What does it mean to ‘be like the angels’ in Luke 20? video discussion

This Sunday’s lectionary reading, Third before Advent in Year C, is Luke 20.27-38. Once more, the lectionary makes an odd choice; it would be more natural to read on to verse 40 and complete the pericope. The narrative recounts an exchange between Jesus and the Sadducees, who do not believe in bodily resurrection, and so offers an immediate answer to the question of our post-mortem hope. But Jesus’ answer also gives a window into some key aspects of biblical anthropology—that is, how the Bible construes human bodily existence—and this has some very contemporary applications.

James and Ian discuss the text, its theological issues, and its practical implications. Come and join the discussion!

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11 thoughts on “What does it mean to ‘be like the angels’ in Luke 20? video discussion”

  1. I’ve not listened to the video… I prefer reading if possible. That’s not a criticism of videos but tied into health issues for me. But I take it that he is referring to the fact that angels do not marry. Marriage seems to be an institution for this life. Is it speculative to say that God instituted it knowing that the world would fall into sin and because of death require procreation and marriage for humanity to survive? Marriage in this ‘lesser’ creation is necessary too for companionship.

    Resurrection takes us into a new creation. It will involve eternal life with no need to procreate to maintain the bloodline. It doesn’t say so here but I think we can say that this means there will be no sex-drive. Also such will be the family intimacy of God’s people that the close relationship of marriage will be redundant.

    I wonder too if the close relationship we will have with God and with the Lord Jesus will more than compensate for any need for marriage intimacy we have just now. Perhaps 1 Cor 7 feeds into these observations. Marriage after all finds its fulfilment in Christ and his people. Perhaps we do not give the metaphor sufficient weight.

    In the C1 it seems that after the period of betrothal wedding arrangements began by the husband to be leaving his bride and her bridesmaids (the ten virgins) at the bride’s home while he went away to his home presumably to prepare it for her arrival before returning to take her to her new home.

    If this is so, then perhaps marriage lies in part behind Jesus’ words in Jn 14… I go to prepare a place for you.

    I take it that the “I am the God of Abraham etc’ implies that in some sense they are still alive – they have not ceased to exist.

    • Thank you John. I found so many wonderful things to reflect on in your post. I believe that God has ardour and delight in the Bride. One has only to read the Song of Songs, in its spiritual foreshadowings, to ponder that God has ardour and delight in the Bride, and the Bride in God. So I believe God will be the focus of intimacy and delight in eternity, but I should not be surprised if we are also able then to see the true loveliness of one another. I believe that the delight and ecstasy God may give us (and does give to some people even in this world) may be likened to sexual climax, without being sexual. Just like it, that’s all, through which we may experience the ardour of God. I believe God has deep feelings for us, let’s put it that way, and the Song of Songs suggests that. Almost a kind of desire for the Bride. But we shall have to wait and see for all the wonderful fulfilment. Thank you again, for a really lovely post.

      On the video itself, I agree with Ian that the suggestion people who are married will continue to be married to each other after resurrection does seem very unconvincing. I agree with James that we need to focus on what we are going to gain at the resurrection, not what we might lose. On a light-hearted note, Ian’s reference to eating chocolate at the same time as sex, well yes, I’ve tried that (sort of) and it can be sweet. But the real point is that there is something even better than either chocolate or sex, and that is the amazing intimacy and union (and dare I suggest it – climax) we shall experience with God.

      Bodily resurrection should go without saying. That said, I do find the question ‘Did Jesus have a willy after resurrection?’ kind of bizarre. We are not sexual like that when we rise (surely?) because we don’t do sex or have children, and we’d be having sex with our brothers and sisters. So I’d say *shrug* maybe he didn’t. YMMV. Lastly, is there scriptural basis for your assertion, Ian, that we will not eat at the resurrection? I was kind of hoping for a wedding feast at the resurrection, and a fulfilment of “you set a table before me”. The sheer joy and delight of taste. Are we certain that is part of the discontinuity?

      • Jesus said he would not have wine until we meet again. So, eating and drinking must be real events. But it could perhaps only be a metaphore for something far more sublime.
        The universe is vast. If the world ended today and everybody rose again there would still be a finite number of persons in an extremely large universe would there not? But if we are the firstfruits perhaps we will be the new adam n eve in an expanding univers.
        I think however that Jesus comments to the Sados is just enough info. to assure ppl that being lumbered forever with the same society/friends/spouse is not gonna happen. It’s all reassuringly vague. Like, ‘don’t shake your present. Wait ’till Christmas’.

  2. ‘ resurrection from the dead.’ Does this mean ‘from among the dead’ and point to a prior resurrection of believers as in Rev 20?

  3. I enjoyed the discussion although I felt it could have delved more deeply into the notion of ‘the world to come’ the transformed, renewed creation. For example, you mentioned, quite rightly, the obvious truth that there will be no marriage as we now know it but that we will be still identifiably male and female. You also, correct me if I’m wrong, the fact that in the world to come, there will be no need to eat and drink because we do not need to sustain ourselves and do not die. Several questions arise from this: what about animal life – at all levels – and plant life? Do we age? if not, what about the infants/babies/children that die before, at or soon after birth?
    I’d also like to mention something that I personally face. I have spent a week preparing for my sermon next Sunday on this passage – I am LLM in a benefice that has no vicar or curate (both left for justifiable reasons at the end of September and we now rely on retired priests and LLMs. However, yesterday I discovered that the priest presiding next Sunday has decided that it is to celebrate All Souls Day (November 2nd in the lectionary) and has asked people to submit the names of loved ones who have died during the last year. I can foresee that, unless I am very careful (remembering that this church doesn’t like sermons to be much longer than 12 minutes!) there will be people attending who will be very upset by what I say. Any suggestions??

  4. I think that the 6 days of creation is a prelude to God’s method. In the New Creation we will rise again. Light out of the darkness. Heaven will come down instead of being kept separate (as was in day 2). We will know ourselves as the people we were and recognise our friends. Like Jesus on day 1 who still hurt a bit and didn’t want to be held we will need time to heal properly. The dry land will appear as in day 3. We slowly bring forth new life. Day 4: The lights will no longer be for signs and seasons because the Greater Light (Jesus) will have united with the Lesser light and brought forth the stars. By day 5 we will have grown and diversified into all the space available. By day 6 we will be coursing through all of life being known even as we are known. There will be rest. Satisfaction. We will be completely happy to be in God and He in us.


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