Was Jesus created with the same nature that Adam enjoyed before the fall? Did the sacrifice which Jesus Christ made for mankind require that his physical body could not be brought back to life?
First and foremost, our only motivation for investigating Watchtower teachings is due to the deep measure of love and respect we have towards Jehovah’s Witnesses. We admire their zeal and dedication to our Heavenly Father, but are compelled to encourage them to personally examine their unique beliefs carefully with the Bible. We will use the New World Translation in our investigations, as it is generally an accurate translation and familiar to those to whom we make this appeal.
The “Ransom Sacrifice”
The Watchtower teaching about the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ states that Jesus had to be like Adam in the following way: “He had a perfect mind and a perfect body. He would never get sick, would never grow old, and would never die.” The Watchtower goes on to say, “The ransom that had to be paid was another perfect life. This is why it is called a ‘corresponding ransom.’ (1 Timothy 2:6) The ransom had to have the same value as the life that Adam lost.” What Can the Bible Teach Us? Pages 53 & 54.
The Watchtower claims that Jesus’ ‘perfect mind’ and his ‘perfect body’ was “maintained pure through tests of integrity, with which to repurchase mankind, emancipate them. Hebrews 2:14,15.” Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 2, page 736. According to their teaching, Jesus’ perfect life was thus ‘maintained’ and upon his death, he sacrificed this ‘perfect human life,’ returning to heaven as the invisible spirit creature – Michael the Archangel. On page 142, of You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, we read, “Christ gave up his body as a sacrifice. He could never take it back and become a man again.”
In the Watchtower’s view, Jesus could not be raised bodily from the grave because that would make void his sacrifice. He would be taking back the ‘price paid.’ They say that what Jesus ‘sacrificed’ is gone forever – his ‘perfect human life.’ This is the single biggest argument presented by Jehovah’s Witnesses in arguing against a bodily resurrection. In their view, Jesus couldn’t take his body back because he ‘sacrificed it.’
Was Jesus Mortal?
The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus was sinless, in that he “…had done no wrong and there was no deception in his mouth,” Isaiah 53:9. “He committed no sin, nor was deception found in his mouth,” 1 Peter 2 :22. It is clear from the Scriptures that Jesus never sinned.
However, the Watchtower goes beyond the simple teaching that Jesus never sinned, to state that Jesus had a “perfect body and would never have died.” To say that Jesus would never have died, overlooks Biblical passages that state otherwise. Paul, the apostle, says emphatically; “For we know that Christ, now that he has been raised up from the dead, dies no more; death is no longer MASTER over him.” (Romans 6:9)
In what way was DEATH, Christ’s Master?
Jesus himself made a clear statement about his ‘life,’ saying, “No man takes it away from me, but I surrender it on my own initiative.” John 10:18.
How then was death, Christ’s Master? The answer to this is seen in the statement of Peter in Acts 13:34, “And the fact He resurrected him from the dead never to RETURN to corruption…” Can anyone ‘return’ to a place or state they have never been? Once Jesus was raised from the dead and given immortality, death was no longer his Master. Jesus then, will never ‘return to corruption.’ Peter’s words in Acts 13, indicate that Jesus will never again be subject to the mortal, dying nature that all humans possess.
‘Likeness of Sinful Flesh’
That Jesus was born with our nature is seen in Romans 8:3, “…God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh…” If God sent His Son in the ‘likeness of sinful flesh,’ how can this possibly correspond to Adam’s ‘perfect flesh?’ If indeed the Watchtower’s teachings were correct on this matter, the Bible should say that Jesus was sent in the likeness of ‘perfect flesh’ due to the ‘corresponding’ nature of the ‘ransom.’
Instead, Galatians 4:4 tells us that Jesus was ‘born of a woman,’ which would imply that Jesus was born with a ‘mortal body.’ Job 14:1-2 says, “Man born of woman, is short lived and filled with trouble… who can produce someone clean from someone unclean? No one can!”
