Luke 24:50
And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(50) And he led them out as far as to Bethany.—It must be admitted that this narrative, taken by itself, would leave the impression that the Ascension followed with not more than a day’s interval on the Resurrection. We must remember, however, that even the coincidences between the close of St. Luke’s first book and the beginning of his second, show that he was already looking forward to resuming his work, and that the interval of forty days is distinctly recognised in Acts 1:3, though there also, as here, there is no mention of any return to Galilee in the interval. Is it a conceivable solution of the problem that the devout women, who were St. Luke’s informants, remained at Jerusalem in almost entire seclusion, and hardly knew of what had passed outside the walls of their house from the day of the Resurrection onwards to that of the Ascension? To them, as to others who look back upon periods in which intense sorrow and intense joy have followed one on the other, all may have seemed, when they looked back upon it in after years, as a dream, the memory of which was in one sense, as to its outcome, indelible, but in which the sequence of details could no longer be traced with clearness. If we may distinguish between two words often used as synonymous, it was with them, not recollection, but memory. On the brief narrative that follows, see Notes on Acts 1:9-11.

Luke

THE TRIUMPHANT END

THE ASCENSION

Luke 24:50 - Luke 24:51
. - Acts 1:9.

Two of the four Evangelists, viz., Matthew and John, have no record of the Ascension. But the argument which infers ignorance from silence, which is always rash, is entirely discredited in this case. It is impossible to believe that Matthew, who wrote as the last word of his gospel the great words, ‘All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth . . . lo! I am with you alway. . ..’ was ignorant of the fact which alone makes these words credible. And it is equally impossible to believe that the Evangelist who recorded the tender saying to Mary, ‘Go to My brethren, and say unto them I ascend to My Father, and your Father,’ was ignorant of its fulfilment. The explanation of the silence is to be sought in a quite different direction. It comes from the fact that to the Evangelists, rightly, the Ascension was but the prolongation and the culmination of the Resurrection. That being recorded, there was no need for the definite record of this.

There is another singular point about these records, viz., that Luke has two accounts, one in the end of his gospel, one in the beginning of Acts; and that these two accounts are obviously different. The differences have been laid hold of as a weapon with which to attack the veracity of both accounts. But there again a little consideration clears the path. The very places in which they respectively occur might have solved the difficulty, for the one is at the end of a book, and the other is at the beginning of a book; and so, naturally, the one regards the Ascension as the end of the earthly life, and the other as the beginning of the heavenly. The one is all suffused with evening light; the other is radiant with the promise of a new day. The one is the record of a tender farewell, in the other the sense of parting has almost been absorbed in the forward look to the new phase of relationship which is to begin. If Luke had been a secular biographer, the critics would have been full of admiration at the delicacy of his touch, and the fineness of keeping in the two narratives, the picture being the same in both, and the scheme of colouring being different. But as he is only an Evangelist, they fall foul of him for his ‘discrepancies.’ It is worth our while to take both his points of view.

But there is another thing to be remembered, that, as the appendix of his account of the Ascension in the book of the Acts, Luke tells us of the angel’s message;-’This same Jesus . . . shall . . . return.’ So there are three points of view which have to be combined in order to get the whole significance of that mighty fact: the Ascension as an end; the Ascension as a beginning; the Ascension as the pledge of the return. Now take these three points.

I. We have the aspect of the Ascension as an end.

The narrative in Luke’s gospel, in its very brevity, does yet distinctly suggest that retrospective and valedictory tone. Note how, for instance, we are told the locality-’He led them out as far as Bethany.’ The name at once strikes a chord of remembrance. What memories clustered round it, and how natural it was that the parting should take place there, not merely because the crest of the Mount of Olives hid the place from the gaze of the crowded city; but because it was within earshot almost of the home where so much of the sweet earthly fellowship, that was now to end, had passed. The same note of regarding the scene as being the termination of those blessed years of dear and familiar intercourse is struck in the fact, so human, so natural, so utterly inartificial, that He lifted His hands to bless them, moved by the same impulse with which so often we have wrung a hand at parting, and stammered, ‘God bless you!’ And the same valedictory hue is further deepened by the fact that what Luke puts first is not the Ascension, but the parting. ‘He was parted from them,’ that is the main fact; ‘and He was carried up into heaven,’ comes almost as a subordinate one. At all events it is regarded mainly as being the medium by which the parting was effected.

