RESURRECTION OF THE BODY OF JESUS
-A. Ralph Johnson
WHAT THE WATCHTOWER SAYS HAPPENED TO THE BODY
“...that fleshly body...was disposed of. Jesus, when resurrected, was... in a new body...”
--AID TO BIBLE UNDERSTANDING 1953, p. 1587 (Note: Underlines are ours)
“Resurrection is a restoration to life of the nonexistent dead.... It is the reactivating of the life pattern of the creature, a transcription of which is on record with God, and is referred to as being in His memory. Resurrection does not involve the restoring of the original identical body of the creature.... Hence, one is restored or re-created in either a human or spirit body...” --MAKE SURE OF ALL THINGS, 1953, p. 311
“Jesus’ Resurrection Not of Same Body; He Merely Materialized Flesh and Blood to Be Seen and Believed.”
--MAKE SURE OF ALL THINGS, 1953, p. 314
cf. THE TRUTH THAT LEADS TO ETERNAL LIFE, 1968, P. 52
“...the bodies in which Jesus appeared after his resurrection were not the body that was crucified nor his glorious spiritual body, but bodies created expressly for the purpose of appearing unto his disciples. Our Lord’s human body, the one crucified, was removed from the tomb by the power of God. Had it remained there it would have been an obstacle n the way of the faith of his disciples, who were not yet instructed n spiritual things....The Scriptures do not reveal what became of that body, except that it did not decay or corrupt....We can only surmise that the Lord may have preserved t somewhere to exhibit to the people in the Millennial age.”
--THE HARP OF GOD, 1927 p. 169, 170, “Judge” Rutherford
“Many Christians have the idea that our Lord’s glorious spiritual body is the very same body that was crucified and laid away in Joseph’s tomb....This is a great mistake....It would prove that our redemption price was taken back....Whether it was dissolved into gasses or whether it is still preserved somewhere...no one knows...Hence it will not surprise us if, in the kingdom, God shall show to the world the body of flesh, crucified for all...”
--VOL. 2, STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES (THE TIME IS AT HAND), 1910, p. 128-130, “Pastor” Russell.
WHO ARE THE FALSE WITNESSES OF JEHOVAH?
(“What saith the scriptures?” Rom. 4:3)
1Cor. 15:13-15. “...if Christ has not been raised, then is our preaching vain, your faith is also is vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we witnessed of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead are not raised.” -ASV
Paul says that if Christ has not been raised up we are false witnesses. It follows that if Christ was raised that those who deny this are the false witnesses of Jehovah.
To “resurrect” is to “raise up.” (Greek: “egeiro”) There can be no question that this is correct.
-Matt. 27:52. The bodies of the saints arose (egeiro).
-Mark 1:31. He took the girl by the hand and lifted her up.
The word is commonly used of people simply getting up. (Matt. 2:13, 14, 20, 21)
The Body is what lies down in the dust and dies (James 2:26). The body is what is “raised up.” The spirit, which they claim is only the “breath” or “energizing force,” cannot be what is “raised” because it returns to God (Ecc. 12:7). According to them the soul cannot exist at death since it is only a “life principal” and therefore cannot be what is “raised.” They use the word, “resurrect” but in fact deny anything was raised. They claim the “life pattern” of Jesus was recreated from the memory of God. That is not a resurrection. How do they know the original body just turned to gas? If it had, it would have been corrupted.
The Watchtower denial that the body was raised makes the message of the resurrection a sham and the idea that we can test the truth by the scriptures an illusion because nothing in all God’s word is more clearly taught and illustrated by the accounts of the apostles. Without the resurrection of His body, Jesus failed to completely overthrow the work of Satan. Only by resurrection of the body could Jesus be triumphant over death in the fullest measure (1Cor. 15:25).
The Watchtower concept degrades Jesus. According to them, he was only a created being, the archangel, Michael. When he was conceived in Mary, Michael suddenly ceased to exist and was re-created in Mary’s womb as Jesus --only a man. At his Baptism he received power from God to be Christ. At death he ceased to exist and when “raised” was re-created.
