand of the Father." He is now and eternally will be what he was when he ascended into heaven. And he will come again in his present form to take us into heaven with him on the last day.*


#6

Hi Tim. I understand this to mean that He will return in His glorified body, in other words, it’s not necessarily confined to a geographic idea. Reading this passage alongside of some of the others, such as 1 Thess 4:16-17 may provide some insight into the manner of speech and thought of the early writers. Here is a commentary from Haydock, where he offers insights from early century Church Fathers. Hope you find something helpful.

Ver. 11. So shall he come, as you have seen him going. This word going, says St. Chrysostom, sufficiently intimates, that he ascended by his own power: for so will he come by his own power to judge the world. (Witham) — Jesus Christ shall come on the last day, in the same body, in the same majesty, to judge the living and the dead. This he had likewise promised, in more than one place of the gospel, speaking of the vengeance, which he will exercise on the city of Jerusalem. St. Jerome, St. Hilary, and many other ancients, have believed that the Son of God will appear again on Mount Olivet, and that all people shall be assembled to judgment. (St. Jerome, super Joel iii. 2.; St. Hilary, super Matthew xxiv. 32.) — And that same body, which thus ascended to heaven, and which will thus descend, is given us in the blessed Sacrament. “O miracle! exclaims St. Chrysostom, He that sitteth with his Father above, is at the same time handled by men below. Jesus Christ ascending to heaven, both hath his flesh with him above, and hath left it with us below. Elias being taken up, left his disciple, Eliseus, his mantle and double spirit, but the Son of Man ascending, left his own flesh for us.” (Lib. iii. de Sacerd. hom. 2. ad pop. Ant. hom. de divit. et paup.) — Sulpicius Severus, and St. Paulinus, assure us, that the marks of the feet of our Saviour were imprinted in the place off which he rose to heaven; and St. Augustine informs us, that many in his time went to Judea, to venerate these sacred marks. Ven. Bede testifies the same in the eighth age . In the time of Constantine the great, the empress Helen built a church on the place. (Calmet)


#7

I read it the same as Polycarp1, and I don't see the point of confusion.

To me it is clear that He will return again as He rose into the heavens. And isn't the same reflected elsewhere in scripture?


#8

From “Haydock’s Bible Commentary” on Acts 1:11:

Ver. 11. So shall he come, as you have seen him going. This word going, says St. Chrysostom, sufficiently intimates, that he ascended by his own power: for so will he come by his own power to judge the world. (Witham) — Jesus Christ shall come on the last day, in the same body, in the same majesty, to judge the living and the dead. This he had likewise promised, in more than one place of the gospel, speaking of the vengeance, which he will exercise on the city of Jerusalem. St. Jerome, St. Hilary, and many other ancients, have believed that the Son of God will appear again on Mount Olivet, and that all people shall be assembled to judgment. (St. Jerome, super Joel iii. 2.; St. Hilary, super Matthew xxiv. 32.) — And that same body, which thus ascended to heaven, and which will thus descend, is given us in the blessed Sacrament. “O miracle! exclaims St. Chrysostom, He that sitteth with his Father above, is at the same time handled by men below. Jesus Christ ascending to heaven, both hath his flesh with him above, and hath left it with us below. Elias being taken up, left his disciple, Eliseus, his mantle and double spirit, but the Son of Man ascending, left his own flesh for us.” (Lib. iii. de Sacerd. hom. 2. ad pop. Ant. hom. de divit. et paup.) — Sulpicius Severus, and St. Paulinus, assure us, that the marks of the feet of our Saviour were imprinted in the place off which he rose to heaven; and St. Augustine informs us, that many in his time went to Judea, to venerate these sacred marks. Ven. Bede testifies the same in the eighth age . In the time of Constantine the great, the empress Helen built a church on the place. (Calmet)

Source: haydock1859.tripod.com/id116.html (cut & pasted, italics removed and perhaps other emphasis.)

Edit: I guess I should have read your post Della :o


#9

Your interpretation is completely sound in my opinion if you read the verse without the opening line:*** "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking in to the sky?"*. Why would the angels tell them not to look into the Heavens if they're affirming in their next line **that he will be coming from the Heavens? This to me is a glaring contradiction considering that they're tandem expressions one after the other. This is what your interpretation is saying in fewer, summary words:

"Why do you look outside? He'll be coming the same way he had left, from outside..."
(Do you see it now?)

Concerning every other reference of Jesus--or the Son of Man--returning in glory on the clouds... Just as Jesus said "I am the door", I don't take it literally that he'll arrive in the sky on clouds. But that is my opinion. I would recommend anyone to look at the work of N.T. Wright concerning that language, it really is revealing.


#10

I agree with polycarp and don't see the contradiction. The verse of why you are standing there looking at the sky has to do with the fact that they have a mission to do and instead of being there staring they have to move on and fulfill their mission. Have you ever been in the middle of an emergency when people don't do anything just staring at the emergency without moving and not taking action? What is the first people those people get told: don't stand up there staring, DO something, call an ambulance whatever, but don't stand there staring like ahhhh what is happening here. Same in this case, they are staring looking like what now, and the angels are saying don't stand there staring. Jesus will be back so go and finish you mission.


#11

God the Son cannot be born again to another mother, as he already posses a human nature born of Mary, queen of heaven. It is this body that we receive the Eucharist.

The church condemns the notion of reincarnation. If God the Son were born again, he would have taken on a second human nature, and thus not be Jesus while on earth, but a different man possessing the same divinity.


#12

:thumbsup:This


#13

From the angels’ opening words I would suppose that the apostles were grieving over Christ’s departure as though they had lost him forever, staring hopelessly into the blank sky into which he had disappeared. The angels therefore told them, or reminded them, that he would come back from heaven just as they had seen him go up into it. The standard interpretation that you mention makes perfect sense to me.


