exegetical study of Acts 1:11 based on the teachings of the Divine Principle. It shows how the question posed by the Angels to Jesus' disciples should lead them to realize that they are mistaken in looking up to the sky in waiting for the return of Jesus. Jesus will not return on the clouds, since he did not leave on one but was covered by one after having been lifted up to the sky.
The study uses the Textus Receptus and it explains why it prefers the use of certain translations over other ones.
The study shows how Luke as a writer parallel the story of the women to the tomb in the Gospel to the story of the ascension in Acts.
Men of galilee why do you stand looking into heaven
Men of Galilee why do you stand looking into heaven? A new look at Acts 1:11
Many interpret this verse as a reproof of the people standing by looking Jesus ascend . The idea is that somehow the disciples are wasting their time and that they should go evangelizing.
Besides a brief mention in Mark, only Luke writes about the ascension. He brings attention to it very briefly at the end of his Gospel in 24:50-51, and spends some more time in the beginning of his sequel to the Gospel, The Acts of the Apostles in 1: 6-11.
For Luke the ascension represents a transitional event in the history of God's work of salvation through history. The transition occurs from the ministry of Jesus to that of his disciples. The heavenly messengers would not remove importance to it by telling the disciples that they are wasting their time looking at it. Something of greater significance comes from the concern of the two men .
The key to understanding the interest of the two men comes in the answer the angels give the disciples at the end of the verse. In the Greek of the Textus Receptus, Luke 1:11 gives us: οἳ καὶ εἶπον, Ἄνδρες Γαλιλαῖοι τί ἑστήκατε ἐμβλέποντες εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν οὗτος ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὁ ἀναληφθεὶς ἀφ' ὑμῶν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν οὕτως ἐλεύσεται ὃν τρόπον ἐθεάσασθε αὐτὸν πορευόμενον εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν κ (emphasis mine) αι ειπον ανδμβλεποντες εις Eis ton ouranon- which means into heaven- is repeated three times on this verse. To replace the meaning of only euranon with sky in just the first case as the New International Version 0f 1984 and the New American Standard of 1995 do, makes for easy reading but does not provide a greater clarity of what Luke is doing in his composition. For that reason I prefer the King James translation in this case.
The King James Version gives us: Who also said, You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven. ν ανδμβλεποντες εις
The phrase 'eis ton ouranon' is also used in verse 10. That Luke uses this exact phrase 4 times in just two verses tells his readers to pay attention. Whatever idea he wants to give his readers, has nothing to do with a possible different meaning for the Greek term 'ouranon'. He wants to attract his readers attention upon the act of the disciples. The statement from the the two men implies that looking into heaven is not the right thing to do. But why? LOOKING INTO HEAVEN
To determine its correct interpretation, we can take a look at a parallel situation that Luke narrates in his Gospel on the moment the female disciples of Jesus go to his tomb. Luke composed the event of the Ascencion of Jesus in a manner that parallels the interaction between the angels and the women after the Resurrection.
The two men and the women at the tomb: Luke 24:4-7 . In the Textus Receptus we have: 4καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ διαπορεῖσθαι αὐτὰς περὶ τούτου καὶ ἰδού, δύο ἄνδρες ἐπέστησαν αὐταῖς ἐν ἐσθήσεσιν ἀστραπτούσαις 5ἐμφόβων δὲ γενομένων αὐτῶν καὶ κλινουσῶν τὸ πρόσωπον εἰς τὴν γῆν εἶπον πρὸς αὐτάς Τί ζητεῖτε τὸν ζῶντα μετὰ τῶν νεκρῶν· 6οὐκ ἔστιν ὧδε ἀλλ' ἠγέρθη μνήσθητε ὡς ἐλάλησεν ὑμῖν ἔτι ὢν ἐν τῇ Γαλιλαίᾳ 7λέγων ὅτι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου παραδοθῆναι εἰς χεῖρας ἀνθρώπων ἁμαρτωλῶν καὶ σταυρωθῆναι καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἀναστῆναι
The King James Version gives us: 4And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. The two men and the women at the tomb: Luke 24:4-7 .
Many Similarities Between Both Events The link tying both of these events together are the two men. 1. They are introduced as the particular group of disciples are involved in a strong emotion or action: the women are perplexed , the apostles are looking intently . 2. They are introduced with the same Greek phrase: Kai idou andres dyo (and behold two men) 3. Luke follows this with the same exact idea: 'stood by them'. Though the Greek terms used in each occasion vary: epestean in the case of the women, paresitekeisan in the second occasion. 4. In both occasions attention is immediately placed upon their robe using very similar phrases. En estheti astraptouse (in garments dazzling) for the first event, en esthesesi leukais (in apparel white) for the second. 5. Luke uses eipan (said) to describe the first action of the angels towards each group, and then Luke uses a phrase to describe to whom they speak: in the case of the women, 'to them', and in the case of the apostles, 'men of Galilee'.
