Is Jesus Christ and Michael the ArchAngel one and the same person?

by booker-t 251 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • Greenpalmtreestillmine


    So spirit body may be a bit of a misnomer, in this context? I'd agree.
    That does then give rise to a query as to the meaning of 1Cor.15:44-49, however...

    1Thessalonians 4:13-16

    "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of {the} archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are living and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."

    Before leaving the Witness I spent years studying the Bible on my own outside of the Society's thinking and literature and that chapter of Corinthians you referred to was one of my favorite studies. I believe every scripture in it can be understood and is in harmony with what Paul wrote in the verses quoted above. It would be great to have a verse by verse discussion of 1 Corinthians 15 here one day.

    Hi Myelaine,

    I don't believe in the immortality of the soul because I don't believe the Bible teaches that doctrine. The quoted verses above are clearly comparing the living and the dead, not the living and the still living but missing immortal souls of their brethren. If the dead, Paul spoke of, were actually living souls, where were these souls? They could not be in heaven with Jesus because Paul made it clear they would join Jesus at the same time the living would. The doctrine of the immortality of the soul opens more questions than it answers. In my opinion.

    As for the Christ retaining his memories, yes he must have. But did he need an immortal soul for that? I don't know. It's comforting to think we go on and on. And it's hard to imagine that if we do not have an immortal soul how can God bring back the same person that died? Good questions and maybe someday someone will start a thread on that topic.

    May I ask, what do you believe an immortal soul is? Do you believe every person who has ever lived has an immortal soul and so they are somewhere alive right now? I would be very interested in learning what you believe with regard to the soul. Though I have done some reading on it I've had very little interaction with people who believe in that doctrine and so I'm open to do some learning if you will.

    Thank you,


  • Will Power
    Will Power

    Green: some good questions. the same ones pondered by many since the beginning. A few more...

    those who have fallen asleep

    how can something that doesn't exist be asleep?

    How can a "re-creation" (as taught by JWs) be the same as a resurrection?

    What about the souls that lay captive and were let loose from under the alter during the time Jesus' body was in the tomb? They had been crying out. how could that be if they didn't exist, and why is it written in the bible?


  • ellderwho

    Colossians 1:15 says about the Christ, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation." NASB


    Obviously you hold that verse as literal, not figurative?

  • heathen

    I believe there is an immortality of the soul doctrine in the bible . The people that survive the great tribulation will never die so I don't know why the WTBTS insists that there is no immortality of the soul doctrine because that's what they teach along with this belief that the saints alive at the time of the end are transfigured and don't actually experience the layover in the grave . So what's their friggen point ? They contradict themselves on this one . The bible in revelation is very clear that the only way a saint can get to heaven is by dying and is not instantly ressurected but are considered resting from their labors until the last of their brothers is killed by the axe . We have not experience the time of great distress as mentioned in Daniel so they are still resting from their labors contrary to WTBTS teachings . Jesus was the exception in that he clearly states that he did come from heaven so was ressurected 3 days after his murder and resumed his possition as the co- ruler of heaven and earth but this time was elevated to a higher possition than he had previously . IMO

  • Greenpalmtreestillmine

    Will Power,

    how can something that doesn't exist be asleep?

    They are unconcious but in God's memory, "Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom." Luke 23:42 It is the amazing grace of God.

    How can a "re-creation" (as taught by JWs) be the same as a resurrection?

    Not a "re-creation" but rather a "regeneration" as the NKJV calls it.


    Obviously you hold that verse as literal, not figurative?



  • Leolaia

    The Watchtower teaching on the resurrection is really recreation and assumes no continuity either in body or soul between the original and the "recreated" person. This is not the biblical teaching on the resurrection, which assumed a continuity in body, soul, or both. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul taught that the body would be "changed" (allagésometha), or "transformed" from one form into another (v. 52), so that like a seed it is "sown" (think of a burial as planting a seed) a physical body and then "it is raised" (egeiretai, a common word for expressing the resurrection) as a "spiritual body" (v. 42-44). What is sown is raised -- there is no discontinuity. Just like a plant that grows from a seed. And yet the blooming plant has quite a different "body" than the seed that originated it. Another metaphor that Paul uses is that of clothing: that the corruptible will "clothe itself" (endusasthai) with incorruptibility (v. 53-54). Clement of Rome, writing around AD 95 to the Corinthians and asking them to read what Paul wrote them in 1 Corinthians, also elaborated further on the resurrection and cited Job 19:26 (LXX) as a prophecy of the resurrection: "And you will raise this flesh (anastéseis tén sarka) of mine, which has endursed all these things". Again, the flesh that was sown will be raised. The vision of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37 was also widely taken to be a prophecy of the resurrection, with the original dry bones of the dead being refashioned into the bodies of the resurrected.

