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While studying the book of John I came to:

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:17, KJV)

Jesus would not allow Mary Magdalene to touch him after his resurrection until he had ascended to God the father, and in:

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. (John 20:27, KJV)

Because he tells Thomas to stick his hand into his side, does it indicate that he had already ascended to God the father in Heaven?

Then in Luke we have the account of him ascending into Heaven as he was blessing the disciples.

Are there any other passages which might help answer my question?

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So an equivalent question, or possibly what you are actually asking, is "Why could Mary not touch Jesus but Thomas could?", right? This question will probably help you. –  Wikis Oct 22 '13 at 14:21
@ Wikis I have considered all of those possible answers stated in response to as many similar questions as I can find, and find none of them seem to fit. An all knowing Jesus would not need to tell her to go tell the others since he would know that he would ascend in their view. Likewise how can that answer the statement I have not yet ascended to my father? –  BYE Oct 22 '13 at 15:34

5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The Gospels, Matthew and Luke, are based off of the gospel of Mark and the gospel of John is based independently on its own source.

The Savior said He was not to be touched until He has ascended to God. Perhaps He was to present Himself Resurrected to His Father. As far as we can tell by His conversation with the disciples versus His conversation with Mary, this had occurred by the time he was with the disciples.

Also, I believe it is implied in Acts that the Savior visited people after that ascension after Mary saw him. So yes, he had ascended before the time they saw His final ascension in the first chapter of Acts.


Places where the Savior shows up after resurrection (not comprehensive):

Matthew 28:9-10 (held him by the feet), Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:12 =? Luke 24:13-33, Mark 16:14 =? Luke 24:36-49 =? John 20:26-29, John 20:19-23, John 21,

Acts 1:3 Acts 7:55 Acts 9:5 Acts 9:10 Acts 9:27 Acts 10:40 Acts 13:31 Acts 18:9 Acts 22:18 Acts 23:11 Acts 26:16

1 Cor. 15:6

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@ Plasmarob Please let me know what Scriptures you know of or find to back your assertion. –  BYE Oct 22 '13 at 15:46
hope that edit helps. –  Plasmarob Oct 28 '13 at 22:06
@plasmarob: so his second coming has already been fulfilled...? –  T.T.T. Sep 28 '14 at 21:51
+1 for the explanation! Also I love the scriptures at the end. –  staples Sep 29 '14 at 13:23

In the passage in John 20:17, the word used for Touch ἅπτομαι, is not used in John 20:27. This word is used in different ways throughout the bible.

This means that it is not unreasonable for the passage to have meant "to hold on to" or "grasp".

Some eisegesis here, but if a person had a loved one they presumed to be dead, and they find them alive. What would they do? I would embrace them in excitement.

Now this is speculation, but we do know that Jesus wanted Mary Magdalene to not touch him (embrace) and instead wanted her to tell His disciples the news.

The passage never explicitly states that she did not touch him either, but the next verse makes it reasonable to believe that she did not since it says that Mary saw Jesus.


I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God

There seems to be the assumption that this means Jesus ascended into heaven at that very moment, which doesn't seem to be apparent to me.

Also, look at other translations

Many translate ἅπτομαι as hold.

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IMO Jesus ascended after talking with Mary and before meeting the brothers in Galilee.

The whole picture of the sacrifices and offerings and the feasts days in the OT are a picture of the Messiah.

During the Passover week (days of Unleavened Bread) the Lord told the Jews to do this. After sunset ending the regular Sat. sabbath the High Priest went to the field and cut enough barley to make an omer (1/10 of an ephah) for an offering to the God of the firstfruits of the harvest. This was called the 'Wave Offering'. Very early the next morning on the first day of the week they beat the barley grain off the stalk and cleaned it of chaff, purifying it. Then the High Priest lifted up the bowl containing the omer of barley and brought back down. Jesus was the Firstfruits of the Resurrection. I believe that as the High Priest cut the stalks loose from the ground Jesus was Resurrected shortly after sunset on the Sat. sabbath which would have been the beginning of the first day of the week for the Jews. Then Mary sees Him. "say to them, I ascend to My Father". As the High Priest lifted up the omer of barley as a firstfruits offering, Jesus ascended to His Father as the Firstfruits offering of the Resurrection.

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This is an excellent explanation of why Jesus might have ascended on Resurrection day, and been reluctant to be involved in Earthly affairs. It would be a much better answer if there were references to firstfruits feast definition and historical practices. The help center, especially How do I write a good answer? will give you more understanding about how this site works. We hope you will decide to participate again. –  disciple Sep 29 '14 at 3:20

"Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my Father in Heaven", could be interpreted more as "Don't worry, I'm not going leaving for Heaven just yet. You don't have to cling to me like that."

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Do you have some source upon which you make this assertion? –  BYE Feb 10 '14 at 2:43

jesus was not to be touched before his ascention because that would have defiled the sacrifice. when jesus got to heaven he put his blood on the alter in heaven. hallelujah. He appeared to the disciples after jesus' offering and let thomas place his finger in the wound in his side. It was important that the disciples still believed in Jesus . For a doubting thomas seeing is believing. Lol

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

This answer would be a lot better if you could add references showing that this is a common understanding, and who teaches/believes it. On this site, we're not looking for personal interpretation, but rather focusing on what various Christian groups teach. See How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Sep 28 '14 at 20:06

protected by Caleb Jan 24 at 8:23

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