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Matthew - Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

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Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage as discussed by Jesus


Text: Matt. 19.1-9

Thesis: To study what the Lord taught pertaining marriage, divorce, and remarriage so

             that we may adhere to His teachings in order to have a happy marriage and, most

             importantly, be pleasing to God Almighty.


1)      Marriage is taken too lightly today in our culture.

a)      It is estimated that about ½ of marriages end in divorce today.

b)      Things have gotten so bad that it is almost preliminary for couples to sign a prenuptial agreement.

2)      Sadly, even in the church today, there are many foreign teachings concerning the matter.

a)      Even in the first century, there were differing teachings about the subject.

b)      For example, the school of Hillel taught that one could get a divorce for any reason whereas the school of Shammai taught that one could get a divorce only for reasons of some serious lewd/unclean act.

3)      Nevertheless, the most important question is: “What does the Lord teach?”


I.          The Original Purpose Intended (Matt. 19.4-6):

A.      Jesus goes back “to the beginning.”

1.   He quotes Genesis 2.24 in order to show God’s intent for marriage.

2.   The concept is that of “leaving and cleaving.”

      a.   They are to leave their parents in order to come together as a family.

b.      Then they are to cleave to one another.

(1)   “Cleave” literally means “to be glued to” (Robertson).

(2)   It means that the couple is “so firmly to adhere together that

        nothing can separate them” (Barnes).

(3)      They then become one flesh in that they have “a complete union of interests, and an indissoluble partnership of life and fortune, comfort and support, desires and inclinations, joys and sorrow” (Clarke).

(4)      This will only be accomplished when they practice the teachings of Ephesians 5.21ff.

B.      In the beginning, God intended marriage to be one man and one woman together for life.

II.        The Mosaic Permission Granted (Matt. 19.7-8):

            A.   The Pharisees wondered why Moses allowed them to give a certificate of

                  divorce if that were not the original purpose of marriage.

            B.   Jesus stated that it was “because of your hardness of heart.”

                  1.   J. W. McGarvey in his Fourfold Gospel suggests: “Had the law

                        propounded at creation been re-enacted by Moses, many would have

                        refused to marry at all, preferring an illicit life to the hazard of matrimony

                        under a stringent law, and others finding themselves unhappily married

                        would have secretly murdered their wives to gain their liberty.  As a

                        choice of two evils God therefore temporarily modified the law out of

                        compassion for women” (539-40).

                  2.   Nevertheless, this did not alter God’s “original intention concerning the

                        permanency of marriage” (Lenski 1:731).

C.      Jesus is now going to restore marriage to “the level of the Father’s original intention” (Edwards 53).

III.       The Only Exception Stated (Matt. 19.9):

            A.   “Whoever” shows that all men/women are to adhere to this teaching.

            B.   “Divorces” (apoluo) means to “divorce, send away […] one’s wife” (BAGD


            C.   “Fornication/immorality” (porneia) is defined as “every kind of unlawful

                    sexual intercourse” (BAGD 25).

                   1.   This is the only reason that Jesus gave for divorce and remarriage.

                   2.   For me to state any other reason would be for me to add to what my Lord

                         has said.

D.      If one gets a divorce for any other reason and remarries, then he/she is committing “adultery.”

1.   “Adultery” (moicheia) is a “specific type of  fornication” in which “at

      least one of the persons involved is married to someone else” (Edwards


2.   How can this be?  Simply, God still views the one who got the

      unscriptural divorce as still being married; thus, he/she is committing


3.   So, as long as he/she continues to be involved in this relationship, then

      he/she is “living in adultery” [Note: One can live in fornication (Col. 3.3-


E.       Also, note that only the innocent party is given permission to remarry.

1.   “Whoever marries her (or him) that is put away commits adultery.”

2.   This is also found in Matthew 5.32.

3.   Put away for what reason?  He/she was unfaithful.

4.   Therefore, the guilty party is not the one given permission to remarry.

5.   Only the innocent one may scripturally remarry.


1)      Does this seem strict/restrictive?

a)      The disciples sure thought so (Matt. 19.10).

b)      Nevertheless, that did not change Jesus’ teaching on the matter.

c)      He went on to say that it may be better for some if they don’t marry and that some will become eunuchs for the kingdom of God (Matt. 19.11-12).

i)        Some will weigh the cost and see that they are willing to be that committed to the marital vows that they will have to take.

ii)      Some will restrain and not sin by marrying/remarrying because they will view their spiritual condition to be more important than their urges.

2)      Marriage is serious business.

a)      A couple takes their vows before God Almighty.

b)      Its origin is Divine.

3)      Nevertheless, marriage can be wonderful when a couple is committed to God and each other.

4)      It begins with a proper commitment to God.  Are we fully committed to Him?

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