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JWs: In 2 Cor 12:1-5, Did Paul say it is impossible for a man to enter heaven with a physical body?

Update:

Let us not miss the point of Paul's disclaimer: "I do not know" The apostle ALLOW two possibilities as to HOW he got a glimpse of heaven (which he called "visions and revelations from the Lord" in verse 1). Either A:) he was transported into heaven with a physical body or B:) he was transported into heaven out of the body (i.e. in spirit). Thus Paul doesn't deny the possibilty for a person to enter heaven with a physical body. What he is saying is as to his supernatural experience, he is not sure whether it is A or B.

Update 2:

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know A MAN in Christ who fourteen years ago WAS CAUGHT UP TO THE THIRD HEAVEN. Whether it was IN THE BODY OR APART FROM THE BODY I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. (2 Cor 12:1-5)

Update 3:

“WHETHER IN THE BODY, I CANNOT TELL - That is, I do not pretend to explain it. I do not know how it occurred. With the fact he was acquainted; but how it was brought about he did not know. Whether the body was caught up to heaven; whether the soul was for a time separated from the body; or whether the scene passed before the mind in a vision, so that he seemed to have been caught up to heaven, he does not pretend to know. The evident idea is, that at the time he was in a state of insensibility in regard to surrounding objects, and was unconscious of what was occurring, as if he had been dead. Where Paul confesses his own ignorance of what occurred to himself it would be vain for us to inquire; and the question how this was done is immaterial. NO ONE CAN DOUBT THAT GOD HAD POWER IF HE CHOSE TO TRANSPORT THE BODY TO HEAVEN; or that he had power for a time to separate the soul from the body; or that he had power to represent to the mind so clearly the view of the heavenly world that he w

Update 4:

ould appear to see it; see Acts 7:56.

Update 5:

@sunshine, what happened to Paul is different from what had happened to Stephen in Acts 7:56. Both men got a glimpse of heaven but not in the same manner. The difference is that Paul was CAUGHT UP to heaven, Stephen was not. Paul was transported, Stephen was not. I hope you see the difference. Now Paul further said he didn't know whether his visit to heaven was in the body or out of the body. i.e. in spirit. Paul considered the first option possible. And so must JWs.

Update 6:

@mark: If you consider heaven to be the Kingdom of God you might take note of the Our Father prayer that comes to earth when the dead are resurrected. Four times in the book of John Jesus is quoted as saying that where he was going they could not come.

----

Is John 13:33 one of those "four times"? "My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come." (Jn 13:33)

Too bad, mark, you miss the next verses:

Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow NOW, but you will follow LATER.” (Jn 13:36)

"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (Jn 14:3, 4)

Update 7:

@sunshine (again): "Paul therefore has a VISION he was "CAUGHT UP" into heaven, he probably felt himself flying and saw the ground fall away. This vision felt very real, like most dreams. (have you ever felt like you were falling and jolted awake just before you "hit" the ground); (Obviously if he literally flew to heaven his body would have been burnt up upon reentry of the earths atmosphere and we can only hope he was sleeping naked because he would most certainly have set his bed on fire)"

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Update 8:

First, what Paul said is that he was caught up to heaven and had a vision of heaven, what you are saying is Paul had a vision that he is being caught up to heaven. Different.

Second, notice that you ended up trying to explain what Paul himself cannot explain.

Third, the Greek verb ἁρπαγέντα (caught up) is in the PASSIVE VOICE. This is an example of what scholars call “divine passive” i.e God is the one doing the action, Paul is the object of the action. Does JWs believe it is beyond God’s power to transport a person bodily into heaven without that person burning like a meteorite?

Update 9:

@uzyrmnd: The Bible contains a lot of examples God transporting persons to place X. A) God can transport a person to a place X out of the body (Ezekiel's experience is an example; his body remained in Mesopotamia) or B) God transport a person to place X in the body [bodily] (Elijah's case is an example.) Now Paul was caught up or transported to a place X (=heaven) to see visions of heaven and to receive revelations. Paul said that he doesn't know the manner God transported him, whether it's A or B. Thus, the conclusion is unmistakable. For Paul, for a man to enter heaven bodily is NOT impossible.

