Watchtower Crime Scene---Where Did the Body Go? Part 2
As you were reading my previous blog (Part 1), you may have had your old, well-trained Watchtower voice interrupting you from time to time with a couple of scriptures that seemed to prove that Jehovah must have disposed of Jesus’ body after he died. Even though it would be great if Jesus’ body had been raised and changed into a spiritual body that could live both in a new heaven and a new earth, what about the verses in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Peter 3 that seem to clearly say that Jesus was raised as a spirit? And doesn’t Romans 8:23 in the New World Translation say those in Christ are released from their body by ransom when they die? Would you believe the Watchtower Society has done it again---conveniently left out the context and purposely substituted a crucial preposition in order to hang onto their two-class system?
When I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a scripture I always quoted to prove that Jesus was raised as a spirit is found at 1 Corinthians 15:45, which says, “It is even so written: ‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (NWT)
Taken out of context, it certainly sounds like Jesus was raised as a spirit. However, historical context is very important here. Paul was writing to the Corinthians, and they were Greeks. The Greeks believed basically the same thing Jehovah’s Witnesses today believe about what happens to the 144,000 when they die---their physical body is gone forever, and they are raised as spirits. But Paul wrote 1 Corinthians chapter 15 to prove that the Greeks were wrong!
That is why Paul began his discussion by saying in verse 35: “Nevertheless, someone will say: ‘How are the dead to be raised up? Yes, with what sort of body are they coming?’” Paul goes on to explain that we have a physical body (Greek soma) and after that a spiritual body (same word, soma). It is our physical, flesh-and-blood body that is mortal and corruptible, so it is this body that will put on immortality and incorruption when it is changed into a spiritual body.
This spiritual body is not a spirit. The Bible seems to indicate that spirits do not have bodies and must materialize one to be seen by humans. Jesus appeared to his followers after his resurrection in order to give them some idea of what their spiritual body would be like. Obviously, his spiritual body was one from heaven, from the unseen, spiritual world, not bound by our laws of physics, but a body that still bore physical characteristics.
That contrast between the fleshly, physical world and the unseen spiritual world is described over and over from verse 35 to verse 57 of 1 Corinthians, chapter 15. “Life-giving spirit” referring to Jesus in verse 45 is contrasting the source of his life and power in the spiritual realm to the purely physical life on this earth given to us by Adam. Compared to fleshly Adam, Jesus is a life-giving spirit in that he is a spiritual being or the source of spiritual, eternal life. This is the only conclusion we can come to because Jesus himself assured his followers that he was not a spirit (Luke 24:39).
Peter is making the same contrast in 1 Peter 3:18: “Why, even Christ died once for all time concerning sins . . . he being put to death in the flesh, but being made alive in the spirit.” “In the flesh” describes this life; “in the spirit” describes spiritual life with spiritual bodies.
What clinched this argument for me was the realization that the Watchtower Society had purposely substituted a word in the New World Translation to support their false belief. In all of the accepted translations of the Bible, Romans 8:23 says, “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Paul here says our bodies are redeemed.
However, there is a problem with the way the Watchtower Society translates this verse. In The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, they translate the word-by-word Greek as “awaiting the release by ransom of the body of us [underlining mine],” just as it should be translated. Why, then, would they change the word “of” when they transcribe it into English in the column on the right? Without any footnote or explanation or even square brackets to note the change, they translate it, “ . . . while we are earnestly waiting for adoption as sons, the release from our bodies by ransom [underlining mine].” There is a huge difference between the redemption of our bodies and the release from our bodies by ransom. Once the Watchtower Society felt compelled to substitute the word “from” for the word “of,” without notation, to prop up their doctrine, it becomes readily apparent that the doctrine in question is false!
When we discover that our bodies will be raised just like Jesus’ body, allowing us to live in both a new heaven and a new earth, the following two scriptures have so much more meaning for us:
“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Romans 8:11
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20, 21
This resurrection of our bodies takes place at the end of this system of things “during the last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15:52) when Christ returns. The bodies of all the dead will be raised, while those alive on earth will be changed instantly, so that all will receive their new spiritual bodies at the same time (Heb. 11:39, 40). In the meantime, after we die now and before the last trumpet, we will be with Christ, awaiting our bodies at the resurrection (absent from the body, present with the Lord---2 Cor. 5:8). The apostle Paul spoke of this intermediate state at 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, where he described putting off our present bodies (like a temporary “tent”) and looking forward to receiving our spiritual bodies (like a “permanent building from God”---2 Cor. 5:1).
Finally, to add to the beauty of this hope, we come to appreciate that Jesus loved us so much that he has chosen to be marked for eternity as having been human. When he comes again in his glory, he is described as looking like “the Son of man” (Matt. 25:31; Dan. 7:13; 1 John 3:2). So no matter how great his glory in heaven, Jesus’ resurrected body, complete with scars, will forever identify him as our Savior. In the new heaven and new earth, we will always be reminded of how we got there! (To read an excellent article by Anthony Hoekema in Christianity Today describing this wonderful hope, click here. http://www.nils4.info/a/hct.htm )
If all of this is true and there is only one hope, then we should all be partaking of the bread and wine because we are all in the new covenant with Christ as our mediator. But what if we aren’t “worthy?” Read my next blog entry to see how the Watchtower Society has deceptively switched a biblical adverb with an adjective to keep the “earthly class” from partaking of the emblems.