I've developed the habit of not-just-reading the Bible, but dedicated my precious moment-just-after-waking-up time to give some effort to study the Bible every morning slowly. I read the Gospel chapters (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) at least once in a lifetime, well I'm reading it yet again with a hope that I might find something new and astounding and now I'm hit with this particular verse

“Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” (Matthew‬ ‭22:28‬ ‭NIV)‬‬

What resurrection are the Sadducees talking about? Because what I presume of the resurrection is that Jesus will come to earth, departing the heavens at the time no one knows, not even the angels (and we must be always prepared for him, living a blameless life, well, I repent all the time in Jesus's name, nevertheless, God loves me whatsoever). And while he comes again, the dead in Christ will rise first and are gathered together and ascend into heaven with Jesus. This what I imagine of the "resurrection" (of humankind) but when I read this particular verse, I am confused as to how they see "resurrection", from what I understand is that the Sadducees think "resurrection" is continuation of bloodline or something, when a husband dies, it is his male siblings' responsibility to continue his bloodline by making love with his wife or something like that or even if all his siblings die, the wife remains by herself as a childless widow, or someone "should" bear her children(I assume this is hard so that's the reason the Sadducees must have thought there is no "resurrection"). But my question here is, What resurrection are they talking about?


4 Answers 4


The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, the question was simply a set up.

Even though they did not believe in this, the resurrection they are referring to is the resurrection of dead the Pharisees believe in, which according to Act 23 is similar to what Paul (Christians) believes in.

6 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.


One of the basic precepts of Christianity, as well as Judaism, is that there is an eternal portion of the human being which is eternal, and known as the soul. That precept is loosely based on the idea that man was created in God's image. Looking at Genesis, we find;

Genesis 1:27 KJV So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 


Genesis 2:7  And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

So the breath of life is the creator of the soul in both religions. That coming from God which is eternal would also be eternal, and the product of that would also be eternal.

All of that having been said; We now need to look at the Prophets, which is the basis for much of Christianity as well as Judaism.

Isaiah 25:8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken [it].

Isaiah 26:19 Thy dead [men] shall live, [together with] my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew [is as] the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

Isaiah clearly believed that God would reprieve the dead, and they would rise to live again, even though it appears that his belief was that their physical bodies would be resurrected.

Daniel 12:2 and 3 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame [and] everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

Daniel 12:13 But go thou thy way till the end [be]: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.

Daniel also proclaimed a resurrection to eternal life.

Hosea 13:14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.

Hosea proclaimed God's victory over Death.

It is hard to understand the differing beliefs about what resurrection actually means up until the appearance of Jesus on the scene, but it is apparent that most believed in a bodily resurrection, to physical life. Even today there are variances in whether the Kingdom of God (Heaven) is a physical or a Spiritual place. However, it is obvious that until Christ there was a consensus that there would be one resurrection of the Dead, and it was generally believed that that would be a physical one.

In the scripture you quoted (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭22:28‬ ‭NIV) you see that precept of a physical re-emergent on the part of the Sadducees. And Jesus answer:

Matthew 22:29 through 32 KJV 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.

Tells us several things about the resurrection.

  1. first and foremost it says that God is the God of the living. Even though they knew that Abraham was physically dead Jesus is saying that he is still alive, making a reference to his soul. Or that part which is eternal.

  2. They did not know the Scriptures.

Psalms 49:15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.

David is proclaiming that God will redeem his soul, and not his physical body.

  1. Jesus is telling them that their resurrected soul will be vastly different from their physical bodies, in that it will not be capable of reproduction as is their physical bodies.

Much is still unknown about life after death, but Jesus gave us much insight into it, and actually validated resurrection, not only by what he said, but by his own return to life.


There is only one resurrection where both the righteous and wicked will rise and be judged. (See Dan. 12:2) Paul expands on the resurrection and what to expect, but from my reading the Bible, there is only a single event. Jesus corrects the Sadducees, stating that there is no marriage in the world to come. The Sadducees' question was a set up.


The Sadducees are not talking about the resurrection of Jesus, or of the general resurrection on Jesus return. The specifics you describe are based on scriptures which were not written at the time the question was asked. Nonetheless there was a general belief at the time of Jesus in a resurrection, based on the book of Daniel and other Jewish writings.

Merely a verse or two before your quote, Matthew states that "The Sadducees...do not believe in the resurrection". So the questions is talking about a hypothetical resurrection, that the questioner does not believe in. In fact the whole point of the question is to point out what they believe is the absurdity of a resurrection, an absurdity because it results in men having more than one wife in heaven.

So while the resurrection that the Sadducees disbelieved in would have been similar to the form that Christians believe in, it would not have been identical.

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