What did Jesus mean in Luke 20:27-38?

I ask that both theologians, philosophers and scientists to take a crack at this if you dare? If you do not, you will miss out on some real thinking!

Luke 20:27-38

27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question.

28 “Teacher,” they said, "Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother.

29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless.

30 The second

31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children.

32 Finally, the woman died too.

33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?"

34 Jesus replied, "The people of this age marry and are given in marriage.

35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage,

36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.

37 But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord 'the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’

38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."

I think verse 37 makes for a most dramatic interpretation! This is not a very likely interpretation of the original Hebrew… but it makes for BRILLIANT analysis by those with a messianic bent!

I believe it could also imply instantaneous resurrection that could be seen in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 and Colossians 3:1-4. Also Revelation 7:9-17 could reflect this too. What are your thoughts on that, George. I enjoy talking with you.

Well, there were at least 3 major schools within Judaism. I think you are right … I think this interpretation is an Essenic one, rather than a Pharisaic one!


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I never noticed that verse 30 there really gives “Jesus wept” a run for its money…



The Pharisees and Sadducees were divided on the existence of spirits, demons, or (as the passage above indicates) resurrection. Pharisees accepted all of those things --and Paul takes advantage of this in one of his appearances before the larger council. It is interesting to me that most of Jesus’ personal interactions (recorded ones anyway) seem to have been with Pharisees. Sure it was mostly stinging rebuke, but at least they were there. He got invited into their homes on occasion (Simon’s is mentioned). Maybe Joseph of Arimathea could have been a Sadducee, but Nicodemus was a Pharisee who went with Joseph to Jesus’ tomb . Would Sadduccees and Pharisees have hung out together outside of the ruling council? In any case, I’m not sure who comes off worse on this: the Pharisees lambasted for their hypocrisy or the Sadduccees who don’t even get much mention at all accept here when they want to challenge Jesus. Sometimes the most scathing rebuke is for the ones who are “closer family” so to speak. At least Pharisees get a few significant positive representatives (Saul --after a time anyway, and then also Gamaliel). Can anybody list any Sadduccee at all who makes biblical mention in a positive way?

But on the passage you mention, actually this is one of the ones Enns calls attention to as an example of how Jewish Rabbis read the Scriptures back then that we’ve now taught ourselves to repudiate. They interacted with passages (“argued it out”, if you will) and even overlaid new meanings down on to them; and that was expected practice! Far from disrespecting Scriptures as many have been taught to see it now, engaging with Scriptures was the way they revered them at the time.

The account Jesus uses here was not put forward as a teaching that has anything to do with resurrection until Jesus attached that meaning to it! And people didn’t challenge him on it as you can expect they might have --many were looking for faults after all. Because that was just what you did with Scriptures, and they were obviously used to that kind of Rabbinical behavior.

It does give one pause, doesn’t it, over being too attached to original authorial intent, something that did not disturb the original messianic-minded readers: since God inspired it all anyway, it matters little how much of the future import was actually present in the mind of the original human author God was using. Not that we shouldn’t be attending to that as well, mind you, but it just goes to show that hermeneutical practices of the Jews of that time could be hard to keep in one box.

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It was this exuberant method of analysis, likened to the Pesherim method, that led to the overly abused interpretation of the virgin birth.

The birth in that verse was written in regard to a birth about 700 years before Jesus. It was the messianic community (or more than one) that wanted to apply that verse to BOTH periods of time - - 700 years earlier, and to the birth of Jesus.


I hope I haven’t anywhere implied that there exist methods of analysis that are infallible. Without even knowing what all they might be, I think I’m safe in concluding that theological infallibility is out of anyone’s reach regardless of the method applied. So while there probably exist methods that will nearly infallibly lead people to error, I’m sure no method exists to make any of its users infallibly right. Unless you are Jesus.

If Jesus makes use of something, I sure want to pay attention, but your point is well-taken. Caution is usually good.

I think most of us would be rather amazed if a prophetic section of the bible could be legitimately applied to TWO WIDELY DIFFERENT TIME FRAMES.

Fortunately, Jesus didn’t comment about his virgin birth …



Hi George,

I thought (as a layperson) that bible prophecy was frequently accepted as having ‘dual or multiple fulfillments’ - examples I can think of are Daniel 9;27 & 11:31 - with Antiochus Epiphanes IV being an archetype of the Antichrist & Jesus’ teaching on the end times in the gospels - referring to both the destruction of the temple and the end of days.

I don’t know how widespread the notion is … but surely the more one accepts that two-fold view … the more miraculous the world becomes…


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