Lesson 25

Matthew 22:15–46

“Lesson 25: Matthew 22:15–46,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)


While Jesus continued teaching at the temple, the Pharisees and the Sadducees tried to entrap Him by asking Him difficult questions. He successfully responded to their questions and taught them to obey the laws of the land and to keep the two great commandments.

Suggestions for Teaching

Matthew 22:15–22

The Pharisees try to entrap the Savior by asking Him if it is lawful to pay tribute

  • What are some important laws the government has established in our society? Why do you think they are important?

Ask students to silently consider if there are any laws they don’t obey as well as they should. As students study Matthew 22:15–22, invite them to look for what Jesus Christ taught about obeying the laws of the land.

Remind students that during the last week of the Savior’s life, He taught daily at the temple in Jerusalem (see Luke 19:47; 22:53). Invite a student to read Matthew 22:15 aloud, and ask the class to follow along and look for what the Pharisees tried to do to the Savior.

  • What does the phrase “entangle him in his talk” mean?

Invite a student to read Matthew 22:16–17 aloud, and ask the class to look for how the Pharisees tried to trick the Savior. Explain that the word tribute in verse 17 means taxes, and that Caesar was the emperor of the Roman Empire, which ruled over Israel at that time.

  • How was the question they asked Jesus Christ a potential trap? (If the Savior said it was right to pay taxes to the Roman Empire, the Jews would consider Him a supporter of Rome and disloyal to His own people. If the Savior told them it was not lawful to pay taxes, the Pharisees could accuse Jesus of treason and report Him to the Roman authorities.)

Invite a student to read Matthew 22:18–21 aloud, and ask the class to look for how the Savior responded to the Pharisees’ question. Explain that the phrase “render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” in verse 21 refers to our obligation to obey civil laws, such as the law to pay taxes. Hold up a coin and ask:

  • Why was the Savior’s answer a perfect response to the Pharisees’ question?

  • What truth can we learn from the Savior’s teaching that we should “render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s”? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following truth: The Lord expects us to be good citizens and obey the laws of the land [see also Articles of Faith 1:12].)

  • Why do you think it is important for us as disciples of Jesus Christ to be good citizens and obey the laws of the land? (See D&C 58:21.)

Invite students to read Matthew 22:22 silently, looking for how the Pharisees reacted to the Savior’s response. Ask students to report what they find.

Matthew 22:23–34

The Savior teaches the Sadducees about marriage and the Resurrection

Explain that in addition to the Pharisees, the Sadducees also tried to trap the Savior in His words as He taught in the temple. To help students understand the Sadducees’ beliefs, invite them to silently read the entry “Sadducees” in the Bible Dictionary. Ask students to look for what the Sadducees believed and did not believe.

  • What beliefs did the Sadducees reject?

Invite a student to read Matthew 22:23–28 aloud, and ask the class to look for how the Sadducees tried to trick the Savior.

  • How would you summarize the question the Sadducees asked the Savior?

Explain that the Sadducees intentionally misapplied an Old Testament custom that was designed to provide for widows (see Deuteronomy 25:5–6; Bible Dictionary, “Levirate marriage”). They attempted to exaggerate this custom to discredit the doctrine of the Resurrection.

Invite a student to read Matthew 22:29–30 aloud, and ask the class to look for the Savior’s response to the Sadducees’ question.

  • How did the Savior respond to the question?

To help students understand the Savior’s response, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“[Jesus Christ] is not denying but limiting the prevailing concept that there will be marrying and giving in marriage in heaven. He is saying that as far as ‘they’ (the Sadducees) are concerned, that as far as ‘they’ (‘the children of this world’) are concerned, the family unit does not and will not continue in the resurrection. …

“‘Therefore, when they [those who will not, do not, or cannot live the law of eternal marriage] are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage’ [D&C 132:16].

“That is, there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage in heaven for those to whom Jesus was speaking; for those who do not even believe in a resurrection, let alone all the other saving truths” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:606).

To help students further understand the Savior’s message in Matthew 22:29–30, explain that the Lord revealed many important truths regarding eternal marriage to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 132:15–17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith about marriage.

  • Who did the Lord say would not “marry nor [be] given in marriage” (verse 16) in the Resurrection?

  • What truth did the Savior teach in Matthew 22:30 and Doctrine and Covenants 132:15–17 about marriage and postmortal life? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following truth: Those who are not sealed by priesthood authority to their spouses in mortality or through proxy ordinances in temples will not be married in the world to come.)

Invite a student to read Matthew 22:31–33 aloud, and ask the class to look for what other truths the Savior taught the Sadducees about the Resurrection.

  • What did the Savior say in verse 32 that indicates that the Resurrection is real?

  • How did the people respond when they heard the Savior teach these doctrines?

Matthew 22:34–40

The Savior teaches about the two great commandments

Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals as many commandments as they can think of in one minute. Ask students to report how many commandments they were able to write.

Explain that Judaism teaches that the law of Moses contains 613 commandments. Invite a student to read Matthew 22:35–36 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the question one of the Pharisees asked the Savior concerning these commandments.

  • What question did the Pharisee ask the Savior?

Before students look at the Savior’s answer, invite them to circle a commandment on their list that they think is the “great,” or most important, commandment. Ask a few students to report which commandment they circled and explain why they circled it.

Invite a student to read Matthew 22:37–40 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Savior responded to the Pharisee’s question.

  • What is the greatest commandment? What is the second greatest commandment? (Explain that these two commandments were found in the law of Moses [see Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18]. Also explain that the Lord’s direction to “love thy neighbor” refers to how we treat others.)

