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Who Raised Jesus?

  

A while back (a year ago, in fact) there was a long debate on this site about the Trinity, starting with the posting of a debate between Brant Bosserman and Sean Finnegan at the One God Conference.  The comments continued for a couple of months, and the thread was picked up again a few times since then, the most recent being February of this year.  One of the better arguments brought up by the Trinitarians was that Jesus said in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”  This is taken by Trinitarians to mean that Jesus raised himself from the dead.

Many Scriptures tell us clearly that God raised Jesus from the dead, and of course Trinitarians have no problem with this.  After all, many things are said of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which is a major part of the argument that they are three persons in one God.  But does John 2:19 actually mean that Jesus raised himself?

John 2:
18  The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?”
19  Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
20  The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”
21  But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
22  So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

First, let’s look at how a few other belief systems understand this verse.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses also reject the Trinity, so they must have a different interpretation.  An article in the Question and Answer forum on All Experts.com explains their view.

This setting shows that Jesus was not talking about his physical body, but “he was talking about the temple of his body”. The temple in Jerusalem that Jesus cleansed represented not Jesus alone but also the body-members over which he is head. Just as the literal temple was not made up of one stone but many, so “the temple of his body” consists of many living stones, with Jesus as the foundation cornerstone: “You yourselves also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:4-7, NW) After the Jewish religionists rejected Christ the living stone and broke him down by death on the torture stake, on the third day thereafter Jehovah God raised him up to become the chief cornerstone of the temple of living stones then under preparation. He immediately appeared to his disciples and lifted them up out of their despondency, built them up spiritually so that they could “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God”. That this building of “the temple of his body” started then and continued through the years that followed is shown by Peter’s use of the present tense when years afterward he said Christ’s followers “are being built up a spiritual house”.

The problem with this explanation is that while Jesus started to lift up the disciples after his resurrection, they were not members of his body, and the idea of the church being members of his body was not even revealed until much later.  Furthermore, his “lifting up” of his disciples would not be the sign that the Jews were seeking.  The sign that Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God was that he was raised from the dead, which happened three days after his death.

The Seventh Day Adventists believe in Conditional Immortality, rather than the dead being conscious after death as most Christian denominations believe.  How do they interpret John 2:19?  In Ellen G. White’s commentary, the only comment on this verse is to see her comment on Mark 16:6, which refers to the resurrection.  In that comment, which referenced John 2:19 and others, she wrote:

When the voice of the angel was heard saying, “Thy Father calls thee,” He who had said, “I lay down my life that I might take it again,” “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” came forth from the grave to life that was in Himself.  Deity did not die.  Humanity died, but Christ now proclaims over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, “I am the resurrection and the life.”  In His divinity Christ possessed the power to break the bonds of death.  He declares that He had life in Himself to quicken whom He will.”

So while a normal dead person is unconscious and unable to raise himself, Jesus could raise himself because only his human side died.  This seems to be the standard Trinitarian response to the Unitarian argument that Jesus died but God is immortal.  But as has been argued many times before (including the debate with Bosserman), there is nothing in the Bible that unequivocally states that Jesus had two natures, or that his “humanity died but not his deity.”  And as for him referring to “taking up his life again,” the word for “take” in both verses (John 10:17-18) is the Greek word lambano which is also translated “receive,” in the same verse, when he says, “This commandment I received from my Father.”

So how does one deal with John 2:19?  The pivotal point would seem to be the word translated “raise.”  It is the Greek word, egeiro, which Strong’s defines as:

probably akin to the base of 58 (through the idea of collecting one’s faculties); to waken (transitively or intransitively), i.e. rouse (literally, from sleep, from sitting or lying, from disease, from death; or figuratively, from obscurity, inactivity, ruins, nonexistence):— awake, lift (up), raise (again, up), rear up, (a-)rise (again, up), stand, take up.

So it can mean either to get up – actively, or to be raised – passively.  When we speak of someone getting up, normally we have no problem.  But when we start to talk about getting up from the dead, it brings up the question, can a dead person arise, that is, can a dead person raise himself from the dead?