Update 10:

@bar anerges: "5.) Jesus Christ gave his *flesh* as a ransom for us (Jn 6:51). Having given us his flesh, if he took it back again it would nullify his sacrifice."

------

I find your “sacrifice-nullified-if what-was-given-is-taken-back” theory very interesting. For one thing, it will flatly go against Jesus’ own very words:

Update 11:

“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life (“soul”, NWT) that I may 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 I have authority TO TAKE IT UP AGAIN.” (John 10:17, 18)

Update 12:

That's why I used a RELATIVE PRONOUN "sacrifice-nullified-if-WHAT-was-given-is taken-back". If Jesus' taking back X after giving X to save mankind nullifies his sacrifice, then, if Jesus will take back his X="ψυχη"(soul) which he has given, using your theory, that will nullify his sacrifice. And besides, didn't the JWs believe ψυχη=the WHOLE person? JWs believe ψυχη is not a part of a man, but the WHOLE man (flesh, mind, bones, etc. included). So I reject your theory; I accept Jesus' own words that he has the authority to take back what he has given.

Update 13:

If you insists the word "life", you will just dig your own hole deeper. For JWs, the "life" that Jesus gave was his PERFECT HUMAN life. Jesus in John 10:17,18 says he can take up AGAIN that life which he to was give. So, Jesus has his perfect human life taken back AGAIN. So Jesus is still human, contrary to all the claims of JWs. JWs believe that Jesus forever lost his perfect human life, what he has received after his resurrection was a perfect spirit non-human life.

12 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Greetings,

    First of all, where do you see that Witnesses have ever said that 1Cor.12:1-5 taught anything about taking a physical body into heaven? You are just distracting from the real evidence by resorting to a Straw Man argument which has absolutely no bearing on whether those in heaven can have physical bodies.

    JWs actually teach that this verse may not even be literally referring to heaven itself! Our preferred interpretation is that it is NOT speaking of heaven! (it-1;1065; it-2;576, 586, w08 7/15;28, w04 10/15;8, w83 11/15;28, w70 12/15;767, w57 5/15;295).

    Paul is here describing a vision and so the "third heaven" or "paradise" does not need to be literal. His point was regarding the superlative degree of this vision's rapture. The paradise here could refer to either a spiritual state of God's people or the bliss of heaven in God's presence.

    Now I didn’t check to see what Bible Students taught a century ago but I could not find a single instance of where our literature ever used this account in relation to physical bodies in heaven or even a literal heaven.

    So your whole argument is misleading and deceptive. It is a very dishonest method of argumentation.

    And your question about whether “it is beyond God’s power to transport a person bodily into heaven” is irrelevant. What God *could* do and what He actually does are two different things. God could make feet grow out of our heads but it would be illogical to claim that this means such an occurrence is fact. Likewise it is illogical to claim that God resurrects heaven bound Christians with their physical bodies when His Word states just the opposite!

    These illogical arguments are the typical method of those who cannot refute the explicit teachings of God’s Word. They must dishonestly distract from the Scriptural evidence that Christ and heaven bound Christians do not take their physical bodies with them.

    The fact is that every explicit Scripture absolutely confirms that those resurrected to heaven have invisible spirit bodies and not physical ones:

    1) 1Pt.3:18 says: "Christ died once for all time concerning sins, a righteous person for unrighteous ones, that he might lead you to God, he being put to death in the flesh, but being made alive in the spirit" (NRSV, NASV, WEB)

    (Some translations mistranslate this as "by the Spirit" (KJV, NIV). These versions ignore the use of the dative in their translation. In the Greek the words "flesh" and "spirit" are put in contrast to each other, and both are in the dative case, referring to the realm of "flesh" verses "spirit." It cannot be properly translated as instrumental "by the flesh/spirit."

