Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”
Understanding And Applying the Text
At that time the Sadducees controlled the official political structures. They were the majority members of the Sanhedrin. The high-priestly families were Sadducees. The Sadducees were very strict on law and order issues.
The Sadducees denied the resurrection. They denied the existence of angels. And they denied the oral tradition of the Pharisees. Luke says they denied both the final resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul. (Acts 23:8.)
They believed the resurrection violated the rules of logic. They thought it contradicted the Mosaic laws. Here they give an example.
They base the story on the “kinsman-redeemer” law in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. This law provided the perpetuation of the family. It also provided for a widow. Children cared for their parents. Widows were vulnerable. Without children, a woman could only beg.
What was the status of a woman in the resurrection? If her marriage to several men lawful, what was her status?. In the resurrection, she would have several husbands and that violated the Mosaic Law. So, the resurrection cannot be true.
There was nothing wrong with their logic. It was their presuppositions that were incorrect. Their presuppositions were incorrect. The reason was they did not know the scriptures. And they denied the power of God. They did not know the scripture in spite of their learning.
Their goal was the same as the Pharisees. The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with treason against Rome or Israel. Here the Sadducees come with another type of trap. They thought they with this question Jesus must deny either scripture or logic.
The Sadducees started by invoking Moses. They wanted to establish the marriages were lawful. They assumed if there is a resurrection, God will restore everything. Everything includes giving back all He given before. God gives the gift of marriage. He gives wives to husbands and husbands to wives. This was the error they made. In the resurrection, there is no marriage. In the resurrection things will not be as before nor should we expect them to be the same. Much will be different. There will be no sin. That changes everything.
Jesus’ response was simple and straightforward. Y’all don’t know how to read. The answer is in the scripture.
Jesus told the Sadducees they erred because they did not know the scripture. This is the reason for all false doctrine. We either do not know or deny the scripture. How can we avoid this error? We need to let the scripture instruct us. We need to allow the scripture to correct our errors. The Sadducees thought they knew the answer. They ignored scriptures which violated what they thought they knew.
Christ said we will be like angels after the resurrection. Many have abused this passage. They claim Jesus said we will be angels. They ignore the context. We must not ignore the context. In context, Jesus is talking about marriage after the resurrection. Christ is correcting an error. Christ does not say we will become angels. He does not say we will be like angels in all respects. He says we will not marry as angels do not marry.
Luke gives the reason there will be no marriage. The reason is there will be no more death. There will be no need to propagate to replenish the earth. (Luke 20:36)
Jesus goes one step further to prove not only the resurrection but the immortality of the soul. He used a passage they were familiar with. (Exodus 3:6). God told Moses “I am” the God of Abraham. He did not say, “I was” the father of Abraham. So, Abraham and the fathers must be living.
Jesus ends the conversation with “You are badly mistaken!” This was not a small error. This was a huge error. Their error was, they pitted God’s revelation against itself. There violated the fundamental for exegesis. Scripture interprets scripture. God’s word never contradicts itself.
Mark reminds us through Christ’s words we have the hope of the resurrection. Come soon, Lord Jesus.