Matthew 19:3-12

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

JESUS’ TEACHING CONCERNING DIVORCE

INTRODUCTION:

 

The problems of the King include the narrative about Jesus (19:3 - 23:39), the Olivet Discourse (24:1 - 25:46), and the concluding statement, Matthew 26:1-2(1) And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, (2) Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

 

The Narrative about Jesus begins with His teaching concerning divorce (19:3-12).

 

In this message we find the Pharisees’ question about divorce and Jesus’ answer followed by the disciples’ comment and Jesus’ reply.

We see that –

    I.     THE PHARISEES, CONTINUING THEIR OPPOSITION TO JESUS, POSED A QUESTION TO HIM REGARDING DIVORCE IN ORDER TO TEST HIM – 19:3

 

Matthew 19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

 

The Pharisees also came unto him is the Pharisees approached Him (i.e. Jesus).

 

Tempting him indicates the Pharisees’ purpose in approaching Jesus. It was for the purpose of testing Him in an effort to discredit Him.

 

And saying unto him is understood in the sense of and they were asking Him or while they were asking Him.

 

Is it lawful? means is it right?, is it authorized?, is it permitted?, or is it proper?

 

For a man to put away his wife for every cause is for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason.

Next we see that –

  II.     JESUS RESPONDED BY ASKING THEM ABOUT THEIR FAMILIARITY WITH WHAT GOD HAD SAID AT THE TIME HE MADE PEOPLE MALE AND FEMALE – 19:4-5

 

Matthew 19:4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female.

 

And (or then) he, which refers to Jesus, answered and said is understood in the sense of and (or then) He answered and asked them, i.e. asked the Pharisees. What He asked extends through verse 5.

 

Have ye not read? is did you not read? and has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action. Its structure indicates that it is expecting a yes answer.

 

It is you have read, haven’t you? and implies, Yes, you have read (this) or you did read, didn’t you? and implies, Yes, you did.

 

That introduces what they have (or should have) read.

 

He which made them at the beginning refers to God, the One Who created them.

 

It is literally the One Who made (them) or the One Who created (them).

 

At the beginning implies at the time of their creation.

 

Made them male and female indicates how God created people.

 

Matthew 19:5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

 

In verse 5 Jesus finishes the question He began asking in verse 4 by referring to Genesis 2:24 , Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

 

And said introduces something the Creator stated when He made man and woman.

 

For this cause is because of this (reason) or on account of this (reason).

 

It is because God created them male and female.

 

Although God created Adam some time before He created Eve, He created both of them for an intimate relationship in marriage.

 

He created Adam just the way He wanted Adam to be, and He created Eve just what He wanted her to be.

 

He intended that they have an intimate relationship and bear children.

 

This was to be the norm in marriage for all other males and females.

 

Their relationship to each other as a married couple would supercede their relationships to their parents and was never intended to be broken by divorce.

 

There was to be a oneness in the newly-formed family unit which includes, but is not limited to, a sexual relationship which is exclusively between the man and his wife.

 

It will not allow for a homosexual relationship because it is for one man and for his one wife, not for two men or for two women.

 

It would also exclude polygamy in that it was for a man and his wife so that a man should never have more than one living wife and a woman should never have more than one living husband.

 

Shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife indicates that there should be a departure from both sets of parents which will include a physical, financial, and emotional separation to form a new family unit.

 

Man is the generic term for human being but is used here to refer to the male as his clearly indicates.

 

Shall . . . leave means shall leave behind.

 

It means that he moves away from his parents to establish his own home.

 

And shall cleave to his wife means and adhere closely to (i.e. and be faithfully devoted to or and be joined to) his wife.

 

And they twain shall be one flesh indicates that God intended that there be a oneness within the new family unit, physically, financially, intellectually, spiritually, morally, emotionally, and in all other ways imaginable.

 

They twain is they two and refers to the man and his wife.

 

It does not allow for divorce and remarriage except as indicated by Matthew 19:9 .

We also see that –

 III.     JESUS THEN RESPONDED THAT MAN SHOULD NOT SEPARATE WHAT GOD HAS JOINED TOGETHER – 19:6

 

Matthew 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

 

Wherefore is therefore, for this reason, or so.