    2) 1Cor.15:45: "‘The first man Adam became a living soul.' The last Adam became a life-giving spirit." The context is also explicit that all those resurrected to heaven have spirit bodies not fleshly (1Cor.15:35- 49; 2Cor.5:1-4, 2Pt.1:13-14).

    3) 1Cor.15:50: "However, flesh and blood cannot inherit God's kingdom..." (Cf. Ac.13:34). Only spirit persons with spirit bodies can live in heaven.

    4) Heb.1:3 Jesus is now "the exact representation of God's very being." God is a Spirit and has never been flesh.

    5) Jesus Christ gave his *flesh* as a ransom for us (Jn 6:51). Having given us his flesh, if he took it back again it would nullify his sacrifice.

    6) Christ's ability to make himself manifest after his resurrection was a "grant" from God, not his natural appearance (Ac 10:40).

    It is clear that the body seen by his followers was not the same body he had while on earth. While Jesus obviously could materialize a physical body, it is also evident that he could pass through walls and appear and disappear just like spirit angels (Jn.20:19).

    The fact that when his followers did not recognize him is further evidence that Jesus did not take his human body with him. They only realized it was him when they recognized some familiar word or manner (Mt.28:16,17; Lk.24:15,16,30,31; Jn.20:14-16; 21:6,7).

    Just because they were able to see and feel Christ and he was able to eat does not demand the conclusion that he now exists in heaven with his physical body. No one would claim that the angels who visibly appeared exist as physical bodies in heaven.

    Now, the above scriptures are strong evidence that Christ now has a spirit body. They consistently and explicitly contrast a body of flesh and a heavenly spirit body.

    Conversely there is no explicit Scripture that states he has a body of flesh. The only way we could say this is if we rip figurative language out of context and twist it to agree with our personal theology.

    Yours,

    BAR-ANERGES

    You grossly twist Jn.1:17,18. It says NOTHING about Christ taking his fleshly body back! It says he will get his “LIFE” back. As usual Trinitarians must deceptively misread God’s Word

    Right! Christ gave his *HUMAN* life and flesh. He does NOT take that back. He is resurrected as a spirit being.

  • 9 years ago

    It's a Q like this that will challenge the indoctrinated mind of the JW as to what is true: The literal -- in context interpretation of the word of God, or the interpretation that man puts upon it to come to his own presupposition.

    We know that JW's are taught to deny the deity of Christ; deny a bodily resurrection; deny that the New covenant belongs to all believers throughout the ages; deny the validity of what Christianity has believed for centuries, and the writings of its early Church fathers; teach that Jesus was a created Michael the archangel, and the FDS holds all the cards to Bible interpretation, and it doesn't belong to the individual, who can search the scriptures for themselves, (Acts 17:11) to confirm truth: validate the difference between true prophets/teacheers and false prophets/teachers:

    Who are the false teachers? The one who must FORCE their presupposition into the scriptures by quoting as figurative, passages that should be literal (by the context of the passage) and quoting as literal, passages that are figurative. Whether literal or figurative, the context is self-explanatory, for the Bible interprets itself with the help of the Holy Spirit that God has made available to every believer, (See 1Jn. 2:27; and Acts 2:38,39.)

    If the interpretation is true...that interpretation will not violate/conflict with ANY other passage on that subject from Genesis to Revelation: in light of the Bible being a progressive revelation.

    So the Q is asked: Have physical bodies gone it...and or visited heaven? First~ what kind of physical bodies are we talking about? For the Bible lists two types: One is a flesh & bone body (minus the blood that was poured out on the altar of the cross) that Christ resurrected in, (see Luke 24:39). And the other type which is a flesh and BLOOD body, (see 1Cor. 15:50) that can't inherit the kingdom of heaven.

