Monday, June 10, 2019

John 2:18 - 22

Did Christ Raise Himself From the Grave?

A Trinitarian Defense

The following verses would seem to answer this question in the affirmative:

Joh 2:18 (ESV) So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”
Joh 2:19 (ESV) Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
Joh 2:20 (ESV) The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”
Joh 2:21 (ESV) But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
Joh 2:22 (ESV) When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

This would suggest that Jesus raised Himself from the grave. But Rom 6:4, says the Father raised Him:

Rom 6:4 (ESV) We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  See also Act 2:22-23 and Gal 1:1.

To clarify, Trinitarians agree completely with the verses teach the Father raised Jesus, but we don't believe it was the Father alone who raised Him, as the Greek text makes clear.

In fact, the WT publication Reasoning From the Scriptures quotes AT Robertson in reference to this passage:

"He did not not mean that he would raise himself from the dead independently of the Father as the active agent" (Reasoning, p. 424, italics added).  No Trinitarian would say otherwise.

Some knowledgeable Jehovah’s Witnesses (and others that deny the Deity of Christ) resolve this apparent conflict by saying that Jesus had such confidence that the Father would raise Him from the dead, that He could speak as if He raised Himself.
In support of this claim, they may cite Eze 43:3:

Eze 43:3 (ESV) And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face.
The pertinent part verse reads “when I came to destroy the city” in the KJV and most older Bibles. Newer Bibles favor the reading “when he came.”
The reason newer Bibles favor this reading is because:
  • 1) the Hebrew text is uncertain at this point (one letter difference between 1st and 3rd person pronoun, and two letters are similar in appearance).
  • 2) it makes the most sense with the surrounding context (see chapters 1, 5, and 10).
  • 3) it is supported by several Hebrew MSS and one Greek translation.
  • 4) the Aramaic Targum reads: “When I prophesied to destroy the city.”
Other attempts to explain away this clear passage of Scripture similarly fail.