Then the disciples returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet (Olive Grove), which is near Jerusalem, [only] a Sabbath day’s journey (less than one mile) away. When they had entered the city, they went upstairs to the upper room where they were staying [indefinitely]; that is, Peter, and John and [his brother] James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew (Nathanael) and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas (Thaddaeus) the son of James. All these with one mind and one purpose were continually devoting themselves to prayer, [waiting together] along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
Acts 1:12-14 (AMP)
It says that the disciples returned to the City of Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives. So it seems that Yeshua ascended from the Mt. of Olives. This is actually a bit controversial. Luke, in his other volume, The Gospel, says this in chapter 24:
Then He led them out as far as Bethany, and lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven. And they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy [fully understanding that He lives and that He is the Son of God]; and they were continually in the temple blessing and praising God.
Luke 24:50-53 AMP
Here Luke says Christ ascended from Bethany.
Do we have a contradiction, even between the two volumes that Luke wrote? No.
Bethany is located on the eastern slope of the Mt. of Olives. So essentially both of Luke’s accounts are in agreement; it’s just that in the Gospel Luke tells where on the Mt. of Olives Christ ascended.
And, as an aside, where does Luke say that Christ’s disciples spent all their time?
The Temple. So here we see how these Jewish men who formed the inner circle of Yeshua’s followers continued in their Jewish ways and in their Jewish religion, by spending all their time at Herod’s Temple. They didn’t consider themselves as followers of a new religion, and neither did those who knew them otherwise they certainly wouldn’t have been allowed onto the Temple grounds.
But there are some Bible scholars and teachers who claim that Yeshua didn’t ascend from the Mt. of Olives but rather from an unknown hill in the Galilee.
Where might they get that idea?
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted [that it was really He]. Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:16-20 AMP
I don’t buy their premise that Yeshua ascended from the Galilee. Notice that nothing is said about Christ ascending. So the evidence is pretty clear that He ascended into the clouds from the Mt. of Olives, near the village of Bethany, and thus that is exactly where He will be returning.
But even the location of His return was not something that Yeshua thought up and did in a vacuum; rather this place was prophesied long before His advent. In the Book of Zechariah we read this:
Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you (Jerusalem) will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured and the houses plundered and the women ravished; and half of the city will be exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in half from the east to the west by a very large valley, and half of the mountain will move toward the north and half of it toward the south. You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; and you will flee just as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my [a]God will come, and all the holy ones (believers, angels) with Him.
In that day there will be no light; the glorious ones (heavenly bodies) shall be darkened. But it will be a unique day which is known to the Lord—not day and not night, but at evening time there will be light.
Zechariah 14:1-7 (AMP)
So I think we have pretty well proven that Yeshua left from the Mt. of Olives and that is where He will return. But I can’t leave this passage of Zechariah until I point out one eerie thing that we see in 14:2. There it says that half the city (Jerusalem) will be exiled, but the rest of the people (meaning Hebrews) will not be cut off from the other half.
That prophecy is in the process of being fulfilled. Jerusalem, although in Israel’s hands today, is currently politically divided into east and west Jerusalem and has been for some time. Arabs occupy east Jerusalem, and Jews occupy west Jerusalem.
This doesn’t really go for the Old City, the walled portion of the ancient city of Jerusalem, but rather for the newer sections of the city built up in the last 3 or 4 decades. The point is that the Palestinians insist that east Jerusalem, or all of Jerusalem, shall be their capital city; and naturally Israel says “no chance” to either option.
However it is clear that almost the entire world including the present Obama administration of the USA is, as was the previous Bush administration, intent on splitting Jerusalem and giving half of it to the Palestinians.
Tom Bradford feels justified in saying that Israel will not agree to this; it will have to be taken from them by force. And according to this passage, the nations of the world will come together to make that happen. And as we see Europe staunchly against Israel by policy: and we see the USA pulling away at lightening speed and instead embracing Israel’s enemies, the writing is on the wall.
This calamitous event spoken of in Zechariah 14 cannot be too far off since the stage is already set and the players are in place, which means that Messiah’s return cannot be too far off since the loss of half of Jerusalem and the return of Messiah are coupled together. That doesn’t necessarily mean the two things will happen simultaneously, nor even within days or weeks of each other. But they will happen in succession.
Let’s move on. Notice in Acts 1:12 that it says, that the disciples returned the Shabbat-walk distance from the Mt. of Olives to Jerusalem. This doesn’t mean that the day Christ ascended was the Sabbath.
A Shabbat-walk distance is a measurement of distance. And what we know from Jesus’ day is that the distance assigned to a maximum Shabbat-walk was around 2/3rd of a mile for residents of Jerusalem, but the distance varied from city to city. The disciples immediately went to the upper room where they had been staying.
Might this be the same upper room where Yeshua had His last supper?
It is possible; however upper rooms were common in Jerusalem. Most Middle Eastern houses were built with rooms on the 2nd floor and that’s what this is; this was not a commercial establishment.
Residents of Jerusalem and nearby villages often rented out their 2nd floor rooms that served as profit-making B&Bs (Bed and Breakfast’s) to travelers, except during the Feast Days (like the one that was coming up) where according to the Law of Moses Jews were required to make a journey to the Temple. For those appointed times it was not permitted to charge Jewish pilgrims for their lodging. But wherever exactly the disciples stayed had to be large because 120 of Yeshua’s followers met there.
Verse 13 gives us a list of the remaining 11 disciples (and of course the list matches with all of lists of the 12 original disciples minus the now dead Judas Iscariot). But here we find that many women also joined with the men, and among them was Yeshua’s mother Mary along with his brothers.
The term brothers in Hebrew can mean everything from a sibling to close friends to members of one’s tribe or nation. Of course here we are using Greek, so the word is adelphos. However it also carries the same wide range of meaning as the Hebrew ach (brother).
So are these “brothers”’ biological siblings of Jesus’ (His blood family) or does this merely mean other male disciples?
It so happens that Matthew 13:55 refers directly to 4 of Yeshua’s sibling brothers James, Joses, Simon and Judah. And since the wording of the verse in Acts is, “Including Mary and his brothers”, it is clear that these brothers are Yeshua’s siblings (sons of Mary).
And BTW, other unpublished Gospels from that time claim that although their names aren’t given to us Mary had daughters as well as sons, which is believable unless she had 5 or more boys but no girls.
What I want you to notice is that as is typical of both the Old and New Testaments women are given respect and position alongside men. There is no indication that the women were considered second-class followers or that they prayed apart from the men. While it was traditional in synagogues to have the men separated from the women, there is no Scriptural commandment of God to do so, and there is no indication here that the Believers followed that example in an informal setting (although no doubt they did in synagogues since it was the custom).