How do Trinitarian Christians explain this to people who neither understand nor believe the Trinity?
As an orthodoxly trinitarian Christian, I can only answer by saying how I would answer a non-trinitarian-believing person who asked the question, ‘Who resurrected Jesus – the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit?’. This would not be with a view to getting them to believe this doctrine, but purely to arouse a sense of wonder at the awesomeness of God. I hope other trinitarian Christians add further insights into how such a question could be answered, for my answer is by no means complete.
The simple answer is that all three resurrected Jesus. It did not have to be one of the ‘persons’ in the Godhead, or two of the others. The entire Godhead was equally involved in this unique resurrection, the likes of which had never happened in all creation, up till that time when the crucified Christ was raised in triumph from the grave. That is why Christ is called “the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18). Others had been resurrected in Old Testament times, and Jesus had also resurrected a few individuals before he died himself. But all of those ones were raised as human sinners who would have to die again, as mortals. Not so with the crucified Christ, who died sinless. Death could not hold him, for death can only claim sinners. As the Son of God, he gave himself over to death as a sacrifice to God, trusting in the promises of the Father for his resurrection (as in Psalm 16:10), with a living faith.
Hence the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is based on His Life. Due to
a deathless life in Him, He cannot be held by death... Only what is of
God can be resurrected... Whatever is of Adam cannot live upon its
going into death. But the life of the Lord is quite able to pass
through death and come out again. This is resurrection. - Christ the Sum of all Spiritual Things ch. 2, Christ is the Resurrection and the Life, Watchman Nee (CFP Pub. Inc, NY, 1973)
Consider what Jesus said to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Notice what he did not say about her brother’s death and resurrection. Jesus did not say “I will resurrect and give life…” (for he intended to resurrect Lazarus). No, he claimed to BE – in his own person – The Resurrection and The Life. Christ already had resurrection power in him, before he submitted to death. That is why he could say what you cited (John 2:19-22 and 10:18). He had authority to both lay down his life and to take it – his life – up again. He would raise the temple of his body in three days. He would do it because he had the authority as being The Resurrection and the Life.
This authority came from the Father, as Jesus explained: “…the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (John 14:31). So, when Jesus raised himself from the dead, he was ‘only’ doing what his Father had commanded him to do! And that was done in the power of the Holy Spirit. This inter-relatedness and co-operation of the three ‘persons’ of the Godhead is again shown here, when Jesus said “All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” (John 16:15)
The resurrection of Christ was not an independent act of the Father. It was not an independent act of the Holy Spirit. It was not an independent act of Christ. All three were equally involved with the unique miracle of the crucified Christ being resurrected.
That is why, as your comments detail, Acts 2:24 says that God raised Jesus from the dead, confirmed in Romans 6:4 which says Christ “was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father”. That is why Romans 1:4 says that Jesus was, through the Spirit of holiness, declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead, and 1 Peter 3:18 says Jesus was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.
There is no contradiction. All three ‘persons’ of the Godhead combined in perfect oneness of purpose to fulfill the prophecy in Psalm 16:10, that God would not let his Holy One be abandoned to the grave or see decay there, quoted by the apostle Peter in Acts 2:24-31:
“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of
death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
David said about him, ‘…you will not abandon me to the grave nor will
you let your Holy One see decay…’ Seeing what was ahead he [David]
spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to
the grave nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to
life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.”
The resurrection of Christ provides an insight into the awesome harmony and equal power of the three ‘persons’ in the Godhead. Every time God is credited with resurrecting Christ, the whole Godhead is incorporated into that praise.
That is how I would explain the matter to a non-trinitarian-believing person asking about who raised Jesus.
in consequence of death Christ's Godhead was not separated from His soul, nor from His flesh. Consequently, both the soul and the flesh of the dead Christ can be considered in two respects: (1) in respect of His Godhead; (2) in respect of His created nature. Therefore,
according to the virtue of the Godhead united to it, the body took back again the soul which it had laid aside, and the soul took back again the body which it had abandoned: and thus Christ rose by His own power. And this is precisely what is written (2 Cor. 13:4): "For although He was crucified through" our "weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God."
