Monday, December 12, 2005

Resurrection, part 11

The next part that Jehovah’s Witnesses and others have taken to imply a non-physical resurrection is v. 50. Paul says that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” Jehovah’s Witnesses take “flesh and blood” to refer to physical bodies. This, then, becomes another proof text on which they base their distinction between the heavenly class and the earthly class. They know that some Christians inherit the kingdom of God. It follows that some Christians are resurrected without physical bodies. That’s the only way they can inherit the kingdom of God.

But notice the parallelism Paul is using. “Flesh and blood” is in parallel with “perishable,” and “kingdom of God” is in parallel with “imperishable.” That’s what they imply. “Flesh and blood” does not literally mean “physical body.” It’s in idiomatic expression meaning perishable, mortal, frail, etc. The fact that it’s an idiom can be seen by how it’s used in other places. For example, when Peter confessed that Jesus was Christ, Jesus said, “flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). Jesus didn’t mean to say a physical body didn’t reveal it to him. He meant that a mortal human being didn’t reveal it to him. When Paul was talking about his conversion and subsequent preaching, he said that he “did not immediately consult with flesh and blood” (Galatians 1:16). Again, “flesh and blood” just refers to mortal human beings, not simply physical bodies. Paul also said that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood…” (Ephesians 6:12). It seems clear to me that Paul uses “flesh and blood” as an idiom. When he says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, he just means that the perishable cannot inherit the imperishable.

to be continued... Part 12

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