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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 17: Matthew 22:1-40, by Kevin M. Williams

But Yeshua had other enemies …

On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Him and questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies, having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife and raise up an offspring to his brother.’

“Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. And last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection therefore whose wife of the seven shall she be? For they all had her.”

 But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

 “But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I Am the God of Abraham, and the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching (Matthew 22:23-32).

Once again, a sect of religious leaders is attempting to trip Yeshua up. Using the doctrine of Leverite marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5-10), they propose an almost preposterous happenstance upon which to base an inconsequential afterlife premise. However, as the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, any answer would have been perceived as irrelevant to them.

The Sadducees viewed only the five books of Moses as Scripturally authoritative. From their perspective, since the resurrection could not be supported solely in the Torah, it was an invention of man. Through their fiction of the woman being passed from brother to brother, they attempted to unravel Yeshua’s theology right there in the presence of the “multitudes.” There may have been some ego involved, as Yeshua had already artfully dealt with the Pharisees and the Herodians “on that same day.” It would not have been beyond the aspirations of the Sadducees to attempt to place themselves at the top of the religious hierarchy.

Yeshua—always the wisest—proves that no one understands the Bible as well as He. His answer about the afterlife was of no relevance to the Sadducees, though I am sure it gave comfort and understanding to those witnesses round about. But the rebuke he uttered, that they did not understand Scripture or the power of God, would most certainly have caught their attention. His use of Exodus 3:6—the Torah—as a proof text for the certainty of an eternal soul “astonished” the multitudes, though Matthew gives no record of how the Sadducees reacted. The Luke account however, adds: “And some of the scribes answered and said, ‘Teacher, You have spoken well.’ For they did not have courage to question Him any longer about anything” (Luke 20:39-40).

The ball was served by the Pharisees, returned by Yeshua. The Sadducees served next, and were given a skilful volley. Now the Pharisees attempt another serve.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Spring 2005

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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