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May 26, 2015

Did Jesus Rise From the Dead Physically or Spiritually?

Did Jesus Die and Physically Rise From The Dead?

Jehovah’s Witnesses Organization believes the following:

  • After Jesus’ crucifixion, his physical body was taken away by Jehovah, and or disintegrated.
  • Jesus was spiritually resurrected, not physically resurrected.

Why is this important from a Biblical perspective?

1 Corinthians 15:14, 17 NWT But if Christ has not been raised up, our preaching is certainly in vain, and your faith is also in vain.
17 Further, if Christ has not been raised up, your faith is useless; you remain in your sins.

Romans 10:9 NWT For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved.

What does the Bible say?

Argument 1: Jesus never spiritually died

Luke23:42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Luke 23:46 And Jesus called out with a loud voice and said: “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.” After he said this, he expired.

John 19:30 When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said: “It has been accomplished!” and bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.

The above passages show that Jesus’ spirit left his body, and went to be with his Father in paradise. They do not say that his spirit died, ceased to exist, slept, etc.

For the sake of argument, let’s say Jesus’ spirit did die and his spirit was raised on the third day. If this were the case, how would the thief’s spirit be with Jesus’ spirit in paradise that very day? (Luke 23:42)

Because of this, when the Bible speaks about Jesus being raised from the dead, it is only talking about a physical resurrection.


Argument 2: Jesus said he would raise his body in three days.
John 2:19 NWT Jesus replied to them: “Tear down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said: “This temple was built in 46 years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was talking about the temple of his body. 22 When, though, he was raised up from the dead, his disciples recalled that he used to say this, and they believed the scripture and what Jesus had spoken.

Here Jesus is speaking about his temple of his body being raised up in three days. Note that he said “tear down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again”. Which temple was torn down? His physical body. So which one will he raise up? His physical body.

John 20:6 Then Simon Peter also came, following him, and he went into the tomb. And he saw the linen cloths lying there. 7 The cloth that had been on his head was not lying with the other cloth bands but was rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed. 9 For they did not yet understand the scripture that he must rise from the dead. 10 So the disciples went back to their homes.

Verse 8 & 9 implies three things:
1. The disciples assumed they would see a body.
2. Previously the disciples did not understand that Jesus would raise from the dead.
3. But once they saw the body gone, they believed that he had risen.

Luke 24:5 NWT The women became frightened and kept their faces turned toward the ground, so the men said to them: “Why are you looking for the living one among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has been raised up. Recall how he spoke to you while he was yet in Galilee, 7 saying that the Son of man must be handed over to sinful men and be executed on the stake and on the third day rise.” 8 Then they remembered his words,

Jesus stated in advance that he would raise his actual physical body on the third day.


Argument 3: The body was not destroyed, would not decay or see corruption
John 20:5 NWT Stooping forward, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter also came, following him, and he went into the tomb. And he saw the linen cloths lying there. 7 The cloth that had been on his head was not lying with the other cloth bands but was rolled up in a place by itself.

If Jesus’ body was disintegrated, or taken away by God, then the linens would have all been where the body had originally been. The fact that the head piece was deliberately rolled and placed in a place by itself is a sign that he was not disintegrated. This is a soft argument, but should at least be considered.

Acts 13:32 NWT “So we are declaring to you the good news about the promise made to the forefathers. 33 God has completely fulfilled it to us, their children, by resurrecting Jesus; just as it is written in the second psalm: ‘You are my son; today I have become your father.’ 34 And the fact that He resurrected him from the dead never again to return to corruption, He has stated in this way: ‘I will give you the expressions of loyal love promised to David, which are faithful.’ 35 So it also says in another psalm: ‘You will not allow your loyal one to see corruption.’ 36 David, on the one hand, rendered service to God in his own generation, fell asleep in death, was laid with his forefathers, and did see corruption. 37 On the other hand, the one whom God raised up did not see corruption.

Depending on where you get your information, Jehovah Witness Organization says that Jesus’ body was either taken by God, or that it was disintegrated. Nowhere in the Bible does it say either of those things. Acts 13 compares David as seeing corruption since David was not physically raised from the dead. But Jesus on the other hand, did not decay, because he was raised physically.

The Bible does not say that Jesus’ physical body was taken away or disitegrated, but rather that it would not see corruption, and that it would physically be raised.


Argument 4: Why would Jesus lie about his physical body?
Luke 24:36 NWT While they were speaking of these things, he himself stood in their midst and said to them: “May you have peace.” 37 But because they were terrified and frightened, they imagined that they were seeing a spirit. 38 So he said to them: “Why are you troubled, and why have doubts come up in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you see that I have.” 40 And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 But while they were still not believing for sheer joy and amazement, he said to them: “Do you have something there to eat?” 42 So they handed him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it before their eyes. 44 He then said to them: “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all the things written about me in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened up their minds fully to grasp the meaning of the Scriptures, 46 and he said to them, “This is what is written: that the Christ would suffer and rise from among the dead on the third day,

1 Peter 2:22 and Isaiah 53:9 both state that Jesus did not have any deceit in his mouth, aka Jesus never lied. In Luke 24 Jesus says, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; vs 39”. Jesus is clearly telling the disciples that it is him. If Jesus never lied, and he said he had a physical body, and that it was his original body (but in a glorified state) then he was telling the truth.

