Jesus appears to be specifically criticizing the interpretive method used by the Sudducees, saying, they do not know the scriptures.

Mt 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

If the use of a set of modern hermeneutic principles cannot discern the OT source for Jesus's teachings that in the resurrection: 1. There is no marriage. 2. We become like angels

...is that set of principles condemned as well?

  • Was he saying they "become like angels" in a general sense, or specifically in this regard - angels do not marry. Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 13:08
  • 1
    @GalacticCowboy: That sounds like a question. (But looks like a statement. ;-) Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 16:15
  • Yeah, punctuation fail. :) Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 18:20
  • I answered the question contained in the body, but I see the title asks a broader question. One or the other (or both!) should probably be edited to make them agree (even at the expense of making my answer irrelevant). Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 20:31
  • Bob, I say "look harder, it's there"!
    – Ruminator
    Commented Dec 2, 2018 at 1:21

3 Answers 3


If I could point you to a bit more context—Matthew 22:29-33 (ESV):

But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.

Some background: Sadducees didn't believe in the Resurrection, which is why they were asking the question. Resurrection entailed both life after death and (as N. T. Wright calls it) "life after life after death". Since the Resurrection was believed to occur all at once to everyone who was considered righteous, there must be a "waiting period" for the dead righteous to exist in some manner. Pharisees debated whether that time was spent as body-less spirit or as angels.

Now Jesus' first response, which you quoted, answers the question about what happens to married people after they die and through the Resurrection: marriage doesn't continue after life. (This is among my least favorite passages in the Bible, but I must trust in God's power to bring me greater joy.) However His reasoning does not seem to be based on Scripture. So this must be what He means by "the power of God". I think this power is available to us via the Holy Spirit, but that's really not Hermeneutics and we must always test revelations against the Bible.

The second part of Jesus' answer is a proof of the Resurrection from the Torah. It's important that He used the Torah, because the Sadducees did not accept the rest of the Tanakh (Old Testament). According to The Resurrection of the Son of God by N. T. Wright, there are many examples of Pharisees arguing for the Resurrection from the Torah for the same reason. Since the first five books of the law don't expressly affirm the Resurrection, many of these arguments are as ingenious as Jesus'. (But this must have been a particularly good and novel argument since the crowd was astonished.)

To me, this is sort of an obvious conclusion now that I've heard it. It fits well with the Bible from the Torah to Revelation. Jesus simply put two bits of scripture together and drew the conclusion that makes the most sense. He is using the rule of non-contradiction to show that if God is the God of the living and if He is the God (present tense) of three dead men, He must also raise the dead at some point. They can't be dead forever.

I'm not sure that I could have come up with that answer—that might be where the power of God comes in. But I think Jesus is saying that it was reasonable to expect Jews to believe in the Resurrection at that time. In fact some Jews did believe based on the more obvious references in the Tanakh.


The modern set of Hermeneutical tools support Jesus' interpretation about the Resurrection, but the information about the dead not being married in the Resurrection must come from revelation.


Bob Jones asks some followup questions in the comments:

How do we distinguish between a fact that we should not be able to discern and an excuse for not knowing?

If we are supposed to be able to find the source of Jesus's teaching, then an excuse for not finding it is not an answer. If we are not supposed to be able to find his source, then that alone is a sufficient excuse. So the answer only pushed the question down the street. It did not resolve it.

It's a difficult question. Jesus was very harsh on the Sadducees for not knowing the Scripture or the power of God and I for one don't want to disappoint or anger my Lord by failing to understand something important. Further, I want to know the Scripture the way Jesus did as far as I am able. It's an important question (though one that veers a little to close to application and away from the main focus of this site).

Paul says in Colossians 2:1-3 (KJV):

For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and [for] them at Laodicea, and [for] as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Therefore, if we have Jesus and pursue a friendship with Him, we already have "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" that we need. I don't know everything, but I'm comforted to know that I have a relationship with God through Christ.

