Let us begin by reading Matthew 22:23-28, “The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.”  Those belonging to the sect of the Sadducees found an opportunity to tempt or trip up the Lord by using an occasion where a woman had been married to a man who died.  Under the Law, if a man died without having children, his widow was to marry his brother and “raise up seed unto his brother.”  This teaching is found in Deuteronomy 25:5-6, “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. 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.”

Using a hypothetical situation, these Sadducees asked about a woman who married seven brothers, one at a time.  In the resurrection, they asked, who would be her husband?  This was definitely a trick question to the Lord for the Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection at all.  We read in Acts 23:8, “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.”  Even as the Pharisees often tried to trick the Lord with their questions, the Sadducees also tried to trick the Lord.

We have the Lord’s response to the Sadducees in Matthew 22:29-32, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”  The Lord is not referring to any particular scripture, but of the general teachings of the scriptures.  There was nothing in the Old Testament that would support such a question that the Sadducees were asking the Lord. 

The Lord Jesus did not condescend to directly answer their sarcastic question at first. He goes to the root of the matter to show the great error in which it originated. The Lord responded with patience and calm argument.  They erred, said Christ, for two reasons: first, not knowing the Scriptures. Whatever might be the lax opinions which they held respecting the prophets, there was no dispute about the supreme authority of the Pentateuch, and these scriptures plainly suggested the doctrine of the resurrection. Secondly, they ignored the power of God, to whom nothing is impossible, and who, in the resurrection, would perform a work very different from what they supposed—changing the natural into the spiritual, and transforming the characteristics of the life that now is into a different and higher sphere, yet preserving identity.

In the Gospel of Luke, we find more of the words of the Lord concerning the Sadducees’ question.  We read in Luke 20:34-35, “And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.”  The Lord does respond in grace to answer even this trick question.  He explains that in the glory, there is no marriage.  Earthly relationships are restricted to the earth.  In Heaven, we are all equally related to each other and we all have our hearts affixed on the Lord Jesus. 

The Lord goes on to point out that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Yet, God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.  This shows that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were alive in the presence of God.  The Lord is commenting on the truth of the resurrection and of the power of God.  (423.2)