How Long Was Jesus On Earth After His Resurrection?
What Does the Bible Say?
Brother Todd  

How Long Was Jesus On Earth After His Resurrection?

How long was Jesus on earth after his resurrection? After Jesus’ resurrection and before his ascension, a remarkable forty-day period took place, filled with extraordinary meetings and life-altering encounters. Numerous accounts in the New Testament provide us with details regarding this exceptional period. Luke, the author of Acts, documents Jesus’ presence on Earth for these forty days. During that time, he appeared to disciples and skeptical individuals alike, offering teachings, performing miracles, and instilling faith. The extended length of 40 days holds excellent meaning; it symbolizes testing, preparation, and culmination. A momentous event was anticipated at its completion: disciples’ anticipation of the Holy Spirit’s imminent arrival. Let’s dive deeper to discover all that makes these 40 transformative days so remarkable! 

The Time Between Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension: A Period of Hope and Commissioning

Luke is the only writer in the New Testament to mention the duration of Jesus’ earthly presence after his resurrection. All four Gospels and the book of Acts provide an account of events that took place during this period. Paul also mentions this period in his letters. This is most evident in 1 Corinthians 15:5-6. Luke, the author of the Gospel bearing his name and of the Book of Acts, addresses the writings to Theophilus to provide a comprehensive account of Jesus’ teachings. Luke acknowledges the continuation of Jesus’ work in Acts 1:1. Luke’s introductory passage reveals the period of Jesus post-resurrection.

How long was Jesus on earth after his resurrection? The Significance of the Forty-Day Period: A Time of Preparation and Revelation

The Bible often uses the number 40 to represent years rather than days. The Israelites’ 40-year sojourn in the desert after their departure from Egypt is a notable example (Numbers 14:34). Scholars interpret the 40 days literally rather than symbolically.

In many biblical narratives, the number 40 is used to indicate a specific timeframe. The account of Noah’s flood tells us that the waters dominated the earth for forty days (Genesis 7:17). Jonah’s warning of impending judgment stated that Nineveh only had 40 days to repent (Jonah 3:4). Jesus’ 40-day fast and Satan’s subsequent temptation exemplify this specific time span (Matthew 4:1-11).

Acts scholars generally conclude that the 40-day period relating to Jesus’ appearances after his resurrection is a factual account, not a symbol. It highlights Jesus’s time with his followers, strengthening their faith and preparing them for future missions. This unique period of instruction and interaction serves as a crucial transition before the outpouring and birth of the early Christian communities.

Why 40 days?

The Bible does not state why Jesus decided to spend 40 days on earth before his ascension. The Gospel accounts and book of Acts makes it clear that this time was significant and was ordained by God.

While the Scriptures don’t provide a specific reason, some biblical commentators suggest that the 40-day period allowed Jesus to provide abundant evidence of his resurrection. This is consistent with Acts 1:3, where Jesus presents himself alive by convincing “proofs.”

N.T. Wright is one of several New Testament scholars to offer commentary on Jesus’ time during his 40-day stay on Earth post-resurrection, according to Wright this period was one of “new creation” as Jesus inaugurated and established the kingdom of God here on Earth. According to Wright’s perspective, his resurrection wasn’t simply personal but symbolic of its renewal and restoration in all creation.

Wright emphasizes the continuity between Jesus’ earthly ministry and post-resurrection ministry, suggesting that his teachings, miracles, and acts of healing during his ministry were signs that his kingdom was breaking through into our contemporary age. Additionally, during the 40 days after resurrection he continued demonstrating its presence and power preparing his disciples to share this good news message.

Wright highlights Jesus’ 40 days post resurrection as being pivotal for establishing God’s kingdom on Earth, calling his disciples, and ushering in God’s new creation promise.

The reason for the 40-day period is a mystery. However, the testimonies about Jesus’ appearances after his resurrection continue to inspire and affirm that it was real. They have anchored the faith of believers in history.

What did Jesus do for 40 days?

Luke gives vivid descriptions of Jesus’ ascension. He describes it as “the moment Jesus was taken” after giving vital instructions to his chosen Apostles via the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:2). The Gospel of Luke provides more information. It describes Jesus’ blessing and farewell of his disciples before ascending to heaven (Luke 24, 51).

Luke paints a fascinating picture of the time between Jesus’ ascension to resurrection. He claims that Jesus appeared to his disciples alive and provides numerous convincing proofs for Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus appeared for forty days and engaged in dialogue with his disciples on the vital topic of the kingdom of God (Acts 1:13). Jesus used this extended period to reinforce his disciples’ faith and teach them essential teachings before he left.

Luke’s meticulous attention highlights the divine purpose behind Jesus’ interactions following his resurrection.

Check out ‘The One Whom Jesus Loved’ for further reading

Jesus’ “suffering” refers to his crucifixion.

The phrase “presenting Himself Alive” refers to the unique reality of Jesus appearing before a multitude of people after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:5-6). These encounters were tangible proof of Jesus’ triumphant victory over the grave, strengthening the faith of those who saw his resurrection.

