This Bible topic study on marriage, divorce, remarriage and issues regarding fornication and adultery focuses on the teaching of our Lord Jesus as found in the New Testament Gospels so that we can come to a proper and correct conclusion as to what He taught. This Bible study will examine the teachings of Jesus on this subject and reserve other New Testament teaching as found in the epistles to another study. Our Lord Jesus Christ discussed the issue of marriage and divorce in his day in response to questions asked by the Pharisees.

The Pharisees who confronted Jesus were not really trying to arrive at truth on the issue of divorce, but were hoping to trap him in his teaching on the subject. In the crowd that surrounded Him, there were divorced folk who were both innocent victims of divorce, and others who were guilty of divorcing their spouse as a result of infidelity or abandonment. Just as today, the circumstance surrounding an individual's divorce and remarriage is varied and it often appears to couples involved that their situation is unique. The Pharisees were ready to present, by example, any type of divorce circumstance to Jesus as necessary in hopes of faulting His answer to their questions.

Marriage and divorce is of ever increasing concern to us as divorce cases among Christians spiral upward in parallel with that of non-professing christians. Church leaders and Bible teachers struggle to present clear and concise teaching, instruction, and counseling on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. Problems quickly arise when Church teaching attempts to reconcile Jesus' teaching on this subject with that of other Bible passages in the New Testament, specifically that of the Apostle Paul. Therefore, Church teaching and counseling varies as a result of different Bible interpretations.

We will look at Jesus' teaching on this subject in the following sections . . .

  1. The Permanence of Marriage
  2. The Divorce
  3. The Issue of Adultery
  4. The Guilty
  5. The Issue of Fornication
  6. The Issue of ReMarriage
  7. The Response
  8. Conclusion

1) THE PERMANENCE OF MARRIAGE

Jesus began by referring the Pharisees back to the book of Genesis where God at the beginning made them male and female . . .

Matthew 19
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."

Jesus was referring to the account in Genesis where it was written . . .

Genesis 2
22. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
23. And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man."
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Divorce was not a part of God's plan originally nor did it apply to the nation of Israel originally. The intent and purpose was that a man and woman would be united under the bond of marriage "until death".

There is a reason why the practice of divorce was not initially given to the Children of Israel. You will remember the time when God called them to meet with Him at the base of mount Sinai to receive his instructions. They greatly feared the awesomeness of God and desired NOT to hear Him speak to them directly.

Exodus 19
7 So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the LORD commanded him.
8 Then all the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do." So Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD

Deuteronomy 5
22 "These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly, in the mountain from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and He added no more. And He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me.
23 "So it was, when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, that you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders.
24 "And you said: 'Surely the LORD our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire. We have seen this day that God speaks with man; yet he still lives.
25 'Now therefore, why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God anymore, then we shall die.
26 'For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?
27 'You go near and hear all that the LORD our God may say, and tell us all that the LORD our God says to you, and WE WILL HEAR AND DO IT.
28 "Then the LORD heard the voice of your words when you spoke to me, and the LORD said to me: 'I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken.
29 'Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!

The children of Israel agreed to all the terms of the covenant given by God on Mount Sinai. Included in that covenant was a commandment . . .

"Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery" . . .

As an aid to help Israel keep the permanence of marriage, there was a penalty associated with the sin of adultery. This penalty was meant to be severe to provide a deterrent to any potential offenders and therefore they would be inclined to maintain faithfulness to their spouse and holiness before the Lord.

Leviticus 20:10
"The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death."

Well, you know the rest of the story... The Children of Israel did not obey the commandments of God and they became unfaithful to their spouses through lust and became guilty of a sin called "adultery".

Since the Israelites had agreed to do all that the Lord had spoken to them on Mount Sinai, there was no need of a legal instrument called - - -

2) THE DIVORCE

Jesus tells us in Matthew that the concept and practice of divorce came into existence through Moses. It is important to know that divorce was not initiated by God at the giving of "The Law", but by Moses. "The Law" in the Old Testament is sometimes also referred to as, "The Mosaic Law", because it was given to Moses by God, and Moses recorded it in writing and presented this law to the children of Israel. We see this here - - -

Matthew 19
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.

