That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and questioned Him.
I. THAT THE HUMAN SPIRIT HAS ITS TRUE LIFE IN UNION WITH GOD.
1. Covenant relationship is expressed in the term "God of.
(1) Thus when Jehovah proclaims himself to be the God of Abraham," the meaning is that he stands in covenant relationship to that patriarch (see Genesis 17:7, 8). So of Isaac and of Jacob; but he never speaks of himself as the God of Lot, of Ishmael, or of Esau.
(2) By the Sinai covenant with the Hebrew nation he became the "God of Israel" (see Deuteronomy 29:10-13).
2. The covenant relationship implies purification from sin.
(1) The Hebrew word for "covenant" expresses the idea of purification. The plan of God's goodness and mercy is sometimes called his purification; the term is also applied to the sacrifices offered to God, and Christ himself is called the Covenant, or Purification Sacrifice, of his people.
(2) The phrase, "make a covenant," is literally, "cut off a purifier," or purification sacrifice, in allusion to the death of the sacrifices. So Messiah was to be "cut off out of the land of the living" (Isaiah 53:8)
(3) The sacrificial blood sprinkled is called the sprinkling of the blood of the covenant the effect of which was ceremonial purification (see Hebrews 9:19, 20). This of course typified the purifying efficacy of the blood of Christ (see Hebrews 9:13-15).
(4) The Shechinah passing with Abraham along the avenue between the divided pieces of the sacrifices, when God entered into covenant with that patriarch, set forth the consent of the sinner to be treated as the sacrifices were treated should he violate the Law of God, and the engagement of God to light up with his favour and friendship the way of obedience through the blood of Christ (cf. Genesis 15:10, 17; Exodus 19:18; Jeremiah 34:18-20).
3. The life of the covenant is more than existence.
(1) The God of the pure is "the God of the living" (ver. 32). Luke adds, "For all live unto him" (Luke 20:38), viz. all standing in true covenant relationship to him. The unbelieving Jews existed, but they did not "live" in Christ's sense, when he said, "Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life" (see John 5:39, 40).
(2) All destitute of this covenant life of purity are dead - "dead in trespasses and sins," obnoxious to be treated as the sacrifices had been (cf. Ephesians 2:12; Jeremiah 34:18, 19). Those who despise the everlasting covenant are liable to the "much sorer punishment" of being cut up by the flames of hell.
II. THAT THE LIFE OF THE SPIRIT SURVIVES THE DEATH OF THE BODY.
1. God's covenant remains with his disembodied saints.
(1) Abraham was dead when God said to Isaac, "I am the God of Abraham thy father" (see Genesis 26:24). Isaac also was dead when God said to Jacob, "I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac" (Genesis 28:13). Jacob also was sleeping when God appeared to Moses, and said, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Exodus 3:6). This is the fact recognized in the argument of our Lord.
(2) But if God was, hundreds of years after the natural death of the patriarchs, still in covenant relation with them, they must retain a conscious existence in the disembodied state. "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live unto him" (see Luke 20:38). This living unto God is a condition of the happiest consciousness (cf. John 3:36; John 6:48-53; John 11:26).
2. The existence of the sinner is an abiding death.
(1) "God is not the God of the dead," viz. "in trespasses and sins," whether in this world or in the disembodied state. The antithesis of a life which is distinct from existence is obviously a death not involving the extinction of existence. If spiritual life survives the dissolution of the body, so may the spiritual death survive the dissolution of the body.
(2) "God is not the God of the dead." This gives no more encouragement to the universalist than it does to the annihilationist. God is nowhere in his covenant pledged to the disembodied sinner. What a terrible thing to the spiritually dead is his indestructibility!
III. THAT GOD IS PLEDGED TO RAISE FROM THE DEAD THE BODIES OF HIS SAINTS.
1. He is pledged to raise the Hebrew patriarchs.
(1) The argument of the text is intended to prove more than the conscious and happy existence of the spirit of the believer after death. This undoubtedly it does conclude, as we have seen; but it means more.