But if we consider the body and soul of the dead Christ according to the power of created nature, they could not thus be reunited, but it was necessary for Christ to be raised up by God.
Responding to the objection that Christ was raised by another (e.g., by the Father or the Holy Ghost), St. Thomas writes (ibid. ad 1):
The Divine power is the same thing as the operation of the Father and the Son; accordingly these two things are mutually consequent, that Christ was raised up by the Divine power of the Father, and by His own power.
It's not hard to see why the Trinity is confusing (it's a concept we can't entirely grasp as finite beings), however the Trinity is indivisible, so trying to say that one member of the Trinity did something the others did not isn't correct.
I think AW Tozer's explanation in his book The Knowledge of the Holy is helpful. Quotes from Chapter 4: The Holy Trinity
The Persons of the Godhead, being one, have one will. They always work together, and never one smallest act is done by one without the instant acquiescence of the other two. Every act of God is accomplished by the Trinity in Unity. Here, of course, we are being driven by necessity to conceive of God in human terms.
Tozer called the three titles of the Trinity "creature words". In other words, we have to use words we can relate to to describe something (only in part) that we cannot ever hope to possibly understand. Later in that same chapter
A popular belief among Christians divides the work of God between three Persons, giving a specific part to each, as, for instance, creation to the Father, redemption to the Son and, and regeneration to the Holy Spirit. This is partly true but not wholly so, for God cannot so divide Himself that one Person works while another is inactive. In the Scriptures the three Persons are shown to act in harmonious unity in all the mighty works that are wrought throughout the universe.
The Trinity is not meant to be fully understood. It's an attribute of an infinite being, trying to be described to finite ones. But the Trinity is indivisible, and therefore the answer is "All of them".
What Jesus was saying both in John 2:19 and in John 10:17-18, is that his resurrection depended on him, in the sense that sinlessness of his thoughts and actions, and his obedience unto death to the Father was the necessary (NOT sufficient) condition of his own resurrection, that is for the Father to approve of him by raising him from the dead (Rom 10:9).
Who resurrected Jesus - The Father, The Son, or The Holy Spirit?
The Father has Authority over His Son's Spirit:
Luke 23:46 [NIV] : "Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last."
In context to the Tanakh, God's ability to resurrect a physical body with His Spirit in Ezekiel 37:8-14 :
[Ezekiel 37:14] "I will put My spirit into you, and you shall live". (וְנָֽתַתִּ֨י רוּחִ֚י בָכֶם֙ וִֽחְיִיתֶ֔ם )
Reflect on the attributes of spiritless body in [Ezekiel 37:8] "flesh came upon them, and skin covered them from above, but there was still no spirit in them."
Consider the attributes of a Resurrected Body in [Ezekiel 37:12] "So says the Lord YHVH God: Lo! I open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves as My people, and bring you home". - [Ezekiel 37:13] "Then you shall know that I am YHVH, when I open your graves and lead you up out of your graves as My people." (וִֽידַעְתֶּ֖ם כִּֽי־אֲנִ֣י יְהֹוָ֑ה בְּפִתְחִ֣י אֶת־קִבְרֽוֹתֵיכֶ֗ם וּבְהַֽעֲלוֹתִ֥י אֶתְכֶ֛ם מִקִּבְרֽוֹתֵיכֶ֖ם עַמִּֽי )
The Trinitarian perspective of an Ivri (Hebrew) Resurrection, can be explained with Luke 24:39, John 4:24, John 20:27 & Psalm 51:13 where we learn the Holy Spirit (Ruach Qadesh, ר֥וּחַ קָ֜דְשְׁ ) is the bond that joins us to YHVH.
In [Luke 24:39] We learn from the resurrected Jesus : 'a spirit does not have flesh and bones'. - We also learn in [John 20:27] that the fully Resurrected Body of Yeshua (Jesus) Ha-Mashiach (the-Messiah) has physical & spiritual attributes.
