The Trinitarian Claim
Trinitarians interpret the text to mean Jesus raised himself from the dead and somehow suppose this means he must be God who raised himself from the dead.
The Claim vs. The Facts
The Scriptural facts show us that the Father raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus was the Father's Word and the Father spoke decisively when He raised Jesus from the dead. Since Jesus was the Father's Word, what should we expect the Father to say when the Jews planned to kill His son but the words, "Destroy this Temple and I will raise it up"?
The Problems with the Claim
1. John 10:17-18
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my soul so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
In this passage, it says Jesus was given the authority to take it up again by a command of the Father. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever to claim John 2:19 means Jesus is God because he raised his own body if he needed to be given the authority to do so by God.
It is also worth noting that the word commonly translated as "take" in verse 17 is the same Greek word which is inconsistently translated as "receive" in verse 18b.
2. Violating other Scripture
The following passages do not square with the Trinitarian interpretation of John 2:19.
"I saw the Lord always in my presence for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor will You allow Your holy One to see corruption." Acts 3:25-27
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the One who is able to save him from death and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. Hebrews 5:7
2. The Wild Imaginations of Trinitarian Minds
According to the Trinitarian mindset, one is expected to somehow suppose Christ was not actually dead and lifeless in a tomb but was quite alive and empowered to raise his own dead body to life. This problem is completely disregarded by Trinitarians. If the person Jesus was not actually dead, but alive and able to raise his body from the dead, then no person had died for their sins. But like Cerinthus, they suppose that at the point of death, the divine Christ departed from that flesh named Jesus hanging on the cross. In this way, the divine Christ was not dead but alive and they laid a dead human named Jesus in a tomb. Put another way, dying usually results in being dead but not in the case of the Trinitarian divine Son. His dying did not result in being dead. God the Son died only in process but not in result and he remained quite alive while discarding his human flesh and leaving his dead carcass behind. Jesus the divine being escaped to parts elsewhere and remained quite alive while Jesus the human being was that dead flesh hanging dead on the cross. In the Trinitarian mind, it is necessary to espouse this heretical Cerinthian concept where Jesus the divine being remained alive while Jesus the human being was hanging dead on the cross.
3. The Manifestation of Extremely Confused Minds
Trinitarians like to claim John 2:19 means Jesus raised himself. For some strange reason, they don't see the problem with their claim. They also claim that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead, and Jesus raised himself from the dead. And so they believe that all three persons of Trinity doctrine raised Jesus from the dead. And so they conclude the Triune God raised Jesus from the dead. Here is where their utter confusion manifests itself. Unfortunately, they don't seem to understand that they aren't making any sense. In the doctrine of the Trinity, the Father is not the Triune being, the Son is not the Triune being, and the Holy Spirit is not the Triune being, and conversely, the Triune being is not the Father, the Triune being is not the Son, and the Triune being is not the Holy Spirit. So to say Jesus raised himself is therefore to say the Triune being did not raise Jesus because Jesus is not the Triune being in Trinity doctrine. Or to say the Triune being raised Jesus is to say that Jesus did not raise himself since the Triune being is not the Jesus.
In the mental gymnastics of their minds, the Father raised Jesus from the dead + Jesus raised Jesus from the dead + the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead, and that amounts to the Triune God raising Jesus from the dead. What they don't seem to comprehend is that if they make such a claim, they can't say the Father raised Jesus from the dead nor can they say Jesus raised Jesus from the dead nor can they say the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead because any one of these three is not the Triune God in their own doctrine. Put more simply, to claim the Triune God raised Jesus contradicts the claim that Jesus raised himself. In Trinitarian doctrine, you simply cannot say that the Triune God raised Jesus from the dead and also insist Jesus raised himself from the dead, and hope to make any kind of sense whatsoever because Jesus is not the Triune God, and the Triune God is not Jesus. Either the Triune God raised Jesus from the dead or Jesus raised himself from the dead. In Trinitarian doctrine, you can't claim both without contradicting yourself. But because they do claim both, they do contradict themselves.
The same situation holds true for claiming the Father raised Jesus and Jesus raised himself. In Trinity doctrine, the Father is not Jesus and Jesus is not the Father. To say Jesus raised himself is also to say the Father did not raise Jesus because Jesus is not the Father. Or to say the Father raised Jesus is also to say that Jesus did not raise himself.
