The culmination of Messiah's mission, 19:45-24:53

1. The Messiah and the Temple, 19:45-24:53

iii] The dead are raised - Sadducees on resurrection


The Sadducees, conservative Jews who accept only the first five books of the Bible and hold that the idea of resurrection is a human innovation, try to trap Jesus with one of their favorite debating points. If a woman is married seven times who is her husband in eternity? Jesus goes on to demolish their proposition, pointing out that in eternity a person is free from the limitations of this age and therefore marriage is unnecessary. He goes on to argue for life after death from Exodus 3:6, a Bible book the Sadducees accept as scripture.


The Sadducees saw the whole person as mortal and so did not believe in a "resurrection, neither angel nor spirit." In the passage before us, Jesus begins by exposing the irrelevance of the Sadducees' position. The resurrection-life is not an extension of the good life of this age; it is of another dimension where there are no sexual relationships. Jesus then, by inference, proves the resurrection using scriptures recognized by the Sadducees. If Moses calls God the God of Abraham after Abraham's death, Abraham must inevitably rise from the dead so that God's relationship with him can be actualized. If that is so for Abraham, then it can be so for us.


i] Context: See 19:45-20:18. Jesus' debate with the Sadducees on the subject of The Resurrection of the Dead is the third episode of Jesus' temple ministry in Jerusalem, 19:45-21:38. Jesus' debates with the religious authorities continue to reveal the parlous state of Israel's religion with its blind rejection of the messiah. In this debate Jesus addresses the Sadducees denial of the resurrection of the dead.


ii] Structure: This passage, The Resurrection of the Dead, presents as follows:

Setting, v27;

The Sadducees' question, v28-33:

"whose wife will she be?"

Jesus' answer, v34-36:

"they can no longer die; for they are like the angels ...."

Example from scripture, v37-38:

"He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all live in him."

Response, v39-40.


iii] Interpretation:

The resurrection: On the issue of the resurrection, the Pharisees had adopted a typically Greek view of the soul leaving the body after death for either punishment or reward. Most "Western" people today follow this Hellenistic / Platonic idea. The Sadducees, on the other hand, saw the whole person as mortal and so did not believe in a "resurrection, neither angel nor spirit." Interestingly, the Qumran community held a view closer to the teachings of New Testament. The righteous dead ("the elect") will rise "from the dust unto eternal foundation.... to stand in array with the host of holy ones", while "the sons of wickedness will cease to be." It's also worth noting that some later Jewish apocalyptic writings speak of an interim sleep prior to the resurrection hope of the righteous. The idea of believers "asleep" in Jesus, prior to the resurrection of the dead at Christ's return, is certainly one way of giving sense to the now / not yet dichotomy we face when dealing with the reality of the parousia.


iv] Synoptics:

Luke's handling of the tradition in v39-40 is very different to that of Mark 12:18-27. He drops "you are quite wrong" and ends up with expressions of approval from the crowd, a statement of approval from the Scribes, silence from the Sadducees and a comment that no one dared ask him any more questions. All the comments are found in the following section in Mark.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 20:27

The resurrection of the dead - a pronouncement / controversy story, v27-40: i] Setting, v27. The Sadducees join in plying Jesus with tricky questions.

Saddoukaiwn (oV) gen. "[some] of the Sadducees" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

oiJ legonteV (legw) pres. part. "who say" - the ones saying [the resurrection is not to be]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting by description the Sadducees, "the Sadducees who deny the resurrection." In some texts the verb has a negative prefix, possibly dropped due to the following negation = a double negative = "definitely no resurrection", ref. Metzger. "Those who argue there is no resurrection", NJB.

mh einai "there is no [resurrection]" - is not to be. The negated infinitive of the verb to-be serves to introduce a dependent statement, indirect speech, stating what the Sadducees say, namely that "the resurrection does not exist."

proselqonteV (prosercomai) aor. part. "came" - having come, approached. The participle is possibly temporal, "when/then the Sadducees came [to him]", or possibly attendant circumstance, "came and asked him", TNT.


ii] A tricky question put to Jesus by the Sadducees regarding the resurrection, v28-33. The Sadducees had a number of tricky arguments which they used against those who believed in the resurrection of the dead. One such example promotes the question: will the resurrected require ritual cleansing since they are in contact with a dead body, namely, their own? The Pharisees were constantly frustrated by these arguments. In our passage for study we see the Sadducees trying out one of their tricky arguments on Jesus; the "whose wife will she be?" tricky question.

