Ascension of Christ as Davidic Cloud Monarch

Son of Man with the Clouds of Heaven

Many of us begin with an incorrect (even heretical) understanding of the Ascension of Christ. I’ve heard it said that Christ eventually “gave up” the use His body, as if he parked it in a garage with the idea of perhaps using His body again at the end of time to judge the living and dead.

Today we will discover the importance in Catholic orthodoxy of the presence of “the cloud” at the Ascension of Christ:

The ascension of Christ is described in Luke’s Gospel and referred to frequently in John. Christ gathers the 11 Apostles at the Mount of Olives where He commands them to remain in Jerusalem until the coming of the Holy Spirit:

And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.

We receive more details in Luke’s Acts 1:8-11:

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Perhaps the most important detail here is the description of a “cloud” taking Him out of sight.

Christ did not float up into the sky like a balloon let loose by a child until it disappeared as a dot in the sky too far way to see. Rather, the Body of Christ was taken by a cloud.

Saint Peter perceives the Davidic importance of this event in Acts 2:32-36 when he cites the royal Davidic “Lord said to my Lord” Psalm 110:

The Lord says to my lord:
Sit at my right hand,
till I make your enemies your footstool.”
2 The Lord sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your foes!
3 Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day you lead your host
upon the holy mountains.
From the womb of the morning
like dew your youth will come to you.
4 The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest for ever
after the order of Melchizedek.”
5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
6 He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
7 He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.

This is a Psalm declaring that David will “ascend” to his God-appointed throne at God’s right hand and begin to rule. We find that the Davidic king is at least quasi-divine. He is:

  • “my Lord”
  • “priest”
  • “for ever”
  • “will scatter kings…corpses…over the wide earth”

This is a cosmic king. A divine Messiah. Something David could never be and this is why Christ asks how David could ever say: “The Lord says to my Lord.”

This is Trinitarian theology. We find one Divine Person (Lord) speaking to another Divine Person (Lord). For an interesting study of two distinct “Lords” in Hebrew Scripture, I highly recommend The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God by Margaret Barker.

We see the conversation between the “two Lords” in Daniel 7 with the “Ancient of Days” (first Lord) interacting with the Son of Man (second Lord). In Daniel 7:13, the Son of Man comes up to the Father. I’m not making this up or grasping at straws. Christ Himself quotes these passages as references to Himself in the future at Matthew 24:30; 26:64 and Mark 13:26; 14:62 and Luke 21:27:

13 I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a Son of Man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.

It’s obvious how this passage in Daniel 7 echoes Psalm 110 with a divine-like King gaining universal dominion over all kings and kingdoms. But notice the “clouds.”

See this post for more: The Davidic Identity of Daniel

Christ purposefully includes “the clouds” in His own citation of this passage during His trial. Ultimately, it’s Christ’s quotation of this passage and “the clouds” that offends the High Priest leads Him to be “convicted” and crucified.

The cloud theme continues in Revelation as I detail in this free Catholic podcast on the Book of Revelation Chapter 14. Jesus Christ rides in “on a cloud” holding a sickle and ready to slay his enemies as described in Ps 110 and Dan 7.

Then I looked, and lo, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand.

The Ascension of Christ with the cloud is important and it shows that He is still operating through His assumed human nature. This is good news for Catholics. If Christ has “parked His body” as if to be finished with it, then we would not have the perennial presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in our churches.

Happy Ascension,
Dr. Taylor Marshall

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PS: King David was Eucharistic. 2 Sam 6:17-19 records that when King David ascended as king in Jerusalem, he gave every Israelite a wheat cake, wine, and a cake of grapes. A type of the wheat and grapes of the Eucharist of the Davidic Messiah.

PPS: Here’s a line by line Catholic commentary on the Book of Revelation.

If you’d like to study with me orthodox Christology (study of Christ) and Mariology (study of Mary) study of Mary, please join the New Saint Thomas Institute.

Is Our Salvation Based on the Concepts of Debt and Law?

I just happened upon your blog so I admit that I have not read your books or very much of your blog. However, it concerned me that in this article, you suggest that our salvation was accomplished by payment of a debt.

I am a Catholic and that is not what I believe. The concept of “debt” implies that sin is a sort of legal problem rather than an ontological one. However, I will hold off (for now!) on sharing any further thoughts because quite possibly I have misunderstood you.

Thank you Mary. I love how you hold off on judgment and ask for clarity. So often in the Catholic theological community, people start casting stones. I appreciate your moderation, prudence, and charity. Let’s look more deeply on this topic of debt and law.

“Ontological” = referring to being:

For new readers, by “ontological,” Mary means “having to do with our being or nature” (from Greek ὄν (gen. ὄντος) meaning being. Ontology is the study of being.

If you’d like to get a dictionary or lexicon of all these philosophical words used in Catholic theology, please download my book (for free), Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages (top right corner of taylormarshall.com).

Ontological or Debt/Law?

Salvation is ontological (the elevation of our human nature) and entails Christ transforming us “in Him” into “new creations.” We partake of the divine nature of Christ through His humanity. The hypostatic union becomes the bridge by which we partake of the divine nature. We are deified and in the Beatific Vision, Thomas Aquinas teaches that we will become “deiform” while remaining human and creatures.