Moses was not insensitive to the fact that many of his brethren were being stoned to death as the "maximum penalty" for committing adultery. . . Therefore, Moses developed a mechanical system of mercy, if you will, whereby the offenders would not have to be put to death. There would be other benefits besides, such as, who would get the kids, the camel, the house, etc. It was called - - - "DIVORCE"

It was because of the hardness of their hearts that Israel failed to obey the Lord, but it was because of the tenderness of Moses' heart that led him to do something about it. Moses was a man of love and compassion and thus he found a way to cover the CONSEQUENCES, the PENALTY for this sin called "Adultery" by which the children of Israel were defiling themselves.

Moses knew what his stiff-necked and hard hearted brothers were doing. He was angry with them but loved them anyway. He couldn't make them stop from running off with each other or meeting out behind the barn, so he had to do something. Moses was motivated by LOVE for his brethren and he didn't want to see their names engraved on new tombstones which were arriving daily. It was his love for them that prompted his idea for a legal solution. After all, they were expected to live under Law so Moses came up with a plan - -

Proverbs 10:12
- - -Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.

Proverbs 17:9
- - -He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.

Thus divorce was not required for a nation of people who placed themselves under obligation to do all that was said by the Lord God originally, but instituted by Moses to alleviate the numerous executions that were occurring because of adultery and breaking of the Law.

However, the Jews would soon take opportunity of this new legal instrument so that they could fulfill all manner of lust, leave their original spouse, and pursue other marital interests. This was a widespread and common practice by the time Jesus arrives on the scene. Now we have our Lord Jesus discuss this issue of divorce with the Pharisees, living under the law, and seeking to be justified by the law as the Divorce related to . . .

3) THE ISSUE OF ADULTERY

Jesus discusses the issue of adultery ONLY as it relates to the issue of divorce. The fact that adultery occurs when a spouse engages in extra-marital activities while married IS NOT covered in his response to the Pharisees. That issue was covered under the The Mosaic Law and is not repeated. However, Jesus went one step further than the The Law and revealed the root cause of adultery . . .

Matthew 5
27 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery."
28 "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart..

For the Lord knows the heart . . .

1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

The Law only addressed the OUTWARD manifestation of the act of adultery and not the condition of the heart . . . This is why The Law was powerless in itself to conform a "BAD" person into a "GOOD" person. A "BAD" person was apt to "ACT GOOD" when the penalties imposed under The Law were contemplated. It had no effect or power on the inward heart of an individual.

Romans 8
3 For what THE LAW could not do in that it was WEAK THROUGH THE FLESH, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, . .

For example, there are many people in our society who would not consider stealing from a commercial retail business because of the "penalties" involved if caught. However, we often notice when natural disaster strikes an area, for example, many people are shown looting stores for one reason or another because of the "Absence" of law enforcement. Therefore, "Law" only holds people in check and does nothing to change a person. Remove "The Law" and the heart of a man will guide his actions . . .

Mark 7
21 "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 "thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.
23 "All these evil things come from within and defile a man."

The following passages are taken from the NKJV Bible and we have noted that the phrase "sexual immorality" should be translated "fornication" to be consistent and correct. It is important at this point that we isolate the exception clause "except fornication" and exclude it from our study. We will look at it in detail in the next section, but for now, we must examine everything else that constitutes adultery in a divorce situation. Now, Jesus begins to explain . . .

Matthew 5
31 Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.
32 "But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality (FORNICATION) causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

Matthew 19
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 (FORNICATION), and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."

