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?

  • 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. Commented Oct 22, 2013 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
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 15:34

5 Answers 5


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

  • 1
    @ Plasmarob Please let me know what Scriptures you know of or find to back your assertion.
    – BYE
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 15:46
  • hope that edit helps.
    – Plasmarob
    Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 22:06
  • @plasmarob: so his second coming has already been fulfilled...?
    – T.T.T.
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 21:51
  • +1 for the explanation! Also I love the scriptures at the end.
    – staples
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 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.


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.

  • 2
    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.
    – Bit Chaser
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 3:20

There is evidence that Jesus ascended to heaven twice, but this evidence does not come out of John's Gospel but out of Luke/Acts.

First of all, Luke 24:13 tells us that what follows occurred on the same day as the resurrection:

And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.

Then, Luke 24:33-36 tells us that the two returned to Jerusalem and that Jesus appeared to them the same evening:

And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

And the same evening, Jesus took the disciples towards Bethany, where he was lifted up to heaven:

And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.

Another, more famous occasion occurs after forty days, near the mount of Olivet (Acts 1:3,9):

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:

Acts 1:9: And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

Only the author of Luke/Acts writes of Jesus being taken up bodily to heaven in the sight of the disciples (The 'Long Ending' of Mark was written later and briefly follows the lead of Luke). The first occasion, in Luke's Gospel, was on the day of his resurrection. When writing Acts, he may have wished to bring the Jewish festival of the Pentecost into his story, and so wrote of the ascension after forty days and then the Pentecost on the fiftieth day.


"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
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 2:43

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