Been away for a few days so just getting a chance to get back to you.
Thanks for posting this Stephen. Those first couple of scriptures do seem to indicate that Jesus was raised in the flesh. It's one of those things I never put any thought into as a JW.
Cool, my pleasure. Unfortunately the WT spoon feed you all their food and if you bring anything up they call you an apostate! Their food leaves you empty and hungry and worse still, sick and dying.
I'm confused about the rest of it. If Jesus wasn't raised in the flesh, that might be a killing blow to the teaching that humans will be resurrected to earth .
That was Paul point. Without the resurrection of Jesus it is all a waste of time.
But if you believe that the reward for all Christians is resurrection to heaven, what does it matter if Jesus was resurrected as a spirit? Being raised as a spirit doesn't seem to negate the prospect of others being raised as spirits. Or do I have an incorrect understanding of the heavenly hope?
OK, forgive my directness, forget resurrection being a reward, the eternal life on offer is a free gift, never a reward. Take the free gift first and then do the works God calls you to afterwards when the time comes. Doing the works actually will have some rewards 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 Matthew 6:4 Colossians 3:24 but the life itself is for free.
We cannot earn the grace of God. That is "legalism" (Ephesians 2 for example). Any work we do is under that grace, not to earn favour. Earning favour is absurd when you think about who God is, the Creator of the universe! Does He need anything we can give Him? Highly unlikely. Does He deeply desire our love? Certainly. I have the same situation with my kids. They can't give me anything I need but I desire their love.
As I was writing this my two year old fell and hurt himself. I ran to him by instinct. That is how it is with us. We have fallen and hurt ourselves. God has run to us. However, He doesn't force us to receive His love and His offer of help. He is waiting there with outstretched arms to life us up and embrace us.
OK "heavenly hope". Forgive me, once again but that is JW speak and brings with it the connotations of a two-class believer. There is one faith, one baptism etc, not two Ephesians 4:4-6, one flock, one shepherd not two John 10:16
If I die today I will go to heaven. See what Paul writes here.
Philippians 1:21-24 (New International Version)
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 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! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Paul says when he leaves the world he will be with Christ. We know Jesus is at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Obviously Paul is there now too, as is every other believer Hebrews 11 Jesus says the same Luke 23:43
At some point, Jesus will return to earth and all the dead will be raised to life John 5:28 Daniel 12:2, the righteous Revelation 20:5-7 and the unrighteous Jude 1:7 , the saved and the condemned Matthew 25:46
OK, where will I be then?
Revelation 21:1-4 (New International Version)
The New Jerusalem 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
God will "dwell with men" in heaven? No, the dwelling (the "New Jerusalem", the "Holy City") comes down "out of heaven", see verse 2 and Revelation 21:10
to the "new earth". Who will be in heaven? Not God because He is on earth in the New Jerusalem living with all those who are saved "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them".
Did the girl that Jesus raised go to heaven?
OK the bible does not tell us. Either she lived a normal life and then died like the rest of us or she never died and went to heaven. My guess is the former but that could leave an issue with this verse Hebrews 9:27 I wouldn't get too bogged down with the issue. I think the best thing is to read what Jesus has to say about the issue of the resurrection John 11 Pay special attention to verse 25 and 26. Clearly one of the lives that Jesus refers to is physical and one not. Similarly, one of the death is physical and one not or what He is talking about does not make any sense.
Here are some verses on the resurrection body
1 Corinthians 15:42 (New International Version)
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;
Philippians 3:18-21 (New International Version)
18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Romans 6:9 (New International Version)
9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
Is there a waiting period where someone is "asleep" first?
The 'asleep' description is what Jesus used Himself for the dead. They are elsewhere, not conscious of this world or anything "under the sun" as Solomon described it
Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 (New International Version)
5 For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
and even the memory of them is forgotten.
6 Their love, their hate
and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
in anything that happens under the sun.
Did people not start going to heaven until Jesus died?
Not according to Hebrews 11. Everyone who had faith was justified and is up there, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, my mother etc.
Who is part of the second resurrection?
I have pondered this question. For sure there are two resurrections an the first one is a good one Revelation 20:4-6
Are those "blessed" who are part of the second resurrection or only those who are cursed? I am not sure of the answer. For sure it is not good for some.
Revelation 20:12-15 (New International Version)
12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Why is it split into different resurrections?
This could be wrong but my feeling is the first resurrection is for the righteous and the second for the unrighteous Daniel 12:2 Certainly, the first is for righteous only. The verses about leave the option for the saved as well as the unsaved in the second resurrection but we are considering something which isn't really the core issue.
What is important is how is one going to be judged, "in Christ" or under our own merits. Are we saved or condemned? Are we justified or not? Are we under grace or under the law? Are we new creations or "the flesh" (sinful nature)?
I'm totally lost on the firstborn thing It sounds like you're saying that when the Bible refers to Jesus as the firstborn, that is referring specifically to him being the first raised from the dead--but that doesn't make any sense because others were resurrected in the old testament. Unless he was the first resurrected to heaven. Can you clarify this, please?
Jesus is first to receive His "imperishable body". Those that were resurrected to their perishable body likely died (in the Old Testament and New). Believers that receive the imperishable body will go to everlasting life. The unbelievers that are resurrected to everlasting death i.e. the second death Isaiah 66:24 Mark 9:47-49 Luke 16:19-31
If you had asked me if I was "in Christ" I would have given you a blank look and stammered out something about being followers of Christ. I was definitely ingrained with the feeling that all that touchy-feely Jesus stuff was . . . icky. We were told that Jesus was supposed to be our friend, but I didn't see how he could be. It's definitely interesting to see him in a new light.
Awesome! Jesus is all that counts John 14:6 Revelation 3:20 John 12:46 John 15
All the best,