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With regard to His death and resurrection, Jesus stated (the Gospel of John):

John 10:18, NASB: "No one has taken [My life] away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father."

How might we reconcile this with:

Acts 2:24: "But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power."

Since Jesus does appear to have "laid His life down on [His] Own initiative," it would seem that He chose when and how to terminate His Own life. Is that how we should understand this? And, just Who raised Him from death, He or the Father? (Perhaps both?)

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    Xeno; Jesus did not have the power to resurrect himself. The scriptures say that God alone raised him. Acts 5:30 NASB 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you put to death by hanging Him on [a]a cross. Rom. 10:9 9 NASB "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;" Aug 21, 2021 at 5:50
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    @Ozzie I have to wonder. Indeed, God raised Him, however, perhaps we should reflect on Christ's spiritual Being as God. We read in 2 Cor. 4:16: "[Though] our outer man is decaying [and will die], yet our inner man [spirit] is being renewed day by day." Jesus' spirit was far superior -- more than we might ever imagine. Once spiritually united with the Father, surely He (Christ) would have the power and authority to raise His human form? The eternal Word stepped into the baby Jesus (Heb. 10:5). Who can forget the power of Christ at the Transfiguration? Just some additional thoughts.
    – Xeno
    Aug 21, 2021 at 6:40
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    The trouble with the logic of Jesus raising himself is that either, 1- he didn't fully die, or 2 - there is some other God the Son who is immortal and cannot die, and is never mentioned anywhere! Either rendering the, "God gave His only son' a complete sham and a total charade! If Jesus gave his spirit to the Father at death, with what did he raise himself?
    – Steve
    Aug 21, 2021 at 8:20
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    I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. - That authority comes from the Father (Matthew 28:18, John 17:1-2).
    – Lucian
    Aug 21, 2021 at 10:16
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    Xeno: The Greek word "πνευματος" pneu-ma-tos (its verb "pneuo" literally means breath, wind) translated spirit is used in seven different ways by the scriptural writers. Translators recognize this. The NLT and GWT translate JAMES 2:26 as follows " Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works" Aug 21, 2021 at 18:27

7 Answers 7

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The Bible cannot possibly say two opposite things, i.e. God (the Father) raised Jesus versus Jesus raised Jesus, and have them both be correct. Nor does it. The apparent contradiction exists only in the interpretation, however, and not in the actual text when proper hermeneutics are applied.

Who Raised Jesus?

But God raised him from the dead: (Acts 13:30, KJV)

ὁ δὲ θεὸς ἤγειρεν αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν (Acts 13:30, Greek)

The word "God" (θεὸς/Theos) is understood easily by all. The real question in this text comes in with the word "auton" (αὐτὸν) which is grammatically of the form "Personal-Possessive Pronoun, Accusative masculine third-person singular" (PPro-AM3S). "Accusative" just means it is the direct object.

Should this "auton" (αὐτὸν) be translated as himself?

That was the substance of a question I asked a Greek scholar years ago, for I felt strongly at the time that it should be Jesus who had raised himself in answer to his own claim that he had this power, as recorded in John 2:19.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. (John 2:19, KJV)

But the Greek grammar in Acts is unambiguous.

There are at least a couple different ways to express reflexivity in Greek, which the author presumably could have used if he had wanted to.

First, there is the word heautou, which is used as a reflexive direct object. For example, aparnesastho heauton, “let him deny himself” (Matt. 16:24).

Then there is the middle voice. In Greek, there is not only an active voice and a passive voice, but also a middle voice "in between" the two. For example, the active verb luo, "I loosen," becomes luomai, “I loosen myself” or “I loosen for myself" in the middle voice.

The book of Acts uses both of these ways to express reflexivity. But neither one is used in Acts 13:30. The form used cannot be reflexive, grammatically.

If, therefore, Acts tells us plainly that God (not Jesus) raised him (not himself), then if Jesus DID raise himself, the Bible has not been honest. Those who accept that the Scriptures are inspired and true cannot believe that the Bible would misinform them on something as important as this subject.

But there are problems.

If Jesus DIDN'T raise himself, how, then, should John 2:19 be understood?

To understand John 2:19 we must consider Jesus' words in later chapters.

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:10, KJV)

He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. (John 14:24, KJV)

But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. (John 10:38, KJV)

For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. (John 12:49, KJV)

And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. (John 12:50, KJV)

According to Jesus' own doctrine, therefore, his words were those of the Father. They were not his own words.

When we understand that it was the Father saying that He would raise Jesus in three days, this difficulty is cleared up. There is no contradiction; the words are clearly explained.

