11 “How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:11–12, NKJV)
Jesus warned against the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees bound the traditions of the elders as if they were the law of God (Mark 7:1-13). The Sadducees went to the other extreme, denying the Scriptures with their teaching of no resurrection, no angel and no spirit (Matthew 22:23-33; Acts 23:8). Currently, some categorize doctrine as “primary essentials,” “secondary essentials,” primary non-essentials,” and “secondary non-essentials” (“Doctrine Grid,” Matt Slick, carm.org/doctrine-grid). We have yet to discover such graduations of doctrine identified and defined in the inspired Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Then, there are those who would convince us doctrine is entirely non-essential to salvation, and to hold doctrine as essential is to incite division amongst believers (“The Gospel/Doctrine Distinction, Part Two,” Tom Roberts, truthmagazine.com). Why would Jesus warn against their doctrine, if doctrine is secondary, and not essential for God’s approval? In fact, “the doctrine of Christ” is essential for fellowship with God and His people (2 John 9-11). The doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees is still at work today.
31 “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:31–32, NKJV)
The Sadducees attempted to justify their false doctrine of no resurrection with what they thought was an insurmountable dilemma (read Matthew 22:23-28). Without hesitation, Jesus said, “You are mistaken (deceived, footnote), not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (verse 29). Please notice that Jesus made His made the case for life after death from the present tense of the verb, “I am” (verse 32). Jesus regarded the tense of the verb as being inspired by God and worthy of note. Since God said at the burning bush, “I am the God of Abraham…,” Jesus expected them to draw the necessary inference (conclusion) that humans continue to exist after physical death. We must approach Bible study with the utmost respect and care, for it is God’s word, not man’s (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15-17). Even the tense of a verb is not without significance. And, please be aware that Christ expects us to use necessary inferences to know the Scriptures and avoid being deceived by error.
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. 31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:29–32, NKJV)
Many people believe it really does not matter what you believe about God as long as you are sincere. It is apparent from today’s verse that Jesus did not think this way. Why then, should we? If you wear His name (Christian), shouldn’t you think like He thinks and teach like He teaches? Jesus said the Sadducees (who said there was no resurrection, Matt. 22:23) were “mistaken” (“wrong”, ESV; “in error”, NIV) because they did not know the Scriptures nor God’s power. How could that be true if it didn’t matter what the Sadducees believed (as long as they were sincere)? You must know the Scriptures precisely because it does make a difference what you believe. Be sure what you believe is in God’s Scriptures by examining them every day (Acts 17:11). If it is not in the Scriptures, then abandon it and believe the truth. Because it matters.