Why did Jesus "ascend" into heaven?

As I understand it, the Church teaches that heaven is not a physical place, up in the sky or anywhere else.

Yet when Jesus allegedly goes to Heaven, the Bible says that he “ascends” up into the sky. Acts 1:9: “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.” So, he didn’t fade from view, or disappear. He rose up into the sky like someone riding an elevator.

In that case, three possibilities that I see:
1 - Despite Church teaching and common sense, heaven is somewhere up in the sky. Ridiculous on its face.
2 - Jesus ascended into the sky, mostly for show, in order to give the Apostles a more visual sense for what had happened. Plausible, but seems a bit off to me.
3 - Whether or not Jesus actually died and was resurrected, the Apostles (with a primitive concept of what something like heaven would be like) fabricated the story, either as part of a larger fabrication regarding the resurrection, or simply to bolster the credibility of the resurrection that they had actually witnesses. Seems the most likely explanation; their primitive explanation has now been overtaken by more sophisticated understanding of what something like heaven would be like.


Yes I believe that the Apostles mentioned sky because it was easiest to say it like this, not that literally the bodies go up into the sky and that may be how they understood it back then. Actually there will be no earth and sky as we know it when we die, that will pass away for a new earth and heaven…Revelation 21:1

Jesus did actually die a human death, but ascended from it with his whole body. Through that His body was transformed from a physical one to a spiritual glorified one. Ascending to heaven is the act of transformation from a human physical body to a entirely spiritual glorified body. The human body returned to dust from where it once came, so we will ascend from it when we die. In heaven we will be purified by Jesus from death into life to be like Jesus is now! And we will see Jesus, the Saints in heaven and the angels!! Jesus gave a sense of the transformation to the Apostles before He died at the transfiguration.

Jesus ascended to Heaven to be with the Father.

The image of a cloud represented a physical manifestation of God or the Spirit of God in the Old Testament.

Ascending - going up, especially to a high mountain - was a place where one met God.

The Apostles were not as primitive nor we as advanced as some who think too highly of themselves nowadays seem to think.


Why is #3 the most plausible? That would mean either the apostles made up both the Resurrection and Ascension—in which case our faith is in vain (as Paul says) and the Apostles all (save John) willingly embraced martyrdom for a lie. Or else it would mean the Apostles witnessed Jesus miraculously risen from the dead, but then figured that wasn’t really compelling or surprising enough so they added the big fat lie of the Ascension to embellish upon this pivotal piece of the Christian faith.

Sorry, that doesn’t seem especially plausible to me. :shrug:

The two angels who were there told the apostles that Jesus would return in the same way.

Excellent. It was also for the visual effect.

Post no. 2 is getting a few different ideas mixed up:

  1. If we cannot believe that Jesus’ body literally went “up” into the sky, then why should we believe anything else? It must be believed in a literal sense.

  2. I don’t believe Acts 1:9 has anything to do with Revelation 21:1

Revelation 21 is speaking of the end of the world. At that time God will make His new headquarters on Earth and the lion shall lie with the lamb.

  1. It also seems to me that the poster is confusing what happens immediately upon our death with the resurrection of our bodies at the end of time - although probably they know the difference.

  2. It is difficult to know exactly what type of body Jesus had after the resurrection. It was not a normal body but Thomas was able to put his finger into a wound, Jesus ate with the apostles and disciples - for instance the disciples from Emmaus. I agree with the poster that at ascension the body was a glorified body, but we cannot say that His body turned to dust. Did Mary’s body turn to dust at the assumption? No. It was turned into a glorious body.

  3. When we get to heaven we will already be purified - Jesus will not need to purify us in heaven. At the end of time, all souls will leave purgatory and will be in a state of purification. (and also the persons dying at that time).

I agree with the rest.

Paul said heaven is undescribeable and beyond human understanding.


Because “the body” had to go somewhere.

He did not just head down the road, nor across the ocean, but into the larger life where His friends “cannot follow…now, but shall follow” later on, John 13:36.

Being in full command of the material and structure of His body (as we are not, but will be in the pneumatikon soma), He allowed His “exodus” to appear as a rising into the sky, the one direction into which the unaided human body cannot follow.


No one can describe where Gods heavenly Kingdom is because God is spirit and omnipresent, meaning it’s a supernatural Kingdom… Yes I believe the apostles mentioned places up down and on earth in a natural reality. Up would be heaven, down would be in the grave, and on earth would be on earth, but really the places are relative to their physical mortal bodies, not their spiritual immortal supernatural bodies…Their souls… That’s why I believe their are souls among us that we can’t really see but they are there because God is there…

The Coming of the Kingdom
Luke 17:20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

If I’m wrong I’m wrong, but this is what I believe…I believe heaven is all around us most especially at the mass at the Supper of the Lamb…

I don’t have any answers for you but…

I’m really glad you brought this up because out of all the things that can sound really far fetched and out and out weird in the Bible, this one you mention here is the one that really does it for me. I find it so very very odd and weird and fantastical. I find it really hard to believe. I also ponder, what is the purpose for it?

