(From the RDB Files)
“I Will Raise It Up” - John 2:19
“I have Power to take it again” - John 10:18
In English we use “rise” and “raise” with two distinctly different meanings. “Rise” is what a person or thing does by itself to itself: “I rise every morning at dawn;” “the sun will rise soon.”
“Raise,” on the other hand, is what a person does to some other object or person: “He raised the flag.” “The flag was raised.” The object does not “rise” by itself in this case, but is actually “raised” by someone else! If “raise” is to be used with one’s own self as the object, it must be so stated or plainly understood: “I raised myself so I could see better”!
An examination of all the passages dealing with Christ’s resurrection shows that this is also the intent of nearly all of them. Therefore, when we see “God, having raised up his servant” (Acts 3:26, RSV), we understand God as being one person who raised up someone else (His servant, Jesus). And at Gal. 1:1 we see - “God the Father, who raised [Jesus Christ] from the dead.” [ * See End Note]
The noted trinitarian NT Greek expert Dr. Alfred Marshall writes:
“our Lord 'was raised' as are the dead generally (they do not 'rise'). See 1 Corinthians ch. 15, etc.” - p. xxxvi, The Zondervan Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1980.
We also see at Eph. 1:17, 19, 20 -
“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory ..., according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand [cf. Ps. 110:1, 2; Acts 2:34-36; and Ro. 8:34] in the heavenly places” - RSV.
And 1 Thess. 1:9, 10 -
“how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God [John 17:3] and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus” - RSV. Also see Acts 10:40; 13:30, 33, 34, 37; Ro. 4:24; 6:4; 8:11; 10:9; 1 Cor. 6:14; 2 Cor. 4:14; Col. 2:12; 1 Peter 1:21; etc.
Probably the only place you could find where there appears to be a statement that the Son raised himself (in contrast to the many scriptures to the contrary) would be John 2:19-22.
John 2:19, 21, 22 -
“Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' .... But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised [not 'he raised himself'] from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this.” - RSV.
Rather than ignoring this scripture, since at first glance it seems to contradict all the many others about Jesus being raised up by the Father alone, we should make every attempt to understand it in agreement with the other scriptures on the subject.
Obviously Jesus was speaking figuratively here, whereas the other scriptures concerning his being raised are to be understood literally. Figurative Bible language often leads to difficulties in interpretation.
However, Jesus was speaking figuratively of his actual body which his enemies really did destroy (“destroy this temple and ...”). Therefore, one understanding might be that Jesus was merely stating that after the Father had already returned Jesus' life to a body (“raised” him to life) Jesus was then physically able to raise up that life-filled body: He literally was able to raise himself to his feet again; he raised his already-resurrected body up from a prone position!
Another possibility could be that because of his perfect faithfulness and obedience to God, Jesus himself provided the moral basis for the Father to raise him from the dead. It might be said that, in a sense, because of his faithful course in life, Jesus himself was responsible for God's resurrection of him.
A similar style of expression may be seen at Luke 8:48 when Jesus had healed a woman he said to her: “Your faith has made you well.” Did she actually heal herself, then? No; it was power from God the Father through Christ that healed her because of her faith!
Even famed trinitarian NT Greek scholar A. T. Robertson tells us:
“Recall [John] 2:19 where Jesus said: 'And in three days I will raise it up.' He did not mean that he will raise himself independently of the Father as the active agent (Rom. 8:11).” - Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. v, p. 183.
It should also be noted that at least one Bible student has suggested that the figurative "body" Jesus was to raise up was probably a parallel to the one that had been destroyed. The temple stood for the "body" of God's followers. After it had been removed, Jesus built up a new "body" of God's Christian followers which, in effect, replaced the old "body."
But whatever the answer to any possible confusion generated from this single figurative usage at John 2:19, we must not ignore the many clear, indisputable, literal statements which clearly state that the Father alone actually raised Jesus to life.
* * * * * *
“I have power to take [my life] again”
Additionally, most trinitarian translations translate John 10:17-18 as:
“I lay down my life, that I may take it again .... I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father.” - RSV.
That Jesus had the “power to take his life again” might seem to be implying that he would actually resurrect himself.
However, we should be aware that, although this translation is understandably the most popular one for trinitarians, it is not the only interpretation. In fact, it is not even the most likely, and, in light of many other scriptures, it is certainly not the most appropriate.
Even some trinitarian Bibles translate lambano in John 10:17, 18 as “receive” instead of “take” (as in the RSV above) and exousia as “right” or “authority” instead of “power” as in the RSV above:
“I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right [exousia] to receive [lambano] it back again; this charge I have received from my Father.” - New English Bible (NEB) .
Such a rendering, of course, is in line with the Father alone actually raising up the dead Jesus as so many scriptures plainly state.
The very trinitarian New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible tells us that exousia can mean several different things including “authority,” “right,” and “power.” It further shows us that the equally trinitarian New American Standard Bible (NASB) translates exousia as “authority” 65 times, as “right” 11 times, and as “power” 11 times.