The term “proofs,” which includes a wide range of compelling evidence such as Jesus’ physical appearances, miraculous manifestations, and profound interactions with others, is used. There are many accounts of Jesus performing miraculous acts, such as the miraculous capture of fish in John 21:4-8, and engaging in transformative conversation. Jesus’ invitation to Thomas to touch his wounds led to Thomas’ declaration of faith in John 20:24-29.

During the 40-day period, Jesus also emphasized the teachings of the kingdom of God, especially during the 40 days (Luke 24, 45). His teachings revealed the divine plan and purpose and demonstrated the significance of God’s reign and the eternal hope that can be found by embracing the kingdom.

These encounters, teachings, and miracles demonstrated the undeniable truth of Jesus’ resurrection and the transformative power that his ministry possessed. These encounters, miracles, and teachings are enduring testaments to Jesus’ divinity and his profound impact on those who encountered him.

The Arrival of the Holy Spirit

After Jesus’ resurrection, he needed to leave the Earth to make room for the extraordinary arrival of the Holy Ghost. Jesus had promised his disciples (John 15:26) that the Spirit would be their teacher. As Jesus had predicted, this promise was fulfilled by the Holy Spirit’s outpouring on the Day of Pentecost.

Jesus’ parting remarks before his ascension focused on the imminent arrival of the Holy Spirit. He told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and empower them to be witnesses of him in Jerusalem, Judea Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth (Acts 1:19, ESV). These words were significant, as they foreshadowed the Spirit’s transformational work on believers’ lives.

Around ten days after that, the Holy Spirit appeared in a remarkable way during the celebration of Pentecost. (Acts 2:1-13). This was a significant milestone as the Spirit’s appearance fulfilled Jesus’ promises and ignited an explosive movement that would forever change the course of early Christianity.

The 50-day period between Jesus’ ascension and resurrection occurred between the festivals of Pentecost and Passover. It is important to note that Jesus’ physical existence on Earth during this period was limited to only 40 days. This timeframe was of great theological importance, encompassing Jesus’ appearances after his resurrection, his teachings, and the anticipation for the Holy Spirit to arrive.

The alignment of these events in the context of the Passover and Pentecost period highlights God’s divine timing, highlighting the intricate connections between Jesus’ ministry, his resurrection, and the subsequent outpourings of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus died during Passover

Jerusalem was the poignant backdrop to Jesus’ crucifixion, which occurred during Passover (e.g., John 19:14). This annual celebration was significant as it commemorated God’s liberation of the Israelites from Egypt slavery. Thousands of pilgrims celebrated Passover in the streets of Jerusalem during the first century.

As prescribed in the Old Testament, the Passover festival took place on the 14th of the first lunar month (Leviticus 23:5). In the Gospels and other New Testament writings, Jesus is depicted as the ultimate fulfillment for the Passover lamb (e.g., 1 Corinthians 5:7). He sacrificed death on the Cross mirrored the bloodshed and atoning significance that the Passover lamb had in the Old Testament rituals.

In this profound context, Jesus’ crucifixion took place at a time when Jerusalem was crowded with faithful people who were observing Passover. The convergence of these events reveals the divine orchestration in action, highlighting Jesus’ role as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb. His redemption transcends history and resonates eternally.

Jesus ascended before Pentecost

Pentecost, also known as the “Feast of Weeks,” was a significant celebration among the Israelites. It occurred precisely seven weeks or fifty days after the Passover meal (Leviticus 23:15-16). The name comes from the Greek prefix ‘pente,’ which means ‘five. This emphasizes its connection with the counting of the weeks.

Acts 2:1 mentions the festival of Pentecost, stating, “When Pentecost came, they were all in one place.” (ESV). The Gospel of Luke highlights that Jesus ascended into heaven before this festival. The disciples witnessed his departure as he rose in the sky, surrounded by a cloud. (Acts 1:9)

This fascinating sequence of events highlights the divine timing and significance of Jesus’ earthly ministry and resurrection. It also highlights the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The proximity of Jesus’s ascension to the festival of Pentecost gives depth to the story, indicating a seamless transition between the physical presence of Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit among His followers.

As believers reflect on Pentecost, they are reminded of a powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit who descended with tongues of flame upon the disciples, empowering them boldly to proclaim the Gospel and establish the early church. This pivotal moment marked a significant turning point in unfolding the plan of salvation. It highlighted the transformative work done by the Holy Spirit and the ongoing guidance and empowerment available to all believers.

The convergence of Jesus’ ascension with the subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost invites Christians to recognize God’s divine orchestration and embrace the indwelling Spirit in their lives. It is a powerful reminder of the transformative powers available to believers who continue to live their faith and spread the message of salvation.

5 Bible verses about Jesus time on earth after his resurrection:

  1. Luke 24:50-51: “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.”
  2. Acts 1:3: “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”
  3. Acts 1:9-11: “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 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.'”
  4. 1 Corinthians 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.”
  5. John 21:14: “This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.”


N.T. Wright Sewanee Theological Review 41.2, 1998.

Miracles, Signs, and Wonders – LEServices. 

2010 05 16 – Anthony R Locke Sermons ARP Synod. 

Washington, J. (2015, February 26). Faith is very much a verb. The Charlotte Post, 40(25), 3B.

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