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Divorce & Remarriage from Lenski's Commentary

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Divorce & Remarriage

Comments from Lenski’s Commentary

Matthew 5:28

According to The Interpretation of Matthew of Lenski's Commentaries, he says here that "Jesus does not say that by the accomplished lusting or by and during the act of looking at the woman the man in question commits adultery.  The aorist emoiceusen, with hdh emphasizing the feature of the time, precedes these acts.  The man who casts lustful looks is an adulterer to begin with.  The sin is already 'in his heart' and only comes out in his lustful look.  If the heart were pure, without adultery, no lustful look would be possible...what the Sixth Commandment calls for is a pure heart which keeps even the eyes pure." (pp. 226-227)

Matthew 5:29

People will not hesitate to amputate a diseased limb that threatens life itself.  Lenski's  Interpretation of Matthew (p.227) states, "If indeed, your right eyes is so diseased with sin, as you assert, that this eye cannot look on a beautiful woman without trapping you into lust, then, on your own assertion, about your eye, only one thing will save you from hell, to pluck it out and cast it away form you.  For on your own admission the only alternative would be that the dangerous eye continue to inflame your whole body with lust and thus send it down to hell."  He goes on to say, "The fallacy lying in the excuse is thus exposed.  The seat of the sin is not in the eye but, as Jesus has already indicated in v. 28, in the heart...All excuses which blame the body and man's bodily nature as though these creations of God make lust and other sins inevitable, a mere function of our bodily being, just the course of nature, end in the absurdities of successive amputations until the whole body is thrown away."  In essence, if we blame the carnal drives of our flesh, then we have found a way to excuse the sinfulness of our heart.  Jesus exposes the root problem so that we might be seek the cure that will truly set us free.

Matthew 5:31

According to The Interpretation of Matthew of Lenski's commentaries, he says of this passage, "Here Jesus refers to Deuteronomy 24 only as the false Jewish justification for their evil practice in order to place over against this practice the true intent of God's commandment.  The school of Rabbi Shammai interpreted 'the shame of nakedness' (Hebrew), 'some uncleanness in her' (A.V.) in Deuteronomy 24:1 as denoting approaches to adultery (actual adultery being punished by death in Moses' time); the laxer school of Hillel, whom the Jewish practice followed, interpreted the expression as a reference to anything displeasing to the husband; Akiba permitted divorce when the husband found a more desirable wife."

Matthew 5:32

According to Lenski in The Interpretation of Matthew (pp. 230-235) "What Jesus declares as being the force of the Sixth Commandment regarding marriage is summarized in 19:6: 'What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.' God alone severs the bond by death, Romans 7:2,3.  Every other severance is excluded by the Sixth Commandment and takes place only when this commandment is violated.  Once this is understood, the words of Jesus become clearer, and several wrong interpretations are removed.  Jesus is not expounding Deuteronomy 24:1, but Exodus 20:14 as quoted in verse 27.  He is not setting up one cause for divorce over against the idea of many causes, but is forbidding all divorce and all causes for divorce as being against God's intent as expressed in Exodus 20:14.  Speaking to an audience of Jews who knew nothing of a woman's divorcing her husband, he naturally specifies only the case of the husband divorcing his wife.  The fact that among us where also wives divorce their husbands his words apply to them equally, needs hardly to be added;  see Mark 10:12, who writes for Gentiles.

          Those who say that Jesus here makes a wife’s fornication a legal cause for which a husband may secure a legal divorce make the word of Jesus a mere legal verdict whereas, in reality, it is something far more fundamental, namely the true moral exposition of the Sixth Commandment.  Fornication as such violates the commandment in the grossest fashion; and fornication on the part of a wife adds to this violation another that is equally gross;  by this act the wife severs her marital bond.  By it sje tjem amd tjere destroys her own marriage; and she does this apart from anything her husband may do in consequence, apart also from any law that he may invoke...Fornication on the part of either spouse breaks the Sixth Commandment in a double way: it also always destroys the marital bond.  That is why Jesus virtually says that the offended husband may dismiss a fornicating wife; apoluew refers to the Jewish situation.  He may rid himself of her; vice verse, if he be the fornicator, she may rid herself of him (not, indeed, according to the Jewish law but morally before God).  And she may do this without breaking the Sixth Commandment.  For it is the fornicator that destroys the marriage and left the spouse with a disrupted marriage.  Jesus is not discussing the legal steps that may or may not be taken.  Jesus does not legislate.

          The term logos here used is not "report" or rumor of fornication but is like aitai, ratio, "cause of fornication," the sin being a fact.  It is true, the ancient legal practice stoned the fornicatress and thus ended the matter of the marriage; but she was stoned as one who had broken her marriage.  At the time of Jesus this old law was not carried out; the legal practice was now that the husband might drive out the wife.  But here is a wife 'without cause of fornication,'  and yet for some reason or other her husband proceeds to destroy her marriage with him, o apoluwn ktl., 'he releases his wife' by making use of the lax law of the Jews (Jesus is speaking of them).  It is now the husband who destroys the marriage.  The guild of the breaking the commandment rests on him.  The innocent wife is by this man's action forced into a position similar to that of the innocent husband whose wife broke his marriage by her fornication.  Jesus says that by his act the husband forces the wife into a position that is contrary to the Sixth Commandment: 'he brings about that she is stigmatized as adulterous.'  The form moiceuqhnai is passive, and the agent of this passive is the husband.  Jesus makes this emphatic by using pouin he once for all forces his wife out of the marriage.  She who according to the commandment, ou moiceuseis, ought to be in her marriage, is now, contrary to the commandment, outside of it through the wicked action of her husband.