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "they said" - Probably best taken as an attendant circumstance participle, "the Sadducees came, and asked (v27), and said", but possibly adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of their asking, "they questioned him, saying", even instrumental, expressing means, "by saying", so Culy.

hJmin dat. "for us" - Dative of direct object / interest, advantage, "for us" = "for our advantage." "Moses prescribed a regulation for us", Barclay.

ean + subj. "that if" - if [.... dies]. Introducing a conditional clause, 3rd class, where the realization of the condition is a possibility; "if, as may be the case, ..... then....." The protasis is duplicated using h\/, the subjunctive of the verb to-be; "and if this one is childless." The apodosis is the hina clause. The quoted scripture is drawn from Deut.25:5, and Gen.38:8. "If a man dies and has no children, his brother should marry his widow", CEV.

ecwn (ecw) pres. part. "leaves [a wife]" - [dies] having [a wife]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "brother", "someone's brother, who has a wife, dies." "If a man's married brother dies", Moffatt.

ateknoV adj. "but no children" - [this one] childless. Predicate adjective; "having a wife and [yet] this one is childless" = "if a man's married brother dies, and dies childless", Barclay.

oJ adelfoV "the man" - the brother [of him]. This second reference to the brother is a bit confusing so is often translated "he", or "the man" as NIV., but it can be translated "brother"; "if a man's married brother dies and is childless, his brother is to take the woman and raise the offspring of his brother", Moffatt.

iJna + subj. "[the man] must [marry]" - must [take, receive]. The natural sense of the apodosis in this conditional sentence is imperatival, but it seems unlikely that the hina clause functions to form an imperatival clause. Zerwick suggests it stands in place of an infinitive which, following egrayen, "wrote", would form a dependent statement, indirect speech, expressing what Moses wrote, ie. his instruction was "that his brother should take the wife and raise up seeds to his brother."

exanasthsh/ (exanisthmi) aor. subj. "have children" - may/should raise up [offspring]. "Provide an heir for his brother", REB.

tw/ adelfw/ (oV) dat. "for [his] brother" - Dative of interest, advantage.


oun "now" - therefore. Inferential: having quoted Moses, the Sadducees draw out an implication. "Well then", Barclay.

labwn (lambanw) aor. part. "[the first one] married [a woman]" - [the first] having taken, received [a woman] = married. The participle is probably best taken as adverbial, temporal, "the first/eldest [brother], after taking a wife/woman, died."

ateknoV adj. "[died] childless" - Most translations treat this adjective as if an adverb modifying the verb "died", although technically it is attributive, limiting "the first one"; "the first childless one who married died."


oJ deuteroV "the second" - Serves as the subject, along with "the third", of the verb "took (married)", although the verb should properly be plural.


wJsautwV adv. "in the same way" - in like manner. "The same thing happened to the third one.


uJsteron adv. "finally" - afterwards, last, later, finally.


The point of the argument being, "granted your belief in resurrection, does not the given scenario produce for you a knot that cannot be untangled?", Nolland.

oun "now then" - therefore. Inferential, but at the same time marking the transition to the Sadducees question proper.

hJ gunh "-" - the woman, wife. This may be treated as a nominative pendens, emphatic by position identifying that "the wife" is the focus of the question; "So then, concerning this woman, ...", cf. Nolland. Culy reads it as subject of the verb ginetai; "therefore, of which of them does the woman become the wife ..."

en + dat. "at [the resurrection]" - in, on [the resurrection]. Possibly adverbial, reference / respect,"in relation to / with respect to", but more likely temporal, "at the time of."

tinoV autwn gen. "whose [wife]" - of which of them. Both genitive pronouns are adjectival, tinoV, "of which", is relational, and autwn, "of them" is partitive.

ginetai (ginomai) pres. "will she be" - she becomes. The present tense is best read as futuristic, as NIV.

gar "since" - for. Expressing cause/reason.

oiJ ... eJpta "the seven" - Adjective used as a substantive. "All seven had her as their wife."

gunaika acc. "[were married] to her" - her wife. Accusative complement of the accusative object authn, "her", forming a double accusative construction; "the seven had her [as] a wife", or simply, "she was married to all seven of them", Rieu.


