Commenting on Relevant Blog Posts Considerations on Divorce A Vinculo Matrimonii 1857
Nov 24

Updated: 26th 4:01pm
Introduction to McFall’s Research Paper
Leslie McFall has written an interesting 43-page paper called The Biblical Teaching on Divorce and Remarriage. In his paper, he discusses an addition that Desiderius Erasmus added to his Greek-Latin New Testament (1516 1st ed) that changed the way Matthew 19:9 has been translated.

McFall shows how Erasmus’ addition of the Greek word εἰ in Mat 19:9 has lead to the incorrect translation of this verse. What should be translated as an exclusion to divorce, “not even for fornication” (McFall Translation), is seen by most to be a exception to divorce and remarry, “except it be for fornication” (KJV).

While the other scriptures (Mar 10:11, 12; Luk 16:18, Rom 7:2, 3; 1Cor 7:11, 39) are very clear on divorce and remarriage, many people find that Mat 5:32 and Mat 19:9 leaves them puzzled and uncertain as to what the Word of God teaches concerning divorce and remarriage.

The purpose of this article is to introduce you to the concepts that McFall discusses at length in his research paper. I have been in communication with McFall concerning his paper, and have made a number of suggestions to him. He has reviewed this introduction to his paper and has given me a number of suggestions, which I have implemented.

The concepts outlined by McFall clearly show that the so-called ‘exception clause’ in Mat 19:9 is an exclusion to divorce, not an exception to divorce and remarry. This will bring an understanding that Mat 5:32 is an exception to blame, not an exception to divorce and remarry; hence the divorce and remarriage issue fits together like a puzzle, and people can get peace for this difficult question.

History of the Textus Receptus
Many people that hold to the KJV and the Textus Receptus (TR) Greek manuscript are not even aware of the history of the Greek manuscript. They are surprised when you tell them that, for the most part, it was the work of a Roman Catholic priest. Let me give you a short history.

Erasmus (1466-1536) was a Dutch humanist who was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1492, and stayed loyal to the Roman Catholic Church until his death. He became very popular in Europe for his satirical writings like “The Praise of Folly” (1509), which poked fun at the church and state. He also wrote many scholarly works, and held a debate with Luther on the freedom of the will.

Erasmus’ Greek New Testament (3rd ed) was the basis for the 1st edition of the Robert Stephens’ 1546 Greek New Testament. Stephens’ 1550 edition (3rd ed) was the well known “Royal” edition. Theodore Beza published a Greek New Testament in 1565 that was basically the same as Stephens’ 4th edition of 1551.

Then, in 1565, Bonaventure Elzevir reproduced the 1st edition of Beza’s Greek Manuscript – which is now known as the Textus Receptus (TR). The 1611 King James version of the Bible was based on this Greek manuscript and other translations from this historical era of manuscripts.

The Greek Manuscripts that Erasmus Used
When Erasmus put together his Greek-Latin New Testament, he used 7 manuscripts. Only 3 of them contained the Gospels. Using the Gregory-Aland numbering system, these manuscripts were MS1 (1200s), MS2 (1200s), and MS69 (1500s).

It is important to note Erasmus’ position on divorce and remarriage. Erasmus published his view of divorce in “Annotationes” (1519), which was that the remarriage of a divorced person was legitimate. He later developed a more elaborate defense of this position, which he published in the 1522 and 1527 editions of “Annotationes”.

Erasmus added the Greek word εἰ (if) before μὴ (not) into Matt 19:9, thus changing the text to read from “not” to “except”. There is no information on why Erasmus added εἰ. None of the manuscripts he used support this addition, and the marginal reading from manuscript MS69 with this reading appears to have been added post-Erasmus.

If you are interested in the Erasmus’ Greek-Latin New Testament is can be purchased for $34.69 or downloaded in PDF (296MB) for free.

Erasmus Changed the Latin Also
Erasmus’ New Testament was a Greek and Latin translation. He not only added this addition to the Greek manuscript, but his Latin translation was different from the Latin Vulgate, in that it included the exception clause and broadened the exception from “fornication” to “disgrace”.

The Latin word in the Vulgate was “fornicationem” and the Latin word Erasmus used in his Latin New Testament was “stuprum”, which is defined in the Oxford Latin Dictionary as “dishonour, disgrace, defilement, unchastity, debauchery, lewdness, and violation”

Vulgate and Erasmus Latin Compared
The following is a comparison of Matthew 19:9 in the Latin Vulgate and in Erasmus’ Latin New Testament (3rd ed). The Latin to English translations are from McFall’s paper.

Mat 19:9 Vulgate: And I say to you that whosoever shall put away his wife, such as for fornication,and shall marry another, committeth adultery.

Mat 19:9 Latin Vulgate: dico autem vobis quia quicumque dimiserit uxorem suam nisi ob fornicationem et aliam duxerit moechatur et qui dimissam duxerit moechatur

Mat 19:9 Erasmus Latin NT in English: And I say to you that whosoever shall repudiate his wife, unless it be for disgrace, and shall marry another, committeth adultery.

Mat 19:9 Erasmus Latin NT: Dico autem uobis quia quicunque repudiauerit uxorem suam, nisi ob stuprum, et aliam duxerit, is comittit adulterium.

Mat 19:9 Erasmus Latin:

Comparing McFall/KVJ and NA27/TR
The following is McFall’s translation of Matthew 19:9 with the Nestles-Aland (NA) Greek, and the KJV translation with the Textus Receptus (TR) Greek. Compare the Greek texts and you will see that εἰ is not in the NA Greek text.

Nestle-Aland’s 27th edition, the most popular Greek manuscript, has rejected Erasmus addition of εἰ to Matthew 19:9. However, translations continue to translate the Greek “except for fornication”, even though they reject the Greek word εἰ that Erasmus inserted.

McFall’s translation is based on the the Majority Greek. He has done a Greek-English Harmony of the four Gospels, but it is currently unpublished. In Appendex B of his paper The Biblical Teaching on Divorce and Remarriage, he explains his process for translating Mat 19:9.

Mat 19:9 (McFall): Now I say to you that who, for example, may have divorced his wife–he may not have divorced her for fornication–and may have married another woman, he becomes adulterous by marrying her.

Mat 19:9 (McFall Simplified): And I say to you that who, say, may put away his wife—not even for fornication—and may marry another commits adultery; and he who did marry her that has been put away commits adultery.

Mat 19:9 (NA27): λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ καὶ γαμήσῃ ἄλλην μοιχᾶται

Mat 19:9 Alfred Marshall Interlinear Translation:

Mat 19:9 (KJV): 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.

Mat 19:9 (TR): λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ εἰ μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ καὶ γαμήσῃ ἄλλην μοιχᾶται καὶ ὁ ἀπολελυμένην γαμήσας μοιχᾶταιμοιχᾶται

Mat 19:9 Erasmus Greek 3rd ed:

Jewish Betrothal Explanation
I have never felt comfortable with explaining the so-called ‘exception clause’ of Matthew 19:9 with the Jewish betrothal explanation, but I had never found anything better. Even though I have done a lot of research on this passage, I had not been aware of the addition of εἰ to Mat 19:9 or of its implications.

I had looked at the position of removing the exception clause completely based on the Vatican manuscript (MS03), but as this is not supported by the majority of Greek texts, I stuck with the Jewish betrothal interpretation until I read McFall’s article.

In my view the Jewish betrothal interpretation has a serious issue that creates more questions than they answer. The Jewish betrothal interpretation takes Mat 19:9 and gives it a completely different meaning than Mar 10:11. Those that hold the Jewish betrothal interpretation would teach that Mar 10:11 is talking about marriage, not Jewish betrothal. Then when they go to Mat 19:9, they say that the same words that Jesus spoke now mean something else, as Matthew is written to the Jews.

If you hold that Mat 19:9 is dealing with Jewish betrothal, then you must hold that the same account in Mar 10:11 is teaching that same thing. But the problem is that there is no so-called ‘exception clause’ in Mar 10:11. With no ‘exception clause’ you now have Mar 10:11 teaching that Jewish betrothal cannot be broken even for fornication, and Mat 19:9 teaching that it can be broken.

As far as I can see, the Jewish betrothal interpretation raises more questions than it answers. For honest souls that are seeking truth, all scriptures (Mar 10:11, 12; Luk 16:18; Rom 7:2, 3; ICor 7:11, 39) other than Mat 19:9 are very clear that there are no exceptions for divorce and remarriage.

So, what we need is a clean way to deal with Mat 19:9 that does nott raise more questions that it tries to answer. Leslie McFall’s correction of the Greek gives us a clear way, and I see no reason not to take it.

What This Means to You
In closing, what McFall’s article provides us with is a proper way to explain the so-called ‘exception clause’ that Erasmus created by adding εἰ to Matthew 19:9. There is no information on why Erasmus added εἰ. None of the manuscripts he used support this addition, and the marginal reading from manuscript MS69 with this reading appears to be added post-Erasmus.

This addition changed the information phrase of “he may not have divorced her for fornication” into a conditional clause “except it be for fornication”. This introduced an allowance for divorce into the Bible translations that used Erasmus’ Greek. This addition has caused people to believe that if anyone divorces his wife for marital unfaithfulness, they are free to remarry and they are not committing adultery.

This means we need to warn those who are thinking of divorcing and remarrying that there is no exception (allowance) for remarriage. Those who are currently remarried who have a living spouse from a previous lawful1 marriage are in the state of adultery, and copulation in that union is adultery.