    Althogh Paul's anthropology did not specify a dualistic division between body and soul, and often he treated both as a totality, he did refer to the experience of possibly being raptured "out of the body" (khóris tou sómatos) in 2 Corinthians 12:3, and Philo of Alexandria (first century AD) similarly believed that heavenly experiences require being out of the body, such that on Sinai Moses was in fact listening to heavenly music and "having laid aside his body, for forty days and as many nights he touched neither bread nor water at all" (On Dreams 1:35-36). In Jewish pseudepigraphal literature, it is a commonplace that visitors to heaven leave behind their physical body or must "put on" angelic clothes (cf. Ascension of Isaiah 8:1-16; 2 Enoch 22:1-10; 3 Baruch 17:3). Thus, in 2 Enoch, the Lord commanded Michael the Archangel, "Go, and extract Enoch from his earthly clothing. And anoint him with my delightful oil and put him into the clothes of my glory." And when Enoch looked at his appearance, he saw that he "had become like one of the glorious ones, and there was no observable difference". Now in 2 Corinthians 5:1-11, Paul discusses the experience of being clothed in the physical body while longing "to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven" (v. 2), and refers euphemistically to death as being "absent from the body and at home with the Lord ". Since being with the Lord or being "absent from the Lord" (v. 6) is dependent on being "at home in the body," it is axiomatic that one goes to be with Christ immediately at death. Then in one of the last epistles of Paul and written at a time when Paul was in prison and facing a prospect of execution, we find an even more explicit statement:

    "For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ (analusai kai sun Khristo einai), for that is very much better, yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake" (Philippians 1:21-24).

    Again, Paul refers to death as bringing him fellowship with Christ, "being with Christ" with no implied delay -- as Paul was quite anxious for this prospect. Finally, we have the early text of Paul in 1 Thessalonians which was written at a time when Paul expected the parousia to happen in his own lifetime, and he referred to an ascension to heaven while still living as resulting in immediate fellowship with Christ: "We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet (apantésin) the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord (sun kurio esometha)" (1 Thessalonians 4:17). In all three cases, Paul expected to be with Jesus immediately upon death or being raptured. This is the same thought as in Luke 23:43 in which Jesus tells the repentent thief that "today you will be with me in Paradise". And it isn't just at death that a person can be "absent from the body" (2 Corinthians 5:1-11); even while alive, Paul indicates that one could perhaps travel "out of the body" in a revelation (2 Corinthians 12:3). Thus, Paul had some notion that an essence of a person can leave the body and go to heaven or "be with the Lord".

    Now, Paul described himself as a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5; cf. Acts 23:6, 26:5), and he believed in the resurrection, while the "Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all" (Acts 23:8). Why did the Sadducees not believe in the resurrection? Because they did not believe in the immortality of the soul while the Pharisees did. The Sadducees were influenced by Epicureanism, while the Pharisees were influenced by Platonism and Stoicism. The Epicurean philosophers believed that one's life ends the day one dies, and that's it, so it is better to pursue wealth, comfort, and pleasure in the short time one has. This is the view expressed in Ecclesiastes, which is thought to be an early Sadduccee manifesto, and in the synoptic gospels, Jesus roundly criticizes the Sadducees for their selfishness and pursuit of wealth. The Parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:13-21 (cf. Gospel of Thomas 63:1) especially parodies the futility of the Sadducee belief, and the Parable of Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) explicitly uses the Pharisee belief of the afterlife to expose the Sadducee view as morally deficient. In this parable, the rich man (= Sadducee) doesn't realize until he's dead that there is an afterlife and fiery punishment for his deeds, while the righteous Lazarus is blessed with the comforts of residing in the "bosom of Abraham". Now he asks for Lazarus to be resurrected (Luke 16:27-30), so that his family may be warned of the reality of the afterlife. All of this comes straight out of Pharisee eschatology, such as that exemplified in 1 Enoch (which the author of Jude cited as inspired "prophecy"). In the pseudepigraphal testaments, the soul of each ancient patriarch was removed to "be with God" (cf. Paul's notion of "being with the Lord" after death) though the body itself was buried. The Testament of Abraham, for instance describes the death of Abraham as follows:

    "Isaac his son came and fell upon his breast weeping. Then also his wife Sarah came and embraced his feet, wailing bitterly. Also all his male and female servants came and encircled the couch, wailing greatly. And Abraham entered the depression of death. And Death said to Abraham, 'Come, kiss my right hand, and may cheerfulness and life and strength come to you.' For Death deceived Abraham. And he kissed his hand and immediately his soul cleaved to the hand of Death. And immediately Michael the archangel stood beside him with multitudes of angels, and they bore his precious soul in their hands in divinely woven linen. And they tended the body of the righteous Abraham with divine ointments and perfumes until the third day after his death. And they buried him in the promised land at the oak of Mamre, while the angels escorted his precious soul and ascended into heaven singing the thrice-holy hymn to God, the master of all, and they set it down for the worship of the God and Father. And after great praise in song and glorification had been offered to the Lord, and when Abraham had worshipped, the undefiled voice of the God and Father came speaking thus: 'Take, then, my friend Abraham into Paradise, where there are the tents of my righteous ones and where the mansions of my holy ones, Isaac and Jacob, are in his bosom, where there is no toil, no grief, no moaning, but peace and exultation and endless life.' " (Testament of Abraham 20:6-14)

    This story explains the expression of "bosom of Abraham" in Luke 16 and why Abraham was described as still "living" in an afterlife in the parable. Indeed, Luke 20:37-38 refers to God as "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living." The Testaments of Isaac and Jacob similarly depict spiritual ascensions to heaven of the souls of Abraham's son and grandson (cf. Testament of Isaac 7:1-2, "When Isaac said this the Lord took his soul from his body"; Testament of Jacob 5:10-14, "The Lord comes down with the angels Michael and Gabriel to bear Jacob's soul to heaven"). These tales are directly relevant to Jude 9, which draws on a similar story in the Assumption of Moses: "Not even did the archangel Michael, when he was engaged in argument with the Devil about the corpse of Moses, dared to denounce him in the language of abuse; all he said was, 'Let the Lord correct you.' ". Since Michael and his angels were generally responsible for overseeing the burial of the body of the patriarch and bearing his soul to heaven, the dispute in Jude 9 clearly draws on the idea of the separation of the soul from the body at death (viz. the body was likely at issue because of its role in a future resurrection). The transfiguration story in the gospels similarly depict Moses and Elijah (who was bodily taken to heaven in 2 Kings 2) as still existing and playing a role in Jesus' mission (cf. Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9). As for the current existence of the souls of the dead in Gehenna, separated by a chasm from the righteous, this is exactly the concept in rabbinical and pseudepigraphal literature:

    This accursed valley [e.g. Gehenna] is for those accursed forever; here will gather together all those accursed ones, those who speak with their mouths unbecoming words against the Lord and utter hard words concerning his glory. Here shall they be gathered together, and here shall be their judgment, in the last days. There will be upon them the spectacle of the righteous judgment, in the presence of the righteous forever....There was produced from that bronze and fire a smell of sulfur which blended with those waters. This valley of the perversive angels shall continue to burn punitively underneath that ground....The Most High will arise on that day of judgment in order to execute a great judgment upon all the sinners...Woe unto you sinners, when you oppress the righteous ones, in the day of hard anguish, and burn them with fire! You shall be recompensed according to your deeds. On account of the deeds of your wicked ones, in blazing fires worse than fire it shall burn ....You yourselves know that they will bring your souls down to Sheol and they shall experience evil and great tribulation--in darkness, nets, and burning flame. Your souls shall enter into the great judgment; it shall be a great judgment in all the generations of the world. (1 Enoch 27:2-3, 100:4-9, 103:7-8; cf. Jude 7, 14-15, which quotes 1 Enoch to specifically refer to this judgment on the wicked)
    The souls of the wicked are brought down to Sheol by two angels of destruction, Za'api'el and Samki'el....Za'api'el is appointed to bring down the souls of the wicked from the presence of the Holy One, blessed be he, from the judgment of the Sekinah, to Sheol, to punish them with the fire in Gehinnom, with rods of burning coal. (3 Enoch 44:2-3)

    This notion of a final judgment and punishment is bound up with the idea of a resurrection. Daniel refers to the resurrection of "some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace." (Daniel 12:2). According to 2 Baruch 50:2-54:21, the righteous would be changed "into the splendor of angels" but the wicked would be resurrected in grotesque, "horrible shapes" and "shall suffer the torment of judgment" so that "a retribution will be demanded with regard to those who have done wicked deeds". Again, the concept of hell is part of the belief in the final resurrection. Similarly, Matthew 25:46 refers to the wicked going "away to eternal punishment and the virtuous to eternal life," and John 5:27-29 says that "the Son of Man has been appointed supreme judge, for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graves at the sound of his voice: those who did good will rise again to life and those who did evil to condemnation".