The "exception clause" is stated only in the gospel book of Matthew. The reason it is stated only in this book is because our Lord gives the overall prophecy of "The Church" in this book. The prophetic discourse of the future church is given in Matthew chapter 13 and consists of seven "Kingdom of Heaven" parables. The other gospel accounts give only a partial view of the "Prophetic Church" in parable form. The issue of "Fornication" will become one of the major obstacles to church growth, sound doctrine, and arriving at the completeness of Christ for the Christian. However, the fornication that will be emphasized will be of a "Spiritual" nature and not a "Physical" sin.

Mark 10
10 In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter.
11 So He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.
12 "And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."

Luke 16
18 "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.

We have set "The Exception Clause" aside for a moment to reveal what Jesus was teaching regarding "DIVORCE" and "ADULTERY". Therefore, with the exception clause set aside for a moment we shall look at the above scriptures in detail to determine who are . . .

4) THE GUILTY

All parties involved in a divorce situation "Under the Mosaic Law" as it is called are guilty of Adultery as we shall see. We begin this examination by looking at two divorced couples "A" and "B". The four persons involved for the sake of example are:

  • Wife of "A"
  • Husband of "A"
  • Wife of "B"
  • Husband of "B"

Since the issue that Jesus is discussing in these passages is divorce,adultery, and remarriage, we will identify the final marital combination due to divorce as follows . . .

  1. Wife of "A" marries Husband of "B"
  2. Husband of "A" marries Wife of "B"
  3. Wife of "B" marries Husband of "A"
  4. Husband of "B" marries Wife of "A"

Now, we will look at the passages already given with the exception clause omitted ( ----- ) to determine who is committing adultery. We will assume that Husband of "A" starts things off by initiating a divorce . . .

MATTHEW 5
32 "But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason - - - - - causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

From the above verse, we now have the Wife of "A" (a passive victim of divorce) and the Husband of "B" guilty of adultery . . .

  1. Wife of "A" marries Husband of "B" --- Guilty of Adultery
  2. Husband of "A" marries Wife of "B"
  3. Wife of "B" marries Husband of "A"
  4. Husband of "B" marries Wife of "A" --- Guilty of Adultery

The Wife of "A" above becomes guilty of adultery ONLY after remarriage. Now, moving to the next verse in Matthew 19 we have . . .

Matthew 19
9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, ----------------- and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."

Luke 16
18 "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.

From the above verses, we now have the Husband of "A" who divorced his wife initially to start things off guilty of adultery. The Husband of "B" is guilty as Jesus previously stated in Matthew 5, so we now have three for four . . .

  1. Wife of "A" marries Husband of "B" --- Guilty of Adultery
  2. Husband of "A" marries Wife of "B" --- Guilty of Adultery
  3. Wife of "B" marries Husband of "A"
  4. Husband of "B" marries Wife of "A" --- Guilty of Adultery

Mark 10
11 So He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.
12 "And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."

Now the woman who initiates the divorce becomes guilty which we ascribe to Wife of "B" as she remarries. Therefore the final scenario is . . .

  1. Wife of "A" marries Husband of "B" --- Guilty of Adultery
  2. Husband of "A" marries Wife of "B" --- Guilty of Adultery
  3. Wife of "B" marries Husband of "A" --- Guilty of Adultery
  4. Husband of "B" marries Wife of "A" --- Guilty of Adultery

Jesus is saying that divorce constitutes adultery under ALL conditions. Whether a marriage partner is active or passive in regards to divorce proceedings is irrelevant, under The Law. The reason for the passive being guilty of Adultery is because they "Are Forced" to commit adultery when they remarry. This act renders them actively "unfaithful" to their first spouse upon remarriage. How they came to be divorced and remarried is irrelevant.

Jesus is saying that when a divorce occurs, BOTH partners in the marriage are "GUILTY of ADULTERY" under "The Law". It makes no difference whether the marriage partner INITIATES the Divorce or is the so called "Innocent Victim" of divorce proceedings for

"THE LAW IS THE LAW . . ."

