Acts 23:8
For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection.—On the general teaching of the Sadducees, see Note on Matthew 22:23. Their denial of the existence of angels and spirits seems at first inconsistent with the known facts that they acknowledged the divine authority of the Pentateuch, which contains so many narratives of angelophanies, and were more severe than others in their administration of the Law. The great body of the higher priestly class were, we know, mere Sadducees (Acts 5:17); and what, on their principles, was the meaning of the Temple ritual? They were, in fact, carried along by one of the great waves of thought which were then passing over the ancient world, and were Epicureans and Materialists without knowing it, just as the Pharisees were, even to the eye of a writer like Josephus (Life, c. 3), the counterpart of the Stoics. For them the “angels” of the Pentateuch were not distinct beings, but evanescent manifestations of the divine glory.

23:6-11 The Pharisees were correct in the faith of the Jewish church. The Sadducees were no friends to the Scripture or Divine revelation; they denied a future state; they had neither hope of eternal happiness, nor dread of eternal misery. When called in question for his being a Christian, Paul might truly say he was called in question for the hope of the resurrection of the dead. It was justifiable in him, by this profession of his opinion on that disputed point, to draw off the Pharisees from persecuting him, and to lead them to protect him from this unlawful violence. How easily can God defend his own cause! Though the Jews seemed to be perfectly agreed in their conspiracy against religion, yet they were influenced by very different motives. There is no true friendship among the wicked, and in a moment, and with the utmost ease, God can turn their union into open enmity. Divine consolations stood Paul in the most stead; the chief captain rescued him out of the hands of cruel men, but the event he could not tell. Whoever is against us, we need not fear, if the Lord stand by us. It is the will of Christ, that his servants who are faithful, should be always cheerful. He might think he should never see Rome; but God tells him, even in that he should be gratified, since he desired to go there only for the honour of Christ, and to do good.For the Sadducees say - They believe.

No resurrection - Of the dead. By this doctrine they also understood that there was no future state, and that the soul did not exist after death. See the notes on Matthew 22:23.

Neither angel - That there are no angels. They deny the existence of good or bad angels. See the notes on Matthew 3:7.

Nor spirit - Nor soul. That there is nothing but matter. They were materialists, and supposed that all the operations which we ascribe to mind could be traced to some modification of matter. The Sadducees, says Josephus (Jewish Wars, book ii. chapter 8, section 14), "take away the belief of the immortal duration of the soul, and the punishments and rewards in Hades." "The doctrine of the Sadducees is this," says he (Antiq., book 18, chapter 1, section 4), "that souls die with the bodies." The opinion that the soul is material, and that there is nothing but matter in the universe, has been held by many philosophers, ancient and modern, as well as by the Sadducees.

Confess both - Acknowledge, or receive both as true; that is, that there is a future state, and that there are spirits distinct from matter, as angels, and the disembodied souls of people. The two points in dispute were:

(1) Whether the dead would be raised and exist in a future state; and,

(2) Whether mind was distinct from matter. The Sadducees denied both, and the Pharisees believed both. Their belief of the Latter point was, that spirits existed in two forms - that of angels, and that of souls of people distinct from the body.

8. the Sadducees say … there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit—(See on [2099]Lu 20:37).

the scribes … of the Pharisees' part … strove, saying, We find no evil in this man, but—as to those startling things which he brings to our ears.

if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him—referring, perhaps, to his trance in the temple, of which he had told them (Ac 22:17). They put this favorable construction upon his proceedings for no other reason than that they had found him one of their own party. They care not to inquire into the truth of what he alleged, over and above their opinions, but only to explain it away as something not worth raising a noise about. (The following words, "Let us not fight against God," seem not to belong to the original text, and perhaps are from Ac 5:39. In this case, either the meaning is, "If he has had some divine communication, what of that?" or, the conclusion of the sentence may have been drowned in the hubbub, which Ac 23:10 shows to have been intense).

The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection; against this our Saviour argued, Matthew 22:23, &c.

Neither angel; it seems strange that they should deny that there were angels, whereas they owned the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses, in which mention is made frequently of angels: but it seems that they understood those places allegorically, either for good instincts, or apparitions caused by God to manifest his mind by them unto men, wresting those places to their own destruction.

Nor spirit; they denied the existence of the soul of man, as different from the crasis and temperament of his body; and therefore believed that the soul perished with the body. Nay, they were so far from believing there was any spirit, that they held, blasphemously, that God himself was corporeal.

But the Pharisees confess both; the three things here mentioned, which the Sadducees denied, may be well spoken of as but two, viz. the resurrection and the existence of spirits. When men sin with much obstinacy against supernatural light, God justly withdraws from them even natural light, and they are, punished (as the Egyptians were) with such darkness which may be felt, Exodus 10:21.