  • How do we distinguish between a fact that we should not be able to discern and an excuse for not knowing?
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 23:21
  • @Bob: Maybe because its the end of a long day, but I don't understand the question. Could you rephrase your comment? Commented Oct 21, 2011 at 0:56
  • If we are supposed to be able to find the source of Jesus's teaching, then an excuse for not finding it is not an answer. If we are not supposed to be able to find his source, then that alone is a sufficient excuse. So the answer only pushed the question down the street. It did not resolve it.
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Oct 21, 2011 at 1:34
  • I apologize. The comments were not intended as personal attacks. The question was intended to flush out the biblical warrants and/or measures for the various hermeneutics, not to challenge anyone's personal faith. I would rather remove the question than have it cause hurt.
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Oct 22, 2011 at 5:24
  • I didn't take them that way at all. They are good questions. Commented Oct 22, 2011 at 22:53

Using Drash in sensus plenior:

Linked portions indicating that marriage is of the flesh.

Ge 2:23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

Eve is flesh and bone of Adam. No mention of spirit.

1Ch 11:1 Then all Israel gathered themselves to David unto Hebron, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh.

David is the type of Christ and in sensus plenior Israel represents the church as the bride of Christ.

Job 2:5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. 7 ¶ So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. 8 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. 9 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

Satan was given permission to afflict Job in flesh and bone which he does in the flesh with boils, but he also comes upon Job's wife who takes the voice of Satan urging him to curse God and die. She is his flesh and bone.

Job 19:20 My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.

Here bone and flesh cleave together linking marriage where:

Ge 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Unanswered links (these have the same words for linking but the connection is not clear at this time):

Ge 29:14 And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month.

Sensus plenior demands intellectual honesty, so that portions that should link but are not clear how, are advertised as non-conforming so that he riddle may be solved. The principle is that since we are to "live by every word" the riddle cannot be declared completely solved until every part is consistently understood.

Opinion is not pitted against opinion, but all who read sensus plenior work together to solve the riddles consistent with the methods and rules. It is like a giant puzzle that no one person can solve completely by himself, but all want to see the whole thing since it is a masterful tapestry of Christ.

The flesh must die

Ge 6:17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

Waters are the Word of God in sensus plenior. Such that his verse says all flesh will die.

Conclusion: Marriage which is of the flesh, dies with the flesh.

Verses teaching that in the resurrection we are like angels:

There are no daughters of God:

Ge 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

Ge 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

Nowhere in the Bible is the term "daughters of God" used. If there are no daughters of God, where is marriage? In sensus plenior, the female speaks not of gender, but of "not seeing clearly". Eve was deceived and became a metaphor for all who do not see clearly. Sons are those who see clearly. Luke makes it clear in his genealogy of Jesus, that the righteous are the sons of God by declaring Adam a son of God, implying that the righteous men in the genealogy were all sons of God. Notice that the righteous in his genealogy are all dead, and hold that thought.

Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

Job 2:1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.

The sons of god who presented themselves before God are not men, because men are still on earth.

When the morning stars of creation were formed man did not yet exist, so these sons of God are not men.

Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Another witness

Sands of the sea

Abraham's descendants and the hosts of heaven are compared to the sands of the sea.

Ge 32:12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

Jer 33:22 As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me.

Conclusion: Since the righteous men in Luke's genealogy are dead, yet in the resurrection, and since, as Jesus notes, God is the God of the living, and they are called the sons of God, the same as the angels in Job are called the sons of God, we will be like the angels in resurrection. We will all see clearly, and hence be figuratively male. "Women must become male" ... paraphrase from Gospel of Thomas.*

Sensus plenior permits us to discern the source of Jesus's teaching and does not fall under Jesus's condemnation.

  • The gospel of Thomas is not used as an authority. It merely shows the common usage of the metaphor that the female represents those who do not see clearly. The saying in Thomas is the same as making the blind see.

Using Pentateuch alone

Although the answer above is sufficient to satisfy many of the listeners, who accepted the referenced scriptures. It has been noted that the Sadducees only accepted the Pentateuch , and therefore would not have received Jesus's rebuke.

The premise of sensus plenior is that Jesus learned who he was from the hidden pictures of the OT. As such he did not have to use omniscience to discern such things. Such use would taint the purity of the kenosis, and throw doubt upon the claim that he was tempted in every way as we are, since he would have taken advantage of attributes of deity to resist temptation that are not available to us.

