What does Mark 12:23 mean?
ESV: In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”
NIV: At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?'
NASB: In the resurrection, which one’s wife will she be? For each of the seven had her as his wife.'
CSB: In the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be, since the seven had married her? "
NLT: So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.'
KJV: In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.
NKJV: Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be? For all seven had her as wife.”
Verse Commentary:
The Sadducees are more socially liberal than the Pharisees. They enjoy the benefits of Greek culture and Roman peace. But theologically, they are actually more "conservative." They interpret the Jewish Scriptures extremely literally and don't fetishize oral law as the Pharisees do. According to their understanding, spirits, the afterlife, and the resurrection do not exist.

Although Jesus disagrees with the Pharisees regarding the oral law (Mark 7:1–13), He agrees with them that after death people will be resurrected and judged. The Sadducees try to use a supposedly absurd consequence of levirate marriage to prove otherwise.

In a levirate marriage, a woman whose husband has died without leaving her children will marry the man's younger brother. The younger brother is obliged to provide the woman with a son who will care for her and be the heir of the woman's first husband. The Sadducees present Jesus with a hypothetical situation in which a woman goes through seven brothers, each dying before she can have children. If there is an afterlife, the woman would have seven husbands. This, in the view of the Sadducees, is silly!

What the Sadducees see as clever rhetoric and logic, Jesus sees as a gross misinterpretation of Scripture. The possibility of an afterlife must be deduced from God's character, not earthly circumstances. God told Moses that He is the God of three patriarchs long dead (Exodus 3:6). But God cannot be the God of the dead, therefore, the patriarchs must be living. This proves the resurrection of the dead, and any related issue must be interpreted through this truth. Therefore, if a woman was married seven times on earth and cannot be married to seven men in the afterlife, then marriage must not exist in the afterlife (Mark 12:24–27).
Verse Context:
Mark 12:18–27 describes the Pharisees' and Herodians' futile attack on Jesus' base of support. Earlier, they posed a political question, trying to force Him to choose between the Roman rulers and the Zealots (Mark 12:13–17). It didn't work. Now, the Sadducees pose a theological question that seems to present a choice between their own woodenly literal interpretation of Scripture and the Pharisees' broader beliefs. These religious leaders fail to understand that Jesus doesn't need to align with any of them. If He's on any side, it's God's. This riddle is also found in Matthew 22:23–33 and Luke 20:27–40.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter contains lessons taught by Jesus in various circumstances. He explains the eventual destruction of traditional Judaism, the relationship between secular and sacred obligations, the nature of the resurrection, and the most important of God's commandments. Jesus also expounds on Messianic statements in the Old Testament. Jesus also condemns the glory-seeking shallowness of the scribes, and extolls the virtues of sincere, faith-based giving.
Chapter Context:
Days before, Jesus has entered Jerusalem, hailed as a hero by the people (Mark 11:1–11). While teaching in the temple courtyard, Jesus shows superior understanding of Scripture over the chief priests, scribes, and elders (Mark 12:27–33), the Pharisees and Herodians (Mark 12:13), the Sadducees (Mark 12:18), and the scribes again (Mark 12:35, 38). Sadly, even in the instance where a scribe does understand Scripture, that is no guarantee he will follow it to its logical conclusion: Jesus (Mark 12:28–34). In contrast, a humble widow exemplifies the faithfulness and piety the leaders lack (Mark 12:41–44). Jesus leaves the temple for the last time to teach the disciples on the Mount of Olives (Mark 13). In Mark 14, He prepares for the crucifixion.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes both Jesus' servanthood and His role as the promised Messiah: the Son of God. This is done through a concise, action-packed style. Mark provides relatively few details, instead focusing on actions and simple statements. This relates to the Gospel's authorship, which is believed to be based on the memories of the apostle Peter. These include many of Jesus' miracles, in contrast to other Gospels which include many more of Jesus' teachings and parables. Mark also makes frequent mention of Jesus' ministry being misunderstood by others.
Accessed 5/28/2024 6:56:17 PM
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