The scribes and chief priests, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, all came to Jesus with their own agendas hoping to catch Him as a false prophet and thus denounce Him. At one point, the Sadducees tried to trip Him up with questions about the afterlife. As opposed to the Pharisees, they didn’t believe in the resurrection; as such they were more worldly, i.e. probably much less religious, than the Pharisees. In their question about a married man dying and his brothers all subsequently marrying his wife as was the custom, they attempted to trick Jesus into their point of view. Jesus’ answer provides two interesting concepts for our consideration.
The first concept is the implication that many have taken from this interchange, i.e. the Genesis 6 narrative of the sons of God coming to earth and procreating with human women can’t really mean what the text says. In their un-supernatural viewpoint, they think that “angels” can’t “create”, i.e. they don’t have the means to bring life into the world because that would be an act of creation, which is solely in the province of God. As a result, they came up with the entirely unbiblical story that rather than the sons of God (bene Elohim) being spiritual entities, they were men of the line of Seth. They use this passage in Luke 20:34-35 to justify their argument:
And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 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, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”
The sons of Seth theorists believe that since Jesus says people in the resurrection will be like angels and not marry, that angels can’t procreate. There are a couple of problems with this reasoning. First is that Jesus’ reference is to angels in heaven, not to the sons of God who came down to the earth (there is a difference). Location matters. Secondly, just because a spiritual being doesn’t do something, does not necessarily mean that it cannot do that thing. Jude 6 tells us that the angels (i.e. sons of God) trespassed the boundaries of their spiritual authority. They didn’t remain in heaven as God intended them to do. What physical capabilities did they acquire as they took on fleshly form? Additionally what was that spiritual authority they overstepped? In 2 Peter 2:4-8, the apostle references this incident and equates it with the sexual sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. For Peter to do that, he must have had a strong reason. The sons of Seth theory that it was only men who married the daughters of Cain in Genesis 6:1-4 simply doesn’t match what the Biblical text strongly implies.
The other fascinating reference Jesus makes in this passage is that last verse in Luke 20:36:
“… for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”
“Those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead” (Luke 20:35) are those who have either been Raptured/resurrected from the dead or Raptured while still alive at the same time. This is the point in time that we who are bought by the blood of Jesus are transformed and given glorified bodies. We “are equal to angels” and “are sons of God.”
Consider the implications of that. Elsewhere in 1 John 3:2, we are told that we will be like Jesus because we’ll see Him in the glorified state that He has already transformed into from His fleshly body. We can’t imagine all that this implies, but we know that Jesus either walked through walls or materialized out of nowhere to appear to the disciples after His crucifixion (John 20:19-23). We also know that in this glorified state He could eat (John 21:12-14) if He so desired.
Our glorified bodies will apparently be a hybrid of the human and spiritual states. We’ll be different from all other spiritual beings but in one sense, we’ll be like them.
As true believers in Jesus Christ, we have already become children of God. However, this is another instance of “already, but not yet” theology. What we are today as His sons and daughters isn’t like what we will be. Our transformation will make that designation complete.
We also know from 1 Corinthians 6:3 that we will judge angels! In our glorified bodies, as true and complete children of God, He will impart to us the means to fairly bring judgment upon those spiritual beings that rebelled at various times throughout history. They will be resurrected along with the dead of humanity and judged at the White Throne Judgment in the same manner as unbelieving people, i.e. those who died not believing in Christ.
Are we capable of that responsibility today? By no means! But then, when we no longer see through the glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12), we will have vision and insight that allows us to rightly evaluate the sins of these spiritual beings who stepped away from God’s grace.
What God has planned for us is incredible and beyond our imaginations. I can’t wait!