Similarities Between Both Events 6. Each case has a question, beginning with ti (why) and implying something had been done wrong. Each time the men continue speaking without receiving a response. 7. In the case of the women the heavenly men give them one declaratory sentence and one imperative sentence , in the case of the men they advance a declaratory sentence . (The textual problem of the sentence “He is not here, but has risen” not being in some manuscripts does not create any serious difficulty for our analyasis. If the text were found some day not to be part of the original writing of the Gospel it would certainly extend the similarities. Yet including it does not harm the analysis) 6. The relationship between the sentence and the question, and the sentence and the listeners is the critical element in each episode. Thus, for the parallel to be consistent Luke must have formed Luke 24:6-7 and Acts 1:11b (the part in verse 11 with the sentence) with similar characteristics.
A subtle parallel underpines the rest of the similarities. The narrative motif of 'looking for Jesus' (or rather 'looking for Jesus in all the wrong places') ties both of these events even deeper. In the case of the women the story is about them looking for Jesus in the tomb. In the case of the men, Luke reports how they keep looking at Jesus as he is being taken up into heaven. In other words, Luke's compositions describe how there was something wrong in these two cases of looking for Jesus.
The Relationship Between the Question and the Sentences in Each Case Question and Answer to the Women 1.The Question: It shows something being done wrong: seeking for the living among the dead. 2. The imperative sentence provides a Heavenly Correction: Recollect Jesus' teachings. By doing that the women should understand that Jesus has resurrected. 3. The Correction has an implied mandate: believe. If the women had believed in the words of Jesus, they would have seek for Jesus among the dead. But the gospel tells us they cold not even understand the teaching of Jesus concerning his suffering and death. Luke 9:45, 18:34. Question and Answer to the Men 1.The Question: It shows something being done wrong: standing and looking intently into the heaven. 2. To keep the parallel the declaratory sentence must represent a Heavenly Correction. This 'teaching' should help them understand more about the Second Coming. 3. The Correction does have an implied mandate: 'believe this'. But have the disciples also failed to understand the words of Jesus concerning the Second Coming? Let us examine the case of the apostles from this perspective .
The Literal Translation of Acts 1.11b In the Textus Receptus we have: οὗτος ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὁ ἀναληφθεὶς ἀφ' ὑμῶν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν οὕτως ἐλεύσεται ὃν τρόπον ἐθεάσασθε αὐτὸν πορευόμενον εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν
Young's Literal Translation gives us: this Jesus who was received up from you into the heaven, shall so come in what manner ye saw him going on to the heaven.' The American Standard Version: this Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven. The critical word in these translations is 'going'. Other translations that use 'going' are the Aramaic Bible in Plain English, the Darby-Bible Translation and a couple of others. Why is this important? The Literal Translation of Acts 1.11b
In the Same Manner as You Saw Him Going . The literal Greek says 'in the same manner as you saw him going '. The verb for go is in the present participle . The difference is that the action in the present participle form is interpreted as not having been completed, a completely different meaning than when using 'as you have seen him go' or 'saw him go' as in other translations. By using this proper translation, and grasping the significance of the type of action as not yet completed we can arrive at a better understanding of what the heavenly men said to the apostles.
In the Same Manner as You Saw Him Going . At what moment then did these two men entered the scene? Several careful interpreters have brought attention that Luke recommences the process of ascension in verse 10 after having finished it In verse 9. Luke uses the same present participle form of 'to go' in verse 10, in verse 9 he uses the aorist indicative active tense, where he says that a cloud hypelaben (hid) him. Though the term has been translated by several different words or phrases , the Greek aorist sense of the verb places the type of action as having been completed, or in the past. The ending of the action in verse 9 tend to confuse us. We tend to presume that the moment the angels spoke to the apostles was after Jesus had ascended already. This assumption is wrong. They approached the apostles as they were still looking at Jesus go up. We can take comfort knowing that even great interpreters, i.e. Calving, made this simple mistake. However, this small mistake makes difficult the making of a valid interpretation of the words of the men.
This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him going into heaven . Luke tied this sentence to the question by means of the parallel established with the episode of the women at the tomb and by means of introducing it immediately after the question. The question establishes that the act of the disciples of standing looking into heaven is not correct. This has been understood as such by all interpreters. The nature of the mistake of the disciples has been what has differed. By following the parallel framework establish by Luke we can have a strong foundation to find the right nature of their mistake. In the case of the women the imperative statement tells the women where they have gone wrong. To keep consistency with the parallelism established the sentence immediately following the question to the men must be giving a corrective for the apostles to follow.
The New American Standard of 1985 version as well as the King James version translate the term ὑπέλαβεν (hypelaben) as received, whereas the New International version of 1984 translates it as hid.