But, supposing Jesus had raised himself, then we get more problems.

  1. How can a dead being perform any action at all, such as raising himself, when those who are dead clearly have no further ability to do anything according to the teachings of the Scriptures.

Consider:

For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 9:4-6, KJV)

The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence. (Psalm 115:17, KJV)

Remember, Jesus is called "the lion of the tribe of Judah" (Revelation 5:5)--and even a living dog is better than a dead lion! The dead do not have emotions, much less thoughts, praises to God, or any portion in anything done under the sun. They don't become spirits floating around watching all that happens, nor do they communicate at all with anyone living. Dead people are just that: dead.

And if Christ could have raised himself, then he could not have been dead.

  1. If Christ were the immortal God (see 1 Timothy 6:16), how could he have died?

  2. How could God be both mortal and immortal at one and the same time?

Obviously, any belief that differs from the Bible's teaching that God (the Father) raised Jesus from the dead, comes with more questions than answers--and introduces a host of contradictions that cannot be resolved.

The simple answer is: God the Father raised Jesus from the dead.

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  • Thanks for your answer. One place that you and I might disagree is with the concept of death. Our physical bodies return to the dust of the ground (Gen. 3:19). I doubt anyone disputes that, so no, they know nothing, etc. However, as I've commented elsewhere, we all possess an immortal spirit. I'm not sure if you are aware of how I've tried to contrast time with timelessness, but the moment we cross the threshold of this world into eternal paradise, we are not dead. Only spirits that are lost experience (spiritual) death (Rom. 6:23, Col. 2:13, 2 Thess. 1:9, 1 Jn. 5:12, etc.)
    – Xeno
    Aug 21, 2021 at 17:50
  • You speak of what the Bible says then you insert words which are clearly not there in order to arrive at a conclusion which fits your belief. What does the Bible say? God raised Him up from the dead again. Where do you see the Father written? It’s not there. Because you insist God is only the Father your circular reasoning “works.” Yet, if what you insert is correct, why isn’t it written down? Had it been written as Father, your position would be spot on, yet that is not what was written. Why was Father left off? God is more than Father. May 8, 2023 at 15:45
  • @RevelationLad Jesus tells us that the Father is the only true God in John 17:1-3. Also, the Father was Jesus' own God--see John 20:17. So, yes, "God" and "the Father" are one and the same.
    – Biblasia
    May 9, 2023 at 11:11
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As you pointed out, the Bible says “God raised Jesus from the dead” (Acts 2:32-36). And how did God do this? “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11 NIV). Since God raised Jesus from the dead then Romans 8:11 must be talking about the Spirit of God which dwells in all believers. Therefore, God, by his Spirit, resurrected Jesus from the dead.

So what are we to make of John 2:19-21 which shows that Jesus would raise himself from the dead? How could a dead man resurrect himself? Yet Jesus stated:

"Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days? But the temple he had spoken of was the temple of his body."

This is where a simple question about who raised Jesus from death becomes complex because it depends on who God is, and on who the Spirit is, and on who Jesus Christ is.

John 10:17-18 shows the power Jesus had, while on earth, with regard to life and death. That is the text you quoted. Jesus, the man, got his authority from his Father, who is God. Also, Matthew 12:23-38, Mark 3:22-30 and Luke 11:14-32 show that Jesus performed his miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus laid down the glory he had in heaven and humbled himself to take on human form. Jesus, while he was a man, was subordinate to his Father in heaven, so anti-Trinitarians therefore believe that only God (by means of his Spirit, or spirit) could resurrect Jesus. But since Jesus and the Father share the one, divine nature, with absolute unity of the Spirit in that nature, then Trinitarians understand that Jesus had the authority to take up his life again.

Furthermore, Jesus said “I am the resurrection” (John 11:25). Not, "I will become the resurrection." Nor even, “My Father is the resurrection” (even though the Father and the Holy Spirit are equally 'the resurrection', as is he). Think on that. Even before he died, he resurrected some people back to life, and he knew that death could not hold those who have not sinned, therefore he had implicit faith in his Father that his promise of authority to raise himself up after three days would be enacted. The three would continue working in total unity even though Christ's body would suffer death.

Now we need to think about the Spirit in light of Romans 8:9-11. Romans 8:1-8 sets the scene, and we really need to take the whole thing into consideration, and not just cherry pick verses here and there. This passage is all about the influence of the Spirit of life that has set us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. “Those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” (verse 5). Verse 9 starts off by saying that believers who belong to Christ Jesus “are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if the Spirit of God dwells in you.” Right away, we have the Spirit of God. Now read on:

“Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” The Spirit of Christ indwells the believer, but so too does the Spirit of God! Not two distinct Spirits - the one and only Holy Spirit.

