The Watchtower presents many arguments against the bodily resurrection of Christ.
It’s not possible in “key points” blog posts to go into the same detail as the chapter itself. Instead, I’ll give you thumbnail sketches of what I consider to be their best arguments against the bodily resurrection and give you good ways to respond.
Watchtower Argument #1: There must be two kinds of resurrection bodies because flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom.
1 Corinthians 15:44-45 says, “…it is sown a natural body; it was raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam [Christ] a life-giving spirit.” (pp. 111-116)
1 Corinthians 15:50 says, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” (pp. 111-116)
Response: Have the Witnesses read the verses in the context of the entire passage (1 Corinthians 15:37-53) and ask good diagnostic questions as you go along. It’s not talking about two different types of resurrection bodies (Adam hasn’t been resurrected). Rather, it’s saying that the life we get from Adam comes solely from physical processes of earth, whereas the spiritual life we get from Christ comes from heaven.
In 1 Corinthians 15:50, “flesh and blood” means our perishable, earthly bodies we inherited from Adam. The resurrection bodies of Christians will be able to be either in heaven or on earth because they will be empowered by the Spirit and no longer subject to decay.
Watchtower Argument #2: There will be two different resurrections so there are two different classes.
John 5 and Revelation 20 say there will be two resurrections—a spirit resurrection for Jesus and the 144,000 and a bodily resurrection for everyone else. (pp. 116-117)
Response: Through good questions, show the Witnesses that John 5:28-29 speaks of two different resurrections, but it’s not of two different classes of Christian. One is to life and the other is to judgment. Judgment is not a second chance during the millennial kingdom. Rather, it is a judgment of condemnation. Revelation 20:4-6 expands on this, stating that these two resurrections occur 1,000 years apart, the second one taking place at the end of the millennial kingdom, not at the beginning. The Watchtower gets around this by teaching that the “other sheep” do not “fully come alive” until they have passed the final test by Satan at the end of the millennium, but that isn’t what this passage is talking about. It’s discussing two different resurrections and when they will occur.
Watchtower Argument #3: Jesus was made alive “in the spirit” rather than in the body.
1 Peter 3:18 says Christ was “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” so that proves Jesus rose as a spirit creature, not bodily. (pp. 117-118)
Response: The King James Version and some modern versions render this made alive “by the Spirit” rather than “in the spirit.” Which is more consistent with Jesus’ declaration in Luke 24 when he showed the disciples his body and said, “It is I myself… a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have”?
Watchtower Argument #4: If Jesus had taken back his body, he would have nullified the ransom sacrifice.
If Jehovah gave Jesus back the body he sacrificed, that would nullify his sacrifice like immediately returning someone’s debt payment. (pp. 118-119)
Response: Jesus laid down his life and received it back again (John 10:17-18). Did that nullify the payment? Of course not. Also, 1 Corinthians 15:38 says the body that dies is like a seed from which the resurrection body comes. There is continuity, but the resurrection body is not identical. It is a powerful, immortal, and glorified body of flesh and bones.
- If Jesus rose from the dead bodily, what implications would that have for the Watchtower’s claims that there are two classes of Christians and two different paths to salvation? (pp. 103-104)
- Is the resurrection of the dead the same thing as Christians going to heaven in spirit form to be with Christ as soon as we die? Has the resurrection (other than Jesus’ resurrection) occurred yet? (p. 104)
- Briefly summarize the following arguments for the bodily resurrection of Christ: (pp. 106-110)
- Jesus’ “destroy this temple” prophecy in John 2 (pp. 106-107)
- Jesus’ demonstration to Thomas in John 20 (pp. 107-109)
- Jesus’ declaration and demonstration to the other disciples in Luke 24 (pp. 109-110)
- Paul’s “mortal bodies” statement in Romans 8:11 (p. 110)
Which of these would you be the most confident using? Least confident? Why?
- How would you answer a Jehovah’s Witness who says Jesus was resurrected as a spirit, not bodily, because 1 Corinthians 15:44-45 says, “…it is sown a natural body; it was raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam [Christ] a life-giving spirit.” (pp. 111-116)
- How would you answer a Jehovah’s Witness who says, “Jesus could not have been raised in the flesh because 1 Corinthians 15:50 says, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”? (pp. 111-116)
- How would you answer these Watchtower arguments for a “spirit resurrection” of Jesus?
- John 5 and Revelation 20 say there will be two resurrections—a spirit resurrection for Jesus and the 144,000 and a bodily resurrection for everyone else. (pp. 116-117)
- 1 Peter 3:18 says Christ was “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” so that proves Jesus rose as a spirit creature, not bodily. (pp. 117-118)
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