John 2:19 – Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
John 2:20 – The Jews therefore said, “Forty-six years was this temple in building, and will you raise it up in three days?”
John 2:21 – But he spoke of the temple of his body.
John 2:22 – When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he said this, and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
Many believe that the above scripture says that Jesus raised himself from the dead. In actuality there is nothing the verse about Jesus’ rasing himself from the dead, but rather John speaks of Jesus’ raising up the “temple of his body” after it had been destroyed for three days. The phrase “raise up” does not necessarily refer to “resurrection”.
The Jews demanded of our Lord by what authority he set up so high a standard as he required of them in the cleansing of the temple. (John 2:13-18) He answered them as noted in the above text. It was a dark saying of our Lord and few understood the meaning. The Jews thought he was speaking of the glorious temple of Herod under construction for forty-six years. They were incensed at him, and we recall that this was one of the charges against him a few days later. They took his words as blasphemy against the temple, that he could raise it up again in three days if it were destroyed.
Nevertheless, Jesus spoke of the temple of his body. Jesus did ‘raise up’ his body [cause his body to appear] when he temporarily appeared in his body of flesh and bones (blood is not mentioned, since he was at this point a spirit being) to his disciples in the locked room. (Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19,20) Eight days later he also caused his body to appear on behalf of Thomas. (John 20:24-29) This was after his Father had already raised him from the dead in a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:38,44), thus Jesus did not have to raise himself from the dead in order to raise up his body of flesh. (1 Peter 3:18*) Therefore we view that there was an fulfillment of this in the actual body of Jesus.
*See our study:
Jesus Died a Human — Raised a Spirit Being
In stating the above, we want to emphasize that Jesus was not raised from the dead in a fleshly body. The Bible informs us that Jesus sacrificed his body as an offering to God, which offering he presented to God, as represented in its blood, after he ascended to heaven. (Hebrews 9:11,12,23,24,25; 10:1,10) It speaks of the “days of his flesh” as something past and gone. (Hebrews 5:7) Having offered his body in sacrifice, he does not take it back, so as be permanently encased in a body of flesh. Nonetheless, we note that Jesus did not actually present his body to God until after he ascended. Thus, before his ascension he could raise his body, and assume that body, for the appearances in the locked room.
See also our study on:
Jesus’ Appearances in the Locked Room
However, we also believe the Lord was using the event of raising his body of flesh to illustrate the raising of his church — the temple of which the apostle Peter wrote, that we as living stones are built together upon Christ for a habitation of God through the Spirit.
The Scriptures repeatedly tell us that the Church is “the body of Christ.” (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 12:12,27; Ephesians 3:6; 4:12) The apostle Peter declares that each of the Lord’s saints is a living stone prepared for and being placed in the glorious “temple” which God is building — whose chief cornerstone and cap stone is Christ Jesus our Lord. (1 Peter 2:5; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:19-22; Hebrews 3:6) While this “temple” is a temple not completed in its perfected spiritual condition, it already has an existence in this present age — even now believers are reckoned as the “the body of Christ, and members individually.” In harmony with this we understand our Lord’s words of John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” — “he spoke of the temple of his body” — the Church, of which he is the Head.
The three days we understand to represent the days of the larger week, one thousand years to each day. The “last day” — the day in which the saints are resurrected — is spoken of in Revelation 20:4 as a thousand years. (John 6:39,40,44,54; 11:24) In this “last day”, when Satan is bound, and there are no deceptions, the temple of God is finally completed and raised up in glory. This we believe will occur in the third millennium after the literal temple’s destruction in Jerusalem, thus in three “days”. It is to be early in the morning of this third day — the Millennium — that the body of Christ, the temple of God, is to be brought together as a spiritual temple and filled with the glory of God, to the end that from it may flow the blessing of reconciliation to all the families of the earth. — Genesis 12:3; 22:18; Isaiah 2:2-4; Galatians 3:7-9,16,29; Hebrews 6:13-20; Acts 3:19-25.
See: The Day of Judgment
Further insight is provided in 2 Corinthians 4:14, which reads: “Knowing that he who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by [with, through] Jesus, and shall present us with you.” In John 6:44 we read a similar thought: “No man can come to me, except the Father . . . draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” This shows that God’s power would not be exercised independently but through Jesus in the resurrection of the body — the church — of Christ.
Hence it is Jesus who will take an active role in raising his Church from the dead. John shows in John 14:2,3 when that will be. He says: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” So it is at Jesus’ second advent that his faithful followers will be rewarded. Other Bible texts detail the timing of the Church’s resurrection yet further. Peter declares that “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years” (2 Peter 3:8). If we divide the time from man’s creation into one-thousand year days, Jesus was crucified and resurrected on the fifth (thousand year) day. If he returns in three days to raise his body members, counting inclusively from the fifth day, we arrive at the seventh (thousand year) day, which is the grand Millennial Day of blessing.