He then taught the methods in the temple when he was 12 years old. The Jewish leaders has 18 years to pervert his teaching so that they would not lose their influence over the people.

If Jesus felt compelled to use only scripture that they accepted, then we must use only Genesis to resolve the riddle. However, Jesus's condemnation said that they did not know the scriptures. This alone can be read that their limiting the word of God to Genesis alone was being condemned. But for the sake of discussion, let's see if it can be resolved within Genesis itself:

In sensus plenior using Drash, the wives of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and Joseph become one woman. Their husbands are types of Christ. So there are seven kinsman (another meaning for brother) who had one wife. If this is the source of the riddle, then they are simply mocking Jesus and changing the rules for sensus plenior into a dirty joke. If the rule was applied properly, all the kinsmen would become one man, Christ Jesus.

The question now becomes, where in Genesis does it say Christ is not married in heaven?

Genesis 2:21 The wife of Adam as a type of Christ, is brought into existence through his death (sleep also means death, dictionary). The bride of Christ is flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, The church is called not only the bride of Christ but the body of Christ. Therefore the marriage of Christ is in the flesh. If the church is the body of Christ on earth his marriage was an earthly marriage.

Since there are no daughters of God, and since the female represents those who do not see clearly, there will be no daughters in the resurrection. Those who do not see clearly (the blind) will see. So they will all be male (having nothing to do with gender, but representing that they see).

The question was mere mockery, intentionally twisting the method that Jesus taught in the temple, since the seven men become one man just as all the wives become one woman.

  • 1
    The Sadducees would certainly reject this line of reasoning since it depends on a number of non-Torah passages and concepts. It's also not clear to me that Jesus used anything like the method you describe here. His reasoning is short, persuasive and direct. Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 18:50
  • Which scriptures would they be unfamiliar with? Job, Genesis Chronicles and Jeremiah are all scriptures they should have been familiar with. Showing that Jesus used the method, is a topic for a complete thesis paper which would show the apostles use of the method presumably having been learned from Jesus.
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 22:19
  • 1
    They were familiar with those books, but rejected all but Genesis as Scripture. Jesus restricted Himself to the Pentateuch for that very reason. I also don't see Him using symbols (or anything but divine revelation) to answer the marriage portion of the question. Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 23:19
  • you online? chat? I haven't done that yet.
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 23:47
  • @Jon Great comment, it made me go back and try to solve it in Genesis alone. I did not know that they only accepted Gen. Thanks.
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Oct 25, 2011 at 3:31

The most basic standard is this: If it is true, it cannot be false.

  • If any rule or principle can be shown to not work in some cases, then it is not a true principle. (At the very least it needs to be reworded.)


"If Scripture directly interprets a symbol, then that is the meaning it has everywhere in Scripture, with few exceptions."

  • If any rule or principle "only works if it works", then it is not a true principle.


"If it is prophecy, it should be read as prophecy"

  • If any rule or principle is so flexible that it absorbs all exceptions (i.e. it can even make false assumptions look true), it is not a true principle.


"If any two people arrive at the same interpretation without any prior interaction, the interpretation is trustworthy."

There are many ways to show that "truth can not be false" is supported by Scripture. 1 John 2:21 is a good place to start.

  • Where do you get this: ""If Scripture directly interprets a symbol, then that is the meaning it has everywhere in Scripture, with few exceptions." or is it just a hypothetical example?
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 2:10
  • @BobJones Hypothetical, mostly. (Although I have actually seen people interpret Scripture by this assumption without thinking through it first.)
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 3:15
  • It is the unspoken principle of popular typology where darkness is evil and leaven is sin and 6 is the number of man.
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 3:37
  • "Shown not to be workable..." is a problem. One's incompetence at working it, is not a sound basis for disqualification of the rule. An example: People are incompetent in solving riddle. "Why did the chicken cross the road?" is the classic example. The answer is not "To get to the other side" as read literally. But it is the riddle "To get to the other side" where "the other side" is a euphemism for death. When you see the dead chicken in the road, you ask the riddle. One's incompetence as understanding riddle does not negate the hermeneutic for solving riddle.
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 14:50

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