The Sadducees were a Jewish sect that consisted of the Jewish aristocracy, descending from old high-priestly families. Although they were a small group, they welded a great deal of power. They believed in obeying the letter of the Mosaic law and rejected the Pharisees’ acceptance of angels and spirits. They believed in complete agency concerning moral actions. They did not believe it was necessary to believe in immortality. They worked to spread Greek culture throughout Israel.
The Sadducees were offended when Jesus cleansed the temple, considering his actions to be a violation of their rights. They, like the Pharisees, enjoyed thinking of trick questions they hoped would trap the Savior. Since they didn’t believe in resurrection, they opposed the ministry of the apostles.
When the Sadducees and Pharisees came to Jesus’ baptism, He called them a generation of vipers. These two groups tried to tease Jesus into giving them a sign to prove who He was. He scolded them for easily reading weather signs, but not recognizing spiritual signs. Jesus said that only the wicked ask for signs. Jesus warned the apostles to avoid their teachings.
One of the questions the Sadducees asked concerned a woman who married a man and then his six brothers, one after another upon the death of each husband. They wanted to know whose wife she would be in the resurrection. Since they didn’t believe in resurrection, this was a question designed to entrap, not a sincere one. Jesus told them that marriages for time only did not continue into the resurrection.
The Sadducees participated in the arrests of Peter and John for preaching about Jesus Christ. They were upset when Peter testified of Jesus Christ and credited God with the healing of a man who was with them. Because the man was there, the Sadducees were not able to deny the healing. They warned the apostles to stop teaching about Jesus. They supported the high priests in arresting the apostles.
*This article was adapted from the LDS Bible Dictionary and Every Person in the New Testament by Lynn F. Price (Horizon Publishers, , 25-26).