Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Jesus’ Resurrection Body


This blog entry will be focused on the resurrection body that Jesus Christ has, and will examine a number of relevant scriptures.

The Christian Scriptures describe his resurrection body both as material and non-material or spiritual. For instance, his body could be observed as physical and he could be touched. He also walked, ate and drank. (Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:15, 39, 43; John 20:20; Acts 10:41) Yet, he is also described as disappearing from sight and suddenly appearing in a group. This is reminiscent of "beaming up" and "beaming down" of Star Trek fame. (Luke 24:31, 36; John 20:19) Additionally, Acts 1:3 points out that during a forty-day period he "was not continually visible to the apostles ... but appeared to them on various occasions" only. (NET Bible, footnote); and Acts 10:40-41 informs us that his post-resurrection appearances were done selectively. His absence in between those selected intervals of time may be explained by him disappearing. Thus, Jesus was materializing and dematerializing at will, just as spirit beings did prior as recorded in the Hebrew Bible.—Judges 6:21, Genesis 19. See also Acts 12:10.

Another spiritual manifestation that is most noteworthy is Jesus' appearance to Paul on the road to Damascus. There, in what has been aptly called a "partial revelation," Jesus radiated light "beyond the brilliance of the sun" at midday. (Acts 26:13; Insight on the Scriptures: "Sun: Jehovah and Christ More Brilliant") Thus Jesus' resurrection body was clearly seen as supernatural and manifestly non-material. This is also reflected in John's vision of the resurrected Jesus in Revelation 1:12-16, where Jesus' radiance is like the sun's and his eyes like "a fiery flame." This vision of Jesus would have reminded John of Daniel's vision of an angel in Daniel 10:5, 6, as both visions share a number of similarities, such as brilliant radiance and fiery eyes. Thus, since Jesus sacrificed his body he was born with (Hebrews 10:10) and was now spiritual, living as a mighty and radiant spirit being, he appeared as a material person as explained in what follows:

In Luke 24:39-43 and John 20:27, Jesus is appearing as a materialization, not as a spirit or vision, bearing his stigmata as a sign. He even appeared inside a locked room at John 20:19, 26, thus proving he was a materialization. At Acts 17:31 and 1 Timothy 2:5, the resurrected Jesus is called "a man."[1] This description would naturally refer to Jesus' experience as a man on earth during his ministry—it would more fittingly be applied to him being a man experientially, not ontologically. (As we know, human flesh cannot survive outside of earth's protective atmosphere. Making his flesh do so would be a continuous miracle from 33 C.E. and is completely unnecessary.) This natural exegesis also follows for Christians resurrected to heavenly life, for as we know, physical bodies can only exist in an earthly environment. Claiming otherwise destroys credibility, as continuous miraculous molecular micromanagement is both unnecessary and absurd. Some will point to Romans 8:11 though in support of them retaining their physical bodies outside of earth's atmosphere. This scripture says: "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." If this was the last word on the matter, it could be understood as meaning mortal bodies made alive in an experiential sense. As they experienced life as physical people, they can always look back as resurrected immortal spirit beings on their experience in a mortal physical body. But the next two verses bear on the correct meaning of Romans 8:11. They say: "So, then, brothers, we are under obligation, not to the flesh to live according to the flesh; 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you are sure to die; but if you put the practices of the body to death by the spirit, you will live." The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will make us alive in a spiritual sense. This is corroborated in another Pauline epistle, Ephesians 2:1, "It is you God made alive though you were dead in your trespasses and sins." The meaning could not be any clearer. The same God who resurrected Jesus can make us alive in a spiritual sense.

Another relevant scripture, 2 John 1:7, states: "For many deceivers have gone forth into the world, persons not confessing Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh."[2] But this does not mean that Jesus Christ will come with a beating heart and moist corneas, as some understand this to mean. The phrase "coming in the flesh" refers to Jesus' birth on earth (Galatians 4:4), not to his future coming. The NET Bible in its footnote concurs, saying: "This is the same confession as in 1 John 4:2 except the perfect participle used there is replaced by a present participle here. It is not clear why the author changed from a perfect participle in 1 John 4:2 to a present participle here. The perfect participle suggests a reference to the incarnation [Jesus' birth and life on earth] (past). The present participle could suggest a reference to the (future) second advent, but based on the similarity to 1 John 4:2 it is probably best to take it as referring to the incarnation [Jesus' birth and life on earth]." Thus, the point of 1 John 4:2 and 2 John 1:7 is the same: Denying that Jesus was human in his earthly life and ministry is apostate. Similarly, Colossians 2:9 teaches that in Jesus "all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily." This is clearly referring to a divine spirit body as presented in 1 Corinthians 15:45, 1 Timothy 3:16 and 1 Peter 3:18. Supporting this is Hebrews 5:7, which places Jesus' being in the flesh in the past, like 1 Timothy 3:16, which separates Jesus' life in the flesh and his resurrected life as a spirit.

Of additional interest is John 6:63, where Jesus declared: "It is the spirit that is life-giving; the flesh is of no use at all." (NWT) The later clause has been alternately rendered as "The flesh doesn't help at all" (HCSB) and "the flesh counts for nothing." (NIV) Jesus' statement here would seem to support the conclusion that he now has no use for the physical body he had on earth, and ceased needing it after he vanished from sight for the final time. (Acts 1:9) It is now his spirit body that is life-giving and the only one he needs.

