ransom sacrifice

To answer this question, Jesus said, “‘Break down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ Therefore the Jews said: ‘This temple was built in forty-six years and will you raise it up in three days? But he was talking about the temple of his body. When, though, he was raised up from the dead, his disciples called to mind that he used to say this; and they believed the Scripture and the saying that Jesus said.’” (John 2:19-22 NWT 1984 Edition)

Despite this simple statement by Jesus himself, that the ‘temple of his body’ would be raised, the Watchtower Society insists that Jesus’ body was not raised from the dead. Instead, they say he was raised as an ‘invisible spirit creature’. 

This passage presents a serious problem for the Watchtower Society as is evidenced in the fact that it is very difficult to find an explanation for John 2:19-22 in all the volumes of their published literature. In addition to this, when asked, ‘What happened to the dead body of Jesus?’, they reply that ‘they do not know.’ It has been suggested by the Watchtower Organization that ‘possibly his body was dissolved into gases’ or ‘preserved as a grand memorial’ of Jesus’ loving sacrifice.

The Watchtower derides the idea that Jesus’ body could have been raised, as is demonstrated in the following quotes, published in the W.T. 73 6/1, pg. 350:

“Could you believe that Jesus Christ, the majestic King of the new world, made higher than all other creatures, would remain in a body of flesh? He would be inferior to a spirit, and far too limited to accomplish the marvelous things required of such a king, among them the destroying of the mighty spirit person, Satan the Devil.”

“A human body requires earthly elements for its continued existence. It is made for the earth and must subsist upon the things produced from the earth.”

However, is this a fair representation of resurrection to immortality? If a body is resurrected from the dead – do the Scriptures say that it remains mortal? We will examine this in more depth.

King David’s Prophecy

King David prophesied of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, in the Psalms. Psalm 16:9 says, “Therefore my heart does rejoice…Also, my flesh [‘basar’ – ‘flesh, by extension body’] will reside in security. For you will not leave my soul in Sheol. You will not allow your loyal one to see the pit.” (NWT 1984 Edition)

“So my heart rejoices, my whole being is joyful. And I reside in security. For you will not leave me in the Grave. You will not allow your loyal one to see the pit.” (NWT 2013 Edition)

We know that this Psalm is an actual prophecy about Jesus Christ, as the Apostle Peter quotes this passage in Acts 2:25-27, saying, “On this account my heart became cheerful and my tongue rejoiced greatly. Moreover even my flesh will reside in hope; because you will not leave my soul in Hades neither will you allow your loyal one to see corruption.” (NWT 1984 Edition)

“On this account my heart became cheerful and my tongue rejoiced greatly. And I will reside in hope; because you will not leave me in the Grave, nor will you allow your loyal one to see corruption.” (NWT 2013 Edition)

Both David and the Apostle Peter plainly state that the reason why Jesus’ flesh could ‘reside in hope’. Peter says, “because you will not leave me in the Grave.” David says, “For you will not leave me in the Grave.”

This prophecy is so clear, even the Watchtower admits that David believed and predicted a bodily resurrection of Jesus. 

A Spiritual Body?

Believing that Jesus was resurrected bodily, does not negate that he was ‘put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.’ 1 Peter 3:18. It does not contradict 1 Corinthians 15:44, “It is sown a physical body; it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one.” Because as it says in 1 Corinthians 15:53, “For this which is corruptible must PUT ON incorruption, and this which is mortal must PUT ON immortality.”

1 Corinthians 15 is presented by the Watchtower as absolute proof that this is describing a resurrection whereby the actual body is not raised, but remains dead. They say that the individual is raised as an ‘invisible spirit creature’ based on certain statements made by the Apostle Paul in verses 40, 44 and 50: “And there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; but the glory of the heavenly bodies is one sort, and that of the earthly bodies is a different sort… It is sown a physical body; it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one… But I tell you this, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, nor does corruption inherit incorruption.”

Yet, the Apostle Paul has based his arguments in 1 Corinthians 15 upon the inspired words of two Hebrew prophets, Isaiah and Hosea, both of which are cross-referenced in the NWT. After finishing his description, the Apostle Paul makes this statement in verse 54, “But when this which is corruptible puts on incorruption and this which is mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: ‘Death is swallowed up forever.’”

Isaiah’s Prophecy

What is this ‘saying’, that was written, which Paul refers to here? It is this direct quote from Isaiah 25:8, which the Watchtower acknowledges in their own cross-reference. Isaiah 25:8 reads, “He will swallow up death forever, and the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will wipe away the tears from all faces….” 

Paul himself, in quoting Isaiah 25:8, says that the resurrection that will take place is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. When Isaiah penned these words, was he foretelling a non-bodily resurrection from the dead? There is no doubt that when Isaiah says, “He will swallow up death forever”, he himself believed that those who were privileged to experience resurrection to immortality would no longer face death. Isaiah’s prophecy continues on to the next chapter, where he says in Isaiah 26:19, “Your dead will live. My corpses will rise up. Awake and shout joyfully, you residents in the dust! For your dew is as the dew of the morning, and the earth will let those powerless in death come to life.” Isaiah is describing bodily resurrection where ‘death is swallowed up forever’, precisely what Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 15. 

