Based upon the text in John 2:19 I have been told many times that Yeshua raised himself from the dead. I take issue with such an interpretation of John 2:19 in light of the overwhelming evidence in the New Testament which teaches that "God" (YHWH) raised Yeshua from the dead.
1. The Greek text does not literally say “I will” but simply uses the Greek word egiro, meaning basically “to raise up." The text could just as easily be translated, "Destroy this temple, and in three days it will be raised."
2. Another understanding (taking the traditional KJV rendering) is that Yeshua had a vital part in his resurrection, seeing he lived perfectly before the Father. Yeshua could guarantee his resurrection by living a sinless life. Thus he says, “I will raise it up." (Compare this to where Peter told Jews “Ye have crucified him” in Acts 5:30. The Romans were actually the ones who crucified Yeshua, but the Jews were the ones who called for or demanded his crucifixion.)
3. Yeshua died. (Mt. 27:50; Lk. 23:46). He could not literally raise himself. In Scripture, death means death; unconsciousness (Ecclesiastes 9:2-6; Psalm 6:4-5; 30:9; 88:10; Isaiah 38:18).
When a person dies it is generally thought by professing Christians that the person is really alive in some way or form. It seems that people have a belief in an "immortal soul" of sorts and that it is just the body that dies but the "soul goes marching on." For example, if "Joe Smith" dies and was a faithful member of the church, his Pastor may remark at Joe's funeral that Joe has went on to be with the Lord. The Pastor may also say something like, "Joe is looking down on us right now." Are these thoughts Biblical? Do people even care what the Bible has to say about the state of those who have died?
Ecclesiastes 9:2-6 - "All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath. This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 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."
Notice that at death the same thing happens to both the righteous and unrighteous, the clean and unclean, the good and the sinner. It is not that the good person goes to heaven and the bad person goes to "hell" (an often misunderstood and misinterpreted word). They all go to the same place; to the dead, that is the state of death. The text goes on to say that the living know that they will die. As I write this paragraph, I know that one day I will grow old and I will die; that is something that I am assured of, because I am alive right now and can think and reason with my intellect. The opposite of that is that the dead do not know anything. How can this be if they are in heaven praising and worshiping Yahweh? Certainly they would know something. Or what about if they are being tormented in "hell" with fire as nominal Christianity teaches. Don't you think they would know they were on fire? Of course they would, but the point is that they do not know because they are really dead. It's not just that they appear to us to be dead, but have really survived death in some form.
Psalm 88:10 - "Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah."
Here the psalmist asks if Yahweh can show a wonder to a dead person. He also asks if the dead will praise Yahweh. Notice though that the psalmist understands that praise can only be given by the dead if they have risen, that is, if resurrection takes place. A dead person cannot praise Yahweh.
Psalm 6:4-5 - "Return, O Yahweh, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?"
Here David asks Yahweh to deliver him and save him because he knows that if he dies he his memory will be gone and he will not be able to give thanks to Yahweh. This is why the writer rhetorically asks, "in the grave who will give you thanks?"
Psalm 30:9 - "What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee?shall it declare thy truth?"
Here we see that when a person goes into the pit (corruption, decay, etc.) they do not have the ability to praise Yahweh or declare His truths. When the psalmist says "shall the dust praise thee" he is hearkening back to what Yahweh declared to Adam in Genesis 3:19, "for dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return." Man was made from the dust of the earth, and when man dies he goes back to the dust of the earth.
Isaiah 38:18 - "For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth."
There is no praising Yahweh for the dead who have went to the grave. They cannot celebrate Him or hope for His truth, because they are... dead. They are not conscious.
There are other passages in Scripture that teach this truth; the dead are really dead - they are not alive somewhere else in the universe. However, there is hope for those who have died in Christ. That hope is not experienced right now, but in the future at the resurrection of their bodies (1 Thess. 4; 1 Cor. 15).
I have recently been studying and pondering much on the topic of death, heaven, hell, resurrection, etc. as recorded in Scripture. I'm aware that there are numerous thoughts from various people and groups on the issue, but seeing that the Bible is where I begin, I am interested in what the Bible teaches on the subject. I'm literally flabbergasted at the lack of scriptural support most professing Christians and Christian denominations have for their view. The most common view of all (in the broad spectrum of Christendom) is that when a person dies they either go to heaven to live with Yahweh, or they go to "hell" and begin their process of burning for eternity. In spite of how common this view is, I cannot find it to be substantiated in Scripture. For now, I want to only speak about the term the Bible uses often to describe death - asleep.
Notice John 11:11-14
"These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Yeshua spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Yeshua unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead."
The above passage makes it obvious that our Lord referred to death as sleeping. This is what Yeshua had in mind to begin with, but the His disciples thought he was talking about natural sleep rather than the sleep of death. Recognize that Yeshua did not exclaim that Lazarus had obtained immortality, was with God, was in heaven, etc. He was sleeping, i.e. in the sleep of death.
The same is said of the disciple Stephen in Acts 7:59-60:
"And they stoned Stephen, calling upon Elohim, and saying, Lord Yeshua, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."
Consider also 1 Corinthians 15 (vss. 17-23), a chapter in which resurrection is the context:
"And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."
Those fallen asleep in Christ is another way of saying those that have died in a right relationship with Christ. Paul is explaining in the chapter that there is a promise of a resurrection, and we need not fret that we only have hope in this life. He goes on to speak of Christ being raised from the dead and being the firstfruits of them that sleep. Notice how "dead" and "sleep" are used interchangeably here. The answer to Christ's death was resurrection unto eternal life, thus the answer to death (for those in Christ) will be resurrection unto eternal life.
Paul also speaks somewhat of this in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14:
"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Yeshua died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Yeshua will Elohim bring with him."
Notice again that Paul is speaking of people who are asleep and he clarifies those he speaks of even more so by saying that they are asleep in Yeshua. Paul point here in these two short sentences is that we should not sorrow for we have a hope of resurrection. He hearkens back to the resurrection of Yeshua. Yeshua died, but was resurrected by the power of Yahweh. In the same way we will be resurrected from the sleep of death at the coming of Yeshua the Messiah.
Going back now to some passages in the Tanak (Old Testament) we read the following:
Psalm 13:3 - "Consider and hear me, O Yahweh my Elohim: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death."
1 Kings 2:10 - "So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David."
Job 14:12 - "So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep."
Daniel 12:2 - "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."
Each of these passage equate death with the analogy of sleeping. Let me quote one more passage at length to conclude - Acts 13:32-37.
"And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, Elohim hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Yeshua again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of Elohim, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom Elohim raised again, saw no corruption."
The point that Paul makes here in Acts 13 is that Yeshua is the man spoken about in the many Davidic prophecies of the Tanak, seeing that Yeshua was a descendant from the line or family of David. David fell asleep, died, and saw corruption, decay, i.e. his body did rot. The one whom Yahweh raised, Yeshua, did not see corruption, He did not rot.
There is much more to say concerning these topics, but I've given enough for you to start "chewing" on in this small post. Let us always allow Scripture to be our guide.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.