When discussing what happens after death, the Watchtower is selective in the texts it examines. Rather than looking at all verses that bear on the matter of conscious existence after death, it ignores passages that don’t support its doctrine. Draw these passages to their attention and ask for their explanation.
Scripture #1: John 11:25-26
Have one of the Witnesses read aloud Jesus’ declaration to Martha in John 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Ask, “Because Jesus says that whoever lives and believes in him will never die, do you see why I believe that there is a part of us that never ceases to exist?”
Scripture #2: 2 Corinthians 5:1
Have one of them read aloud Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 5:1: “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”
Ask, “Doesn’t this say that our physical bodies are merely earthly tents in which we live?”
Scripture #3: 2 Corinthians 5:8-9
Have them also read aloud 2 Corinthians 5:8-9: “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”
Ask, “Doesn’t this passage show that Christians exist either at home inside our bodies or with the Lord outside of our bodies and that this part of us survives physical death?”
Scripture #4: Philippians 1:21-24
Have them read aloud Paul’s statement in Philippians 1:21-24: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”
Ask, “According to this passage, did Paul expect to go out of existence for thousands of years until the resurrection or did he expect to leave his body and be with Christ immediately as soon as he died?”
Most likely, as you go through these Scriptures, the Witnesses will try to steer you back to the Watchtower’s proof texts: “What about Ecclesiastes 9:5, which says…?” “Can we look at Ezekiel 18:4? That tells us plainly…”
That is a favorite Watchtower tactic to distract you from the points you are making.
I recommend that you respond by saying, “I’ll be glad to discuss passages you’d like to look at, but first I’d like to hear what you have to say about passages that I believe teach a conscious existence after death. I’d really like to get your response to them.”
Then repeat your questions, the ones they haven’t answered.
Have you ever had Jehovah’s Witnesses try to draw your attention away from passages you are trying to show them? Do you think my recommendations would help keep the discussion on track?
Share your thoughts in the comments.