 

They are no more twain, but one flesh is they are no longer two but one flesh. It means that they are now joined together as one.

 

As a married couple they are one flesh, constantly and continually joined together, mutually dependent on each other, as long as they are both alive.

 

Therefore introduces an inference drawn from the first part of this verse.

 

What . . . God hath joined together refers to the man and his wife.

 

God suggests God the Father.

 

Hath joined together is joined together, made a pair, or paired; and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

 

Let not man put asunder is a third person command for which English has no equivalent.

 

It means man must not be putting asunder what God joined together.

 

Man is the generic term for human being and includes females as well as males.

 

Put asunder is divide or separate.

 

When connected with not, the present tense of put asunder implies man must not be dividing (or man must not be separating).

 

Furthermore, its tense implies that its action was already going on, i.e. people were dividing or separating husbands from their wives.

 

It may be the husband separating himself from his wife, the wife separating herself from her husband, or someone else separating a husband from his wife or a wife from her husband.

 

This action is to be discontinued or stopped in the sense of man must stop dividing (or must stop separating) what God has joined together.

 

What God hath joined together let not man put asunder means that divorce is contrary to God’s plan for marriage. It indicates that divorce is never God’s will for any married couple. The Pharisees should have known this; and although people can twist this around any way they want, it is still true.

So, we see that –

IV.      THE PHARISEES BROUGHT UP THE SUBJECT OF MOSES AND THE BILL OF DIVORCEMENT – 19:7

 

Matthew 19:7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

 

Thinking that they had Him trapped, the Pharisees asked Jesus a question.

 

Inasmuch as they say unto him is followed by a question, it is understood as they ask Him.

 

Its reference is to Deuteronomy 24:1 ,

 

Deuteronomy 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write [i.e. and he writes] her a bill of divorcement, and give [i.e. and gives] it in her hand, and send [i.e. and sends] her out of his house.

 

It should be understood in Deuteronomy 24:1 that the man is not being commanded to divorce his wife; and Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is not justifying divorce. Rather, it is referring to a possible situation which may happen. The situation is that if a man finds some uncleanness in his wife and writes her a bill of divorcement and gives it to her and sends her out of his house. The thought continues in 24:2 with the possibility that she goes and marries another man. In 24:3 she experiences the same situation with her new husband, and he (i.e. the second husband) writes her a bill of divorcement and sends her out of his house and then he (i.e. the second husband) dies. If these things all happen, then, according to 24:4, the first husband may not take her back as his wife.

 

The Pharisees asked, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement? It is, Then why did Moses command to give a certificate (i.e. a written message, a document, or a notice) of divorce?

 

Remember, that Moses did not command this. Then introduces an inference the Pharisees drew from what . . . God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

 

In addition, the Pharisees added and to put her away, which means and to send her away or and to divorce her. In the context of what the Pharisees asked Jesus in Matthew 19 , it indicates that they regarded it as being part of the so-called command Moses gave. However, Moses did not command the husband to put his wife away (or to divorce her).

 

God’s will was not for the man to send his wife away. Numbers 5:11-31 details what the man could have done. It was to follow the law of jealousy. I won’t take the time to read it now.

 

In summary, it means that if a man suspected but could not prove that his wife was guilty of immorality, he could take her to the priest and bring also an offering of jealousy.

 

The priest shall take holy water and mix in some dust from the floor of the tabernacle and make the woman drink it.

 

If she was guilty of immorality, it will cause her belly to swell and her thigh to rot, i.e. to waste away or shrink. It also implies that she will not conceive seed.

 

If she is not guilty, her belly will not swell and her thigh will not rot, and she will conceive seed.

 

If she was guilty of immorality, he could have had her stoned; or he also could have forgiven her and kept her rather than sending her away and divorcing her. She would not then have been given a certificate of divorce.

 

It should be remembered that the Pharisees’ original question in verse 3 included the words for every cause and would not be limited to because he hath found some uncleanness in her.