Luke 24 says the following things:
1. “they IMAGINED that they were seeing a spirt vs 37
2. The disciples did not believe that he was physical raised from the dead vs 38
3. Jesus showed him his hands and feet vs 40
4. Jesus said “touch me and see” vs 39
5. Jesus makes a contrast between a spirt and his physical body saying “for a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you see what I have” vs 39
6. Jesus ate food 43
7. Jesus quoted “Christ would suffer and rise from among the dead on the third day” to further emphasize that he was physically raised, to help the disciples believe 46

As you can see, the disciples had so little belief that Jesus Christ had risen that they wrongly imagined that he was a spirit. Because of this Jesus quoted verses showing that he was fulfilling prophecy, had them look over his body, touch him, and watch him eat, all to show him that he was indeed a physical body with flesh and bones and not a spirit.

1 Peter 2:22 and Isaiah 53:9 both state that Jesus did not have any deceit in his mouth, aka Jesus never lied.

Many JW’s believe that Jesus simply manifested a physical body to comfort the disciples, to show that it was him, or for various other reasons. If Jesus did indeed manifest a body that was not his original body, then it would be counterfeit and his words would be deceitful, which would make him a liar and an imperfect sacrifice. This would be no good for everyone and Jesus would have died for nothing.

John 20:25 NWT So the other disciples were telling him: “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and stick my finger into the print of Carafate, I will never believe it.” 26 Well, eight days later his disciples were again indoors, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and he stood in their midst and said: “May you have peace.” 27 Next he said to Thomas: “Put your finger here, and see my hands, and take your hand and stick it into my side, and stop doubting but believe.” 28 In answer Thomas said to him: “My Lord and my God!”

These verses describe how Thomas didn’t believe that Jesus was risen. He said “Unless I see in his hands the prints of the nails and stick my finer into the print of Carafate, I will never believe it”. Then in verse 28 Thomas says, “My Lord and my God!”. As you can see Thomas physically touched the wounds and scars of Jesus. Jesus’ spirit was never crucified, pierced, or whipped. Only Jesus’ actual body was, and his body was precisely what Thomas touched, according to scripture.


A comparison of the physical resurrection of Lazarus and Jesus

Lazarus’ Resurrection (John 11)Jesus’ Resurrection (John 20-21)
Lazarus’ death will result in the glorifying of God and His Son (John 11:4, 40).Jesus’ death will result in the glorifying of God and His Son (John 13:31-32; 17:1-5).
Lazarus was buried in a rock tomb sealed with a stone (John 11:17, 38).Jesus’ body was buried in a rock tomb sealed with a stone (John 19:41; 20:1).
The stone was removed from the entrance before anyone saw Lazarus (John 11:39-41).The women discovered the stone had been removed (supernaturally) from Jesus’ tomb before anyone saw Jesus (John 20:1).
Lazarus’ body had been bound with burial cloths and a separate head wrapping (John 11:44).Jesus’ body had been bound with burial cloths and a separate head wrapping (John 19:40; 20:5-7).
Jesus ordered Lazarus’ burial wrappings removed (John 11:44).Jesus’ burial wrappings were neatly left behind in his tomb (John 20:5-7).
Jesus comforts a woman friend named Mary who is weeping (John 11:31-33).Jesus comforts a woman friend named Mary who is weeping (John 20:11-13).
Jesus “raised from the dead” (egeiren ek nekron) Lazarus (John 12:1).Jesus “was raised from the dead” (egertheis ek nekron) (John 21:14).

Could Lazarus’ physical resurrection be a foreshadowing of the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ?


Conclusion:

Jesus never spiritually died but rather physically died. Jesus said he would raise his body in three days. Jesus never lied and told the disciples “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; touch e and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you see that I have.” Jesus also raised Lazarus and many other individuals. His resurrection gives us hope. It is a foreshadowing of our physical resurrection and glorified bodies, and the biggest sign that Jesus is who he says he is. Who else can claim that they raised himself from the dead? No one.

Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship exists in the heavens, and we are eagerly waiting for a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our humble body to be like his glorious body by his great power that enables him to subject all things to himself.

1 Corinthians 15:50 NWT But I tell you this, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s Kingdom, nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Look! I tell you a sacred secret: We will not all fall asleep in death, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the blink of an eye, during the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised up incorruptible, and we will be changed. 53 For this which is corruptible must put on incorruption, and this which is mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this which is corruptible puts on incorruption and this which is mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: “Death is swallowed up forever.”

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