(2) It is an argument also to prove the resurrection of the body (see ver. 31). And the reasoning to that conclusion was to the Sadducees unanswerable (see Luke 20:40).
(3) Its force lies in the matter of the covenant. It promised the patriarchs personal inheritance in Canaan (see Genesis 17:7, 8), which, in this mortal life, they never enjoyed (see Acts 7:5). But God still abides by his covenant, as is evident from his words to Moses at the bush. How, then, can the promise be fulfilled, unless they be raised from the dead for the purpose?
(4) In this sense the patriarchs themselves interpreted the promise. They know they should die without inheriting (see Genesis 15:13-16). How could they understand the land to be personally inherited by them as "an everlasting possession," unless in the great future? That future inheritance their faith firmly seized (see Hebrews 11:9-19).
2. The promise extends to all believers.
(1) The natural seed of Abraham as such are not the children of the promise. Else it behoved the Arabs, Midianites, and Idumaeans to have inherited. Only a portion of the seed of Jacob inherited the land in any sense. No one ever yet inherited the land according to the terms of the promise as "an everlasting possession."
(2) The true Seed of Abraham is Christ (see Galatians 3:16). He is the Depository of the promises. Yet even he never inherited the land of promise in person. But the "Scriptures cannot be broken." The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was a necessity; for he must inherit it forever.
(3) Believers in Christ, whether lineally descended from Abraham or not, are the seed of Abraham, and children of the promise. In a secondary sense the term, "seed of Abraham," is to be taken collectively (cf. Galatians 3:26-29). Believers therefore must be raised from the dead that they may inherit.
(4) Then the expression, "all the land of Canaan," purports the whole earth to its utmost limit (cf. Psalm 2:8; Psalm 72:8; Romans 4:13-18; Hebrews 11:13). The covenant also extends into the heavens. - J.A.M.
For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage.
I. IN WHAT RESPECTS ARE THESE SAINTS WHO HAVE PASSED THE STREAM OF DEATH LIKE UNTO THE ANGELS.
1. The saints of God are like unto the angels as to the qualities of their persons. Sex is obliterated not in mental characteristics, but in bodily frame. Alike in their immortality they cannot die. Like the angels in the maturity of their being, the body is raised in glory. Resemble the angels in beauty, and equal them in strength. What a blessed personality will be yours when the present age is past.
2. There will be likeness between the angels and glorified saints in the matter of character. No inbred sin. Purity and perfection.
3. The souls of the blessed are like to angels as to their occupation. Adoration; wondering study; gazing upon God; untiring service — these their occupations.
4. We shall be like the angels in heavenliness. Here we want externals; eat and drink: there no desires of an earthly kind.
5. Like the angels as to our happiness.
II. THE ANGELIC LIFE ON EARTH. We may be like angels here below.
1. Be it ours, as it was theirs, to declare the word of God.
2. For fighting a good fight. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon.
3. In setting free those who are the prisoners of hope. The angel came to Peter in prison.
4. In ministering comfort to those who are saved. An angel said to Paul, "Fear not."
5. In watching our souls.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. To ESTABLISH THE FACT THAT IGNORANCE OF HOLY SCRIPTURE IS THE SOURCE OF ERROR IN RELIGION. Holy Scripture is the truth from which error is the deviation. The Sadducees erred because they knew them not: they denied the resurrection of the dead. They substituted tradition for them: hence their error.
II. THAT MISREPRESENTATION OF SCRIPTURE LEADS TO SINFUL CONSEQUENCES. "Destroy the temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Upon this false witnesses accused Christ. See how the misinterpretation of Christ's words led to sin. Education that falls short of "knowing the Scriptures" will end in error.
(C. Cator, M. A.)
(Life of Faraday.)
( Chrysostom.)I. The soul of man subsists after death, and hath some place of abode allotted to it at the resurrection.
II. This intermediate state is, in all probability, not a state of insensibility to the souls of the righteous; but of thought and self-consciousness, and consequently of content and of happiness, in a certain degree.
(T. T. Lynch.)
(J. Cumming, D. D.)
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