The Ascension of Jesus refers to Jesus bodily ascending to heaven in the presence of his apostles, forty days following his resurrection. This ascension is well attested in the New Testament, described in Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and Acts 1:1-12. The ascension takes place after his resurrection (John 20:17; Acts 1:3). In the gospel of Luke it is stated that "he left them and was taken up into heaven" (Luke 24:51). In Acts, Luke adds that, "...he was taken up to heaven" (Acts 1:2) and that, "This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). When Jesus actually ascended, "he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight" (Acts 1:9).
Most references in Scripture speak of Jesus' ascended status and do not actually mention how he came to be in heaven. These passages speak more of Jesus' "exalted state", that is, his present status in heaven after the experience of his ascension. Most notably is the quotation of Psalm 110:1, "sitting at the right hand of God". This is the most quoted OT text in the NT. Mark places the use of this Psalm in the very teachings of Jesus (Mark 12:35-37; 14:62). Furthermore, Paul gives reference to Jesus' exalted state in Philippians 2:8-11, stating in verses 9-11 that "...God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Elsewhere, Paul makes reference to Christ being "taken up in glory" (1 Timothy 3:16). Other passages attest the very same about Jesus and give suggestion to his ascension into heaven (cf. John 6:62, 13:1-3, 16:5 & 28, 20:17; Acts 2:32-33; Hebrews 4:14, 9:24; 1 Peter 3:22; Revelation 1:12-18, 3:21).
- Gerrit Scott Dawson, Jesus Ascended: The Meaning of Christ's Continuing Incarnation. P&R, 2004. ISBN 087552849X