How do JW's explain John 2:18-21

by Dawn 16 Replies latest jw friends

  • Dawn

    John 2:18-21 - Then the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" But the temple he had spoken of was his body.

    Have you ever come across a scripture in the bible and suddenly it spoke differently to you? Something you never noticed before? I must have read this scripture 1,000 times as a JW - yet this last weekend I suddenly noticed two things

    1) Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days. He didn't say God would do it - he claimed the miracle for himself. Now Moses was kept out of the promised land because he claimed one of God's miracles for himself - it was a serious sin. So what gives? Was he claiming one of God's miracles for himself - or was he in fact powerful enough to resurrect himself? If so - he certainly could not be a mere angel.

    2) The verse goes on to say "But the temple he had spoken of was his body". As a JW I was taught that Jesus was resurrected in spirit only. So is this a lie also?

    Why didn't I notice this before? Anyone have an answer about how this is answered by the society?

  • Double Edge
    Double Edge

    Dawn.. I've never been a JW, so I can't speak from that perspective, but you do make a VERY interesting point, one that I'm going to bring up to my JW friend.

    Great post...thanks.

  • onacruse

    Hi Dawn

    I believe the last time the WTS commented at length on this verse is:

    *** w73 6/1 pp. 350-351 Questions from Readers ***

    • Does not John 2:19 indicate that Jesus would resurrect himself?—U.S.A.

    As evident from the context, John 2:19 pertains to the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We read: "Jesus said to them: ‘Break down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ Therefore the Jews said: ‘This temple was built in forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was talking about the temple of his body. When, though, he was raised up from the dead, his disciples called to mind that he used to say this; and they believed the Scripture and the saying that Jesus said:"—John 2:19-22.

    It should be noted that, in telling about the fulfillment of Jesus’ statement, the Bible does not say ‘he raised himself up from the dead,’ but "he was raised up from the dead." Other scriptures clearly show that God was the One who resurrected his Son. The apostle Peter told Cornelius and his relatives and close friends: "God raised this One up on the third day." (Acts 10:40) Hebrews 13:20 speaks of God as the One "who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus." And, in his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul wrote: "If, now, the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his spirit that resides in you." (Rom. 8:11) Accordingly, Jesus Christ simply could not have meant that he would raise himself up from the dead.

    Jesus, however, did know that he was going to die and be resurrected. On another occasion he told unbelieving scribes and Pharisees: "A wicked and adulterous generation keeps on seeking for a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights." (Matt. 12:39, 40) Having this advance knowledge about his death and resurrection, Jesus, in a predictive sense, could speak of ‘raising up the temple of his body.’ Since he foretold it, it was just as if he was going to do it. This might be illustrated with Ezekiel 43:3, where the prophet Ezekiel states: "I came to bring the city [Jerusalem] to ruin," that is, by foretelling its destruction. Ezekiel as an exile in Babylon had no part in actually destroying Jerusalem; that was done by the Babylonians. But his prophecy, being divinely inspired, made it as good as done. (Compare also Jeremiah 1:10.) Similarly, Jehovah God resurrected his Son, but Jesus could speak of doing so in a prophetic sense.

    Moreover, God’s will, charge or command respecting his Son was that he die and be restored to life. Jesus willingly surrendered his life in harmony with his Father’s purpose. Jesus could therefore raise up the temple of his body in the sense that he had the authority to receive life again.

    On the third day God commanded Jesus to rise from the dead, and he did so by accepting or receiving life at his Father’s hand, by God’s authority. Along with life as a spirit Son, he received the right to perfect human life that, by dying in full innocence, he had not forfeited. This merit of his human sacrifice he thereafter presented to his Father in heaven. (Heb. 9:11-14, 24-28) This is in agreement with Jesus’ words at John 10:17, 18: "The Father loves me because I lay down my life, to receive it back again. No one has robbed me of it; I am laying it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to receive it back again; this charge I have received from my Father."—New English Bible.

    The raising of his "body" is not an issue here (though subsequent appearances of that body were unrecognized by the apostles), because the WTS takes this resurrection to mean simply "a physical form."

