Matthew 22:23-33 – Intellectual Arrogance


In our previous text we saw the Pharisees and Herodians silenced by Jesus.  In this text another group known as the Sadducees attempt to discredit Jesus before the crowds.  Unlike the Pharisees who sought favor with God through their traditions and works, the Sadducees were strictly Bible people.  To them, the Bible consisted of just the original five books of Moses, know to them as the Torah.  One of the main theological debates of the first century concerned the resurrection.  The Pharisees believed in the resurrection, but the Sadducees did not.  Why didn’t they?  They could not find any reference to the resurrection in the Torah.  Therefore, if it’s not in the Torah, then it doesn’t exist.  What does exist in the Torah was a law that was given to protect widows whose husbands die young.  The Sadducees quote this law from Deuteronomy 25:5-10.  Their final question to Jesus is if the woman married all the brothers then whose wife would she be in the resurrection.  These Bible guys stand proudly after posing their riddle not thinking there can be an answer.  They feel like they have used the Bible to prove the non-existence of the resurrection because God would not allow the woman to be married to all seven brothers.  Just like Satan in His temptation of Jesus, the Sadducees use their Bibles wrongly (Matthew 4:5-7, 2 Peter 3:16).



Jesus answers the Sadducees immediately and powerfully.  Jesus begins by simply telling them that they are wrong.  Not an easy pill for the intellectually arrogant to swallow.  They have not read the Bible correctly and they have no idea how God uses His power to change people after they die.  Glorification is the theological term that represents the last step of God saving His people (Romans 8:28-30).  After the return of Christ, we receive new bodies that never grow old, feel pain, get sick, shed tears, or experience any other conditions of our previous fallen nature (I Corinthians 15:51-53; Philippians 3:20-21; Revelation 21:4).  According to Jesus, the institution of marriage is simply for this perishable mortality and will not transition with us into the coming glory that Jesus will bring.  We need marriage on earth, but in eternity we will only be concerned with the glory that is our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Now, Jesus gives His final punch.  He reminds the Sadducees that the resurrection is a Biblical reality that can be found in the Torah.  “Remember what God said to you,” Jesus tells them as He quotes from Exodus 3:6.  At the time of Moses it is important for us to remember that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had all been dead for around five hundred years.  God didn’t say “I was” the God of your fathers.  He said, “I am” the God of your fathers.  Then Jesus makes this emphatic statement to the Sadducees, “He is God of the living, not dead.”  The microphone is dropped.  The smartest guys in the crowd are silent and stumped.  Everyone is astonished as a great theological debate spanning hundreds of years is solved with a quick word from Jesus.


Study Questions

  1. After reading about this interaction with the Sadducees, why is Jesus teaching about humility throughout this Gospel so important (Matthew 5:3; 20:25-28)?
  2. Have you ever known you were so right about something, only to find out later that you were wrong?
  3. Discuss our open-hand/close-hand policies from our website.  Why should we focus on unity when it comes to less clear teachings in the Bible?