BOOKS: BIBLICAL STUDIES (1500BC-AD70) / EARLY CHRISTIAN PRETERISM (AD50-1000) / FREE ONLINE BOOKS (AD1000-2008)
Randall E. Otto, Ph.D.
"At any case, just as the transfiguration instilled great fear in Peter, prompting him to suggest building the three tents to shield him, James, and John from the splendor they could not bear, so the splendor of the risen Christ at his ascension would have required the veil of the cloud to shield the disciples from the glory they could not bear. Thus he was hidden in the cloud while he was exalted in glory. "In the same manner" he would come again (Acts 1:11). If, as Blaiklock says of understanding the ascension, "some of the difficulty encountered arises from an over-literal interpretation," the same may be said of understanding the manner of Christ's return." (Jesus the Preterist)
Luke here recounts Jesus completing his statement of commission (cf. Luke 24:48–49), and "while they were looking on" or "before their eyes"(blepont o n), Jesus was lifted up. The verb blepont o n need not require us to understand the disciples’ actually looking at Jesus as the ascension occurs; indeed, should Luke have intended to convey that meaning, he most certainly could have added "at him" (epi auton). In fact, according to the standard Greek lexicon, blep o is used here abstractly; there is no object at which the disciples can be said to be looking.
Before the eyes of the disciples or in their sight, then, Jesus was "lifted up." The word translated "lifted up" is eperth e (aorist passive form of epair o ); while in its active form this word does describe the physical action of lifting up an object, such as one’s hands in prayer 91 Tim 2:8) or a staff (Exod 10:13), in its passive form its "literal" meaning has a figurative twist to it, since it does not have to do with an active physical lifting up but with a lifting up of someone in stature or dignity.
"As we can plainly here see, the only other similar use of this word doesnot denote a literal and physical elevation of the person, but rather describes in figurative terms the elevation of the person in honor and dignity, i.e., exaltation."
"we should be careful not to infuse additional imagery of an active, physical rising into that simple testimony of the exaltation of Jesus by means of his final departure and vanishing from the disciples." (Coming in the Clouds: An Evangelical Case for the Invisibility of Christ at His Second Coming (Lanham: University Press of America, 1994).
"While this verse [Acts 1:11] is generally cited to prove that the glorified Jesus will himself bepersonally visible at his second coming, it is in fact the case that the glorified Jesus cannot be seen by any man because his glorified person is veiled, hidden, and enveloped within the cloud of God’s presence…. Just as the disciples had not seen Christ going up to heaven, but rather the cloud which veiled him and his Divine Glory, so in the same manner, i.e., hidden within the cloud, he would return. It cannot be stated too strongly: the glorified Jesus himself will not be visible in his second coming for he was not visible in his ascension, but rather hidden." (ibid. 257-258)
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
Keith Mathison (2003)
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Date: 16 Jan 2006
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