Jehovah`s Witness/John 2:19 clearly says Jesus would raise himself from the dead.
I have red several times on this web site where people who are not Jehovah's Witnesses had made fun of the fact that Witnesses do not seem to be able to give an explanation to John 2:19 “ Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." What explanation do you have of this text.
Thank you for your question.
Yes over the almost 9 years that I have been here, I have read some of the posts about this subject mainly from the anti JW forum members. I hope that the way I formulate this response from the standpoint of the Bible as believed by JWs. This is not a simple straight forward answer, as the proof lies in other “doctrines” that directly affect the understanding here, and MUST be considered. There is a lot in this reply to take in.- Unless I state otherwise I am using the AKJV.
John 2:19 is an interesting text to consider. As has been said many times on this forum by JWs and non JWs alike, context
must be taken into account. This includes the context of ALL
the Bible. This is especially so when dealing with a point of “doctrine”. At times a principle from a single text can be gleaned for use in daily Christian life, but to understand a doctrinal point context must be considered. Personally, I think it is a mistake to only look at immediate context without considering the audience that is being spoken to as to their customs and knowledge. It is true, in this case, that we do not know just what knowledge the audience may have had but we can get a reliable picture of the knowledge of the one speaking. John 2:19 must
fit in with ALL the Bible because
The first point to remember is that Jesus taught by way of illustrations or parables (Matt 13:13 & 34
” 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand..... 34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not
unto them:” )
In John 2:19
we know that the audience of Jesus, both his disciples and his opposes, did not understand Jesus words. They thought he was referring to the literal physical temple in Jerusalem.
“ And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.”
“ And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
“We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.”
The second point to remember is that “it was impossible for God to lie”, (Hebrew 6:18
Third point is “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction,” (2 Timothy 3:16
RSV)So I want to discus this from the standpoint of the knowledge that a Hebrew (that includes the disciples of Jesus at that time as they were all Hebrews) and especially the speaker, Jesus had.
First I want to explore the expression Jesus used. Now ask yourself these questions; 'Is it possible that Jesus was using an expression of speech that he had used before?' or ' Could the language that Jesus used have another meaning?' I will answer YES! Ok so why do I say that? Lets look at Luke 8:48
“And he said to her, Be of good courage, daughter; thy faith has healed thee
; go in peace.”
Now I am going to quote from my interlinear. This is not the JW produced interlinear, it is an electronic one I have on my computer. The bases for this, is the Textus Receptus also known as the Received Text. This Greek text is the basses for the King James Bible. The particular edition I have is prepared by Dr. Maurice A. Robinson in 1894. The interlinear portion is “Concordant Greek Text Sublinear version 1.5 Concordant Publishing Concern 2009” Here is how it presents Luke 8:48
(Capitals and “-” original)
“THE YET He-said to-her BE-COURAGE-ING DAUGHTER THE BELIEF OF-YOU HAS-SAVED YOU BE-GOING INTO PEACE”
Phillips Bible says “"Daughter," said Jesus, "It is your faith
that has healed you-go in peace."” Notice Jesus uses the idea that it is something that the woman possess that has healed here. Another way of saying that from the point of view of the woman
is, “I have held myself by my faith”.
Does that mean that Jesus posses something that allowed him to say “I will raise it (his body) up” Yes he did . Was it his “divine nature”? No it was not. Why not?
Going back to the account in Luke
lets read verses 44-46
“44 She came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak, and her haemorrhage stopped at once. 45 "Who was that who touched me?" said Jesus. And when everybody denied it, Peter remonstrated, "Master, the crowds are all round you and are pressing you on all sides." 46 But Jesus said, "Somebody touched me, for I felt that power went out from me." (Phillips) There were a lot of people crowding around Jesus and bumping into him as Peter testifies. But this woman was different.
Because of the faith that the woman had, the act of touching Jesus meant that the some power of holy spirit that God had given him left Jesus body.. She did not have to ask Jesus “Lord look I have been bleeding for many years I know you have the power to do so, please heal me” Of her own account she knew before the event
, that she would be healed. She did not have to ask she knew,
My argument is then, that on his own account Jesus could say he had the “authority” to raise himself because he knew before had
that by remaining faithful and obedient
to his God that he would be raised from the grave. (Philippians 2:7-11
) There are many prophecies that Jesus knew that related to his death and resurrection. Having this advance knowledge about his death and resurrection, Jesus, in a predictive sense, could speak of ‘raising up the temple of his body.’ Since he foretold it, it was just as if he was going to do it. There is nothing unusual about prophetic words of events to happen being spoken of by the “prophet” as if the prophet himself did the action. This has to do with Ezekiel. He was captive in Babylon and under inspiration wrote about the destruction of Jerusalem. In a vision he had he writes “I saw when I
came to destroy the city;” (Ezekiel 43:3
). Ezekiel writes as if he
destroyed the city. We know he did not, because the Bible and history tells us that the Babylonians went back and destroyed Jerusalem after an uprising. But, because his prophecy, being divinely inspired, it was a certainty that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed, it as good as done by his word - “I came to destroy the city;”
Again I will ask the questions, in light of the fact hat Jesus spoke in parables; 'Is it possible that Jesus was using an expression of speech that he had used before?' or ' Could the language that Jesus used have another meaning?'
So it is possible
that there is another, unseen meaning to Jesus words, but is it probable?
