Proper 27 Series C
(November 6 -12)
2 Thessalonians 2:1–8, 13–17
The Triune God Curbs Evil and Overcomes Death with Resurrection
Christians live as “sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36), for the Lord our God “is not God of the dead, but of the living” (Luke 20:38). “Those who deny that there is a resurrection” (Luke 20:27) neither know the Scriptures nor the power of God, but the baptized faithful know “that the dead are raised” (Luke 20:37). For the Lord, who was, and is and is to come, knows Israel’s sufferings and has “come down to deliver them” (Exodus 3:8). Moses reveals the name of Yahweh to God’s chosen people, by which He is “remembered throughout all generations” (Exodus 3:15). In contrast to that sacred remembrance of His name, St. Paul warns against the antichrist, who “takes his seat in the temple of God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). That lawless man preaches and practices the activity of Satan. Christians, however, are comforted by the coming of the Lord Jesus, who slays the antichrist and refutes his false doctrine “with the breath of his mouth” (2 Thessalonians 2:8). By His preaching, “stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Hear, receive and believe God’s promise of love, comfort and good hope.
Heretical Resurrection Beliefs (Luke 20:27-40)
Rev. Dr. Daniel J. Brege
Published on November 6th, 2019
At least three heretical beliefs about resurrection are associated with this Sunday’s Gospel. Verse 27 explains, “There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection.” This is the first of such wrong-headed beliefs associated with this reading: That there is no resurrection. Truly, as attested by both the Old and New Testaments, the bodies of dead human beings—even though they have returned to dust—will rise from the dead on the last day. The Sadducees, the “scientific” and “political” sect of ancient Judaism, did not believe this. Likewise today’s world—though it believes in the myth of evolution which claims life spontaneously rose from dust—refuses to believe that the Creator can resurrect a body. Yet Christians know that God who originally made man from dust has of course no difficulty in raising dust-scattered Adam—and all his descendants—from the dead.
A second resurrection heresy is the belief which holds to the immortality of the soul, but not to the immortality of the body. Today many “religious” people, including many who call themselves Christian, hold to this pagan belief espoused even by pagan Romans in Christ’s day. This heretical belief is that eternal life is simply the soul living forever, and the body, after death, is recognized to be merely the container for the soul in this life; they believe that once we die the body is no longer necessary. The Sadducees, though not believing in the resurrection, at least held to the Biblical doctrine that body and soul must be together. Thus the Sadducees understood that if there is eternal life it is an endless life that includes body and soul together forever. Our text can only be understood if one grasps the necessity of this unity of body and soul. Jesus, proving the resurrection, quotes Moses, “…he [Moses] calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not the God of the dead, but of the living…” If Jesus were merely referring to departed spirits, this would be the opposite of proving the resurrection! To the Jewish hearers our Lord’s quote from Moses did NOT mean God is the God of the departed spirits of the Patriarchs, but it meant that the departed patriarchs are to be viewed as ultimately resurrected bodies, for God is not the God of the dead.
A third heresy that some attempt to draw from this text is that humans become angels in the next life. This cannot be true because angels are merely spirit-beings, and we will be beings with resurrected bodies. This heresy comes from misreading the text, for Jesus does not say that we will be angels, but that we will be equal to angels. The angels are immortal, and in this respect we will be equal to the angels, for we too will be immortal…having immortal bodies, and in this respect very different from angels!
Other than the testimony of the entire Scriptures, what is the proof for all of this? It is the death and resurrection of Jesus. For our salvation He entered that unnatural state of death, and his corpse was laid in a tomb. On the third day His body—yes His physical body—rose from the dead. Scriptures repeatedly attest that His is an immortal body (e.g. Rom. 6:9), and it is indeed a body that can walk, talk, eat, be touched, etc. His body was not simply a container for His soul in this life, nor did He become an angel after death, but He—the first man to rise immortal—is like the angels in their immortality. We, connected to Him in Baptism, “shall be like him [resurrected immortal], because we shall see Him as He is.” [1 Jn. 3:2]. Succinctly: We “believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”
Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection
Προσελθόντες δέ τινες τῶν Σαδδουκαίων, οἱ [a]ἀντιλέγοντες ἀνάστασιν μὴ εἶναι, ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν
There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,
λέγοντες• Διδάσκαλε, Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν, ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ ἔχων γυναῖκα, καὶ οὗτος ἄτεκνος [b]ᾖ, ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ.
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[a] must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.
ἑπτὰ οὖν ἀδελφοὶ ἦσαν• καὶ ὁ πρῶτος λαβὼν γυναῖκα ἀπέθανεν ἄτεκνος•
Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children.
καὶ [c]ὁ δεύτερος
And the second
καὶ ὁ τρίτος ἔλαβεν [d]αὐτήν, ὡσαύτως δὲ καὶ οἱ ἑπτὰ οὐ κατέλιπον τέκνα καὶ ἀπέθανον•
and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died.
ὕστερον [e]καὶ ἡ γυνὴ ἀπέθανεν.
Afterward the woman also died.
[f]ἡ γυνὴ οὖν ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει τίνος αὐτῶν γίνεται γυνή; οἱ γὰρ ἑπτὰ ἔσχον αὐτὴν γυναῖκα.
In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”
[g]Καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς• Οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου γαμοῦσιν καὶ [h]γαμίσκονται,
And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage,
οἱ δὲ καταξιωθέντες τοῦ αἰῶνος ἐκείνου τυχεῖν καὶ τῆς ἀναστάσεως τῆς ἐκ νεκρῶν οὔτε γαμοῦσιν οὔτε [i]γαμίζονται•
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,
[j]οὐδὲ γὰρ ἀποθανεῖν ἔτι δύνανται, ἰσάγγελοι γάρ εἰσιν καὶ υἱοί [k]εἰσιν θεοῦ τῆς ἀναστάσεως υἱοὶ ὄντες.
for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons[b] of the resurrection.
ὅτι δὲ ἐγείρονται οἱ νεκροὶ καὶ Μωϋσῆς ἐμήνυσεν ἐπὶ τῆς βάτου, ὡς λέγει κύριον τὸν θεὸν Ἀβραὰμ [l]καὶ θεὸν Ἰσαὰκ [m]καὶ θεὸν Ἰακώβ•
But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.
θεὸς δὲ οὐκ ἔστιν νεκρῶν ἀλλὰ ζώντων, πάντες γὰρ αὐτῷ ζῶσιν.
Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”
ἀποκριθέντες δέ τινες τῶν γραμματέων εἶπαν• Διδάσκαλε, καλῶς εἶπας•
Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.”
οὐκέτι [n]γὰρ ἐτόλμων ἐπερωτᾶν αὐτὸν οὐδέν.
For they no longer dared to ask him any question.
The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software
ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.