Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Resurrection, part 18

The most often cited scripture against bodily resurrection I've heard is 1 Peter 3:18. It says that Jesus was "put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit." When a Jehovah's Witness reads this passage, he reads something a little different. He reads that Jesus was "put to death as flesh, but made alive as a spirit." To them, this seems like a pretty convincing argument against the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

But this passage has nothing to do with the substance of Jesus before or after his resurrection. It has to do with the power by which he is animated. Being "in the spirit" does not mean you become a spirit being. John was "in the spirit" when he received his revelation (Revelation 1:10, 4:2, 17:3, 21:10). We are to pray "in the spirit" (Ephesians 6:18). That doesn't mean we or John must become spirits.

This same contrast between being "in the spirit" and being "in the flesh" is used in Romans 8:9, so let's compare them.

1 Peter 2:18
put to death in the flesh (en sarki)
made alive in the spirit (en pneumatic)

Romans 8:9
you are not in the flesh (en sarki)
but in the spirit (en pneumatic)

The Greek is identical in both passages. En sarki means "in the flesh" and en pneumatic means "in the spirit." But in Romans 8:9, it's clear that being "in the spirit" doesn't mean we are spirit creatures, and being "in the flesh" doesn't mean we're made of flesh. Rather, it has to do with our orientation. Read Romans 8:1-11 to get the full sense of this passage. It parallels closely to 1 Peter 2:18.

to be continued... Part 19

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