Those that are in an adulterous remarriage need to repent of this sin and separate and seek restoration with their rightful spouse, or remain single.

It would also be good if you bring this up with the leaders in the congregation you attend. When God shows us light and understanding from his Word, we are responsible to share it with others around us.

____________________________________
1The use of lawful is in respect to the New Covenant law (the law of liberty, the royal law), and is not referring to the law of Moses or the current marriage laws of any nation.
2Written on November 15, 2008.


59 Responses to “Except for Fornication Clause of Matthew 19:9”

  1. 1. Mike Atnip Says:

    Interesting paper, but I would have to see how it stacks up to the Ante-Nicene Fathers textually. The early church did universally forbid remarriage after a divorce, but the reality is that there is some disagreement among them in that some did allow a separation from an adulterous companion, but never remarriage.
    I also have had a problem with the Jewish espousal view, and have come to believe that “except for fornication” is referring to the fact that divorce IS permitted is a couple are living in fornication, i.e. fornication is its broad sense of any illicit sexual activity. In other words, the man is 1 Co. 5 was in fornication for taking his father’s wife (incest). In this case he was permitted, in fact demanded, a divorce from Paul. The same would apply to remarriages while the first spouse still lives. The second marriages is an illicit sexual activity (adultery) and hence a divorce is permitted from the 2nd spouse.
    I have written a paper on this, but it is not on my Primitive Christianity website. I would be glad to send it to anyone for examination.
    Mike

  2. 2. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Mike; It is my understanding that addition of ει that Erasmus added is not found in any of the quotes of Mat 19:9 in the every church fathers. There is no reason to seek divorce instead of separation unless one of the parties wants to remarry.

    >>>The second marriages is an illicit sexual activity (adultery) and hence a divorce is permitted from the 2nd spouse.

    If we take Mat 19:9 with the exception clause “except for unchastity” then we are going to have to take what the exception clause is applied to. The exception clause is applied to remarriage in the case of divorce.

    I think applying the Mat 19:9 except clause to people in a double marriage is going to be more difficult to maintain than the Jewish espousal view.

    If you look at the same account in Mar 10:11, 12 it is not dealing with double marriage at all.
    The problems of both of these ways to deal with the exception clause is done away when ει is removed which changes “not” to “except”.

  3. 3. Michael Whennen Says:

    Thank you Bob, you have written a great summation of McFall’s article. I can recommend other books including those written by Dr. Joseph Webb, and John Tarwater.

  4. 4. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Michael; Thanks! I was very excited to find a better way to dead with Matthew 19:9 than the Jewish espousal.

  5. 5. Alice Says:

    That is interesting; however, this article begs the question of why you aren’t disturbed by the variations and contradictions and changes in the Biblical texts. I can only assume that you don’t believe that the Bible is the perfect word of God; and then I would have to ask, if you don’t believe that, why worry about what the Bible says in the first place? Even if it is inspired, it is still two thousand years old. Surely we have had more inspirations since then.

    Also, to clarify, would you interpret this passage to say that divorce itself isn’t as bad as re-marriage?

  6. 6. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Alice; Thank you for your comments. No the variations don’t bother me. Greek textual criticism has rejected Erasmus’ addition but the English translations have left the results of it in their translations. As far as contradictions I feel like they are apparent contradictions and you can always find an explanation if you want one.

    I would hold that the Bible texts when original given were the inerrant Word of God. Also I would hold that there have not been more inspirited scriptures produced since the Bible.

    I hold the Bible teachings there is grounds for separation due to unfaithfulness or verbal, emotional, or physical abuse but no grounds for divorce as that opens up the way to remariage.

  7. 7. Mike Atnip Says:

    Greetings:
    I had noted in my comment above that the article I wrote about the The Fornication Puzzle of Matthew 19:9 was not on my Primitive Christianity site. I had forgotten that I had put it on there some months ago. I find that this view makes all the various verses fit together without any straining, at least in my own mind.
    Peace, Mike

  8. 8. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Mike; I will take a look at it and perhaps get back to you.

  9. 9. David Instone-Brewer Says:

    Dear Bob

    Thanks for this summary - it makes Leslie’s position very clear.

    The Greek at Mt.19.9 is not easy, as you can see from Leslie’s literal translation: “Now I say to you that who, for example, may have divorced his wife-he may not have divorced her for fornication-and may have married another woman, he becomes adulterous by marrying her.”

    It is not clear whether the ‘not’ is an elipsis (as Leslie assumes) or an exception (as Erasmus assumed).

    The decisive verse for me is Mt.5.32 where Matthew translates the original Aramaic of Jesus sightly differently. He says “… who divorces his wife except for..” - the Greek here is ‘parektos’, which is unambiguously means ‘except’. This solves the ambiguity in Mt.19.9.

    Hope this is helpful.

    David

  10. 10. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi David; I am not sure why you would feel that the way the Greek is in Mat 5:32 would solve the ambiguity in Mat 19:9 unless you are applying the exception in Mat 5:32 to the second clause “and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery”. The second clause of Mat 5:32 is grammatically independent from the exception and states that the person marrying the divorced person is committing adultery no matter why the person was divorced.

    In these two scriptures the so-called exception is being applied to two different issues. In Mat 5:32 the exception is applied whether or not the one divorcing is causing the one divorced to commit adultery (if they remarried). In Mat 19:9 the so-called exception is applied to where the one divorcing is themselves guilty of adultery when remarrying.

    I think you would have a point if the Greek construction of the exception clause from Mat 5:32 was for example in Mar 10:12. Then the exception would then be applied to the same issue as Mat 19:9. But this is not the case.

    You can see clearly what the so-called exceptions are being applied to when you remove them from both scriptures. In Mat 5:21 the exception is being applied to “put away his wife… causeth her to commit adultery” where the so-called exception in Mat 19:9 is being applied to “put away his wife… and shall marry another, committeth adultery”.

    Have you read the article Divorce and Remarriage: Another Look at the Matthean Exception Clauses by Andrew S. Kulikovsky where to puts forth that the so-called exception clause of Mat 19:9 is a parenthetical clause? Kulikovsky holds that the clause is an editorial addition which functions as an explicit prohibition against divorce for sexual sin and translates it “(he may not divorce for sexual sin)”.

    I personally found both McFall’s and Kulikovsky’s articles a very interesting way to look the so-call exception clause of Mat 19:9.

  11. 11. Andrew Kulikovsky Says:

    Just a further note on Erasmus’ addition of ei in Matt 19:9, Metzger’s Textual Commentary lists 2 textual differences for this verse (1) the use of parektos as in Matt 5:32, and (2) the addition of “and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery” ie. there are NO manuscripts that support Erasmus’ emendation. Erasmus obviously made the addition with a view to clarifying the text-but of course, the clarification was made in accordance with his understanding of what the text was trying to say. But Erasmus was not a theologian and would not have been familiar with the historical theological debate that had occurred between the Shammai and Hillel rabbinic schools. In other words, his view was not informed and counts for nothing.

  12. 12. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Andrew; I guess some have felt that a marginal reading of Mat 19:9 in MS 69 which had ei was used by Erasmus. Leslie McFall has gotten from Leicester Record Office scans for all the marginal corrections in MS 69. He will be going though the 200 scans to see if he can find another example of the same writing or ink color so he can determine if the margin reading of Mat 19:9 is post-Erasmus.

    Here is a scan of the margin reading with ei from Mat 19:9 in MS 69.

  13. 13. Michael Whennen Says:

    Thanks Mike (Atnip) for sharing your article, pretty straightforward.

    Thanks Andrew for clarifying that there are NO manuscripts that support Erasmus’ emendation/addition or the Erasmus’ Trap as Les McFall refers to it.

    I want to consider the consequences of the Erasmus’ Trap, as many have read it in good faith as truth, and have based decisions on this addition. If we examine this closely this addition has produced what sort of fruit?

    For the Fruit Inspectors amongst us I can recommend - Marriage and The Public Good: Ten Principals download free at http://www.wisereaction.org

  14. 14. Tom Brown Says:

    Bob said, “There is no reason to seek divorce instead of separation unless one of the parties wants to remarry.”

    This misunderstands (historical) family law. Divorce allowed a man out of his marital duties of support and cohabitation with his wife. Even in this country until into the 20th cent., divorce, where it was available, only meant a release from marital (legal) obligations, but was not a pure divorce that would allow remarriage. That would still have been considered polygamy, a crime.

    So there certainly was a reason to seek divorce even if that act did not empower one to remarry. To permit remarriage is to forever bar the possibility of reconciliation. This is contrary to the Christian model of Christ as groom and His church as bride. We have a God who will never bar reconciliation by finding a new spouse, nor One who would recognize our (occasional) finding of a new “spouse” as barring reconciliation. If we find a new thing to love, it would be illicit, and the permanent union with God would be our continuing duty.

    Peace in Christ,
    Tom

  15. 15. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Tom Brown;
    >>>Divorce allowed a man out of his marital duties of support and cohabitation with his wife.

    Legal separation will allow this also. You can get a legal separation in Canada with out getting a divorce where the issues of support and dividing of property are dealt with. I expect the case is the same in the US.

    >>>To permit remarriage is to forever bar the possibility of reconciliation.

    I wouldn’t agree with this but reconciliation is certianly going more difficult when one or both of the separated parties remarry. Personally I feel that divorce is the first step toward remarriage and as God hates divorce and doesn’t recognize it I still don’t see any reason for a Christian to want to get one.