This situation under "The Law" can be compared to a local city judge of years gone by who hears all moving vehicle traffic violation cases. Each offender comes before him and pleads their case and declares their innocence by circumstantial reason and hopes to be found - - "NOT GUILTY". The judge patiently listens to each defendant and after their explanation, he slams the gavel down and says,

"That will be Thirty dollars or Thirty Days..."

All offenders are found guilty. The reason for their speeding violation before this stern judge has no bearing on his verdict. The same is true of the "The (Mosaic) Law". That law could not help you, but only declare that you were guilty when you broke it.

Just as the speeding traffic violators were guilty before a stern city judge, so these folk are guilty under a stern "Law". Why each violator was speeding is of no consequence. If an individual was speeding because they were taking a sick child to the ER -- "It Makes NO DIFFERENCE". They are found by the law to be law breakers and therefore - - "GUILTY" ...

Likewise, "The Mosaic Law" examines only "The State" of an individual and has no regard as to why that particular state exists, in this case -- Adultery.

Jesus is revealing that the sin of Adultery was being committed by these folk who were putting away their wives as if the legal action called "Divorce" did not exist. This is what the God said about Adultery prior to the implementation of Divorce by Moses. Now we know that THE MOSAIC LAW condemned everyone found guilty. Jesus is repeating the demands of "The Law" to a group of people (The Pharisees) living under the law, knowing the law, and desiring to be justified by the law. The LAW takes no prisoners and issues no pardons when it is broken. Everyone is declared guilty who is found breaking the law. No one is excluded and there is no change in penalty based on circumstances under ANY conditions.

Jesus said that He did not come to abolish The Law, but to fulfill it . . .

Matthew 5
17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill

By examining the scriptures and the words that Jesus spoke, we see that with the exception clause removed, divorce does nothing to negate The Law - -

Exodus 20:14
"You shall not commit adultery."

Leviticus 20:10
"The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death."

Now, we take a look at the "exception clause" which has to do with . . .

5) THE ISSUE OF FORNICATION

As shown in the above verses, everyone is an Adulterer under "The Law" when it comes to divorce. However, there is an "exception clause" which must be examined. Most every Christian is familiar with this clause and it is often taken out of context to render the members in a divorce situation INNOCENT with respect to the sin of Adultery.

Fortunately, we know the difference between fornication and adultery. From our previous RMS Topic study on Fornication and Adultery we know that - -

Adultery => Illicit Sexual act committed by a Married person. (Post-Marital)

Fornication => Illicit Sexual act committed by an Unmarried person. (Pre-Marital)

It is important and imperative to know that . . .

Adultery is ONLY applicable to "MARRIED" persons

while

Fornication is ONLY applicable to "UNMARRIED" or "SINGLE" persons

The KJV bible consistently translated the greek word "pornea" as "Fornication" throughout. Other Bible versions often translate the same greek word as "Sexual Immorality". The NKJV attempted to capture the best of both worlds and translated pornea as "Fornication" in some passages and "Sexual Immorality" in others. This translation error was done in an attempt to provide reader clarification, but unwittingly opened a gateway for complete misinterpretation of the passages in question. This is discussed in more detail in the RMS Bible Topic on "Fornication and Adultery".

If the difference between adultery and fornication is not known or recognized, then the meaning of this and other new testament passages which refer to fornication will be misinterpreted, misapplied, and misunderstood.

The question before us at this point is . .

"What has Fornication got to do with two people who are married to each other and are contemplating divorce?"

If fornication is ONLY applicable to unmarried or single persons, then why did Jesus include it as an exception in the issue of divorce and adultery?

The answer is found in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy where a Jewish man has married his "True Love" and comes to find out after their wedding day that she was NOT A VIRGIN ! ! ! We find this interesting passage here - - -

Deuteronomy 22
13 "If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her,
14 "and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, 'I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin,

This is quickly going to turn into a case of: "He said - She said". How is this problem going to be resolved? "The Law" will do it for them . . .