    Can physical (flesh & blood) bodies "visit" heaven without "inheriting it"...while waiting for the change that 1Cor. 15:50 requires? I believe both Enoch (Gen. 5:24) and Elijah ( 2Kings 2:1,11) did just that. Could it be that in order for both of them to be in compliance with 1Cor. 15:50...they must fulfill the death of the two witnesses mentioned in Rev. 11:3-12? Time will tell, for they have been in heaven all this time. What does the WT say of the two witnesses?

    Whether in the body or out...was not an issue for Paul, for he was a master of the scriptures. But it's a big deal for the sole slave teachers of the WT, for in its misunderstanding lies the misinterpretation of the resurrection of Christ: whether it was a literal physical flesh and bone body, or a spirit creature as they suppose. And yes, this physical body does not have the limitations of flesh and blood bodies in the physical world.

    To the poster who believes it was Christ's body that was given...needs to check John 2:19 and Luke 22:20 for it was his blood that was the ransom not his body. His body was given (Lu.22:19) for our healing, (Isaiah 53:5). Then, he picked it back up, as he said, John 2:21. The blood was poured out, for the blood was apart of the former body.

    Edit~ If Christ's physical body saw corruption (was turned into gases) than Psalms 16:10 is false, and we are yet in our sins. But I believe the scriptures over the presupposition of men...How about you?...John 2:19-21. Can you see/understand verse 21?

  • ?
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    If you consider heaven to be the Kingdom of God you might take note of the Our Father prayer that comes to earth when the dead are resurrected. Four times in the book of John Jesus is quoted as saying that where he was going they could not come.

  • unland
    Lv 4
    5 years ago

    On the opposite... Jehovah's Witnesses have commonly proved that Jesus Christ is NOT Jehovah.. ... & will maintain to take action till Armageddon Note: - a million Timothy 6:sixteen IS evaluating Jesus with human kings ...and in assessment Jesus is the “simplest Potentate,” and he by myself has immortality. Daniel. 7:14 Romans. 6:nine

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Paul said our body will be changed.

    I Corinthians 15

    SDA

  • 9 years ago

    Paul saw a VISION, thus his body remains in earth just like he saw Him in his first vision on road to Damascus. St Stepehn has died, thus he saw Jesus.

    No one could see Jesus face to face, in plain language, unless we die. So, it is always a Vision.

  • 9 years ago

    It's interesting, isn't it? Paul clearly says that he was caught up into heaven, not that he was just seeing a vision. He also says he doesn't know whether it was in the body or out of it--but our JW friends claim to know what Paul himself didn't know.

    The WTBTS has to deny the possibility of Paul going bodily to heaven because it's part and parcel of denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus--and that, in turn, is part of denying his deity.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    In 2 Cor 12:1-5, Did Paul say it is impossible for a man to enter heaven with a physical body? He never said it was impossible.

    1Pt.3:18 says: "Christ died once for all time concerning sins, a righteous person for unrighteous ones, that he might lead you to God, he being put to death in the flesh, but being made alive in the spirit" (NRSV, NASV, WEB)

    (Some translations mistranslate this as "by the Spirit" (KJV, NIV). These versions ignore the use of the dative in their translation. In the Greek the words "flesh" and "spirit" are put in contrast to each other, and both are in the dative case, referring to the realm of "flesh" verses "spirit." It cannot be properly translated as instrumental "by the flesh/spirit."

    ****Counter-argument-1 Peter 3:18

    Being put to death in the flesh θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκὶ (having been put to death indeed in flesh). First aorist passive participle of θανατόω (to die), an old verb (from θάνατος death), to put to death. σαρκὶ is the locative case of σάρξ (flesh). But quickened in the spirit- ζωοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεύματι . First aorist passive participle of ζωοποιηθεὶς rare (Aristotle) verb (from zooopoios, making alive), to make alive. The participles are not antecedent to ἀποθνῄσκω (to die off), but simultaneous with it. There is no such construction as the participle of subsequent action. The spirit of Christ did not die when his flesh did, but "was endued with new and greater powers of life" (Thayer). See 1 Cor 15:22 for the use of the verb for the resurrection of the body. But the use of the word πνεύματι-in the spirit (locative case) in contrast with σάρξ (flesh) starts Peter's mind off in a long comparison by way of illustration that runs from 1 Peter 3:19-22. The following verses have caused more controversy than anything in the Epistle.

