How to respond to this objection on the Ascension?


a friend of mine (atheist but willling to read the bible) pointed out that Jesus is assumed and does not ascend?

Mark 16
19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.

Luke 24
51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.

Acts 1
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

All I could provide is

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that, “Christ’s ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, whence he will come again.” (CCC #665)

God prophesied the ascension through the Psalmist, about 600 years before it happened: “Lift up your heads, O gates; be lifted, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter.” (Ps 24:7)

But he meant this says Jesus didn’t do it by Himself.


An interesting question. Maybe this article can point you in the right direction…


I don’t understand the point.


To sum up, my friend points out that the doctrine saying that Jesus ascended is not in the Gospels. Ascending is active, by one’s own powers, and an assumption is passve, by the power of God one is assumed. So my friends tells me Jesus wasn’t God to be able to ascend, since it is said He was assumed.


In other verses, Jesus says that He did this by His own power:

John 20:17 – “[G]o to my brothers and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

John 3:13 – “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.”

John 6:62 – “[W]hat if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?”

Hebrews 4:14 – “[We] have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God.”

Ephesians 4:8-10 – “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people. What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.”

John 14:2-3 – “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

John 14:28 – “I am going away and I am coming back to you. If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

If Jesus ascended by His own power, but the angels took Him up, perhaps that means that He gives the angels power, or that He is the primary cause of their actions, or that they and He ascended by “lifting” together.


That is true, and how would you balance the two? Now we have by his own and by the power of God. The key should be the dogma of the divinity, but you can’t prove divinity with a dogma to an atheist, it would take this as circular.
The main problems is, Jesus surely said he did it Himself, but the description of the evangelists tell it differently, all of the gospels who write about it. And they are also inspired. So this would also lead to a dead end and no argument.
At best I think we should prove the case for the two natures, as a start.


If the atheist brought this up, you could prove Christ’s divinity on traditional grounds. Assuming he is merely saying that the Gospels declare that Jesus was assumed into heaven, you can show him that they also say that He ascended. And if he argues that this is a contradiction, you can defend that by saying, “Not if He was both God and man.” (Or one of the other suggestions I mentioned at the bottom of my initial post.) And then, if he asks you to prove that, you can use the traditional arguments that Catholics have used for a long time against Muslims to prove Jesus’ divinity.

At best I think we should prove the case for the two natures, as a start.

I agree, except I don’t think you have to start there in every case. You can just say what your belief is. If your Muslim friend challenges you on that point, then you can prove it. Of course, there’s no harm in starting with that point, if you want to.


Number one: Our faith is not founded on the bible. Neither is it limited to only that tiny fraction which was written. Your non-believing friend probably encounters “bible Christians” most of the time, receives answers all over the map - and so doubts the faith.

Ask him if Jesus had the power to lay His life down and take it up again (John 10:18)

No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down of my own free will. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back again. This commandment I received from my Father.”

If Jesus’ Spirit has the power to re-enter the Body, and after the resurrection, it was never to be separated again, then He also had the power of returning to the heaven from which He came.

Have him compare **Proverbs 30:4 **

Who has ascended into heaven, and then descended?
Who has gathered up the winds in his fists?
Who has bound up the waters in his cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son’s name?—if you know!

With Jesus’ own words in John 3:13

No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven—the Son of Man.

And Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:9-10

Now what is the meaning of “he ascended,” except that he also descended to the lower regions, namely, the earth? 10 He, the very one who descended, is also the one who ascended above all the heavens, in order to fill all things.


It is not the Muslim this time :smiley: but an Atheist.


“po18guy” Number one: Our faith is not founded on the bible.

Ok, but he is taking some final verses of gospels to say look it was assumed and did not ascend. I can’t go take somewhere else something that he can’t dispute. At least I see it so. I sure have to explain the Faith, which comes from Tradition, Scripture and Magisterium, but with the 1st and 3rd he cannot do much. It is like a foul ball from his point of view, and I understand it.

I wouls also say: Ok what you built up is nice, but what does the text say?

“Your non-believing friend probably encounters “bible Christians” most of the time.”

