18 ¶ Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, 19 Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 20 Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. 21 And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise. 22 And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also. 23 In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.
Here, on the authority of a small number of corrupt manuscripts, modern versions delete “therefore, when they shall rise,” mirroring the Gnostic heresy that there is no physical resurrection of the dead.
The Sadducees, here, are said to not believe in a resurrection of the dead either. In Acts we learn that the Sadducee is like the modern Christian who thinks the Judeo-Christian tradition is good for our country but doesn’t believe in the supernatural, who believes the Bible contains a positive moral code but doesn’t believe in inspiration or preservation, and the philosophical Christian who, like one of America’s founding generation, Thomas Jefferson, doesn’t believe the deity of Christ or any miracle.
Acts 23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.
The Sadducees want to expose Christ’s teaching to the ridicule of the skeptic. Perhaps they believed He’d say something like the woman was the wife of all of the men in eternity or make some pronouncement about spiritual marriage like the Mormons do today. Whatever they thought He would say they were sorely mistaken.
The modern skeptic will say something smarmy about angels with wings and ask you if you’ve ever seen one or know anyone who has seen an angel like John Travolta in the movie Michael and do you really believe in these creatures? They’ll ask the question, not for an answer, but for an opportunity to ridicule.
24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? 25 For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.
Marriage is an earthly institution, an orderly way by which man and woman come together in the flesh. It is an institution bound by a physical body of flesh. Physical offspring are often the result, even the intended result, of many marriages. The alternative is sin, fornication, in having no regard for the gravity of child-rearing or a commitment for life. Most American Christians mistake government sanction of the arrangement for the institution ordained by God. Yet, they are two completely different things which only come together by the common use of the word “marriage” which doesn’t mean the same thing to the Bible believer as it does to the government, and never has.
Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Spiritual beings exist under a totally different set of rules which we can’t possibly understand in this finite frame in which we live. The resurrection body will not be driven by the same forces that complicate so many of our lives, not pushed by the same needs, and urges. Jesus makes it clear that marriage is an earthly institution, although ordained by God, but still confined to the realm of the flesh.
The Sadducees weren’t prepared for this answer.
As for angels, there are no angels with wings in the Bible. An angel is an appearance of someone who is someplace else.
Isaiah 63:9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
It can be either the physical appearance of a spiritual being such as God Himself.
Judges 2:1 And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.
Acts 27:23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
Jesus Christ, who is the visible image of the invisible God, is the angel of God.
Colossians 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Galatians 4:14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
It can be the appearance of a physical being in the spiritual world.
Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
Revelation 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
Satan is not a fallen angel. He is a cherub.
Ezekiel 28:14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
The cherubim are beast-like creatures, probably the prototypes for all living things. Read Ezekiel, chapters 1 and 10.
Ezekiel 10:20 This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims.
They surround the throne of God in the spiritual realm of heaven.
Revelation 4: 6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
Jesus accused the Sadducees of not knowing the Scriptures and it is easy to see that most Christians today have the same problem with reading comprehension and a hard heart that the Sadducees had.
26 And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.
Here, Christ blasts their lack of belief in a resurrection. God’s dead are alive in the spiritual world. They will receive resurrection bodies. It is the doctrine of the Adoption.
Romans 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.