Matthew 22:32
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.
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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!As touching ... - That is, in proof that the dead are raised.

The passage which he quotes is recorded in Exodus 3:6, Exodus 3:15, This was at the burning bush (Mark and Luke). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been dead for a long time when Moses spoke this - Abraham for 329 years, Isaac for 224 years, and Jacob for 198 years - yet God spake then as being still "their God." They must, therefore, be still somewhere living, for God is not the God of the dead; that is, it is absurd to say that God rules over those who are "extinct or annihilated," but he is the God only of those who have an existence. Luke adds, "all live unto him." That is, all the righteous dead, all of whom he can be properly called their God, live unto his glory. This passage does not prove directly that the dead "body" would be raised, but only by consequence. It proves that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had an existence then, or that their souls were alive. This the Sadducees denied Acts 23:8, and this was the main point in dispute. If this was admitted - if there was a state of rewards and punishments - then it would easily follow that the bodies of the dead would be raised.

Mt 22:15-40. Entangling Questions about Tribute, the Resurrection, and the Great Commandment, with the Replies. ( = Mr 12:13-34; Lu 20:20-40).

For the exposition, see on [1343]Mr 12:13-34.

See Poole on "Matthew 22:33".

I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,.... The Sadducees expressly denied, that the resurrection could be proved out of the law,

"Says R. Eliezer, with R. Jose (g), I have found the books of the Sadducees to be corrupt; for they say that the resurrection of the dead is not to be proved out of the law: I said unto them, you have corrupted your law, and ye have not caused anything to come up into your hands, for ye say the resurrection of the dead is not to be proved out of the law; lo! he saith, Numbers 15:31 "That soul shall be utterly cut off, his iniquity shall be upon him; he shall be utterly cut off" in this world; "his iniquity shall be upon him", is not this said with respect to the world to come?.

Hence, in opposition to this notion of the Sadducees, the other Jews say (h), that "Though a man confesses and believes that the dead will be raised, yet that it is not intimated in the law, he is an heretic; since it is a fundamental point, that the resurrection of the dead is of the law.

Hence they set themselves, with all their might and main, to prove this doctrine from thence, of which take the following instances (i),

"Says R. Simai, from whence is the resurrection of the dead to be proved out of the law? From Exodus 6:4 as it is said, "I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan: to you" it is not said, but "to them"; from hence then, the resurrection of the dead may be proved out of the law.

The gloss upon it is,

"the sense is, that the holy blessed God, promised to our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that he would give to them the land of Israel; and because he gave it to them, has he not given it to their children? But we learn from hence, that they shall be raised, and that God will hereafter give them the land of Israel.

And which the learned Mr. Mede takes to be the sense of the words of this text, cited by our Lord;, and this the force of his reasoning, by which he proves the resurrection of the dead. Again,

"the Sadducees asked Rabban Gamaliel, from whence does it appear that the holy blessed God will quicken the dead? He said unto them, out of the law, and out of the prophets, and out of the Hagiographa; but they did not receive of him (or regard him): out of the law, as it is written, "Thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, and rise up", Deuteronomy 31:16 And there are that say from this Scripture, Deuteronomy 4:4. "But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God, are alive every one of you this day": as this day all of you stand, so in the world to come, all of you shall stand.

Thus our Lord having to do with the same sort of persons, fetches his proof of the doctrine of the resurrection out of the law, and from a passage which respects the covenant relation God stands in to his people, particularly Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and which respects not their souls only, but their bodies also, even their whole persons, body and soul; for God is the God of the whole: and therefore as their souls now live with God, their bodies also will be raised from the dead, that they, with their souls, may enjoy everlasting glory and happiness; which is the grand promise, and great blessing of the covenant of grace,

God is not the God of the dead, but of the living; as all the saints are; for though their bodies are dead, their souls are alive, and their bodies will be raised in consequence of their covenant interest in God, to enjoy an immortal life with him: so the Jews are wont to say, that the righteous, even in their death, are called living (k):

"from whence is it proved, (say they,) that the righteous, even in their death, , "are called living?"

from Deuteronomy 34:4 as it is written, "and he said unto him, this is the land which I have sworn to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying." Menasseh ben Israel, a learned Jew, of the last century, has produced (l) this same passage of Scripture, Christ here does in proof of the immortality of the soul, and argues from it in much the same manner: having mentioned the words, he adds,

"for God is not the God of the dead, for the dead are not; but of the living, for the living exist; therefore also the patriarchs, in respect of the soul, may rightly be inferred from hence to live.