So the aspect of the Ascension thus presented is that of a tender farewell; the pathetic conclusion of three long, blessed years. And yet that is not all, for the Evangelist adds a very enigmatic word: ‘They returned to Jerusalem with great joy.’ Glad because He had gone? No. Glad merely because He had gone up? No. The saying is a riddle, left at the end of the book, for readers to ponder, and is a subtle link of connection with what is to be written in the next volume, when the aspect of the Ascension as an end is subordinate, and its aspect as a beginning is prominent. So regarded, it filled the disciples with joy. Thus you see, I think, that without any illegitimate straining of the expressions of the text, we do come to the point of view from which, to begin with, this great event must be looked at. We have to take the same view, and to regard that Ascension not only as the end of an epoch of sweet friendship, but as the solemn close and culmination of the whole earthly life. I have no time to dwell upon the thoughts that come crowding into one’s mind when we take that point of view. But let me suggest, in the briefest way, one or two of them.

Here is an end which circles round to, and is of a piece with, the beginning. ‘I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father.’ The Ascension corresponds with, and meets the miracle of, the Incarnation. And as the Word who became flesh, came by the natural path of human birth, and entered in through the gate by which we all enter, and yet came as none else has come, by His own will, in the miracle of His Incarnation, so at the end, He passed out from life through the gate by which we all pass, and ‘was obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross,’ and yet He passed likewise on a path which none but Himself has trod, and ascended up to heaven, whence He had descended to earth. He came into the world, not as leaving the Father, for He is ‘the Son of Man which is in heaven,’ and He ascended up on high, not as leaving us, for He is ‘with us alway, even to the end of the world.’ Thus the Incarnation and the Ascension support each other.

But let me remind you how, in this connection, we have the very same combination of lowliness and gentleness with majesty and power which runs through the whole of the story of the earthly life of Jesus Christ. Born in a stable, and waited on by angels, the subject of all the humiliations of humanity, and flashing forth through them all the power of divinity, He ascends on high at last, and yet with no pomp nor visible splendour to the world, but only in the presence of a handful of loving hearts, choosing some dimple of the hill where its folds hid them from the city. As He came quietly and silently into the world, so quietly and silently He passed thence. In this connection there is more than the picturesque contrast between the rapture of Elijah, with its whirlwind, and chariot of fire and horses of fire, and the calm, slow rising, by no external medium raised, of the Christ. It was fit that the mortal should be swept up into the unfamiliar heaven by the pomp of angels and the chariot of fire. It was fit that when Jesus ascended to His ‘own calm home, His habitation from eternity,’ there should be nothing visible but His own slowly rising form, with the hands uplifted, to shed benediction on the heads of the gazers beneath.

In like manner, regarding the Ascension as an end, may we not say that it is the seal of heaven impressed on the sacrifice of the Cross? ‘Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name, which is above every name; that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow.’ We find in that intimate connection between the Cross and the Ascension, the key to the deep saying which carries references to both in itself, when the Lord spoke of Himself as being lifted up and drawing all men unto Him. The original primary reference no doubt was to His elevation on the Cross, ‘as Moses lifted up the serpent.’ But the final, and at the time of its being spoken, the mysterious, reference was to the fact that in descending to the depth of humiliation He was rising to the height of glory. The zenith of the Ascension is the rebound from the nadir of the Cross. The lowliness of the stoop measures the loftiness of the elevation, and the Son of Man was glorified at the moment when the Son of Man was most profoundly abased. The Cross and the Ascension, if I might use so violent a figure, are like the twin stars, of which the heavens present some examples, one dark and lustreless, one flashing with radiancy of light, but knit together by an invisible vinculum, and revolving round a common centre. When He ‘parted from them, and was carried up into heaven,’ He ended the humiliation which caused the elevation.