Another statement, similar to this and interpretable, we believe, in the same manner, was the Lord’s answer to Herod — “I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I complete my mission.” (Luke 13:32) This last statement could not be interpreted in any other way than that above suggested. The cures and blessings of divine grace have prevailed during the fifth, the day in which our Lord and the apostles lived, and also during the sixth thousand-year day; and on the seventh, the grand millennial sabbath, Christ and his Church will be perfected and the cures correspondingly increased. Thus the body of Christ — God’s true true temple — the house of Jehovah — will then be fully erected — “raised up,” and all nations will begin to flow into it. — Isaiah 2:2.
John continues to write: “When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he said this, and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.” (John 2:22) Some have felt that this means that Jesus was raised from the dead in his fleshly body, but that is not what it says. Jehovah, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, raised Jesus from the dead, in a spirit body. We note that the disciples did not remember Jesus statement as recorded in John 2:22 on the very instant, the very moment of the resurrection of Jesus, for they did not even know he had been raised in the very moment he was raised, but rather some time after. The Greek word “when” does not set a specific instant of time, but a duration of time. Thus the thought is in some time period following the event of his being raised — when he had been raised, Jesus’ disciples recalled that he had said this.
We must remember that when Jesus said the above words, the disciples had no concept of a spiritual temple, or any reward on a spirit plane. They still had the belief that all of this was to be fulfilled in literal Jerusalem here on earth. This we can see since in Acts 1:6, they asked Jesus if he was then going to restore the kingdom to Israel. They had not yet received the enlightenment of the holy spirit, which was to bring to their memories all that Jesus had said to them. (John 7:39; 14:26) Subsequently, they came to realize they were to be a part of the body of Christ and that God would “raise up us also by Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:14). That is what they remembered Jesus’ words to mean.
Matthew 27:40 – and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
Sometimes someone points to this scripture and claims it has something to do with the idea that Jesus resurrects himself from the dead. Actually, there is nothing in this that says such. The words quoted are not the words of Jesus’ disciples but of those who were mocking Jesus. These Jewish opposers did not have the holy spirit and thus their words above do not necessarily represent the true meaning of what Jesus had said. (Mark 14:57,58) It seems from this that at least some of these Jewish opposers were still under the erroneous concept that Jesus claimed that he would destroy the literal temple in Jerusalem and rebuild it in three days. This certainly has nothing to do with the idea that Jesus would raise himself from the dead, nor is it a correct application of what Jesus was speaking of in John 2:22 (as some writers have impied), as this is not the disciples speaking, nor is this said after Jesus’ resurrection.
Matthew 27:63 – and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.'”
This scripture is also sometimes offered and it is assumed to refer to John 2:19, and therefore in some vague way is thought to prove that Jesus meant that Jesus would raise himself in the flesh from the dead. This, of course, calls for a lot of conjecture. We have seen that the Jews had thought that Jesus’ claim, as recorded in John 2:19, was concerning the temple of Herod. But here they are referring to his claim that he would be raised after three days. There does not appear to be any reference here to Jesus’ words in John 2:19 at all. How did they know about Jesus’ claim that would be raised after three days? Jesus had on several occasions began to teach his disciples concerning his coming death and resurrection. In Matthew 17:22, 23, Jesus said, speaking of his approaching death: “The Son of Man is about to be delivered up into the hands of men, and they shall kill him, and they will kill him, and the third day he will be raised up.” (See also Luke 9:21,22; 18:33; Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Mark 8:31) The angels quoted our Lord’s words to the women who witnessed his resurrection
Luke 24:6 – He isn’t here, but is risen. Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee,
Luke 24:7 – saying that the Son of Man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again?”
Luke 24:8 – They remembered his words.
These verses fit in with the Bible testimony that God raised Jesus on the third day. Evidently these sayings of Jesus had reached some of the non-believing Jews. Nevertheless, what he had spoken of to the unbelieving Jews was the “sign of Jonah”. (Matthew 12:38-40) It is apparent that the Jewish opposers of Jesus knew of his teaching that he would be raised from the dead in three days, and that they did not understand what he had said as recorded in John 2:19 to apply to his being raised from the dead, but to the actual temple in Jerusalem.
One more scripture that is used to claim that Jesus raised himself from the dead is:
John 10:17 – Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.
John 10:18 – No taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received from my Father.”
