The departure of Jesus inaugurates the beginning of the church -- the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the beginning of the worldwide mission.In addition to the significance of the ascension for Luke’s story and theology, these opening verses focus as much on the response of the disciples to Jesus as they do on his words and deeds.This second section contains two parts and each one concludes with a reproof of and a promise to the disciples.
The phrase, “into the sky” (or “heaven”), occurs four times in rapid succession emphasizing that Jesus is taken from the eyes of the disciples and thus from the audience’s “visual” field.
In Acts , the two messengers ask: “Galileans, why are you standing (there) staring at the sky?
” Again, just as the disciples’ words seemed reasonable in their question to Jesus, so also their actions seem most natural.
Matthew ); and a promise (1:8a): “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses.” This empowerment will enable the disciples to engage in a world-wide mission, “beginning in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (1:8b; cf. Likewise, at the conclusion of Acts 1:9–11, we read the angelic response in two parts: a reproof (a): “Galileans, why are you standing (there) looking at the sky?
” and a promise (b): “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into the sky, will come (back) in the very same manner that you saw him go into the sky” (cf. Despite the reproaches, both dialogues end with promises to the disciples, thus inviting a favorable judgment of the disciples by the audience.
The dating of the Pentecost requires that the hiatus between Easter and Pentecost be filled -- this Luke does by the forty days of instruction.Through being taught by the risen Lord, praying together with one accord, and performing the delicate and crucial task of selecting Judas’s replacement without incident, the formal features of the opening scene depict the disciples as informed, spiritually mature, and administratively equipped -- all signs that they are prepared to undertake the task of worldwide mission which lies before them (cf. When Jesus ascends, his ascent into heaven is described in “earth-bound” terms, not as a heavenly journey in which the narrator accompanies the hero (as is the case in many heavenly journeys in late antiquity).Its place in Christian tradition, however, has been securely fixed by its prominent role in Christian creeds and confessions.A myriad of creeds and confessions echo the claim of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed that Christ “ascended into heaven.” Although there are NT references and allusions to Christ’s ascension (e.g., Luke -53; John ; Ephesians 4:8-10; 1 Timothy ), only Acts 1 provides a full narrative of the event.Both Jewish (e.g., 2 Kings 2:9–11) and Greco-Roman (e.g., Plutarch, Likewise, the ascension of Jesus functions to underline the exaltation of Jesus.It is the fitting conclusion to the ministry of Jesus (so Luke –53); more importantly, here, it is the foundation of the church which makes the life of the church both possible and intelligible.