The Sadducees denied the reality of angels, and Jesus probably intended to address this point as well in His answer to their question (Matt. 22:23–30). He affirmed the existence of angels, who do not marry, when He said we will be like them — functionally — when resurrected (Matt. 22:23–30). The idea here is that marriage itself, as a God-ordained institution to be fruitful and multiply, will be rendered irrelevant in a renewed world without death. Remember that the Sadducees’ question was not about affection and companionship in the resurrection but about fulfilling the mandate to keep the family line going (Deut. 25:6).
Jesus then gives the theology of resurrection that underlies His comments thus far. He bases this doctrine in the Pentateuch, specifically Exodus 3:6, to refute the Sadducees who believe the five books of Moses teach nothing about the resurrection. Our Lord’s argument in Matthew 22:31–32 seems to be based partly on the use of the present tense; God said, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” not “I was the God of Abraham Isaac, and Jacob.” When Yahweh appeared to Moses hundreds of years after the patriarchs died, He remained their God, implying that after death they lived on to worship Him and, most importantly, will be bodily raised in the future. As an aside, this appeal to the tense of one word is important for our doctrine of biblical inspiration, for we see in it that the entire Bible is God-breathed. Not even one word is expendable.
Our spirits do live on in our Creator’s presence between our death and judgment day (2 Cor. 5:8), but only when our bodies are resurrected from the dead will we, like Jesus who reigns on high today, enjoy our complete, glorified state as all that God has created us to be. Yet though the fullness of new life does not come until the final resurrection, those who die in Christ live on today. The God who first revealed Himself to Israel is the eternal Lord of the covenant who loves His people forever. Not even death can end this relationship; therefore, “God of the dead” is not a fitting title for Him (Ps. 16:10–11). The church father Jerome writes, “To say that God is the God of the dead is to consign the life of God to those who have no life” (Commentary on Matthew, 3.22.32).