Jesus answered them and said, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’  (John 2:19)

This has raised the question of whether Jesus was actually dead during the three days, contrary to the normal Bible teaching that death is sleep without consciousness or activity.
The question then is this: If Jesus was truly dead for three days, with no consciousness, then how would he be able to raise himself up?

If John 2:19 was read super-literally, it would contradict Jesus own statement in Revelation 1:18 “I was dead”.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17-18)

The answer is that this is a statement about consequence. Jesus is able to be raised because he did not sin. It was his choice, free will to obey God and die.

Compare the similar statement by Jesus in John 10:

“No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it back. This commandment I received from My Father.” (John 10:18)

Here it is clear that Jesus willing lays down his life (though in fact it was the Romans that crucified him) and as a consequence has authority to take it back (though again it is God, his Father, who actually raises Jesus.

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