Ordinarily, when the Bible speaks of Jesus’ resurrection, it either says that he “arose” (active) or he “was raised” (passive) or God “raised him” (active, on God’s part).  If God “raised him,” then he “was raised” and there’s no contradiction.  If it says he “arose” it simply means he got up, with no reference to who raised him.  Verses that say the dead arise (such as in I Cor. 15) certainly do not imply that they raise themselves, any more than the damsel whom Jesus commanded, “I say to you, arise” raised herself up.  She “got up” but it was Jesus who enabled her to.

Throughout the New Testament, references to Jesus’ resurrection are in one of those three forms.  There is no other Scripture outside of John 2:19 that says anything along the lines of Jesus actively raising himself from the dead.  It is significant that in this verse, Jesus did not say, “I will raise myself up.”  Even if he had meant that, he didn’t say it that way because he was referring to his body figuratively in the third person as the Temple.  This was the whole idea in the context.

To many westerners, saying “I will raise my body up” is the same as saying “I will raise myself up.”  But normally Jews speaking of resurrection spoke of raising the whole person up, not just the body.  They did not see the body and soul as independent parts.  A soul that can be separated from the body and live independently was a foreign concept to them, having originated in Greek philosophy.  The fact that Jesus was comparing his body with the temple and spoke of it in the third person shows that it was figurative language.

In verse 22, John wrote, “When therefore he was risen from the dead…”  Why didn’t he write, “When therefore he had raised himself”?  Because the point of the context is Jesus being alive again as a sign, not how it would happen.  Verse 22 continues, “…his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.”  The whole point is believing in who Jesus was because of his resurrection.  How he would get raised is not the point here.

Because this verse is figurative, it cannot be used to prove that Jesus raised himself.  To interpret it that way would contradict many other clear verses.  There is no verse that unequivocally says Jesus raised himself from the dead.  But there are many that unequivocally say that God raised him.

Acts 2:24  Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
Acts 2:32  This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
Acts 3:15  And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
Acts 3:26  Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
Acts 4:10  Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
Acts 5:30  The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
Acts 10:40  Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;
Acts 13:30  But God raised him from the dead:
Acts 13:37  But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
Rom. 6:4  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Rom. 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
I Cor. 6:14  And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
I Cor. 15:15  Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
Gal. 1:1  Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
Col. 2:12  Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
I Pet. 1:21  Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

This is what the disciples preached.  They never preached Jesus raised himself from the dead.  The only verse that even hints at it is a figurative comparison of his body with the temple, and must be understood in light of the rest of Scripture.

24 Responses to “Who Raised Jesus?”

  1. on 28 Jun 2009 at 6:52 amSean

    Mark,

    Thanks for writing this up. I also like the idea that in some way Jesus did participate in his own resurrection, not by being alive, but by living up until his death in a holy way so that resurrection would be guaranteed.

    http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=91

  2. on 01 Jul 2009 at 3:11 pmBrian

    I just heard someone use this verse the other day to promote the Trinity. The language that he used to explain the verse ends up sounding like Jesus did not really die. It’s interesting how the doctrine of the unity of God is hard to explain unless one has a proper understanding of some of these other truths, such as the dead are dead. The idea that someone who is dead can do ANYTHING contradicts the very meaning of the word dead.

  3. on 09 Jul 2009 at 10:28 amRay

    A man who is dead in trespasses and sins can do nothing to raise
    himself apart from Jesus. It requires Jesus to raise a man from the
    death of sin. Those who have died in him he will bring with him. Are
    they not then with him now? Though their bodies are dead and we
    see them no more, are not their spirits on heaven’s shore? Have
    they not been quickened in the Spirit, nor ascended to Jesus where
    he was before? It seems to me they are with him who is God over the living and not over the dead, (unless they will come to him, to be made alive) through Jesus the head. Over all things Jesus came to be, though he was in the world, who did ever see? It was when
    he came to be manifest, that men began to be put to the test. Who
    would believe the words that he said? Let they be the ones raised
    from the dead. Yes, they will live with him for eternity, as long as in Jesus they will still live and breathe. What will they breathe but that which is of God? Don’t they live by his Spirit while their bodies
    are dead? One day, I know they’ll get the new thing, bodies and all
    a new song to sing.

  4. on 11 Jul 2009 at 9:54 amCyril

    The idea of an immortal soul is alien to the bible, as you have rightly pointed out; it is an idea adopted from heathen beliefs. Genesis clearly states that: ‘And forming is Yahweh Elohim the human of soil from the ground, and He is blowing into his nostrils the breath of the living, and becoming is the human a living soul -Gen 2:7. ‘(Concordant Literal Old Testament).

