Matthew 19:1–15 also Mark 10:1–16; Luke 18:15–17
Instruction About Divorce
1 Now it came
to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there.
3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
10 His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
11 But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: 12 For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
Bible Knowledge Commentary – Matthew 19:1-12
19:1–12. Jesus … left Galilee for the last time and headed for Jerusalem through the region of Judea to the east side of the Jordan River. That area was known as Perea. There, as often before, He was followed by large crowds of needy people, and He healed them. But some Pharisees sought to test Jesus through a question: Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason? The nation was divided over this issue. Followers of Hillel felt a man could divorce his wife for almost any reason, but others, following Shammai, thought one could not divorce his wife unless she were guilty of sexual offense. Without getting involved in the Hillel-Shammai controversy Jesus reminded the religious leaders of God’s original purpose in establishing the marriage bond. God made people male and female (v. 4; Gen. 1:27). In marriage He joins them together in an inseparable bond. This bond is a higher calling than the parent-child relationship, for a man is to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife in a one-flesh relationship (Gen. 2:24). Therefore what God has joined together, men ought not separate (chōrizetō; in 1 Cor. 7:10 this word means “to divorce”).
The Pharisees, realizing that Jesus was speaking of the permanence of the marital relationship, asked why Moses made a provision for divorce for people in his time (Matt. 19:7). The Lord’s answer was that Moses granted this permission because people’s hearts were hard (cf. Deut. 24:1–4). “Because your hearts were hard” is literally, “toward your hardness of heart” (sklērokardian; from sklēros, “hardness,” comes the Eng. “sclerosis,” and from kardian comes the Eng. “cardiac”). But that was not God’s intention for marriage. God intended husbands and wives to live together permanently. Divorce was wrong except for marital unfaithfulness (cf. Matt. 5:32).
Bible scholars differ over the meaning of this “exception clause,” found only in Matthew’s Gospel. The word for “marital unfaithfulness” is porneia.
(1) Some feel Jesus used this as a synonym for adultery (moicheia). Therefore adultery by either partner in a marriage is the only sufficient grounds for a marriage to end in divorce. Among those holding this view, some believe remarriage is possible but others believe remarriage should never occur.
(2) Others define porneia as a sexual offense that could occur only in the betrothal period when a Jewish man and woman were considered married but had not yet consummated their coming marriage with sexual intercourse. If in this period the woman was found pregnant (as was Mary; 1:18–19), a divorce could occur in order to break the contract.
(3) Still others believe the term porneia referred to illegitimate marriages within prohibited degrees of kinship, as in Leviticus 18:6–18. If a man discovered that his wife was a near relative, he would actually be involved in an incestuous marriage. Then this would be a justifiable grounds for divorce. Some say this meaning of porneia is found in Acts 15:20, 29 (cf. 1 Cor. 5:1).
(4) Another view is that porneia refers to a relentless, persistent, unrepentant lifestyle of sexual unfaithfulness (different from a one-time act of illicit relations). (In the NT porneia is broader than moicheia). Such a continued practice would thus be the basis for divorce, since such unfaithful and unrelenting conduct would have broken the marriage bond. (On the subject of divorce and remarriage, see comments on 1 Cor. 7:10–16.)
Whatever view one takes on the exception clause, Jesus obviously affirmed the permanence of marriage. Those who heard His words understood Him in this way, for they reasoned that if there were no grounds for divorce one would be better off never to marry. But this was not what Jesus intended, for God has given marriage to people for their betterment (Gen. 2:18). Marriage should be a deterrent to lustful sin and to unfaithfulness (1 Cor. 7:2). But a few either do not have normal sexual desires (they were born eunuchs or were castrated), or are able to control those desires for the furtherance of God’s program on the earth (Matt. 19:12; cf. 1 Cor. 7:7–8, 26). But not all are able to accept the single role (Matt. 19:11). Many marry and carry out God’s purposes, extending His work in the world.
God created male and female, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. Then the Pharisees asked why Moses granted divorce. Jesus answered: “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
God is testing us every day and has given us the right to make our own choices. Do you know which ones are the right choices in Gods mind?
Fear God, love God, honor God, and trust God with all your heart, mind and soul and you will receive and experience the joy of the promises of God’s blessings in His time. And always remember to ask the Father for His help and guidance in all things.
Prayer: Father, blessed is your Holy name. We praise you for your Son and the Holy Spirit. Human words cannot describe how grateful we are for Your Son and our risen Christ. We praise You for the opportunity to be able to choose Jesus as our Lord and Savior and to be elect children of Yours. We praise you for the laws You have set down to teach us and keep our life in harmony, safe, how to treat others as well as how to live within you boundaries. Please bless those who have read this article for they too are seeking Your righteous truth, love, wisdom and understanding. I pray these brothers and sisters have or will come to realize that Your existence is a treasure of grace and love that You have for all Your elect children.
May God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Christianity be our guiding lights for eternity. Let it be Your will Lord not mine. Please come Lord Jesus.
I pray in Jesus sweet name and to His glory through the power of The Holy Spirit,