15 "then the father and mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman's virginity to the elders of the city at the gate.
16 "And the young woman's father shall say to the elders, 'I gave my daughter to this man as wife, and he detests her.
17 "Now he has charged her with shameful conduct, saying, "I found your daughter was not a virgin," and yet these are the evidences of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.
18 "Then the elders of that city shall take that man and punish him;

Boy, is this man in trouble... This man in the verses above has made a terrible mistake. He accuses his wife of being "NOT A VIRGIN" AFTER their marriage consummation and attempts to rid himself of her... If this is the case, and his wife is not a virgin, then it must be proven that she is not a virgin. In the case above, the parents prove by evidence that she was indeed a virgin prior to their wedding. The husband's accusation is proven false. Now, the man is thinking, "Well, . . . Can't I just divorce her anyway?"

19 "and they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name on a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife; HE CANNOT DIVORCE HER all his days.

Under "The Law", the answer is "ABSOLUTELY NOT". He stares at the floor, squirms in his shoes, and wishes at this point that he could divorce her. He sees rough times ahead for their marriage, perhaps his mother-in-law moving in, continual nagging, or worse... but THE LAW says: NO! ... He cannot divorce her.

But on the other hand, if the husband was right and it could NOT BE PROVEN that his wife was A VIRGIN prior to their marriage, then - - -

20 "But if the thing is true, and evidences of virginity are not found for the young woman,
21 "then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father's house. So you shall put away the evil from among you.

In this case, he has obtained his desire, he is now separated from his wife and his ex-wife is deceased. He is now a widower.

This is how it was under "The Law" and now Jesus picks up on this point and inserts this "exception clause" into his teaching on divorce and adultery. Jesus says that divorce can be used under the law, to people who know the law, in a lawful way to obtain a lawful purpose as described above in the book of Deuteronomy. Any other use of divorce under "THE LAW" constitutes ADULTERY for BOTH parties as we have seen...

Jesus is therefore showing the Pharisees how divorce can be used under "The Law". He is not adding to, taking away, or amending what God had already told the Children of Israel under terms of "The Law. He is merely repeating the Law of Moses found in DT 22:13-21 where a man's wife (newlywed) is found ...

"NOT TO BE A VIRGIN."

She was found NOT TO BE A VIRGIN "AFTER" her marriage to the husband and as a result, the man, the husband of the woman has married - - -

"A FORNICATOR"

The issue in Deuteronomy is "Fornication" and the issue which Jesus includes as an exception in the case of divorce is also fornication. This is why it is important to know that the word "FORNICATION" has to do with an "Unmarried" person. The woman in the above scenario had committed fornication while unmarried and thus it was lawful and legal in every regard under "The Law" to rid himself of her under "The Law" as directed by God originally or to enact "Divorce" as decreed by Moses . . .

If we continue to let the word "Fornication" be mistranslated as "Sexual Immorality", then we change the whole meaning of what Jesus said. We then make Jesus say that a divorce can occur on the basis of marital infidelity and if such is the case, the offended shall NOT BE GUILTY of Adultery. If such is the case, then Jesus has ADDED to the original Law of Moses and is presenting new information to the Pharisees and to all the Jews.

However, it is shown from the above that . . .

  1. Jesus agreed with "The Law"
  2. Jesus reaffirmed "The Law"
  3. Jesus restated "The Law"

. . . with respect to divorce and adultery which was not previously stated after Moses initiated the legal recourse called -- Divorce.

The information which Jesus stated was not new to the Jewish ears that heard Him including the Pharisees who presented the question. They new the law, they knew divorce could be used in the fashion as described above in Deuternomy, but they were using divorce to accomplish their own personal objectives.

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?"

The pharisees knew it was wrong from the old testament that they were not to forsake their marriage mate and marry another - -

Therefore, the Pharisees understood that Jesus was saying that divorce could justifiably be used ONLY as prescribed under "The Law". Therefore, to the disappointment of the jews, Jesus' answer to their question could be restated in the affirmative as follows - -

(Reference Matthew 19:9)
9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, by reason of FORNICATION, and marries another, DOES NOT commit adultery;"

Whereas the Pharisees were using divorce under "The Law" in the wrong application to supposedly justify their actions and avoid the sin and punishment associated with Adultery, so do Christians and Churches of today misinterpret the exception (Fornication) in an attempt to justify their actions under "The Law" to avoid being classified as an Adulterer before God and men.

