In John 2:19, Jesus is quoted as saying "'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.'" Did Jesus resurrect Himself?


It is important to understand exactly WHO did resurrect Jesus Christ, and that the Scripture reveals the truth in this matter.

First of all, in the referenced verse in John 2:19, Jesus, as He oftentimes did, taught by means of an allegory and in this example He spoke of His own body as symbolic of the Temple (verse 21). This especially poignant parable was given by Jesus as the Jews were assembling to observe the Passover (Compare verse 13). A few years later, when the Jews did arrest Jesus, false accusations were made by some who thought that Jesus had spoken of the literal Temple in Jerusalem (Compare Matthew 26:60-61 and Mark 14:57-59). Additionally, Jesus was mocked by some even as He was crucified–challenging Him about His statement concerning the “Temple”(Matthew 27:40 and Mark 15:29).

Further proof that Jesus was referring to His own body is borne out in the later teachings of the Church of God. We see that Paul instructed Christians in Corinth about the fact that God dwells in us through His Spirit: “Or do you not know that your body is the TEMPLE of the Holy Spirit [which] is in you, [which] you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

In looking closely at the words of Jesus, we see that the true meaning that He was conveying is more properly understood as “Kill Me and I will rise in three days!” In fact, the word translated “raise” is also defined broadly by “Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible” as “to waken”; to “rouse”; to “rise”; or to “stand.” For a thorough explanation of this Scripture, please review our Q&A on John 2:19, in Update #202.

However, Jesus did not state that He would resurrect Himself! He understood what was written about Himself, and He believed God: “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10).

Following the resurrection of Jesus, we find the testimony of Peter who also quotes from Psalm 16, and he clearly states that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead. Speaking of David, Peter further explains: “‘Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. THIS JESUS GOD HAS RAISED UP, of which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:30-32). Also, note this powerful statement by Peter in verse 36: “‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ'” (Compare Acts 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 13:30; 13:37; 17:30-31).

When Jesus was crucified, He died! He died as all die. He was not conscious or aware, and He certainly did not live in the realm of spirit–something that He relinquished in order to become human flesh (Compare Philippians 2:5-8; John 16:27-28).

Here is what Solomon said of the dead: “…But the dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5); also: “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). In this context, consider these words from Jesus as He was dying: “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.'” Having said this, He breathed His last” (Luke 23:46). For more detailed information about the Biblical teaching concerning death, please refer to our booklet, “Do We Have an Immortal Soul?”

Jesus testified that He died: “‘I am He who lives, AND WAS DEAD, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death'” (Revelation 1:18; compare Romans 5:9).

Jesus relied on His Father to save Him! Here is the record of Jesus’ attitude about death: “who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him WHO WAS ABLE TO SAVE HIM FROM DEATH, and was heard because of His godly fear” (Hebrews 5:7). Jesus was not able to save Himself from death–only His Father could do this!

Jesus willingly died, and He said this of Himself: “‘Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father'” (John 10:17-18). This power–which word should be rendered more accurately as “authority,”– “to take it again”–or better, “receive it again”–was because of His sinless life and the sure promises of God. Yet, it was, as so many Scriptures testify, God the Father who resurrected His Son. Note Galatians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead…” Also note Acts 2:24 which states of Christ: “‘whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.'”

The penalty of sin is death: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). It is vital to believe that Jesus Christ did not commit sin, and this is the true testimony of the Word of God: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). John states: “And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5).

Understanding and believing the plain teachings of the Bible about Jesus Christ–about His life and death and His present glorified existence–are crucial for those who claim to follow Jesus! John identified a core aspect of Christianity in this way: “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 John 4:2-3).

Acknowledging that Jesus came in the flesh also includes recognizing that Jesus died, and that it was God’s power that restored Him to life (Compare John 17:5; Philippians 2:9-11).

The future of all Christians–that is, our own resurrection to eternal life–will follow the same pattern as established by Jesus Christ! In this fact, it is imperative that we understand and faithfully believe that God the Father raised His Son from death through the power of His Holy Spirit. Think about and deeply consider this statement in Romans 8:11:

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit [which] dwells in you.”

Lead Writer: Dave Harris

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