"I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This commandment I have received from my Father."
This verse is sometimes used in support of the Trinity. The argument is that Jesus is saying that he will raise himself, and since in other verses it says that God raised Jesus, then Jesus must be God.
First let me say that just plain common sense destroys this argument. The Bible is very clear that Jesus died. It does not say that part of him died, it says "Jesus died" (all of him). The Platonic argument that only his human side died is just that, Platonic (from Greek philosophy). Even if you believe that, if only part of him died, then he is not truly dead.
So if we say that Jesus raised himself, we then have to come to the conclusion that Jesus is not dead because he is alive enough to raise himself. So our only alternative is to say that the word of God is wrong when it says that Jesus died. So now we are in a position that says that the Bible is incorrect. This is ludicrous, the Bible is not wrong and it is utterly clear that Jesus died.
This also brings up the point that if Jesus is Almighty God, and God is immortal, how can you kill God?
Even from a Trinitarian point of view, this verse does not work. In Trinitarian theology the three separate persons have their distinct roles. The Father is the one who is supposed to have raised Jesus not the Son. No Trinitarian theologian would agree that the Son raised himself the same way they would never agree that the Father was crucified on the cross. The idea that Jesus raised himself is anti-Trinitarian. So if you believe that Jesus raised himself, congratulations, you belong to a denomination that is anti-Trinitarian. Look at what a Catholic Bible the NAB which is about as Trinitarian as it gets, says about this verse:
Footnote on Jn. 10:17-18: "Power to take it up again" – contrasts the role of the Father as the efficient cause of the resurrection in Acts 2:24, 4:10 etc. Romans 1:4, 4:24.
Now let us see what this verse really means.
First the word here translated as "power" is exousia. It occurs just over 100 times, in a majority of these occurrences the RV translates it as "authority," and 10 times as "right." It is not the common word for "power" which is dunamis which means - power, strength, ability.
Both AV and RV translate exousia as "right," for instance, in Rev. 22:14:
"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right (exousia) to the tree of life."
This obviously does not mean that obeying God’s commands gives a man the phisical power to raise himself from the dead to immortality, but that he is thereby granted a right to it.
Even more to the point is Jn 1:12:
"But to those that did accept him he gave power (exousia, RV- right) to become children of God."
The AV margins gives "right or privilege." Believers have been given the right or privilege of becoming children of God, they have not been given the power to become the children of God.
These passages above illustrate what Jesus meant when he said he had exousia – the right to take up his life again after having laid it down in death.
As to who actually raised Jesus from the dead, the Scriptures leave not the slightest doubt. Time after time we are told that God raised him from the dead. Consider very particularly the record in Acts 2 for a clear understanding of the relation between Christ and God. Acts 2:22 states,
"Jesus of Nazareth, a MAN accredited by God to by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him."
It then says in verse 24,
"But God raised him up."
Then in verses 25-28 it speaks of the promise that God made to David.
"For David says of him: Because you (GOD) will not abandon my soul (Jesus) to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption."
Verse 30 -32 goes on to say on the same subject:
"But since he was a prophet (David) and knew that God had sworn an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his thrown, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld nor did his flesh see corruption. GOD RAISED THIS JESUS, of this we are all witnesses."
This next verse is about as clear as it can get:
Acts 10:40 – This MAN God raised on the third day."
Here are a few more verses which all state that God raised Jesus from the dead. Please look them all up.
Acts 13:30, 33, 34, 37
2 Cor. 4:14
One thing to especially notice of John 10:17-18 is, it says:
"I have the power to take it up again. This commandment I have received from my Father."
It will be remarkably noted that the very context of these verses quoted to support the Trinity are directly contrary to the all-powerful, co-equal, none greater or less theory. The Father gave his Son a commandment. This is not equality.
One last thing, let us look at another verse on the same subject to see even more clearly that Jesus did not say or mean that he would resurrect himself. We go to Mark 14:58:
"We heard him say, I will destroy this temple made with hands and within three days I will build another not made with hands."
If we insist that when Jesus says that he will build another temple that it means that he will resurrect himself, then when he says that he will destroy the temple, that has to mean that he will kill himself.
Did Jesus kill himself? No. Someone else did it. Did Jesus raise himself? No. Someone else did it, God. You cannot have it both ways. You must apply the same rule to both sides.
Conclusion - It is very clear who raised Jesus. Let us end this study with two verses.
Acts 3:13 – "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Jesus."
Who glorified his servant? The God of Abraham, Jacob, the God of our ancestors. Do you interpret the verse above as if Jesus is the God of our ancestors? Of course not. Jesus is his servant.
Acts 5:30 – "The God of our ancestors raised Jesus."
So who raised Jesus?
The God of our ancestors.
The guy with four Aces (poker joke).
If you picked any answer but B you have not been paying attention.