Death, the Resurrection, and … Marriage?! Luke 20

February 10, 2014

I spoke in our seminary chapel today on Luke 20:27–38. It is not a profound sermon and may not many qualities of a sermon per se.

My thoughts on this passage were stimulated a year or two ago when a friend of mine, John Makujina, asked me to proof an article that he was writing. That article will appear in the next (?) edition of Filologia Neotestamentaria, “‘Till Death Do Us Part,’ Or the Continuation of Marriage in the Eschaton? Answering Recent Objections to the Traditional Reading of Γαμέω-Γαμίζω in the Synoptic Gospels,” 25 [2012]: 57–74. (FN runs well behind, so yes, 2012 is the correct year, though not yet in print that I know.) It’s well worth reading when it is available; quite technical. Another helpful discussion is found in Bock’s BECNT comm. on Luke. Were this an academic paper rather than a sermon, there would be footnotes to both Makujina and Bock.

So, FWIW, here’s a transcript, slightly edited and abridged from the oral presentation.


9 responses to Death, the Resurrection, and … Marriage?! Luke 20

  1. Dr. Decker, I just finished reading the document you posted. At the end you hint at the application, but don’t really flesh it out… how should we grieve differently because of the truth about resurrection and marriage?

  2. I’m not a grief counselor (and not much of a counselor in general), but it seems to me that false expectations of reunification with one’s spouse can’t but help having an impact on the grieving process. The section that I cut near the end recounts the grieving process of a friend who has never been able to move beyond that loss; all they talk about is their longing for such a reunification. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be rare; a colleague shared with me afterward the experience of a long time prof at another seminary whose story was similar. Once sentimental nostalgia gets a hold of a person’s mind, it’s hard to face biblical truth that runs counter to popular views of what heaven will be like.

    • Dr. Decker,

      So, does that mean this passage teaches we’ll not want to see people we used to know before they died … like grandparents, parents, children, or spouses? We’ll have no recollection of our relationships on Earth or particular fondness for them?

      That’s an interesting perspective.

  3. I must confess that I don’t see the problem. All that I have even heard is either a spouse being told by a preacher or they themselves expressing their hope or confidence they will be reunited with their dead spouse in heaven. I see nothing in Jesus’ words that conflict with that. My mother died a few years to go. I see nothing in Scripture to suggest that I will not know her as my mother when I get to heaven. I don’t see a problem with a man who has two deceased knowing them in heaven as his earthly wives. Jesus is saying that they will no longer have or need to continue in their previous marriage relationship, but why would they not be aware of their earthly relationships? Why would that knowledge be a problem in heaven? True, our relationships with each other will be on a totally different level in heaven that will transcend our earthly ones, but I don’t know why we would we unaware of them or why that knowledge presents a problem. What am I missing?

    • Tom and Bill, Apparently I’m not communicating clearly. I’ve not said that we would not know people in heaven. The text in Luke, however, says nothing about that. It does say that the institution of marriage will no longer be in place in the resurrection. The sort of grief that I’ve referenced seems, to me, to be based on the assumption that a grieved spouse will one day be reunited with a lost loved one, not just to know who they are, etc. (there is precious little comment on that in Scripture, however), but that their *marriage* will be resumed and continue much like it was here. I’d like to say more about what sort of relationships there might be in heaven, what and whom we will know, etc., but I’m at a loss as to where one might find solid biblical data in that regard. There are a few hints, but not much more. There are a ton of expectations that I hear from Christians regarding heaven that I can’t substantiate. How many people have you heard who want to meet Adam, Noah, Abraham, Daniel, etc. etc.? But when one thinks of the realities of what that would entail (how many millions of people would be in each line waiting for their chance to shake Adam’s hand–and, of course, ask hm all the questions that we want answered…), I’m not going to presume that sort of scenario is realistic since there’s no biblical data.

  4. “but that their *marriage* will be resumed and continue much like it was here.”

    That’s the point I am reacting to, Rod. I have never ever heard any such idea expressed by anyone (evangelical Christians), ever. As I read Makujina, he seemed to be implying that such expressions are common. I agree Jesus is saying that is not the case at all, as I expressed in my previous post. So as I read the article it seemed that Makujina was trying to disabuse folks of a common view. Since I have never heard such a viewed expressed by anyone, it seemed that Makujina was maybe assuming too much by the expression: “we will be reunited in heaven.”

    But, if in fact, people are actually saying what you say they are saying about resuming their marriage in heaven then Makujina’s point is well taken. It’s seems hard to believe that any evangelical Christian could believe such a thing given what I thought was the well-known nature of Jesus’ words about no marriage in heaven.

    • Stupid me. I had wrongly assumed the pdf notes were from Makujina. I see they are your notes from chapel. Sorry.

      • You had me wondering if there was a new issues of FN out that I’d not seen yet!

        That does mean, of course, that I’m responsible for the observation regarding how frequently I’ve heard the misconception repeated. Perhaps my experience is unique, but it seems to be not uncommon in places I’ve been. That it should not be, is, of course, my point.