Such a scheme conflicts with a number of scriptural concepts. In the first place Jesus was never said to be an angel before he came to earth and he was never called, “Michael.”
When he was raised he was not raised as an angel. He was raised as Jesus, the Christ, just what he was before he died (Matt. 28:16-20; Mark 16:19; Ac. 2:36).
Furthermore, chapter one of Hebrews indicates that no angel at any time was ever by the Father called, “my son” (Heb. 1:4-5). No angel was ever invited to sit at His right hand and be worshipped as “God” (Heb. 1:6-8). Jesus was creator of everything made and the very image of the substance of the Father (Heb. 1:2-3 cf. Jn. 1:3; Col. 1:15-17). Angels are only servants.
Revelation 12, clearly indicates a distinction between the man-child that was caught up to his throne from Michael who wars with the dragon. Likewise, “Michael,” in Daniel 10:13, does not appear to be the same as Jesus who is pictured as the “man clothed in linen” (Heb. 10:5-6 cf. Rev. 1:12-18).
II. Jn. 2:19-22. Jesus said, “Break down this temple (“naos”), and in three days I will raise it up.”
This was written many years after the event. John pauses to explain what Jesus meant by the word, “temple.” “He was talking about the temple of his body. When though, he was raised up from the dead, his disciples called to mind that he said this.” -NWT
What did they break down? They broke down his body. (Jn. 2:21; 19:23, 31, 34)
Did Jesus raise what they broke down? He said he would. The body was what was broken down and therefore the body was what was raised.
The physical body is plainly called a “temple,” “house” or “tabernacle.”
2Cor. 5:1, 2, 4, 6. It speaks of us being in the body or, “tabernacle” (“skēnous”) cf. 2Pe. 1:13-14.
1Cor. 6:13-19-20. Our bodies are members of Christ (vs. 15). Our body is a temple (“neaos”) of the Holy Spirit in us (vs. 19).
OBJECTION: “The church (ekklesia) is the temple body (Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:24).”
According to Watchtower teaching, the church, or assembly, did not come into existence until Pentecost, 50 days later (Lev. 23:15, 16). Matt. 16:18, shows the church was still future. They could not break down the ekklesia body because it did not yet exist.
· THINGS IN WHICH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD TO LIE, -1965, p. 241;
· BABYLON THE GREAT HAS FALLEN, p. 430;
· MAKE SURE OF ALL THINGS, 1953, p. 34, 70
It is highly unlikely that, in explaining what Jesus meant by “temple” that John would use a figure to explain a figure. That would explain nothing. It would only compound the confusion.
OBJECTION: “Jesus could not have raised his body because some passages say the Father raised him.”
Jesus plainly said, “I will raise it up.” The fact that he and the Father shared in the action is no argument against it.
OBJECTION: “If he raised himself that would make him God.”
The problem is not with what he said but with Watchtower theology.
If Jesus and the father are one, he is God and did not cease to exist at death. Unless Jesus shared with the Father in raising his body, he could not properly have said that he would do it. If Jesus couldn’t say what he meant, who can? How come the Watchtower thinks they can explain what God meant more clearly than God himself?
OBJECTION: “God would not take back the ransom.”
The suffering, humiliation and death he experienced cannot be “taken back” by the resurrection.
Mark 10:45 says the soul (Greek: “psuke”) was given as a ransom. Their reasoning that resurrection of the body would “take back” the ransom is clearly false in light of the fact that in John 10:17, 18 Jesus plainly says he lay down his life (“soul,” Greek: “psuke”) and he took it again.
OBJECTION: “Jesus could not raise himself because the dead do not know anything.” (Ecc. 9:5)
Again, the problem is with Watchtower theology. Jesus plainly said he would raise his body. Ecclesiastes is speaking about what Solomon “saw...under the sun.” This phrase is used about forty times). The very day Jesus died he went, with the thief on the cross, to Paradise (Lk. 23:43). Death of the body (James 2:26) does not end existence of the spirit (Ecc. 12:7).
When the body dies (James 2:26), it returns to the dust and the Spirit returns to God (Ecc. 12:7; James 2:26). We then no longer know anything of what is taking place “under the sun” and, without God’s help, can no longer intervene (9:6; 5:20; Luke 16:27-28).