  16. 16. Gustav Swen Says:

    Several have mentioned a hesitancy to accept the espousal interpretation. I had similar concerns until I read Tarwater’s book as well as the excellent and compelling article by David Jones, “The Betrothal View of Divorce and Remarriage,” which someone has scanned and posted here: http://www.wisereaction.org/ebooks/betrothal_jonesd.pdf. While I find McFall’s article plausible, and perhaps even compatiable with the espousal reading, the awkwardness of his translation, as well as the need to deal more thoroughly with the issues with Matt. 5:32 raised by Instone-Brewer above, make it a bit cumbersome to me. In this light, given the simplicity and cultural/conetextual support for the espousal reading, I don’t think I am ready to abandon it yet.

  17. 17. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Gustav Swen; I have a number of issues with the espousal interpretation. First if the Jewish espousal was a contract of marriage and was the same as being married then there would be no allowance for divorce or remarriage. Even if a marriage is not consummated it is still a marriage.

    The second issue I have with the Jewish espousal interpretation is it takes Mat 19:9 and gives it a completely different meaning that Mar 10:11. Those that hold the Jewish espousal interpretation would teach that Mar 10:11 is talking about marriage not Jewish espousal. Then when they go to Mat 19:9 they say that the same words that Jesus spoke now mean some thing else as he is addressing Jewish espousal.

    If you hold that Mat 19:9 is dealing with Jewish espousal then you must hold that the same account in Mar 10:11 is teaching that same thing. But the problem is there is no so-called exception clause in Mar 10:11. Leaving out the so-called exception clause now is a serious issue as now we have Mar 10:11 teaching that Jewish espousal can not be broken even for fornication and Mat 19:9 teaching that it can.

    So in my mind the Jewish espousal interpretation raises more questions than it answers. I feel to an honest soul the scriptures we have (Mar 10:11, 12; Luk 16:18; Rom 7:2, 3; ICor 7:11, 39) we have besides Mat 19:9 are very clear there is no exceptions to divorce and remarry.

    So what we need is a clean way to deal with Mat 19:9 that doesn’t raise more questions that it tries to answer. Both Leslie McFall’s correction of the Greek and Andrew Kulikovsky parenthetical clause give us a clear way and I see no reason not to take it.

  18. 18. Andrew Kulikovsky Says:

    David wrote:
    The decisive verse for me is Mt.5.32 where Matthew translates the original Aramaic of Jesus sightly differently. He says “who divorces his wife except for..” - the Greek here is “parektos”, which is unambiguously means “except”. This solves the ambiguity in Mt.19.9.

    David is correct in that parektos unambiguously means “except”. But what is it an exception to?

    The whole verse reads: “but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (NASB). Does this verse imply that a person may divorce on the grounds of marital unfaithfulness and remarry without committing adultery? In order to correctly understand the implications of this verse it is helpful to restate its propositions in a clearer form:

    1. Anyone who divorces his wife for any reason other than marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress.

    2. Anyone who divorces his wife for marital unfaithfulness, does not cause her to become an adulteress.

    3. Any man who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

    Proposition (1) clearly states that the practice of divorcing one’s wife has the ultimate effect of turning her into an adulterer, given that she would inevitably remarry. Proposition (2), on the other hand, states that if a man divorces his wife because she has committed adultery, then he would not cause her to become an adulteress because she would already be an adulteress! Thus, her moral status would not change if she married again.

    This is the reason why Matthew specifies an exception at this point. If the exception was not present, Matthew’s statement that the divorced woman would subsequently be made into an adulterer given that she would inevitably remarry, becomes superfluous because her adultery was the reason for the divorce in the first place.

    Moreover, the second conjunctive clause in 5:32 (”and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery”), is grammatically independent of the exception (proposition (3)), and states that a man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery, regardless of the reason for her being divorced. This implies that any man who marries a faithful but divorced woman (i.e. a woman who was divorced for any reason other than marital unfaithfulness) commits adultery.

    Therefore, if Matthew 5:32 teaches that marital unfaithfulness is valid grounds for divorce, then it also teaches that a faithful but divorced woman who remarries, does not commit adultery, even though the man who marries her does! This is clearly absurd, and seriously calls into question the understanding that marital unfaithfulness is valid grounds for divorce.

    In other words, Matt 5:32 clarifies 19:9 by strengthening the argument that it is NOT a true exception and that sexual sin/marital unfaithfulness is not a valid grounds for divorce.

  19. 19. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Andrew Kulikovsky; It was not clear to me What David mean by “This solves the ambiguity in Mt.19.9.” I am guessing you have read David’s books where he may go over what he means. I did email my reply to him and I expect he will respond.

    I completely agree with you that the exception clause in Mat 5:32 addresses whether putting a lawful spouse away causes them to commit adultery if they remarry and has nothing to do with the second clause which is grammatically independent from the exception and states that the person marrying the divorced person is committing adultery no matter why the person was divorced.

    However I wasn’t able to follow your logic that “if Matthew 5:32 teaches that marital unfaithfulness is valid grounds for divorce, then it also teaches that a faithful but divorced woman who remarries, does not commit adultery, even though the man who marries her does”.

    While I agree that the teaching that the innocent party can but the guilty party can’t remarry is wrong and not logical, I wasn’t able to follow your jump from if Mat 5:32 is held to allow divorce that it also teachings “that a faithful but divorced woman who remarries, does not commit adultery, even though the man who marries her does”.

    Did you want to post a comment on what you hold the position of the Bible is when it comes to repentance and forsaking of the sin of adultery in the case of divorce and remarriage?

  20. 20. Joseph A Webb Says:

    After teaching on this subject for over thirty years I am amazed at all the confusion being spread because of; I think, or I believe phrases. The true acid test of truth is what did Jesus and Paul really teach? What did all of the earliest Church fathers teach? Who changed the teaching and when; and who wrote all of our theology books that have led the present-day Church astray?

    Paul clearly said to Timothy; “I received my revelation directly from Jesus Christ, and in that day we will be judged by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. If anyone teaches anything any different from what I have taught you, let him be accursed. If even an angel teaches something different; let him be anathmatized.” Once we find out today’s Church is not teaching what Jesus and Paul taught, healing and order can be restored.

    My newest book; “Divorce and Remarriage, The Trojan Horse Within the Church.” reveals all of these historic facts with direct quotations of all the persons involved in the original teaching and the actual quotations of those involved in changing the message.

    Bill Gothard said of this book: “O have been pleased to receive and review your manuscript…You have done an outstanding job on presenting the Biblical view on divorce and remarriage. The readers cannot help but be impressed with the scholarly research you have done on this subject…for those who sincerely want the truth, your book will be a valuable resource.”

    The book can be obtained through Xulon Press and Spring Arbor at any bookstore, or at Christian Principles Restored.

  21. 21. Cheryl Says:

    We cover the Matthew exception clause in our FAQ about Marriage Divorce & Remarriage.

    Hope this helps anyone studying this issue.

    Cheryl
    My testimony: Why I Repented of A Marriage God Called Adulterous!

  22. 22. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Cheryl; Thanks for the links. I have been on your site but have not taken the time to read much. I did go over the exception clause in your FAQ a few days back and noticed you hold to the Jewish Betrothal interpretation for the Mat 19:9 so-called exception clause. Have you looked at either of McFalls or Kulikovskys papers on the Mat 19:9 so-called exception clause?

    This thread you are posting on is McFall’s review. I plan on doing a review of Kulikovsky’s paper after I finish my review on Considerations On Divorce A Vinculo Matrimonii.

  23. 23. Tom Brown Says:

    Dear Bob,

    You had said in interpreting the passage in discussion: “There is no reason to seek divorce instead of separation unless one of the parties wants to remarry.”

    I replied: “This misunderstands (historical) family law. Divorce allowed a man out of his marital duties of support and cohabitation with his wife.”

    You replied to me: “Legal separation will allow this also.” This is an anachronism that presupposes the Jews at the time of Matthew’s writing had a construct known as ‘legal separation.’ I am aware of no such legal notion. My understanding of legal history is that the concept of a legal separation, and the concept of a kind of divorce allowing remarriage are very modern. I do not believe these concepts were present for the Jews of Matthew’s day.

    So my point remains, that there was a reason for what the Jews would have called ‘divorce’ other than seeking remarriage.

    You said in a separate comment: “First if the Jewish espousal was a contract of marriage and was the same as being married then there would be no allowance for divorce or remarriage.”

    This is a non sequitur, unless perhaps you believe that the Jewish marriage is a mere contract. But the Jewish marriage was a covenant, an exchange of persons (bodies). As such, and like all covenants God made with His people, it was permanent, irrevocable. So you could have a narrowly revocable contract to marry that, once consummated into a covenant, is no longer revocable under any condition. The two shall become one flesh. If a man bargained with a woman’s father to marry her, and he then discovers that she is not a virgin (because of porneia; i.e., she is not what he ‘bargained’ for), the contract to enter the covenant of marriage would have been broken.

    It seems that any interpreting of the Scripture on marriage should be founded on an understanding of Jewish law and the covenantal nature of their marriages. Otherwise we would be viewing an historically-based issue through modern lenses and definitions of very particular terms.

    Peace in Christ,
    Tom

  24. 24. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Tom; I think I missed what you were meaning by historical family law. You are thinking 1st century. My comments to Mike were referring to 20th/21th century. His view is that the so-called exception clause of Mat 19:9 is applicable to today for people have remarried (if I understood him correctly).

    >>>But the Jewish marriage was a covenant, an exchange of persons (bodies). As such, and like all covenants God made with His people, it was permanent, irrevocable.