How is Acts 1:11b a Correction? 1. The statement teaches the apostles the manner in which Jesus will return. The sentence has absolutely nothing to do with any need to return quickly to the city, whether to begin evangelizing or receive the Holy Spirit, as traditional interpretations have erroneously asserted. 2. How is this then a correction? 3. Only one way: the apostles' understanding concerning the Second Coming must be wrong . As the apostles looked up to heaven maybe they expected Jesus to return right away. But not only the idea of the imminent return is wrong. Their messianic expectation, the manner of his return, associated with it is also wrong.
The Messianic Expectation of the Apostles 1. The apostles must have been waiting for Jesus to return from the same place they saw him last: the clouds. 2. More importantly, Jesus had taught his disciples about the Second Coming. In Luke 21:25-28 Jesus tells them that “the Son of Man (is) coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” And concludes : “when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 3. Therefore, the apostles must have taken Jesus' words literally and believed that he would be returning in a cloud. Did the apostles fail to grasp the meaning of Jesus' words? . .
The Messianic Expectation of the Apostles does the mistake in the messianic expectation of the apostles simply involve a sense of undue immediacy? . 1. Have the apostles forgotten the words of Jesus and the heavenly men are correcting the disciples about this? Are the men instructing the apostles as to the right understanding of those words? Had the apostles simply forgotten the words, Luke could have expanded his literary parallels by echoeing the command given to the women: 'Remember what he told you'. 2. But nothing in the text suggests that these men simply want for the apostles to recollect Jesus' teaching on the Second Coming. 3. If anything, the apostles appear to have taken to heart the literal interpretation of those words. Then,
The Messianic Expectation of the Apostles Consequently, the error in the messianic expectation of the apostles has to do with how they believe Jesus will return, with their understanding of the manner in which he will return. Then, in what manner are the apostles expecting Jesus to return? . 1. The words of the two men to the apostles center on 'the manner' in which Jesus will return and not on the time. The men are therefore correcting the apostles on how they view that Jesus will return not the time . 2. Moreover in Acts 1:6-7 the apostles concern regarding the timehad been addressed already. Jesus unequivocally told them that the time of that event 'it is not for them to know about'.
The Messianic Expectation of the Apostles What does 'the same manner as you saw him going' mean? . 1. As stated before, the apostles expect Jesus return to occur in a cloud. This apparently agrees with the teaching he gave them on the Second Coming. 2. However, the corrective of the two heavenly men, precisely reject this type of thinking. 3. The pronouncement by the two men signifies that the literal understanding the disciples have of Jesus' words fail to grasp the real meaning of his words. 4. Therefore, the two men proceed to tell the apostles that they have to change their wrong interpretation of Jesus' words. They tell them precisely how Jesus will return. 5. Jesus will return “in the same manner as you saw him going.”
In the Same Manner as You Saw Him Going . From the above argument we can conclude that 'the saw him going' to which the men refer takes a time span that continues when they are speaking to the apostles. In other words, when the heavenly emissaries begin speaking with the disciples, they moved their vision away from Jesus as he is still leaving. The two men then define the manner in which Jesus will come in terms of the action of the disciples as they had looked at Jesus leaving. The apostles 'saw him going' so far from the moment Jesus began ascending till the moment they briefly looked away to look at the men talking at them. Thus 'the manner' of Jesus return involve the entire movement of Jesus within that time span. What did Jesus do during the time the apostles 'saw him going'?
Meaning of the Words of the Two Men to the Apostle s The Entire Process From Beginning of the Ascencion to the Moment The Two Men Came. So what did Jesus do? . The Same Manner as you saw him Going =
Things Jesus Did as He was Seen Leaving Two thing that Jesus did for sure as he was being watched leaving were: a. he went up from the earth b. he was with his disciples. The Gospel of Luke 24:51 mentions also that Jesus was being raised as he was blessing his disciples.
Things Jesus Will Do When He Returns Therefore when Jesus returns he must come back FROM THE EARTH as he is BEING WATCHED BY DISCIPLES And HE WILL COME BACK AS HE BLESSES HIS DISCIPLES.
One thing Jesus absolutely did not do as he was being watched leaving was: GO INTO HEAVEN ON A CLOUD. In both instances where Luke narrates the incident of the ascension the only mention of one cloud is on verse 9 to say that after Jesus had been lifted up 'a cloud hid him from them.' Luke contains a brief mention of the ascension in Acts 1:22 where it is repeated that Jesus was 'taken up' with no mention of any cloud or clouds being involved. The same thing happens in Mark 16:19. Now had Jesus ascended on a cloud, it is highly unlikely that that fact would not have been reported. The presence of any cloud being involved in the ascension was at the last moment as the means for concluding the event by hiding Jesus. And since the two men came to the apostles as Jesus was still going up, no clouds are involved in the definition of 'in the same manner as you saw him going '.
. Therefore, CLOUDS WERE NOT A MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION IN THE ASCE ns ION . And as Jesus is coming in the same manner as he was seen going ,
HE WILL NOT RETURN ON THE LITERAL CLOUDS OF THE HEAVENS.