Christ’s Ascension — Did Luke See It?

Question from a Site Viewer
Was Luke an original witness to Christ’s ascension?

Tim’s Answer
As far as we know Luke was not an original witness to Christ’s ascension. Luke apparently joined Paul at Troas, as up to that time in the book of Acts Luke always refers to the accounts in the third person. That is, “they” did this and “he” did this, but never “we” did this. After Acts 16:10, Luke switches to the first person, that is, “we” did this. Thus, it appears that Luke joined Paul and Silas at Troas on Paul’s second missionary journey. Further, in Luke 1:1-2, Luke speaks of the eyewitnesses as other people, not as himself. Finally, in Acts 1:3, he speaks of Jesus being seen by “them” after his resurrection. He never mentions seeing Christ himself. Accordingly, it appears that Luke writes as an historian, one who collected the eyewitness accounts from others and wrote them in his two books.


2 thoughts on “Christ’s Ascension — Did Luke See It?”

  1. what is the essence of being orthodox or protestant and why has this caused so much Division among Christians today?

    1. The essence of the difference between the Orthodox churches and those who are labeled as Protestants ties to history. The Orthodox churches trace their roots back to the churches formed by the Lord’s apostles. Protestantism arose during the 16th century with various groups splitting away from the Roman Church and seeking a return to the Bible. The Protestant churches have historically been focused on correct doctrine, often splitting with one another over doctrinal issues. The Orthodox churches in my observation are much more into mystery, not seeking to understand everything but holding truth as a mystery of God. However, the Orthodox churches all accept the seven ecumenical councils of the church as being binding doctrinally. The Protestant churches also generally accept the positions of the councils on doctrinal matters, except adding that the Spirit proceeded from both the Father and the Son, as does the Roman Church. However, for Protestants, the councils are not generally considered to be authoritative. Historically, only Scripture itself was considered to be authoritative in the Protestant churches. The Orthodox would say that Scriptures and the 7 councils are binding on the churches.

      Outside of their different historical backgrounds, today there are considerable differences between various Orthodox churches and even more differences between various Protestant churches. What binds the Orthodox together today is a common acceptance of the 7 councils. There is no similar factor that binds Protestant churches. There are Protestant churches that are very liberal theologically, some of which will not even accept the bodily resurrection of Christ as a fact we should believe. At the other end of the spectrum, there are Protestant churches that are very insular in believing that they are the only fellowship of churches that have the truth and will get to heaven. And there are Protestant churches every where between these extremes.

      Some Protestant churches are very compatible with the Orthodox churches. In fact, the Antiochian Orthodox Church has many former Protestants among its members and leaders. There is a shared interest in holding to the faith delivered to the saints between many of those who are Protestants and many of the members of the Orthodox churches.

      You ask why has the split between the Orthodox and Protestants caused so much division. I suggest that the answer in part is the confusing nature of Protestantism. When many in the Orthodox look at Protestantism, what they see is disaster. Because there is no central control, there is no way to guard against heresy. Sometimes, Protestant pastors have no formal theological education, and, frankly, sometimes their leaders are bombastic and do very strange things. Coupled with the fact that many Orthodox lump all sorts of cults into “Protestantism,” even Jehovah Witnesses who deny the Trinity and Mormonism who believe in a pluralism of gods, one can understand why to the Orthodox eyes, Protestantism is dangerous for one’s soul.

      Likewise, some Protestant groups see the Orthodox churches as having a form of God, but denying in practice His life-giving power, and so they seek to evangelize the Orthodox, which does not go over well with Orthodox leaders.

      I have friends who are Orthodox. I read writers who are Orthodox. I use the Orthodox Study Bible. I admire many things in the Orthodox Church. I also have friends in various Protestant churches and I attended a Protestant Seminary and attend a church that would probably consider itself to be Protestant. I believe that all who call on the Jesus of Scripture in sincerity and truth are brothers and sisters. We are one church. I also recognize that in both the Protestant churches and in the Orthodox churches, there are false teachers, those who seek power, fame, and to build up their own institutions; those who will condemn anyone who is not following them. But the true church is not a Protestant Church or an Orthodox Church. The true church is Christ’s church. If Christ’s presence is in the members of the church, then that is what matters far more than labels ever will. If Christ has withdrawn His presence from the church (see Revelation 2 & 3), then the church is not His church, even if it has the “right” label.

      I encourage you to help be a mediator between all who may seek to divide His church. Those who sow discord among the brothers God hates (Proverbs 6:19). Christ’s great prayer for us that we would all be one (John 17:21). Satan’s strategy long has been to divide and destroy. We must pull together all true believers in Jesus and keep that unity. I know that in every church there are those who by their fruit demonstrate that they are not followers of God. We are not told to maintain unity with them. But for all who are bearing the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, we should be in unity. Peace making is the will of the Father.

      I know this is somewhat lengthy, but I hope it is helpful.

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