— King James Version
Based on the English translation as it appears in most translations, many trinitarians and oneness believers claim that since only God could raise up Christ and thus if Jesus could lay down his life and take it up again he must be God. This of course, contradicts John 17:1,3, in which Jesus proclaimed that the Father is the only true God, and contrasts himself as the one sent by the one true God.
Obviously, since Jesus was in the oblivious condition of death in Hades/Sheol (Psalm 16:10; Ecclesaistes 9:5,10; Acts 2:31), Jesus had no “power” at all to do anything and thus his God and Father had to save, or deliver, Jesus out of the oblivious death condition. — Hebrews 5:7.
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the death condition in sheol/hades,
Whatever power or authority Jesus had in this regard, we must agree that this authority or power was received from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus. (Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 11:31; Ephesians 1:3,17; 1 Peter 1:2) “This commandment have I received from my Father.” Jesus is not his God who gives to him this authority. — See Matthew 28:18; Luke 10:22.
The Greek word translated “received” in this sentence is Strong’s #2983, which the King James Version translates as “receive” 133 times, and as “take” 106 times. In our passage this same word is earlier translated “take” in most translations: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take [Strong’s 2983, receive] it again. No man taketh [not 2983, but Strong’s #142, take] it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take [Strong’s #2983] it again. This commandment have I received [Strong’s #2983] from my Father.”
The Greek word lambano (Strong’s #2983) is not as strong as the Greek word airo (Strong’s #142) and is not as personal in action as airo. While the word lambano can mean “take”, it is not necessarily the result of one’s own action, but most often results from the action of another. See the usage of both words and how they are translated in the King James Version by consulting The Englishman’s Greek Concordance of the New Testament or by visiting:
The text should be translated: “Therefore my Father does love me, because I lay down my life, that I might receive it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to receive it again.” Thus this passage shows that Jesus receives his life again from the unipersonal Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Abraham (Exodus 3:14,15), the only true God (John 17:1,3), in agreement with Acts 2:24; 3:13,15,26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:34,37; 17:31; Romans 4:24; 6:10; 8:11; 10:9; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:15; 2 Corinthians 4:14; 13:4; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Hebrews 5:7; 1 Peter 1:21.
Rotherham renders John 10:18: “No one forced it from me, but I lay it down of myself, — Authority have I to lay it down, and authority have I again to receive it: This commandment received I from my Father.”
The New English Bible renders the passage this way: “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.”
Interestingly, the New Living Translation renders verse 17: “The Father loves me because I lay down my life that I may have it back again.” But it renders verse 18: “No one can take my life from me. I lay down my life voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it again. For my Father has given me this command.”
The Good News Bible in Today’s English does similarly: “The Father loves me because I am willing to give up my life, in order that I may receive it back again. No one takes my life away from me. I give it up of my own free will. I have the right to give it up, and I have the right to take it back. This is what my Father has commanded me to do.”
The claim has been made that John 10:18 proves that Jesus did not receive back a “new” life, but that he received back his “human” life. The assumption is placed upon the scripture that would have it say that that since Jesus received back his life that the life he received back had to be human. What Jesus actually said “I lay down my life.” (Italics ours for emphasis) He is referring to his life. Thus, from this context, for it to have a been a new life — a different life — that he received back, then, would, in effect, mean that he did not receive back his life, but a life as some one else. Jesus, of course, did not get a new life, a life that was not his life, for he was still himself when he was raised from the dead. So it is still true that did not receive his life back as a human, but as a spirit being. It was still his life, whether that life be physical (earthly-terrestial) or spiritual (heavenly-celestial). — 1 Corinthians 15:40-48.
Who did raise Jesus from the dead? Jesus himself was dead and in the oblivious realm of hades for parts of three days. He could not literally raise himself from the dead for he was dead. The dead are unconscious and cannot raise themselves from the dead.
The Bible plainly tells us that it was the God and Father of Jesus, that raised Jesus from the dead. — Acts 2:24,32,26; 3:15; 4:10; 10:40; 13:30,33,37; 17:31; Romans 4:24; 8:11; 10:9; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:15; Galatians 1:1; Colossians 2:11,12; 1 Thessalonians 1:9,10; 1 Peter 1:21; 3:18
Some of our trinitarian neighbors tell us that it was the “divine nature” of Jesus that raised his “human nature” from the dead. We have no reason to add all of this conjecture to Bible. There is no scripture that says that Jesus raised himself from the dead, nor is there any scripture that says that Jesus had two planes of being (a spirit being and a human being — two sentient beings, two persons?) present in one divine person (one sentient [omniscient] being/person?).
Thus we see that there is nothing in the Bible that says that Jesus raised himself from the dead.
Related RL Studies
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John 10:17-18 by Juan Baixeras.
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