    Perhaps in the beginning but Moses gave an exception in Deut 24:1-4 that allowed them to put their wife away and be remarriage. Now this changed with the teaching of Christ but still I am not sure what context you are saying the Jewish marriage was permanent and irrevocable?

    Also while you made a comment on the first point I made to Gustav Swen which I need to look into further, what was you take on my 2nd objection to the Jewish Betrothal interpretation?

    Here is my second objection:

    “The second issue I have with the Jewish espousal interpretation is it takes Mat 19:9 and gives it a completely different meaning that Mar 10:11. Those that hold the Jewish espousal interpretation would teach that Mar 10:11 is talking about marriage not Jewish espousal. Then when they go to Mat 19:9 they say that the same words that Jesus spoke now mean some thing else as he is addressing Jewish espousal.

    If you hold that Mat 19:9 is dealing with Jewish espousal then you must hold that the same account in Mar 10:11 is teaching that same thing. But the problem is there is no so-called exception clause in Mar 10:11. Leaving out the so-called exception clause now is a serious issue as now we have Mar 10:11 teaching that Jewish espousal can not be broken even for fornication and Mat 19:9 teaching that it can.

    So in my mind the Jewish espousal interpretation raises more questions than it answers. I feel to an honest soul the scriptures we have (Mar 10:11, 12; Luk 16:18; Rom 7:2, 3; ICor 7:11, 39) we have besides Mat 19:9 are very clear there is no exceptions to divorce and remarry.

    So what we need is a clean way to deal with Mat 19:9 that doesn’t raise more questions that it tries to answer.”

    Also can you give provide me with a couple of links where I can get up to speed on Jewish family law at the time of Jesus. I have read some about the betrothal period but according to your statements it appears I am missing some principles.

    Thanks!

  25. 25. Jim who is a follower of Jesus Christ Says:

    I agree with the way Andrew Kulikovisky has refuted the opinion that Matthew 5:31,32 has evidence for divorce and remarriage. The D&R crowd is grabbing for the proverbial straw, by forcing their pet scriptures, to agree with their presupposition ie., the bible allows for D&R in certain circumstances.

    What they fail to recognize (whether ignorantly or intentionally I know not) is their complete abandonment of the harmonistic principle, and the inductive method of investigation. They dogmatically presuppose the idea of D&R, and then abandon all the laws of investigation, to arrive at their predetermined conclusion, which also happens to be their premise; a mere begging the question.

    The accounts in Matthew do not outweigh, or correct, any perceived ‘incompleteness’ or ‘hidden implication’ in the other texts of scripture, on the subject of marriage. Jesus Himself gives the interpretation of His own teaching, when responding to His disciples in private. His words in Matthew 19 and Mark 10, are in perfect agreement with His own description of the marriage institution ie., (Creational one flesh for life).

    None of the ensuing discussions on the issue of marriage, can be interpreted in a way, that would overthrow the revealed model of marriage for all mankind. To do so, would create more than one standard, which is no standard at all. One simple example is this; If any marriage can cease to exist, (completely be dissolved) by any other means than death, we have 2 emphatically clear texts that are null and void, of their unequivocal meaning whatsoever, (Rom 7:2, 3; and 1 Cor 7:39).

    If one would assert that it is certainly Gods ‘ideal’ that all marriage is until death, but their are additional qualifications that would dissolve the marriage union, they clearly force an outright contradiction. We are right back where we started from; marriage is ‘not until death’ when another perceived qualification, has an equal effect on the marriage, as death does.

    But Jesus says that marriage is until death, which is the creational model that He revealed in the clearest terms. You can’t have it both ways, which proves the inference to be invalidated. If anyone wants to defend the imaginations of people in ’self-preservation’ mode, then stop appealing to the scriptures.

    The Word is the only way to the Kingdom of God, and that includes obedience to Jesus standard of Holiness. Jesus will not conform to our image, we must conform to Him, or perish.

    Jim II

  26. 26. Andrew Kulikovsky Says:

    Bob wrote:

    However I wasn’t able to follow your logic that “if Matthew 5:32 teaches that marital unfaithfulness is valid grounds for divorce, then it also teaches that a faithful but divorced woman who remarries, does not commit adultery, even though the man who marries her does”.

    While I agree that the teaching that the innocent party can but the guilty party can’t remarry is wrong and not logical, I wasn’t able to follow your jump from if Mat 5:32 is held to allow divorce that it also teachings “that a faithful but divorced woman who remarries, does not commit adultery, even though the man who marries her does”.

    1. You agreed that “the second clause which is grammatically independent from the exception and states that the person marrying the divorced person is committing adultery no matter why the person was divorced.”
    2. We know that those in favor of divorce and remarriage argue that divorce is allowable where marital unfaithfulness is involved.

    Therefore, those who favor divorce and remarriage in the case of unfaithfulness are forced to admit that-if their view is correct-a woman divorced for some reason apart from marital unfaithfulness is not committing adultery if she remarries, but-according to the Matt 5:32b-a man who marries her DOES commit adultery (as you rightly acknowledge)!

    cheers,
    Andrew

  27. 27. Craig Blomberg Says:

    David Instone-Brewer’s response above is the key one. David is an expert scholar on the topic of marriage and divorce in the Bible and in antiquity, knows Jewish backgrounds inside and out and can read Greek and Hebrew better than most on the planet!

    If you take Matthew 19:9 as McFall does then Matthew and Jesus contradict themselves between 5:32 and 19:9. The Erasmian epi merely clarifies what is already implied in the text without it. McFall fails to observe that a me by itself can have exceptive force. A look at the earliest textual variants confirms that this is the oldest interpretive tradition, as scribes regularly changed me to parektos to make the exception clause unambiguously exceptive.

  28. 28. Tom Brown Says:

    Bob,

    “Also can you give provide me with a couple of links where I can get up to speed on Jewish family law at the time of Jesus.”

    Try here: Jewish Marriage Customs.

    I can’t speak to the overall repute of this website, but the historical content on the marriage process seems to be based upon a well-studied source. Their use of the term covenant is interesting. They are saying the covenant existed throughout the betrothal period (the “engagement”) but was not yet consummated until the wedding day and intercourse.

    My understanding is that a Jewish covenant is not complete until it is consummated. This Jewish source notes that the “old” way to create covenants was to “cut” a covenant. From the Bible, we learn that this happens by cutting a sacrificial animal in two, with the covenanting parties passing between its carcass parts. Jeremiah 24:18 and Genesis 15 ff. Jesus is this dissected lamb for us, that we, God’s people, can be in covenant with God.

    So even if one uses the term covenant early in the betrothal process, I think all can agree that the covenant is at least incomplete (inchoate) until it is “cut” (this is where the expression “cut a deal” comes from, I believe). This passing between the animal, which could only occur when the animal had given up its lifeblood, symbolizes a permanent union of the parties to each other (in whatever their deal or venture or promise was). They would then eat the meat together (see the same Jewish Encyclopedia source) to commemorate their union which was made official through the sacrifice of the animal. “Originally the covenant was a bond of life-fellowship, where the mingling of the blood was deemed essential.” To break a consummated covenant required death, this source explains…

    Sorry if I diluted your conversation with Mike by jumping into 1st century family situations. I thought since all were handling and attempting to interpret the word “divorce”, it was important to keep it close to its contextual roots.

    I think this view of permanent covenants is not inconsistent with Deuteronomy 24:1-4. You can read it as “allowing” remarriage after marriage, but that is not the only way to read it. You’re viewing it as permissive language, but I view it as prohibitive language. It says *IF* a man divorces his wife and then she subsequently is taken to the marriage bed of another man, the first husband would commit an abomination to have her back. The passage is not permissive, but seems to make some concession for (i.e. a recognition and acceptance of) the weakness of the people.

    This matches what Christ later had to say (’Moses said that because you were weak’). So it did not okay “X” (divorce), but said if you do “X” you certainly may not do the abominable “Y” later. Why was this an abomination if divorce and remarriage were permissible? How was wife defiled, even if husband 2 simply died? Well, that’s because with a covenant obligation to husband 1 permanently in place, she (illegally) broke it to be bonded to another man.

    Would it make sense if she could marry husband 3 after husband 2 died, but could not be reconciled to husband 1? I say not, which tells me any relationship subsequent to the covenant marriage with husband 1 is sinful (as long as husband 1 is alive). In this passage, I believe the post-consummation bill of divorce meant the husband ended his obligations of support and cohabitation with the wife. You would have to identify some other permissive language from Moses on remarriage.

    I think your comparison between Matthew 19:9 and Mark 10:11 needs more consideration. Matthew says “no divorce except in porneia” and Mark says “no divorce.” So we have “no A except when B,” and “no A.” You say there is a problem for those who think we’re talking about the same “A” when only one has the exception, “B”.

    You effectively read them this way: Matthew, “no A except when B” and Mark, “no A even when B” (”serious issue as now we have Mar 10:11 teaching that Jewish espousal can not be broken even for fornication and Mat 19:9 teaching that it can.”). But this is not what Mark says. Mark does not say “no divorce even when porneia.” Because Mark omitted the exception does not mean the Bible can’t give us that exception in another place.

    So to create the conflict for the Jewish espousal view, you are effectively adding exclusivity to Mark. Your opponent can simply say “I interpret scripture with scripture, and if an exception is only noted in one of two instances, I believe it applies to both.” If the exception applies to both, then it can easily be referring to the betrothal period.

    Ergo, the Jewish espousal interpretation does not raise any more questions than the opposite raises. Also, I disagree that a “clean” way to handle Matthew 19:9 is our duty. Sometimes Scriptures are hard and don’t yield easy answers.