iii] Jesus provides some insights into the nature of those raised from the dead, v34-36. "Marriage is a major preoccupation here, but not there", Peterson. Possibly even stronger if we follow the Western text; the people of this world "are begotten and begat", ie. "the sons of this age find the ground and continuity of their existence in procreation", Ellis, but not so in heaven. In heaven, those who share in the resurrection of the dead find meaning and fulfillment in fellowship with Christ. So, there is no marriage in heaven. Jesus also implies that the Sadducees denial of the resurrection undermines the whole notion of divine reward - "those who are considered worthy" share in the resurrection and gain a place in the age to come.

autoiV dat. pro. "[Jesus replied]" - [Jesus said] to them. Dative of indirect object.

tou aiwnoV (wn wnoV) gen. "[the people] of [this] age" - [the sons/children] of [this] age. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, "the children who belong to this age" = "People in this world", Phillips.


de "but" - but, and. Here adversative.

oiJ kataxiwqenteV aor. pas. part. "those who are considered worthy" - the ones having been considered/judged worthy. The participle functions as a substantive and is best translated as a relative clause, as NIV. Probably "judged righteous", in which case, divine reward would properly apply, and such reward would logically entail resurrection. Not all participate in "the age to come", "only those who are judged worthy", NJB.

tucein (tugcanw) aor. inf. "of taking part in" - to attain, experience. The infinitive is epexegetic explaining what they are considered worthy of; "the ones considered worthy that they should obtain / attain / experience ...." = "worthy of sharing the age to come and the resurrection of the dead."

tou aiwnoV ekeinou "that age" - of that age, eternity. = "this age" = "this future age." This genitive, as with thV anastasewV, "of the resurrection", is a genitive of direct object after the infinitive tucein.

thV gen. "-" - Here the article serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional phrase "from the dead" into an adjectival phrase limiting the genitive noun "resurrection"; a "resurrection which is of the dead."

ek + gen. "from [the dead]" - of, out of, from. Probably expressing source / origin, as NIV, but possibly standing in for a partitive genitive, identifying the whole, "the dead", of which "the resurrection" is part, "the resurrection of some of the dead"; "some from the dead are raised", Plummer.

oute .... oute "neither .... nor" - Comparative. See above, v34. It's not that there are no relationships in heaven, rather there is no need to retain an institution which functions for the purpose of continuing the family line through procreation, given that those who share in the resurrection will never die. Naturally, there is some reaction to this logic as it implies that procreation is the only purpose of marriage; remove procreation and we remove the need for marriage. Of course, there is more to marriage than procreation; it is the deepest expression of human intimacy, compassion, love.... This relationship bond must surely continue in heaven, but it is obviously no longer exclusive, given that we are all one in Christ.


gar "-" - for. Expressing cause / reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why there is no need to maintain the institution of marriage in heaven "because" those who share in the resurrection do not die and therefore do not need to breed to secure a family's posterity.

dunantai (dunamai) pres. pas. "they can [no longer]" - they are [not] able [any longer].

apoqanein (apoqnhskw) aor. inf. "die" - to die. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the negated verb "not able"; "it is no longer possible for them to die", TNT.

gar "for" - for. Expressing cause / reason. They don't marry because they don't die, they don't die "because" they are like angels / sons of God, and they are like angels / sons of God, because they are children of the resurrection.

isaggeloi (oV) adj. "like the angels" - angel-like. Possibly "equal to angels", but better, "like angels." Hapax legomenon, once only use in the NT. Note the possible sense: "the resurrected ones don't marry because they are like angels", but better, "they don't die because they are like angels." Angel-like in the sense that like the angels, those who share in the resurrection will not die, so Danker, Bock. Nolland disagrees, "the comparison should not be seen in terms of intrinsic immortality, but rather in connection with a certain kind of glory and dignity." "Nor can they die any more, for they are like angels", Barclay.

qeou (oV) gen. "[they are] God's [children]" - [they are sons] of God. The genitive is adjectival, relational. "Sons of the Most High", Lk.6:35. Best as NIV. = members of the kingdom of God united to God, one with God in the Son of God. "All ecstasies and intimacies will then be with God", Peterson.

onteV (eimi) pres. part. "since" - being. The participle of the verb to-be serves to form a causal clause, "since / because."

thV anastasewV (iV ewV) gen. "[children] of the resurrection" - [sons] of the resurrection. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "sons"; "resurrection children" = "they share in the resurrection."