And then, again, I might suggest that, regarded in its aspect as an end, this Ascension is also the culmination and the natural conclusion of the Resurrection. As I have said, the Scripture point of view with reference to these two is not that they are two, but that the one is the starting point of the line of which the other is the goal. The process which began when He rose from the dead, whatever view we may take of the condition of His earthly life during the forty days of parenthesis, could have no rational and intelligible ending, except the Ascension. Thus we should think of it not only as the end of a sweet friendship, but as the end of the gracious manifestation of the earthly life, the counterpart of the Incarnation and descent to earth, the end of the Cross and the culmination of the Resurrection. The Son of Man, the same that also descended into the lowest parts of the earth, ascended up where He was before.

Now let us turn to the other aspect which the Evangelist gives, when He ceases to be an Evangelist, and becomes a Church Historian. Then he considers

II. The Ascension as a beginning.

The place which it holds in the Acts of the Apostles explains the point of view from which it is to be regarded. It is the foundation of everything that the writer has afterwards to say. It is the basis of the Church. It is the ground of all the activity which Christ’s servants put forth. Not only its place explains this aspect of it, but the very first words of the book itself do the same. ‘The former treatise have I made . . . of all that Jesus began both to do and teach’-and now I am to tell you of an Ascension, and of all that Jesus continued to do and teach. So that the book is the history of the work of the Lord, who was able to do that work, just because He had ascended up on high. The same impression is produced if we ponder the conversation which precedes the account of the Ascension in the book of Acts, which, though it touches the same topics as are touched by the words that precede the account in the Gospel, yet presents them in a different aspect, and suggests the endowments with which the Christian community is to be invested, and the work which therefore it is to do, in consequence of the Ascension of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter had caught that thought when, on the day of Pentecost, he said, ‘He, being exalted to the right hand of the Father, hath shed forth this which ye see and hear,’ and throughout the whole book the same point of view is kept up. ‘The work that is done upon earth He doeth it all Himself.’

So there is in this narrative nothing about parting, there is nothing about blessing. There is simply the ascending up and the significant addition of the reception into the cloud, which, whilst He was yet plainly visible, and not dwindled by distance into a speck, received Him out of their sight. The cloud was the symbol of the Divine Presence, which had hung over the Tabernacle, which had sat between the cherubim, which had wrapped the shepherds and the angels on the hillside, which had come down in its brightness on the Mount of Transfiguration, and which now, as the symbol of the Divine Presence, received the ascending Lord, in token to the men that stood gazing up into heaven, that He had passed to the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Thus we have to think of that Ascension as being the groundwork and foundation of all the world-wide and age-long energy which the living Christ is exercising to-day. As one of the other Evangelists, or at least, the appendix to his gospel, puts it, He ascended up on high, and ‘they went everywhere preaching the word, the Lord also working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.’ It is the ascended Christ who sends the Spirit upon men; it is the ascended Christ who opens men’s hearts to hear; it is the ascended Christ who sends forth His messengers to the Gentiles; it is the ascended Christ who, to-day, is the energy of all the Church’s powers, the whiteness of all the Church’s purity, the vitality of all the Church’s life. He lives, and therefore, there is a Christian community on the face of the earth. He lives, and therefore it will never die.

So we, too, have to look to that risen Lord as being the power by which alone any of us can do either great or small work in His Church. That Ascension is symbolically put as being to ‘the right hand of God.’ What is the right hand of God? The divine omnipotence. Where is it? Everywhere. What does sitting at the right hand of God mean? Wielding the powers of omnipotence. And so He says, ‘All power is given unto Me’; and He is working a work to-day, wider in its aspects than, though it be the application and consequence of, the work upon the Cross. He cried there, ‘It is finished!’ but ‘the work of the ascended Jesus’ will never be finished until ‘the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ.’