That Jesus shared our mortal nature is further demonstrated by Paul as he continues in Romans 8:11, “If now, the spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised up Christ from the dead will ALSO make your mortal bodies alive through his spirit that resides in you.”
The NWT correctly keeps the word ‘ALSO’ in their translation of Romans 8:11, even though this passage makes the connection between Jesus’ ‘body’ and the ‘mortal bodies’ of the believers in Rome. Paul is referring back to what he said in verse 3 of the same chapter. God sent his Son in the ‘likeness of sinful flesh.’ Jesus did not just look like sinful flesh – physically he was identical to us. To maintain that Jesus had a ‘perfect body’ is without Scriptural proof, and proven untrue by clear Bible statements.
For example, “Consequently, he had to become like his brothers in all respects, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest…” (Hebrews 2:17). Do Christ’s brothers have a ‘perfect mind and perfect body’? We have already seen from Romans 8:3 that Christ was sent “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” Further confirmation of this is seen in Hebrews 2:14, “Therefore, since the young children are sharers of blood and flesh, he also similarly shared in the same things...”
As stated earlier, Watchtower belief is that Christ’s ‘perfect life’ was “maintained pure through tests of integrity…” Insight of the Scriptures, pg. 736. Is this what the Bible teaches?
Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “For we have a high priest not one who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tested [tempted] in all respects like ourselves, but without sin.” The same Greek word used here for ‘tested’ is rendered by the NWT as ‘tempted’ in Matthew 4:1. How was a man who had a ‘perfect mind, perfect body, and someone who would ‘never get sick or die’, tempted ‘like we are in all respects’?
A ‘corresponding’ ransom, as defined by the Watchtower, would demand that Jesus be ‘tempted in all points’ like ‘PERFECT ADAM’, not imperfect us. We are not able to find any Bible passages that even hint at the idea that Jesus’ ‘perfect human body’ was ‘maintained’ by his faithfulness.
The Watchtower points out that the terms ‘immortal soul’ and ‘trinity’ are not Scriptural language, indicating that these teachings are unbiblical. The terms ‘perfect human body’ and ‘perfect human life’ are also never used in Scripture to describe Jesus.
We do read though, of how Jesus was made perfect in Hebrews 2:10, “For it was fitting for the one for whose sake all things are, and through whom all things are, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Chief Agent of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
The Hebrews 2:10 passage is clear. Jesus’ ‘perfection’ was through a process, demonstrating that there was a time when he was not ‘perfect’. His perfection was a moral perfection obtained through trial, not a perfection ‘maintained’ from birth.
Once this perfection was ‘obtained’ through suffering, Jesus was then able to offer a ‘perfect sacrifice.’ Jesus ‘overcame’ the very nature we all bear (John 16:33). Dying sinless, God raised him from the dead “no more to return to corruption” (Acts 13:34), and now death is no longer his ‘Master.’ (Romans 6:9)
Jesus Sacrificed his ‘Life’
If, as the the Watchtower claims, Jesus sacrificed his ‘perfect human life’ and could never take his body back, due to it being ‘sacrificed,’ then surely Jesus would have given such an explanation. However, consider the way in which Jesus described his sacrifice:
Jesus said, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:15)
“This is why the Father loves me, because I surrender my life so that I may receive it again.” (John 10:17)
To surrender one’s life is surely the same as to sacrifice one’s life.
Hebrews 9:26 clearly states that Jesus came “to do away with sin through the sacrifice of himself.”
If we use the Watchtower’s reasoning, that a sacrifice can never be regained, then this would require that Jesus remain dead because he sacrificed himself. Yet, we all are in agreement that Jesus was resurrected and lives at God’s right hand in heaven. Therefore, if the sacrifice of himself, and his life, could be regained through resurrection, so could his body.
Our next article will investigate the Bible teaching about Jesus’ resurrection and the gift of immortality.