Mark 12:18-27 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. Who were the Sadducees? Note Acts 23:8 (printed below)

The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. (Acts 23:8)

The Sadducees were a Jewish sect who did not believe in the resurrection, nor did they believe in angels or spirits (cp. Acts 23:8). This sect was comparatively small in number, but was composed of educated men who were wealthy and who held prominent positions in Jewish society.

2. Why do you think the Sadducees ask Jesus the question about the one wife and the seven brothers?

Their intention is to demonstrate what to them appeared to be the absurdity of the resurrection. When the seven brothers and the one woman are resurrected and enter into the resurrection life, how can it be determined whose wife she shall be?

3. According to Jesus’ answer in verse 25 (printed below), what mistake are the Sadducees making?

When they shall rise from the dead, they shall neither marry nor be given in marriage; rather, they shall be like the angels in heaven. (Mark 12:25)

The Sadducees were assuming that in the resurrection life human relationships will continue to be the same as they are in this present life. But Jesus informs them that in the resurrection life human relationships will not be the same as they are now. In the resurrection life there will no longer be any marriage; on the contrary, men and women will be like the angels.

4. According to Jesus’ reply in verse 24 (printed below), why are the Sadducees mistaken when they deny the resurrection?

Jesus said to them, Is it not for this reason that you are in error, namely, that you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? (Mark 12:24)

The Sadducees are mistaken because they “know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” That is to say, they fail to perceive that the Old Testament Scriptures did in fact teach the doctrine of the resurrection and they failed to comprehend that God has the ability to accomplish the resurrection.

5. In refuting the Sadducees, Jesus refers to Exodus 3:6. In that passage, what is significant about God’s use of the present tense, “I am the God of Abraham?”

In Exodus 3:6 Lord does not say, “I was the God of Abraham,” but, “I am the God of Abraham.” This indicates that the Lord has a continuing covenantal commitment to Abraham even though Abraham had died centuries before this testimony made in the time of Moses. Furthermore, the fact that God originally created man as a unity of body and soul (cp. Genesis 2:7) indicates that the future resurrection is necessary for Abraham and his children to be restored to a full covenantal relationship of fellowship and blessing with the Lord our God.