There are other aspects of His work in heaven which space will not allow me to dwell upon, though I cannot but mention them. By the Ascension Christ begins to prepare a place for us. How could any of us stand in the presence of that eternal Light if He were not there? We should be like some savage or rustic swept up suddenly and put down in the middle of the glittering ring of courtiers round a throne, unless we could lift our eyes and recognise a known and loving face there. Where Christ is, I can be. He has taken one human nature up into the Glory, and other human natures will therefore find in it a home.

The ascended Christ, to use the symbolism which one of the New Testament writers employs for illustration of a thought far greater than the symbol-has like a High Priest passed within the veil, ‘there to appear in the presence of God for us.’ And the intercession which is far more than petition, and is the whole action of that dear Lord who identifies as with Himself, and whose mighty work is ever present before the divine mind as an element in His dealings, that intercession is being carried on for ever for us all. So, ‘set your affection on things above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.’ So, expect His help in your work, and do the work which He has left you to carry on here. So, face death and the dim kingdoms beyond, without quiver and without doubt, assured that where the treasure is, there the heart will be also; and that where the Master is, there the servants who follow in His steps will be also at last.

And now there is the third aspect here of

III. The Ascension as being the pledge of the return.

The two men in white apparel that stood by gently rebuked the gazers for gazing into heaven. They would not have rebuked them for gazing, if they could have seen Him, but to look into the empty heaven was useless. And they added the reason why the heavens need not be looked at, as long as there is the earth to stand on: ‘For this same Jesus whom ye have seen go into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go.’ Note the emphatic declaration of identity; ‘this same Jesus.’ Note the use of the simple human name; ‘this same Jesus,’ and recall the thoughts that cluster round it, of the ascended humanity, and the perpetual humanity of the ascended Lord, ‘the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever,’ Note also the strong assertion, of visible, corporeal return: ‘Shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go.’ That return is no metaphor, no mere piece of rhetoric, it is not to be eviscerated of its contents by being taken as a synonym for the diffusion of His influence all over a regenerated race, but it points to the return of the Man Jesus locally, corporeally, visibly. ‘We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge’; we believe that Thou wilt come to take Thy servants home.

The world has not seen the last of Jesus Christ. Such an Ascension, after such a life, cannot be the end of Him. ‘As it is appointed unto all men once to die, and after death the Judgment, so Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear the second time, without sin unto salvation.’ As inevitably as for sinful human nature judgment follows death, so inevitably for the sinless Man, who is the sacrifice for the world’s sins, His judicial return will follow His atoning work, and He will come again, having received the Kingdom, to take account of His servants, and to perfect their possession of the salvation which by His Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension, He wrought for the world.

Therefore, brethren, one sweet face, and one great fact-the face of the Christ, the fact of the Cross-should fill the past. One sweet face, one great fact-the face of the Christ, the fact of His Presence with us all the days-should fill the present. One regal face, one great hope, should fill the future; the face of the King that sitteth upon the throne, the hope that He will come again, and ‘so we shall be ever with the Lord.’