Having said that, maybe there is just no real way to put into words what it really looked like and that the explanation sounds really weird. (I’m thinking about when people would describe odd looking animals never really seen before and how it would sound very unbelievable to others who have not seen it yet… until they see it for themselves.)

God the Father is already home in heaven… Pray the Lords prayer… Our Father who art in heaven… I believe that at the fullness of time all earthly and heavenly realities will pass away, thus leaving only our immortal bodies in a new heaven and earth… Heavenly Jerusalem. St. Paul describes our home on earth as an earthly tent which will shelter us until we are in heaven re-united with the body of Christ. The glorified body of Christ at the resurrection of the body will include the souls who are in heaven already with the souls remaining on earth who will be lifted up to join them when Jesus returns for the body… Now granted St. Paul didn’t think that the earth would exist even past his lifetime so said that about the souls remaining on earth to calm the disciples fears that they would be left behind at the coming of Gods Kingdom. 1 Thessalonians 13-18

This is part of our profession of faith…

I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The dead meaning physical death of which there are many already waiting in holy rest for the resurrection and glorification of the body of Christ… And His Kingdom will have no end…

This is how I truly believe as well. Thank you for sharing this, Karen.:thumbsup:

God bless you!

The clue is in the scriptures…And I agree with Paul… It is beyond our human understanding.

1 Corinthians 5: 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
2 Corinthians 5:7 For we live by faith, not by sight.**

The Apostles saw Jesus on the Road to Emmaus, but first not seeing Jesus until they broke the bread, and touched Jesus wounds because they walked by faith and Jesus made an appearance to them many times so they would be sharers of the faith. And Jesus also said: John 20;29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The last part applies to us and those who weren’t there at the time when Thomas put his fingers into Jesus wounds… Jesus did make Himself known to the apostles with His physical appearance, because He is God…And with God all things are possible. And we will be blessed to have a physical appearance also in heaven because of God… But our bodies will be transformed in to a perfected state with no crying and no pain…

We’re not to doubt that Jesus did the miracles He did, or showed them what was to come in the transformation of Jesus at the transfiguration. The Apostles were blessed to have Jesus show Himself to them after His resurrection and that inspired them to go out and preach the good news! We too are supposed to walk by faith and we will see what lies ahead for us in the Kingdom of God. Today we might get a glimpse of this, when we die it will be as clear as a bell…:slight_smile:

Mathew 13:14 With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says:

‘You shall indeed hear but never understand,
and you shall indeed see but never perceive.
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are heavy of hearing,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should perceive with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart,
and turn for me to heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

It is a blessing when people of faith see what God has to see with the eyes of faith…

Thank you Jeannie! I wrote an awful lot here… gulp… lol

There’s a visual association with God, the Shekinah, and the prophecies in Daniel in his Ascension. Perhaps this is just how the apostles perceived the transition, the only way for them to explain what they saw. Perhaps Jesus wanted to leave some visual cues and further affirmation. Perhaps he wanted to make sure people saw it in a way similar to the high priest’s ascension to the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. I don’t know.

I don’t see any reason to think it is contradictory.

Hi AnneElizabeth,

The purpose which you ponder, as to why Jesus ascended is found in Acts 1:11

Jesus was with His disciples and followers telling them that they were to remain in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit descended on them (which happened 50 days later at pentecost).

After instructing them, He ascended into heaven at which time two men dressed in white (angels) said the words in Acts.

If you’d like to read about Paul being taken into heaven, see 2 Corinthians 12: 2 …
He says he had a friend, but it was himself he was speaking of. He was a humble man!


Just a thought.

Do you think heaven is up in the sky? I think it’s a different dimension.

We had to tell my niece (when she was 4) that it was in Northern England so she’d stop asking where it was! it worked.

Just a thought.


Why did Jesus “ascend” into Heaven?

Because 40 days later God’s divine plan had Pentecost come to past. The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary, Jesus’ Mother, in cloven tongues like as of fire, and they, the Apostles and Mary, began to speak in tongues which is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus had to ascend into Heaven so that God could send us His Holy Spirit which was Pentecost. I think Pentecost was God’s divine plan to complete the Holy Trinity: God is the Father, Jesus is God the Son and God is Holy Spirit.

You bring up an important point. Jesus had to go, so the H.S. could come! Our paraclete, helper, teacher and comfortor - and more.

Jesus did promise us He’d be with us forever.


:thumbsup: “The new is in the old concealed; the old is in the new revealed.”

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