    Peace in Christ,
    Tom

  29. 29. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Craig Blomberg; In what way would McFall’s translation of Mat 19:9 contradict Mat 5:32. The exception clauses are related to two different things. Mat 5:32 is related to “whosoever shall put away his wife… causeth her to committeth adultery” where Mat 19:9 it is related to “Whosoever shall put away his wife…and shall marry another, committeth adultery:”

    The exception in Mat 5:32 is related to causing the wife to commit adultery if she remarries where the exception in Mat 19:9 is related to the man remarrying and committing adultery.

    I don’t see your reasoning that when the exception clause in Mat 19:9 is changed to a parenthetical clause that this causes a contradiction between Mat 19:9 and Mat 5:32.

  30. 30. Craig Blomberg Says:

    Thanks for the clarifying question, Bob. Yes, there are those who have taken the approach that the adultery occurs only if there is remarriage. Thus Bill Heth, for example, in his book with Gordon Wenham, argued for years (before changing his mind) that divorce was acceptable in the case of adultery but not remarriage. But interpreters have usually taken the two as a package deal, especially since remarriage was uniformly permitted in Jewish and Greco-Roman backgrounds after a legitimate marriage.

    You can see my fuller views in my commentaries on Matthew (NAC from Broadman & Holman) and on 1 Corinthians 7 (NIVAC from Zondervan) as well as in my detailed article in Trinity Journal in 1990. Craig Keener’s and Bill Luck’s volumes on divorce and remarriage also give full details of the kind of view I would endorse. Put briefly, though, it is that the “adultery” that divorce creates is metaphorical for all wrongly divorced persons (just like in the OT, Israel’s infidelity spiritually is often likened to adultery against God) even before it becomes literal for those who remarry (after all not everyone did remarry, but Jesus says “whoever” divorces commits adultery or causes their spouse to commit adultery, depending on which passage you are looking at).

    In other words, each passage singles out one possible situation out of a total four to which the teaching would equally apply: (a) a man improperly divorcing his wife; (b) a woman improperly divorcing her husband; (c) a man remarrying an improperly divorced woman; and (d) a woman remarrying an improperly divorced man.

    Sorry I don’t have the time to go into all the detail here, but hopefully my fuller treatments elsewhere will make clear my views.

    Blessings on all of you wrestling with this tortuous issue!

  31. 31. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Tom Brown;
    >>>Matthew says ‘no divorce except in porneia’ and Mark says ‘no divorce.’

    I would see the so-called exception in Mat 19:9 to be a parenthetical clause not an exception clause. This way we don’t have Matthew saying one things and Mark another.

    >>>Because Mark omitted the exception does not mean the Bible can’t give us that exception in another place.

    Keep in mind that the Gospels had different authors, were written at different times and different places, they didn’t reference each other, and they were written to stand alone and to be used by congregation and convert with out being comparing to each other. When Mat 19:9 is translated as a exception clause instead of a parenthetical clause then it teachings something different than Mar 10:11.

    Mar 10:2-12 is the same historical account as Mat 19:3-12. My point was that when you take Mat 19:9 and put it into the context of Jewish betrothal you will have to do the same for Mar 10:11. You can’t say “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery” (Mat 19:9) refers to the Jewish betrothal and then turn around and say “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery” (Mar 10:11) is referring to marriage not betrothal. If one is referring to Jewish betrothal then they both are. If they both are then Matthew gave an exception to break the betrothal in the case of fornication and Mark didn’t.

    >>>So to create the conflict for the Jewish espousal view, you are effectively adding exclusivity to Mark. Your opponent can simply say ‘I interpret scripture with scripture, and if an exception is only noted in one of two instances, I believe it applies to both.’

    I am translating the clause in Mat 19:9 as a parenthetical clause. My opponent should feel free to move the parenthetical clause from Matthew to Mark as it doesn’t change anything only provides further information.

    >>>If the exception applies to both, then it can easily be referring to the betrothal period.

    I think you have missed my point. It is more than the exception clause that has to do with the betrothal period but it is also the clause you are applying it to. When you hold that the exceptional clause has to do with the betrothal period you must do the same to the clause you are applying it to. So now the phrase “Whosoever shall put away his wife” (Mat 19:9) must be read as “Whosoever shall put away his betrothed wife”.

    Your problem is that what ever you do with “Whosoever shall put away his wife” in Mat 19:9 you must do with “Whosoever shall put away his wife” in Mat 10:11. So when you change the meaning of wife to betrothed wife in one you must do the same in the other as they are historically the same accounts. When you do this you end up with an exception in one and no exception in the other.

    This is the problem with applying the Jewish betrothal interpretation to Mat 19:9.

  32. 32. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Craig Blomberg; So are you saying that while Mat 5:32 only states “whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication” that it means “whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, and shall marry another” as divorce and remarriage should be seen as a “package deal”?

  33. 33. Shandar7 Says:

    Well, this helps to shed a lot of light on a subject in which I have great interest. I am so satisfied to know that the person trying to speak to me about his marriage in a way that might have been more “acceptable” to God than mine because his wife’s divorce was based on a cheating spouse, where mine was not, is really just as misled as he said I was. It’s interesting.

    This article also brings me to a further conclusion-until we are face to face with God, and we ask him for full understanding of his word, we will never know exactly what he’s saying. We, as humans, claim to be intelligent beings, but, truthfully, we all fall short of understanding the glory of God…we are too dense to understand his word and its true intention, and we are always going to put our self-centered spin on the interpretations of the Bible because we have free will…because we are human.

    Thanks for the article!

  34. 34. Craig Blomberg Says:

    Correct!

  35. 35. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Craig Blomberg; So back to where we originally started.

    >>>If you take Matthew 19:9 as McFall does then Matthew and Jesus contradict themselves between 5:32 and 19:9.

    To that I would then answer only if you choose to add “and shall marry another” to Mat 5:32 which is not there. Just kind in mind when you do that in my view you are completely changing what the verse means.

    Would you feel that when you add the clause “and shall marry another” to Mat 5:32 you are changing the literal meaning of the verse to mean some completely different? And further do you think that it is possible to translate the so-called exception clause of Mat 19:9 as a parenthetical clause in the way that either McFall or Kulikovsky do?

    Also as a teacher whose views have a lot of influence over what others do has this issue weighed heavy on your mind or do you feel it is pretty cut and dry?

    Thanks for dropping in and sharing your view! I think it is important that we hear the best from both sides. In that way we can, with the help of the Lord, make a decision and not be tossed back by by hearing positions that we hadn’t heard or considered before.

  36. 36. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Shandar7;
    >>>Well, this helps to shed a lot of light on a subject in which I have great interest.

    I am glad to hear that. I have a resource on Divorce and Remarriage and the plan is to do reviews of the top articles and books on this subject and to make them available to the public.

  37. 37. Thomas Brown Says:

    Dear Bob,

    How is whether an exception is parenthetical or non-parenthetical relevant?

    “Keep in mind that the Gospels had different authors, were written at different times and different places, they didn’t reference each other, and they were written to stand alone and to be used by congregation and convert with out being comparing to each other.”

    Not that this settles our discussion, but this view seems contrary to the classical Protestant position which holds that Scripture, our sole inerrant authority, is to be interpreted with Scripture. We can discuss what certain texts were “written to” do, but that is a subordinate hermeneutic tool to the broader truth that the texts are Divinely inspired and form a seamless whole. So if Matthew says “no divorce (except in porneia)” and Mark says “no divorce” the classical hermeneutic would be to interpret Matthew with Mark and vice versa. To interpret Mark by Matthew in a way that says ‘no divorce is ever permissible’ is to call Mark into question as containing error, which would violate the Christian belief that Mark is infallible. To interpret Matthew by Mark in a way that says ‘there is one exception which Matthew simply did not list’ does not necessarily involve a Matthian error. And it is another interpretive method that says we should not find a contradiction in two related texts where another reading is plausible.

    I do think that Matthew and Mark are speaking of the same historical account. I do take Matthew in the context of Jewish betrothal and Mark in that same context. So I have no contradiction there. Perhaps you saw from the links I sent you (that you had requested) that “wife” was used to refer to a betrothed bride, not just a consummated-marriage wife.

    “You can’t say “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery” (Mat 19:9) refers to the Jewish betrothal and then turn around and say “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery” (Mar 10:11) is referring to marriage not betrothal. I agree, they both are speaking of the same context, but I think you misquoted Mark there.

    Matthew 19:9: “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

    Mark 10:11: “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.”

    So as I said before, we have ‘don’t do A (except for B)’ in one and ‘don’t do A’ in the other. At this juncture, you say to me, “If they both are then Matthew gave an exception to break the betrothal in the case of fornication and Mark didn’t.”

    Correct. One noted the exception (whether it was parenthetical or not is irrelevant), and the other didn’t.

    At this juncture, you seem to be saying to me: “So now the phrase “Whosoever shall put away his wife” (Mat 19:9) must be read as “Whosoever shall put away his betrothed wife”.”

    Again, there is only a problem here if we misunderstand the meaning of the word “wife” to the Jewish audience. If we called fiancees “wives” in the modern tongue, we wouldn’t be having this confusion. If the word equally meant married bride and betrothed bride in its original writing, then I am adding nothing — wife refers broadly to a betrothed AND a married woman simultaneously.

    “Your problem is that what ever you do with “Whosoever shall put away his wife” in Mat 19:9 you must do with “Whosoever shall put away his wife” in Mat 10:11.”

