Matthew 22:31-33 (Answering the Sadducees 11: Why There is a Resurrection)

Recall that Jesus is addressing the Sadducees’ mistaken belief that there is no resurrection, and has dispelled their argument that the resurrection makes no sense in light of the Levirate marriage commanded in the law of Moses.  They were mistaken in this regard, indeed greatly deceived in their understanding, for it isn’t the case that there is no resurrection since this would imply a woman could be married to seven men, but rather in the resurrection men shall be like angels who neither marry nor are given in marriage.  Notice though that this answer of Jesus to the Sadducees’ argument against the resurrection does not establish that there is a resurrection, only that their argument does not prevent it.  What reason does Jesus now set forth that positively affirms there is indeed a resurrection from the dead?  See Mat 22:31-32.  What is the significance of this particular argument to the Sadducees?  See Luk 20:37a and recall that the Sadducees held the law of Moses to be more authoritative than the prophets and writings which explicitly mention the resurrection.

Was Jesus’ reason from the law of Moses for why there is a resurrection an explicit affirmation that it must be so?  What is the gist of His argument, and in what way does it assert that there must be a resurrection?  Consider: what all is encapsulated in the notion that Jehovah God, the one and only true God and creator of all things, is one’s God?  See Gen 17:7, Exo 6:7-8 (see NAS note or KJV), Exo 7:1, Deut 29:9-13, 1Ch 17:24-27, and observe that the God of Abraham is a God to Abraham, i.e., One who is able to bless, protect, and provide for Abraham in a way that so far exceeds all others as God Himself is above all others[1].  Was it the case that God’s blessing to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was only temporal in nature while they were in the flesh on this earth?  See Mat 22:32.  Indeed, were their blessings while on this earth necessarily even comparable to others who surrounded them, or in any way commensurate with the fullness of what it means for the great I AM to be their God?  See Heb 11:8-10,13-16.  Cf. also Gen 47:9 and think: would not God have been ashamed to be called their God if the extent of His blessings to them were the few and unpleasant years they had as sojourners in a land they never possessed?

Consider Jesus’ argument for the resurrection in Mat 22:31-32, that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must be alive; is His argument that because they were still alive to God even after they had died that they had already been resurrected and therefore the resurrection must be true?  Think: had they in fact already been resurrected?  See 1Co 15:20-23.  How then does the future resurrection of their bodies immediately follow from Jesus’ argument that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were still alive to God, though their bodies had died?  Note: the Sadducees rightly understood that man’s soul was closely integrated with his body, but mistakenly believed that when the body dies the soul must die with it; by their own reasoning then, it follows that since the soul does not die, there must also at some time be a resurrection of the soul’s body if Abraham and those who are of his faith are to receive from God the promised reward of a truly blessed and happy estate, which could not be so apart from their bodies which are an integral part of their being.  What indication do we have that Jesus’ reasoning was not opaque, and the people clearly understood that the resurrection followed conclusively from the fact that the Patriarchs were not annihilated when they died?  See Mat 22:33.

What does Jesus’ argument, as well as what for people then was the obvious conclusion to His argument, teach us about the importance of man’s physical body to his eternal happiness?  What does it teach us about any notions that the future life of man is only spiritual?  Should we then understand that to be absent from the body and present with the Lord (2Co 5:8) is the end-all of our salvation?  What is the end-all of our salvation?  See 2Co 5:1-4, 1Co 15:51-53, Rom 8:23, Eph 1:13-14, 4:30.  What does Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees teach not only about a future resurrection of those who have died, but also of the present state of the souls of those people of God who have died?  Thus, although our physical death is not the end-all of our salvation, need we fear the separation of our souls from our bodies?  How do Jesus’ and Paul’s words in this regard argue against the false doctrine of soul sleep, that when men die their souls experience no conscious thought but sleep in the grave until the resurrection?  See also 1Th 4:13-18, Rev 6:9-10, 20:4-6.

Considering the integral part that the physical body is to man as illustrated in Jesus’ argument for the resurrection, should we suppose that it is only the righteous who shall be resurrected in order to receive the fullness of their reward?  I.e., is it only the souls of the wicked that shall be punished, or in order that they may be justly recompensed for their deeds in the body will they not also be resurrected with an immortal body and cast body, soul, and spirit into the lake of fire?  See Rev 20:5,11-15, cf. Mat 25:46.  As the righteous need not fear physical death because to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, should the wicked hold out hope for another chance after they die because their physical death is not the final judgment?  See Heb 9:27, 2Pe 2:9, Luk 16:22-24.

 


1. There must certainly be a future state, in which, as God will ever live to be eternally rewarding, so Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, will ever live to be eternally rewarded.  Matthew Henry.

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