Summary: The Sadducees were the liberal theologians of that day. They denied the Resurrection of the body, the existence of angels, and miracles. In fact, their denials of all supernatural occurrences were more numerous than their affirmations.
(7) Sadducees Question the Resurrection of the Dead
27 Then some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a Resurrection, came to Him and asked Him,
28 saying: “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife, and he dies without children, His brother should take His wife and raise up offspring for His brother.
29 Now there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and died without children.
30 And the second took her as wife, and he died childless.
31 Then the third took her, and in like manner the seven also; and they left no children, and died.
32 Last of all the woman died also.
33 Therefore, in the Resurrection, whose wife does she become? For all seven had her as wife.”
34 Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of tHis age marry and are given in marriage.
35 But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the Resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;
36 nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the Resurrection.
37 But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’
38 For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.”
39 Then some of the scribes answered and said, “Teacher, You have spoken well.”
40 But after that they dared not question Him anymore.
27 Then some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a *Resurrection, came to Him and asked Him,
The opposition of the religious leaders to Jesus had been steadily growing because of His teachings and actions. Each opposing group attempted to discredit Him with the confrontational issues of the day. The Pharisees came with the issue of divorce (Mark 10:2); the chief priests, scribes, and elders raised the question of His authority (Mark 11:27, 28); the Pharisees and Herodians introduced the issue of taxes (Mark 12:13, 14); now the Sadducees addressed their favorite issue—the "Resurrection." The Sadducees did not believe in a Resurrection—“Then some Sadducees, who say there is no Resurrection, came to Him; and they asked Him, saying:” (Mark 12:18)—or the direct involvement of God in lives (Matt. 22:23–33).
The Sadducees and Pharisees were the two main religious parties in Jesus’ day. The Sadducees, though smaller in numbers were wealthier, and more powerful (socially and politically). During Christ’s time on earth, there was a close relationship between the Sadducees, the priesthood, and the temple.
The Sadducees were the liberal theologians of that day. They denied the Resurrection of the body, the existence of angels, and miracles. In fact, their denials of all supernatural occurrences were more numerous than their affirmations. They claimed that Moses did not write about any of these doctrines. The priestly party in Israel was composed of Sadducees, which explains why the priests opposed the apostle’s preaching of the Resurrection (Acts 4:1-2) and why they wanted to kill Lazarus, who was raised from the dead (John 12:10-11). The Sadducees maintained that only the five books of Moses had authority and that the traditions handed down by the rabbis did not. They accepted only the written word; not, like the Pharisees, who also accepted oral tradition. They said, “There is no Resurrection, neither angel nor spirit.” (Acts 23:6-8). They rejected the eternal divine decree, or as they called it “fate,” and accepted the freedom of the will. Politically, they supported the status quo, and they were satisfied to have matters remain as they were. Jesus warned against the teaching of both the Pharisees and Sadducees, mentioning both of them in one breath (*Matthew 16:6, 11). The name Sadducees means “righteous ones.” They claimed to be descendants of Zadok, who was the high priest under David. They were organized shortly after the Maccabean revolt (167–160 B.C.), but they disappeared in A.D. 70 when the Jerusalem temple was destroyed.
To the Sadducees the Resurrection was an irrational fantasy, but to the Pharisees it was a hope. The Sadducees did not reject the Old Testament Scriptures, but they did not discover in them the hope of Resurrection as the Pharisees did. The Sadducees were the liberal party within first-century A.D. Judaism, but he Pharisees were the more popular party. The doctrinal difference between them is defined by Luke in Acts 23:8 —“The Sadducees say that there is no Resurrection, neither angel nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. Therefore, it should not be a surprise, that when Jesus, with His emphasis on the sincere religion of the heart, appeared upon the scene of Human History, he was rejected by both groups: by the Pharisees, who resented His exposure of their hypocrisy, and by the Sadducees, who considered Him a threat to their status quo. Besides, both parties envied Jesus (Matthew 27:18) because of His miracles and the crowds he attracted.