We furthermore see that –

   V.     JESUS RESPONDED THAT MOSES HAD PERMITTED DIVORCE BUT THAT DIVORCE WAS NEVER GOD’S INTENTION WHEN HE CREATED MAN AND WOMAN – 19:8

 

Matthew 19:8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

 

He saith unto them is He says to them and introduces Jesus’ response to the Pharisees.

 

Moses . . . suffered you to put away your wives is Moses allowed (or permitted) you to divorce your wives.

 

The reason Moses permitted or allowed this was because of the hardness of your hearts.

 

It speaks of an unyielding frame of mind, of coldness, of obstinacy, and of stubbornness.

 

It should be noted that permitted or allowed does not mean approved.

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to Moses’ permitting or allowing men to divorce their wives because of the hardness of their hearts.

 

From the beginning implies from the time that God created man and woman.

 

Divorce was never God’s intention.

 

It was not so is it has not been so, and its tense indicates that this occurred in the past and that its result has continued to the present time. It has been translated as emphasizing the result of God’s intent.

 

Divorce was not God’s plan in the past, and it has continued from the beginning not to be God’s plan or will for someone.

 

It means that it has never been God’s will and still is not God’s will. It should be noted that there is a difference between what God wills regarding marriage and what He allows just like it is not God’s will for a believer to commit sin, but God permits or allows him to do it; yet God never approves of sin.

Moreover, we see that –

 VI.     UNLESS THERE IS FORNICATION, THE MAN WHO DIVORCES HIS WIFE AND MARRIES SOMEONE ELSE, COMMITS ADULTERY, AND SOMEONE WHO MARRIES THIS DIVORCED WOMAN COMMITS ADULTERY – 19:9

 

Matthew 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

 

And I say unto you is and I (i.e. Jesus) am saying (i.e. am declaring or am asserting) to you (Pharisees).

 

Whosoever is whoever or everyone who.

 

Shall put away his wife . . ., and shall marry another, committeth adultery is whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits (or is committing) adultery.

 

Except it be for fornication is except (i.e. unless or if not) for fornication.

 

As indicated by the italics, it be has been supplied by the translators.

 

Fornication is a general term for illicit sexual intercourse and includes adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, prostitution, and pre-marital sex.

 

Why would someone who divorces his wife and marries someone else, unless his wife is guilty of fornication, be committing adultery if he marries another woman except that in God’s sight he is still married to the woman he divorced? It does not matter that people think that divorce has ended the marriage, and it does not matter that divorce is legally regarded as having ended the marriage. In God’s sight, he is still married to the woman he divorced; so, if he marries someone else, he is committing adultery.

 

If fornication has been involved, even though divorce and remarriage may still be allowed or permitted without committing adultery, it is still only allowed because of the hardness of your hearts and is not best. Regardless of the emotions involved, God’s will is that the couple straighten out their problems with each other, forgive each other, reconcile with each other, and stay married to each other. Remember that just because God allows something doesn’t mean God approves of it.

 

And whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery is and the one who marries (the wife who has been) divorced is committing adultery.

 

Why would someone who marries a divorced woman be committing adultery except that in God’s sight she is still married to the husband who divorced her, regardless of the fact that people think the marriage has ended and regardless of the fact that the marriage has been legally ended? In God’s sight, it has not ended; and she is still married to the man who divorced her.

As we continue, we see that –

VII.     JESUS’ DISCIPLES RESPONDED THAT IT WOULD THEN BE GOOD FOR A MAN NOT TO MARRY – 19:10

 

Matthew 19:10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

 

His disciples say unto him means that Jesus’ disciples are responding to what He has just said. These are Jesus’ twelve apostles.

 

Their response is in the form of a conditional statement.

 

The condition is if the case of the man be so with his wife is the condition; and for sake of discussion, it is assumed to be true.

 

It is not really true, however; so, if should be understood in the sense of assuming that.

 

If the case of the man with (his) wife be so, where the case refers to the actual state of affairs in the sense of the circumstance (or the relationship) is understood in the sense of assuming that the relationship of the man with (his) wife is so (i.e. like this).

 

Of course, although assumed to be true for sake of discussion, the condition is not really true. It is not intended to be like this.

