Last week we looked at four arguments the Watchtower makes against the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Today we will continue with 5 more such arguments and how to answer them.
Watchtower Argument #5: Jesus could not have appeared in a locked room if he had a physical body. (p. 119)
Response: Their claim is that he had to dematerialize and rematerialize in order to do this. You can reply by asking, “Did Jesus and Peter have to dematerialize into spirit bodies in order to walk on water (Matthew 14:25-32), or can Jesus overcome natural laws while in physical form?”
Watchtower Argument #6: Jesus could not be “the exact representation of God’s very being” (Hebrews 1:3) if he had a physical body in heaven. (pp. 119-120)
Response: Say, “I believe that is talking about his character, not his form.” Then have them read aloud Colossians 2:9: “For in Christ all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily” (Watchtower’s translation). Even though this is a mistranslation (the “divine quality” instead of “deity”), you can still use it by asking, “Does this verse say that Christ now dwells in spirit form or in bodily form?”
Watchtower Argument #7: Jesus wasn’t recognized because he materialized in different bodies. (pp. 120-122)
Response: Discuss his appearances one at a time.
- The Emmaus disciples didn’t recognize him because their eyes were kept from recognizing him. When their eyes were fully opened, they did. (Luke 24:16, 31). The Watchtower has admitted that Mark 16:12, which says that he appeared in a different form, was a scribal addition and not a part of the original Greek text. It’s rendering of Mark 16 ends at verse 8.
- In John 20:14-16, Mary Magdalene didn’t initially recognize him early at the garden tomb. However, it was still dark (John 20:1) and she was weeping because she thought he was dead (John 20:11), so is it surprising she initially thought he was the cemetery’s gardener?
- Jesus’ apostles did recognize him, except initially in John 21:4-7 when they were out in a boat fishing at daybreak and he was on the shore.
Ask, “If the apostles, like the Watchtower, went about preaching that Jesus’ resurrection was in spirit form rather than physical, why did the authorities claim that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body? Their ability or inability to produce his body wouldn’t in any way have proved or disproved a spirit resurrection claim. Only if the disciples were proclaiming a bodily resurrection would the authorities have needed an alternative explanation as to why they were unable to produce Jesus’ body.” (p. 124)
Watchtower Argument #8: Jesus appeared to some people but not to others. (pp. 122-123)
Acts 10:41 says, “He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”
The argument is that he materialized in physical form only in front of his disciples.
Response: Doesn’t this just mean that Jesus didn’t show up at the temple or the Sanhedrin or other places in front of his enemies? It has nothing to do with him being an “invisible spirit creature.”
Watchtower Argument #9: Jesus appeared fully clothed, not in grave linens. (pp. 123-124)
- How does Jesus’ clothing prove anything about whether he appeared in different bodies?
- Why was Jesus’ body missing from the tomb if his was only a “spirit resurrection”? Wouldn’t that mislead people like Thomas into thinking that he had been raised bodily?
- Why didn’t God just leave Jesus’ body in the tomb and have him appear into his disciples in different bodies?
- If the disciples were proclaiming a “spirit resurrection,” why did the authorities claim they had stolen Jesus’ body? Why would they have needed an alternative explanation for the absence of a body from the tomb if the resurrection had nothing to do with Jesus’ physical body?
How would you answer these Watchtower arguments for a “spirit resurrection” of Jesus?
- Jesus couldn’t have been raised bodily because he appeared in a locked room. (p. 119)
- Jesus couldn’t be “the exact representation of God’s very being” (Hebrews 1:3) if he had a physical body in heaven. (pp. 119-120)
- Jesus’ apostles, Mary Magdalene, and the Emmaus disciples didn’t recognize Jesus after his resurrection because he appeared to them in different bodies. (pp. 120-122)
- Jesus appeared to some people but not to others. (pp. 122-123)
- Jesus appeared fully clothed, not in grave linens. (pp. 123-124)
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