To insist Jesus raised himself from the dead is also to say it was not the Triune God who raised Jesus since Jesus is not the Triune being and the Triune being is not Jesus. Morover, what sense does it make to claim Jesus raised himself and then insist that two other persons raised "himself"? But it's even worse than this since they are ultimately claiming four different identities raised "himself": (1) the Father, (2) the Son, (3) the Holy Spirit, (4) the Triune God. For some reason, Trinitarians are unable to see or acknowledge their own muddled contradictory confusion.
4. Jesus was able to do nothing from himself
In the Gospel of John, Jesus insisted that he was not able to do anything from himself. As he himself testified, it was the Father abiding in him who did the works (John 14:10; cf. Matt 12:28; Acts 2:22). Now if this was true of Jesus while he was alive and well, how much more was he unable to do anything of himself when he was laying dead in a tomb!
I am not able of my own self to do anything. John 5:30.
5. The Testimony of Scripture
The New Testament consistently declares that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead by the power of His Holy Spirit. Yet, Trinitarians want to have it that John 2:19 is an exception which states someone else actually did it. But a review of the Scriptural data shows rational minded people that something is terribly amiss with the Trinitarian claim.
God raised him up again, having loosed the pangs of death, since it was not possible for him to be held by it.
This Jesus God raised up again. Acts 2:32.
You put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.
Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. Acts 4:10.
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging him on a cross. Acts 5:30.
God raised him up on the third day. Acts 10:40.
God raised Him from the dead... God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, "You are My son; Today I have begotten You." He raised him up from the dead, no longer to return to corruption... He whom God raised did not undergo corruption.
His Son, who came to be out the seed of David according to the flesh, fixed son of God in power by the resurrection out of the dead, according to the Spirit of Holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. Romans 4:24.
Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4
But 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 which dwells in you.
God raised him from the dead. Romans 10:9.
Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. 1 Corinthians 6:14.
Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.
1 Corinthians 15:15.
We also believe, therefore we also speak knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus.
2 Corinthians 4:13-14.
The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory.... He raised him from the dead and seated him at His right hand in the heavenlies.
You turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead.
1 Thessalonians 1:10
...through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
1 Peter 1:21
God the Father, who raised him from the dead. Galatians 1:1.
Analysis of the Facts
1. My Father's House
The Trinitarian interpretation completely fails to honestly regard the context of the passage:
"Take these things away and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace." His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house will consume me." John 2:16-17 (see Psalm 69:9).
The Temple is the Father's house, the Father of Jesus. Likewise, we are to understand that the body of Christ is the temple of God, that is, the Father's house. The Father's Word had tabernacled in human flesh (1:14) and the Father abiding in Jesus did the works (14:10).
Let the reader also observe that Jesus did not describe the Temple as his house; Jesus did not describe the Temple as the Triune God's house; the Temple was his God's house, the Father's house. The Old Testament God of Israel was the Father of Jesus and the Temple built by Solomon was the Father's House. This simple fact alone tells us that the God of the Shema was the Father of Jesus.
Under the Law, the Father's house was a stone temple. But something new was taking place. The Spirit of the Father had come to dwell in Jesus and this man himself was now God the Father's tabernacle, the Temple of God. And indeed, we also read in the Scriptures that the body of Christ, the church, is the Temple of God where His Spirit dwells.
2. Mark 14:58/ Mark 26:61 - Another Temple made without Human Hands
Some stood up and began to give false testimony against him, saying, "We heard him say, 'I will destroy this Temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.'"
The Jews falsely testified that Jesus intended to destroy the Temple in Jerusalem. Notice what Jesus had said, "I will build another made without hands." He will build another Temple which was not made with human hands. Let us remember that the church is the body of Christ and how Jesus had said, "Upon this rock, I will build my church."
3. The Body of Christ
Later in the Gospel of John, Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life." In Christianity, resurrection life is found in the body of Christ because he was bodily raised to resurrection life. The Spirit is life and as Paul says, Jesus was bodily raised to be "life-giving Spirit." Christ is the Head of the body, that is, the church. Jesus himself said, "On this rock, I will build by church." No longer is the stone Temple the meeting place between God and his people. The meeting place is now Christ. The temple is now Christ and the members of his body, that is, Christians, and it is within the body of Christ that God's Spirit dwells. Christ is the cornerstone and the members of his body are his followers, the living stones fitted together into one Temple of God.
The Temple of God is the body of Christ and the passage in question is about the Temple of God and the body of Christ.
4. Destroy this Temple
To destroy this Temple is to destroy the Temple of God.
