Matthew 22:23 (Answering the Sadducees 2: The Sadducees Then and Now)

See again Act 23:8 and consider the worldview of the Sadducees who denied the resurrection and supposed that there is no life after death, no future state of rewards or punishment, no judgment to come, no heaven or hell, that when the body dies the soul dies with it and ceases to exist, that there is no spirit, and the only thing that is real is the material world; how is that like many people today?  Whereas such a belief in no future rewards leads those with such a worldview to seek out rewards in this life, why does this worldview also tend to make them more harsh or coarse in this life toward others, especially towards those with whom they disagree?  What evidence do we see of this in regard to the Sadducees?  See Mat 26:65-68, Act 23:1-3 and note[1].

As we have seen, the Sadducees held the law of Moses to be more authoritative than the prophets and writings, denied the resurrection, and had a temporal view of rewards and punishments; were these theological inclinations that no doubt influenced their more privileged worldly status among the Jews the sincere conclusions of pure hearts that sought after God, or did their affluence and privileged status—and hardened hearts—influence their theological inclinations?  Think: although the resurrection is not explicitly taught in the Pentateuch which was the beginning of God’s unfolding revelation to fallen man, does that mean it was not implied and so any less true?  Cf. Gen 2:9, 3:20-22, 5:24, 50:24-25, Heb 11:17-19,22.  Is it possible that our own theological inclinations might be similarly influenced by our life status and pursuits so that we see only what we want to see in Scripture?  What does this teach us about the importance of having a pure heart to seek God, regardless of our status in this life, and the great and subtle danger that the wealth and riches associated with privilege in this life are to one’s eternal spiritual well-being?  See Mat 13:22, Luk 12:15, 1Ti 1:19, 6:8-10; cf. 2Th 2:11-12.  What should the attitude of those who sincerely seek God be toward whatever riches they may have in this world?  See 1Ti 6:17-19.  How does this contrast with those whose faith is insincere, especially those like the Sadducees whose innermost desire is for this world and the things in it?  Cf. Mat 6:2-4,5-6,16-18.

Consider that although the temporal, “of-this-world” views of the Sadducees made them less popular with the common people, it made them more popular with the elites of their time.  Further, because they lacked the spirit of true religion their temporal mindedness degenerated into worldly mindedness and made them largely irreligious (in the sense that their religion lacked sincerity or conviction and was mostly cultural); how is this like many liberal mainline denomination Christians today?[2] On the other hand, the heavenly minded views of the Pharisees made them less popular with the elites, but more popular among the common people.  But again, because they lacked the spirit of true religion their more orthodox doctrine degenerated into hypocrisy; how is this like many conservative, even evangelical Christians today?  What do these two opposing religious camps, both of whom were at odds with Jesus, teach us about the importance of a proper balance between temporal and heavenly mindedness?  Cf. Deut 5:32, Jos 1:7, 2Ch 34:2, Pro 4:26-27, Isa 30:21.  What do they also teach us about the importance of the spirit of true religion to our walk of faith?  What is that spirit of true religion?  See 1Ti 1:5, Jam 1:27, 1Jo 3:17-18.  How does James’ description of pure and undefiled religion illustrate the proper balance between temporal and heavenly mindedness? Cf. Jam 2:15-17, 4:4, 5:8.

Should we suppose that because the Sadducees denied the resurrection that none of them ever came to believe in Christ?  Cf. Act 6:7.  Even if they came to believe in Christ, would that necessarily mean that they came to believe in the resurrection, any more than the Pharisees coming to believe in Christ necessarily meant that they became completely orthodox in their beliefs?  Cf. Act 15:5, 1Co 15:12.  What does this remind us about automatically accepting others as Christians just because they say they follow Christ?  Cf. Gal 1:6-9, 4:17, Act 20:29-30, Phil 3:17-19.  What does it also teach us about the importance to true salvation of removing the distorted glasses of whatever worldview we might have and putting on the correct lenses by which we may perceive the truth?  What are those corrective lenses, and how do we put them on?  See Rom 8:9-11,14, 12:2, Eph 5:18-20, Col 3:16.

 


1. This younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed;  when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity to exercise his authority, Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, or some of his companions; and, when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20:199-200.

2. The Sadducees may be considered the deists of their age, even as the liberal denominations have become the deists of today.

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