|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
22:23-33 The doctrines of Christ displeased the infidel Sadducees, as well as the Pharisees and Herodians. He carried the great truths of the resurrection and a future state, further than they had yet been reveled. There is no arguing from the state of things in this world, as to what will take place hereafter. Let truth be set in a clear light, and it appears in full strength. Having thus silenced them, our Lord proceeded to show the truth of the doctrine of the resurrection from the books of Moses. God declared to Moses that he was the God of the patriarchs, who had died long before; this shows that they were then in a state of being, capable of enjoying his favour, and proves that the doctrine of the resurrection is clearly taught in the Old Testament as well as in the New. But this doctrine was kept for a more full revelation, after the resurrection of Christ, who was the first-fruits of them that slept. All errors arise from not knowing the Scriptures and the power of God. In this world death takes away one after another, and so ends all earthly hopes, joys, sorrows, and connexions. How wretched are those who look for nothing better beyond the grave!
Verses 23-33. - Third attack: The Sadducees and the resurrection. (Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-40.) Verse 23 - The same day; on that day. This is still the Tuesday in the Holy Week. The Sadducees. There is no definite article here in the original. Which say; οἱ λὲγοντες. Many good manuscripts and some modern editors (Laehmann, Tregelles, Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort) read λέγοντες, "saying." The received reading historically describes the Sadducees' opinions; the other makes them come boldly stating their sentiments. Where authorities are pretty evenly balanced, we must decide the wording of a passage by other than literary considerations; and there can be no doubt that the reading which denotes the characteristic of the sect is more appropriate than that which represents them offensively parading their views as a preparation for the coming question. We have had notice of the Saddueees before (Matthew 3:7; Matthew 16:1). The popular account of their religious belief is given in Acts 23:8, "The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit." They were rationalists and sceptics, who denied many old-established truths, and scorned many prevalent observances. They acknowledged most of the Old Testament, though, curiously enough, they, like our modern neologians, stumbled at the supernatural upon which the Scriptures were built. Tradition and traditional interpretations found no favour with them. The future life of the soul they utterly repudiated, and the resurrection of the body, when it was brought before them, met with contemptuous ridicule. The claims and doctrine of Christ were, in their eyes, puerile and unworthy of philosophic consideration. At the same time, they recognized that the people were with him for the moment, and that it was expedient that his teaching, so utterly opposed to their own opinions, should be discredited and repressed. So they came forward asking an imaginary question, which, as they thought, would reduce to an absurdity the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the flesh. Doubtless they were members of the Sanhedrin, and it was at the instigation of this body that they proposed the presumed case of conscience.
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These understanding that the former had not succeeded, came with a knotty question, with which they had often puzzled the Pharisees, and hoped they should nonplus Christ with it, showing the absurdity of the doctrine of the resurrection, an article which they denied; as it follows,
which say, that there is no resurrection of the dead: they denied that there were angels and spirits, and the immortality of the soul; they affirmed, that the soul died with the body, and that there was no future state: the rise of this sect, and of these notions of their's, was this, as the Jews relate (w).
"Antigonus, a man of Socho, used to say, be not as servants, that serve their master on account of receiving a reward, but be as servants that serve their master, not on account of receiving a reward; and let the fear of heaven (God) be upon you, so that your reward may be double in the world to come: this man had two disciples, who altered his words, and taught the disciples, and the disciples their disciples, and they stood and narrowly examined them, and said, what did our fathers see, to say this thing? Is it possible, that a labourer should work all day, and not take his reward at evening? But if our fathers had known that there is another world, and that there is , "a resurrection of the dead", they would not have said thus: they stood and separated from the law, and of them there were two parties, the Sadducees and Baithusites; the Sadducees on account of Sadoc, and the Baithusites on account of Baithus.''
The Syriac version reads, "and they said" and the Ethiopic version also, "saying, there is no resurrection of the dead"; taking the sense to be, that they at this time declared their sense of this doctrine, and according to a settled notion of their's, affirmed before Christ, that there was no such thing; that never any was raised from the dead, nor never will; and they were desirous of entering into a controversy with him about it:
and asked him; put the following question to him, in order to expose the weakness and absurdity of such a doctrine.
(w) Abot R. Nathan, c. 5. fol. 3. 1.
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