18 And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22 And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.” 24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”
It is astonishing what folks can make the Bible say when they really want to make it say something. Consider this article from a few years ago.
Dental Miracle Reports Draw Criticism
By James A. Beverly in Toronto May 24, 1999
Is God miraculously transforming dental amalgam fillings into gold? John Arnott, senior pastor at the renowned Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, told ct that “God is up to something new.”
Regular participants at TACF, formerly associated with the Vineyard, say attendance has picked up because of miraculous testimonies. TACF is the congregation where in 1994 the controversial Toronto Blessing began, a revival marked by “holy laughter.” Millions of Christians have visited since.
Several months ago, TACF produced a 30-minute video, Go for the Gold, in which Arnott announces to the crowd: “If you want God to touch your teeth, stand up and touch your face.”
The TACF Web site (www.tacf.org) quotes Psalm 81:10 (“Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it”) and declares that “the excitement here is electric.” TACF’s ministry team now carries flashlights in order to inspect for gold or silver.
Well. It is most doubtful that the psalmists words in Psalm 81:10, “Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it,” refers to turning fillings into gold, especially as the context of that psalm is speaking of God providing for Israel’s needs after delivering them out of Egypt. He is going to fill their mouths with food and/or with praise for Him. That is what the psalmist is referring to. But here is the thing: when you really want the Bible to say something or not to say something it really is not that hard to add or remove what you do or do not like in order to make it happen. It has been happening since the beginning of God’s revelation of His word to man and it continues to our day.
In Mark 12:18-27, Jesus encounters a group of men named the Sadducees. It will be important for us to know who the Sadducees were so that we can understand what is happening here. Danny Akin has offered a nice summary of this group.
A small sect of the priestly families, the Sadducees were wealthy aristocrats with significant political and temple influence. They dominated the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:17). They were sympathetic to Hellenism, the Herods, and Rome. They considered only the books of Moses (the Pentateuch) as authoritative. In a sense this made them theological conservatives. They also had a strong doctrine of human free will and did not believe in angels and demons (Acts 23:8). They did not believe in the immortality of the soul or in a future bodily resurrection. Josephus said, “The doctrine of the Sadducees is this: souls dies with bodies”…Because of their truncated Scriptures, they were not looking for a Messiah King from David’s line. With the total destruction of their center of power—Jerusalem and the temple (AD 70)—their political influence came to an end, and they vanished from history.
Furthermore, David Garland writes of the Sadducees:
The Sadducees considered the Mosaic directives alone as binding and rejected what they perceived to be theological innovations. Consequently, they did not believe in a resurrection since it does not appear in the Pentateuch. Their attitude may be captured in the hymn to honor ancestors in Sirach 44:1-23: The only immortality one can hope for is having posterity and being remembered.
So these men were accustomed to making the Bible say what it did not say and making the Bible not say what it did say. Foolishly, they too decide to take a shot at tripping up Jesus, this time using the Bible. Here is what they did:
18 And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22 And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”
In short, they were trying to attack Jesus with (a) the Old Testament teaching of levirate marriage (which stated that if a man died and his wife had no child the man’s brother was to take her in as his own wife in the hope that she might have a child by him) and (b) Jesus’ own clear belief in life after death, a belief that the Sadducees rejected. It was, we might say, an ill-advised move on their part!