#14

Contextually, you need to realize that the ascension happened literally after Jesus’ last statement: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” At this moment, and only this moment, did the Apostles look ***“intently up into the sky as he was going” (NIV) ***. They weren’t tarrying. And at the same moment the angels appeared and said in your interpretation, “Why do you look into the sky? He’ll be coming back that same way–from the sky.” When someone poses a rhetorical question, as Jesus does throughout the Gospels, the necessary answer follows. In your interpretation-there is no answer–but rather an odd and lengthy phrased tautology. ***“This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into Heaven, will come back in the same you have seen him go into Heaven.” (NIV) *** That’s all they said. They weren’t reminding the Apostles of their mission, as they could implied or elaborated.


#15

Mary, why didn’t the angels say something more to the effect of “Why do you stand looking into the sky? Jesus will come back in due time…” Instead they give their weight to a long strangely-phrased explanation: “Jesus, who has left to Heaven, will come back in the same way he has arrived to Heaven”. Which is in clear contradiction of their original question to the apostles: “Why do you stand looking into Heaven?”

All this occurred as Jesus “was going”–not seconds, minutes, hours, or days after. The Apostles weren’t tarrying. And they were just reminded of their mission by Jesus.


#16

[quote="Della, post:5, topic:332234"]
Your interpretation, Tim does not match what St. Paul revealed in his epistle:

1Thes. 4[16] For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first;
[17] then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Also, read this from Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary:

Ver. 11. So shall he come, as you have seen him going. This word going, says St. Chrysostom, sufficiently intimates, that he ascended by his own power: for so will he come by his own power to judge the world. (Witham) --- Jesus Christ shall come on the last day, in the same body, in the same majesty, to judge the living and the dead. This he had likewise promised, in more than one place of the gospel, speaking of the vengeance, which he will exercise on the city of Jerusalem. St. Jerome, St. Hilary, and many other ancients, have believed that the Son of God will appear again on Mount Olivet, and that all people shall be assembled to judgment. (St. Jerome, super Joel iii. 2.; St. Hilary, super Matthew xxiv. 32.) --- And that same body, which thus ascended to heaven, and which will thus descend, is given us in the blessed Sacrament. "O miracle! exclaims St. Chrysostom, He that sitteth with his Father above, is at the same time handled by men below. Jesus Christ ascending to heaven, both hath his flesh with him above, and hath left it with us below. Elias being taken up, left his disciple, Eliseus, his mantle and double spirit, but the Son of Man ascending, left his own flesh for us." (Lib. iii. de Sacerd. hom. 2. ad pop. Ant. hom. de divit. et paup.) --- Sulpicius Severus, and St. Paulinus, assure us, that the marks of the feet of our Saviour were imprinted in the place off which he rose to heaven; and St. Augustine informs us, that many in his time went to Judea, to venerate these sacred marks. Ven. Bede testifies the same in the eighth age *. In the time of Constantine the great, the empress Helen built a church on the place. (Calmet)

It is clear that Christ will not be re-incarnated. His risen, glorified body is "seated at the right hand of the Father." He is now and eternally will be what he was when he ascended into heaven. And he will come again in his present form to take us into heaven with him on the last day.*

Della, I understand where your interpretation comes from. Firstly, to understand mine, I give most weight to the words of Jesus, Angels, and Paul--before anyone else. In that order. Jesus, as his primary modus operandi, expresses purely in figurative--or parable. He says himself in the Gospels that this the best way for him to be understood by his elect , so that it may filter them from the rest of the world (Matthew 13:10). When Jesus said "I am the door", I don't take it literally--as I'm sure you don't either. I interpret his language of "coming on clouds" as very similar to "I am the door". Do you not see how they can be seen the same way, as examples of figurative and powerful human expression?

[/quote]


#17

Lost him forever? Didn’t they already go through this at his crucifixion? Wasn’t that last resurrection appearance, and every other before, a reminder that he’s always with them? Whether in bodily form or in the Holy Spirit? The account describes them looking in to the sky ***“as he goes”***. They weren’t even tarrying. They has just been reminded of their mission by Jesus. At this same, exact moment they’re watching him leave, the angels appear and ask why they’re ***“looking into the sky?”***. That question itself implies to that he’s not arriving again from the sky. They then aloofly phrase their answer as to how he will actually arrive: ***“This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (NIV)



#18

No, I can’t “see it that way” at all. Jesus made it clear when he was speaking metaphorically and when he wasn’t. St. Paul is to as trusted as Jesus himself because he, Paul, was called by Christ himself to preach and teach the truth. There is no ranking of whose truth is higher than another’s within heaven and earth as far as God is concerned. The truth is the truth no matter who speaks it, even if it be an atheist.


#19

Why wouldn’t he be Jesus? You may as well say the same concerning the first Jesus, as that Jesus was also a “second nature” of Jesus the Word. The church doesn’t condemn the notion of the reincarnation of Jesus. They generally condemn the notion of reincarnation as a method or reality of the one, true God.


#20

[quote="Della, post:18, topic:332234"]
No, I can't "see it that way" at all. Jesus made it clear when he was speaking metaphorically and when he wasn't. St. Paul is to as trusted as Jesus himself because he, Paul, was called by Christ himself to preach and teach the truth. There is no ranking of whose truth is higher than another's within heaven and earth as far as God is concerned. The truth is the truth no matter who speaks it, even if it be an atheist.

[/quote]

Why do you think Jesus stresses all of his expression through figurative language? Do you really think Paul literally believed that Jesus would shout from the sky--with a trumpet sound--that would be audible to all? Let alone be seen by all?


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.