As the trinitarian New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology tells us, Jesus,
“has the exousia to give his life and to take it again (Jn 10:18) .... Those who receive him and believe in his name are given exousia to become children of God (Jn 1:12).” - p. 610, Vol. 2, 1986.
John 1:12 is translated, “are given the right [exousia] or authority to become children of God” in the following trinitarian Bibles: NASB, ASV, NIV, NKJV, MKJV, LITV, AT, GNB, TEV, CEV, NEB, REB, CBW, BBE, LB, GodsWord, Holman NT, ISV NT, and the translations by trinitarians Young, Moffatt, Rotherham, and William Barclay.
Also, lambano most frequently means “receive.” The trinitarian New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible tells us that lambano can mean several different things including “receive,” “accept,” and “take.” It further shows us that the equally trinitarian New American Standard Bible (NASB) translates lambano as “receive” 132 times and all others (including 109 “take”s) only 122 times. Even when translated as “take” in the NASB (and other translations) lambano can often still be in the sense of receiving (taking) something that has been offered to those who are worthy - see Rev. 5:9; 10:8, 9; 22:17.
As the trinitarian New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology tells us,
“lambano means to receive (in the more passive sense): e.g. a bite, money, alms. It is important with theological objects: eternal life (Mk.10:30)”. And, “lambano is theologically significant in its meaning of receive. It corresponds with God's giving (didomai): God gives - man receives. (i) Jesus himself LIVES by RECEIVING: he has received his commission, the Spirit, power (Jn 10:18; Acts 2:33; Rev. 2:28 [2:27 in most Bibles]). He is the gift of God and lives by receiving.” - p. 748, vol . 3, 1986.
Many years after this study was first written, I was informed that Acts 10:41 used "rise" for Jesus:
41 not to all the people, but to witnesses appointed beforehand by God, to us, who ate and drank with him after his rising from the dead. (Acts 10:41 NWT)
I believe that, if we are considering whether Jesus raised himself from the dead or not (in contrast to the interpretation of his raising up the new 'temple' of his body of followers), the old study still stands if I further explain the part on the use of "rise" and "raise."
The use of "rise" [anastas, ἀναστὰς : literally "stand up"] is used for people "rising" from the dead and, as was pointed out, was used for Jesus rising [standing up] from the dead.
But it seems to mean (as suggested in the study above for one interpretation of Jesus' raising himself up), that the person has first been resurrected to life by a living person who has the power. Then, after becoming conscious, he rises or gets up.
Notice how the various forms of anistemi, which literally means "stand up," are understood in scripture:
(RSV) Acts 26:16 But rise [ἀνάστηθι <450> : lit. "stand up"] and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose,450>
Paul, having fallen to the ground is told to rise [get up from the ground].
And he said to him, "Rise [ἀναστὰς <450> lit. "stand up"] and go your way; your faith has made you well." 450>
Again, a man has 'fallen on his face' to thank Jesus, and Jesus tells him to rise [get up from the ground].
'Rise [stand up] from the dead':
1 Thess. 4:16
(RSV) 1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise [ἀναστήσονται <450> lit. 'will stand up'] first; 450>
Notice the understanding of the disciples concerning someone having ‘risen from the dead’:
(RSV) Luke 9:19 And they answered, "John the Baptist; but others say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen [ἀνέστη <450> ‘stood up’]." 450>
I don't believe anyone believed that even the prophets could resurrect themselves.
(RSV) For when they [those in the Resurrection] rise [ἀναστῶσιν <450>] from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.450>
Jesus speaks here of those who will be resurrected by him in the future. They certainly will not resurrect themselves even though they "rise from the dead." John 11:23, 24
(RSV) 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise [ἀναστήσεται <450>] again." 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise 450>[ἀναστήσεται <450>] again in the resurrection at the last day."450>
Jesus says in verse 23 that Lazarus will rise [stand up] again (meaning that he, Jesus, will raise Lazarus to life in a few minutes and then Lazarus will rise from the dead!). Martha thinks he is speaking of the future resurrection when many will be raised to life and then rise up.
1 Thess. 4:16
(RSV) 1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise [ἀναστήσονται <450> lit. 'will stand up'] first;450>
Scripture shows repeatedly and clearly that God [the Father] resurrected Jesus from the dead. After becoming alive, Jesus rose up and left the tomb to be seen by many. Additional Reading:
The Trinity and John 2:19-22 (JW United)
Note: Although Watchtower Society (WTS) research and scholarship is usually at least the equal of (and often superior to) that of other sources, I have tried to rely most heavily on other sources in Christendom itself (preferably trinitarian) or my own independent research to provide evidence disproving the trinitarian 'proof' being examined in this paper. The reason is, of course, that this paper is meant to provide evidence needed by non-Witnesses, and many of them will not accept anything written by the WTS. They truly believe it is false, even dishonest. Therefore some of the following information, all of which helps disprove specific trinitarian “proofs,” may be in disagreement with current WTS teachings in some specifics (especially when I have presented a number of alternates). Jehovah's Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject or scripture in question before using this information with others. - RDB.