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In his response to the query of the Sadducees about the resurrection, Jesus says:

Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” (Luke 20:34-38. NIV)

Can we say that verse 38 is the result (i.e., derived from) of the previous verse? In other words, He being the God of the living is deduced from the reference in Exodus? Or rather this statement in verse 38 is standalone and not dependent on the previous verse?

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  • Why would Jesus say something completely unrelated in the middle of a sentence ? The argument is brief and involves a quotation from scripture and a statement of truth derived from that scripture. What reason do you have for supposing the lack of connection between the two ?
    – Nigel J
    Apr 4 at 15:27
  • @NigelJ, I should probably edit my question (later) to better explain myself. For one it's not about being unrelated - but merely being independent: an extra leg for the argument. Second, I'm not sure what the terms God of the dead/living means: and I can't clearly see it is a derivation. the alternative reading might be such: verse 38 might be required addition to verse 37 to deny the possibility of God being the God of the dead, as one might think after verse 37 since Abraham Isaac and Jacob are indeed dead.
    – d_e
    Apr 4 at 15:39
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Major premise: The Lord is the God of the living.
Minor premise: The Lord is the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.

Conclusion: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive (to God).

Luke 20:27

Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question.

Prove by contradiction

Assume there is no resurrection.

Fact: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob died.

Previously, we concluded that they are alive. We have arrived at a contraction in the system.

Therefore the assumption is false and the opposite is true: There is resurrection.

The purpose of Jesus' exercise was to prove that the Sadducees were wrong about the resurrection of the dead.

This is deductive first-order logic.

Informally, Moses knew (assumed) that the Lord is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.

Therefore, Moses calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’

This is deductive logic: from general to specific.

If you want to interpret the passage as from specific to general, you need inductive 2nd-order logic.

I preferred the simpler interpretation.

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  • 1
    I added. Ask me again if you have further questions.
    – Tony Chan
    Apr 4 at 15:57
  • Good point. I corrected. Thanks.
    – Tony Chan
    Apr 4 at 17:25
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The debate here in Luke 20:37, 38, is whether there is an afterlife which would necessarily involve a resurrection of the saints. Jesus is answering the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection of the saints. Jesus' clinching argument here is quite simple:

  1. The Sadducees called God the "God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob"
  2. God is not the God of the dead but the living.
  3. If these three great patriarchs are permanently dead and will never exist again, then God cannot be the God of these three men because, He is the God of the living, not the dead.

Note the important ending here - the resurrection of the saints had not yet occurred, but its certainly is summarized in Jesus final comment, "for to him all are alive" (because of that future resurrection).

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the relation between Luke 20:37 and 38

Luke 20:37-38 NIV

37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

God said to Moses:

Exodus 3:6 (NASB)

6 And He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

At that time the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have been dead for about 200-350 years, yet God said: "I am the God of" he did not say "I was the God of".

The living but who are alienated from God are dead from his standpoint. (1 Tim.5:6)

1 Timothy 5:6 (NASB)

6 But she who indulges herself in luxury is dead, even while she lives.

Likewise, faithful servants of God who die are still living from God’s standpoint, since his purpose to resurrect them is sure of fulfillment.

Romans 4:16-17 (NASB)

16 For this reason it is [a]by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the [b]descendants, not only to [c]those who are of the Law, but also to [d]those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 (as it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, that is, God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that do not exist.

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