  • Why do you think these commandments are considered the greatest commandments?

  • What does it mean in verse 40 that “on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”? (Help students understand that all the commandments God revealed in the law of Moses and through the Old Testament prophets were designed to help the people show their love for God and for their neighbor.)

  • If every commandment is designed to help us keep the two great commandments, what principle can we learn from verse 40 about the importance of keeping all of God’s commandments? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we truly love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, we will strive to keep all of God’s commandments.)

To illustrate this principle, invite students to refer to the list of commandments they created in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Ask them to put a star by the commandments that show love for God and a square by those commandments that show love for our neighbor. (Some commandments may be marked with both a star and a square.) Ask students to choose one of the commandments on their list and explain how obeying that commandment allows us to show our love for God, our love for our neighbor, or both.

  • What feelings have you had when you have chosen to obey a particular commandment to show your love for God or for another person?

Share your testimony of the principle that if we truly love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, we will keep all of God’s commandments. Invite students to think of a commandment they could obey more faithfully to show their love for Heavenly Father or for another person, and encourage them to set a goal to do so. Invite them to write this goal in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.

Matthew 22:41–46

The Savior asks the Pharisees what they think of Christ

Explain that after the Savior successfully answered the Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ questions, He asked the Pharisees some questions.

Invite a student to read Matthew 22:41–42 aloud, and ask the class to look for what the Savior asked the Pharisees.

  • What questions did Jesus Christ ask the Pharisees?

  • How did the Pharisees respond?

Explain that most Jews knew that Christ, or the Messiah, would be a descendant of King David. The Pharisees believed the Messiah would be crowned king of Israel and help them defeat foreign enemies (such as Rome) and receive their freedom, as King David had done previously. Summarize Matthew 22:43–46 by explaining that Jesus taught the Pharisees that according to their own scriptures, Christ was more than just the son of David—He was also the Son of God. Or, as later revealed to John the Beloved, Christ is both “the root and the offspring of David” (Revelation 22:16); He is both David’s Lord and his descendant.

Invite students to consider how they would answer the question “What think ye of Christ?” Conclude by sharing your testimony of the Savior.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—Matthew 22:36–39

Give students time to write the words from Matthew 22:36–39 on notecards or small pieces of paper. Invite students to carry their cards with them and refer to them periodically throughout the day to help them remember to keep the first and second commandments.

Commentary and Background Information

Matthew 22:21. “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s”

The phrase “render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” in Matthew 22:21 refers to our obligation to obey civil laws such as paying taxes. However, what do we do if civil laws conflict with God’s laws? Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provided the following counsel:

“We will sometimes need to challenge laws that would impair our freedom to practice our faith, doing so in reliance on our constitutional rights to the free exercise of religion” (“Balancing Truth and Tolerance,” Ensign, Feb. 2013, 27).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks also taught that when civil laws allow sinful behavior, we are still bound to obey God’s laws:

“Our twelfth article of faith states our belief in being subject to civil authority and ‘in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.’ But man’s laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral. Commitment to our highest priority—to love and serve God—requires that we look to His law for our standard of behavior. For example, we remain under divine command not to commit adultery or fornication even when those acts are no longer crimes under the laws of the states or countries where we reside. Similarly, laws legalizing so-called ‘same-sex marriage’ do not change God’s law of marriage or His commandments and our standards concerning it” (“No Other Gods,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 75).

Matthew 22:23–30. Marriage in the Resurrection

“An important key to understanding the Savior’s words is to remember that they were spoken to Sadducees, who ‘say that there is no resurrection’ (Matthew 22:23). Therefore, the question they posed to the Savior was insincere—they were not truly interested in knowing about marriage in the Resurrection. The Savior’s reply that ‘in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage’ (Matthew 22:30; italics added) referred to the individuals in question, who were Sadducees, for the questioners said that ‘there were with us seven brethren’ (Matthew 22:25; italics added). For those who do not marry for eternity, marriage does not endure beyond this life (see D&C 132:15–17). In these latter days, the Lord revealed that marriage can be eternal only if it is entered into according to His law, performed by one who has authority, and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise (see D&C 132:19).

“Another key to understanding the Savior’s words is to realize that when the Sadducees referred to the words of Moses (see Matthew 22:24), they were referring to what is sometimes termed ‘levirate marriage.’ According to the law of Moses, when a man died leaving his wife childless, his brother was supposed to marry the deceased man’s wife to provide for her and to raise up children for the deceased man (see Deuteronomy 25:5; Bible Dictionary, ‘Levirate marriage’)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 66–67).

Matthew 22:35–40. The two great commandments

President Ezra Taft Benson said the following about the first and second great commandments:

“To love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all-consuming and all-encompassing. It is no lukewarm endeavor. It is total commitment of our very being—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—to a love of the Lord.

“The breadth, depth, and height of this love of God extend into every facet of one’s life. Our desires, be they spiritual or temporal, should be rooted in a love of the Lord. Our thoughts and affections should be centered on the Lord. …

“Why did God put the first commandment first? Because He knew that if we truly loved Him we would want to keep all of His other commandments. …

“When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.

“We should put God ahead of everyone else in our lives. …

“We bless our fellowmen the most when we put the first commandment first” (“The Great Commandment—Love the Lord,” Ensign, May 1988, 4–6; see also Mark 12:28–34).

Matthew 22:45. “If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?”

Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that Jesus Christ was Jehovah:

“Jesus the Christ is the Son of David in the physical way of lineage. … But while Jesus was born in the flesh as late in the centuries as the ‘meridian of time’ He was Jehovah, Lord and God, before David, Abraham, or Adam was known on earth” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 552).