    I think you said this three times or so, though I have not disputed the point. I have merely said that there is no contradiction between Matthew and Mark even when these verses are read in the same historical context.

    “When you do this you end up with an exception in one and no exception in the other.”

    Agreed, but more carefully would I say, when you do this, you end up with a stated exception in one and no stated exception in the other.

    “This is the problem with applying the Jewish betrothal interpretation to Mat 19:9.”

    This is not a problem, and this is your error. You did not address my analysis of how *the non-statement of the exception does not exclude the possibilty of an exception* in the previous comment, so I’m hesitant to repeat too much of it here. Maybe an example would clear things up. If I stated to my young son, “Do not touch the stove!” at one minute and “Turn the stove light off for me” in the next, would I be contradicting myself? No. My non-statement of an exception in the first command does not exclude the possibility of an exception existing (in this case, that son can touch stove under supervision). If I had said in the former instance “Do not touch the stove under any circumstance,” or “Never touch the stove without exception!” then my second instruction would be a contradiction of the first.

    Let me apply my hermeneutic which *avoids reading contradictions where an alternate reading is possible* to another set of verses.

    James 1:13: “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;”

    Mark 1:12-13: “At once the Spirit sent [Christ] out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan.”

    I think you can read this as evidence of contradiction (i.e., error) within Scripture, or you can avoid the contradiction two ways: by saying Christ was not God (which contradicts other Scripture and the Christian message in general), or by saying that the use of “temptation” has a broad and narrow meaning in these two verses (the narrow sense something of a ‘mere’ testing, and the broader sense being more of a general inclination to give in to desire).

    Peace in Christ,
    Tom

  38. 38. Primitive Christianity Says:

    Hi Bob, or whoever:
    I have not read all these comments for the lack of time. But I think I see what you are saying about a parenthetical clause, something I did not understand before.
    Would the following be an example of how Jesus might have said Mt 5:32, were he speaking in modern English:
    “But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife - Don’t be a cause of fornication! - causes her to commit adultery.”
    Mike

  39. 39. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Thomas Brown; I have decided to just respond to one issue for now and that issue is that I would feel that when a person holds that Mat 19:9 has to do with a betrothal wife instead of a married wife it takes causes all of verse 9 to do with betrothal. To me it is clear the issue was about a married wife and the issues of divorce and remarriage. Not about a betrothed wife.

    For now perhaps it will be best to deal with that issue and we can get to the other issues later as the posts are getting to long to deal with more than one issue in my view. I have tried to keep this one short and to the point.

    >>>How is whether an exception is parenthetical or non-parenthetical relevant?

    My point was that the clause is not exception but was parenthetical and that it is descriptive and not excepting.

    >>>To interpret Mark by Matthew in a way that says ‘no divorce is ever permissible’ is to call Mark into question as containing error, which would violate the Christian belief that Mark is infallible.

    Well I have not done that so I am not sure how that is related here. I have maintained that there is no exception and that the so-called exception clause is a parenthetical clause that is descriptive and not excepting.

    >>>And it is another interpretive method that says we should not find a contradiction in two related texts where another reading is plausible.

    That is what I am suggesting.

    >>>I do take Matthew in the context of Jewish betrothal and Mark in that same context. So I have no contradiction there.

    So if you feel that both Mat 19:9 and Mar 10:11 are referring to Jewish betrothal do you feel like they are also referring to regular marriage? I would hold that it can’t be both. Either ‘Whosoever shall put away his wife” refers to the betrothed wife or to a married wife but not to both. And if the first clause in Mat 19:9 is concerning a betrothed wife then the second clause must be also.

    I hardly think the issue that the Pharisees were bringing up was completely concerning where one could put away a betrothed wife if she committed fornication. Nor do I think the disciple’s reaction “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry” is referring to Jesus noting that you can only put your betrothed wife away for fornication.

    This is the problem with applying the Jewish betrothal interpretation to Mat 19:9. It makes the whole conversation to be about something that it is not about. In my opinion the issue is divorce and remarriage of a married wife not a betrothed wife and the same with Mar 10:11,12.

  40. 40. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Mike;
    >>>But I think I see what you are saying about a parenthetical clause, something I did not understand before. Would the following be an example of how Jesus might have said Mt 5:32…

    I think that with Mat 5:32 there is a exception clause but it is not dealing with “and shall marry another” as in Mat 19:9 but with “causeth her to commit adultery” (if she remarries). The Greek is different in Mat 5:32 than in Mat 19:9.

    In Mat 19:9 the Vulgate is “such as for fornication” and Erasmus’ Latin was “unless it be for disgrace”. Here he both changed a parenthetical clause that was descriptive and not exceptional to an exception clause and also lowered the exception that he did make from fornication to disgrace.

    Erasmus did the same thing with the Greek text in Mat 19:9 when he with no support added εἰ (if) before μὴ (not), thus changing the text to read from “not” to “except” thus making a clause that could be seen as parenthetical clause into a exceptional clause that has been used to make the exception for remarriage in the case of marriage unfaithfulness.

    There is not one known manuscript that supports this besides a 1500’s manuscript (MS69) that has this reading in the marginal and this marginal reading is in non-scribe writing and some hold it is post-Erasmus.

    McFall has exposed this and shown how Mat 19:9 should be translated as a parenthetical clause that is descriptive not exceptional.

    Now I say to you that who, for example, may have divorced his wife-he may not have divorced her for fornication-and may have married another woman, he becomes adulterous by marrying her.

    You can read McFall’s method in translating the above in An Explanation For McFall’s Literal Translation Of Matthew 19:9.

    Others leave the exception clause as it is in Mat 19:9 but apply the exception to put away a betrothed wife. But when this is done it hijacks all of Matt 19:9 and makes the whole issue of divorce and remarriage to be about a betrothed wife instead of a married wife which is what it is clearly dealing with.

  41. 41. Andrew Kulikovsky Says:

    Craig Blonberg wrote:

    “David Instone-Brewer’s response above is the key one. David is an expert scholar on the topic of marriage and divorce in the Bible and in antiquity, knows Jewish backgrounds inside and out and can read Greek and Hebrew better than most on the planet!”

    This sounds rather like an appeal to authority ie. trust me-I’m an expert!

    I have no doubt that David knows a great deal about this topic, but he is not the only one, nor is he the only one familiar with the Jewish background, or the only one who can read the Greek and Hebrew.

    How about we stick to substantive arguments about the text?

    David argues that Matt 5:32 determines/clarifies the meaning of Matt 19:9. However, as I pointed out previously, these verses say different things and the exception in Matt 5:32 is not an exception that allows divorce and remarriage for “innocent” parties.

    Neither you nor David have responded to this point.

    And speaking of Jewish backgrounds, I’d be interested to hear anyone’s thoughts on the following:

    In Matthew 19:9, Jesus was responding to the religious leader’s question about why Moses commanded that a certificate be given to a divorced woman. This command is given in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, and specifies a case law relating to the handling of a woman who had been divorced and remarried, and who’s second husband had either divorced her or died. The meaning of this passage had been hotly debated among the Rabbis, and at the time of Christ, two main schools of thought had emerged: (1) The school of Shammai taught that if a man discovered some (sexual) indiscretion concerning his wife he must divorce her. (2) The school of Hillel taught that if a man simply disliked his wife for any reason, he could divorce her. It appears the Shammaites emphasized the “something indecent” of v. 2, while the Hillelites emphasized the “dislike” of v. 3.

    Matthew makes it clear the Pharisees were not merely seeking Jesus’ opinion on the legality of divorce, but were actually testing Him. In light of the current Rabbinical debate, it appears they were trying to force Him into taking sides. In v. 3 kata pasan aitian can be taken as “for every reason whatever” (i.e. Hillel’s position) or “for any reason at all” but the context suggests the first alternative.

    As was His custom, Jesus did not answer their question directly, but appeals to Genesis 2:24, in order to deny the presupposition on which their question is based: that divorce is permissible in some circumstances. Jesus’ response could not have been more clear, or more absolute: His answer is an emphatic NO. God specifically created men and women for each other, and it had always been His intention, right from the beginning, for married couples to stay together. Divorce is completely contrary to His will.

    Note that if an exception is present in Matthew 19:9 then Jesus would have effectively been agreeing with the Shammaite view of divorce which he had just implicitly condemned.

    Craig Blomberg has argued in his paper on this topic that Jesus did go beyond the teaching of Shammai in that Jesus only permitted divorce for sexual sin, whereas Shammai commanded it. But the context makes it clear that Jesus was primarily responding to Moses’ teaching (see vv. 7-8) not Shammai’s. This means that an exception would imply that Jesus was actually agreeing with Moses’ teaching in Deuteronomy 24, which is not possible, considering His response in v. 8. Jesus pointed out that Moses allowed divorce and remarriage because of hard-heartedness, but this was not God’s original intention. Therefore, in vv. 8b-9, Jesus actually over-turns Moses’ concession.

    - McFall fails to observe that a me by itself can have exceptive force. A look at the earliest textual variants confirms that this is the oldest interpretive tradition, as scribes regularly changed me to parektos to make the exception clause unambiguously exceptive.-

    Although I don’t accept McFall’s position, I would take issue with your claim that mh by itself can have exceptive force. mh is a negative particle.
    It is generally rendered as “not” when it negates a verb, but the phrase mh epi porneia contains no explicit verb. In order to determine how mh should be rendered in this context, we must first determine what the author intended to negate when he wrote these words.

