Key Scripture: “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; feel me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you see that I have’.” (Luke 24:39, Watchtower’s translation).
The objective of The Bodily Resurrection Approach is to refute the Watchtower’s two-class, two-paths-to-salvation system by showing that all Christians will be raised from the dead—as Jesus was—in a glorified physical body of flesh and bones.
Why this topic matters
The Watchtower teaches that there are two different classes of Christians who have two different resurrection forms (spirit for Jesus and the 144,000, physical for everyone else), two different destinations (Heaven or a paradise earth), and two different paths to becoming righteous enough to merit eternal life (new birth for the 144,000, progression to perfection on their own merit during the millennial kingdom for everyone else). If we can show Jehovah’s Witnesses that all resurrections will be physical, we will give them grounds to question the Watchtower’s salvation doctrines. (pp. 103-104)
The unexpected approach
Jehovah’s Witnesses think we believe that Christians will live forever in heaven as incorporeal spirits. Our approach will be to begin unexpectedly by agreeing that we will be resurrected in physical form and by stating that we are looking forward to living on earth during Christ’s millennial kingdom. (p. 104)
First, ask the Witnesses to read aloud 1 John 3:2: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Ask, “Is there anywhere in this epistle where John says this applies only to 144,000 people and not to all Christians?” (p. 104-105).
Tell them you are puzzled when they still you that Jesus’ body never rose from the dead because there are a number of scriptures that seem to say otherwise. Tell them you would like to share these texts with them and hear their explanation of them.
Ask for their comments on the following passages cited below (pp.106-110):
Jesus’ prophecy in John 2:18-22: “‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up…’ The temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.”
Don’t get in an argument about who did the raising; focus on what he said would be raised.
Jesus’ demonstration in John 20:19-29 after the resurrection where he showed them his hands and side and the second time allowed Thomas to put his hands there.
- Witnesses will say that he showed them a manufactured body in order to convince them he had risen.
- Ask them if they believe he showed them fake execution wounds on a fake body. Would the Son of God really engage in that type of deception in order to build their faith?
Jesus’ declaration in Luke 24:38-40, where he refuted the disciples’ conclusion that they were seeing a spirit: “‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.”
- If he really was a spirit, why did he tell them he wasn’t?
- Why did he exhibit fake execution wounds instead of telling them what the Watchtower says is the truth—that he was really a spirit appearing in a newly created body in order to give them faith?
Paul’s teaching in Romans 8:11: “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”
- What happened to Jesus’ mortal body that will also happen to his readers’ mortal bodies through God’s indwelling spirit?
- What died and then was raised back to life if it wasn’t Jesus’ body? Did Jesus have a separate soul that died and came back to life again? (The Watchtower denies this.)
Assure them that you will be glad to look at their proof texts, but first prevail on them to answer the points you have raised: “I’ll be glad to look at other scriptures, but first I would like you to explain to me the specific scriptures I just shared with you. What do each of them mean?”
- 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?
- 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)
- 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?