END OF VOL. II.Luke 24:50-53. And he led them out as far as Bethany — Not the town, but the district: namely, to the mount of Olives, which was within the boundaries of Bethany. And he lifted up his hands — In a most solemn and devout manner; and blessed them — As one that had authority, not only to desire, but to command a blessing upon them. And while he blessed — Or was blessing them, and while they beheld, (Acts 1:9,) by which it appears that this event took place in the day-time; he was parted from them — Miraculously and unexpectedly; and carried up into heaven — Not suddenly, but leisurely, that they might behold him departing, till a cloud received him out of their sight, Acts 1:9. It was much more proper that our Lord should ascend into heaven, than that he should rise from the dead, in the sight of the apostles. For his resurrection was proved when they saw him alive after his passion; but they could not see him in heaven while they continued on earth. And they worshipped him — Not only prostrated themselves before him, as the word προσκυνεω, here used, often means; but, being fully satisfied of his divine power and glory, they worshipped him in the strictest sense of the word, or paid him divine honours, though now become invisible to them; which it is certain they continued to do during the whole course of their ministry; confiding in him in all their dangers and trials; loving him and living to him; and making him, together with the Father, the great object of their prayers, praises, and obedience. And returned to Jerusalem with great joy — On account of the glorious discoveries which he had made to them, the glorious work to which he had called them, the extraordinary qualifications with which he had promised to endue them, and the great success which he had engaged to give them therein; especially for the full proof they had now received, that he was indeed the true Messiah, their Saviour, and their Lord; and that they had not been deceived in attaching themselves to him as his disciples, but had been guided by the truth and grace of God. And were continually in the temple — That is, constantly attended there at the hours of service; praising and blessing God — As for all his other benefits, so in particular for sending the Messiah for the redemption and salvation of mankind, for raising him from the dead, after he had been unjustly and cruelly crucified by a cabal of wicked men; for his glorious ascension into heaven in their sight, and the promise made them of his return; and for performing such wonders to confirm and perfect their faith in him. Amen — May he be continually praised and blessed!24:50-53 Christ ascended from Bethany, near the Mount of Olives. There was the garden in which his sufferings began; there he was in his agony. Those that would go to heaven, must ascend thither from the house of sufferings and sorrows. The disciples did not see him rise out of the grave; his resurrection could be proved by their seeing him alive afterwards: but they saw him ascend into heaven; they could not otherwise have a proof of his ascension. He lifted up his hands, and blessed them. He did not go away in displeasure, but in love, he left a blessing behind him. As he arose, so he ascended, by his own power. They worshipped him. This fresh display of Christ's glory drew from them fresh acknowledgments. They returned to Jerusalem with great joy. The glory of Christ is the joy of all true believers, even while they are here in this world. While waiting for God's promises, we must go forth to meet them with our praises. And nothing better prepares the mind for receiving the Holy Ghost. Fears are silenced, sorrows sweetened and allayed, and hopes kept up. And this is the ground of a Christian's boldness at the throne of grace; yea, the Father's throne is the throne of grace to us, because it is also the throne of our Mediator, Jesus Christ. Let us rely on his promises, and plead them. Let us attend his ordinances, praise and bless God for his mercies, set our affections on things above, and expect the Redeemer's return to complete our happiness. Amen. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.To Bethany - See the notes at Mark 16:19. Bethany was on the eastern declivity of the Mount of Olives, from which our Lord was taken up to heaven, Acts 1:12. Bethany was a favored place. It was the abode of Martha, and Mary, and Lazarus, and our Saviour delighted to be there. From this place, also, he ascended to his Father and our Father, and to his God and our God.

While he blessed them - While he commanded his benediction to rest upon them; while he assured them of his favor, and commended them to the protection and guidance of God, in the dangers, trials, and conflicts which they were to meet in a sinful and miserable world.

50-53. to Bethany—not to the village itself, but on the "descent" to it from Mount Olivet.Ver. 50,51. This must be understood to have happened forty days after our Saviour’s resurrection, for so Luke himself tells us, Acts 1:3.

And he led them out as far as Bethany; not the village Bethany, but that part of the mount of Olives which belonged to Bethany. Our Saviour had been often there praying; from thence he now ascendeth into heaven.

And he lifted up his hands and blessed them: some think that by blessing here is meant praying, and the lifting up of his hands was accommodated to that religious action. Others think that blessing here signifieth a more authoritative act; and that his lifting up of his hands was a stretching out of his hands, as a sign of that effectual blessing of them.

While he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven; that is, he moved upward as if he had been carried, for it is certain that our Saviour ascended by his own power. Luke saith, Acts 1:9, He was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. As Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind, 2 Kings 2:11, so Christ went up in a cloud; but with this difference, Christ ascended by his own power, Elijah could not without the help of an angel. And he led them out as far as Bethany,.... Not the town of Bethany; could that be thought, it might be supposed that he led his disciples thither, to pay a visit to his dear friends there, Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, before his ascension; but the town of Bethany was fifteen furlongs, or near two miles distance from Jerusalem, John 11:18 whereas the place from whence Christ ascended was but a sabbath day's journey from it, which was two thousand cubits, or about a mile, Acts 1:12. This Bethany, therefore, was a tract of land, so called from the town, which began at the Mount of Olives, where Bethphage ended; see Mark 11:1 and hither from Jerusalem Christ led his disciples, in order to ascend to heaven in their sight; and this was the spot of ground, where he began to ride in triumph to Jerusalem, and here he ascended in a triumphant manner to heaven; this was the place he frequently retired to for solemn, and solitary prayer, and where he had put up many a strong cry to God, and now from hence he ascended to him; this was the place whither he went after he had ate his last passover, where he was taken, and from whence he came to suffer and die for his people:

and he lift up his hands, and blessed them. The lifting up of his hands was not in order to put them upon his disciples; though the Ethiopic version adds, "and put them on"; nor was it used as a prayer gesture; nor was the blessing of them prayer wise, or by praying for a blessing on them; but as Aaron, his type, lift up his hands towards the people of Israel, and blessed them, when he had offered the offerings for them, Leviticus 9:22 so Christ, as the great high priest, having offered himself a sacrifice for the sins of his people, lift up his hands towards his apostles, and blessed them in an authoritative way, by bestowing blessings upon them: he blessed them with a larger measure of the Spirit; for though they were to wait some few days longer for the extraordinary effusion of the Spirit, yet, in the mean while, they received from him more of it than they had formerly had; for he breathed upon them, and said, receive the Holy Ghost, John 20:22. He blessed them with larger measures of grace, and with more spiritual light, and understanding into the Scriptures of truth, and with much inward peace of mind, and with the fresh discoveries of pardoning love; and which seemed necessary, since by their conduct towards him, one by denying him, and the rest by forsaking him, the peace of their minds was broken, and they needed a fresh application of forgiving grace. The form of blessing the people used by Aaron, and his sons, the priests, who were types of Christ, is recorded in Numbers 6:23 and though our Lord might not use the same form in blessing his disciples, yet it seems he used the same gesture, lifting up his hands, as they did. The Targumists say (d), the blessing of the priests was done by stretching, or spreading out their hands; but other Jewish writers observe, it was by lifting them up: concerning which their rule is (e);

"in the province, the priests lift up their hands, as high as their shoulders, but in the sanctuary, above their heads, except the high priest, who did not lift up his hands above the plate of gold on his forehead.''

The reason of this was, because the name Jehovah was written upon it, and it was not proper his hands should be lifted up above that. The account Maimonides (f) gives of this affair is;

"how is the lifting up of hands? in the borders, at the time the messenger of the congregation comes to service, when he has said, who ever will, &c. all the priests that stand in the synagogue, remove from their places, and go, and ascend the desk (or pulpit), and stand there with their faces to the temple, and their backs to the people, and their fingers closed within their hands, until the messenger of the congregation has finished the confession, or thanksgiving; and then they turn their faces to the people, and stretch out their fingers, and lift up their hands to their shoulders and begin to bless, and the messenger of the congregation pronounces them (the blessings) word by word, &c. How is the blessing of the priests in the sanctuary? the priests go up into the desk (or pulpit), after the priests have finished the morning daily service, and lift up their hands above, over their heads, except the high priest, who does not lift up his hands above the plate of gold, on his forehead; and one pronounces them (the blessings) word for word, as they do in the borders (in the country), &c.''

And as our Lord used this gesture in blessing, it is very likely he complied with another rule, by expressing it in the Hebrew tongue; for the Jews say (g), the blessing of the priests is not said in any place, but in the holy tongue.

(d) Targum Jon. in Num. vi. 23. & Targum in Cant. vii. 7. (e) Misn Sota, c. 7. sect. 6. Bemidbar Rabba sect. 11. fol. 203. 3.((f) Hilchot Tephilla, c. 14. sect. 3. 9. (g) Hilchot Tephilla, c. 14. sect. 11. Vid. Targum Jon. & Rabba, ut supra, & T. Bab. Sota, fol. 38. 1.

{8} And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.