Jesus, after answering their questions about divorce, is found standing before a large crowd of Jews who have listened intently to his remarks. Many of the people in the crowd who heard Him were divorced or divorced and remarried including their children and step-children. What, therefore, is the solution? - - What is the answer to these people's situation? What can they do?

Well, the disciples instantly realize the magnitude of the problem and the intensity of the situation that is before Jesus. Seeing no solution, they just direct a comment to Jesus which actually has to do with . . .

6) THE ISSUE OF REMARRIAGE

10 His disciples said to Him, "If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry."

The disciples state, "If Such is the Case?", what Case? The disciples are reasoning that a man has divorced his wife who has NOT COMMITTED FORNICATION. Such are many divorced members of the crowd before them. They reason that it would be best if a man in such a situation did not remarry after obtaining the desired divorce. In other words, we have a solution,... if the divorced man doesn't remarry, then he will not be found guilty of Adultery and all will be well...

Jesus responds to their solution as follows . . .

11 But He said to them, "All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given:

Now this is where we really have to pay attention to Jesus' answer. Remember the solution that the disciples have devised involves a scenario where the plan is to STOP a DIVORCED MAN from REMARRYING. Jesus does not disagree with their solution, but states that there is a tremendous problem with this approach.

Jesus is going to respond by stating how "their solution" can be accomplished.

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."

Before we look at his answer in detail, it should be noted that Jesus uses the word "eunuch" which describes a man who is rendered and incapable of producing offspring and it is not usually accomplished through outpatient surgery. This is rather a severe action and a severe word He uses. He does so to issue a point of permanence to His response. For example, since the discussion is now going to revolve around remarriage, it is always possible that a person could vow to remain unmarried, but later change their mind. The word "eunuch" is used to state emphatically that there will be no further discussion on the subject of remarriage. The scenarios He is about to describe can not and will not change due to future circumstances and that a person could later remarry. Jesus is just adding finiteness to His statement. To go any further than that, is to inject something that was not intended.

Jesus has already stated that marriage is a normal thing and that a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. Since this is a normal instinct, your plan to stop a divorced man at the second marriage altar generally will not work. However, there are three cases by which a man WILL NOT EVER remarry - - -:

1) Born thus from their mother's womb - - -

In this case, a man has no desire to be married to a woman from birth. He enjoys eating at McDonald's, keeping automobile parts in the living room, and eating dessert prior to the main course. He does not and never has enjoyed the company nor affection of females. His first marriage was done primarily to satisfy friends and family members and given the choice initially, he would never have married to begin with. We occasionally see this happen today.

2) Made eunuchs by men - - -

This is where the disciples would tackle the divorced man in the aisle way and prevent him from arriving at the second marriage altar and thus prevent adultery from occurring. But more practically, this is where church clergy, social opinion, or Jewish leaders in the immediate case steps in and states that the divorced MUST NOT REMARRY.

This is the most common scenario in our culture where external pressure from whatever source applies itself to the situation and says - - - YOU MUST NOT REMARRY. If the divorce submits oneself to this idea, then a second marriage will not occur.

This is where we observe that typically a church group or denomination of today exerts considerable influence to halt second marriages. Some divorced members in these type churches will obey such man-made commandments while others will not. In other words, some will accept it, others will not. The celibacy imposed on Catholic priests by similar man-made commandments is another example. By using the word "eunuch" Jesus is using the finiteness of a case where such a person WILL NOT REMARRY . . .

3) Made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake - - -

Jesus is saying here that some people will not remarry because they have a desire to commit their lives to the ministry and the capability to over-ride their natural tendencies and desire for a second mate.

