|Flesh and Blood cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven
Many cult groups and cultic interpretations of the Scriptures deny a physical resurrection of Christ as well as a physical ascension. In doing this, they also deny that we too will have a physical resurrection.
The consistent teaching throughout the scriptures is that the body (Gr. soma) is resurrected (Gr. anastasis). We never find the resurrection pertaining to a soul or a spirit, because the body is what dies and the soul or spirit, often used interchangeably, lives on eternally. Death means a separation of existence from the body, not non-existence. In Rev. 20:7-10, 13 we read that even the souls in Hades are put back into their resurrected bodies to be judged for their works. Not only are they alive in Hades in spirit, they are also alive in Heaven. Rev. 6:9 tells us that the souls of the dead saints cry to the Lord to be avenged. This is not an idiom but a event of their continual beseeching for God to punish the wicked.
The resurrection is the very capstone of Christianity, afterward his death Christ appeared in a physical body. There is a one-to-one correspondence between the body that dies with the body that resurrects. If this is not true, then the apostles who preached that Christ arose from the dead are false witnesses because belief in the resurrection is essential for salvation (Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor.15:1-4). This is what makes Christ unique among any other religious teacher, he is the only one to raise from the dead to live forever. He also claims he will be the one to raise everyone else in the resurrection.
We find that all the accounts of the resurrection show that the person rose physically in the same body. Two examples are Lazarus (Luke 11), and Jairus' daughter. Jesus also rose from the dead in the flesh (Luke 24:39; Acts 2:31; 1 John 4:2; 2 John 7). Numerous times they were told to eat proving it was a physical resurrection and that the body needed immediate nourishment.
What do we make of the statement in 1 Cor. 15:50-56 that “flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Does this mean that we will be spirits? That only certain people will go to heaven? The expression “flesh and blood” occurs only five times in the New Testament. We need to define our definition of its meaning from the overall teachings. If we examine the following references we see the writers are often speaking of 'flesh and blood” as being synonymous with “fallen man”, just as it is of the physical body. If you substitute the words “fallen man” (unregenerate) in the place of “flesh and blood” we can understand better what Paul is conveying.
Sometimes the word for flesh (sarx) is used literally (as in Heb.10:20) Sometimes it is used in a figurative manner as in Rom.8:9 (you are not in the flesh but the Spirit). Meaning the new nature rules over the old.
Matthew 16:13-17: “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee but my Father who is in heaven.” Is this speaking of the physical flesh, or the corrupt nature of man not revealing Christ's identity to Peter? It came from God who is Spirit.
Galatians 1:16: “Straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood.... “ Obviously Paul was not referring to the physical flesh but rather to corrupt and sinful man.
Ephesians 6:12: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood. “ A case can be made either way in the interpretation of this text. For instance, because Christians do not physically wrestle with their opposition. Paul is not be referring to the physical body, we don't wrestle against sinful corrupt nature of other men but the spiritual forces of evil influencing him.
Hebrews 2:14:, “For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same. . . “ Here the text does refer to the physical flesh but Jesus did not take on Himself a sinful nature. It means he became a human having the same physical flesh and blood minus the sin nature. As Rom.8:3 says Jesus came in the “likeness of sinful flesh”, in other words he was fully man, he looked like any other but without the sin. The word for flesh used here refers to mankind in their fallen state (the body of flesh).
When speaking of sinful man who consists of flesh and blood he cannot enter the kingdom of God without a new birth. Jn.3:3-5 Jesus explains that a fallen man cannot enter God's kingdom without being spiritually regenerated, he will not even see the kingdom of God.
