Bodily Resurrection and Jehovah’s Witnesses, Part 1

What Bible topic should you use when talking to a Jehovah’s Witness?

If you bring up a scripture that affirms Jesus as God you will find the JW throwing objections at you involving the Trinity, a very complex topic. And they will probably say, “Oh, you must also believe in hellfire and the immortal soul.” This begins your game of “Bible ping pong” where you have a verse and they have a verse, back and forth you go and nothing gets resolved. The deity of Christ and the Trinity must be defended at some point but you must know the Jehovah’s Witness is usually much better prepared on this topic than most Christians.

We are posting a number of e-letters Make Sure Ministries has received from David Henke, founder of Watchman Fellowship, Inc., an apologetics ministry, on a variety of subjects. They will post on Tuesdays into the foreseeable future. As always, we appreciate your comments. Please consider clicking on the link following this blog to learn more about Watchman Fellowship and what they have to offer. E-letters have been slightly edited for clarity.

There is a better beginning topic: the bodily resurrection of Jesus. We must let them know that this is of FIRST IMPORTANCE in our discussion so I would start with I Corinthians 15:1, 4.

You can start with this question, “What do you understand the gospel to be?” In the Bible it is clearly and undeniably defined by Paul in Romans 10:9, 10 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. However, the JW will not cite these verses in their answer. Let them tell you what they think the gospel is and then take them to this text. They will tell you the gospel is the Kingdom, the thousand year reign of Christ. After they tell you that take them to these verses. Have them read them.

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

Romans 10:9, 10

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, …

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

This is the heart and soul of the Good News.  Now you can tell them this is what you believe. These verses are the foundation of yours and my salvation experience. After they read it give your testimony of how believing that changed your life.

The Watchtower teaches that “the man Jesus is dead, forever dead.” What came of Jesus? Well, they say he was Michael the Archangel before coming to earth and in his resurrection, he again resumed his role as Michael.

BUT before he resumed his role as Michael, he put in some appearances on earth to convince his disciples that he rose. The Watchtower doctrine makes God a liar because the Scripture says it was the body of Jesus that was raised. If Jesus died and stayed dead it would not be important. The fact that the man Jesus in the body of His crucifixion was raised makes this of FIRST IMPORTANCE because it is the way we will be raised.

As we talk to them about the resurrection of Jesus, they will bring up several objections to the physical body of Jesus being raised. They believe Jesus’ body was dissolved into gases therefore there was no body to come out of the tomb.

>They will say Jesus appeared “as” a Gardener

One of the first things they will say is that Jesus, when he appeared to Mary Magdalene, he appeared as a Gardener:

And they said to her, “Woman why are you weeping?” She said to them,  “because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” When she had said this, she turned around, and beheld Jesus standing there, and she did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).

John 20:13-17

>Why did Mary Magdalene not know it was Jesus?

Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark.

John 20:1

Darkness obscures our vision.

She was going to finish preparing the body. When you are prepared for one thing something radically different may take some time to comprehend.

She was surprised the body was gone. Did it occur to her that Jesus was resurrected? No, she asked where the body was taken.

She “supposed” Jesus to be the Gardener. Again, her mind was moving in the wrong direction.

She was in tears. How well can you see through tears?

Under the circumstances it sounds like an honest response. Jesus did not appear in a different form. He was Himself after the resurrection. She did not recognize Him for all the above reasons.

Jehovah’s Witnesses say He “appeared” as a Gardener. We can read the context and it was Mary who assumed it. He did not appear as a gardener. She thought He was the gardener at first.

When she realized who He was, she responded, “Rabboni.” She clung to Him. How can you cling to a spirit?  Remember, we read elsewhere in the Gospels that Jesus let them touch Him and He ate in front of them to confirm He in fact is alive in the body of His crucifixion.

The Witnesses will say they did not recognize Him. Since they didn’t recognize Him, He must have had a different body.  Another text they take us to is Luke 24, and the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. We will discuss that next week.

Remind them again that the gospel is defined in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Drive that home because that will contrast sharply in their mind because they think the gospel is the coming kingdom, or millennium. The gospel is about the KING Who paid for our sin “in His body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:24)

April 2, 2021 E-Letter

Copyright© 2019 Watchman Fellowship, All rights reserved. Used by permission of David Henke.



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