The Sadducees and Jesus – Question about Resurrection

Bible Study Lesson:

  • Mark 12:18-27
  • Mat  22:23-33
  • Luke 20:27-40

Q. Who were Sadducees? What did they believe?

  • One of the religious parties / sects among the Jews during the time of Jesus Christ and the early church
  • They only held to the ‘Law of Moses’.
  • They rejected the traditions of the Pharisees and did not agree with them. (check out Jesus, Pharisees and Parable of Great Feast)
  • They did not believe in the ‘resurrection of the dead’.
  • They believed that “Souls die with the bodies”. (According the Jewish historian – Josephus)
  • They denied the resurrection of the body in Mat 22:23, Luke 20:27, Acts 4:1-2, 23:8.
  • They did not believe in the existence of Angels or Spirits. (Acts 23:8)
  • There are about 12 incidences of Sadducees in the bible (NT).
  • Other incident of ‘Jesus and Sadducees’ is found in Mat 16:1, when they ask Jesus to show a sign from Heaven.

Q. Why did they ask question about marriage?

  • They used Old testament law to disparage (expose or ridicule) the idea of resurrection.
  • They supposed that if there is any resurrected state at all, then this hypothetical example would cause contradictions and absurdity. It would cause either
    • A woman with seven husbands in heaven or
    • Insolvable puzzle, God may have on his hand, “Whose wife she must be?”
  • They thought, surely Jesus would not be able to answer this foolproof argument.
  • (How often are we confronted with seemingly logical argument against our faith? What is our response?)

Q. Idea of Remarriage in OT law?

  • Laws regarding remarriage are found in Deu 25:5-10.
  • The brother of the dead person must marry the his widow, so that the name of his brother (who is dead) will not be blotted out from Israel.

Q. Idea / Concept of Resurrection of Dead in Old testament?

  • There are many direct and indirect passages which point towards the ‘Resurrection of the Dead’. (Dan 12:2, Is 26:19, Job 19:23-27, Ps 17:15, Ps 49:15, etc)
  • One may ask, why are there not more and clearer passages of resurrection in OT? But, we need to understand that God did not reveal everything at once, but God’s revelation is in progression.

Q. What presuppositions (mistakes) did Sadducee make in their question to Jesus?

  • Life after resurrection (if any) will be like life on earth.
  • Law of Moses will be applicable in Resurrection.
  • Their greatest mistake was to measure the affairs of Resurrection with the existing world’s view.
  • Sadducee’s denial in resurrection goes beyond just a belief. For, if there is no resurrection, then there is no reward or punishment in after life. And ‘all that we see (natural), is all that is.”
  • They remind me of our present day ‘Sadducee’, who believe in some ‘God’, but deny any spiritual or supernatural world, because it is illogical to their minds or according to science!

Q. How did Jesus answer them?

  • Jesus not only answered their question, but all the major misconceptions they had regarding their belief.
  • Jesus’ threefold answer
    1. There are no marriage in Resurrection (Marriage are not made in Heaven! (^_^))
    2. There are and will be angels in heaven. (Thus denying their belief, that there are no angels in Acts 23:8)
    3. There is the Resurrection of the Dead.
  • Jesus reminded them that the comparison of resurrected state with affairs of this world would result in absurdity.
  • One needs to ‘Know the Scripture’ and ‘Power of God’, to understand the Kingdom of God. (Beatitudes and Kingdom of Heaven)
  • (It is extremely important to acknowledge a balance between ‘knowledge of scripture’ and ‘power of God’. Over importance of one of these at the expense of the other can lead us into imbalanced position!)

Q. Why did Jesus mention account of Burning Bush?

  • Jesus referred to the ‘Law of Moses’ and Moses himself, to draw their attention, as they took pride in ‘knowing the law of Moses’.
  • In the account of Burning Bush, God said to Moses, “I am the God of Abram, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (Ex 3:6)
  • If Abraham, Isaac and Jacob died and ceased to exist, then God would have said, “I was the God of Abraham,…” But this peculiar address of God is one of the many references in OT which points toward the immortality of Soul and Spirit and the Resurrection of the Body.
  • Jesus concluded by saying, therefore, “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
  • Finally, Jesus told them the hard truth, “You are badly mistaken!”
  • All who deny the ‘Resurrection of dead’ are badly mistaken. We many not yet fully understand it, but we must rely on the scriptures and power of God.
  • It is interesting that the teachers of the Law (scribes) actually praised Jesus for his answer to the Sadducee in Luke 20:39. It is perhaps the only passage in which the scribes actually admired or approved Jesus and his teachings!

Lessons & Applications:

  • Do you truly believe in the ‘Power of God’?
  • Do you take time to study and know his scripture?
  • How do you answer to those who questions your belief as illogical or unscientific?
  • 1 Pet 3:15-16: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”


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