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.
Matthew 22:32. Ἐγώ εἰμι, etc., quoted from Exodus 3:6. The stress does not lie on εἰμι, to which there is nothing corresponding in the Hebrew, bat on the relation implied in the title: God of Abraham. Note in this connection the repetition of the Divine name before each of the patriarchal names, and here the article before θεὸς each time (not so in Sept[126]). The idea is that the Eternal could not stand in such intimate connection with the merely temporal. The argument holds a fortiori in reference to Christ’s name for God, Father, which compels belief in human immortality, and in the immortality of all, for God is Father of all men, whereas the text quoted might avail in proof only of the immortality of the great ones, the heroes of the race.—οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ θεὸς, with the article θεὸς is subject, and the idea: God does not belong to the dead; without, it would be predicate = He is not a God of the dead. On second θεὸς vide critical notes.

[126] Septuagint.

32. Jesus appeals to the Pentateuch when arguing with the Sadducees, with whom the books of Moses had the greatest authority.

Stated in a logical form the argument is: God is a God of the living only, but He is the God of Abraham, therefore Abraham is living. The same deduction from the words was made by the later Rabbinical writers.

The principle on which the proposition “God is the God of the living” rests, lies deeper. It depends upon the close relation between the life of God and the life of His children. The best illustration of the truth is the parable of the Vine (John 15:1-8). The connection between the living God and the patriarchs, whose God He is, is as close as that between the vine and its branches. If the vine lives its branches live. If God is living and immortal the patriarchs are living and immortal. If the branches die they cease to belong to the vine; if the patriarchs were dead they would have ceased to have any relation to God, or God to them.

So far there has been proof of immortality.

The argument for the Resurrection is inferred. For if the patriarchs are living, they are living in Sheôl, or Hades, and therefore they are awaiting a resurrection; cp. Hebrews 11:16. For this thought see Meyer ad loc.

Matthew 22:32. Ὁ Θεὸς, the God) see Exodus 3:6. These words are not put only once, but three times, because Jacob did not hear the promise of God merely from Isaac, or Isaac merely from Abraham, but each of them separately also from God Himself; and Abraham’s name was Divinely changed, Isaac’s Divinely given, that of Israel Divinely added to Jacob: see Genesis 17:5; Genesis 17:19; Genesis 32:28.—οὐκ ἔστι Θεὸς νεκρῶν,[967] He is not God of the dead) i.e., God is not God of the dead. There is an ellipsis as in Romans 3:29. The value of inferential[968] reasoning is seen by this example,—“God is thine.” This phrase expresses both a Divine gift and a human duty. The Divine gift (for that is considered in this passage) thus expressed, is infinite, everlasting, and one which could never be fully realized to us by an earthly life, however long or happy (see Psalm 144:15, and Luke 16:25), much less by a pilgrimage of a few and evil days, such as were the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and above all, Jacob, compared with those of their ancestors,[969] who, nevertheless, had not obtained that promise. For it is not said wealth, long life, security, or, in short, the world is thine, but, God is thine: nor is it said God is thine for fifty, an hundred, or seven hundred years, but simply God is thine. When, therefore, God first declared Himself to Abraham to be his God, He conferred, and was acknowledged to have conferred, upon him the everlasting communion of Himself everlasting. And though the death of the body has intervened in the case of the patriarchs, it cannot last for ever, nor produce a long delay, long in comparison with everlasting life. For Abraham himself, the whole man, and all that is included under the name Abraham, that is, not only his soul but also his body, which also received the seal of the promise, possesses GOD. God, however, is not the God of that which is not: He is the Living God; they therefore who possess God must themselves also be living, and as to any portion of them in which life has been suspended, must revive for ever. The force of the formula is shown also in Gnomon on Hebrews 11:16, which passage is chiefly to this effect, “He hath prepared for them a city,” and that principally in eternity; and therefore He is called their God. And this reasoning of Christ is sound, evident, and then heard for the first time: and most effectually proves both the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of the body, against the Sadducees, who denied altogether the existence of spirits. The force, however, of the argument does not consist in the verb εἰμὶ, I am, nor in the use of its present tense at the time of Moses (for though it is expressed by St Matthew, it is not found in the parallel passages of St Mark or St Luke, or the original of Moses), but in the formula itself.[970] And these phrases, My, Thy, His, etc., GOD, are by far the most frequent. This passage, however, here cited against the Sadducees is furthermore the most striking of all of them, on the following grounds: (1) In it God speaks Himself, an irrefragable proof of its truth; (2) He speaks on the occasion of a most solemn and visible manifestation of Himself; (3) He speaks of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob conjointly; (4) And indeed after their death, and that a long while after, at the very time of performing the promise to them, even in the persons of their descendants, which was a proof that these patriarchs had not in their own lifetime themselves obtained the promises. And thus, as we are told in Luke 20:37, EVEN, KAI, Moses showed the resurrection of the dead, even Moses, not only the prophets, in preference to whom, Moses was read publicly before the time of Antiochus.[971] At the same time, our Lord reduces to its proper shape the proverb of the Jews, who said, “God is not the God of the living but of the dead.” See Axiom ix. of Alexander Morus, and the Dissertation of E. F. Cobius, on the force of this passage.

