Matthew 22:24-32 speaks on marriage at the resurrection.

LET’S LEARN MORE USING THE LIFE APPLICATION BIBLE COMMENTARY NEW TESTAMENT SET

In this blog, we are going to walk through the commentary provided by the Life Application Bible Commentary for Matthew 22:24-32. This series does a great job including all the historical details to help explain the Old Testament references. It goes verse-by-verse, guiding you through the passage. Then, this commentary also helps you see how you can apply the passage to your life.

Let’s learn about the the Sadducees, their desire to bring God down to their level, and Jesus’ amazing response to conflict.

Matthew 22:24 — “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him.”

The Sadducees probably asked this question frequently, because they liked to argue and stir up controversy.

The question refers to “levirate” marriage, which was meant to protect a poor widow during the time of Moses. The Life Application Bible Commentary explains this succinctly:

In the Law, Moses had written that when a man died ­without a son, his unmarried brother (or nearest male relative) was to marry the widow and produce ­children. The first son of this marriage was considered the heir of the dead man (Deuteronomy 25:5-6). The main purpose of the instruction was to produce an heir and guarantee that the family would not lose their land. The book of Ruth gives an example of this law in operation.

Matthew 22:25-28 — “Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died childless, leaving the widow to his brother. The ­second did the same, so also the third, down to the seventh. Last of all, the woman herself died. In the resurrection, then, whose wife of the seven will she be? For all of them had ­married her.”

The law of levirate marriage would cause a lot of issues for the woman in this scenario. The Sadducees believed that because she was married seven times in the law, there could not be a resurrection. Because, if they were resurrected, whose wife would she be?

The Sadducees erroneously assumed that if people were resurrected, they would assume physical bodies capable of procreation. They did not understand that God could both raise the dead and make new lives for his people, lives that would be different than what they had known on earth. The Sadducees had brought God down to their level.

Matthew 22:29-30 — Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”

Here’s where Jesus digs right in. He knows just how to handle confrontation:

Jesus wasted no time dealing with their hypothetical situation but went directly to their underlying assumption that resurrection of the dead was impossible. Jesus clearly stated that these Sadducees were wrong about the resurrection for two reasons:

(1) They didn’t know the Scriptures (if they did, they would believe in the ­resurrection because it is taught in Scripture), and

(2) They didn’t know the power of God (if they did, they would believe in the resurrection because God’s power makes it possible).

Ignorance on these two counts was inexcusable for these religious leaders.

JESUS TAKES IT A STEP FURTHER: Marriage at the Resurrection

Jesus was not intending to give the final word on marriage in heaven. Instead, this response was Jesus’ refusal to answer the Sadducees’ riddle and fall into their trap. The Sadducees did not believe in angels either (Acts 23:8), so Jesus’ point was not to extend the argument into another realm.

Instead, he was showing that because there will be no levirate marriage in the resurrection or new marriage contracts, the Sadducees’ question was completely irrelevant. But their assumption about the resurrection needed a definitive answer, and Jesus was just the one to give it.

Matthew 33:31-32 – “But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘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.”

The Sadducees’ underlying comment regarded their view of the absurdity of resurrection. Their ­question to Jesus was intended to show him to be foolish.

So Jesus cut right to the point: But about the resurrection of the dead.

Because the Sadducees accepted only the Pentateuch as God’s inspired Word, Jesus answered them from the book of Exodus (3:6). God would not have said, “I am the God of ­Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” if he had thought of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as dead (he would have said, “I was their God”).

Thus, from God’s perspective, they are alive.

This evidence would have been acceptable in any ­rabbinic debate because it applied a grammatical argument: God’s use of the present tense in speaking of his relationship to the great patriarchs who had been long dead by the time God spoke these words to Moses. God had a continuing relationship with these men because of the truth of the resurrection.

God had spoken of dead men as though they were still alive; thus, Jesus reasoned, the men were not dead but living. God would not have a relationship with dead beings. Although men and women have died on earth, God continues his relationship with them because they are resurrected to life with him in heaven.

Some might argue that this shows only the immortality of the soul, not necessarily the resurrection of the body. But Jesus’ answer affirmed both. The Jews understood that soul and body had inseparable unity; thus, the immortality of the soul necessarily

APPLICATION: FACING ARGUMENTS

The best part of the Life Application Bible Commentary is that it is constantly providing you with tidbits of application. After reading the commentary outlined above, it offers this for readers to think on:

The Sadducees tried to trick Jesus with a clever question. Clever arguments against the Bible and against faith in Christ are easy to find. If you are faced with such cleverness and hope to make a meaningful reply…

Don’t address all the problems. Instead, cut to the heart of the issue, which includes motives and unstated agendas.

Don’t try to embarrass the questioner with your superior logic; instead, address the heart issue with compassion. Your goal is not to win a contest, but to win a person to faith in Christ.