iv] A rebuttal argument against the Sadducees proposition that the dead to not rise to life, v37-38. Having exposed the weakness of the Sadducees' argument on the basis that the ground-rules on earth are not the same as the ground-rules in heaven, Jesus presents a tricky argument in return, one based on scripture, which evidences that the righteous dead are raised. The books of Moses (the Law, the Pentateuch) serve as the highest authority for the Sadducees. Using this recognized source, Jesus makes the point that if God is the God of the patriarchs then obviously the "dead rise", for he is not God of the patriarch's remains, but the God of living persons.

de "but" - but, and. Possibly adversative, as NIV, but better transitional / connective; "That the dead are in fact raised ....", Barclay

epi + gen. "in the account" - at [the bush]. Spacial. When it comes to an exact meaning, this preposition is a bit all over the place. With the genitive it tends to be "punctiliar", Moule, so here it's making the point that it's "at" that point in the Bible which speaks about the burning bush. "In the portion of scripture known as 'the bush'", Plummer.

thV batou "of the bush" - "Moses indicated in the passage concerning the thorn-bush", TH.

kai "even" - even [Moses revealed, made known, showed]. Ascensive, as NIV. Proof-texting the resurrection would be better supported by Job 19:26, Ps.16:9-11, Isa.26:19, Dan.12:2, ....., but Jesus confines himself to the Pentateuch, the scriptures regarded authoritative by the Sadducees.

oJti "that" - Here introducing an object clause fronted for emphasis in the Gk. / dependent statement, indirect speech, expressing the proposition being discussed, which proposition Moses also obviously holds to be true; "that the dead are in fact raised", Barclay.

egeirontai (egeirw) pres. pas. "rise" - are being raised. Theological passive, God does the raising; "are raised [by God]", Williams. Probably a futuristic present, "will rise", NAB.

wJV "for" - as, while. The conjunction here is adverbial, temporal; "when he calls the Lord", Moffatt.

legei (legw) pres. "he calls" - he says. Durative. The point being that God still speaks through Moses / the scriptures to the Patriarchs. Possibly even setting up a quote from the scriptures, "it says", Ellis, or "he says", Bock, cf. Nolland. "When he speaks", Fitzmyer.

ton qeon (oV) acc. "[the Lord] the God" - [Lord] the God. Object complement of the accusative object "Lord", forming a double accusative construction. Unlike Matthew, Luke has not chosen to use the LXX version "I am the God of Abraham ....." expressing the Lord's "being the God of", rather than "having been the God of." As noted above, Luke may be giving us a quote, as both Matthew and Mark do, see above. If a quote, it serves, not as a direct quote, but as a que to the actual text, Ex.3:2-6. "When he speaks of (about/concerning) the Lord as the God of Abraham ..... Jacob", Fitzmyer.

Abraam "of Abraham" - Read as an adjectival genitive, of subordination.


Jesus now supplies the reason why the righteous dead are raised; "God relates to the living and not the dead", Bock.

qeoV "He" - Properly "God is not [the God] of dead people", TH.

nekrwn gen. adj. "of the dead" - of dead. The adjective serves as a substantive, genitive of subordination / adjectival.

alla "but" - Adversative, as NIV.

zwntwn (zaw) gen. pres. part. "of the living" - of living ones. The participle functions as a substantive, genitive of subordination.

gar "for" - because. Expressing cause/reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why God is not the God of the dead.

autw/ "to him" - Either a dative of reference / respect, "for with respect to him [God]", or an ethical dative, "before him"; "for as far as God is concerned", Marshall.

panteV "all [are alive]" - Which "all", all people both dead and alive, or all those living, or all who are eternally alive / share in the resurrection?

zwsin (zaw) pres. "are alive" - As far as humanity is concerned, the dead are dead, but as far as God is concerned they are alive. In what sense alive? Ellis suggests either prospectively, "in the prospect of a sure resurrection", so "all those who are worthy will live", or "all live in God / in Christ", such that "what the Christian now shares corporately in Christ will be fulfilled individually at the parousia." Ellis is possibly stretching the sense here so we may be best to go with Stein who says simply "the patriarchs live because of their association with the God of life", cf. also Fitzmyer. The sample sermon takes the Pauline "alive in Christ" line.


v] Response of the scribes and others, v39-40.


Luke Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]