Ver. 31-33. Mark hath the same, Mar_12:26,27; so hath Luke, Luk_20:37,38; only Mark and Luke mention the time when God spake these words—in the bush, that is, when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, Exo_3:6; and Luke addeth, for all live unto him. Mark also saith, Touching the dead that they rise, have ye not read in the book of Moses? Our Saviour, in the foregoing words, had, by the by, asserted the doctrine of angels; here he asserts both the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and also of the resurrection of the body: and though Cardinal Perron, and Maldonate the Jesuit, boldly assert that the resurrection of the body cannot be proved from hence without taking in the tradition of the church; yet, notwithstanding their confidence, those who have a greater reverence for our Saviour’s words, think that not only the immortality of the soul, but the resurrection of the body also, is irrefragably proved by this argument of our Saviour’s; to make out which, these things are to be observed:
1. God doth not say I have been, but I am: he speaketh of the time present, when he spake to Moses, and of the time to come.
2. He doth not say, I am the Lord of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but the God of: now wherever God styles himself the God of any people or person, it always signifieth, God as a Benefactor, and one that doth and will do good to such a people or person. It is a federal expression, as where he saith to Abraham, Gen_17:7, I will be a God to thee and thy seed, that is, of thee and of thy seed.
3. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, doth not signify part of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but their entire persons, which consist of bodies as well as souls.
4. God is not the God of the dead, he doth not show kindness to them if they be dead, and shall rise no more.
5. In this life, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob received no such signal kindness from God, but others might receive as great kindness as any of them did. Hence now our Lord proveth, as the immortality of their souls, so the resurrection also of their bodies, that God might show himself the God of whole Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Gerard saith: The argument of this text is made clear by Heb_11:16, Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city. This is that which made God to be truly called their God, because he hath prepared for them a city, which city they could never possess without a resurrection. It is yet further added by some, That God’s promise to Abraham of the land of Canaan was in these terms, Gen_13:15, To thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever; not only to thy seed, but to thee: so to Isaac, Gen_26:3; to Jacob, Gen_35:12Exo_6:4,8 Deu 11:21.
The promises seemed not to be fulfilled in giving their posterity the earthly Canaan, which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived not to enjoy; but to extend to the rest prepared for the people of God, the city mentioned by the apostle, Heb_11:16, which God had prepared for them, to justify himself to be their God. Now this could not be prepared for their souls merely, which were but a part of them, and hardly capable of perfect happiness without a reunion with the body, there being in it such an innate desire. Nor was it reasonable that the bodies of these saints, having been sharers with their souls in their labours, should have no share in their reward from that covenant; therefore of God with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our Saviour firmly proveth their resurrection. Luke addeth, for all live unto him. Not live unto him only as their end, but in the same sense as Paul saith of Christ, Rom_6:10, in that he liveth, he liveth unto God; that is, with God. So saith Luke, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, though dead at present, live with God; and they, and all the children of Abraham, shall live to God, that is, with God, to all eternity. Matthew addeth,
when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine. Poor people, they had been used to hear discourses from the Pharisees, about the traditions of the elders, rites and ceremonies, washing hands before meat, and the necessity of washing pots and cups; and the Sadducees, declaiming against the doctrines of angels and spirits, and the resurrection; they were astonished to hear one instructing them in things concerning their souls, the resurrection and life eternal, and confuting their great teachers from books of Scripture owned by themselves; for the Sadducees, though they had no great regard to the prophets, yet they owned and paid a great deference to the books of Moses.