An Absurd Argument

November 26, 2021

The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: "Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her" (Matthew 22:23-28).

The hypocrisy of the priests of Israel continued, but this time it was the Sadducees who approached Jesus with three questions designed to trap Him. Remember the Sadducees believed anything outside the Torah was not the authoritative Word of God. Since the Torah did not deal with resurrection, the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection. However, they knew Jesus believed in it because He raised a few people from the dead during His three-year ministry. But what about a special circumstance? A circumstance that is reflected in the Torah? Deuteronomy 25:5-6 states, If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband's brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.

Since the Sadducees were disciples of Moses, and most Jews highly regarded Moses as the greatest prophet of God, and since Jesus quoted the Old Testament, especially Mosaic Law, then raising such an issue would not be out of line. Levirate marriage (Latin for ‘marriage to a husband’s brother’) was a provision God had made in Jewish life. But the Sadducees used this provision to try to prove how absurd they believed resurrection to be. In essence the argument presented here is: “If a Jewess does not bear a child to her husband, and he dies, and she honors Mosaic Law by marrying a succession of his brothers, all of whom die without fathering a child, whose husband will she be in heaven, since You believe in the resurrection all eight men will appear exactly in the condition and circumstances in which they died? How can their relationship be reconciled?” Such a belief would be absurd. (Remember, the Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife, heaven, or resurrection.)

This is one of the foolish traps people spring on themselves when they pick and choose which passages of Scripture they will honor, and which ones they will reject. I spoke to a person today on this very subject. A relative he was speaking to believed all people will go to heaven because “God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son,” but didn’t believe in hell, or that humans will inhabit hell, because that would be contrary to God loving the world, even though Jesus warned people about inhabiting hell! A friend of mine said these words that sum up the issue, “Either you believe all of the Bible, or you don’t believe the Bible at all!” Well said.

“Father, it floors me that there are people in the church who are like the Samaritans who choose what they will believe and what they won’t believe in the Bible. May we continue to give them the ‘whole counsel of God’ that they may believe the entirety of Your Word, Amen.” 


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