I Corinthians 15:50 “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. “ The Apostle Paul turns to the subject of transformation of the body not the soul. The body that we now possess is not suitable for the heavenly kingdom. It is corrupted, subject to disease, and decays. Only that which is pure, incorruptible and immortal can enter heaven, this is why there must be a change. Paul is answering the question of what kind of “body” believers will receive in the resurrection (vs. 35). It will be a “spiritual body” (vs. 44). A “spiritual body” must be defined by the ONLY example we have of one, the first fruits from the dead, the body of Jesus. He described his body as one of flesh and bone, (possibly bloodless) (Lk.24:39). The resurrection body has no need of blood as its life because its nature will not be the same. Presently the blood nourishes the cells that are in need of constant repair but food and water to supply nourishment will no longer be needed. No cells will be in need of repair in our glorified bodies so we will no longer need blood. As it states in Revelation we will neither hunger or thirst. We can eat but not from necessity. We will still have our body and its functions but obviously some things will change.
In verses 51-52, Paul then proceeds to tell us a mystery which involves the change that all believers will go through, The corruptible will put on incorruption, and mortality will become immortality. We need to have a complete change to make us suitable for our new environment. This implies a conversion of our same physical bodies to a body with heavenly qualities. Nature does not know extinction but transformation, as science says energy cannot be destroyed but transformed.
Paul states that their dead body is sown and will be resurrected to new life. God has it become a new body ( 1Cor.15:38). The old body puts on (is swallowed up) by the new body it is transformed into something permanent.
The statement characterizes the resurrection body as one completely filled and governed by the Holy Spirit ... Another statement by Paul, that 'flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God' (I Cor. 15:50) is considered to exclude the idea of a resurrection body of flesh. The apostle however, teaches something entirely different. The expression 'flesh and blood' never denotes the substance of the body, but man in his totality as a frail and perishable creature in his untransformed state (Mt.16:17; Gal 1:16; Eph. 6:12; Heb 2:14). It has the same meaning in I Corinthians 15:50, shown by the fact that in the parallel clause (v. 50b) the word corruption is used, which obviously denotes the whole man in his corruptibility and not the substance of his body. The entire contest shows that man, as a frail perishable creature, cannot enter God's glorious, eschatological kingdom. He first must be made immortal, powerful, and glorious. There is no denial of a resurrection in a body of flesh.” (J. A. Schep in Zondervan Pictorial Bible Encyclopedia Vol. V, p. 74).
There will be many flesh and blood people living in the millennial kingdom that will not be regenerated, so it is obvious that this phrase does not mean what Jehovah's Witnesses make it to be. Christ told Nicodemus in Jn.3:3 except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (nor enter the kingdom). The emphasis is on a spiritual rebirth that can only come from God himself, the Holy Spirit.
2 Cor. 5:1-5: “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” Notice it states the new body our housing is in heaven and from heaven. Why? Because we are changed, made to adjust to a new location. Mankind was made a different species than the angels as far as having a physical covering. God’s purpose is to give us a permanent body to live in. We were made as human creatures to live in a body eternally. We are not just spirit, nor are we animals.
The Following is a list of some of these changes to take place:
I Cor. 15:50-58: Corruption is changed to incorruptibility in reference to these bodies that turn to dust at death. Mortality will put on immortality referring to those still living who are subject to death. Vs.43 Dishonor will be raised in glory. This is referring to being free from aging, scars, and traces of sin. From weakness to power refers to the effects of age , loss of strength and vitality, to a body not subject to these mortal limitations.
I Thess. 4:15-17: There will be a change of nature of the body and it will have full possession of eternal life.
Jude 24: We will be presented faultless (no flaws) before His glorious presence.
Eph.5:27: We will all be holy with no blemishes or defects.
Col.1:22: We will be holy and blameless. Free from guilt and shame.
Rom.8:21: We will no longer be subject to sin and the sinful nature that corrupts.
Rom. 8:29-30: Our body will be conformed to the image of the resurrected Jesus. Our sanctification process will be complete.
Phil 3:21: “who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
Rom.8:18: We will be glorified. We now have suffering, but in the end we will have glory.
I Jn.3:2: “When He is revealed to us in His glory, we will become like Him and see Him for who He is.” Our bodies will be similar to His resurrected body (not exactly like His but with many similarities).
1 John 4:2: says that “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.” Verse 3 then states “that every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.” Those who deny that Jesus came in the flesh are of the anti-Christ spirit. This is one of the ways to discern a false teacher from a true one. It was this heresy that was foremost in the early church. The debate was not over Jesus being God (until 300 with man named Arius) but whether God became man (through a virgin birth.)