    (from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

    1Cor.15:50: "However, flesh and blood cannot inherit God's kingdom..." (Cf. Ac.13:34). Only spirit persons with spirit bodies can live in heaven.

    *** Counter-argument- 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. 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).

    •Read:1 John 4:2, I Thess. 4:15-17, Jude 24, Jude 24, Eph.5:27, Col.1:22, Rom.8:21, Rom. 8:29-30, Phil 3:21, Rom.8:18, I Jn.3:2

    In verses 51-52-

    There will be 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.

    Understanding of 3rd Heaven-

    2 Corinthians 12:2

    Was caught up: the passive form used here is found also in Acts 8:39 and Rev 12:5 to describe the experience of someone transported into the supernatural realm. If it has to be made active in the receptor language, the most likely agent is God himself. One may consider saying something like "God received him for a time" or "God transferred him."The third heaven: the concept of various strata or layers of heaven was common in the first century (see Eph 4:10; Heb 4:14). In Jewish writings the number of heavens was most commonly considered to be seven, but other numbers, including three, were also mentioned. Paul probably was thinking of three heavens only rather than seven, since he later equates the third heaven with Paradise (2 Cor 12:3). It does not seem likely that Paul would boast about being caught up only to the third heaven if he thought that more levels existed. TEV is therefore probably correct in saying "the highest heaven" (so also FrCL, BrCL), that is, where God lived.

    (from the UBS New Testament Handbook Series. Copyright © 1961-1997, by United Bible Societies.)

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Actuality in dogma two people entered heaven with body and soul.

  • 9 years ago

    VISIONS & REVELATIONS

    Paul clearly introduces the topic by saying {quote} "I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord." {end quote} so he is clearly speaking about a VISION. Just as if a speakers says "Next we will deal with cooking and food preparation" everything that follows in that segment will be under that topic, Paul is clearly going on to speak about his experiences under the "topic" of "VISIONS AND REVELATIONS".

    Obviously a "vision" is not literally happening, even if he FELT his entire body explode into a flock of pigeons and spin off into mars to sing Handel's Messiah to penguins - this didin't literally happen to him (or his body) he simply experienced it as if it had**. Paul therefore has a VISION he was "CAUGHT UP" into heaven, he probably felt himself flying and saw the ground fall away. This vision felt very real, like most dreams. (have you ever felt like you were falling and jolted awake just before you "hit" the ground); (Obviously if he literally flew to heaven his body would have been burnt up upon reentry of the earths atmosphere and we can only hope he was sleeping naked because he would most certainly have set his bed on fire)

    Anything is possible when you are experiencing things transmitted to your mind by God. Ezekiel saw God (something impossible for a human), Jesus saw the whole world from a mountain, Peter and John saw two men that had been dead for thousands of years (the experience was so "real" for Peter he wanted to build a tend for the two bodies(people) that where n't literally there at all) and Daniel saw a flying leopard. Paul didn't just "see" it, like John's Revelation, he felt it, he was an active participant in the vision and experienced everything as if he was really there. John however never left the prison island of Patmos although he talked with Jesus, attended a heavenly assembly, and stood in the presence of God himself. Paul, like John, had a revelation in which he actively participated. While never moving literally from his location on earth.

    I often fly in dreams and my dog talks to me so clearly visions and dreams should not be taken for literal truth.

    Anything else?

    My name is Sunshine,

    I'm one of Jehovah's Witnesses

    Source(s): **REMEMBER The bible NEVER contradicts itself "Flesh and blood CANNOT inherit God's kingdom". (1 Corinthians15:50-54) http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/or...
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