This page is a verse by verse study of Acts 1:9-14. These verses describe the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, and the return of the disciples to Jerusalem.
Jesus Ascends. The Disciples Wait.
¶“9Following these sayings, Jesus was lifted up while they watched, and a cloud took him from their eyes. 10While they looked intently at his departure into the sky, behold two men in white garments stood by them. 11And they said, 'Men from Galilee, why linger gazing skyward? This Jesus taken from you into heaven will come thus, in the way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11).
¶“12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called Olive Grove, which is near Jerusalem a Sabbath's journey. 13They went in, and up to the room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Jude of James” (Acts 1:12-13).
¶“14These all kept fiercely united in prayer and petition, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts 1:14).
¶ "Following these sayings, Jesus was lifted up while they watched, and a cloud took him from their eyes. While they looked intently at his departure into the sky, behold two men in white garments stood by them"(Acts 1:9-10).
Jesus Ascends The ascension of Jesus is described in several other passages (Luke 24:51,Mark 16:19,Acts 2:33,Ephesians 4:10).
Disciples Observe as Eye Witnesses In verses 9-11, there are six references, to the apostles' observance of the ascension. Five distinct words are used to emphasise the eye-witness evidence...
eu-blepo, to watch
ophthalmos, the eye
atenizo, to look intently
eldeo, to behold
thea-omai, to see
Sky and Heaven In Greek, the same word ou-ranos is used for both sky and heaven. Jesus ascended into the sky, but more than that, he ascended into the greater heaven, to the right hand of God (Acts 2:33, Hebrews 10:24).
Men and Angels The word "men" should be taken in an accommodative sense, as descriptive of appearance. The "men" were probably angels in fact. It is possible, of course, but I think unlikely, that they were indeed men, appearing as Moses and Elijah did at the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-3).
¶ "And they said, 'Men from Galilee, why linger gazing skyward? This Jesus taken from you into heaven will come thus, in the way you have seen him go into heaven."(Acts 1:11).
Goodbye Jesus There was a realization on the part of the disciples, that they had seen the last here on earth of their friend and Master. He had gone. But they lingered, still looking, just as we watch an aeroplane carrying a loved one whom we have farewelled. It flies into the sky till it becomes a tiny speck and vanishes. Yet we may linger, still looking. It is easier to do that, than to face getting on with life without the one we love.
Come Back Jesus. The disciples are promised that they will see Jesus again. He is coming back. The manner of his second coming is likened to the manner of his going. This makes it impossible for us to consider the promise of his second coming as symbolic or figurative. The rapture promise, "we shall be caught up together with him in the air"(1Thessalonians 4:16-17), is therefore quite literal. Mind you, the ascension was a quiet and private affair. The second coming will not be so, as the passage just mentioned shows.
Galilee A little further down this page, there's a map showing Galilee. Jerusalem is opposite the Dead Sea at the bottom of the Jordan River. Galilee is by the Sea of Galilee at the top of the Jordan River. Between Jerusalem and Galilee is Samaria which the Jews despised. The apostles, being from Galilee, were considered by the people of Jerusalem almost as foriegners, especially as they spoke in a dialect, and were uncultured by Jerusalem standards. See Acts Facts for detailed information about Galilee (simplybible.com/f756.htm).
¶ "Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called Olive Grove, which is near Jerusalem a Sabbath's journey."(Acts 1:12).
Mount Olivet to Jerusalem. From the Olive Grove, also known as Mount Olivet, the disciples were within walking distance of the city, about a half hour’s walk. By Jewish law, the distance one could walk on the Sabbath was strictly limited.
¶ "They went in, and up to the room where they were staying: Peter and James and John and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Jude of James"(Acts 1:13).
Waiting in Jeusalem Jesus had told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4). So they went to the place they were staying, there to wait as directed
Names of the Apostles There are four lists of the apostles in the New Testament (Luke 6:14-16,Acts 1:13,Matthew 10:2-4,Mark 3:16-19). The following list combines these four sources...
Simon Peter (Cephas)
James the son of Zebedee
John (the brother of the above James)
Andrew (Peter's brother)
Philip (not Philip the evangelist)
Matthew the tax collector
James the son of Alphaeus
Simon the Zealot, the Canaanite
Judas Thaddaeus son of James
Judas Iscariot (the betrayerreplaced by Matthias)
¶ "These all kept fiercely united in prayer and petition, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers"(Acts 1:14).
A Faithful Few A small group, huddled in a big city, far from home, all missing the company of Jesus. Think especially of Mary. She had lost her son once, and received him back again from the dead. Now he was gone again and she would see her son no more on earth. Consider her remarkable faith at this time.
How the Disciples Waited. It is characteristic of disciples of Christ that we are "fiercely united in prayer" especially when there is little else we can do. The disciples were earnest and passionate in their prayers (unlike some worship today where people go through the motions of prayer with cold formality or with inattention). The disciples were not waiting passively but actively, and showing a solidarity of spirit.
Prayer and Petition. As we shall see later in chapter 1, the disciples didn't wait lazily twiddling their thumbs. Rather they were "fiercely united in prayer and petition"(Acts 1:14). Even when we can't do much else, we can do this! And it's no small thing we do. It is characteristic of Christ’s true disciples, that we are We don't just go through the motions of prayer in cold formality as clients or spectators. Rather, we engage in fierce and earnest worship in a visible and genuine solidarity of spirit.The words prayer and petition are not expressing two distinctly different things, but complementary words for the same thing. Paul uses the same phrase (Philippians 4:6).