Stay with clear teachings of Scripture that you understand. If you get over your head in theology, you’ll be frustrated and ill tempered. At the same time, keep learning, keep searching, keep growing yourself.

LOOK INSIDE

With the Olive Tree Bible App, the Life Application Bible Commentary New Testament Set doesn’t have to be a separate book that you flip through, just to find a passage you want to study. Instead, it fits nicely right alongside your Bible in the split window. Also, the Resource Guide does all the hard work of letting you know when a passage your reading is discussed in any of the commentaries you own.

Here’s how it looks:

Interested in learning more about marriage at the resurrection? Visit our website to read more about the Life Application Bible Commentary New Testament Set (17 Vols.).

5 Comments

  1. Are you saying there is no marriage on the new earth at the resurrection? I’m not clear. Will married people still be married? I find it hard to believe that God is doing away with something He created before the fall and called it good. Thank you for your help.

  2. Almost every conservative Christian argument for the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus begins with a big assumption: that the Gospels are primary source documents written by eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses. The problem for conservative Christians is that the majority of Bible scholars say that this assumption is FALSE. Here is a link to a list of scholars, including conservative Christian scholar Richard Bauckham, confirming this majority consensus position:

    https://lutherwasnotbornagaincom.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/majority-of-scholars-agree-the-gospels-were-not-written-by-eyewitnesses/

    Without confirmed eyewitness testimony, the alleged detailed appearance stories in the Gospels are nothing more than unconfirmed hearsay. And without confirmed eyewitness testimony, Christians are left with only the Empty Tomb…and there are many natural explanations for an empty grave. The strength of the evidence for this supernatural event is indeed very, very weak.

  3. Eric Breaux Reply

    What do you make of the objections to eternal marriage, not simply levirate marriage, in these articles? https://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Jan/6/do-you-think-it-possible-new-earth/ https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/matrimony-no-more Is there any evidence for the intended meaning of what Jesus said to the sadducees that contradicts the possibility that he meant there won’t be married couples, and therefore elimination of sexual desire and attraction?
    This one is especially dogmatic and claims that Christians originally believed marriage and sex would end after the resurrection of everyone, until a couple centuries ago. https://polygamypage.wordpress.com/2008/12/16/marriage-is-for-life-not-forever/ I don’t know the historical evidence for what the consensus about that was during early Christianity.
    The logical errors with their arguments I know of are that God creating Eve for Adam to cure loneliness, so marriage won’t exist in the the renewed creation because of how many people there are now, is inconsistent. If simply being more aware of God’s presence and love makes marriage unnecessary, than God would have had no reason to create gender and sex to fulfil a different kind of intimate desire to begin with, because God and Adam had exactly that kind of relationship we’ll have with him in the renewed creation, before Eve was made. God still made the marriage union and different genders and the ability to reproduce from sexual attraction. Death being the reason for reproduction contradicts us having that ability during conditions when death wasn’t a factor. At the beginning God said for us to be fruitful and multiply, giving no indication it was to ever stop. Sexual desire for someone your married to isn’t even sin, so there’s another reason it doesn’t need to be destroyed. Food isn’t necessary for an immortal life either, but the only creation of God that isn’t renewed is the intimate marriage relationship with couples, which produces much greater joy and pleasure than food? That makes no sense. Just because some people manage to not care if they can continue having a sinless sexually intimate relationship with someone for eternity, doesn’t make it fair to teach that those who do care should just get over it somehow.
    Jesus was only referring to the act of marrying and being given in levirate marriage anyway, not the actual state of being married. Being married to Jesus is meant metaphorically, and is supposed to be how believers relate to him now, so being married to him contradicts the prudish interpretation of people neither marrying or being given in marriage at the resurrection. We couldn’t be married to Jesus then either. The description is given of God as a husband to his people in parts of the old testament, like Hosea, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. That wasn’t meant to sever marriages of male and female couples anymore than being described as married to Jesus is. We see that the creation account of Genesis and old testament descriptions of God being married to his people contradict the prudish interpretation of what Jesus taught about the future fate of marriage. Bible scholars N. T. Wright and Ben Witherington have studied the context of what Jesus said about marriage to the sadducees. https://youhavehearditsaid.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/no-marriage-in-heaven/ https://precepts.wordpress.com/2007/12/23/marriage-in-the-afterlife/

  4. Eric Breaux Reply

    What do you make of the objections to eternal marriage, not simply levirate marriage, in these articles? https://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Jan/6/do-you-think-it-possible-new-earth/ https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/matrimony-no-more Is there any evidence for the intended meaning of what Jesus said to the sadducees that contradicts the possibility that he meant there won’t be married couples, and therefore elimination of sexual desire and attraction?
    This one is especially dogmatic and claims that Christians originally believed marriage and sex would end after the resurrection of everyone, until a couple centuries ago. https://polygamypage.wordpress.com/2008/12/16/marriage-is-for-life-not-forever/ I don’t know the historical evidence for what the consensus about that was during early Christianity.

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