Note that Ecc. 9:2 says “All things come alike to all...” In 9:5 it says the dead have “no more any reward....” To make this apply in a universal sense would deny any reward for the righteous. There could be no resurrection because it says, “neither have they any portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun.” To make that universal would certainly wipe out the Watchtower’s claim of a resurrected “earthly class.”
From our perspective here on earth, the grave is the end of all activity (9:9-10). Until resurrection that is certainly true of the body. In death we see no preeminence of man above the beasts. The bodies of both return to the dust. Who, from our point of observation, knows whether the spirit of the man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes downward (3:16-22)? Obviously this has reference only to those upon the earth. Certainly God knows.
In spite of this, Solomon provides some clues that there is something greater. The very mention of the question of whether the spirit of the animal goes downward and that of the man going upward suggests the possibility. He also says that a man shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answers him in the joy of his heart (5:20).” Also, the fact that the Spirit returns to God suggests something more than just annihilation. The word, “spirit” is commonly used of intelligent beings who have no physical body.
Many scriptures support the fact that death is not oblivion.
-I Thes. 5:23. We have a body, soul and spirit. (Heb. 4:12)
-God forms the spirit in man and gives it understanding. (Job 32:8; Is. 26:9)
-Conscious beings without physical bodies are called spirits. (Mk. 5:1- 10; Luke 24:37; Mt. 14:26; Heb. 1:7)
-The body has a soul within it. (Job. 14:22; Gen. 35:18; 1Kings 17:21, 22)
-The Body returns to the dust. The spirit returns to God. (Ecc. 12:7; James 2:26; Lk. 23:46)
-Mt. 10:28. Men cannot kill the soul.
-Ps. 90:10. The scriptures say that at death we fly away.
-Luke 16:19-31. While dead, in torment, the rich man could feel and think about his relatives who had not died.
-2Cor. 12:2-4. It was possible to be out of the body in the paradise of God in the third heaven and hear things not lawful to be uttered.
-2Cor. 5:1-4. It was possible to be out of the body and not be clothed with the new body (resurrected).
-Rev. 6:9-11. Souls of the dead could still speak.
-1Pe. 3:19. Spirits of those who disobeyed in the time of Noah were still in prison. Surely this does not mean they have ceased to exist!
-Heb. 12:23. There are spirits of just men made perfect.
-Gen. 37:33-35. Jacob said he was going to his son. (He did not think Joseph was in the grave. He thought he had been eaten by a lion.)
-1Sam. 28:11-19. Samuel, after his death, talked to Saul.
-Mark 9:4. Jesus talked to Moses who was dead and buried. (Jude 9; Deut. 34:5, 6)
III. John 20:7. The napkin for Jesus’ head was rolled and placed by itself.
If the body dissolved into gas, this would be unlikely. This indicates the body was raised rather than stolen or just evaporated. Would God purposely leave misleading clues?
IV. John 20:24-29. Jesus affirms that these are “my hands” and “my side.”
Thomas was shown the prints of the nails and the wound. Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God” (literally, “The Lord of me and the God of me.”) Jesus then commended him for believing.
Believing what? Obviously Thomas believed his body was raised. How can anyone deny this? What possible stronger means could have been used to demonstrate it? Jesus made no attempt to explain that his body was not actually raised. Nor did John, who wrote this many years later. If this was not his body, it was very uncharacteristic of John not to have inserted and explanation (Compare, John 2:21; 6:39; 21:23).
If his body was not raised, then it was a counterfeit. Presenting a counterfeit would be deceptive, not only to Thomas but to Bible readers through the centuries. Would Jesus perpetrate such a hoax? Why could not that have been the original? Who has the right to contradict the words of Jesus?
OBJECTION: “How could a physical body pass through locked doors and suddenly appear in the room?”
Through the power of God. We cannot restrict God to our limitations. Will our body, when “changed,” be restricted by our present limitations? How was Philip “caught away” and found at Aztos (Ac. 8:39, 40)? How did Jesus escape a mob that was trying to kill him (John 10:39)? How did a bush burn without being consumed (Gen. 3:2)?
