Christ’s Defense of a Coming Resurrection in Matthew 22:32

Introduction & The Sadducee's Trap

In Matthew 22, the Sadducees attempt to corner Christ with a question about who would be married to whom in the coming age.  Traditionally, commentators have explained Christ's response as hinging on God's present tense statement "I am" (Matt. 22:32), but there is much more to Christ's argument.  Christ not only answers their question, but effectively defends a coming resurrection and God's plan to fulfill his Covenant promises to the forefathers. 

The Sadducees' Trap
In Christ's day, there were several factions of Jewish religious leaders.  One of these groups, the Sadducees, did not believe in an afterlife or resurrection of the dead.  They believed that the soul and body were intertwined such that when the body died, the soul also died.  They rejected any teachings that were not explicitly in the Law1 and many of them only accepted the writings of Moses as canonical2.  Another prominent group, the Pharisees, did believe in an afterlife and resurrection, but had grossly distorted views expecting to find "the delights and pleasures of the animal life"3 in the future state.  By asking Christ to comment on resurrection, the Sadducees were trying to force him to choose sides.  If Christ answered unwisely, he could have unintentionally aligned himself with either the Sadducees of Pharisees. 

Usually when the Sadducees and Pharisees came to ask Christ questions, they came with very specific scenarios. They hoped their questions contained loopholes or traps that would stump Jesus or cause him to make a mistake.  The questions they asked always dealt with deeper issues, but rather than ask Him directly for answers they did not want to hear, they tried to "trap him in his words" (Matt. 22:15).

1 Elwell, Walter A., Evangelical Dictionary of Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, Illinois: Baker Books, 1984), 966.
2 Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible (United States: Hendrickson, 1997), 1730.
3 Ibid., 1729.