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All 3 Synoptic Gospels record similar a teaching from Jesus given in response to a question asked by the Sadducees (what happens to the woman who marries 7 brothers in this life).


Matthew 22:30

For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

Mark 12:25

For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.

Luke 20:35

But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage


The two key verbs are γαμέω (gameo, to marry) & γαμίσκω (gamisko, to give in marriage).

Questions

  1. Do these two verbs refer to the same thing, or would they describe different things in the contemporary Jewish culture?
  2. In the cited passages do the authors intend to describe the act of getting married or do they describe the state of being married? (In English we could articulate this difference by saying I got married on X date versus I have been married for Y years)
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    The "they neither marry" would be a reference to men marrying women, and "nor are given in marriage" would be a reference to women being given to men for marriage. Jesus is saying that the resurrected children of God do not get married period; whether men(who marry women) or women(who are given in marriage to men). This excludes "the state of being married". Obviously, if someone is currently married, they cannot marry nor be given in marriage, so Jesus' statement wouldn't have any significance if the resurrected children of God could be in the state of marriage.
    – Rajesh
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 2:06

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"They neither marry nor are given in marriage" clearly refers to the act of being married. "Marry" and "given" are both verbs(i.e. words used to describe an action, state, or occurrence, and forming the main part of the predicate of a sentence). "To marry" is to perform the act of joining in marriage. "Given" is the past participle of "give", which means freely transfer the possession of (something) to (someone); hand over to. The "they neither marry" would be a reference to men marrying women, and "nor are given in marriage" would be a reference to women being given to men for marriage(according to the custom of that time), cf. Luke 17:27. Let's read the entire account that the given verses are a part of.

Luke 20:27-36 There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, 28 and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second 31 and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. (ESV)

The Sadducees, being deniers of the resurrection, plan to trip up Jesus so as to make the resurrection seem like an absurdity. And it's not a terrible plan. The problem is, however, that it lies on an unsubstantiated presupposition; that those who are resurrected will be married..."whose wife will the woman be? for the seven had her as a wife." The Sadducees presupposed that the resurrected children of God are like the "sons of this age" who "marry and are given in marriage". But Jesus corrects this erroneous supposition by answering that the resurrected children of God "neither marry nor are given in marriage". This excludes the "state of being married" for two reasons.

(1) If the resurrected children of God could be married, but could not marry(perform the act of marriage), they would have to be in a state of marriage at the moment of their resurrection, that is to say, they are resurrected IN a state of marriage. But then Jesus' words have no significance. If you are currently IN a state of marriage, it is obvious that you cannot be given in marriage/be joined in marriage. The only ways to do that are to be either polygamous or get divorced(both of which are sinful, the latter under the exception of an act of sexual immorality on the part of either mate[which would also be sinful], and the resurrected children of God are resurrected in perfection, not sinfulness, which makes either option unfeasible). So, if we are resurrected in a state of marriage(and perfection), it is quite evident that we can neither marry nor be given in marriage; there isn't much significance to Jesus' words here.

(2) It doesn't answer the dilemma the Sadducees proffered! If the resurrected children of God are resurrected in the "state of being married", the Sadducees' question remains; to whom is the woman resurrected in a state of marriage? Is it to the first husband? The second? The third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, or the seventh? As you can see, the Sadducees' question remains. Jesus' answer would not be an answer!

Jesus' whole point is that the resurrected sons of God do not marry as the sons of this age do, and hence are not married(in a state of marriage). In order to be in a state of marriage, you must, of course, first, get married! Jesus' answer to the Sadducees' dilemma is this; the woman will not be married to any of the men who married her, because she cannot be given in marriage to any of the men who married her! The Sadducees' entire argument lied on an unfounded assumption(e.g. that the woman, after being resurrected, must be married); once Jesus invalidated that assumption by showing the Sadducees that the resurrected sons of God do not marry(and hence are not married[in a state of marriage]), their entire argument was obliterated.

Hope this helps! Have a good day. :)

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  • I agree with the first part of this answer but not it's conclusion. If those married on earth are not still in a state of marriage in the resurrection, then their marriage bond has been broken -- something I can not imagine God doing to a couple given Jesus' statement "what God has joined together let no man put asunder" (Matthew 19:6). Does God violate his own commandments? Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 13:06
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    @danfefferman then whats the answer to the Saducees? They're saying if a womans had a bunch of husbands, then who will be be the wife of in the resurrection. If death doesn't dissolve marriage, then Jesus didn't answer their question.
    – A.O.
    Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 21:36
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The statement clearly refers to the act of marrying; whether it also refers to the state of being married is debatable. Does being "like the angels" mean that the marriage bond is dissolved? I would argue that it does not.

  • When Jesus turned water into at the marriage at Cana, he signaled his blessing on the institution of marriage. To say that those who spent their lives together as husband and wife are no longer married in heaven means that one of the sacraments approved by Jesus on earth would be invalidated in heaven.

  • Moreover it also means that God would break one of his own commandments given by Jesus: "what God has joined together, let no man tear asunder." (Mt. 19:16) God does not do what he commands humans not to do.

  • Finally, Ephesians 5:25 states: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church..." Christ's love binds him to the church as his Bride eternally, so husbands also are bound in love with their wives forever.