Raising such questions proves nothing except ignorance. There is no question that the body was physical (Luke 24:39). It is no problem for God to make a body appear or vanish. The fact that he could make his body do so does not show that it was not the bona fide original.
OBJECTION: “Why did they not recognize him?”
Luke 24:16 says, “But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.” It later says, “their eyes were opened and they knew him.” (Luke 24:31). The problem was with their eyes, not with his body. Lack of recognition does not prove the body was not raised.
Mary’s failing to recognize him at the tomb (John 20:14) is not explained but it may have been any one or a combination of things. It was not yet light (John 20:1); she was crying (20:11); she did not expect to see him, and at first she did not fully turn to look at him (20:16).
Even if his body was changed so it was not recognized, that does not indicate it was not the original.
OBJECTION: “It says he manifested himself in another form.” (Mark. 16:12)
ANSWER: His ability to change form does not prove it was not the original body with new powers.
The scriptures also say, “we shall be changed” (1Cor. 16:51-52). Jesus shall “fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory” (Philip 3:21). “We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is” (1Jn. 3:2). This does not mean the body is not raised. Romans 8:11 says that the Spirit that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead “shall give life also to your mortal bodies...” “This corruptible must put on in corruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1Cor. 15:53). Romans 8:23 tells us that we who have the first fruits are “waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
Jesus said he would raise it. He afterwards showed them his body, including the original wounds. He said it was his. Those were exactly the words which would be used if it had been raised. I believe him.
V. Luke 24:36-43.
Jesus appeared in the midst of the disciples. They “supposed that they beheld a spirit.” He said, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you behold me having.” He showed them his hands and feet and even took a piece of fish and ate it before them. They were not looking at a spirit. That was the body which received the wounds and still carried the marks of the nails.
The fact that Witnesses can reject this kind of evidence shows the truth of Abraham’s words with regard to sending someone from the dead to warn the Rich man’s five brothers. “If they will not believe Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe one who comes to them from the dead” (Luke 16:31). No wonder Russell conceded that if anyone stopped reading his writings and went to the Bible alone, even after ten years of study, within two years they would no longer believe his teachings. (Watch Tower, September 15, 1910 )
OBJECTION: “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1Cor. 15:50)
The body does not go to heaven as flesh and blood. At resurrection the body is “changed” (1Cor. 15:52). This is spoken of as being, “a life giving spirit” (1Cor. 15:44-47). Our bodies, like his, will be a glorified body (Ph’p. 3:20). “This corruption must put on incorruption...” (1Cor. 15:53).
OBJECTION: “The last Adam became a... spirit.” (1Cor. 15:45)
True. His body was sown in corruption but was raised as a Spirit in incorruption (15:44). The fact that it was “changed” (1Cor 15:52) does not conflict with the fact that it was “raised.”
OBJECTION: “Jesus was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit (1Pet. 3:18, 19).”
Yes he was. What was put to death (his body) was what was made alive. Nothing here about being re-created from God’s “memory.”
VI. Acts 2:25-27, 31-33.
David said concerning Christ, “...my flesh also shall dwell in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades, Neither wilt thou give thy Holy One to see corruption...” “...he...spake of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he left unto Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we all are witnesses.” (cf. Ac. 13:34-37)
Note: The “flesh” dwells in hope. There is no hope for the flesh if the body is not to be raised. If the body is turned to gasses then it does see corruption. It makes no sense to make a point that it did not decay but it was instantly turned to gas. The obvious point is that his body would not remain in the grave to decay. It would be raised and come forth victorious even over death.
This passage presents serious problems to the Watchtower. They do not believe in a place where the soul, apart from the body, goes at death. They pose conflicting claims. On the one hand, they argue that, the “soul” is just the energized body and “Hades” is a grave or a pit. On the other, they speak of Hades as, “the common grave of mankind.” What is that? It appears they mean it is the memory of God.
If Hades is the grave where his body was placed and, as the Watchtower claims, “man is a soul, he does not have a soul,” then existence of the soul can only have reference to the body in that grave. The “soul” in Hades is obviously not while the body is alive. If it only referred to the living state then the soul of Jesus could never have been in the grave because he was dead before being placed there. If “soul” refers to the dead body then the statement, “thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades,” which he says refers to his resurrection, must mean the body was raised.
