Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

Bible Study Notes

Matthew 22: 23-46

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
The God of the Living!

The God of the Living!

General Idea: The age old question here is, how can a mere man question God and hope to win (Job 38:1-3; 40:3-5)? Man's only stride is the arrogance to think he can win, arrogance which God detests. The end result is that we prove our insolence and ignorance, waste God's time (if it could be wasted, which it cannot), and ignore our call and purpose. The Sadducees and Pharisees were experts in ignoring God's purpose for them; therefore, they spent their time attacking those who were centered on God. Jesus was their main target.


This passage shows the continuation of their attack. As they came to realize they could not get Jesus in trouble with Rome, they sought to trap Jesus in His own words, hoping to show Him up in front of His followers. They tried to give Him the greatest riddles of the time-riddles that had been in debate for decades. If they could find a way to trap Jesus with one of their "no-win scenarios," they could prove to the people that He was a fraud. This goes on today with liberal scholarship. If you can prove the Bible is in error, then you do not need to follow it; therefore, you do not need to be convicted. Then, you can continue to do as you please in life, void of virtue or morals, because there is, supposedly, no absolute truth.

The Sadducees and Pharisees were not concerned with truth; they only wanted to argue. People who like to argue, just for the sake of an argument and not for finding truth and meaning, are reprehensible before God, as we will see in the next chapter! They are only capable of causing division, hypocrisy, and strife. God desires humility and for the fruit of His Spirit to empower us (Gal. 5:22-23; Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:3-8)! When we are too full of ourselves, there is no room for God to be at work in us (Rom. 7:4-6; Gal. 5:19-21)!


1.   No resurrection. The Sadducees were the liberals of their day and did not believe in an after-life. This sect, once popular in Jesus' day, dissolved after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.

a.   Moses. Both the Sadducees and Jesus quoted from the Pentateuch when arguing. Because there was no greater authority to these sects, Jesus placated to them. The Pentateuch, the first five books of the O.T., had singular authority over all else in Judaism. The Law answered the question as to the brother's responsibly to marry or care for the woman, who, in Jewish culture, could not earn a living on her own. This was called a "levirate" (brother-in-law) marriage that provided financial and social protection for the woman so she would not be put out in the streets, and also to protect the family line (Gen. 38:11; Duet. 25:5-10).

b.   This was the hot debate between these two groups. The O.T. apocryphal book, 4 Maccabees 7:18-19; 16:25; 18:19 (popular then), attests to Jesus' statements that there is a resurrection.

c.   This story comes from the O.T. apocryphal book, Tobit, where Sarah survives seven husbands, each dying one after the other (all killed by Asmodeus, the name meaning to destroy; a vengeance; demon), finally leaving her a widow.

d.   Stating hypothetical arguments was a common practice for debate.  This question was perhaps more to mock Jesus than to trap Him.

e.   Neither. Jesus convicts them by setting their presumptions on reality.

f.     Marry, means "to be betrothed as a groom," and given, means "a bride betrothed."

g.   Like Angels. Jews believed that angels were immortal, did not need food substance, and were not sexual beings, and, thus, would not be married.

h.   Have you not read? Meaning, why do you not know? Go and read it for yourselves! Jesus refers to Scripture and the passage most favored by the Sadducees, demonstrating that they did not even know it (Ex. 3:6).

i.    God…of the living means, God is the God of those who exist. God of the dead means, lording over those who do not exist. Thus, if the people who have passed on are still in existence, then there is a resurrection. The Patriarchs are in eternal relationship with God, so they are living-not dead. Dead refers to nonexistence.


2.   Silenced. Pleased that Jesus silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees sought to get Jesus with their well-crafted, non-winnable arguments.

a.   Which is the greatest…? Jewish rabbis counted 613 to 619 individual laws in the Law, and endeavored to distinguish between "great" and "light" commands. (Since they did not disciple people, serve the needy, or serve the Lord, I guess they had nothing better to do!)

b.   Love. The Greek verb is agapao, not phileo!  Phileo means, brotherly love, as in friendly affection; but, agapao means a deep commitment and devotion that comes from our willingness and our realization that it is a duty (1 Cor. 13). It is also a response of our gratitude for the love God gave us (1 John 4:19-21)!

c.   Heart, soul, mind are the imperative commands that form the heart of the Law (Lev. 19:18; Duet. 6:5). The purpose is to encompass; we are to love with all we are-our entire personhood. It is not just a part, or an aspect-it is all.

d.   Some translations have might, which means mind.

e.   Mark 12:30 adds your strength. The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the O.T.) adds "mind." Jesus combined the Greek and Hebrew meanings to refer to the entire person-his thoughts, behaviors, and goals.

f.     This passage in Deuteronomy is called the "Shema;" Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one (Deut. 6:4). This is the Jewish "confession of faith," and sets the theme for verse five. This passage was memorized and recited frequently at worship services.

g.   And the second. Jewish teachers often combined various commands, summarizing them into one. Jewish teachers often taught that love is paramount and covers all we are and all that we should do in life, in service to God and others. Love is who we are and who we are to be. Because God loves us, we should have the motivation to love others (Rom. 8:1-4; 13:8-10; 1 Cor. 13; 1 John 4)! 

h.   The Law and the Prophets. Together, Law and Prophets refer to the entire O.T., including the writings. Law refers to the first five books of the Bible, Prophets referred to Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel (the Major Prophets), as well as the twelve Minor Prophets-Jonah, Daniel, etc. This was said to make the point that all of the testimony given to us is from God!

i.    Jesus' point is that He fulfills the Law and the Prophets; He does not dissolve them, but makes them deeper, and takes our place in obeying them (Ex. 20:1; Matt. 5:17).