    According to BAGD (sv. mh III.6), in “abrupt expressions without a verb” mh can have “a prohibitive sense in independent clauses, to express a negative wish or a warning.” An example of this use can be found in Rom 14:1, where mh negates a prepositional phrase as is the case in 19:9. Thus, my translation of 19:9 is as follows (2 options):
    (1) Instead of assuming an ellipsis of ei/ean which is not found anywhere in the immediate context, it would be more appropriate to assume an ellipsis of the third person singular aorist subjunctive verb apolush mentioned in the preceding clause. Indeed, when mh is used with the aorist subjunctive, it often denotes a prohibition (see eg. Luke 1:15, 8:12). Therefore, 19:9 may be translated as follows:

    I tell you that any man who divorces his wife, ([he may] not [divorce] for sexual sin), and marries another woman commits adultery.
    (2) Even if the ellipsis of apolush was not a possibility, the negated phrase epi porneia would still convey a similar meaning. The phrase epi porneia communicates the possibility of divorce “on the basis of sexual sin,” which is then negated by mh. In other words, the possibility of divorce on the basis of sexual sin is being denied. This could be rendered as follows:

    I tell you that any man who divorces his wife, ([divorce] on the basis of sexual sin is not allowed), and marries another woman commits adultery.

    In addition, most of the textual variants containing parektos aren’t that early or that numerous. B and min. 33 are the only representative of the Alexandrian text type, but min. 33 is quite late and B is well known for its many corrections. The other witnesses (fam 1, fam. 13, and D) are late and all Western or Caesarean which are well known for the way tendency to harmonise similar texts. Therefore, the harmonisation of 19:9 with 5:32 is better understood as simply some (late) scribes attempts to clarify or simply a difficult passage, rather than reflecting “the oldest interpretive tradition.”

    cheers,
    Andrew

  42. 42. Andrew Kulikovsky Says:

    Craig Blomberg wrote:
    “You can see my fuller views in my commentaries on Matthew (NAC from Broadman & Holman) and on 1 Corinthians 7 (NIVAC from Zondervan) as well as in my detailed article in Trinity Journal in 1990. Craig Keener’s and Bill Luck’s volumes on divorce and remarriage also give full details of the kind of view I would endorse.”

    My paper deals in detail with both Craig Blomberg’s Trinity Journal article and Craig Keener’s book. Suffice to say I disagree with them both.

    cheers,
    Andrew

  43. 43. Tom Brown Says:

    Dear Bob,

    “I have decided to just respond to one issue for now”. Fair enough.

    “and that issue is that I would feel that when a person holds that Mat 19:9 has to do with a betrothal wife instead of a married wife it takes causes all of verse 9 to do with betrothal.” In thinking about it, I’m not sure I would say “instead of” but you get to this later, so I’ll take it up there.

    “To me it is clear the issue was about a married wife and the issues of divorce and remarriage. Not about a betrothed wife.” It may seem clear to you, but you have not made it clear to me. Consider this, which calls into question whether it is “clear” that the issue is about a married wife:

    “The verb for “divorce” in Matthew 19:9 is the same as that used when Joseph intended to put Mary away quietly, apoluo. We know they were not married [at that time], but betrothed. By way of distinction, 1 Cor 7:27 (”Are you married? Do not seek a divorce.”) . . . uses the different verb lusis for “divorce”.

    “The verse more literally says something like ‘whosoever shall release his woman, except in the case of fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery’.”

    We both agree that divorce is not permitted. I think changing the “except” here to “as” still leaves us with a betrothed wife, not a married wife. Under Jewish law, the penalty for marital porneia (adultery) was death. Deuteronomy 22:22. Therefore, if a man released (apoluo) his wife in the case of porneia, she would be stoned to death, meaning he could not commit adultery (because she was no longer alive).

    “Well I have not done that so I am not sure how that is related here.”

    I was going through the logical possibilities, not trying to put words in your mouth. Sorry for any confusion.

    “So if you feel that both Mat 19:9 and Mar 10:11 are referring to Jewish betrothal do you feel like they are also referring to regular marriage?”
    I think they may be referring to no divorce of betrothed *or* married wives.
    “I would hold that it can’t be both. Either ‘Whosoever shall put away his wife” refers to the betrothed wife or to a married wife but not to both. And if the first clause in Mat 19:9 is concerning a betrothed wife then the second clause must be also.”

    The second clause can refer to an occasion that is only possible with some of the women categorized in the first clause, so I disagree with your “must be also” conclusion. Consider a hypothetical: a sign at an amusement park says “all adults may ride this roller coaster except those who are pregnant.” Under your logic, it seems the first clause could only be referring to female adults, as the second clause is only applicable to female adults. In our case, there is no logical problem with Matthew 19:9 saying “no divorcing [married wives or betrothed wives] except in porneia,” and simultaneously maintaining that the porneia scenario is only possible with the betrothed wives (since the married wives would be stoned).

    “Nor do I think the disciple’s reaction “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry” is referring to Jesus noting that you can only put your betrothed wife away for fornication.”

    I think I am prepared to maintain that the wife refers to both married and betrothed wives, so I agree with your point here without contradicting my above comments on apoluo and on the death penalty for adulterous wives.

    Peace in Christ,
    Tom

  44. 44. Tracy Says:

    Thank you so much for the clarification. I am a woman who, over a year ago, left a second marriage having been convicted by the Spirit that it was adultery. Bringing these historical facts to light has helped me in my understanding … I knew it was wrong but the evidence seemed weak in the KJV. I am glad to know that it was not always so.
    I am grateful for God’s grace and mercy even to one such as I.

  45. 45. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Tracy; Well may the Lord bless you for that. Lord willing you should feel free to share your testimony how the Lord lead you that way. I would be happy to post it here.

    Also there are other articles on this site that I would encourage you to read. Especially the concept of freedom from sinning and practical holy living. Check back from time to time on this article as I am updating it regularly and adding new material.

    Today I have added a facsimile of Mat 19:9 showing Alfred Marshall’s Interlinear translation and the NA21 Greek text. This clearly shows the εἰ not inserted and the interlinear translation is “not of (for) fornication”.

    I am working not on getting another well known Interlinear translation with the TR Greek text where the translation is “if not for fornication”. This “if not” is taken as “except” and what should be a exclusion to divorce “not even for fornication” (McFall Translation) has been changed to a exception to divorce “except it be for fornication” based on Erasmus’ addition of the Greek word εἰ.

    Another thing that is good to keep in mind is the difference between Mat 5:32 and Mat 19:9. Mat 5:32 has an exception clause but it is an exception to blame not an exception to divorce and remarry.

    While the other scriptures (Mar 10:11, 12; Luk 16:18, Rom 7:2, 3; 1Cor 7:11, 39) are very clear on divorce and remarriage, to most people Mat 5:32 and Mat 19:9 leave them puzzled. But once you are clear that Mat 19:9 is an exclusion to divorce not an exception to divorce and remarry as it appears to me in the KJV and Mat 5:32 is a exception to blame not an exception to divorce and remarry it all fits together like a puzzle and people can get peace in this difficult question.

  46. 46. Michael Whennen Says:

    One reader of this blog commented to me that…

    I wondered why no one had referred to Michael W. Holmes, “The Text of the Matthean Divorce Passages: A Comment on the Appeal to Harmonization in Textual Decisions,” Journal of Biblical Literature 109 (1990) 651-64. His is the most thorough discussion of the variants in all the divorce texts, and he fairly conclusively shows that the “shorter” reading in our critical texts (UBS4 and NA27) for 19:9 is in error, and “that the original text of 19:9 . . . is found today almost exclusively among MSS of the Byzantine and (to a lesser degree) secondary Alexandrian traditions” (663).

  47. 47. Mrs Judith Bond Says:

    Greetings from Sydney Australia, the land ‘down under’.
    This dialoge has been good reading, very interesting and very helpful.
    To those who have contributed, thanks for standing Gods right and only way.
    It would be good to have a summary and conclusion.
    As a pastor’s wife I firmly believe and stand for marriage God’s way, married for life.
    Bob, keep up the good work. May God continue to bless you.

  48. 48. Ben Witherington Says:

    I have to say this discussion of Erasmus is irrelevant. Jesus did say this in Greek anyway. He said it in Aramaic. And the historical context has to do with incest. Jesus is probably commenting on the cause celebre of his day- the marriage of Herod Antipas to his brother’s wife, Herodias. In other words Jesus is ruling out divorce except on grounds of incest. This comports nicely with what Paul tells us was Jesus’ teaching (and the earliest evidence we have for it- in 1 Cor. 7), namely Jesus permitted no divorce of couples joined together by God.

    Lastly, porneia is not the technical term for adultery (that’s moixeia as the context in Matthew shows, see Mt. 5), nor is it a term normally used of fornication as a specific sexual sin. When it is used as a technical term it means incest, or when it is used more broadly it means all sorts of sexual abberations, not just fornication. The context of the discussion in Mt. 19.1-12 suggests that Jesus was offering a more restrictive view of things than normal, hence the disciples explosive reaction- “if that’s how it is between a man and a woman…”

    BW3

  49. 49. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Ben Witherington;
    >>Jesus did[n't] say this in Greek anyway. He said it in Aramaic.

    Yes but it was written in Greek.

    >>>And the historical context has to do with incest.

    I don’t think you can prove that.

    >>>Lastly, porneia is not the technical term for adultery (that’s moixeia as the context in Matthew shows, see Mt. 5), nor is it a term normally used of fornication as a specific sexual sin.

