For the last 2 weeks, we have been looking at some of the Watchtower’s arguments against the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Today we will look at the final two arguments.
Watchtower Argument #10: Jesus disappeared when he ascended to heaven. (pp. 124-125)
Acts 1:9-11 says that Jesus disappeared when he ascended to heaven and the angel said he would return in the same way—invisibly! (p. 124) Moreover, Jesus couldn’t ascend to heaven bodily, nor could he breathe and survive in heaven.
Response: Note that the passage doesn’t say that Jesus dematerialized. It says that a cloud hid him from their sight. Ask, “If you see an airplane take off and disappear into a cloud, do you conclude that it has dematerialized? Do you expect that when it returns in the same way in which you saw it go, it will come back invisibly?”
Point out that he did have a physical body because the Bible says that the people saw him until he entered the cloud. Follow up by asking, “Given that Jesus was able to walk on water before his death without dematerializing, why would his ascension require dematerialization? God also miraculously carried up Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) and Philip (Acts 8:39), and no one suggests that they had to be turned into spirit creatures in order for him to accomplish this.
Also, heaven is not outer space, so the issue is not whether a man could exist in the cold and vacuum of space. Where does the Bible say that a man with a physical body cannot exist in heaven? “Have them read aloud 1 Timothy 2:5, which says that there is now a man who is the mediator between God and men. Have them also read aloud, Acts 17:31, which says that one day God will also judge the world in righteousness by a man. Jesus is still a man, not an archangel in a spirit body.
Watchtower Argument #11: Paul didn’t learn the gospel from a man but from Jesus (Galatians 1:12). (pp. 125-126)
Therefore, Jesus isn’t a man in heaven.
Response: As usual, the answer lies in showing the Witness the context of the verse being quoted. Have them read aloud Galatians 1:1-12, The subject under discussion in Galatians 1 is not whether Jesus is now an exalted man or an archangel. It’s a warning against false gospels made up by mere men. In verse 10, Paul says that he is not trying to please men. In verse 11, he says that the real gospel is not something contrived by man. In verses 12 through 20, Paul states that he did not learn the gospel from any man or group of men, not even Peter or James or any of the other apostles. He learned the gospel directly from Jesus Christ. He is distinguishing Christ from all of those ordinary men, not trying to explain the nature of Jesus’ resurrection body.
Point out that in verse 8, he specifically indicates that a contrary gospel proclaimed by an angel from heaven would not have the authority that Paul has behind the gospel he has been preaching. Doesn’t this mean that Jesus Christ is superior to any angel from heaven? If so, the resurrected Christ can’t be an angel from heaven, as the Watchtower claims.
Discussion of the composition of resurrection bodies—both Jesus’ and ours—is not an end in itself. Rather, that topic needs to be the springboard that leads Witnesses to question the Watchtower’s entire plan of salvation.
Sum up this topic by saying to the Witnesses, “Do you see why I consider this issue to be so important? If what I believe about the resurrection is correct, then there aren’t two different classes of Christians. All Christians will raised in bodily form. All of us need to have Christ’s righteousness imputed to us through faith in order to become Christians and obtain eternal life. This inner transformation is what the new birth is all about. I believe that 1 John 3:2 teaches that all true Christians will be like Jesus: ‘we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.’”
How would you answer these Watchtower arguments for a “spirit resurrection” of Jesus?
- Acts 1:9-11 says that Jesus disappeared when he ascended to heaven and the angel said he would return in the same way—invisibly! (p. 124)
- Jesus couldn’t ascend to heaven bodily, nor could he breathe and survive in heaven. (pp. 124-125)
- Paul didn’t learn the gospel from a man (Galatians 1:12), so Jesus isn’t a man in heaven. (pp. 125-126)