[967] The reading of E. M. is “οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ Θεὸς Θεὸς νεκρῶν,” rendered in E. V. “God is not the God of the dead.”—(I. B.) BLΔbc Vulg. omit the second θεὸς: so Iren. Hil. 77, 484, 500, 722. But Orig. 3,828b; 829b support it, with the Rec. Text.—ED.

[968] Bengel means to say, that we are bound to receive not only what is actually written totidem verbis in Scripture, but also what may be logically inferred from the words of Holy Writ—not merely what “is contained therein,” but also what “may be proved thereby.”—(I. B.)

[969] Comp. Genesis 47:9.—ED.

[970] For the possession of that which is everlasting implies everlasting possession, and everlasting possession involves everlasting duration.—(I. B.)

[971] Hartwell Horne says, “The third part of the synagogue service was the Reading of the Scriptures, which included the reading of the whole law of Moses, and portions of the Prophets, and the Hagiographa or holy writings. (1.) The Law was divided into fifty-three, according to the Masorets, or, according to others, fifty-four Paraschioth or sections: for the Jewish year consisted of twelve lunar months, alternately of twenty-nine or thirty days, that is of fifty weeks and four days. The Jews, therefore, in their division of the law into Paraschioth or sections, had a respect to their intercalary year, which was every second or third, and consisted of thirteen months; so that the whole law was read over this year, allotting one Parascha or section to every Sabbath; and in common years they reduced the fifty-three or fifty-four sections to the number of the fifty Sabbaths, by reading two shorter ones together, as often as there was occasion. They began the course of reading on the first Sabbath after the Feast of Tabernacles; or rather, indeed, on the Sabbath-day before that, when they finished the last course of reading, they also made a beginning of the new course; that so, as the rabbies say, the devil might not accuse them to God of being weary of reading His law. (2.) The portions selected out of the Prophetical writings are termed Haphtoroth. When Antiochus Epiphanes conquered the Jews, about the year 163 before the Christian sera, he prohibited the public reading of the Law in the synagogues on pain of death. The Jews, in order that they might not be wholly deprived of the Word of God, selected from other parts of the Sacred Writings fifty-four portions, which were termed HAPHTORAS חפטורת (HaPHTORoTH), from פטר (PaTaR), he dismissed, let loose, opened—for though the Law was dismissed from their synagogues, and was closed to them by the edict of this persecuting king, yet the prophetic writings, not being under the interdict, were left open; and therefore they used them in place of the others.”—(I. B.)

Verse 32. - I am (ἐγώ εἰμι). The quotation is from Exodus 3:6, where God gives himself this name, as the Eternal, Self-existent One. The God of Abraham...Jacob. These patriarchs had long been dead when this revelation was made; had they been annihilated, the Lord could not have called himself still their God. By this utterance he implied that he had still to do with them - had a blessing and a reward which they were to receive, and which they must be alive to enjoy. How can they who are his cease to exist? They who are in personal relation and covenant with God cannot perish. There were personal promises to Abraham, distinguished from those made to his seed (see Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:7; Genesis 17:8, etc.), which were never fulfilled during his earthly life, and await realization in a future existence. God was the patriarchs' Father, Saviour, Redeemer, Judge, Rewarder; he could not hold these relations to mere dust and ashes, but only to con-scions and responsible beings, existing, though in another condition, and in another portion of God's creation. Thus was proved the continued existence and personality of the soul; and the resurrection of the body follows consequentially from this. Man is a complex being; he has body and soul, neither of which is complete without the other. The soul is not perfect man without the body, which is its organ; the body is not perfect man without the soul, which animates it. In giving eternal life to man, God gives it to the creature as originally made, not to one portion only of his nature. Of the living. "For," as St. Luke adds, "all live unto him." The so called dead are alive in God's view; they have an abiding relation to him, live in his world, which comprises the seen and unseen, the present and the future. Titus St. Paul says (Romans 14:8, 9), "Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died and rose and revived, that he might be the Lord both of the dead and living." Matthew 22:32
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