If “soul” is some vague life force and “grave” is some vague “common grave of mankind,” then why speak in terms indicating the soul went to “Hades?” That sounds like the soul is something that exists independent of the body and goes to a place. That would be misleading.
This sounds very close to the situation in the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Jesus clearly expressed the truth that when the body dies, we go to a place called, “Hades.” It is divided between “paradise” (a garden) or “Abraham’s bosom”, and “torments” (or “Tartarus”) where the wicked are held under punishment for the day when their judgment is announced (1Pe. 3:19; I1Pe. 2:4, 9; Jude 6). At that time, they will be cast into a place called hell (gehenneh). (Matt. 18:34; 25:41, 46; Mark 9:43-48; Rev. 14:9-11; 19:20; 20:10, 14; 21:8.
OBJECTION: “David is speaking of his own flesh dwelling in hope.”
Whether speaking of David or Jesus, the problem is the same. Since the Watchtower teaches that no one’s body will be raised.
Acts 2:25 says that David was speaking of Christ. Verse 31 says he spoke of the resurrection of Christ. It specifies HE was not left in Hades nor did HIS flesh did not see corruption.
OBJECTION: “Not leaving his soul in Hades means that his body was not left in the grave. It dissolved into gas. It was removed to protect their faith.”
No such thing is ever said in the scriptures. Such inventions grow out of the theological necessity to escape the obvious.
VII. Romans 8:11, 23.
11 If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall give life also to your mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwells in you.”
23. “And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, the redemption of our body.”
Nothing here about “creation” of a new body. Our body will be redeemed. This was the mortal body which would be changed to be like his glorified body. (cf. Ph’p. 3:21; 1Cor. 15:51, 52)
OBJECTION: “Giving life to our mortal bodies means to give spiritual life to us while we are alive.”
The passage is clearly in relation to the resurrection of Christ. Verse 17 speaks of our being “glorified with him.” Verse 19 indicates the creation is “waiting for the revealing of the sons of God.” Verses 24 and 25 talk about something hoped for which we cannot now see. Verse 29 speaks of us conformed to the image of his son. Verse 33 again speaks of Jesus being raised.
VIII. 1Cor. 6:13-15, 18. The body is for the Lord and the Lord is for the body.
God raised up Christ and will “also raise us up.” If our bodies are to be raised we are sinning against them when we take that which belongs to Christ and join it to a harlot. If our bodies are not raised then why specify that we will be raised up in context with our bodies being “for the Lord” and making a point that using the body for fornication sins against our bodies?
IX. 1Cor. 15:36, 37, 42-44. The new body comes from the old.
Like a grain of wheat, that which is sown is what is made alive. “Death” (vs. 36) is not used in sense of total non-existence. If it were, the seed could not germinate. The outward body decays but the inward man is renewed (2Cor. 4:16). Only the body decays and, as every farmer knows, the new body is formed from the old. Verse 42 repeatedly declares that what is sown is what is raised. It is originally a natural body but it is changed into a spiritual body, one powered by the Spirit rather than the flesh.
There is no possible combination of words in the English language which could better indicate that the body of Jesus was raised. If God cannot say it clearly enough then who can? I can only conclude those who deny this are “false Witnesses of God.”
#3485 --Strong’s Greek Concordance number.
#4631 Strong’s Greek Lexicon number.
#3485 Strong’s Greek Lexicon number.
#5590 Strong’s Greek Lexicon number.
“Under the sun” and equivalent statements are used nearly 40 times.
(1:3,9,13,14; 2:3,11,17,18,19,20,22; 3:1,16; 4:1,3,7,15; 5:2,13,18,20; 6:1,12; 7:20: 8:9,14,15,16,17; 9:3,6,9,11,13; 10:5)
Note: The Watchtower has purposely mistranslated this: “the release from our bodies by ransom.” #5206 cf. 8:15; Gal. 1:5.
Page 4635 in Watchtower Reprints.