God’s Word foretold the resurrection of Jesus. For example, David wrote that God’s chief “loyal one” would not be left in the Grave. On the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., the apostle Peter applied that prophetic verse to Jesus. A reason why we know that Jesus was restored to life is that we have the testimony of many witnesses. Over a period of 40 days, the resurrected Jesus appeared to his disciples in the garden where the tomb was located as well as on the road to Emmaus and elsewhere. On those occasions, he spoke to individuals, including Peter, and to groups. Why, the resurrected Jesus once appeared to a crowd of more than 500 people! Testimony involving so many eyewitnesses cannot be discounted.
At a recent Annual Meeting the Governing Body explained that they were discounting the type/antitype understanding of various biblical accounts that Jehovah’s Witnesses previously espoused, unless there was clear evidence to support it. That is just as well.
However, there is one very prominent type, fore-gleam, or prophetic drama if you prefer, that has never been recognized as such —the reason is obvious. And what is that? Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances are the type. What is the antitype? His parousia, his presence. This is most evident in his post-ascension appearance to Saul. That close encounter left the pharisee blinded and stunned for three days, unable to eat or even drink. Afterward, what appeared as scales literally fell off his eyes.
Whereas, Jesus only appeared to his disciples prior to his ascension what is the significance of the Lord’s appearing to Saul, who at the time was an opposer of Christ? The apostle explained to the Corinthians that Jesus was killed and raised up on the third day “and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that he appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still with us, though some have fallen asleep in death. After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. But last of all he appeared also to me as if to one born prematurely. For I am the least of the apostles, and I am not worthy of being called an apostle, because I persecuted the congregation of God.”
In what sense was Paul born prematurely? Because all of the others, the apostles and women believers and the 500, saw Jesus in a human form. However, Saul saw Jesus after his ascension, which is how all the chosen ones will see him when he is manifest. But will their seeing him require that they be resurrected into the spirit world where Jesus now resides? No. The living who survive to the presence will see Jesus just as did Saul.
The reason the Watchtower does not recognize this profound truth is because they are committed to promoting an invisible parousia. In that respect, they are like the senseless, disbelieving apostles who refused to accept that Jesus was going to die and be resurrected. They even disbelieved the women to whom Jesus first appeared and told them to tell his brothers that he was alive. That is why Jesus rebuked them as being senseless and slow in heart to believe the things the prophets spoke.
Thomas was especially obstinate and refused to believe unless he had a personal visitation from the resurrected Christ and could examine the wounds of his impalement.
That brings us back to Saul/Paul. What is the significance of Christ appearing to a man who persecuted and devastated the congregation of God? He typifies the old-guard of the anointed, the pharisaic overseers, those whom Jesus spoke of in his illustration of the vineyard workers who resent the 11th-hour workers receiving the same wage as they. In accord with the principle that Christ iterated both before and after the illustration, namely: “In this way, the last ones will be first, and the first ones last.”
During the parousia Jesus will appear to the least first. And quite likely their witnessing concerning their having seen Christ will bring upon them persecution from the rest, until Jesus finally appears to them, as he did Saul, and their blindness is overpowered by the light of Christ.