“At the resurrection people will neither marry ...” (Matthew 22:29-30)

“You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” (Matthew 22:29-30)

Was resurrection a common teaching?

Jesus is answering this question detailed posed by Sadducees:
That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. "Teacher," they said, "Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?" (Matt. 22: 23-28)
This discussion between the Sadducees and Jesus illustrates that resurrection was a teaching that was widely debated. At the time there were multiple interpretations of the Scriptures. The primary sects at the time were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the Zadokites (though the Essenes were closely aligned with the Zadokites). 

As stated in the verse above, the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection. And it is apparent that the Pharisees did believe in resurrection. Clear indications from Scriptures and the Dead Sea Scrolls also indicate that the Essenes and the Zadokites also believed in resurrection.

However, the controversy in this regard is the current interpretation of resurrection by many modern-day sects. The meaning of resurrection commonly taught today actually contradicts what Jesus and others taught about the meaning of resurrection.

What is commonly taught today is that resurrection is the rebirth of the physical body after it dies, often termed, "raising of the dead." This interpretation assumes a physical body rebirth in the same body that died.  Some modern-day versions describe dead physical bodies rising and “dancing on their graves.”

The question the Sadducees raised is assuming this interpretation of resurrection. They were questioning who would be married in the resurrection, which assumes a continuation of the physical body. It is obvious by Jesus' response that he did not agree with this interpretation.

The interpretation of resurrection that Jesus taught, which was also taught by the Essenes and the Pharisees (Paul was a Pharisee), was an afterlife for the spirit-person, commonly termed the "soul."

They taught that after the physical body dies, the soul (spirit-person) leaves the physical body. This was communicated with the term, "the spirit passes." Once left the body, that spirit can either return to God in the spiritual realm or go to another place, depending upon the condition of consciousness.

Why were they 'in error'?

According to Jesus, the Sadducees' interpretation was 'in error.' He stated that once the spirit leaves the physical body, the condition of the body is no longer applicable. The body is left behind and begins to decompose. 

Yes, the spirit-person lives on. But the body dies. The Sadducees - as many today still - confused the spirit with the temporary physical body.

The physical body and the relationships of this body have nothing to do with the resurrection Jesus is speaking of here. We all know scientifically that the physical body simply decomposes in the ground. It is eaten by bacteria and worms, and becomes “dust to dust.”

As evidenced by tens of thousands of cases of clinical death, and confirmed by scripture, each of us is a spiritual being - not the physical body - and we leave the body behind at death.

So what is the precise meaning of "resurrection," according to Jesus' teachings?

What happens 'at the resurrection'?

The word "resurrection" is translated from the Greek word ἀνάστασις, which means, according to the Greek Lexicon, "a raising up, rising (e.g. from a seat)." So what is rising from what?

It is the spiritual individual, who is rising up from the body as the body dies.

The first resurrection Jesus refers to is when the soul - the nonphysical spiritual personality - is released from the physical world and returns to the spiritual world. In other words, the repositioning of the spiritual person back home, in the spiritual world with God.

How do we know this? Because Jesus is clearly stating that "they will be like the angels in heaven." This indicates clearly that the resurrection Jesus is speaking of is the returning of the spiritual individual back to the spiritual world after rising from the body and leaving the physical world (where marriage takes place).

What is the 'resurrection of the dead'?

Jesus also mentions another type of resurrection: The "resurrection of the dead." What is the resurrection of the dead?

The word "dead" here is allegorical. It is not related to a dead body, it is related to the person's consciousness. It is related to whether the individual is serving God or serving themselves. A person whose focus is upon serving themselves is spiritually "dead" because they are not experiencing love for God. Jesus also used this allegorical use of the word "dead" when he said:
“Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:22)
The King James translation translates this verse more emphatically: "....let the dead bury the dead."

In this statement, "the dead" who are burying a dead body are certainly not "dead" in the physical sense. They have to be alive physically in order to prepare for a burial. Rather, these "dead" who are focused upon the dead physical bodies of their relatives are "dead" spiritually. They are living within a consciousness that makes them spiritually dead.

Jesus is using the same allegory here in this statement above regarding the "resurrection of the dead."

Jesus also clarifies this when he quotes God's statement to Moses:
Then He said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." (Exodus 2:6)
Why is this important? It is important because Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all devoted servants of God. They were all spiritually "alive," in other words.

As for the "resurrection of the dead," those of us who remain focused on a self-centered existence will return to the physical dimension after the death of this body, to continue our learning experiences and the suffering of the physical body. In other words, remaining spiritually dead, here in hell.

What does 'God of the living' mean?

Jesus concludes, "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Again, Jesus is not referring to the dead consciousness of self-centeredness. He is referring to those who remain dead spiritually.

Those who love God and love others are "of the living." A person who is spiritually alive is functioning within their natural relationship with the Supreme Being. They are loving God and loving God's children.

In this state, their consciousness is alive with love for God. In this state, they are prepared to go back to the spiritual world, as they have achieved Jesus' primary instruction:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38)