"The temple of his body"
At John 2:19-22, Jesus propounded a riddle about his resurrection. There he likened his body to the Temple, and that it would be restored. Does this mean that his physical body that he sacrificed would be restored? Consideration of all the relevant scriptures involved will help us see the real meaning. Jesus said to his opponents, "the Jews": "Break down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (John 2:19) The Jews thought he was speaking of Herod's Temple, and used this against him later at his trial, where witnesses against him testified: "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.'" (Mark 14:58) Notice the italicized portions of 'made and not made with hands.' Do these portions found only in Mark's account accurately reflect what Jesus said? Notice that the apostle Paul used similar language to describe the bodies of resurrected Christians in heaven. He said: "For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." (2 Corinthians 5:1, NASB) Here we see the description the apostle Paul gives matches perfectly with the one Jesus is said to have given.[3] Thus Christians raised to heavenly life are given spiritual bodies suited for life outside of earth's atmosphere and outside of the "realms below," the physical realm, following the pattern of Jesus who also received a spiritual body. (John 8:23, NWT) As noted by John, Jesus was using figurative speech at John 2:19, referring to "the temple of his body." (John 2:21) He was put to death and on the third day rose again. (Matthew 16:21; Luke 24:7, 21, 46) He was resurrected by his Father Jehovah God in another body, not one made with hands like the Temple, but a spirit body made or built by his Father. (Acts 2:24; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Corinthians 15:45) Compare this usage of "building" as applied to one's body to Eve's creation, where the same figure of speech is used: "And Jehovah God proceeded to build [Hebrew banah, the first occurrence of this word] the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman."—Genesis 2:22. (See also "Builder, Building (Figurative Usage)" in Insight on the Scriptures, and the excursus in "Hebrews 5:7 and Trinitarianism: A Compatibility Crisis".) Therefore Jesus did not retain his earthly physical body 'made with hands' but received a spirit body from his God and Father 'not made with hands.' Resurrected Christians in heaven receive the same.

After considering this reasoning from the Scriptures, we can be most thankful that Jesus Christ lives now as a resurrected, mighty and exalted spirit being "to the glory of God the Father."—Philippians 2:9, 11.
(Picture from jw.org)

Appendix

Synopsis: As the High Priest passed though the curtain from the Holy to the Most Holy on Atonement Day with only the blood and not the body of the sacrificed animal, so Jesus presented the value of his sacrificed life and not his body when he passed though the greater spiritual curtain in the presence of the Almighty God Jehovah.

Footnotes:
[1] Additional scriptures that may be referred to calling Jesus "a man" are Acts 2:22, Romans 5:15 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. However, a close reading of those scriptures does not require that Jesus now be a man outside of earth's protective atmosphere. First, Acts 2:22 may easily be seen as calling Jesus a man during his earthly ministry. Second, the other two scriptures contrast Jesus with another man, Adam. Thus, if Jesus is still a physical Jewish man, then it would be consistent to view Adam also as still being a physical man, the later being obvious anathema which consequently implodes the interpretation that Jesus is being described as currently being a literal physical man. Lastly, ones who believe that Jesus is still a physical man would do well to honestly and objectively consider Galatians 1:1, 11, 12 and 16 where Paul emphatically repeated that Jesus is not a man.

[2] It must be understood that blood is liquid flesh and is included in the meaning of that term. That Jesus and John knew this is undeniable. Paul also knew that, even though he specified "blood" along with "flesh" at 1 Corinthians 15:50. So when the resurrected Jesus said at Luke 24:39 that he had "flesh and bones," it was understood that he also had blood, as he did not appear as bloodlessly blanched. Jesus even invited them to "feel" him to confirm this. The Greek word for "feel" conveys the meaning of 'manipulation, verifying through contact, handling.' Therefore they could feel and see the veins in his arms, and consequently his audience could confirm that blood is included in the term "flesh." (See also 1 John 1:1 where this word is used again in relation to feeling Jesus.) Thus, when certain people say that Jesus shed his blood and therefore had no blood at Luke 24:39, but only flesh and bones, they are unwittingly contradicting themselves, as well as betraying their ignorance of blood being liquid flesh. For instance, one Trinitarian apologetic website argues this way at their article: "Didn't Jesus simply rise in a non-physical, spirit form?" under "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" at http://carm.org/questions/about-jesus/didnt-jesus-simply-rise-non-physical-spirit-form, where the following statements are made:
You must note that Jesus did not say, "flesh and blood." He said, "flesh and bones." This is because Jesus' blood was shed on the cross. ... He had a body, but not a body of flesh and blood. It was flesh and bones. I am of the opinion that Jesus' body had no functional blood in it.
Notice the previously mentioned contradiction of blood being liquid flesh but having no blood but flesh.

[3] Jehovah's Witnesses Defended, 2nd edition. Page 413. See pages 412-416.

Related reading:


This blog entry was inspired by:
The Resurrection Body of Jesus (Data)
ivanmonroy.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/the-resurrection-body-of-jesus-data

Topix: Jesus’ Resurrection Body
ivanmonroy.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/topix-jesus-resurrection-body

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