Luke 20:27-40

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

March 13, 2002


Jesus is in the final week of His life.  He has made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem with the crowds shouting “Hosanna!”  He has gone into the temple and thrown out the money-changers.  And He will be coming to the Temple every day to teach the people that will gather around Him.

Last time, we saw how some of the Jewish leaders were sending “spies” to try and trap Jesus and find a reason to have Him arrested.

:27  Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,

which denyantilego – to speak against, gainsay, contradict; to oppose one’s self to one, decline to obey him, declare one’s self against him, refuse to have anything to do with him

resurrectionanastasis – a raising up, rising (e.g. from a seat); a rising from the dead


Religiously, these were the opposite guys from the Pharisees. These were the religious liberals. The priests, including the high priest tended to be Sadducees.  They didn’t believe in the miraculous, in angels, or in the resurrection. “That’s why they were sad-you-see”.  They believed that the first five books of the Bible, the “Torah” were inspired by God, but they did not believe that the rest of the Old Testament was inspired (like the Psalms and the Prophets).

Though the Pharisees and the Sadducees worked together to have Jesus killed, they were in reality usually at each other’s throats.

When Paul had been arrested and was put on trial before the leadership of Israel, the Sanhedrin,

(Acts 23:6-9 KJV)  But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. {7} And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. {8} For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. {9} And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.

Now the Sadducees are going to pitch to Jesus something that they’ve probably used for years to stump those old Pharisees.  “We’ll show those simple Bible-believing idiots how stupid their beliefs are!”

:28 Saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man's brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

raise upexanistemi – to make to rise up, to rise up, to produce; to rise (in an assembly to speak).  This is a form of the word that is translated “resurrection”.

seedsperma – from which a plant germinates; the semen virile

They quote from the Scriptures that they hold to be inspired, the writings of Moses.

(Deu 25:5-6 KJV)  If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her. {6} And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.

We have taught on this before.  It is known as the “Levirate Law”, the law of the “brother-in-law”.  If your brother was married and died before he had any children, you were to marry his wife and have children.  The children would then inherit your brother’s name and property.

:29 There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children.

This is going to mean that the second brother will have to marry the woman.

:30 And the second took her to wife, and he died childless.

:31 And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died.

:32 Last of all the woman died also.

:33 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife.

resurrection – think of heaven.

This is that “clincher” of the argument. 

The Sadducee assumption is that if the woman had been married to all seven, then in the resurrection she must married to all seven men.

I think it’s the wrong question.  The question I’d like to ask is, “What was wrong with this woman’s cooking?”  “What does she put in those matzo balls?”

Matthew records Jesus saying something before giving His answer:

(Mat 22:29 KJV)  Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.


Balancing the Scriptures and Power

Sometimes we can see how churches can be categorized by their relationship to the Scriptures and the Power of God.
Some churches are like the Sadducees.  They don’t teach the Word and they don’t believe in the work of the Holy Spirit.
Some churches have wonderful teaching ministries, but will deny that the Holy Spirit works today in the same way that He did in the early church.
Some churches tend to have a great emphasis on the things of the Spirit, but you’ll hardly ever crack open a Bible during the entire service.
We want to have BOTH.

If you have the Scripture without the Spirit, you’ll dry up.

If you have the Spirit without the Scripture, you’ll blow up.

But if you have the Scriptures and the Spirit, you’ll grow up.

Sadly, the Sadducees had NEITHER.

:34 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage:

worldaion – for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity; the worlds, universe; period of time, age

(Luke 20:34 NIV)  Jesus replied, "The people of this age marry and are given in marriage.

Marriage is for people in this time, before the resurrection.

:35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:

accounted worthykataxioo (“according to” + “worthiness”) – to account worthy, judge worthy

worldaion – for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity; the worlds, universe; period of time, age

to obtaintugchano – to hit the mark; of one discharging a javelin or arrow; to reach, attain, obtain, get, become master of

marrygameo – to lead in marriage, take to wife; to get married, to marry

given in marriageekgamisko – to give away in marriage: a daughter; to marry, to be given in marriage

The point Jesus is trying to make is very simple.

There is no marriage in heaven.

The Sadducees have picked an example of things in heaven that simply doesn’t exist.


The Mormons have some unusual ideas about marriage and heaven. They have a ritual that “seals” your marriage so you will be married in heaven, then you can have spirit babies, and become a god over your own planet.
Former LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie wrote that those who attain exaltation "…inherit in due course the fullness of the glory of the Father, meaning that they have all power in heaven and on earth..." (Mormon Doctrine pg. 257). The LDS Doctrine and Covenants also teaches that "then shall they be gods, because they have no end…then shall they be gods, because they have all power…" (D&C 132:16-26). This is the ultimate goal in Mormonism.

This sounds a little like what we read in Genesis 3:5 – your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, the only problem is, this is what Satan said to tempt Eve.