(8) Christ ascends into heaven, and departing bodily from his disciples, fills their hearts with the Holy Spirit.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 24:50. Ἐξήγαγε κ.τ.λ.] namely, from Jerusalem (Luke 24:33; Luke 24:49), and that after the scene just related (Luke 24:36-49). Observe in respect of this—(1) that this ἐξήγ. κ.τ.λ. does not agree with Acts 10:40-41, because Jesus had openly showed Himself. (2) The immediate linking on by δέ, and therein the absence of any other specification of time, excludes (compare also the similar circumstance in Mark 16:19-20) decisively the forty days, and makes the ascension appear as if it had occurred on the day of the resurrection. Comp.Zeller, Apostelgesch. p. 77 f.; Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 463. The usual naive assumption is nothing else than an arbitrary attempt at harmonizing: οὐ τότ ἀλλʼ ἐν τῇ τεσσαρακοστῇ ἡμέρᾳ μετὰ τὴν ἀνάστασιν· τὰ γὰρ ἐν τῷ μέσῳ παρέδραμεν ὁ εὐαγγελιστής, Euthymius Zigabenus. Comp. Theophylact, Kuinoel, Ebrard, and many others, including Gebhardt, Auferst. Chr. p. 51 f. Luke himself could neither wish to leave the reader to guess this, nor could the reader guess it. That Luke also in other places goes on with δέ without any definite connection (in discourses: Luke 16:1, Luke 17:1, Luke 18:1, Luke 20:41; in events: Luke 20:27; Luke 20:41; Luke 20:45, Luke 21:1; de Wette, comp. Ebrard) in such an extension as this (according to de Wette, he forgot in Luke 24:50 to specify the late date), is an entirely erroneous supposition. There remains nothing else than the exegetic result—that a twofold tradition had grown up—to wit—(1) that Jesus, even on the day of the resurrection, ascended into heaven (Mark 16, Luke in the Gospel); and (2) that after His resurrection He abode still for a series of days (according to the Acts of the Apostles, forty days) upon the earth (Matthew, John). Luke in the Gospel followed the former tradition, but in the Acts the latter. Hence we may infer in regard to the latter account, either that he did not learn it until after the compiling of his Gospel, or, which is more probable, that he adopted it as the correct account. As to the variation in the traditions regarding the locality of the appearances of the risen Lord, see on Matthew 28:10.

ἔξω] with verbs compounded with ἐκ; see Lobeck, ad Aj. p. 334, ad Phryn. p. 10; Bornemann, Schol. p. 166.

ἕως εἰς Βηθ.] as far as to Bethany, not necessarily into the village itself, but (comp. Matthew 21:1) as far as to the part of the Mount of Olives where it enters into Bethany. Comp. Acts 1:12.

ἐπάρας τ. χεῖρας] the gesture of blessing, Leviticus 9:22.Luke 24:50-53. Farewell! (cf. Mark 16:19-20, Acts 1:9-12).50-53. The Ascension.

50
. he led them out] Not of course at the conclusion of the last scene, but at the end of the forty days, Acts 1:3.

as far as to Bethany] Rather, as far as towards Bethany (pros, א, B, C, D, &c.). The traditional scene of the Ascension is the central summit of the Mount of Olives (Jebel et-Tur); but it is far more probable that it took place in one of the secluded uplands which lie about the village. See a beautiful passage in Dean Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, ch. 3.Luke 24:50. [Ἐξήγαγεν δὲ, and He led them forth) Mark and Luke make express mention of the Ascension in its own proper place; John (ch. John 20:17), as also Matthew (ch. Matthew 28:18; Matthew 28:20), only in passing. He who believes the Resurrection of Christ, must, as a consequence, believe all things that follow upon it. Therefore the Gospel History strictly reaches in its extent up to the Resurrection: Acts 1:22 (“Beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection”); Romans 10:9 [“If thou—shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”].—Harm., p. 613.]—ἔξω, out) to that place, where He suffered. [A remarkable place was the Mount of Olives, Acts 1:12, and Bethany especially so, in respect of all those things which are recorded in John 11:1, et seqq. (as to the raising of Lazarus), Luke 12:1, et seqq. (the anointing at Bethany); Luke 19:29, et seqq. (the royal entry into Jerusalem from Bethany); Matthew 21:17 (His lodging at Bethany during Passion week), Luke 24:3 (His prophecy on the Mount of Olives as to the end of Jerusalem and of the world): Luke 22:39 (His agony in Gethsemane, which is at the side of Olivet). Comp. Zechariah 14:4.[275]—Harm., p. 612.]—εἰς) towards.—ἑπᾴρας, having lifted up) The gesture of one in the act of praying or pronouncing a blessing. He did not now any more lay on them His hands. Comp. John 20:22, note. [After His resurrection He did not touch mortals, although He allowed Himself to be handled by His disciples. “He breathed on them.”]—εὐλόγησεν, He blessed, them) This benediction appertains to all believers; for the Eleven, and those who were with them, were at the time the representatives of these.

