Jesus and the Pharisees on Divorce: from Matthew 19:3-9

This is our eleventh study. Please click HERE for an intro to this study. Today we will focus on the Biblical teaching of divorce.

Matthew 19:3-9

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’  5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Observations

The Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce, as always, to test Him—to see how much He knew. And they may also have been looking for more information for their own debates. The Rabbis Shammai interpreted the law as permitting a man to divorce his wife only for sexual immorality. But the Hillelites permitted divorce for any reason.

Jesus appears to side with the Shammai, but He also gave them more informaation than they asked for. He instructed them on what the original intent of marriage was—to be of one flesh. He also corrected them on what was said about a command of divorce. He said that Moses didn’t command divorce, he permitted it, and only for one reason, adultery.

Applications

I think these verses should definitely be studied by any couple who is thinking about marriage. And it is my opinion that if they can’t be serious about staying together for life, they should not be married. It is better to remain single.

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