3.   What do you think? Jesus turns the tables on them and asks a penetrating question which they could not answer. Who is the Messiah? They should have known it, but for them to answer would have been verbally confirming that Jesus is the Christ, something they did not want to do. Their view of a messiah was politically and personally motivated, not rooted in the Scripture's prophecy.

a.   The Son of David. The person that would be the messiah would be descended from David, and also be his Lord. This was a riddle for the Pharisees. Some believed that David would be resurrected, but the Scriptures do not say that.

b.   The O.T. scriptures predict and define what the Christ was to be and where He would be from; Jesus fulfilled this, as He is David's son by Joseph-legally descended; He is human, physically, through Mary; and, being God, He is David's Lord (Psalms 2; 89; 132; Isa. 9:7; 11:1; Matt. 1:1-21; Luke 3:23-38).

c.   How does David? Jesus was being tested; now He tests them. The point is that the Messiah was more than a descendant of David; He was David's Lord.

d.   The Lord. Jesus quotes Psalm 110. Most Jews saw this passage as referring to the Messiah; however, the Pharisees did not consider this passage as being Messianic.

e.   No one was able to answer Him. To win an argument, hands down, was to show great wisdom and obviously brought great respect. Normally, for Jesus to stump the religious leaders would gather Him this respect and awe; but, as the next chapter will bear out, He just gains their scorn for His "showing them up."  


           The same debates continue today! The Sadducees are similar to the post modernists who believe in "no absolute truth." The Pharisees are like some modern, religious, fundamental groups who only believe in their truth and not in real truth. What is behind this? People do not want to be convicted by real truth, so they will do all they can to disprove truth or make up their own truth; that is why we have people advocating that there is no absolute truth. But, the fact is that Truth is real; by denying it, all one does is delude self, waste time, and ignore our gracious Lord who is Truth and who desires that we live a life of distinction and truth. We are His children, and He is our Living Lord.


           Who is your Lord (Psalm 110)? If Jesus is your Lord, questions do not pose a problem! Your life will be centered on Him, be filled with purpose and meaning, and will benefit all those around you! When we grasp the real Truth, our private faith will become more real and more impacting; then, our public activities will be a blessing to others (Rom. 13; Phil. 2:1-11; Col. 2:2-3). When we love God, we will love our neighbor. If we do not love others, it is highly likely that God is just a convenience, and our love for Him is not sincere! Our "truth" is made up, or misdirected; it is not real Truth!




1.   Do you prefer to ask questions or to answer them? Why?


2.   How do, and why do mere men question God-and hope to win?


3.   The Sadducees and Pharisees were experts in ignoring God's purpose for them; therefore, they attacked those who were centered on God. How do you see this in some churches and people today?


4.   Why do you suppose the Sadducees and Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus with His own words?


5.   Why would a person desire to be unconcerned with truth, and only want to argue? Why would a Christian do this?


6.   Do hypothetical arguments work with you? What about with people you know?


7.   What would happen to you if someone convicted you by refocusing your presumptions to reality?


8.   Why does Jesus appeal to the passage most favored by the Sadducees? How do you think they felt when He basically stated, you do not even know it?


9.   The Sadducees and Pharisees did not disciple people, serve the needy, or serve the Lord; they just argued with one another. How did this serve God? Why do some Christians continue this tradition today? Have you done this? (I know I have!)


10. Why does God use the Greek verb, agapao, and not phileo, for Love?


11. How is our love for our neighbor a response of our gratitude for the love God gives us? Does this motivate you? Why, or why not?


12. Why must love cover all we are-our entire person-our thoughts, behaviors, goals, and all that we should do in life and in service to God and to others? What happens when this is not happening in your life?


13. Why would the Sadducees' and Pharisees' view of a messiah be politically and personally motivated, and not rooted in the prophecies in Scripture?


14. How does Jesus fulfill the Law and the Prophets?


15. Why was it important that the Messiah be more than a descendant of David-that He also be David's Lord?


16. Jesus won the arguments in this chapter, hands down, and showed great wisdom. So, why did Jesus not achieve (He was not seeking it) respect from the Sadducees and Pharisees?


17.  How are these arguments the same debates that continue today?


18. What do you do, and how do you respond when you are convicted by real truth? How should you?


19. Truth is real; all you do is delude yourself, waste your time and ignore our gracious Lord when you ignore Truth and turn your back on Him. What can you do to make sure this does not happen to you, your family, or your church?


20.  Read Phil. 2:1-11 and Col. 2:2-3. How can your life be centered on Christ, filled with purpose and meaning, and benefit all those around you? What will you do to make this so?



© 2004 R. J. Krejcir IntoThy Word Ministries


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