John is writing after the resurrection and is using perfect tense in Greek which denotes a past action with continuing results into the present, and continuing on into the future. He came in the flesh, rose in the flesh, and is still in the flesh. The same body that He was born and died with, He rose with. If one claims that Christ rose as a spirit creature, and not physically, they are of the anti Christ spirit and are denying the third point of the Gospel.
2 John 1:7: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.” In this epistle John uses the present tense in Greek which focuses specifically on the future coming of the Lord. People who deny that Jesus rose in the flesh or is not coming back in the flesh. By saying he rose or is coming back as a Spirit or in some other form other than his body, are of the spirit of anti-Christ.
92 times the Bible says “it is written” (present tense). This means that the Bible was the Word of God in the past, and continues in the present forever. This same tense is applied to His bodily resurrection.
In 1 Cor. 15:44, we read that the natural body is raised a spiritual body. “The resurrection body is called a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44). This, however, does not mean that it will be a body consisting of only Spirit. This is often misunderstood to mean a invisible spirit body. The Greek term is “pnumaticas soma.” Soma is physical, which means a spirit-dominated body or a physical body no longer subject to mortality. It is a spirit dominated body instead of a blood operated body. Then we are transformed into our new bodies, they will be operated (dominated by) through the Spirit which will give us life eternal. Before it was powered by the life in the blood and was perishable when it is changed in the resurrection it is powered by the Spirit having eternal life.
This same word is used in 1 Cor. 10:4 for a physical rock. This meaning is used to convey a spiritual source, not a spiritual nature. This same context is used for the spiritual man who walks in the spirit. It would be hard to argue the point that we who are flesh, are now spirit creatures without any tangible bodies walking in the Spirit. To be consistent this is the conclusion you would have to come to if you believed in a spirit resurrection. In other words, the life we now have is operated through the blood (Lev. 17:11).
The JW’s are emphatic on the point that Jesus could not have been raised in a physical body and they go out of their way to make sure of this. “He Jesus merely materialized flesh and blood to be seen and believed” (Make Sure of all Things p.314 1953 Ed.) “We deny that he raised in the flesh, and challenge any statement to that effect as being unscriptural.” (The Finished Mystery p.57 1917) “Having given up his flesh for the life of the world, Christ could never take it again and become a man once more” (You can live in Paradise on Earth p.169 1982)
“Jesus as a man must remain dead for ever” (Government p.110 1928) “For the man Jesus is dead, forever dead.” (Studies in the Scriptures Vol.5, p.454 1899). The Witnesses have a dead Jesus. They are left with a immaterial being who is actually made from scratch from God's memory. He then becomes Michael the archangel again.
The post Resurrection Appearances
The Jehovah's Witnesses make the same mistake the disciples did even with the Bible in their hands to correct them. Jesus' grave was empty with only the linens left. There are no Scriptures used to validate a spirit resurrection rather than a bodily one. Nowhere does Jesus say I'm spirit instead he makes it clear he is flesh and bone. Some of the discrepancies that people often use to support this position are found in the Emmaus road encounter where the disciples did not recognize Jesus. We need to realize that they were in a state of distress, shock, fear, and unbelief of His resurrection. This became apparent after he revealed himself to them. Luke 24:16 in the beginning of his encounter tells us that “their eyes were restrained so they did not know Him.” This possibly could refer to the fact that Jesus was not revealing himself to them because of their unbelief even after they were testified to His resurrection by the women. So he was trying to draw them into faith, as he states in v. 25. “O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe in all the prophets have spoken.” In verses 30-31 He blessed and broke bread with them, and then “their eyes were opened and they knew Him.” This event opened their eyes. Jesus broke bread many times with them, at the feeding of the 5,000 he broke bread in prayer. The last night they spent with Jesus he broke bread and gave the true meaning of the Passover. V.35 when they arrived with the disciples they told the story of his resurrection and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. Whether this is a natural or supernatural explanation for their inability to recognize Him, one thing is for sure, it was not because He was a spirit or raised in a completely different body.
