The Sadducees were one of two groups—the other being the Pharisees —that famously came into conflict with Jesus. Of the two, however, Sadducees did not have as much direct contact with Jesus, perhaps because their values and ideals were even further removed from Jesus than were those of the Pharisees.
Unlike the Pharisees, who found favor with the common people of Palestine, the Sadducees were “men of the world.” They moved comfortably along the halls of power, rubbing shoulders with the religious and political elite. Whereas the Pharisees stood out for their strict adherence to the Law, Sadducees had a talent for blending in— they were happy to accommodate their Roman overlords in order to maintain their own grasp on power.
Many Sadducees were thought to be members of the priestly class. As a political party, the Sadducees held sway over the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council. In terms of their theology, Sadducees were, once again, men of the world. According to the New Testament, they did not believe in the immortality of the soul or the existence of angels or spirits. According to them, this life is all there is—and they sought to make the most of it.
Without doubt, the more prominence Jesus gained, the more of a threat He became to the Sadducees’ comfortable arrangement with Rome. Paul brilliantly used the polarizing subject of the resurrection to send the Sanhedrin into an uproar when he was made to appear before them. When he claimed that he was on trial because of his belief in the resurrection, he angered the Sadducees who were present, while gaining the sympathy of their rival Pharisees (see Acts 23:1–11).