    The Sadducees didn't believe in an immortal soul and denied the reality of a future resurrection. Josephus, in describing the beliefs of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes, made it very clear that the Pharisees believed in immortality (as realized through a resurrection) whereas the Sadducees rejected this belief and thus could not believe in a resurrection as well:

    "For among the Judeans there are three forms of philosophy. Now the Pharisees are one sect, Sadducees another, and in fact the third, called Essenes, seems to be the most reverential discipline....Pharisees are those who are most skillful in the exact explication of their laws, and ascribe everything to fate and God. Yet they believe that the power to do what is right or wrong is principally in the hands of men, although fate does play a role in every action. They say that all souls are immortal, but that only the souls of good men are reunited into glorified bodies, while the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment. The Sadducees are those that compose the second order, and reject the concept of fate entirely, and believe that God is not concerned in whether we do what is evil or not. Instead they say it is merely a choice whether to do what is good or evil, so that any may act as they please. They also reject the belief of the immortality of the soul and the punishments and rewards of Hades" (Josephus, Jewish War 2.8.2-14).
    "Now, for the Pharisees , they live meanly, and despise delicacies in diet; and they follow the conduct of reason; and what that prescribes to them as good for them they do.... They also believe that souls have an immortal rigor in them, and that under the earth there will be rewards or punishments, according as they have lived virtuously or viciously in this life; and the latter are to be detained in an everlasting prison, but that the former shall have power to revive and live again...But the doctrine of the Sadducees is this: That souls die with the bodies ; nor do they regard the observation of any thing besides what the law enjoins them; for they think it an instance of virtue to dispute with those teachers of philosophy whom they frequent...The doctrine of the Essenes is this: That all things are best ascribed to God. They teach the immortality of souls , and esteem that the rewards of righteousness are to be earnestly striven for; and when they send what they have dedicated to God into the temple" (Josephus, Antiquities 18.1.3-5).

    The NT takes the Pharisee or Essene view for the most part, and explicitly ridicules the Sadducee view in the gospels. The Watchtower Society, on the other hand, sides with the Sadducees in rejecting a belief in immortality through a real resurrection, and yet it must contend with the ubiquitous concepts of a resurrection and eternal punishment of the wicked. It thus makes a sort of compromise by creating a new doctrine of recreation which corresponds to nothing taught by the Pharisees or Sadducees, or expressed by Paul or the Jesus of the gospels, and mitigates the concept of eternal punishment into a more limited eternal destruction. But by denying any real continuity between the original people and the "recreated" ones, one could similarly point out that the righteous are eternally destroyed as well through death -- for the dead are neither "awakened" nor "risen" from the grave. Rather, new copies of them are made, complete with memories of the original, so that these copies believe they are the original without actually being original. This peculiar belief in a "resurrection" is not taught in the NT.

  • myelaine

    Dear Green,

    you said: The doctrine of the immortality of the soul opens more questions than it answers. In my opinion.

    You are right this doctrine opens more questions along the lines of what happens to this soul after death, these questions can be answered from the scriptures. To say that the soul is not immortal and dies only to be recreated in another vessel at some future date asks even more questions that can't be answered from the scriptures and you have to, like the WBTS, give God the job of recreating an exact replica of each individual throughout history. Some to be recreated for life and some to be recreated for everlasting death. That's not to say that God can't do this, but why would He? We are told that there is no "crossing over" after we have died a physical death, so why recreate the unrighteous at all?

  • LittleToe

    Once more you astound me. Bravo!
    Very clear - and the extra-biblical sources just enhance and explain further what the contemporary thought was. All woven together in a comprehensive and logical whole.

    Thank you.

  • Greenpalmtreestillmine

    Hi Myelaine,

    Would you and LT be willing to start a thread on the Soul?

    I hope so.


  • LittleToe

    There are many, though few have done their homework as comprehensively as Leo just displayed...

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