Resurrection! Part 1: Earthly

Luca Signorelli’s medieval Resurrection of the Flesh

The Watchtower Teaching

Unlike the Signorelli painting above, the Watchtower describes the earthly resurrection as the injecting of a dead person’s memories and personality into a newly created body.

They teach that the vast majority of humankind will be resurrected to life on earth: both the “righteous and the unrighteous.” This includes “billions of ‘unrighteous’ ones.” These are said to have gone to Sheol.

But not everyone will be resurrected. Those excluded are said to have gone to Gehanna instead of Sheol. Included in this group are:

In the past, the Watchtower has taught that resurrected ones will not be permitted to marry, or to reunite with their spouse as a married couple. In 2014, however, this understanding was revised to “we don’t know.”

A Thought About the Teaching

A question arises in my mind regarding the resurrected individual:
Is this the same person who died?

Since we have no way to test this, the best we can do is to engage in some thought experiments.

What if it were possible to inject your memories (and whatever we might mean by “personality”) into a computer, android, or living clone? Would it be you?

In Disneyland men have created an “animatronic” of Abraham Lincoln. You can watch “him” move around, gesture, and recite Lincoln’s speeches. It looks and sounds very much like the real thing.

Despite this marvelous creation though, I don’t think anyone would point to it as evidence that Abraham Lincoln literally lives. Lincoln is still very much dead.

Blade Runner was a great sci-fi movie from 1982. In the film, the character of  Rachael is of interest. She is a human-like robot injected with the memories of her creator’s niece, causing her to believe she is his niece, and that the memories are hers. However, the real niece (of course) does not believe that the robot is in fact herself.

On a lighter note, the 1996 comedy Multiplicity can aid our thought-experiment when it comes to clones. In this film, the main character (Doug) has himself cloned. The clone (dubbed “Two”) turns out to be an exact adult replica of Doug. Two has all the memories of Doug, and initially assumes that Doug is the clone! Naturally; Two thinks that he himself is Doug; he possesses all of Doug’s memories and personality. However, there is no doubt in Doug’s mind that Two is not him.

Dali Lives! On an AI interactive screen

At the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, they have used artificial intelligence and an interactive screen to “bring to life” the deceased artist in a presentation called Dali Lives! Visitors to the museum can experience what it would have been like to talk directly with Dali when he was still alive, and can even have their picture taken with him! But all of this cutting-edge technology does Dali just as much good as the Disneyland animatronic does for Lincoln: zilch. Both men are still very much dead.

For our final thought-experiment, please consider this. What if Jehovah were to create a new body right now, in front of your eyes, and place your memories and personality into it. You stand there looking at it. Do you think it is you? Or are you the one looking at this new body? What if you were to now suddenly die. Does the new body now somehow magically become you? Or are you dead?

Injecting your memories and personality into a newly created being in the New Order, seemingly will not do anything for you. It will be just like “Two” in Multiplicity and just like the android in Blade Runner. Oh yes, this new being on this new earth will think that they’re you. But is that any consolation? Can you take comfort in knowing that you will have a surrogate sincerely posing as you for eternity?

It’s not you that will be resurrected.

You will still be dead. As dead as Lincoln and Dali.


Don’t miss Part 2: The Resurrection of the “Unrighteous”!

Resurrection! Part 3: Judgments

Jehovah is the final Judge. (Acts 10:42) He will never resurrect those whom he judges to be wicked and unwilling to change.

What Does the Bible Really Teach? (WBTS, 2016 printing) p.74, parg. 20
Last Judgment (1549), by Marcello Venusti after Michelangelo‘s Sistine Chapel The Last Judgement (1541)


According to the Watchtower doctrine, stated above, Jehovah has judged some people as unchangeably wicked during their lifetime. He won’t even bother resurrecting them to give them the second chance everyone else gets in the New Order, where the truth will be made manifest so that people can make an informed decision whether to serve Jehovah.

