Sadducees were a priestly sect of the Jews that was active during the public ministry of Jesus and flourished around two centuries before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. Their origin and ancient history are unclear now. The name Sadducees had derived from Zadok, who was the high priest during the reign of David and Solomon. Zadok was also a descendant of Aaron from the tribe of Levites (1 Chr 27:17).
Zadok’s descendants controlled the temple service and administration. Eventually, the Sadducees came under the influence of Greek culture and tied up with the Roman rulers of Palestine to keep up their position. They were money obsessed and became a rich priestly class by generating income from the Temple. They had rivalry with another dominant Jewish sect of the time, the Pharisees. However, Sadducees had controlled the Temple and its priesthood. Luke records that when the Sanhedrin questioned the apostles, “the high priest rose up and all his companions, that is, the party of the Sadducees” (Acts 5:17).
The Sadducees focused their belief and teachings on Torah, the first five books of the Bible. They did not accept other books of the Bible, including prophets and other writings. Thus, unlike the Pharisees, they denied the oral traditions, immortality of the soul, bodily resurrection after death, and the existence of angels. Acts 23:8 states: “Sadducees say that there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, while the Pharisees acknowledge all three.”
Though conservative, their greed for wealth made them compromise with Roman administrators to keep up their authority. So, the common people hated their approach. The Sadducees had a significant role in the crucifixion of Jesus. Since they were associated with the Temple worship, that group disappeared from history with the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.
The Sadducees disagreed with Jesus on his teaching on the resurrection of the dead and the life after death. They denied a life after death because resurrection was not clear in the Torah, which was their only officially recognized Holy Scripture.
Relying only a part of the Bible caused the failure of Sadducees in the faith after life. Entry into Canaan as the promised land was only the immediate goal of the Israelites. God promised entry into the lost Paradise through the intervention of His Son. Let our faith in the resurrection of the dead through Jesus help us practice faithfully the teachings of Jesus.