    Most people that are deal with this issue know that fornication is translated from porneia not moichao and that porneia has the meaning of porneia“1) illicit sexual intercourse a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc. b) sexual intercourse with close relatives;”

    >>>When it is used as a technical term it means incest

    I don’t think you can provide support for that.

    >>>The context of the discussion in Mt. 19.1-12 suggests that Jesus was offering a more restrictive view of things than normal, hence the disciples explosive reaction– “if that’s how it is between a man and a woman…”

    I would agree with that.

  50. 50. Hope R. Hamiltfon Says:

    Thanks-not read all; I always questioned that verse and felt the coma placement in KJ Eng. precluded even divorce, far less remarriage-to say nothing of all the others precluding divorce and certainly remarriage. Not knowing Greek and finding no one who could tell me, I typed into Google: “divorce except for fornication-Scripture” and this came up. Thanks! h

  51. 51. anne cherney Says:

    I was so excited to find this site and this article! Just last November, when this article appeared, I was finishing up a term paper on the “exception clauses” here at the John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family in Washington DC. I had judged that as the exception clauses were only Matthean, thus either added by Matthew or from Jesus but included only by Matthew, they were there because they were something that would only make sense to Matthew’s Jewish audience. The Hebrew or Aramaic word which would have been used, which the Greek “porneia” translates, is “zenut.” “Except fot zenut.” It could mean a whole slew of sexual misdeeds. But what we learned from the Dead Sea scrolls is that the word at the time was being used to refer to marriages which, according to Jewish law, weren’t really valid marriages…that of a king to his niece, for instance. Jesus was saying that a “divorce” of people who weren’t really validly married anyway…was an exception from his “no divorce” ruling. I didn’t take the time to read your blog comments…maybe someone else said the same thing. I think the thought process everyone needs to follow is the one Augustine finally came to: Jesus clearly condemns divorce in the other gospels, and this gospel therefore can’t be in disagreement…..there is something else about Matthew that we just don’t understand! The “erasmus lecture” was very interesting! God bless you…your work is blessing the Lord! Anne Cherney

  52. 52. Dean Wilson Says:

    Thank you for posting this. This is very helpful. I pray that this article receives wide circulation and will help many see the necessity of remaining married for life.

    Do keep up the good work Bob!

    DW

  53. 53. Penny Danvers Says:

    Wonderful article… Thanks for the resources.

  54. 54. Lisa Says:

    I have a few thoughts here. I believe that remarriage is wrong. I also believe it is wrong to break up a new marriage, so that you can go back to the first marriage.

    What do you think though about Esther in the Bible, she was “raised up for such a time as this” to save her people and obviously was doing God’s will in marrying a divorced man.

    I do not believe that God would Ever guide us to do something that although helping save some lives, would be against His Holy ordained law. God would never lead us into sin. So what is the answer here?

    Also I believe that God says He will always protect His inspired Word, and that it will always be maintained until He comes again. I cannot find this scripture reference right away.

    Are you saying though that only the original Greek and Latin manuscripts where the inspired Word of God? Is so, is it ever possible to make an inspired translation of the Bible?

    I would be afraid to attempt this myself! Rev. 22:18-19 It is not wise to Add to or Minus from God’s Word!

  55. 55. Cindy Says:

    Lisa,

    To be sure remarriage while one has a living spouse is wrong. Jesus and Paul both called the new relationship, not a lawful marriage joined by Him, but adultery (having unlawful relations with one who is not your spouse). To break up a “new marriage” as you say, is to REPENT from adultery……….to turn from an illicit relationship and to turn back to the Lord. Nowhere in God’s Word do we ever find where this relationship defined as adultery turns into a lawful marriage, joined by God as ONE FLESH. We do have evidence given us in the example of Herod/Herodias—neither a divorce, nor remarriage, nor adultery dissolves the original marriage. John told Herod that he had PHILIP’s wife (she didn’t belong to Herod no matter that she was “legally” his wife). New vow taking does not magically turn an adulterous/incestuous relationship into a God joined marriage.

    In regards to ANY OT practice with marriage, all bets are off. Jesus brought marriage back to the ORIGINAL creation intent for marriage—one man/one woman for life. Polygamy is no longer tolerated (which is a form of adultery against the original spouse), nor is divorcing one’s covenant spouse and marrying another—-again, a relationship Jesus deemed adulterous.

    You are correct in that the Lord said He would protect His Word. In Lk. 16:16-18 we find: 16 “Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in.[a] 17 But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned.

    18 “For example, a man who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery. And anyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

    See, Jesus said that to divorce and remarry is adultery, as is marrying a divorced person, yet much of the church today is practicing adultery—-they have “taken away” from the Word of God. They have joined themselves to other people’s spouses or have forsaken those God joined them to and have entered into adulterous relationships—-condoned by man and man’s laws. The days we are living in are very sad.

  56. 56. Dean Wilson Says:

    Hi Cindy,

    Thank you for your well thought out post. Sadly, it seems few take Jesus’ words seriously about divorce and remarriage. But Jesus’ words still stand for today.

  57. 57. Jim II (Jude4) Says:

    In response to Lisa, a couple of clarifications, with support for Cindy’s response;

    1. Queen Vashti was unjustly judged for maintaining her modesty and decency. She was not divorced but reduced to the level of a common wife, and replaced by Esther, who was never asked to present herself for the sake of men lusting after her like Vashti was. The opinion that the King was a ‘divorcee’ is an unfounded assumption made popular by the opponents of creational marriage.

    2. The common error of talking about an adulterous and unlawful “re-marriage” in the same context of an existing covenant marriage, is what leads to false conclusions. One has to assume that a divorce decree actually dissolves a one-flesh union. Scripture everywhere plainly shows that it does not. A divorce does show that one or both spouses are doing what Jesus commanded them not to do ie,. (put space between themselves). Cindy’s posting of Luke 16:18 is a perfect example. Look at the facts that are revealed in this verse alone;

    Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. (Luke 16:18)

    We have in the above verse the example of a man that “putteth away” (divorce, repudiate) his wife. The same man then “marries another”, stop right there. So far it is perfectly clear that the man in the verse has taken the necessary civil & legal steps to get rid of his wife, and “marry” another woman. However, Jesus calls this mans condition “adultery” not a marriage that is approved by God. Man calls it a marriage because the majority of mankind are living and judging according to the flesh (soulishly) and not the Spirit, which is “according to godliness.” The man in this verse would need to legally forsake this immoral union for the sake of the public, but not in order to reconcile to his wife. Even though he put her away, she is still called his “wife.” The divorce did not dissolve his marriage, and God will not be mocked by mans own inventions.

    The latter half of this verse when taken in it’s literal sense, literally forbids any man (whosoever) from marrying any woman that has been divorced from her husband. This makes perfect sense with the first part of the verse. Whoever would attempt to legally “marry” the mans wife in the verse would have to be entering into the sin of adultery because Jesus shows that she remains the mans wife in spite of his treachery (divorce).

    The same could be said of Romans 7 and 1 Corinthians 7. In both instances, the parties are still refereed to as the husband or wife of the one that has departed or been put away. That being said, it is impossible to conclude that Jesus would sanction the transgression of His own holy law. When Jesus says that marrying another is committing adultery against the covenant spouse, then His explanation forbids the possibility of recognizing a civil ‘re-marriage’ as anything but adultery. Jesus can’t contradict His own standard of holiness and purity.

    Lastly, and for the sake of illustration, please consider the outcome of justifying an ‘exception’ to the permanency of marriage other than the death of the spouse. For example, if Lisa is in a true covenant marriage, but believes that there is an exception to her marriage outside of death, then the necessary implications are as follows;

    1. Her marriage is a temporary agreement based on prudence and the current agreement between her and her husband to continue with the benefits of staying together.

    2. If Lisa’s husband walked into sin with another woman, and subsequently pursued the legal requirements to make the immoral woman his “wife”, Lisa would have to uphold and support the new “marriage” or she is guilty of the sin of partiality, which is excercising unjust judgment.

    3. Lisa cannot defend her own marriage based on the truth of Gods word. The fact that she and her husband are continuing faithful to each other, and committed to stay that way, doesn’t mean that you have bound yourself to obedience to the truth. Many can conform to things when there is no persecution that is beyond what they are able to endure, but when people turn toward evil, that’s when you find out what ground you are standing on.

    4. If Lisa doesn’t believe that marriage is binding til death regardless of the actions of one or both of the spouses, then no marriage is literally bound until death. In other words, every marriage could be dissolved (with Gods approval it is asserted) as long as one or both of the parties perform the proper legal requirements. This very idea self destructs when it’s really taken to it’s obvious conclusion. If a man divorces his covenant wife whom he vowed “till death do us part..”, how can he make the same vow to a 2nd woman? He is contradicting himself in word and deed while he is taking the vow with a living spouse as a witness. Living for the sake of righteousness is not based on happiness by this worlds standards, but by doing the will of God, even if it requires death.

  58. 58. Jake Wolfe Says:

    What are the legal requirements? I don’t read it in the Bible that says vow’s to oneaother is the legal requirements.

  59. 59. Ray Says:

    Thank you Bob. I really enjoyed Andrew Kulikovsky’s paper. The issues are very clearly presented. I was going to ask Andrew for his translation of Matthew 19:9, but I just saw two renderings in one of his posts above.
    Andrew, (or Bob or anyone out there) is there any other “me epi” occurence in the New Testament. If so, how are they translated into English. (Please bear with me. I don’t have a greek concordance with me.) Would appreciate very much the answer to my question. Thank you. Ray

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