The Gospels give the account of ten apparitions of Jesus, which he allowed his followers after the resurrection. The longest time he spent with them was perhaps during the co-journey to Emmaus, that too, in disguise. Given that he spent forty days on earth between his resurrection and ascension, also given that he had 'descended into hell and preached' between the time of his death and resurrection, one is eager to know why Jesus did not spend much time with his disciples during the forty days prior to ascension.

My question, therefore, is: How does the Catholic Church explain the absence of longer periods of Jesus's stay with his followers post-resurrection?

  • 5
    This question is just based on bad assumptions. The Bible only describes a few occasions, you can't know how long the times were.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 9:04
  • 4
    The question assumes information that we do not know. We have no idea how many times and when Jesus appeared and to whom. It could have been hundreds of times to thousands of people but we do not know.
    – user43409
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 12:08
  • Can not recall where I read it, but one of the Church Fathers or Doctors of the Church have written about this particular subject.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 21:41

2 Answers 2


This is an argument from absence - Paul records a scene not recorded in the Gospels:

1 Co 15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.

John also explains the reason why not everything was recorded.

John 20:30 NKJV - And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;

It's also not just the Catholic Church - all who profess to be followers of Christ, believe as Paul records in 1 Co 15:

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 NKJV - Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God [which was] with me. Therefore, whether [it was] I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

This is central to faith - as I said in the thread on creationism. Faith is hope in the unseen. (Heb 11:1) if we could see, we'd be held to a greater judgment, and Jesus says this to Thomas, when Thomas declared that Jesus is God;

John 20:27-29 NKJV - Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand [here], and put [it] into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed [are] those who have not seen and [yet] have believed."

Those who have not seen yet do believe, are blessed.

  • 2
    Catholic questions require an appeal to Catholic sources. Otherwise this a post like this is tantamount to private interpretation, which is a forbidden in the Catholic Church.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 21:18
  • The Bible isn't of private interpretation. Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 21:23
  • 1
    2 Peter 1:20 NKJV - knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, Peter being what you believe to be the first Pope, is a Catholic source. Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 21:24
  • 2
    @Peter this isn't really a Catholic question because the asker hasn't demonstrated that the Catholic Church teaches what he says. It's his own personal (and weird) presuppositions.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 22:24
  • 1
    Up-voted because of the reference to John 20:30 which is very valid and which answers the question specifically.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 18:12

Does the Catholic Church explain why Jesus only appeared in short apparitions to his followers post-resurrection?

The answer is Yes. The Catholic Church stated that we need to embraced the Life of Jesus as a Mystery for us to meditate and contemplate as we journey along the Christian path. Therefore, the bible does not reveals every minute details of Christ works but only those important truth that will lead us to follow Jesus Christ.

Short Answer

The Logos was incarnated with a mission to Redeem & Resurrect all mankind and to dwell among us.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.(John1:14)

The resurrection of Christ body was not a return to normal life but only to witness the fulfillment of His promised ressurection of the body to those who followed and put their faith in Him.

999 How? Christ is raised with his own body: "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself";553 but he did not return to an earthly life. So, in him, "all of them will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear," but Christ "will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body," into a "spiritual body":554

Jesus did not return to earthly life to "dwell again" among us but to proclaim the fulfillment of His promised of Resurrection to all and for the Apostles and Disciples becomes a living witness to His Resurrection.

995 To be a witness to Christ is to be a "witness to his Resurrection," to "[have eaten and drunk] with him after he rose from the dead."549 Encounters with the risen Christ characterize the Christian hope of resurrection. We shall rise like Christ, with him, and through him.

This is only the purpose why Jesus had a short apparitions and had chosen to appear only a few occasions to all Apostles and Disciples who received the Gift of the Holy Spirit. The scriptures numbered the apparitions in ten occasions within the forty days period prior to His Ascension.

Let us remember that the Redemptive Works of Jesus Christ was already finished At the Foot of the Cross before He exhaled His last breath.

John 19:28-30 New King James Version (NKJV) It Is Finished 28 After this, Jesus, [a]knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

In closing, the Gospel and the Book of Acts of the Apostles only mentioned a short apparitions as Jesus resurrected life was not a return to normal earthly life but simply Jesus witnessing to the power of His words promising Eternal Life.

"I am the Resurrection and the life."(John11:25)

Additional answer from Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Catholic Church teaches to view the Life of Christ as a Mystery when the scriptures is silent, and to follow the path of the Saints who contemplate the Mystery of Christ Life thru the eyes of His Mother the Theotokos.


514 Many things about Jesus of interest to human curiosity do not figure in the Gospels. Almost nothing is said about his hidden life at Nazareth, and even a great part of his public life is not recounted.172 What is written in the Gospels was set down there "so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name."173

515 The Gospels were written by men who were among the first to have the faith174 and wanted to share it with others. Having known in faith who Jesus is, they could see and make others see the traces of his mystery in all his earthly life. From the swaddling clothes of his birth to the vinegar of his Passion and the shroud of his Resurrection, everything in Jesus' life was a sign of his mystery.175 His deeds, miracles and words all revealed that "in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily."176 His humanity appeared as "sacrament", that is, the sign and instrument, of his divinity and of the salvation he brings: what was visible in his earthly life leads to the invisible mystery of his divine sonship and redemptive mission

For you other questions; "The Gospels give the account of ten apparitions of Jesus, which he allowed his followers after the resurrection.The longest time he spent with them was perhaps during the co-journey to Emmaus, that too, in disguise. Given that he spent forty days on earth between his resurrection and ascension, also given that he had 'descended into hell and preached' between the time of his death and resurrection, one is eager to know why Jesus did not spend much time with his disciples during the forty days prior to ascension."