One of the requirements to reach this goal is what Mormons call "celestial marriage." Today celestial marriage is simply defined as a marriage in a Mormon temple designed to last not just until death but throughout all eternity. Couples joined in such marriages are considered "sealed" to each other. Their children afterward are automatically "sealed" to them as well. This, they believe, ensures that their family will continue in heaven eternally as a complete unit.
McConkie wrote, "Celestial marriage is the gate to exaltation, and exaltation consists in the continuation of the family unit in eternity. Exaltation is…the kind of life which God lives" (Mormon Doctrine pg. 257). Celestial marriage is an absolute necessity to reach this desired goal. Its importance in the place of salvation and exaltation cannot be overestimated. "The most important things that any member of (the LDS Church) ever does in this world are: 1) To marry the right person, in the right place, by the right authority; and 2) To keep the covenant made in connection with this holy and perfect order of matrimony…" (Mormon Doctrine pg. 118).
All Mormon men who desire Godhood are required to marry; if they do not, their leaders have taught that their actions will be displeasing to God. For instance, 10th LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith said, "Any young man who carelessly neglects this great commandment to marry, or who does not marry because of a selfish desire to avoid the responsibilities which married life will bring, is taking a course which is displeasing in the sight of God…There can be no exaltation without it. If a man refuses…he is taking a course which may bar him forever from (exaltation)." (Doctrines of Salvation 2:74).
The amazing thing is that this idea of being married in heaven clearly contradicts what Jesus said. Jesus rebuked the Sadducees because they were making up a silly situation, assuming that there was marriage in heaven, when in fact there was no such thing.

:36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.

can dunamai – to be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom; to be able to do something; to be capable, strong and powerful

It’s not even a slight possibility that we could die.  We are not able to do so in the resurrection.

equal unto the angelsisaggelos (“equal” + “angels”) – like the angels

childrenhuios – a son

:37 Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.

showedmenuo – to disclose or make known something secret; in a forensic sense, to inform, report; to declare, tell, make known; to indicate, intimate

bushbatos – a thorn or bramble bush

Jesus is going to quote from the portion of the Scriptures that the Sadducees themselves held as being inspired.

(Exo 3:4-6 KJV)  And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. {5} And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. {6} Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

:38 For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.

The implication is that God is still the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, even though they physically died a long time ago.  He is still their God because they are still alive.

God didn’t say, “I WAS the God of thy father, the God of Abraham … etc”.  God said, “I AM …”

:39 Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou hast well said.

scribes – the scribes were the men who made the copies of the Scriptures.  They tended to be Pharisees.  They like what Jesus is saying.

:40 And after that they durst not ask him any question at all.


The depth of the Scriptures.

Frankly, if I had been reading through Exodus, this is not one of the things I would have pulled out of Exodus 3.  But Jesus saw it.  Jesus used it.
The Bible says,
(Heb 4:12 NKJV)  For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
(2 Tim 3:16-17 KJV)  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: {17} That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
I think we need to be careful that we don’t try getting “weird” things out of the Scriptures.  We need to be sure that we know all the Scriptures so we know where our boundaries are.  But God’s Word is wonderful, living, and active.
Back in November, 1990 (I have it marked in an old Bible of mine), Deb and I were in the middle of selling our condo and buying a house.  We had put our condo on the market and had gone ahead and put $3,000 down on a house that we liked.  We had been assured by our real estate agent that our condo would certainly sell within 45 days.  So, here we were a month after having listed our condo, and not a single person had come and looked at the place.  We were getting very close to the point where I was going to have to be paying two mortgages on two different places.  I began to panic.  it was a  Monday morning, and I had gone to church (Calvary Anaheim).  I hadn’t had my Quiet Time.  I began to be overwhelmed with panic.  I finally called up my realtor (who was a friend and a Christian), and told him that I didn’t see how I could do this to my family, and would he please get us out of the deal on the new house.  After I hung up, I got out my Bible and began to read my chapters for the day, beginning in Deuteronomy 1.  This is what I read:

(Deu 1:21 NASB)  'See, the LORD your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed.'

I was beginning to think that God was speaking to me about our house.  Then later in the chapter I read:

(Deu 1:29-32 NASB)  "Then I said to you, 'Do not be shocked, nor fear them. {30} 'The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, {31} and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked, until you came to this place.'

I was thinking even more that God was saying that I needed to trust Him regarding the selling of our condo.  Then in my Bible, there was a page turn, and as I turned the page, I read:

{32} "But for all this, you did not trust the LORD your God,

This was talking about how Israel did not trust the Lord and as a result they did not go into the Promised Land.  I felt VERY convicted.  I didn’t want to be in the same place that Israel was in.  I called back my realtor friend and apologized and asked him to try to get us back into the deal.  He apologized to the other realtor.  That was on Monday.  On Wednesday, we had our first set of people come by to view our condo.  By Friday it was sold.  God came through.  God had spoken to me through His living Word.
The following year, our church was facing a move.  We were being forced to move from where we were meeting and had to look for our own facility.  We had found a place, but were facing some obstacles.  And again, in November (now 1991), I was reading the same Scriptures, and again, they jumped out at me.  God’s Word is alive.
At the same time, we need to be careful about the “messages” we receive.  Sometimes God is speaking, but we don’t interpret or understand correctly.
Last week I was out at Joshua Tree with my son’s eighth grade class.  His teacher was telling me about the previous year’s trip.  On the morning that he was to have the big rock climbing day with the kids with ropes and harnesses and such, he read for his Quiet Time, the verse that stood out to him was:

(Luke 23:43 KJV)  …To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

He panicked and for the first half of the day, he was totally frightened.  Later he began to think about how that even if the Lord was telling him he would die, he shouldn’t be afraid.  And his dad told him that perhaps the Lord was trying to tell him that he would have “paradise” with the kids as they climbed.
The best way to keep the Scriptures clear is to know the Scriptures.  Read your Bible.  Read the WHOLE Bible.  Keep reading it.  Learn to know God’s voice.  Don’t hunt and peck at the Scriptures, read THROUGH the Bible.  Talk to people who are grounded in the Lord about what you are reading and thinking.  Look for confirmations.