The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching. Mark 11:18.
He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy him. Luke 19:47
Notice what happens to those who destroy the Temple of God.
If any man destroys the Temple of God, God will destroy him. 1 Corinthians 3:17.
5. What Sign do you Offer Us?
Jesus was responding to a question from the Jews. After clearing the Temple, the Jews had asked Jesus for a sign to show them to justify why he did these things. Hence, we must understand that Jesus' response tells them what that sign will be. The Jews wanted to know by what authority he was doing these things.
When He entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?" Matthew 21:23
Who gave Jesus this authority to clear the Temple? The Father.
6. The Word became flesh: the Father's Word
Jesus was the Prophet who was coming into the world (6:14). God put His words in Jesus' mouth.
"I will raise up a prophet... I will put My words in his mouth" (Deuteronomy 18:15-18).
For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit. (3:34).
My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me. If any man's will is to do his will, he shall know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. (7:16-18).
Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear my word.... He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God. (John 8:47).
He who sent me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world (John 8:26).
Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing from myself but as my Father teaches me I speak. (8:28).
For I do not speak out of myself. The Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak. (12:49).
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak from myself but the Father who abides in me does the works. (14:10).
He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father's who sent me. (John 14:24).
I will put MY Words in his mouth. Deuteronomy 18:18; see Acts 2:22-26.
And Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in me, does not believe in me but in Him who sent me. (John 12:44).
Jesus was the Word of God. As God's Word he was the Father's voice to Israel.
7. The Word Jesus had spoken: Two Witnesses
But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken. John 2:21-22.
The words Jesus had spoken were the words of God the Father.
When Jesus spoke, there were two witnesses: (1) Jesus, and (2) the Father. Jesus did not speak from himself. The Father abiding in him did the works (14:10).
If I alone testify about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies of me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about me is true. 5:31-32.
In your own Law it is written that the testimony of TWO witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is THE FATHER who sent me.... I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world... I do nothing from myself, but I speak these things as the Father taught me. John 8:17-28.
The point of the passage is to illustrate how the Father's Word is tabernacled in His temple, that is, the body of Jesus by the Holy Spirit that was in Jesus and as the Father's Word we are to understand that the son speaks on his Father's authority. The Father raised Jesus from the dead and because Jesus came in his Father's name he speaks the words of his Father, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." Jesus was the promised prophet of God who had declared that He would put His words in his mouth just as Jesus confirms many times in the Gospel of John. Just as the prophets of old spoke in the name of God and used terms like "I" and "Me" as if the Father himself is speaking, Jesus the very Word of God is speaking as the Word of the Father.
Notice where Jesus is at the moment. He is in the Temple, a body of flesh which is the Word of God which had become flesh. The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. So where is the Spirit of God? In his body. The Word had previously abided in the Spirit of God and now the Spirit of God was abiding in the Word. The Gospels teach over and over that that authority of God is given by his Spirit and the same is true here. He is not speaking on his own but in the Spirit of God his Father who gave him authority in the Spirit and who will raise him from the dead in that same Spirit. By what authority? By the authority that will raise him up, the Father in the Spirit of Holiness.
This was a message from God the Father to these Jews. The Jewish Temple rulers were the ones who conspired to kill Jesus and yelled, "Crucify him, crucify him." They would destroy God the Father's temple, the place where his Spirit dwelt, the body of the man Jesus. And the Word having become flesh, God the Father speaks to these Jews by means of his Word, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up."
We must carefully regard the question the Jews had asked Jesus. They wanted a sign that would tell them his reasons for clearing the Temple. And we find in the Gospel of John that Jesus tells us by what authority that he says the things he says and does the things he does. He came in the name of his Father and the Father abiding in him did the works (14:10). His words were not his own but the Father's who sent him (14:24).
The Scriptural facts show us that his body was the Temple of God; the Word tabernacled in human flesh and that flesh was the Father's Temple. He, this body of flesh, was the Father's Word and he spoke the words of the Father. This account is about the Father's house, the Temple. Jesus' words were not his own but the Father's who sent him. This body of flesh, His Temple, was His Word to the world. Since he was the Father's Word, there were two witnesses as according to the Law. Jesus tells us many times in John's Gospel that he spoke the words of the Father. The word Jesus had spoken at John 2:19 were the words of the Father. What then did you expect the Father to say when men were seeking to destroy His Temple? "Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up."
"I will put My words in his mouth." Deuteronomy 18:18.
Last Revision/Update: March 10, 2016