The Ascension: The Second Step Of Christ’s Exaltation

The second step of Christ’s exaltation, was, his ascending up into heaven, Eph. 4:8, 10. The time of his ascension was forty days after his resurrection, Acts 1:3, “He tarried so long on earth, after his rising from the dead, to ascertain the truth of his resurrection: he ascertained it in that time, by his frequent appearing to, and conversing with his apostles, during that time: and in these conversations with them, he taught them the things concerning his own kingdom: Acts 1:3, “To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion, by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” It was in his human nature that Christ ascended from earth into heaven; not in his divine nature, because it is always everywhere present. The place of the earth from which he ascended, was the mount of Olives, Acts 1:11, 12. It is observable concerning that place, that there Christ’s humiliation began to come to an extremity, Luke 22:39. The heaven he ascended into, was the highest heaven, Eph. 4:10, Christ’s soul and body, then, are now no more on earth, but in the highest heavens: Acts 3:21, “Whom the heavens must receive, until the times of restitution of all things.” Compared with Eph. 4:10, “He that descended, is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.” He ascended in a visible and triumphant manner as a conqueror: Acts 1:9, “While they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight” Psal. 47:5, “God is gone up with a shout; the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.” The action of the Father in that step of Christ’s exaltation, was the receiving him up into heaven, Mark 16:19.

—Thomas Boston, The Whole Works of Thomas Boston: An Explication of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism, ed. Samuel M‘Millan, vol. 7 (Aberdeen: George and Robert King, 1850), 75–76.

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  1. If we’re counting… I’ve heard expositors of the Apostles’ Creed/Heidelelberg Catechism refer to Christ’s body not seeing corruption in the grave as the first step of His exaltation. Anything to this?

    • Boston says that the 1st step in Christ’s exaltation was his resurrection. I think that’s fairly standard. On HC 29 Ursinus wrote:

      It appears from what has now been said with what great wisdom the articles of the Creed were written, and how well they are arranged in reference to the question of the mediator. The humiliation which is the first part of his office, has these degrees: he suffered, was crucified, dead, buried, and descended into hell. We descend gradually from one degree to another until we reach the lowest point of his humiliation, which is found in the article of his descent into hell. The other part of his office, which is his glorification, ascends gradually from the glory which is less to that which is greater until it reaches its highest point, in his exaltation at the right hand of God. The same order and wisdom appear in the first part of the Creed, and also in the third where we have enumerated in the most beautiful order and succession, the benefits which Christ purchased and applies unto us by the Holy Spirit, and which is, as it were, the fruit of the preceding articles. The office of Christ differs from his benefits as cause and effect, or as antecedent and consequent. The benefits are the things themselves which Christ has purchased for us, and which he bestows upon us, such as remission of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation. His office is the obtaining and bestowment of these things.

      On HC 41 Ursinus deals with Christ’s burial as the last stage of his humiliation. I don’t think he addressed this question.

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