In Like Manner” Will Jesus Come Back Physically?


After Jesus resurrection he spent forty days teaching them and commissioned the disciples to proclaim the Gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the remotest part of the earth, and then He leaves them and ascends to the Father:
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. (Acts 1:9 NASB)
Now this same event was captured by the same author of the book of Acts in the gospels. We learn from Luke’s account that it was while Jesus was in the act of blessing them with uplifted hands that He departed from them and went into heaven:
And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 And it came about that while He was blessing them, He parted from them. (Luke 24:50-51 NASB)
So we see that it was while he blessed them that he departed. It seems a little different. Now of course the same author cannot be confused. The harmony of scriptures is to understand the narrative from the mind of the given author
In continuation he also stated that:
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. (Acts 1:9 NASB)
It sounds like while they are talking to Jesus He begins to float upward and ascends into a cloud and disappears. This is the basis for the expectation of a physical return of Jesus coming on physical clouds. This line of thinking also connects the following verse that says
10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1)
Now I must say this that if we do not understand the language of the first three quarters of the Bible, we will never understand the last quarter which is the New Testament.
Now I have dealt with the clouds aspect in one of my previous blogs but today I want to address the aspect of “in like manner”.
First of all it would interest you to know that the disciples were not star-gazing Jesus watching float into the stratosphere.  Let’s look at that verse again.
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. (Acts 1:9 NASB)
The word “Looking on” is the present active participle of the Greek word blepo. Which, according to the Biblical Greek dictionary, is used abstractly, i.e., there was no object at which the disciples were looking; thus it may well mean simply “in their sight,”
Also Jesus is then said to have been “lifted up,” or in the KJV “taken up” which is the Greek word epairo. This word in its passive form, figuratively signifies the lifting up of someone in dignity. It basically describes the exaltation of an individual.
A right understanding of that place would be that Jesus is exalted to the right hand of God, a position of superiority over and above created being. What is the essence of this exaltation? Remember the prophecy from Daniel?
“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. 14 “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. (Daniel 7:13-14)
In this event Jesus wanted his disciples to know that He had left for good, as opposed to the way He appeared and reappeared during the forty days after the resurrection. It was time for the Holy Spirit to guide them to the next phase.
Then we see two angels who were present to witness and tell them of his return.
11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11 KJV)
Now there’s the word that keeps coming up in many heated debates. They said that he would return in like manner.
The words “in like manner” are the Greek phrase hon tropon. When you examine the usage of hon tropon in the New Testament, it is clear that this phrase does not mean: “exactly the same in every detail,” but has the idea of: “similar in some fashion.”
We will see examples of this phrase as it was used:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a (hon tropon) hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! (Luke 13:34 NASB)
Did Jesus want to gather Jerusalem in exactly the same manner as (hon tropon) a hen gathers her chicks? Nah.
The coming was described in various ways that could end with varying ways to look out for if it to be taken in the way it is worded without doing a proper exegesis.
This is how Matthew describes His coming:
“For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:27)
This is totally different than what Acts 1:11 describes. So which way is it, visibly in a cloud or like lightning?
Paul also describes Christ’s coming this way:
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 shall rise first. (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
This is not “in like manner” as Luke describes in Acts.
Paul also states that:
and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 NASB)
This is still different than Acts 1:11. In this place we have angels and flaming fire dealing out retribution. This is different from what we see in Acts.
Notice what John says in his prophetic writing:
And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. (Revelation 19:11)
John has Jesus coming on a horse, not a cloud. Looking at all of these how can anyone honestly say that that Jesus is going to come EXACTLY how He left when they read Acts 1:11? When you compare Scripture with Scripture, it just doesn’t agree.
The emphasis of Acts 1:11 is that Christ’s coming would be a cloud coming, just as He left in a cloud, so He would come in the clouds. That is the manner that Luke is communicating that actually brings about a harmony with other verses of scripture.
This coming on the cloud is an apocalyptic symbol for coming in judgment. Look at Psalsm
The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.” (Psalms 110:1 NASB)
The exaltation of Christ was for him to receive a kingdom that would be shared with the saints. He would be there till all enemies be made his footstool. Jesus told the disciples that when the temple was about to be destroyed that they should understand that the kingdom had drawn near already. Those who opposed the kingdom were the ones who would end up in the destruction that mirrored the plagues of Egypt. This is the reason all other verses use a judgment theme and not about a physical body appearance.  
An good understanding of the language of Scripture will help us see that His coming was not to be physical, but a coming in judgment on that old covenant world and administration so that the new and eternal would reign in His grace.


  1. Unknown

    Absolutely Jesus is not comming in flesh, for there is more scriptures that proves how he is coming back, one says, that no flesh and blood will enter into the kingdom of heaven, and Jesus the Christ was a flesh blood man, heaven is made for a higher nature, (SPIRIT), Not a lower nature, flesh

  2. Andrew Kanonik

    That's if you believe that we go to heaven, I just don't see that personally, God created the earth to be inhabited and He has not given up on the earth (no I am not a JW)

    In Genesis 1 and 2 and Revelation 21 and 22, we have the earth without sin, before the fall in the first instant and and after the restitution of all things in the second instance, the garden restored.

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