But here’s the thing: if Jehovah can judge people in the “Old System,” why do we need to be judged during the millennium? If some have been judged as unchangeably wicked, prior to the millennium, by default the rest have already been judged as not unchangeably wicked. So, why is a second judgment needed?

Russell’s main contribution to Christian theology was his teaching that everyone living would survive Armageddon, and all of the dead would be resurrected. We would all be judged in the New Order, where our “eyes would be opened,” since Satan would be “bound” for a thousand years, and no longer able to keep us in the dark during that time.

It wasn’t fair, Russell said, to judge the blind for not being able to see. Only in the New Order would there be a level playing-field with everyone getting a fair chance to decide where they stood. No one would be judged in the Old Order.

But the Watchtower of today has us judged during our lifetimes (as being worthy of a resurrection or of surviving Armageddon), and once again in the New Order as being good enough to continue living. Then a third time, based on how we respond to Satan being once again let loose to mislead us, at the end of the millennium.

It’s sort of like when the Watchtower tells us that the angels direct our work, leading us to the “right-hearted” people who are receptive to our message. So, those people have already been judged (in this case, as worthy to hear about Jehovah, and thus have a chance of making it into the New Order). And, of course, this also means that those whom the angels don’t direct us to are already judged as unworthy of a chance.

If “Jehovah can read hearts and perceive our innermost motives,” and he has a complete record of our “memories and personality” in his own mind (in order to be able to resurrect us), then he is intimately familiar with our character, and already knows who is unchangeably wicked. The Bible relates that Jehovah had judged Esau and Jeremiah before they were even born! It says that he “knows the end from the beginning.” So, why would he need repeated testing of us?

Either the Watchtower has gotten carried away with judgments, or Jehovah doesn’t trust us — or his own judgment.

Don’t miss Part 4: The Heavenly Resurrection!

Resurrection! Part 4: Heavenly

Identity Crisis

Those resurrected to heavenly life (the 144,000 “anointed ones”) share the same identity problem as those who are expecting an earthly resurrection. Since, in Watchtower theology, nothing survives death, Jehovah is only left with his memory of the individual’s “memories and personality,” which he must recreate in a new body. In this case it’s a spirit body, but it’s the same issue as when it’s a physical body: the original person is lost in the process.

It is not you who will enjoy either a paradise earth or a life in the heavenly realm; it will be an identity thief. (Please see our first article in this series: Resurrection! (Earthly).)

William Blake‘s The Day of Judgment (1808)

Dying to go to Heaven

A problem unique to the heavenly resurrection is that all 144,000 of the anointed have to be dead before Armageddon begins, so that they can all participate, from heaven, in the slaughter of non Jehovah’s Witnesses (Please see: Vindication Vol. 3, pp. 13 ,92, 96-97; Revelation: It’s Grand Climax at Hand [WBTS, 1988 ed.] p. 53, and Armageddon–A Happy Beginning).

In fact, the Watchtower has given the decrease in the number of the anointed still on earth (known as “the remnant”) as one of the signs of the “last days”.

But, instead of dying out, in recent years more people are partaking of the “emblems” at the annual “memorial service” (a ritual that only the anointed are allowed to participate in).

Thanks to Paul Grundy of jwfacts for this chart.

It’s hard to reconcile the Watchtower’s warning about Armageddon being due “any day now,” with the fact that there are still thousands of the anointed who have to die before that event can take place. Even more so when we consider that the number of “anointed ones” has grown 2-1/2 times between 2006 and 2020! Maybe that’s why the Watchtower has stated that some of these thousands are not really anointed, but only think that they are, due to a mental problem!

So, if your “heavenly hope” goes against the neatly laid out plans of the Watchtower’s eschatology, you must be nuts!