    When Jesus gave up his spirit He died and was dead all the time that he was in the tomb until His God and Father roused Him from the state of being dead to life again. Jesus would have then raised Himself from the horizontal position he had been laid to rest in, to the upright in order to walk out of the tomb.

    The spirit that Jesus had given up to His Father while on the cross was now back in Him rousing Him out of death into life, just as Adam’s form of soil had been given life by ‘the blowing into his nostrils the breath of the living,…’ and raised himself to walk around Eden.
    Mat 28:5 Now, answering, the messenger said to the women, “Fear you not! For I am aware that you are seeking Jesus, the Crucified.”
    Mat 28:6 He is not here, for He was roused, according as He said. Hither! Perceive the place where the Lord lay.”

    The Concordant Literal Translation uses ‘rouse’ instead of ‘raise’. The point here is that Jesus had faith in His God and Father to restore Him to life after He had become the sin offering for mankind, and it is this faith of Jesus Christ that saves us, it is all the operation of the will of God the Father and no one else.

  5. on 29 Aug 2009 at 9:02 pmXavier

    Great analysis but the question remains:

    What part did Jesus play, according to his own statements [John 2:19, 21; 10.17-18], in his own resurrection from the dead?

    The key statement being: ” I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” Jn 10.18

  6. on 29 Aug 2009 at 9:26 pmXavier

    “…did Jesus Christ raise himself from the dead? This the apostles never asserted, but constantly affirmed that God raised him from the dead. If he was the Supreme God he must have raised himself…if the doctrine of disembodied spirits is true, why could not Christ’s disembodied spirit have raised his body from death, alllowing the power by which he raised others was derived…
    unless all his power ceased at his death? Christ always declared his dependence on God for life, and all he possesed.”

    Three essays: On the intermediate state of the dead. The resurrection from the dead and the Greek terms rendered Judge, Judgment, Condemned, Condemnation, Damned, Damnation, etc., in the New Testament, By Walter Balfour, p 133

  7. on 29 Aug 2009 at 10:24 pmRay

    It seems to me that Jesus prophesied of raising his body (referred to as the “temple”) which he did after God raised him from the dead, for had he not done so, his body would have been breathing
    but still lying on the cold, damp ground.

    If I consider that upon his death, the spirit which he commended to
    the Father went to the Father, and that it was in that spirit where
    he was upon his death, having therefore left his body here upon earth, then it makes sense to me that I consider his words of saying that he had the power to lay his life down and also the power to take it up again, for God gave him such through his obedience which was about to be fulfilled, Jesus having therefore
    prophesied of it and committed to the fulfilling of it which he was
    given of God to do, according to the will of God and his eternal purpose.

    Therefore, it seems to me that Jesus being in the spirit which he
    commended to God, having gone through the vail and unto the holiest of all, till his spirit returned to the site of his burying, which
    began he by it, began to fulfill the prophecy of taking his life up again. He then, continued on with the work of his ministry of the gospel concerning himself.

    Now, God is that spirit that raised him from the dead, and Jesus was in God by it. This is a great mystery.

  8. on 29 Aug 2009 at 10:32 pmRay

    Today I was listening to a CD from a ministry I support monthly.
    It was one of the older ones. I heard the minister say that Jesus is
    God and if anyone there didn’t believe that, would they “please
    leave”.

    So I sent an e-mail to the minister reminding him that there are Christians who do not believe Jesus is God, but rather that he is
    the Son of God who created all things in the beginning by the power of God and who like the meaning of the name of Michael, is as God is (for the meaning of Michael is ‘who is like God’) and is
    the power of God. I reminded him that there is a sense in which Jesus is God and though I don’t teach people that he is, I tell people that there is a sense in which he is, for the Bible is full of
    comparisons, allegories and such, and that I do not intend to leave.

    When are we going to learn to justify each other by an understanding of the gospel, rather than try to justify our doctrines or try to justify ourselves by our doctrines without our
    understanding of the gospel?