**Luke 24:39** [NIV] : "Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
John 20:27 [NIV]: "Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Psalm 51:13 [MT]
"Do not cast me away from before You, and do not take Your holy spirit from me."
(אַל־תַּשְׁלִיכֵ֥נִי מִלְּפָנֶ֑יךָ וְר֥וּחַ קָ֜דְשְׁךָ֗ אַל־תִּקַּ֥ח מִמֶּֽנִּי )
By rejecting the Holy Spirit, you would reject your relationship with the Father. This is why Simon (Peter) repents three times in John 21 to parallel the rejection of his bond to Yeshua, three times in Matthew 26.
The Holy Spirit can be given / taken by The Father. The Holy Spirit can also be rejected by man - based on Matthew 26. The Holy Spirit can also return directly to the Father's presence by the Son-of-Man in Luke 23:46.
The Father is able to receive the Holy Spirit from The Son, and return the Holy Spirit to resurrect the Son. - As long as the Son is bound to the Father through the Holy Spirit, they are one.
There is no need for confusion or doubt regarding this if we let the text speak to us and not read things into it.
It is also clear that Jesus did not raise himself - he was dead.
There are over 20 verses explaining that God Raised Jesus from the dead. (Note 1)
There are another 3 (at least) that specify the Father.
There are no verses suggesting the Spirit raised Jesus.
Let's see how this works from the text.
Jesus, when born in the flesh, was mortal. When he died, he was dead until his Father raised him.
Romans 6:9 ‘knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is
never to die again, death no longer is master over Him’
We see here that Jesus did die and that he cannot die again (now immortal - obviously he wasn't before his death)
We see Jesus was raised to a new spirit life 1 Peter 3:18.
...having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive IN (not by) the spirit.
This is referring to the new spirit life that Jesus now has in him - immortality.
Jesus is not a 'spirit'
Luke 24:36-9 Jesus explained, ‘See my hands and my feet, that it is I
myself; touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones
as you see that I have.’
Acts 2:33 ‘Exalted to the right hand of God (at his resurrection), he has received from the
Father the promised Holy Spirit'
If he was clearly mortal - and not a spirit - how could he raise himself anyway?
God raised him. Rom 10:9, Col 2:12, Acts 2:24, 5:30, 4:10, 10:40, 13:30 etc 1 Cor 6:14 'God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power'
Romans 8:11 If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead
dwells in you...
This is the spirit of God - God raised him - BY His spirit.
The Father raised him - Rom 6:4, Gal 1:1, Eph 1:20
So we can see that there are only two explanations of who raised Jesus - God and the Father - showing that they are the same - God IS the Father and the Father is God.
Those verses that say Jesus 'took' up his life. (none of which speak of 'raising from the dead' except in couched terms in the form of analogy or type, i.e. 'destroy the temple' story)
John 10:17-18 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down
my life 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. This charge I have received from
His authority was given him. Why? Simply because he had qualified to live again by remaining sinless in the flesh as a man. Which is why we read in Rom 6:9 that death was 'master over him' during that time.
While in the flesh, if Jesus has sinned just once he would forfeit his new spirit eternal life that the Father would give him.
And so we read about his earnest request to his father to save him from death.
Heb 5:7 ‘In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and
supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him
This is NOT death on the cross, but the death he would die if he slipped up and put his will before the Father's.
Jesus was within his rights to 'expect' the Father to raise him - he had succeeded in his mission perfectly - 'It is finished!'
Death could not hold him - legally. Yet he still waited for the Father to raise him at the appointed time.
Note 1. God raised Jesus, not Jesus, not the spirit - according to the bible anyway. I wont show the text, there are too many. Rom 10:9,8:11 (spirit OF Him) Acts 3:15, 2:32, 17:31,5:30, 10:40, 13:30, 33,34,37, 4:10, Eph 1:20, 2 Cor 13:4,4:14, 1Cor 6:14, Col 2:12, plus a few others that are not as bluntly repetitious.