Jesus’ Ascension and Session

Jesus Ascending into HeavenAfter Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to many on several occasions. His final appearance was to His apostles. Luke wrote, “And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51). And in Acts we’re told, “He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). It’s important to note that Jesus ascended bodily into heaven, and that He will return the same way. Jesus’ ascension into heaven was the beginning of His session at the right hand of God. Concerning Jesus’s session, R. B. Thieme Jr. notes, “At His session, the humanity of Christ was ‘crowned with glory and honor’ and exalted to a position far higher than the angels (Heb 2:9). The Father put all powers and authorities in subjection to His Son and confirmed the ultimate subjugation of all who oppose Him.”[1] Jesus is, right now, “at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him” (1 Pet 3:22; cf., Eph 1:20), and He was “crowned with glory and honor” (Heb 2:9), and holds the title of “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev 19:16). According to Werner Foerster, “Session at the right hand of God means joint rule. It thus implies divine dignity, as does the very fact of sitting in God’s presence.”[2] And Ryrie notes, “By His resurrection and ascension our Lord was positioned in the place of honor at the right hand of the Father to be Head over the church, His body (Eph 1:20–23).”[3] Walvoord notes:

In the ascension of the incarnate Christ to heaven, not only was the divine nature restored to its previous place of infinite glory, but the human nature was also exalted. It is now as the God-Man that He is at the right hand of God the Father. This demonstrates that infinite glory and humanity are compatible as illustrated in the person of Christ and assures the saint that though he is a sinner saved by grace he may anticipate the glory of God in eternity.[4]

Ryrie states, “The Ascension marked the end of the period of Christ’s humiliation and His entrance into the state of exaltation…The Ascension having taken place, Christ then was ready to begin other ministries in behalf of His own and of the world.”[5] Lewis Chafer notes seven aspects of Jesus’ current ministry in heaven.

Seven aspects of His present ministry are to be recognized, namely: (1) exercise of universal authority. He said of Himself, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt 28:18); (2) Headship over all things to the Church (Eph 1:22–23); (3) bestowment and direction of the exercise of gifts (Rom 12:3–8; 1 Cor 12:4–31; Eph 4:7–11); (4) intercession, in which ministry Christ contemplates the weakness and immaturity of His own who are in the world (Psa 23:1; Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25); (5) advocacy, by which ministry He appears in defense of His own before the Father’s throne when they sin (Rom 8:34; Heb 9:24; 1 John 2:1); (6) building of the place He has gone to prepare (John 14:1-3); and (7) “expecting” or waiting until the moment when by the Father’s decree the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of the Messiah—not by human agencies but by the resistless, crushing power of the returning King (Heb 10:13).[6]

Dr. Steven R. Cook

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[1] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Session of Jesus Christ”, Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 238.

[2] Werner Foerster and Gottfried Quell, “Κύριος, Κυρία, Κυριακός, Κυριότης, Κυριεύω, Κατακυριεύω,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 1089.

[3] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 313.

[4] John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Galaxie Software, 2008), 121–122.

[5] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 312.

[6] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. 7 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 82.