  9. on 29 Aug 2009 at 10:34 pmXavier

    Ray,

    so are you saying Jesus’ spirit left his body, took up residence with God the Father in heaven, and sometime later came back to “reanimate” [as it were] his own lifeless body in the grave?

    that’s your answer to what he meant by “I have authority to take it up again”?

  10. on 30 Aug 2009 at 2:05 pmRay

    I’m saying that it looks like to me that Jesus committed his spirit to
    God and that is where it went. It went to God being received by him. When God raised him up again, Jesus was not without that
    spirit. It came back into his lifeless body at the resurrection of it.

    And, wasn’t it that spirit that gave Jesus eternal life? Didn’t Jesus
    live in obedience to that sprit which was from God? Wasn’t Jesus
    justified by living in accordance to that spirit from God, even all of his works giving proof of his righteousness which came by walking
    by that spirit of life?

    It looks like to me that Jesus committed his spirit into the Father’s
    hands and he carried it through the veil which he rent from top to
    bottom, even the rocks rending and the earth shaking as he took
    him there.

  11. on 30 Aug 2009 at 3:01 pmSean

    spirit (pneuma) is the same word as breath and wind

  12. on 31 Aug 2009 at 12:57 amXavier

    Ray,

    it sounds to me, if i’m understanding you correctly, that Jesus didn’t really die since he lived on through his “corporeal spirit”?

    yet at the same time you call it “the spirit of God”?

    am confused 😛

  13. on 31 Aug 2009 at 7:36 amRay

    Xavier,
    Are you saying that the holy spirit is corporeal?

  14. on 31 Aug 2009 at 9:24 amXavier

    Ray,

    are you answering a question with a question?

  15. on 31 Aug 2009 at 1:40 pmstacey

    Hi everyone and God Bless!

    I am completely confused,
    Ray,

    Can you please tell me in the bible the verses where you get your information because the bible that I have read never says anything about any of the things you comment on (many posts) not to down your belief’s that is not my purpose but you just do not make any sense and I am very confused. As far as what the original post was about “Did Jesus raise himself?” That particular verse you mentioned ,Mark, … John 2:19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”… I didnt have too much understanding about that one myself however Jesus was here to deliver God his father’s message JESUS CLEARLY STATED HIS WORDS ARE NOT HIS OWN BUT OF HIS FATHER (GOD) could it be that what he was saying here was what God told him to say? (God’s plan) In John 2:16 Jesus says ” Take these things away! (the doves the jews were selling in the temple) Do not make my father’s house a house of merchandise!” Jesus always made it very clear that he belongs to his father God. He is referring to his body being the temple in this verse because he belongs to his father and God dwels in him (not that he is God) and as previously stated Jesus always spoke his father’s word not his own and he was very clear about that so he was just telling them what God was planning…it also says that in John 2:22 when he had risen from the dead, His disiples remembered that he had said this to them, and they believed. It does not say he rose himself from the dead it says he was risen “God rose him from the dead” … I think we all make mistakes a lot that we just take 1 verse and make our own assumptions about it without further researching about that subject now there is certainly a lot of things I do not understand but I do know that part is true when you read before and after and other scriptures that talk on the same subject you will recieve better understanding… instead of putting our own assumptions we should try to find verses to back up what we are trying to point out then other people may not be as confused about what we are trying to say.

    God Bless
    Stacey

  16. on 25 Jan 2010 at 2:20 amAndrew Patrick

    Dear Stacey,

    If Sean Finnegan were to post here, and say that his words were not his own, but as the website administrator, this would not necessarily mean that these were two people, or that Sean was merely an agent for a different person. Thus, Sean could say “my words are not my own, they are the posted policy of the website” even although Sean wrote those policies as Administrator.

    Likewise, there were times when Paul spoke with authority, and then when he said that he did not speak with authority.

    1Co 7:12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

    Now, one might argue that this is an example of Paul speaking as a representative of God, and self (and they’d be right) but let me demonstrate an example of where Paul speaks about himself – in the third person.

    2Co 12:1-5
    (1) It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
    (2) I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
    (3) And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
    (4) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
    (5) Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

    So, who is this “man” that Paul talks about? Most people recognize this man as Paul himself. This passage does confuse some people, granted – yet the context leaves little room for this to be anyone else.

    2Co 12:6-7
    (6) For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
    (7) And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

    Paul is holding back from talking about these revelations (even though he ironically just did) because he’s saying that he’s not desiring to be exalted.

