Friday, November 17, 2017

Jesus’ body now: flesh or spirit?

The following scriptures are typically used in support of a spirit-resurrection for Jesus: 1 Corinthians 15:45, 1 Peter 3:18, along with Galatians 1:1, 11, 12 where Paul says his appointment and teaching is not from any man, and Hebrews 5:7 where Jesus’ physical body is spoken of as being in the past (literally “in the days of his flesh”). Additionally, and not any less significant, Hebrews 10:10 reports that Jesus sacrificed his physical body—thus for him to take it back would be to cancel the salvific transaction to God. Another issue which cannot be stressed enough is the Atonement Day drama where 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, thus, in fulfillment, 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.—Hebrews 10:19, 20.

Conversely, scriptures used to support Jesus being resurrected with his sacrificed body (not just with a new fleshly body, but his original Nazarene body), taking back his sacrificed body, are: Acts 17:31, 1 Timothy 2:5 and Colossians 2:9. However, the “man” expression in Acts 17:31 and 1 Timothy 2:5 refers to Jesus’ historical existence of being a man on earth. Thus Jesus is a man experientially, not ontologically. Colossians 2:9 rightly says he has a body, but does not specify a physical one, thus it may be a spirit body being referenced. An additional scripture popularly employed is Luke 24:39, where the resurrected Jesus said he is not a spirit but has “flesh and bones” after miraculously appearing inside a locked room (according to the parallel account in John 20:19). Ones who conclude this means that Jesus was ontologically not a spirit also conclude that he also had no blood, and must therefore ignore this palpable and absurd contradiction of being alive as a man without any blood. However, when Jesus appeared in the locked room he indeed had blood as confirmed in Luke 24:39 and at 1 John 1:1 where his invited followers felt his flesh to confirm that he was not a vision. By feeling and examining his flesh, they could doubtlessly confirm blue veins and that he had blood (which is liquid flesh)[1] and was not bloodlessly blanched. This only makes sense if he was a spirit being materializing into the locked room. Supporting this as a materialization event is the context of Luke 24:39, for Jesus had earlier instantaneously vanished in Luke 24:31. He then reversed that in Luke 24:36-37, making a frightening appearance among them inside the locked room. (John 20:19) Jesus being understood as materializing into the locked room addresses his miraculous and startling appearance, whereas the other interpretation does not and leaves it as an unresolved mystery of preposterous proportions.

To summarize:
  • Jesus instantaneously vanished from sight in front of two people.—Luke 24:13, 30-31.
  • Jesus appeared inside a crowded locked room and startled everyone.—Luke 24:36-37; John 20:19.
  • Thus, he miraculously disappeared and reappeared, consistent with a spirit being materializing and dematerializing.

Thus, ones who believe that Jesus has a physical body now in heaven must clarify if it is the one he received during his earthly sojourn or another physical body received at his resurrection. They must also specify how Jesus is able to exist with a physical body outside of earth’s protective atmosphere, which is a direct violation of the decree in Psalm 115:16. Additionally, ones who insist that Jesus is able to retain his original physical body due to it being “glorified” in some undefined sense are unable to cite any supporting scriptures specifying how his physical body is glorified and thus preserved.

One significant scripture that must be showcased is John 6:63, where Jesus answers his question in verse 62: “Then what if you see the Son of Man ascending where he was before?” The “before” is defined for us previously in John 6:38 as being heaven. He then answered that the spirit is life-giving but that “human nature is of no help!” (NET Bible) If that’s Jesus’ view of human nature in heaven, then why would he have one? Therefore, I am left with little choice but to conclude that Jesus being called a “man” must be experiential, and that he now exists as a mighty spirit person.

It appears to me that ones insisting otherwise, that Jesus retained his sacrificed Nazarene body are clinging to Jesus’ body when he said “Stop clinging to me,”[2] and are contradicting Jesus when he said that “the flesh is of no use at all” (NWT) “the flesh doesn’t help at all” (HCSB) “the flesh counts for nothing” (NIV) in heaven (per John 6:38). (John 20:17; 6:38, 62-63) He sacrificed his flesh (blood and the rest of his body) during the crucifixion, and by his own admission it is not currently needed in heaven. Thus, in order to obey Jesus’ direct command, we should not cling to it.

Jesus also stated that his human audience could not go to heaven on their own: “Where I am going, you cannot come.” (John 8:21; see also John 7:34 and 13:33) Jesus clarifies that this is because his audience is “from the realms below,” the earth, but that he is “from the realms above.” (John 8:23)[3] Thus, if Jesus was not resurrected as a spirit person, he could not enter heaven, “the realms above,” either! Jesus here called it a transcendent realm that humans cannot survive in, being beyond earth’s atmosphere. To enter that place, it is clear that you have to be a transcendent spirit person. Paul supported this arrangement in 1 Corinthians 15:50 where he said in so many words that human nature cannot enter heaven. Therefore, that interpretation of a fleshly Jesus in the transcendent heaven mocks Jesus and needlessly makes Christianity look hopelessly absurd on a colossal scale. It has wrought incalculable damage to Christianity’s credibility, and is thus a “doctrine of demons.”—1 Timothy 4:1.

(Please excuse my specific and repetitive writing style seen here. This issue needs to be presented in an unusually clear manner.)

[1] This is proven in Adam’s declaration that Eve was “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Genesis 2:23) Eve had blood even though it was not specified due to being liquid flesh. To argue that Jesus did not have blood is just as absurd as arguing that Eve did not have blood.

[2] In principle only, of course. I am obviously not claiming that this post-resurrection body was his original one.

[3] The New Testament – A Translation by William Barclay has “world below” and “world above.”

Additional reading:
Opening graphic from the Israel Study Center.

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