The idea that Jesus raised himself from the dead invokes the “hypostatic union” that is the idea of the union of Christ's humanity and divinity in one shared existence. That is, that when Jesus was on earth he had human nature and divine nature at the same time. It also means that Jesus had a “spirit” that left his human body at death and continued to exist (The immortal soul doctrine) neither of which are supported by scripture, but that is another topic on its own. Let it be known that we acknowledge the divine nature
of Jesus, but not while he was here on earth. When here, he was just a man, nothing else. His only nature was that of human. In his pre-existant state, and after his resurrection, he had divine nature, that is, the same nature that his Father and God had.
Why could Jesus not have divine nature at the same time as human nature? The basic and main reason why, is that to believe that undermines the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. How? If Jesus had a divine nature while he was here on earth he would no full fill the roll of a corresponding ransom. But, I hear you say, where in the Bible does it say Jesus was a corresponding ransom? Mt 20:28 Mr 10:45
and 1Ti 2:6
all just say Jesus was a ransom, so where does the corresponding come form. Before I look at that word consider what we know about Gods justice.
Lets look at Deuteronomy 32:4
“ The Rock, his work is perfect
; for all his ways are justice
. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is he.” The Hebrews had “dealt corruptly with” God as verse 5 says, but Gods dealings with them always displayed perfect justice. The law God gave to the Hebrews required like for like “but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” Deut. 19:21
(see also —Exodus 21:23-36; Leviticus 24:20
) The Psalmist wrote of God “ He loves righteousness and justice;” (Psalms 36:5
RSV) and proud King Nebuchadnezzar had to admit about Jehovah “for all his works are right and his ways are just;” (Daniel 4:37
RSV) What has that got to do with the ransom?
When Jesus was here, he was subject to the law code mediated by Moses Gall 4:4 “ But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,” But Jesus “Who did no sin,” ( 1 Peter 2:22
) was able to keep the law perfectly and he fulfilled the law (see Matthew 5:7
Well why was Jesus to die? To set us “free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:2
) Why do we die? ONLY
because of Adams sin as Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans 5:12
“as by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death; and thus death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”
Think about those words. If Adam had not sinned, he would not have died. Therefore he would still be alive today.
Adam was created perfect. He sold us into sin an death by his disobedience. To satishy Gods perfect justice, only another perfect man could balance the scales.
This is where we come back now to the term “corresponding ransom”. In Mt 20:28 Mr 10:45
the Greek word for ransom is ”lutron” which literally is “a means of loosing” (Vines Lexicon). Vines goes on to say “occurs frequently in the [Greek] Sept., where it is always used as equivalence” The international Standard Bible Encyclopaedia says that - “The word He
[Jesus] uses bears a well-established meaning, and is accurately rendered by our word "ransom," a price paid to secure the freedom of a slave or to set free from liabilities and charges, and generally the deliverance from calamity by paying the forfeit. The familiar verb luo, "to loose," "to set free," is the root, then lutron, that which secures the freedom, the payment or forfeit; thence come the cognate verb lutroo, "to set free upon payment of a ransom," "to redeem"; lutrosis, "the actual setting free," "the redemption," and lutrotes, "the redeemer.
In 1Ti 2:6
the Greek word used for ransom is anti-lutron; Strongs Greek Lexicon says of the prefix “anti” Often used in composition to denote contrast, requital, substitution, correspondence
So the ransom that Jesus gave of himself was a complete equivalence of a corresponding price. For what? Jesus corresponded to Adam. How? Adam was a perfect man with the ability to produce a perfect human race. Jesus was a perfect man with the ability to produce a perfect human race. Adam was the first of Gods human creations, his first earthly son. Jesus was Gods first heavenly creation.
Adam though instead of having perfect human offspring, died an imperfect man. Jesus instead of having perfect human offspring died a perfect man.
If Jesus was more that a perfect man Gods perfect justice would not be seen, and a complete equivalent of a corresponding price would not be paid.
But wait, what about Colossians 2:9
which says “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” does that not prove that Jesus has divine nature? Yes it does, but not
while he was on earth. Paul wrote this AFTER Jesus had ascended to heaven. Now lets turn back a few verses to Colossians 1:19
. it gives us some more detail “ For it pleased
the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;” Jesus did not posses divine quality of his own, it was given him. It Please the Father to impart it to Jesus. Why? Because Jesus had been “obedient unto death” and because of that God “highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:8,9
)This is echoed by Jesus own words at John 10:17,18
“17 This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life
. And so I am free to take it up again.18 No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father.
" (The Message Bible). Jesus could speak with authority about his resurrection as being a fact that he was in control of because he was in control by remaining faithful
The idea of Jesus raising himself up suggests an immortal soul which is not a Biblical teaching, As a brief discussion
on this I will just list a few texts hat show the whole man man is the soul, we are made from dust and that is where we go when we die. The dead know nothing at all
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul
“ In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou return to the ground: for out of it wast thou taken. For dust thou art; and unto dust shalt thou return.”
“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.”
What was the body that Jesus said he would raise up. Surly that means his own flesh does it not? No. I writing to the Corinthians Paul said “Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (1 Corinthians 15:45
) and in 1 Timothy Paul says that Jesus “..was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit.., “ (RSV) So Jesus was born as a human and after his death and resurrection was raised as a spirit
For a discussion on why Jesus was not resurrected with the same body he had when he died see
A quick summary
1 Jesus always taught by use illustrations (parables)
2 The Biblical evidence is, that, his statement had a different meaning than to take his word literally
3 Gods perfect justice and the corresponding ransom of Jesus would not be possible if he He had an immortal soul (Not a biblical teaching) or he posed two natures at the same time. (Not a biblical teaching).
That is why after he was resurrected the Apostle Paul would say that God via his spirit raised Jesus from the dead ( Acts 2:32; Rom. 8:11
) because Paul knew it was not Jesus who did it himself.
If this raises more questions, or I have not fully explained my self, please ask.