Acts 1:10

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, Acts 1:10

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The previous verse saw the Lord ascend in the sight of the apostles until He was received out of their sight. With that, Luke now says, “And while they looked steadfastly.”

The verb is a present participle, saying, “And as they were looking intently.” Luke is bringing his reader into what was going on at the time, revealing what was happening while they were watching the Lord ascend. It is the same verb, in the same tense, that was used by Luke in Luke 4:20 –

“And having folded the roll, having given it back to the officer, he sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue were gazing on him.” (YLT)

Those with Jesus were literally captivated by the sight before them. The Lord who they had seen crucified and dead, but who then was alive again, is now ascending before their very eyes. So incredible is the sight that their eyes are literally fixed on Him to the exclusion of everything else. They are focused on the Lord Jesus, but their eyes are “toward heaven.” The Greek reads, “into the heaven.”

It isn’t just that they saw Him walking higher up the Mount of Olives, ascending to a higher point so that He could preach to them. Rather, He is ascending – bodily – above them. It is in this incredible motion into heaven that they continued to gaze “as He went up.”

Here again, it is a present participle. It should say something like, “in His going,” or “while He was going.” They are intently gazing into heaven while He is ascending. The words of Luke are active and alive as he describes things as they were occurring. And there is a point to the structure which is revealed in the next words. It is while this was actively occurring that, “behold, two men stood by them.”

The verb now is pluperfect, indicative – “behold, two men were standing by them.” The obvious meaning of Luke’s words is that these guys didn’t just come with the apostles, but there was an appearance of them that occurred while Jesus was ascending. It is as if an exchange took place without their realizing it.

The speculation on whether these are men or angels goes on and on. Luke, being precise, states “two men.” There is no reason to go beyond that. The point is that they are now accompanied by these two who were obviously sent by the Lord.

The appearance of two men with the Lord is seen again and again in Scripture. Two men were with the Lord when He appeared to Abraham in Genesis 18:2. Two men were with Him when He was seen in Daniel 12:5. Two men (Moses and Elijah) were with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration. Two men were at the tomb after the Lord’s resurrection in Luke 24:4.

Such appearances give added weight that the same Lord (Yehovah) of the Old Testament is the risen Lord (Jesus) of the New. This appears to be the point of Luke’s meticulous description of what is happening. Of these two men, he then notes they were “in white apparel.”

The idea here is that of purity as well as righteousness (being free from sin). The metaphor is explained, for example, in Revelation –

“You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments.” Revelation 3:4


“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed.” Revelation 3:18

Life application: Hints of the deity of Christ are found throughout the New Testament. Some are so obvious that it is inexcusable to deny the matter. And yet, the words of Scripture are twisted to do just this. Cults, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, go to great lengths to deny this fundamental truth.

Be careful to check what you hear, and to hold fast to what the word is conveying. Jesus Christ is the Lord God. Any doctrine or teacher that denies this is to be rejected –

“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” 2 John 1:9-11

Lord God, what You have presented in Scripture leaves absolutely no doubt that Jesus Christ is God. You have entered into the stream of humanity in order to redeem us back to Yourself. Help us to carefully contemplate, and to never deny, this fundamental truth as it is revealed in Your word. To Your glory we pray. Amen.