Isaiah 26:19 demonstrates that a ‘corpse’ will rise up and be changed. The ‘corpse’ will ‘PUT on immortality’ as it says in 1 Corinthians 15:53. This is language describing an actual change to the body, not the disposal of the body. Paul says the same thing 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 Jesus from the dead will ALSO make YOUR MORTAL BODIES alive through his spirit that resides in you.”

What Happens to Mortal Bodies?

What is the outcome, according to Paul, of the ‘mortal bodies’ of the believers in Rome? Are they disposed of, or changed? Romans 8:11 clearly says that your mortal bodies will be made alive.

Notice how the Watchtower translates verse 23 of Romans 8. “Not only that… while we are earnestly waiting for adoption as sons, the release from our bodies by ransom.” (NWT 2013)

Such a translation conveys the idea that the adopted sons will be separated from the body as ‘invisible spirit creatures’. This would put Romans 8:11, quoted above, in opposition to verse 23, and thus these verses would contradict one another. 

In the Watchtower’s own Kingdom Interlinear, the word-for-word Greek reads, “the release by ransom OF the body”, which doesn’t contradict Romans 8:11. Indeed, when granted immortality, the body is ‘released’ from the bondage of sin that it now experiences. The fact the Watchtower finds it necessary in Romans 8:23 to choose the word ‘from’, as opposed to ‘of’, demonstrates they sense the weakness of their argument.

Other translations appropriately translate verse 23, in support of verse 11, as follows:

“as we wait for our bodies to be set free” Jerusalem Bible

“we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” NRSV

“we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” KJV

“the redemption of our bodies” NIV

“the redemption of our body” NKJV

As we’ve seen, Paul quotes Isaiah 25:8, “then the saying that is written will take place: Death is swallowed up forever,” as the basis of his treatise concerning resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. Isaiah then goes on to predict a bodily resurrection in Isaiah 26:19. Paul assures us in Romans 8:11, that “the one who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will ALSO make your mortal bodies alive through his spirit…” So why would this same Apostle say something completely different in Romans 8:23? 

The majority of other Bible translations support the prophecy of Isaiah, by saying the the ‘body’ will be ‘redeemed’, not ‘disposed of’ – as the NWT attempts to convey in its unique translation of this passage.

Why was Jesus Not Recognized in Luke 24?

Yet, the Watchtower will say that Jesus was not recognized by his disciples after he was raised. This, they will say, is proof that he was not raised bodily. Instead, the Watchtower claims that Jesus appeared, or ‘materialized’ in different bodies, simply to show that he was alive. An oft-cited example, is Luke 24:15-16, “Now as they were conversing and discussing these things, Jesus himself approached and began walking with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” (NWT 2013)

In verse 16 of this chapter we are told why they did not recognize him – “but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” We are not told that they didn’t recognize him because he was in a different body. Yet, if Jesus had ‘materialized’ in the same body would this not have been the best proof of his resurrection? The fact that the disciples’ eyes were ‘kept’ from recognizing him, shows that God had a reason for doing this. 

So, we see that 1 Corinthians 15 is in perfect harmony with John 2:19-22, Romans 8:11, 23, Psalm 16:9-10, and Isaiah 26:19. The language of 1 Corinthians 15:50 describes a change to the body, not the disposal of the body. Both David and Isaiah were inspired prophets. The Watchtower admits that they both believed in a bodily resurrection. They knew nothing of a so-called ‘heavenly resurrection’ as described by the Watchtower society. Were these inspired prophets of the Old Testament in error? 

Further demonstrating that the resurrected Jesus is not an ‘invisible spirit creature’ that ‘sacrificed his perfect human life’ are the prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures concerning his identity. 

He is the seed of Abraham –  Genesis 13:15 and Galatians 3:16

He is the offspring of David –  2 Samuel 7:12 and Acts 2:30

He is the lion of the tribe of Judah – Genesis 49:9-10; Revelation 5:5

After his resurrection, Jesus’ identity did not change. How for example is an ‘invisible spirit creature’ – namely, Michael the Archangel, a descendant of Abraham? Or of the tribe of Judah? Or the offspring of David?

Nowhere in the New Testament, do the Christian writers change the identity of Jesus their Messiah. What has changed – is his nature. Romans 6:9: “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.” Jesus’ body has been clothed with immortality. He now partakes of God’s nature.

We appeal to all Jehovah’s witnesses to examine the arguments presented here and especially the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:5-6:  “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus. Who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all…” At the very end of Revelation the identity of Jesus is still the same as it has always has been.  In chapter 22:16, the immortal Jesus says of himself, “I, Jesus, sent my angel to bear witness to you about these things for the congregations. I am the root and the offspring of David and the bright morning star.” 

We welcome all comments and questions,

Norm Smith


Was Jesus born with the same nature that Adam enjoyed before the fall?

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. However,  we 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 are 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...”

‘Made Perfect’

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 sympathise 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 un-biblical. 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.

In a future article, we will investigate whether Jesus was raised an invisible spirit creature or whether he was raised bodily and given immortality.

If anyone wishes to speak with me I would be delighted to do so.

Norman Smith