In Austria, not that much, no. No one really cares to explain anything. :smiley:


This describes Trinitarian theology which probably contains your answer. Jesus is God, so if God raised Him up, then Jesus raised himself.

I think your friend is picking nits fwiw.


Ask your friend what the original Greek says. :wink:


If your friend does think Jesus “was assumed” even in the passive, and didn’t ascend…it would mean he’s not an Atheist, right?
Assuming he’s saying that “the power of God” assumed him, then that would mean he believes a God exists.



Interesting philosophical question, but it displays a lack of understanding about who Jesus is. What, in Scripture, says Jesus (fully man) wasn’t taken up into Heaven by Jesus (fully God)? Assumed or ascended, the point is irrelevant when the full nature of Jesus is understood.


Your friend is pulling quotes selectively so as to prove his point. However, as Dmar 198, in post # 5 points out, there are other quotes which use forms of the verb " ascend " to show that Christ ascended into heaven by his own power.

The Church however is not a limited by the Scriptures which were not written until long after Christ ascended into heaven. The Church interprets Scriptures in light the Tradition of the Faith as handed on by the Apostles and as defined by the teaching authority of the Church. Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church in all Truth in matters of Faith and Morals and that includes interpreting the meaning of Scriptures.

We can also point out that Christ rose from the dead under his own power, so he could certainly ascend into heaven under his own power.

Further, as others have pointed out, as the Second Person of the Trinity, he is God, so whether we use the word " ascend " the phrase " was taken up, " the effect is the same. As, God, he went up to heaven under his own power because the power of God cannot be divided any more than God can be divided.

God Bless


Be careful when you use that argument :slight_smile: He simply reads the text, as I could read about a superhero having x-rays eyes or Marco Polo talking about his travels. He just sticks to the text. he doesn’t have to believe.
Don’t take it bad please.


It is not actually; i may use philosophy, but he merely reads the text of the ascension, and reads assumed.



Transliteration: analambanó
Phonetic Spelling: (an-al-am-ban’-o)
Short Definition: I take up, raise
Definition: I take up, raise; I pick up, take on board; I carry off, lead away.

Mark 16:19 V-AIP-3S
GRK: λαλῆσαι αὐτοῖς ἀνελήμφθη εἰς τὸν
NAS: had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven
KJV: unto them, he was received up into
INT: speaking to them was taken up into the

Acts 1:2 V-AIP-3S
GRK: οὓς ἐξελέξατο ἀνελήμφθη
NAS: the day when He was taken up [to heaven], after He had by the Holy
KJV: in which he was taken up, after that he through
INT: whom he chose he was taken up

Acts 1:11 V-APP-NMS
GRK: Ἰησοῦς ὁ ἀναλημφθεὶς ἀφ’ ὑμῶν
NAS: Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven,
KJV: Jesus, which is taken up from you
INT: Jesus having been taken up from you

Acts 1:22 V-AIP-3S
GRK: ἡμέρας ἧς ἀνελήμφθη ἀφ’ ἡμῶν
NAS: the day that He was taken up from us – one
KJV: that he was taken up from
INT: day in which he was taken up from us

Acts 7:43 V-AIA-2P
GRK: καὶ ἀνελάβετε τὴν σκηνὴν
KJV: Yea, ye took up the tabernacle
INT: And you took up the tabernacle

Acts 10:16 V-AIP-3S
GRK: καὶ εὐθὺς ἀνελήμφθη τὸ σκεῦος
NAS: the object was taken up into the sky.
KJV: the vessel was received up again
INT: and immediately was taken up the vessel


It seems that the greek is passive too. Do you have another understanding (Do you perchance read greek far better than me? :D)? Another source or possibility?
Thank you


Received might be a better translation. The Church never understood it to mean what your friend thinks. To this day ἀνελήφθη is still the word used in Greek for the Feast of the Ascension. It certainly doesn’t imply a passive act in the way they think.


You know what? We should ask Evangelicals to see where they get their belief of the Ascension from :). But I guess it wouldn’t help, as it is because Jesus is God.

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