In John 2:19-22 Jesus tells the Jews that he will perform a miraculous sign by raising the temple of his body in three days.

"Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.” 20 “This temple took forty-six years to build,” the Jews replied, “and You are going to raise it up in three days?” 21 But Jesus was speaking about the temple of His body. 22 After He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this."

In John 10:18 Jesus says he has authority to lay down his life and authority 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."

Yet in Acts 2:24 it says that God raised Jesus from the dead.

"But God raised Him from the dead, releasing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for Him to be held in its clutches."

According to Biblical Unitarians, was it the Father that raised Jesus, or the Son Himself?

(This question was inspired by Lesley's question from a Trinitarian perspective here.)

  • Hi, was there anything else you thought should be included in this topic/answer?
    – steveowen
    Sep 14, 2021 at 22:14
  • @steveowen No, it's a good answer. I just lose track sometimes, SE's interface could be clearer about questions without accepted answers! Sep 22, 2021 at 4:13

2 Answers 2


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 should also be clear that Jesus did not raise himself because he was dead! There is some confusion over Jesus having two natures - allegedly only the human nature died; but this has no scriptural support, only supposition.

There are over 20 verses explaining that God raised Jesus from the dead. (Note 1) There are another ~5 that specify the Father did. There are no verses suggesting the Holy Spirit raised Jesus.

Romans 8:11 'If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus...' This refers not to the Holy Spirit (as the entity of) but the Spirit of God - 'Him'. So it's God doing the raising through His spirit.

Let's see how this works from the text.

  1. Jesus, when born in the flesh, was mortal. When he died, he was dead until he was raised.

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) Note- one does not 'raised' himself - it is done by an external force.

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. It is given by God to Jesus that which he didn't have before. God has raised him by His spirit and put this new spirit life in him - making him immortal for the first time - the firstfruit of firstfruits of the new Kingdom.

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?

While NOT A spirit, every verse teaches Jesus is a man - even once ascended and exalted - he is still a man. Nothing anywhere about resuming his (alleged) once eternal, spirit, equal with God the Father, life.

He will judge the world with justice by the man He (God) has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead." Acts 17:31

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Tim 2:5

  1. 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'

  2. 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. Again, we see confirmation that they are the same - God IS the Father and the Father is God.^

  1. 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 my Father.”

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 requests 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 from death’.

Taking a small detour here to explain this-

This is NOT the death on the cross that he DID die, but the death he would die if he slipped up and put his will before the Father's. We can readily see from the context of Heb 5, this is speaking of Jesus' whole life. Every moment he was learning, overcoming, growing and being made ready for the ultimate test. He was not yet ready after the initial temptation.

He learned obedience from the things He suffered, and having been perfected, he became the author of eternal salvation...

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth. NIV During the days of Jesus’ earthly life BLB

This is about Jesus' whole life, not the last few days or hours, and his total dependence on God for his success.

Resuming point #4

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. The 'I will raise it up' is a nuance of Jesus giving an overview of what's going to happen - not a detail of the mechanics of *how it will happen". He often said many things that baffled even those close to him - they had to be explained. The focus in this passage was the signs. Further the word used for 'I will raise it up' is ἐγερῶ (egerō) It appears to be used only once, so we must be careful to not read too much into this 'phrase' and derive important doctrine from it in isolation to other texts.

We must be careful when encountering apparent contradiction. Which is never of God, but from two predominate reasons; 1 - the bible is poorly translated - by bias or by the newer 'readable' versions that have lost some accuracy 2 - our understanding of the text is wrong.

We cannot have God raising Jesus, the Father raising Jesus, and Jesus raising himself (which is never written anyway) and not have contradiction.

So, according to a biblical understanding, shared by Biblical Unitarians, we know from other sources that God and Father are same entity and we know that God is one and Jesus is not God and therefore could not, cannot raise himself.

there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we exist. And there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ... 1 Cor 8:6

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.

^ more on that here

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Ken Graham
    Jun 24, 2021 at 6:22

Rather than add to a lengthy existing answer, I have a simple additional aspect to add to answering the Q.

"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." John 10:18

The word for authority is ἐξουσίαν (exousian) There are other English words derived from the same Gr. origin.

  • power
  • right

I suggest the word 'right' has a more appropriate application in John 10:18.

When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? Rm 9:21

Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living? 1 Cor 9:6

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12

We have seen previously that Jesus could not and did not raise himself. But he certainly had the right to be raised - being the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb without blemish. We are reminded that 'death could not hold him' and this is a legal fact that only a sinner needed to die for their sin. Jesus did not, so his death was of a sacrificial nature only. Acts 2:24 ^

So, while Jesus had the right to being raised, there is no biblical support for him raising himself against overwhelming support for God - the Father doing so.

Another aspect of Jesus' new life regarding a 'rebirth'.

  • "Authority" is better here than "right" because it is not only privilege but ability. It stands over against "no one takes it from me". Jul 1, 2021 at 11:51

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