[275] “His feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives.” From which it appears the same mount is to be the scene of His return, as of His Ascension. Comp. Acts 1:11.—E. and T.Verses 50-53. - THE ASCENSION. In considering the questions which suggest themselves in connection with the ascension of our blessed Lord, we are met on the threshold with the fact that only St. Luke, in his Gospel in this place, and in the Acts (1.), has given us a detailed account of the scene. But the fact is referred to plainly by St. John (John 3:13; John 6:62; John 20:17) and by St. Paul (Ephesians 4:9, 10; 1 Timothy 3:16). A vast number of passages besides, in the Epistles of SS. Paul, Peter, and James, and in the Revelation of St. John, presuppose the Ascension, when they describe the heavenly glory of Jesus and of his session at the right hand of God. St. John's triple mention of the Ascension (see above) is exactly in accordance with his constant practice in his Gospel; he avoids rewriting a formal narrative of things which, when he wrote, were well known i, the Churches; yet he alludes to these things in clear and unmistakable language, and draws from them his lessons and conclusions. Notably this is the case in the Fourth Gospel with regard to the sacraments. "It contains," says Dr. Westcott, "no formal narrative of the institution of sacraments, and yet it presents most fully the idea of sacraments." Neander writes with great force on this apparent omission of the Ascension: "We make the same remark upon the ascension of Christ as was before made upon his miraculous conception. In regard to neither is prominence given to the special and actual fact in the apostolic writings; in regard to both, such a fact is presupposed in the general conviction of the apostles, and in the connection of Christian consciousness. Thus the end of Christ's appearance on earth corresponds with its beginning. Christianity rests upon supernatural facts - stands or falls with them. By faith in them has the Divine life been generated from the beginning. Were this faith gone, there might indeed remain many of the effects of what Christianity has been; but as for Christianity in the true sense, as for a Christian Church, there could be none." Verse 50. - And he led them out as far as to Bethany; more accurately, and he led them out until they were over against Bethany. The scene of the Ascension could scarcely have been the central summit of the Mount of Olives (Jebel-el-Tur), according to ancient tradition; but it is more likely that it took place on one of the remoter uplands which lie above the village. "On the wild uplands which immediately overhang the village, he finally withdrew from the eyes of his disciples, in a seclusion which, perhaps, could nowhere else be found so near the stir of a mighty city; the long ridge of Olivet screening those hills, and those hills the village beneath them, from all sound or sight of the city behind; the view opening only on the wide waste of desert-rocks and ever-descending valleys, into the depths of the distant Jordan and its mysterious lake" (Dean Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' ch. 3.). He lifted up his hands, and blessed them. In Acts 1:4 we read how Jesus, having assembled (συναλιζόμενος) the apostles, gave them some last commands before he left them. It is not expressly stated that only the eleven were present on this occasion.' When he had finished speaking, "he lifted up his hands, and blessed them." There is now no laying on of hands. "Jam non imposuit manus," comments Bengel. Those hands, as they were lifted up, were already separated from them, the space between the Risen and those he was blessing grew greater every moment.
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