Don't forget that Jesus uses numbers to convey a deeper meaning to the Jews as they speak the Hebrew language. The number ten and forty has meaning in Church Tradition.

What Does The Number Ten (10) Mean or Represent in the Bible? https://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2014/10/04/what-does-the-number-ten-10-mean-or-represent-in-the-bible/

How about the meaning of forty days in Catholic Tradition?

Catholic Activity: Why Forty Days? https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=1022

Lastly your final question is; "My question, therefore, is: How does the Catholic Church explain the absence of longer periods of Jesus's stay with his followers post-resurrection?"

The Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledge the Life of Christ as a Mystery and be found in details here;

Paragraph 3. The Mysteries of Christ's Life

512 Concerning Christ's life the Creed speaks only about the mysteries of the Incarnation (conception and birth) and Paschal mystery (passion, crucifixion, death, burial, descent into hell, resurrection and ascension). It says nothing explicitly about the mysteries of Jesus' hidden or public life, but the articles of faith concerning his Incarnation and Passover do shed light on the whole of his earthly life. "All that Jesus did and taught, from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven",171 is to be seen in the light of the mysteries of Christmas and Easter.

The Gospel of John had numerous passages that gave us passages to meditate and contemplate for us to understand the deeper things of God not reveals in the bible. But, how do we know the deeper things about God especially Jesus mysterious life and works not written in the bible? We need to seek Wisdom that God said He will give generously to all who ask of it.

James 1:5 New International Version (NIV) 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Why seek wisdom?

Wisdom is supreme; therefore acquire wisdom. And whatever else you obtain, gain understanding. (Proverbs4:7)

"Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding,"(Proverbs3:13)

So, the answer to your question that entails a mystery is to seek Wisdom and King Solomon passages in Book of Wisdom is a good source as well as the Book of Proverbs. But as Catholic we have a short-cut to know the Mystery about Christ Life especially the hidden wisdom that was concealed by God purposely. How does a Catholic faithful know the mystery of Christ? We seek the Wisdom who is a Mother as describes by King Solomon in;

"I rejoiced in them all, because Wisdom is their leader, though I had not known that she is their mother."(Wisdom7:12)

In closing, Catholic Marian faithful knows the mystery of Christ life especially the hidden ones like your question by seeking the Wisdom of the Mother of Christ. We contemplate the Face of Christ thru the eyes of a Mother as Pope St.John Paul II The Great had teaches every catholic faithful must follow to gain knowledge and understanding.

Jesus is the First Advocate, and have to leave the Apostles within 40 days and said to them "Do not let your hearts be troubled" because Jesus First Mediation Act with the Abba Father is the sending of the Holy Spirit that will look upon or search who is worthy to become the "another Advocate" among those people present in the Upper Room. The biggest mystery is who will the Holy Spirit choose to become the "another Advocate", as She will need a body like Jesus to manifest Her being as the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity. The answer was given by St.Alphonsus Liguori a Doctor of the Church.

"In His eagerness to show you,mercy, God has given His Son as your Advocate. And then to make your confidence even stronger, He has given you "another Advocate', who obtains through her prayers whatever she asks.Go to Mary, and you will see salvation. -St.Alphonsus Ligouri

  • 2
    I cannot find anything in this answer specific to the matter in the question : that of Jesus Christ spending s certain amount of time in the company of his disciples after his resurrection from the dead and before his ascension into heaven.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 18:10
  • @Nigel have you not read CCC512,CCC514,CCC515 the Catholic Church treat the Life of Christ as a "mystery". Therefore the answer if we want a Catholic answer is very clear it is a "mystery", but the Church teaches as St.JP2 implore all Catholics to contemplate the life of Christ thru thru eyes of Mary and that means every Catholic must seek Wisdom.This is a Catholic answer with Catechism reference that you downvoted and upvoted an answer merely referencing one verse in John20:30 which the Catholic Church does not mentioned in Catechism. Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 0:41
  • I think you misunderstand the terminology 'life of Christ'. The Life of the Saviour is, indeed, a great mystery : His divinity and his humanity. But his time on earth is well documented by four apostles and what is recorded is not obscure.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 3:44
  • @Nigel The question is asking for unrecorded events, you upvoted because of John20:30, isn't it the very definition of obscure.Catholic Church teaches us to pray the holy rosary for meditation and contemplation of the whole life of Christ beyond what is obscure in the bible. Mama Mary is the one who will narrates Jesus life "from womb to tomb even up to ascencion" or even the deepest secrets of God.. St Montfort teaches that's the shortest way to find Wisdom. Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 14:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .