Some teachers use this passage to teach that Jesus’ coming will be seen by eye-witnesses. The apostles saw Him as He ascended, so these people teach He has not yet come because He has not been seen since then.
But His coming will not be physically ‘seen’ but understood. He could never be seen by human, physical eyes in His exalted, glorious, state, “whom no one has seen or can see” (1 Tim 6:16). In this brief article, I argue that there are several other ways that His coming could be compared with His ascension.
Verse 6. So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”
- Their question shows they thought just as the Jews thought –in terms of a Davidic messiah and an earthly kingdom of Israel free of Roman rule. This would soon change with a new covenant in Jesus’ blood.
7. He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;
- They had already been told in the Olivet discourse (Mat 24:36) that the timing of His coming was unknown and He gently rebuked them and said only the Father determines the times and seasons.
8. but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
- But: Grk, G23 5alla,contrariwise, emphatic—they will have to think differently—to change their mind
- His witnesses: They are to receive power and be His witnesses everywhere, starting in Jerusalem.
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.
- Cloud Grk. nephelē: He was hidden from their eyes by cloud. Just as He was hidden from their eyes as He went into Heaven, so when he comes He will be hidden to human eyes by the clouds of glory (Mat 24:30).
10. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men (Grk. anēr) in white clothing stood beside them.
- Sky: Grk. ouranos. Strong’s KJV translates by heaven (268 times), air (10), sky (5); twice in v.11.
- Two men: Grk anēr, not angeloi: cf Luke 24:4 at the empty tomb. These must be heavenly visitors.
- Jesus has never been physically seen by human eyes ever since. Talk about a rapture!
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 (ouranos) will come in like manner as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
- why? Was this a rebuke? In just a few days they will receive the promise of the Father upon them and be empowered to be His witnesses everywhere! Thus, they were dismissed by the heavenly visitors (v12).
- will come: Grk, erchomai=come. It does not say ‘return’ (Grk strepho, epistrephō or hypostrephō) which would imply He would come in a similar form to that of His first coming, (born of a virgin) and that of his resurrection appearances and ascension. No. He will come hidden to their physical eyes.
- See also Rev 2:5, 16 & 3:11 where erchomai is used to mean Jesus will come, not ‘return’ or ‘come back’
- in like manner: (Grk hos). This can’t be taken to mean ‘in every respect’ but rather there are one or more similarities. See Mat 23:37 where Jesus uses the same phrase: “the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings”. Jesus did not mean He was a hen!
- here are 3 similarities of His coming with that of His going into heaven:
- ‘a cloud received Him’– He will come in clouds (of glory-Mt 24:30) ;
- ‘out of their sight’– He will come hidden from human eyes as One ascended on high and ‘who lives in light unapproachable, whom no one has seen or can see’ (1 Tim 6:16);
- implies He went suddenly, unexpectedly and will come suddenly, unexpectedly (see Mt 24:36-42)
Note also Luke 24: 52-52: And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them.
- This passage in Luke confirms the Acts 1 passage. Luke wrote that it was while He was blessing them that He became patted and thus hidden from them.
The claim by some that this passage shows that Jesus’ coming would be seen with physical eyes cannot be proven. Therefore His coming certainly could have happened within the lifetime of his disciples as He promised it would (Matthew 16:28, 24:34). Let’s rejoice that He has come to dwell among His people, His ekklesia, and to empower us to be His witnesses as He did with the first apostles!