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” The Spirit who indwells all believers is the Spirit of God AND it is the Spirit of Christ. The two are inseparable. Philippians 1:19 also confirms that the spirit of Jesus Christ helps those who belong to him.

Christians who believe in Christ are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but now Paul alternates between the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ, showing that Christ and God share the same status. This confirms that Christ and the Spirit are both fully God and fully cooperate. That is why Jesus could say he would raise up his body on the third day, because he is part of the One Being of God as is the Holy Spirit.

What does this all add up to? The way I see it, all three were involved in creation, all three are involved in salvation and all three were involved in the resurrection of Christ Jesus. And never forget, it is Jesus who IS the resurrection!

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  • This is another very good answer Anne. From a trinitarian point of view, your last paragraph explains everything. (So does much of the rest of your response!) +1.
    – Xeno
    Aug 21, 2021 at 17:31
  • 'The One being of God' could be construed to mean 'the One person of God'. The nature of Deity is shared by three persons. It is very important to distinguish between person and nature.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 21, 2021 at 18:46
  • @Anne 'Being in the form, God, he thought it not robbery to be equal God'. Phil 2:6. The 'being' is he, himself. The 'form' is the nature. His being existed in a form . . . . Person and nature.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 23, 2021 at 13:11
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    @Anne . . . . but it is not 'one being'. 'I' and 'the Father' expresses two persons. Two 'beings'. The unity is a unity of nature, in One Holy Spirit. I disagree with your wording.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 23, 2021 at 13:23
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Can the Father create the universe or restore dead to life - the two actions being actions of the same dignity and the same actions in fact - without His co-eternal Logos who became also man Jesus Christ? The answer is “no!”, for Father can create universe but through His Son-Logos, and can rise the dead but through His Son-Logos, or after the Latter’s becoming human, but through the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord died according His human nature, but according to His person, hypostasis of Logos He not only did not cease to exist, but could not cease to exist in principle, for God cannot not be. Thus, The Father and the Son have the same divine dignity and authority to both create universe and rise dead, and therefore the Lord both is risen by the Father and rises His dead body to life, for this is and can only be a joint act of Both - the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus, the very question of the OP is incorrect and represents an instance of a fallacy known in logic as a "complex question", when a question entails an information that is not at all self-evident and begs a question: it is not that God Father had and used His power to resurrect the dead body of the Lord Jesus Christ, or that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself had power to do so, but that Father is totally unable either to create, or resurrect, or sustain into life anybody without His Son/Logos co-creating, co-resurrecting and co-sustaining, and vice versa, for Their divine power and activity is always joint and always shared, being in fact one and the same power and activity.

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    This is a very good answer (and something I alluded to in my parenthetical question above). Your mention of the divine authority of both Figures is very insightful. Indeed, "He not only did not cease to exist, but could not cease to exist [not even] in principle, for God cannot not be." +1.
    – Xeno
    Aug 21, 2021 at 5:33
  • @Xeno Thanks for reading and estimating! Aug 21, 2021 at 7:03
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The resurrection of Jesus is the central doctrine of Christianity and imperative to grasp to the extent that Scripture reveals. Paul described this doctrine of "First importance" (1 Cor 15:3). So what has been revealed about the resurrection of Jesus?

  • Acts 2:24, 3:15, 4:10, 5:30, 10:40, 13:30, 17:31, Rom 4:24, 1 Cor 15:15, Col 2:20, Heb 13:20, 1 Peter 1:3, 1 Thess 1:10 simply say that “God” raised Jesus without specifying any specific member of the Godhead
  • Rom 6:4, Gal 1:1, Eph 1:17-20 say that the Father raised Jesus from the dead.
  • Rom 1:4 & 8:11, 1 Peter 3:18 say that the Holy Spirit is the source of life and thus involved when Jesus rose from the dead.
  • John 2:19-21 and 10:17, 18 both say that Jesus resurrected Himself. Further, John 1:4 & 5:26 says that the Son has “life in Himself”, that is, is not dependent on the Father for His existence. Compare 1 John 5:11 & 1:1, 2.

A similar list could be constructed for other divine functions such as the creation of the universe, the salvation of mankind, etc.