Just as today, the disciples are aware that the three cases stated above WILL NOT be adhered to by many if not most divorced people. They generally will have a desire to remarry. After the Pharisees and the crowd of people surrounding Him heard what Jesus said, we take special note of . . .

7) THE RESPONSE

Now we come to a most interesting passage of scripture which immediately follows Jesus teaching on marriage, divorce, remarriage, fornication, and adultery. Take a look at the following passages . . .

Matthew 19
13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them.
14 But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.

This is highly unusual that a group of children would come to Jesus after such an Adult oriented teaching on marriage, divorce, remarriage, fornication, and adultery. Most children in the 3-12 year old age group would not know, nor would they care about such teaching. Now Jesus was loved by children and He loved children, but did you notice what had just happened? The disciples of Jesus are turning away the children. Why would they do that? For in the preceding chapter in Matthew we have the following . . .

Matthew 18
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,
3 and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 "Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
6 "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 "Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!

The disciples knew about children from this and other passages about children. So what drove these children to the presence of Jesus? Most kids wouldn't have a clue as to what He just said to the Pharisees, and so wouldn't be inclined at this particular point to be drawn to Him.

However, the children that the disciples were turning away were not the 3-12 year old age children. The children that were trying to get to Jesus were the 21-80 year old children described in Matthew 18 above who were of two types . . .

  1. Victims of divorce
  2. Guilty of divorce

These folk were not children in age, but were children of the Kingdom who wanted the attention of Jesus, wanted the forgiveness of Jesus, wanted the mercy of Jesus, wanted the blessings of Jesus . . .

Just as the disciples were trying to turn these folk away, so many of our churches today turn away those who are divorced and declared, "unclean" or "adulterers", etc.

Now we turn to another similar passage ...

Mark 10
13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.
15 "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."
16 And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.

This is a similar situation to that in Matthew in that we see the disciples trying to turn away the "Adult" children from coming to Jesus. But a major difference here is that we see the children and step-children of the divorced coming along also and this is where Jesus picks up these little innocent victims of divorce (children) and puts his hands on them and blesses them...

Oh how everyone needs to come to Jesus. He doesn't turn any away who come to Him, and how especially those who are His own children - divorced or not - -

Matthew 11
28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Jesus leaves off the marriage and divorce issue at this point. Jesus has removed the veil of divorce which the Pharisees were using to cloak their sin of adultery. He also uncloaked their heart to show them their sin. His purpose was to show that The Law condemned them, but He was there to redeem them and forgive them of their sins and thus draw them to Himself.

8) CONCLUSION

Jesus has removed the veil of divorce which covered the CONSEQUENCES of Adultery which was DEATH under Mosaic Law. The Pharisees were relishing the fact that they could use divorce to cover their SIN of Adultery. If Jesus had said that divorce was OK, then they would have taken the position that God said it was wrong from day one beginning in Genesis and before Moses ever implemented Divorce proceedings. They could then charge Jesus with breaking God's Law unto the fathers and also one of the Ten Commandments under Moses' Law.

Jesus is saying that adultery originates in the heart and is completed by acting upon that desire. The legal course of action called "divorce" was merely a vehicle or avenue by which to satisfy the lust they had for another mate by divorce and remarriage and avoid the death penalty after doing so.

James 1:15
Then, when desire(lust) has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

God has said in the Old Testament that He hated divorce. Why? Because it resulted in Adultery? No, listen to Him ...

Malachi 2:16
"For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it ...

"covers one's garment with violence,"

Says the LORD of hosts. "Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously."

For those divorced Christians who are living under "The Law", they are guilty of Adultery as charged. But those who are not . . .

Romans 6
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for . . .

- - - you are not under law - - -

but

- - - under grace - - -

The Apostle Paul will pick up this same issue of marriage and divorce in 1 Corinthians and address it to a people who are not under "THE LAW" but who seek to live and be justified, "BY GRACE". We will continue this study as it relates to Christians living "UNDER GRACE" in a future Bible topic study . . .

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