 

The conclusion of the conditional statement is it is not good to marry. It means not to marry is profitable (i.e. helpful or useful) and implies it is better not to marry.

 

Of course, inasmuch the condition is not really true, the conclusion is also not really true. For most men it is better to marry.

Finally, we see that –

VIII    JESUS INDICATES THAT NOT EVERY MAN IS GIFTED TO REMAIN SINGLE BECAUSE GOD HAS GIFTED ONLY SOME TO BE ABLE TO BE UNMARRIED; RATHER, IT IS HIS WILL THAT MOST MEN MARRY – 19:11-12

 

Matthew 19:11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to what the disciples said in verse 10.

 

He said unto them means that Jesus responded to His disciples’ conclusion expressed in verse 10.

 

All men cannot receive this saying is not all accept this saying (i.e. this statement or this word).

 

As indicated by the italics, men has been supplied by the translators.

 

Save they to whom it is given is but the ones to whom it has been given, where it refers to the gift of celibacy.

 

Save is the word ordinarily translated but and introduces a statement in strong contrast to the thought that all persons could accept this statement.

 

As indicated by the italics, they has been supplied by the translators.

 

To whom implies to the ones to whom.

 

It is given is understood in the sense of it has been given (or granted) and has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

 

Its tense indicates that this gift of celibacy (i.e. this ability to be content sexually as an unmarried man) was given to them in the past and that it remains theirs.

 

It means that being able to live a celibate life is not normal for most men and that most men should, therefore, marry.

 

This is contrary to what the disciples were asserting in verse 11.

 

It is the way God has made them. God made most men to need a wife.

 

Matthew 19:12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

 

Some men are eunuchs, but it was not by their choice.

 

Others have remained unmarried because they have the gift of celibacy and have no need for a wife.

 

For introduces Jesus’ explanation of verse 11.

 

There are some eunuchs is eunuchs are or eunuchs exist.

 

Some is the subject of were . . . born.

 

Which were so born from their mother’s womb is who (i.e. ones who or such ones who) from a mother’s womb were born in this manner (thus or so), which means that they were eunuchs when they were born.

 

And there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men is eunuchs are (or eunuchs exist) who (i.e. ones who or such ones who) were made eunuchs (i.e. were castrated, were emasculated, or were caused to be eunuchs) by men, where men is the generic term for human beings and may be used of males or females.

 

And there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake describes a third group of men.

 

And there be eunuchs is eunuchs are (or eunuchs exist).

 

Which is used for the third time in this verse, meaning who (i.e. ones who or such ones who).

 

Have made themselves eunuchs is made themselves eunuchs, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

 

It does not mean that they physically castrated themselves but that they chose not to marry or that they denied themselves the privilege of marriage and, therefore, of physical intimacy with a wife.

 

They controlled their God-given sexual desires for the kingdom of heaven’s sake, i.e. to further God’s work on earth for the kingdom of heaven as unmarried men with no Scriptural obligations which would result from having a wife and children.

 

However, this ability to serve the Lord as an unmarried man is a gift from God which has not been given to everyone.

 

Most men have been given the gift of marriage and would not be able to serve the Lord apart from marriage.

 

He that is able to receive it, let him receive it means that the one who is able to accept (this ability to serve the Lord as a single man) must accept it; whereas, most men should serve the Lord as married men and should not attempt to serve Him as unmarried men.

CONCLUSION:

 

Divorce is not God’s plan for anyone. However, it is a fact of life. Many, many people are divorced. Although it was not God’s plan for their lives, it is an existing situation.

 

Although no one is perfect, some have been divorced through little or no fault of their own; whereas others have done things which have resulted in their being divorced.

 

We must realize that divorce is not the unpardonable sin and that people who have been divorced, regardless of the circumstances, can be saved and live godly lives. God forgives all sin when confessed, including lying, saying bad things, stealing, failing to put God first in our lives, and divorce.

 

We have all done things we should not have done; and none of us can go back and undo things we have done in the past. However, we can ask God to forgive our sins, experience His forgiveness, and live the rest of our lives for the Lord.

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