A non-uplifting “Rapture”

Having dispensed, in such an off-handed manner, with their members’ personal religious experiences, the Watchtower tackles the dying-off problem in a similarly roughshod manner. The remnant, we are told, will all die “in an instant” at the start of the “attack of Gog of Magog” (i.e., when the nations attack the Watchtower organization during the “Great Tribulation.”) Then Jehovah will create new spirit bodies and put his memories of their “memories and personality” into them, so that these new creatures will all be ready and eager to participate in the slaughter of Armageddon. This is the Watchtower’s watered-down version of the “rapture,” though they don’t like to use that name [because there is nothing: no soul–much less a physical body–that transfers to heaven]. (See Watchtower, July 2015, pp 18-19, parg. 14-15.)

This event is actually past due. Russell and Rutherford expected that all the “faithful” would be gathered to heaven in the year 1910 (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 3 (1891 ed.) p. 364). The photo below (from the Sept. 1910 Watchtower, page 282) shows them posing on a fitting spot in April of that year: the Mount of Olives (where they believe Jesus ascended into heaven). This seems to suggest that they were expecting to be carried bodily up into heaven. But, just like the Watchtower of today, Russell was not a believer in a physical “rapture” into heaven; he thought the faithful had to die first in order to be “instantly with the Lord.” (Studies in the Scriptures Vol III: Thy Kingdom Come (1898 ed.) p. 240)

Russell, Rutherford, et al., in Palestine, 1910: waiting for entrance to heaven.

So, I wonder how long they waited before they dejectedly returned to America; depressed that they were still alive on Earth: their hopes dashed. At least they didn’t take matters into their own hands and kill themselves — as some cults have done en masse in more recent times.

Another Job to do

After these new spirit-beings have assisted with the killing of billions of men, women, children, and babies, their work will still be far from over. They then must assist Jesus with ruling over the earth for a thousand years. This will include judging and zapping anyone who disobeys them.

According to Watchtower belief, Jesus created the entire universe all by himself. Yet, he needs 144,000 helpers to rule over one planet. “Helpers” with clear minds, who possess a remarkable sense of justice; having the personality and memories of such people as Stephen Lett, Sam Herd, and Tony Morris! Joining them, of course, will be new spirit-beings with the personalities and memories of other current and former members of the Governing Body, whose record shows that they could never quite get God’s message right the first time [or often the second or third time].


On an amusing side-note: have you ever noticed that the Watchtower always depicts the 144,000 as gray-bearded old men? [Some examples: the cover of the Jan, 2021 Watchtower, a 2006 Watchtower article, and Who Goes to Heaven?] This is in spite of the fact that there have been many females among the “anointed.” Are we to understand that the personalities and memories of anointed women are placed into male spirit-bodies in heaven? And why does the Watchtower frown so hard upon men having beards in this “Old Order” if even the females will evidently sprout beards in the New Order (at least on the heavenly side of things)?

Don’t Miss: Part 5: Jesus’ Resurrection!

Resurrection! Part 5: Jesus

Noli me tangere (“Touch me not”) by Titian c. 1511–1515

The Watchtower Teaching

The Watchtower teaches that Jesus’ resurrection was exactly the way in which all of the anointed will be resurrected: his memories and personality were inserted into a new spirit body by Jehovah.

Jehovah also took care of “dissolving Jesus’ physical body.”

The only thing the new “Jesus” had to do with it was to then “materialize various fleshly bodies to suit the occasion, for the purpose of giving to his disciples visible, palpable evidence of his resurrection.” (See Insight on the Scriptures, (“Flesh”) p.841)

Recalling the Watchtower’s definition of death:

“When a person dies, he ceases to exist. Death is the opposite of life. The dead do not see or hear or think. Not even one part of us survives the death of the body.”

What Does the Bible Really Teach (WBTS, 2005), p. 58, parg. 5 emphasis added

This means that Jesus did not exist for about a day and a half [sorry; there are not “three days and three nights” between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning]. In fact, since “not even one part of us survives the death of the body,” it follows that Jesus is still dead, and always will be. This is one reason why other Christians balk at the Watchtower’s doctrine.