So yes, ontological all the way. Catholics (like the Eastern Orthodox) teach that salvation is chiefly a transformation and elevation of human nature.

However, Scripture is replete of examples also discussing salvation in terms of both law and debt/remission.

It’s true Protestants focus almost solely on legal/forensic categories and hence Catholics tend to move away from them. This is a mistake on the Catholic’s part.

We are “freed from the law”. We are “justified” (legal term). Our debts are paid. The jubilee remission of debts is inaugurated by Christ.

Our terms “remission” and “redemption” (to buy back) are financial terms.

The Greek word for “redemption” is strongly legal and financial: ἀπολύτρωσις. It literally means “buying back from, re-purchasing, winning back what was previously forfeited.”

Saint Paul repeatedly refers to how the baptized have been “purchased” by the blood of Christ: “you were bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:20).

Christ Himself uses money examples as an analogy of sin remission: “And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt” (Matthew 18:27). “So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’” (Luke 16:5). “And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

It’s not either ontological or legal/debt. It’s all. It’s both/and.

Thomism on Nature and Law

As a Thomist, I would go on to say that all true law (lex) must necessarily based on being (esse). In fact, if a law does not conform to being (natural law), according to Thomas it is not a law at all.

This is why Thomas divides history and covenants into three epochs: Natural Law (Adam to Moses), Old Law (Moses to Christ), and New Law (Christ till Parousia).

For him “New Law” is just another way of saying “New Creation.” Law and ontology are parallel.

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Godspeed,
Dr Taylor Marshall

Catholic Video: What is the Historical Date of Mary’s Assumption?

In what year did Christ raise and elevate the body of His Blessed Mother into Heaven? Some say in the AD 40s or 50s. I argue based on data in the New Testament that Mary was assumed in AD 63. Please watch the video lesson that I’ve prepared on this topic for NSTI.

[If you don’t see the video in your browser or email, click here to begin watching.]

This is lesson 7 of Church History: Module 2 – Redemptive History: Christ of the Covenants. To sign up and watch the rest of the lessons and modules in this Catholic Church History Course (and earn a Certificate), please visit: New Saint Thomas Institute’s Certificate in Catholic History:

Question: Do you agree that dating the Dormition/Assumption to AD 63 makes the most sense? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

And here are some interesting resources for you as we celebrate Our Lady’s Dormition and Assumption:

  1. Did the Virgin Mary Die? The Answer May Surprise You (The majority tradition in Catholic history is that Our Lady did experience the separation of body and soul.)
  2. Audio: Mary as Assumed in Revelation 12 Podcast: Our Lady of the Apocalypse
  3. Did Christ receive an assumption or ascension or both?
  4. The year of the assumption according to Maria Agreda
  5. The Assumption of Saint Joseph – A forgotten tradition
  6. If you deny the Assumption – You have fallen away!
  7. Saint Gregory of Tours on the Assumption
  8. The Assumption of Mary in the Book of Psalms
  9. Does the Rosary Pre-Date Dominic?
  10. Mary’s Special Role over Purgatory
  11. Mary’s Empty Tomb Information
  12. Did Pope Pius XII Teach that Mary died? Yes he did

Enjoy!

to Jesus through Mary,
Taylor Marshall

Do you have fire in your soul?

Do you have fire in your soul? Are you “on fire”?

Fire transfers heat. Within the soul of Christ on the cross, He was full of fire. Fire of love. That divine fire burned in Him a million times hotter than a furnace or forest fire. Like the burning bush, He burned but never burned up for us, and He wanted to ignite that fire in our souls.

Sepulchre Fire

The fire was already burning furiously in the soul of Mary as she stood beneath the cross. Sparks and flickering flames were already in the souls of Saint John and the women with Mary.

That fire is personal. The fire is a Divine Person. The Holy Spirit.

Look into your chest and see if this Fire is burning with in you. Burning up sin and making your soul glow with warmth. Daily prayer is the oxygen that your soul needs. Stoke the fire with Scripture. Pour gasoline on it with the habitual grace of the sacraments.

This week, prayer every morning. Read Scripture every morning. Try to attend a daily Mass at least once.

Come Holy Spirit and kindle in us the Fire of Your Love.

A Blessed Pentecost to you and yours this coming Sunday,

Taylor Marshall

Free Catholic Webinar Class: Catholic Rome and Papacy 101

You’re invited to this week’s NSTI Catholic Webinar class on Rome and the Early Papacy 101.

This webinar is a “mini-version” of the class that I teach to Catholic Seminarians in Rome. This class is complimentary; however, space is limited and you must reserve your spot before Wednesday. You can register (reserve your spot) by clicking here.

Early Papacy 101 Class with Dr Marshall

YOU WILL DISCOVER INFO ABOUT:

  • The Old Testament and Rome
  • Tradition of Peter in Rome
  • Popes after Peter in Rome
  • Importance of St Clement of Rome
  • The Power of the Bishop of Rome in 2nd Century
  • EVERYONE THAT ATTENDS WILL RECEIVE a pdf Handout on these Catholic topics.