The safest conclusion here is that the entire Godhead was simultaneously involved in raising Jesus to life (and the other divine functions), including Jesus Himself as per:

  • John 2:19 - Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple [His body, V20, 21], and in three days I will raise it up again.”
  • John 10:17, 18 - The reason the Father loves Me is that I lay down My life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father.”
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  • This answer covers all the bases quite well. +1.
    – Xeno
    Aug 21, 2021 at 7:30
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John 3:16 and John 17:3 explain to us that The Father and The Son are two non-identical persons. For this reason, we understand that God resurrected His Son - as they said above, the Logo (or the witness - I guess this word could be more understandable).

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    – agarza
    Aug 21, 2021 at 18:22
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Yeshua (Jesus) was 100% human and 100% God. What does that mean? The 100% human was the son of Miriam (Mary) and the 100% God was Holy Spirit (Father of Yeshua (Jesus). The name Yeshua is actually the name of the Father, which the son inherited according to Philippians 2:9,10, "Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name above all names, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." When Jesus speaks, we need to open our spiritual understanding to know who is speaking. Is it the son or the Father? They call that a synecdoche, which is a type of metonymy where the container is often used for the content and vice versa. Yeshua the container (temple) did not raise himself, the content (Father) rose him. That is Yeshua's own testimony. Scripture cannot be understood with the carnal mind but with a renewed spiritual mind. Studying the Scripture is the highest form of worship. God is Holy Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth, not lies. Unless the Lord opens our understanding to know what we're reading, we'll continue to philosophize without end. Shalom!

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  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. I also recommend going through the Help Center's sections on both asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    May 8, 2023 at 15:55
  • +1 Good answer with a perspicacious perspective. You might consider adding John 5:43 as support for Jesus having the Father's name.
    – Biblasia
    May 9, 2023 at 11:06
  • The last four (4) sentences do nothing to answer the question. They seem to simply be exhorting, and not answering. And many would argue that there are higher "forms of worship" than studying (although rabbinical schools would agree with you.). Jesus put a very high premium on social justice and charity (See the two greatest commandments: love God, love people.) Peace.
    – ray grant
    May 10, 2023 at 20:55
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Looking at Jn 10:18 from the standpoint of language and word choice, I found the verbs to be interesting in that each is a less than obvious choice for the sense they are meant to convey. With respect to the OP’s question, one verb stands out in particular: lambanó (Strong’s 2983). It is used twice in v18, once in the form of an infinitive and once as an active verb (Interlinear). In the following translation, it is rendered as “to take” and “have received” respectively.

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 (lambanó V-ANA) it again. This command I have received (lambanó V-AIA-1S) from My Father.” - Jn 10:17-18 NKJV

I do not think it coincidental that the same word is used in two contiguous statements, each conveying a very different thought. The use of the one word that could mean both "take" and "receive" implies a close connection between the two actions - that of Jesus' taking his life again and that of his receiving the command from the Father. Because the one is linked to the other, Jesus' taking his life again can be considered as part and parcel of his receiving the Father’s command.

In context, Jesus’ power and authority to lay down and to take his life again are embedded within a larger framework, one that is bounded by his obedience on the one hand and the Father’s command on the other. We can see this narrative framework by formatting verse 17 and 18 thus:

“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.” –Jn 10:17-18

Jesus’ death and resurrection are set within this framework, which shows that while he is the fully autonomous agent of these events, Jesus is at the same time the fully obedient instrument of the Father’s will. In my opinion, because the Father’s will is the driving force of Jesus’ actions, it can be said that the Father raised Jesus from the dead, without contradicting the statement that Jesus took up his own life again. Jesus' taking is at the same time a receiving of his life again. Taking and receiving are thus obverse aspects of the same action. There is one who wills and one who acts, but either could be said to have carried out the action.

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    Of John 10:18, Strong's specifically says "substantially equivalent to to receive, get back, Hebrews 11:35 …; John 10:18;". (G2983 - lambanō - Strong's Greek Lexicon). Yes, Jesus takes it, but only as a result of its being given by the Father. This view, that it couldn't possibly have been a result of any action on Jesus's part, fits well with the idea that he was a mortal human, dead and unconscious at the time. May 11, 2023 at 3:16
  • While I do not hold to that view, I could see how some would see it that way. There is a blurring of the lines between meanings, not just of this verb but of the other verbs in Jn 10:18 as well. My own sense is that life and death do not mean the same things to God as they do to us. IMHO, Jesus' death is in fact life-giving and life-defining. After all, it is when a seed falls to the ground and dies that it bears much fruit (Jn 12:24).
    – Nhi
    May 11, 2023 at 14:00
  • "Jesus takes it, but only as a result of its being given by the Father." I agree with you and have incorporated this thought, which was only implied before, more explicitly into my conclusion.
    – Nhi
    May 12, 2023 at 11:40

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