Irenaeus fought against the Gnostics in his writings and debates, he wrote “Marcion cut up that according to (the Gospel of) Luke.”[ Ireaneus, III:11:7. This account for the numerous changes found in varying manuscripts of Luke and the large number of verses Marcion omitted. It is, for example, understandable why the sentence “And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet” (Luke 24:40) was be omitted by Marcion. For he did not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus but only in a spiritual resurrection. So the Jehovah's Witnesses get their doctrine from this early teacher of heresy.
The Jehovah's Witnesses make the same mistake that Jesus corrected the disciples on. In Luke 24:39 The Disciples are terrified thinking they saw a Ghost. Jesus calms them down and said, “I am not a spirit but I have flesh and bone (not blood, so here is the answer to flesh and blood not able to enter heaven). One thing that is clear is that it was not because he did not have a body. He had the same scars in His hands and feet proving His fulfillment of the prophecy that He would raise up His body from the grave (John 2:19-22). A spirit does not scar. He shows them the scars saying it is I, myself. He then eats with them to prove it. Once again He repeats what was said on the Emaus road Luke 24:44. Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” Vs.45-46 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day” Just as Paul states in 1 Cor.15:1-4 as the scripture says.
In John 20:19, He appears to the 11 in a closed room. What it does not say is that He walked through walls. He showed them His hands and side to validate that it was His body. In His glorified state, He could relocate and break natural laws, just as He did beforehand. When He walked on the water it wasn't because he was a spirit.
In John 20:1 we read that Mary went to the tomb while it was still dark and was disturbed because the stone had been moved. She runs back to the others to tell them someone took the body. Peter and John run to the tomb and see it is empty. The JW’s state on this “He Jesus appeared to Mary as the gardener.” This is not hinted in the text except to show it was Mary who was wrong in her thinking this (v.15). V.11 Mary was distraught, grieving and wept bitterly probably for days (the Greek word for weeping is klaio it means to sob, and wail aloud it is a strong word for someone under duress.). It was still just getting light she was teary eyed, and she was not expecting Him to be alive.
As Mary sees the two angels they ask her Vs.13-16, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Many times the Jews wore a covering over the head. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!”
Remember the last time she and the others saw him was at the cross, he was a bloody mess, that the bible says he didn't even look like a man. Its early morning she is distraught from lamenting thought his body still dead was stolen. Notice Mary recognizes him once he speaks her name, not because he looked completely different. The fact is Jesus would often wear tallis or covering over his head, so all these factors do not lead anyone to the conclusion of a completely different body as the Watchtower supposes.
John 21 tells us of the third appearance of Jesus(v.14). several of the disciples went fishing and verse 4 says that Jesus was on the beach when he called out to them about having any food from the beach. If we examine the passage carefully, we see that it was early morning, just getting light, and that He was in the distance so who could actually tell (v.8 says they were about 350 feet away). V.6 after Jesus asks for food and tells them to cast the net on the right side their nets are full. Then Peter knows its the Lord as he remembers from another instance when he told him to cast the net on the right side. Once again they have a huge catch. Verse 12 when they ate breakfast with Him face to face they still could not believe it, though it says that they knew it was Jesus.
This is the factor that needs to be considered, it was Jesus himself who performed resurrections on people who had died. But now He was dead, who would perform the resurrection on Him? We find the Scripture stating all three were involved, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. (go to the Trinity in the resurrection). Jesus also stated He would raise Hs own body up (Jn.2:19) which is quite a feat if He has gone out of existence as the Jehovah Witnesses teach.
In all three instances where Jesus appeared to His disciples and to Mary, their inability to recognize Him was not because He was a spirit (invisible) or had a completely different body. It is a clear teaching throughout the Gospels and the epistles that we will all be raised physically in the same manner and type as Jesus. 1 Jn.3:2: “When he is revealed we shall be like him.” It is the third point of the Gospel and the capstone of Christian faith and the assurance for all who believe. To reject this is to reject the gospel itself. It is that crucial to believe Jesus was resurrected in the same body that He died with 3 days before.
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