For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection,.... Of the dead, being ignorant of the Scriptures, and the power of God; see Matthew 22:23.

neither angel nor spirit; the Ethiopic version reads, "nor Holy Spirit": but the sense seems to be, that they did not believe any such species of beings as angels, nor indeed any spirits whatever, which were immaterial or immortal; for as for the spirit or soul of man, they took that to be only the temperament of the body, and that it died with it, and did not exist in any separate state after this life: for so Josephus (x) says, that they deny the permanence of the soul, and rewards and punishments in the invisible state. And, according to the Talmudic (y) writers, they denied that there was any other world than this:

but the Pharisees confess both; the resurrection of the dead, and that there are spirits, both angels and the souls of men, which are immortal. Josephus, in the place before referred to, says, that they hold that every soul is incorruptible or immortal; and that they held the resurrection of the dead, is manifest from the Talmud (z), and other writings of theirs; the Syriac version renders it, "the Pharisees confess all these things"; to which agree the Arabic and Ethiopic versions.

(x) De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 10. sect. 19. (y) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 54. 1. & Gloss. in ib. & Pirke Abot R. Nathan, c. 5. (z) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 90. 2.

{7} For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither {d} angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

(7) It is an old heresy of the Sadducees to deny the existence of angels and souls, and in addition the resurrection of the dead.

(d) Things that exist without a body.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 23:8. For the Sadducees, indeed, maintained, etc.

μηδὲ ἄγγελον μήτε πνεῦμα] not even angel or spirit (generally). The μήτε πνεῦμα is logically subordinate to the μηδὲ ἄγγ. (inasmuch as πνεῦμα is conceived as being homogeneous with ἄγγελος); for τὰ ἀμφότερα divides the objects named into two classes, namely (1) ἀνάστασις, and (2) ἄγγελος and πνεῦμα. Hence μηδέ before ἄγγελ. is to be defended, and not (in opposition to Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 158, and Lachmann) to be changed into μήτε. See Klotz, ad Devar. p. 709; comp. also Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 315 [E. T. 367], and on Galatians 1:12. In the certainly very important codd. (A B C E א) which have μήτε, this is to be viewed as a grammatical correction, originating from the very old error, which already Chrysostom has and Kuinoel still assumes ἀμφότερονκαὶ περὶ τριῶν λαμβάνεται.

The Sadducees (see on Matthew 3:7) denied (as materialists, perhaps holding the theory of emanations) that there were angels and spirit-beings, i.e. independent spiritual realities besides God. To this category of πνεύματα, denied by them, belonged also the spirits of the departed; for they held the soul to be a refined matter, which perished (συναφανίσαι) with the body (Joseph. Antt. xviii. 1. 4, Bell. ii. 8. 14). But it is arbitrary, with Bengel, Kuinoel, and many others, to understand under πνεῦμα anima defuncti exclusively. Reuss, in Herzog’s Encykyl. XIII. p. 294, has a view running directly counter to the clear sense of the narrative.

Acts 23:8. ἄγγελονπνεῦμα: are joined together by the speaker as one principal conception, so that the following ἀμφότερα presents no difficulty, see Winer-Moulton, Leviticus , 6, Page, in loco. πνεῦμα would include the spirits of the dead, to one of which Paul would appear to have appealed, Acts 22:7; Acts 22:18 (Weiss). On the denial see Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. ii., p. 13, E.T., cf. also the remarks of Dr. A. B. Davidson, “Angel,” Hastings’ B.D., as to the possible sense of this denial and its possible limitation, with which we may compare Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, ii., 7, 1046.—ὁμολ., i.e., as part of their religious creed, their confession and open profession of faith: “but the faith of the Sadducees is well described by negations”.

8. the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection] It is said that their teaching had its rise in the thought that “God’s servants should not do service with the hope of reward.” As the life to come would be a reward we are told that their doctrine developed into the denial of the Resurrection. As we meet with them in the New Testament, they are mainly members of the priestly order, and appear to have accepted only the written Law, as distinct from tradition, yet in spite of the mention of angels in the Pentateuch they appear to have explained the language in such wise as to identify these angelic appearances with some manifestation of the divine glory, and thus to have come to deny the existence of any spiritual beings distinct from God Himself. In political matters they were on the side of Rome, and in consequence are found uniting at times with the Herodians.

Acts 23:8. Μήτε πνεῦμα, nor spirit) Spirit, as opposed to angel, means here the spirit of a man who is dead: comp. note on Acts 23:9; Matthew 14:2; Luke 24:37.—ὁμολογοῦσι) acknowledge, confess.—τὰ ἀμφότερα, both) One of these two points is the resurrection; the other is, angels and other spirits. The difference of the particles μηδὲ, μήτε, but not, and not, is in consonance with this view, of which the former imparts an adversative, the latter a copulative force to the negation [i.e. μηδὲ connects adversatively μὴ εἶναι ἀνάστασιν with the clause ἄγγελον μήτε πνεῦμα, joined by the copula μήτε].

Verse 8. - Neither angel, etc. Is there any connection between this expression and that in Acts 12:15, "It is his angel" (see ver. 9)? For the statement regarding the Pharisees and Sadducees, see Luke 20:27. Acts 23:8Both

Showing that two classes of doctrines peculiar to the Sadducees, and not three, are meant: 1. The resurrection. 2. The existence of spirits, whether angels or souls of men; "neither angel nor spirit."

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