    So, to cut to the chase of when you were saying how Jesus said that his words were not his own (quoting context briefly)

    Joh 14:9-10
    (9) Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
    (10) Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

    If Jesus had said that the words were his own, the obvious meaning of this would be that Jesus was separate from the Father. A different person, with a different will.

    But when Jesus said that his words were not spoken of himself, he is actually denying any difference between himself and the Father. I think the context of this passage gives additional support here as well.

    Jesus didn’t come to earth to exercise Admin privileges. It’s like the old story of the Prince who walked among his realm as a pauper, incognito, purposely not invoking any of his royal rights or status. The hints may be dropped, and someone who pays attention might just realize what is going on – but considering that the plan was to be crucified from the beginning, you can understand why Jesus would let people form their own conclusions for the time being. Would they have tried to crucify him if he had zapped them with lightning or thundered like at Mount Sinai?

    I’m not sure how decisive the “who raised Jesus”‘ question is, because:

    1) One could argue that God could reach through Time and resurrect himself thus [aka time travel]

    2) One could argue that he could program his Universe on auto-pilot for three days and three nights, including the “Raise Self in Three Days” program

    3) or God could exist in heaven and die on earth … at the same time.

    [Number 3 is the simplest explanation, in my opinion… surely anyone who has played a video game can understand how they can exist outside a while dying inside, and resurrect themselves.]

    As previous posters noticed, there are several verses where Jesus says he has life on his own power, in the same fashion as the Father, including:

    Joh 5:26
    (26) For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

    Joh 2:19
    (19) Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

    Joh 10:17-18
    (17) Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
    (18) No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

    This does not require a “Trinity” explanation. I’m just saying that there is One God, and we called him Jesus.

  17. on 25 Jan 2010 at 3:49 amXavier

    Andrew,

    How many YHWH’s are there?

  18. on 04 Sep 2014 at 10:47 pmDerrick Holland

    I just saw this article, and feel the need to offer clarification on what I believe is a misunderstanding. The article above referenced a “Derrick Holland”, from Allexperts.com. Well, I AM Derrick Holland, the volunteer on that site, and this article mistakenly gives the impression that I was arguing FOR the JW view. I certainly did not do that. I am a born again Christian, and have argued against the JW view for many years now. I simply want to clarify that. I would like to know which article or answer of mine this excerpt was taken, but I want it to be clear that I do NOT hold to the JW position, because I believe it is erroneous. I hold to the view that Jesus’ words in John 2:19-21, are just what the text says they are….a prediction of His literal, BODILY resurrection.

  19. on 05 Sep 2014 at 3:24 amMark C.

    Derrick, the excerpt was taken from this article:
    http://en.allexperts.com/q/Jehovah-s-Witness-1617/explain-John-2-19.htm (fourth paragraph down)

    Since the top of the page says, “Expert: Derrick Holland” I assumed that the article was written by you. On looking at it again, it would seem that most of the article was the “question” and the small paragraph at the end was the “answer.” Am I correct in understanding that you wrote the answer, not the question?

    Thank you for your clarification.

  20. on 12 Sep 2014 at 11:43 amMark C.

    Derrick, I have edited the article to correct the above mentioned error. Again, thank you for pointing that out.

  21. on 12 Sep 2014 at 11:00 pmRay

    I trust that these 3 were involved in the resurrection of Christ, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

  22. on 13 Sep 2014 at 9:35 amRay

    I’m wondering if in heaven where Jesus was with the Father, if three days after his death on the cross, that God simply looked over to his Son, and with a knowing smile, Jesus went to raise us up with him.

  23. on 13 Sep 2014 at 9:42 amRay

    Xavier,

    In response to post 12, have you never read that he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit? Yet, I’ve also heard that there is a part of the soul that has to die.

  24. on 16 Oct 2014 at 4:36 pmDerrick Holland

    Yes Mark, that is correct….The comments you saw, were part of the question sent to me. I appreciate your editing that part, and I simply wanted to clear up the misunderstanding. I actually have responded to this very topic on Allexperts forum, under the following link:

    http://en.allexperts.com/q/Jehovah-s-Witness-1617/2009/4/tomb-EMPTY-mean-Jehovah.htm

    Again, thanks for your clearing this up. Take care!

  

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