I would add one more thought before concluding: The phrase "in the resurrection" does not necessarily mean "after the resurrection." In other words, "in the resurrection" may not be the same as "in eternity." The resurrection may constitute a process which is a "blink of the eye" for God (1 Corinthians 15:52) but of indeterminate length for human beings. During that process, husbands and wives may be temporarily separated, but their marriage is not thereby dissolved.

Conclusion: In the resurrection we do not marry; but in heaven we remain in a marital bond with our spouse. That bond, being a divine sacrament, is absolute and eternal.

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A.O., Dan Fefferman is correct. And to answer your follow-on question to his note—the answer to the Saducees is already given in their own question, namely, that the husband whom God joined to the woman that “therefore...let on one separate” (Matthew 19:6) is the first brother. The Sadducees are referring to the Levirate marriage law given by God through Moses (Deuteronomy 25:5-10; see esp. vs 8) that if a husband dies without having a child with his wife, thus not leaving an heir to carry on his name, then his brother must take care of his widow “as a wife” and sire a child with her, but the child is then considered to be the child of her deceased husband. This was a duty of self-sacrificial love, one brother to another, so that his deceased brother would still have a family line to live on in this world and his name not be forgotten or without any temporal future. Again, see Deuteronomy 25:5-10.

Jesus does not let Himself feed into, or make to seem legitimate their purposefully obtuse trick question because the answer is already in the very law they reference, especially in light of God’s further word, “the two shall become one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together let no-one tear asunder!” (Again, Matthew 19:4-6).

Jesus knows that they already know this answer, and it involves a law regarding temporal survival of a man’s memory in this fallen life. Since the Levirate law is only for this life bound by death, its applicability terminates when this fallen life is transformed in the Resurrection.

This is why Jesus shifts the focus directly to that “age without end” to come. He’s cutting clean through the “crap” of their intentionally deceptive argument, to expose their hypocrisy in illegitimately applying the Levirate Law in their challenging Him. They know full well that the purpose of the Levirate Law they try to use as some kind of “proof” against the doctrine of the resurrection has nothing at all to do with the resurrected life.

Since the law they site is about leaving heirs to carry on a dead man’s name in this fallen age of dying, Jesus is reminding them this will no longer be necessary by the very fact of the Resurrection to unending life. His words “to marry or be given in marriage” refer directly to that procreative act in marriage by which new heirs are produced. That will no longer be happening in the Resurrection Age because, like the angels which were first created in there full number and not made to multiply like we must, the full number of human beings foreordained by God to exist will have been attained by His Providence.

So while it looks, at least superficially in our English translations, like Jesus is saying marriages will no longer exist in the Resurrection, that is not really the point He is making in these specific Gospel passages, since it was not the context of the question He was being challenged with by those trying to deny the resurrection.

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    – agarza
    Commented Mar 12 at 2:59
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It explicitly refers to the angelic state, and angels need not romantic love + sex + marriage + procreation for their unspeakable bliss in the intense glorification of Trinity. Humans will be just as free and blissful, and even more than angels, yes by far more, if they reach the status of Resurrection.

Let the Heaven be not tarnished by transient earthly concerns and fleshly expectations. Let be left to Muslim “theology” - have nothing against Muslim people! - its “heaven” of non-stop sex with 70 virgins on a daily basis.

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    Since both the question and answer are independent of God's form, this would be a much more acceptable answer if it said "God" instead of "Trinity". Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 15:06
  • @RayButterworth Trinity is principal here, because humanity would not be bestowed with a possibility of being able to be happy without romantic love and sex unless one of the Holy Trinity become man and made it possible even for celibates to be happy, without romantic love and sex. Nobody without the aid of the Incarnate Logos, the Father's co-eternal Son, His co-God can be happy while left alone. But in Christ even anchoret monks can be blissful and happy in their angelic and even supra-angelic state, for angels are still only servants, while humans are - kings and co-heirs of Christ-the King Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 15:50
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    So you want to restrict and weaken this answer so that it is useful for only those people willing to accept the Trinity doctrine that the Holy Ghost is a third member of God. That seems very unrelated and unnecessary to me. Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 16:12
  • @RayButterworth That intensity of presence of Holy Spirit that enables humans to be happy without sexual life was brought by Christ and only by Him. It is the same as to say: "NASA blessed the moon by trace of man on it!" instead of saying "Neil Armstrong's boot blessed the moon by trace of man on it!" The second is better and more precise, for NASA would not be able to bless the moon without Neil Armstrong. PS: and angels do not chant "Holy", but "Holy, Holy, Holy" - glorifying Trinity (Revelation 4:8). Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 16:26
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    I don't disagree about God's holy spirit. I do disagree that a specific doctrine about the personhood of "The Holy Spirit" has anything to do with this question. In particular, this is Hermeneutics.SE, not Christianity.SE, where doctrine is more appropriate. Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 17:27
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What about the fact that this refers to men and women choosing their partner..what if the answer is men an women don't choose but God pairs people together... Therefore THEY don't marry or are given in marriage.

I'm saying that because someone said this.

The "they neither marry" would be a reference to men marrying women, and "nor are given in marriage" would be a reference to women being given to men for marriage

Is this response dumb? Am I missing something?

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