    Dishing this off as "a prophetic sense" is just another example of the allegorical interpretation methodology of that began within 100 years after Jesus died. The Historical Approach to the Bible (Howard Teeple) makes an interesting comment (p. 44):

    The allegorical method of interpretation became prominent in the church in the second and third centuries, especially in Alexandria. In this method letters and words are interpreted as symbolizing more than their plain meaning. Paul used it in Galations 4:22-26 in his interpretation of Genesis 16:15 and 21:2; he even called the Genesis statement an allegory (which it is not). Christian gnostics in the second century were the first to freely allegorize the New Testament, although Marcion was an exception. Some church fathers did it too, especially Clement of Alexandria and his pupil Origen around the beginning of the third century. All allegorical interpretations--Greek, Jewish, and Christian--are utterly subjective and are misinterpretations of the text, usually to support the writers own particular interests. The Christian Arnobius (ca. 300) attacked the allegorizing of their own myths by pagans, but did not object to the Christian use of the same method. Tertullian (ca. 200) accepted the literal meaning except when it conflicted with the teaching of the church; when a passage did conflict, he interpreted it allegorically to make it orthodox. Jerome (ca. 400) in his later years turned more to literal interpretation, yet he continued to use the allegorical when the plain meaning seemed absurd or meaningless.

    History repeats itself, for the umpteenth time.


  • ozziepost

    Interesting questions, Dawn.

    The "Greatest Man" book refers to the "temple of his body". When we came to this part in the book study, nothing was questioned. We should have done.

    Cheers, Ozzie

  • hurt

    But the *** w73 6/1 pp. 350-351 Questions from Readers *** is long on spewing narrative and short on addressing the issue. Merely saying Jesus meant his expression to be prophetic (the italics notwithstanding) answers nothing. Have the Writing boys come up with something more interesting since 30 years ago?

  • onacruse


    Have the Writing boys come up with something more interesting since 30 years ago?

    Nope, at least up through 2001. The plain and simple meaning of this Scripture is that Jesus, as God, resurrected himself. I guess that piece of "new light" hasn't yet made it down the halls to the Writing Dept.


  • rocketman

    guess ol Writing is long matter - they'll never say that Jesus raised himself.

  • Kenneson

    I'm not sure what Jws mean by resurrected "in spirit only." 1 Cor. 15:42-44 indicates that the physical body is raised up a spiritual body. The physical body is animated by a lower, natural life-principle (psyche) and endowed with the properties of natural exisence (corruptibility, lack of glory, weakness). The spiritual body is animated by a higher life-principle (pneuma of verse 45) and endowed with other qualities (incorruptibility, glory, power, spirituality), which are properties of God himself. At the resurrection our bodies will be changed yet still be bodies as was Jesus'. There were differences in his resurrected body because at times they didn't recognize him (John 20:14 & Luke 24:15-16); he enters a room with locked doors (John 20:19), etc. Yet there was also continuity because he showed them his hands and side (verse 20) and has Thomas touch them (vs. 27). And in John 21:9-14 he has breakfast with them. A mere spirit could not do this. See also Luke 24:36-43

    What was happening the three days that Jesus' physical body lay in the tomb? Did he cease to exist? Not according to 1 Peter 3:18-20. Jesus was preaching to spirits (who also had not ceased to exist). But on the third day something happened to Jesus' physical body. Not only was the tomb empty, but his body was changed as evidenced in the appearances to his followers.

  • Surreptitious

    Reasoning Book Pages 423-424:

    John 2:19-22:

    By what he here said, did Jesus mean that he would resurrect himself from the dead? Does that mean that Jesus is God, because Acts 2:32 says, "This Jesus God raised up"? Not at all. Such a view would conflict with Galatians 1:1, which ascribes the resurrection of Jesus to the Father, not to the Son. Using a similar mode of expression, at Luke 8:48 Jesus is quoted as saying to a woman: "Your faith has made you well." Did she heal herself? No; it was power from God through Christ that healed her because she had faith. (Luke 8:46; Acts 10:38) Likewise, by his perfect obedience as a human, Jesus provided the moral basis for the Father to raise him from the dead, thus acknowledging Jesus as God’s Son. Because of Jesus’ faithful course of life, it could properly be said that Jesus himself was responsible for his resurrection.

    Insight on the Scriptures-Volume 1 Page 373:

    On one occasion Jesus said to the Jews: "Break down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (Joh 2:19) The Jews thought he was speaking of the temple of Herod and used this against him at his trial, witnesses against him saying: "We heard him say, ‘I will throw down this temple that was made with hands and in three days I will build another not made with hands.’" (Mr 14:58) Jesus was using figurative speech, referring to "the temple of his body." He was put to death and on the third day rose again. (Joh 2:21; Mt 16:21; Lu 24:7, 21, 46) He was resurrected by his Father Jehovah God in another body, not one made with hands like the temple of Jerusalem, but a spirit body made (built) by his Father. (Ac 2:24; 1Pe 3:18) This use of building as applied to one’s body is not unique, for, speaking of Eve’s creation, it was said: "And Jehovah God proceeded to build the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman."—Ge 2:22.

  • Dawn

    Thanks for your comments all. I think I'll pose this question to the next JW that comes to my door. I'd be interested in hearing their explanation.

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