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Part 4 Challenging a Jehovah’s Witness with John 2:18-21: Three doctrines in one passage

This is the last of the challenging Scriptures I recommend to share with Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Over the years I have used the John 2:18-21 to demonstrate Jesus raised Himself from the dead and therefore must be God.  As before, the answers I have received from the typical Witness at my door have been rather weak.  However, through research I found that Bob Passantino of Answers to Action had taken that argument to another level.  It is his argument, with two additional points, I would like to present here.

      3.   John 2:18-21:  The Biblical Toolman: Three Biblical Doctrines in One Handy Passage

Next time you’re frustrated trying to share with your Jehovah’s Witness friend about how he’s been taught false doctrine by the Watchtower, don’t give up in frustration because there are too many issues to cover at one time. Instead, do what I do and ask your friend a simple question: “What would you do if I could show you one passage in Scripture that teaches the deity of Christ, Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead and that death does not mean that you cease to exist?”

Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that humans cease to exist when they die, that “resurrection” means to be recreated from Jehovah’s memory. They are taught to deny the doctrine of the Trinity and the deity of Christ. Jehovah’s Witnesses are also taught that Jesus was not raised physically from the dead, but was raised as a spirit creature.

It could take many hours to help a Jehovah’s Witness understand the errors he’s been taught by the Watchtower, to help him understand that the Bible really does teach that Jesus is and always has been God, that he did not cease to exist when he died, and that he was raised immortal in the same physical body that had died on the cross. Next time, use this one passage to show all three teachings at once.

John 2:18-21 contains a conversation Jesus had with Jews in front of the Jerusalem temple during his ministry. In this passage, John quotes Jesus, notes the response of those he is speaking to, explains what Jesus meant by what he said, and explains how his disciples came understand what he meant.  The passage reads this way:

Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

Let’s look at the passage step by step. First, the basic meaning of the passage is that the skeptical Jews were asking Jesus to prove that he was the Messiah. He replied that although his body would die, he would raise himself from death to immortality to prove to them that he was the Messiah.

Jesus is claiming that after his death he will still have conscious existence – he must exist and have consciousness in order to raise himself. If Jesus continues to have conscious existence after the death of his body, then death must not mean that one ceases to exist. In fact, as we know well from many other passages, the dead are conscious and face the judgment of God, either of salvation through faith in Christ, or of condemnation by rejecting Christ. Matthew 25:46 promises, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to life eternal.”

Jesus is also claiming (and John is affirming) that his resurrection would be bodily – in fact, the same body that was crucified on the cross. Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again.” John defines “this temple” as his body. Therefore, Jesus is declaring and John is affirming that Jesus was resurrected in a human body, the same body in which he lived and died. In fact, as we know from many other passages, Jesus’s resurrection is a bodily resurrection, not a “spirit” resurrection. Luke 24:39 quotes the resurrected Jesus assuring his disciples, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost [spirit] does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

Finally, Jesus is also claiming to be God Almighty by claiming that he will raise himself from the dead. Although sometimes prophets were used by God to resuscitate people who have died, and Jesus raised others during his ministry, the power to resurrect someone from the dead never to die again, belongs to God alone. The Bible clearly declares that it is God who raised Jesus from the dead (see, for example, Acts 2:22, 24, 32, 36; Acts 3:13-15; Romans 10:9). In John 10, Jesus explains how it is possible for him to die and yet raise himself from the dead: as God he has the power to raise himself from the dead. He declares, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again(John 10:17-18).

If you study John 2:18-21 in its context and understand exactly what Jesus and John mean by what is said in the passage, you can have an effective “multi-purpose tool” for sharing with your Jehovah’s Witness friends the truth about life after death, the deity of Christ, and Christ’s bodily resurrection. Remember to wait patiently for your friend to answer “What would he do?” if you could show all three teachings from one passage. When eternal life is on the line, one should be willing to follow Scripture no matter where it leads – even if it leads to renouncing what the Watchtower has taught and clinging to what Jesus declares in God’s Word.[1]

This is a powerful tool to share with your Jehovah’s Witness friend at your door.  As before my encouragement is to write some notes in the margin of your Bible to help you remember the key points and any supporting scriptures.  My hope is the entire series of scriptures I have shared to challenge a Jehovah’s Witness will be useful.  God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can use these arguments to move an individual closer to the truth.   As ambassadors for Christ we need to be prepared to give an answer to the next Jehovah’s Witness we meet.  Study and share the truth in love and let God do the rest.



[1] Bob Passantino, “The Biblical Toolman: Three Biblical Doctrines in One Handy Passage” 2003, http://www.answers.org/theology/john2_19_21.html

 

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Travors April 11, 2015, 3:51 pm

    I propose that.. if at all possible, Steve could you create a small PDF type file for people to download and print and hand out to JW’s when they come a knocking. Nothing to offensive, I know the truth can hurt when you living in a lie. They are a dear sweet people, they have really got under my skin as well believing that they so right in what they say. Forcing patience to work in me 🙂 I have had a few talks with them. Most of the time to no avail. Because its like trying to explain something to a drunk person or calm stubborn person.. Anyway. Thanks and God bless. And I will continue studying myself.

  • Steve Bruecker April 12, 2015, 6:18 am

    Travors,
    I would love to make something like that available but a JW will not accept it. They have been trained to believe that anything given to them by a Christian is akin to pornography. If they accept it at the door they will trash it when they leave. The Watchtower Organization tries to protect their flock by shielding them from “anti-JW” materials. This makes it difficult to help them through handouts.

    The best way to reach them is to lovingly share the truth over time. If you form a friendship relationship, they might accept written information from you. I have done this but it took time before they trusted me. The materials were not a PDF file from some stranger but a Word Document from me.

    I hope this is helpful,
    Steve

  • michael December 22, 2015, 11:06 am

    Hi Steve,
    Thank you for this website.
    I am married to the woman of my dreams. I was raised a Baptist and she was raised a JW. I have fallen away from the way of the Lord and recently have been asking for him to enter my heart again and lead me back to him. I have had several talks with her and her son (both JW’s). I once told her that I would never ever attend a meeting with her father. Just last week I said I might. Then I asked what the difference was btwn the Holy Bible and the NWT. she said basically they rewrote it to put God’s name back in it. Being the skeptic I am, I went out and bought me a new KJV of the bible. Then, I googled the difference and stumbled across your website. If not I could have been lost!!!! above I read John 2:18-21, but I didn’t stop there and found John 2:30 which I think can be the most Ammo one will ever need to talk to a JW it reads in the words of Jesus “I and my father are one”!!!!! how amazing is that?

  • Steve Bruecker December 25, 2015, 6:32 am

    Michael,
    On this Christmas morning reading your comments were a great encouragement! I spend hundreds of hours equipping believers on how to share with Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses at my church and on the web site. My strategy is to lovingly share the truth and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

    I have multiple articles on how to share with JWs. The best series to prepare for discussions is the icon labeled, “Loving the Trinity.” Here is where you can find the strongest evidence to support your beliefs. I also deal with the John 10:30 passage in this series (I and the Father are one). Below is the link.

    http://biblicalworldviewacademy.org/loving-the-trinity-part-1/

    Don’t hesitate to let me know how I can help you.

    Even though JWs don’t celebrate Christmas…we do!

    Merry Christmas,
    Steve Bruecker

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