In Like Manner (Acts 1:11)

Acts 1:9-11 – “In Like Manner”

Acts 1:9-11 “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.  They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky?  This same Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in like manner as you have watched Him go into heaven.

“This same Jesus” (KJV)

Futurists insist on Christ returning in the self-same fleshly body that He had at the ascension.  They assume that there was no change in His body at the ascension.  They believe that the body of Jesus in heaven is still the self-same unchanged “flesh and bones” body that He exhibited in His post-resurrection appearances.  They take this position because they think the body of Jesus cannot remain the self-same  body if it is changed or glorified.  But that misses the point about the glorification change at the ascension.  They simply do not understand how the same PERSON (Jesus) could retain his self-same body, even though that body has been changed and glorified at the ascension.  The NT writers clearly talk about the glorified Jesus after the Ascension having a new kind of body.  It was still the self-same body, but changed or glorified into a kind of body that could inhabit heaven.

Let’s look at a couple texts which show this:

  • 2 Cor. 5:16 “Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.”

Notice 2 Cor. 5:16.  Why does Paul say that they once knew Christ “according to the flesh” but “now knew Him thus no longer?”  We know what a body “according to the flesh” means.  Yet Paul says they know him in that way no longer.  When did His body change, and how did it change?  They obviously had known Him according to the flesh during His post-resurrection appearances, so the “change” must have occurred at His ascension, since that is the most likely occasion when a change could have occurred.

  • 1 John 3:2 “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”

The same can be said for 1 John 3:2 as in 2 Cor. 5:16 we just looked at.  Why does John say that he does not know what kind of bodies they would get at the Parousia, but that he does know they will be like the body of Christ.  If the body of Christ in heaven was nothing more than the same unchanged “flesh and bones” body that He had during his post-resurrection appearances, then both Paul and John would have known exactly what kind of bodies the saints would get at the Parousia.

Yet, both Paul and John admit that they do not know the exact composition or nature of that body.  Paul does call it “His glorious body” in Phil. 3:20-21 (Read), and says in 1 Cor. 15 that the bodies they would get at the resurrection were spiritual, incorruptible, heavenly, immortal, and glorious bodies like Christ’s.  The body Christ had in heaven, and in which He would return, was indeed the self-same body that He had before the Cross and after the resurrection.  But it was changed and glorified at the ascension (Read 1 Tim. 3:16).  It was still the self-same body, but it was now a different kind of body.  It was no longer a “flesh and bones” body which could not have dwelt in the heavenly environment.  It was changed, glorified, and suited for heavenly existence.

In John 17:5, in His high priestly prayer to the Father, Jesus clearly indicated that when He ascended, He would regain the Glory that He laid aside when He came to earth and took on the lowly fleshly body form (Phil. 2:5-7; John 17:5).  1 Timothy 3:16 states the ascension seems to be the point in time when His “flesh and bones” body was changed (received up in glory).

Sadly, this misunderstanding of Christ’s glorified bodily change in the Acts 1:11 text, has been such a fierce battleground for the historic church.  Most Christians have misunderstood these bodily issues.  Our Reformed futurist critics correctly assert that Jesus has to still have His self-same body and reappear in that self-same body at His Parousia.  That is definitely correct.  But what many fail to recall is that His self-same body was changed and glorified at the ascension.  They believe Jesus will still be in His “flesh and bones” body at the Parousia, because they believe that all the dead will have their self-same fleshly bodies raised out of the graves (like Christ did) and be changed to be like Christ’s “flesh and bones” resurrection body.

This forces them to assume that Christ’s body in heaven now must still be of the same unchanged and unglorified “flesh and bones” nature as His resurrection body.  They fail to realize that Christ is the only one who could get His self-same body back, because He was the only one who was sinless. Everyone else has to get a new body that is like Christ’s glorified body in heaven, not like His “flesh and bones” resurrection body, since that old kind of “flesh and blood” body cannot inherit the heavenly life

Notice 1 Cor. 15:50a says “flesh and blood” cannot inherit the Kingdom of God – it does not say “only sinful” flesh and blood.  Flesh and blood bodies are not made to live in the heavenly spiritual realm and must be changed in order to do so.  Even Christ’s sinless “flesh and blood” body needed to be changed “at the ascension” to be a “glorified” spiritual body to dwell in the heavenly spiritual realm.

“In Like Manner” (KJV)

Some futurists in the past asserted that “in like manner” means that the Parousia will be exactly like the Ascension in every respect, except in reverse order.  However, when pressed most of us, both futurists and Preterists, will admit that it will not be exactly like the Ascension in every detail.

What J. S. Russell says is helpful [Parousia, 147-148]:

“The expression “in like manner” must not be pressed too far.  There are obvious points of difference between the manner of the Ascension and the Parousia.  He departed alone, and without visible splendor; He was to return in glory with His angels.  The words, however, imply that His coming was to be visible and personal, which would exclude the interpretation which regards it as providential, or spiritual.  The visibility of the Parousia is supported by the uniform teaching of the apostles and the belief of the early Christians: “Every eye shall see him” (Rev 1:7).”

Common elements of the Ascension: glory, clouds, angels, heaven à they saw it:

  • Mark 16:19 “So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.”
  • Luke 24:51-53 “While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven.  And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.”
  • John 13:1  “Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”
  • Acts 1:9-11 “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.  They also said, “ Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky?  This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
  • Acts 2:33-35 “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.  For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’
  • Heb. 4:14  “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” 
  • 1 Pet. 3:22 “who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.”
  • Eph. 4:10 “He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.”
  • 1 Tim. 3:16 “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.”
  • Luke 19:12 “So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return.”
  • Dan. 7:13-14 “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him.  And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.”

Common elements of the Parousia: glory, clouds, angels, heaven à they will see it:

  • *Matt. 16:27-28 “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with his angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works.  Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom.”
  • Matt. 19:28 “And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”
  • *Matt. 24:29-31 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.  And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”
  • Matt. 25:31-32 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;”
  • *Matt. 26:64 “Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
  • Mark 13:26 “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”
  • Mark 14:62 “And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
  • Luke 9:27 “But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God.”
  • Luke 12:8 “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God;”
  • Luke 21:25-27 “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
  • *1 Thess. 4:15-17 “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
  • *2 Thess. 1:7-10 “and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed — for our testimony to you was believed.”
  • 2 Thess. 2:1 “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,”
  • 2 Thess. 2:8 “Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;”
  • *Rom. 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
  • *Heb. 9:24-28 “For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us …but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”
  • *1 John 2:28 “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears [phanerothe], we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”
  • *Rev. 1:7 “behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.  So it is to be.  Amen.”

Conclusion:

After comparing these two groups of texts, we find that the most common elements found in both lists are: glory, clouds, angels, heaven and visibility (including the personal or experiential element).  These are the things that are the most similar, and therefore help us define the phrase “in like manner.”  Notice that the ideas of visibility and experientially are prominent features of both lists.  They are inescapable.

Notice that it is “this same Jesus” who would return in the glory of His Father with the angels in the clouds of heaven, and that these Parousia texts constantly stress the idea that the saints would see Him at His coming.  The Parousia was an experiential event for both the Christians and the unbelieving Israelites.  It was a personal, visible, and rewarding manifestation of His presence to His disciples, and a visible, destructive and judgmental manifestation to His enemies.  The enemies who saw Him were all killed in the destruction of Jerusalem.  They did not live to talk about it.  And the rapture of all the saints explains why no Christians mentioned it afterwards either.

[Also see: High PriestalsoAscension]

[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 14 Lesson 7 The Parousia Acts 1:9-11”]