This webinar is a “mini-version” of the class that I teach to Catholic Seminarians in Rome. Space is limited and you must reserve your spot before Wednesday. You can register (reserve your spot) by clicking here.

Register here button

Paul’s Damascus Conversion: Does Acts 9 Contradict Acts 22?

I’m seeing more and more anti-Christian apologetics against “Paul” as the faux founder of Christianity. Scholars like Bart Ehrman argue that Christ was originally just an apocalyptic Rabbi who eschatological vision crashed with his crucifixion.

bart ehrman

The claim is that it was Saul/Paul, not Christ, who founded the religion of Christianity and that the historical Christ was universalized and divinized into a cosmic Christ.

The argument goes that Saul had some kind of conversion from radical Pharisaic Judaism to belief in Christ, but that Saul/Paul had zero interaction with the dead Rabbi Jesus.

It is true that Saul/Paul did not claim to have known or seen Jesus of Nazareth prior to His crucifixion. Instead, Saul/Paul claims to have met and known Jesus of Nazareth through mystical experiences.

To read of Paul’s three encounters with Jesus in the Acts of the Apostles, click here.

Paul’s first encounter with Jesus is his conversion on the Road to Damascus. Luke retells the conversion of Acts and the narrative compares Jesus to an Old Testament theophany of Yahweh.

In Acts 9:7, Luke writes:

And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no one.”

Here Luke is making the connection with God’s theophany in Deuteronomy with Christ’s theophany to Paul:

Then the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice.” (Deut 4:12)

Notice that in both cases there is no visual form, but only the voice.

The Alleged Controversy of the Paul’s Damascus Accounts

The “heard voice, saw nothing” account in Acts 9 makes for a great parallel with Deuteronomy but it opens up a problem.

There is a alleged contradictory account of between Luke’s narrative account of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9 and the second version retold by Paul himself in Acts 22:6-9:

6 “As I made my journey and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me.

Some claim that this contradicts the account in Acts 9 because:

  • Acts 9: men with Saul hear a voice, but see no one.
  • Acts 22:6-9: men with Saul saw the light but did not hear the voice.

The contradiction is dispensed with easily in this way:

  • Acts 9 reports that the men saw no one and Acts 22 says they saw a light. This is not a contradiction. These men saw a light but saw no form or person in it.
  • Acts 9 reports that the men heard a generic voice, but Acts 22 says they “did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me.” In Acts 22, the stress is on “the voice of the one speaking to Saul.” This means that the men heard a sound (Acts 9), but that it was not intelligible to them (Acts 22).

Here we can see that Saul’s encounter with Christ is not fictionalized. The fact that it is recounted three times in Acts is remarkable. It is the anchor of Paul’s claim to apostleship. Without it, Paul is merely an enthusiast. Luke’s Acts demonstrates that Paul’s apostleship is accompanied by miracles and this fact reveals Paul as a true and valid prophet for the New Covenant [Catholic] Church.

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Paul’s Three Encounters with Christ Jesus in Acts

The Acts of the Apostles record that Paul received three apparitions of the Lord Jesus Christ:

caravaggio_stpaul (1)1) Paul’s Vision on the Road to Damascus (described in Acts 9, 22, and 26). Paul is walking on the road to Damascus in order to arrest Christians in Damascus.

To read my theory that Saul/Paul had Herodian connections to accomplish this political task, click here.

A bright light surrounds Saul and he hears a voice claiming: “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Saul loses his sight but gains it again through the laying on of hands by Ananias who then baptizes Saul/Paul.

2) Paul’s Trance in the Temple (Acts 22:17-21). After his conversion, Paul returns to Jerusalem and while he is praying in the Temple, he enters into a trance. In Greek, the word for trance is ἐκστάσει {ecstasei} or “ecstasy.”

17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance {ἐκστάσει} 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get quickly out of Jerusalem, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in thee. 20 And when the blood of Stephen thy witness was shed, I also was standing by and approving, and keeping the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Depart; for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

We learn something more about Saul here. Although he did not capture Christians in Damascus, he did previously and personally “imprison and and beat” Christians in Jerusalem – “in every synagogue.” Saul was the chief of Anti-Christian police in Jerusalem. Saul would have had to have authority from the High Priest and Herod Antipas to accomplish this.

3) Paul’s Vision in Prison (Acts 23:11). This is the big “Roman Catholic” passage that I stress in my book on Saint Paul as Roman and in my book on Rome as the Capital of Christianity. Here Jesus Christ connects the Apostolic ministry from Jerusalem…to Rome. Romanism is a mandate delivered to Paul from the resurrected mouth of Jesus Christ:

“The following night the Lord stood by him and said: Take courage, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also at Rome.” (Acts 23:11)

Christ connects the Great Commission as a line drawn from Jerusalem to Rome. We see this in the thematic structure of the four Gospels (the Jerusalem/Pilate struggle) and also in the narrative structure of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts starts in Jerusalem and ends in Rome). The Book of Revelation, rightly interpreted is a vision about the unholy adultery between Whore of Babylon (Jerusalem) and the Beast (Rome).

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