The Watchtower is adamant that we are not spirit-beings (or “souls”) inhabiting physical bodies. Though they believe Jesus was a spirit-being prior to being born, they insist that Jesus was not an “incarnation” [a spirit inhabiting a body], but rather literally “became flesh.” But, since the Watchtower tells us that Jesus was resurrected as a spirit, when he “materialized various fleshly bodies,” it follows that he was then a spirit inhabiting a physical body. So, such an arrangement is possible, and has happened more than once. [Someone must’ve “dissolved” all of these bodies as well, once Jesus was done showing them off to his disciples.]

A Revealing Digression

Having broached the subject of “incarnation,” let’s make a slight digression: one that throws additional light on our main topic. How, exactly, does the Watchtower say that Jesus was “made flesh”?

Since actual conception took place, it appears that Jehovah God caused an ovum or egg cell in Mary’s womb to become fertile, accomplishing this by the transferral of the life of his firstborn Son from the spirit realm to earth. (Gal. 4:4) Only in this way could the child eventually born have retained identity as the same person who had resided in heaven as the Word

Aid to Bible Understanding (WBTS, 1971) p. 920

If the “transferal of life” is the “only way” that Jesus could retain his “identity as the same person,” then how could the new spirit-being, following his resurrection, have possibly been the same person? The Watchtower tells us that Jesus died. His life ended. There was no life left to transfer to a new spirit body. Yet, they tell us that the transfer of life is the only way to retain one’s identity!

The zygote that Jesus became in Mary’s womb did not have a brain capable of storing memories or of having a personality. Yet, the Watchtower tells us that this cell was Jesus. Therefore one’s memories and personality cannot [re-]constitute the person; only the “transfer of their life” does that. But those who are waiting to be resurrected have no life to be transferred, nor does the Watchtower teach that their resurrection will involve the transfer of their life. Therefore, there is no way that a resurrected individual will be the same person who died.

The Bible’s Teaching

The Watchtower doctrine also encounters some problems reconciling to what the Bible actually says. The Bible seems to indicate that Jesus — not Jehovah — was the one who performed the resurrection, and it was a resurrection of his body:

The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”
But the temple he had spoken of was his body.

John 2:18-21 (NIV)

After the resurrection, Jesus clearly told people that he was not a spirit:

See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you see that I have.

Luke 24:39

Tricks of the Trade

The Great Vanishing Act

According to the Watchtower, Jesus was deceiving them; after his resurrection, he really was a spirit, disguising himself in a physical body, and telling people that he was not a spirit! Jesus also must’ve lied when he previously told his disciples that he would resurrect his body. The illusion was completed by Jehovah’s making the dead body of Jesus vanish into thin air, and then by the new “Jesus” materializing and dematerializing new physical bodies to incarnate into and out of!

Pity all of those foolish would-be Christians who fell for it for nearly 2,000 years, before the Watchtower revealed the secrets behind the trick!

The Transfiguration, (1516-1520) by Raphael

It wasn’t entirely a new trick, though. A similar deception had been perpetrated on the disciples before, at the “transfiguration.” There, a non-existent, long-dead Moses (and Elijah) appeared before the disciples, and had a conversation with Jesus. The Bible tells us that the men were Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:30), even though they hadn’t been resurrected yet. This would lead us to surmise that these men were still existing after death.

But the Watchtower, having to deny any hint of immortal souls, tells us that the men were not Moses and Elijah, but rather were the result of a sort of mass-hypnosis that affected all of the witnesses.

Resurrection! Series Conclusion

The doctrine of immortal souls is certainly not without its own issues, improbabilities, and contradictions. But, with Occam’s Razor in hand, it would be the Watchtower’s resurrection doctrine that would be the first to be cut out, due to its having so many more assumptions, and things it needs to “explain away” and force-fit into its interpretation.