          Dictionaries, commentaries, and translators regard moiceuqhai and also moicatai as active and they do this in the face of verse 27, 28 where we have the actives: first the future moiceuqhnai then the aorist emoiceusen.  No attempt is made to prove that the passive forms of this verb have the same sense as the active.  Yet the passive moiceuqhnai is translated 'to commit adultery' (active).  This is done by adding in parenthesis: 'he makes her to commit adultery (in case she marries again)'  But this parenthesis is untenable.  When is this woman made what Jesus says?  The moment her husband drives her out whether she marries again or not.  Even when women such as this eventually marry again, they were made moiceuqhnai the very moment they were driven out.  It ought to be plain that Jesus here scores the husband who drives out his wife. Of what is the woman guilty?  Jesus has no indictment against her.  She is the one that is wronged; that is what the passive states, and doubly so with poiei before it.  Jesus here shows against whom this wicked husband sins: first against his innocent and helpless wife, and secondly against any man who may later on consent to marry her (hence the second passive moicatai). 

          ...A further complication is due to our helplessness in translating this passive infinitive (also the passive moicatai) into English.  We have no passive corresponding to the active 'to commit adultery.'  But this is no justification for translating these two passives as though they were actives like the two actives in verse 27, 28.  Since our English fails us here, we must express the two passive forms as best we can to bring out the passive sense of the Greek forms.  We attempt this by translating the infinitive, 'he brings about that she is stigmatized as adulterous,' and the finite verb, 'he is stigmatized as adulterous.'  We are ready to accept a better translation but only one that keeps the passive sense of the verbs.

          Nothing in the words of Jesus forbids such a woman (or, if the case is reverse, such a man) to marry again.  Such a prohibition is often assumed but is without warrant in Jesus' own words.  It is this assumption that led to the current mistranslations.  All that the passive moiceuqhnai states is that this woman has been forced into a position that appears to men as though she, too, had violated the commandment, ou moiceuseis.  She is an unfortunate woman whose marriage has been disrupted without guilt on her part.  Her wicked husband has fastened this stigma upon her.  Is is impossible for her to publish to all the world jus how she comes to be in the position forced upon her.  It ought to be apparent that here we have essentially the same case that Paul treats in 1 Corinthians 7:15.  The Jewish husband drives out his wife and thus disrupts the marriage; the Gentile husband leaves his wife and thus disrupts the marriage.  Both sunder the marriage.  Paul says, 'the sister (or if the case be the reverse; the brother) is not under bondage,' i.e., is free from the marriage which the ungodly spouse disrupted.  Exactly the same is true of the Jewish wife who is driven out by her husband.  These two are the one case not two as is quite generally assumed.  But we must stop talking about 'one' or 'two causes of divorce.' Neither Jesus nor Paul is stating causes for divorce; neither is legislating or speaking of legal steps.  Both are dealing with the sinful acts which disrupt a marriage in violation of the divine commandment.  It ought to be a great satisfaction to see that Paul and Jesu agree in every respect, and that Paul does not add anything to what Jesus stated.

          But the effect of the husband's evil act of driving out his wife affects not only the wife but also the any man who may eventually marry her.  Note the passive thn apolelumenhn, 'her that has been released or dismissed,' restating what Jesus said about the wicked act of this husband; his is the agent back of this passive participle.  The man who marries this wronged woman, he, too, moicatai, 'is stigmatized as adulterous.' The verb moicaw is in sense identical with moiceuw.  But here again this passive should not be overlooked.  This man as little 'commits adultery' as the woman 'commits adultery.'  Neither 'commits' anything, both have had something committed upon them.  The man who marries this woman therefore shares her position.  Hence also the present durative tense moicatai: he constantly bears this stigma; he is joined to a woman whose marriage has been destroyed by her former husband.  As long as both live, this shadow will follow them.  It is thus that Jesus unfolds to his Jewish hearers in the Jewish environment in which they live the vicious affects upon the innocent when the Sixth Commandment is wickedly transgressed by rending the marriage tie."


Matthew 19:3

The question raised here was one on which the schools of Shammai and Hillel differed.  Lenski states in The Interpretation of Matthew (pp. 727-728) "Shammai interpreted Deuteronomy 24:1 as follow:  'The man is not to release his wife unless he have found something indecent in her.'  He reverses the two Hebrew nouns 'erwath dabar and their grammatical relation and thus himself needs interpretation.  The LXX translate: oti eurhken en auth aschmon pragma.  Hillel allowed as a charge the fact taht in cooking the wife had burnt her husband's food; and Rabbi Akiba, referring especially to the expression, 'that she finds no favor in his eyes,' permitted her release when the husband found a better looking woman.  Shammai was stricter, Hillel utterly lax.

          The Pharisees lay Hillel's teaching before Jesus with the phrase 'for every aitia,' i.e. accusation that in some way charges guilt; kata contains the idea of cause, R. 609.  Since it is easier to be lax than to be strict, to go down hill than to go up, Hillel's views were followed by the Jews; and Josephus, Antiquities, 4, 8, 23 writes: 'He that desires to be divorced from his wife for any cause whatsoever---and many such causes happen among men---let him in writing give assurance that he never will use her as his wife any more, for by these means she may be at liberty to marry another husband, although before this bill of deliverance be given, she is not to be permitted to do so.'

          So the question before Jesus is, wherher he agrees with Hillel's exposition of Deuteronomy 24:1.  'Tempting him' means that they tried to make him compromise in some way.  If, for instance, he should agree with Hillel and the common Jewish practice, the Pharisees could side with Shammai and charge Jesus with moral laxity.  If he sided with Shammai who held that only actual shameful conduct could be a cause for divorce, Jesus could be reproached for his own friendly treatment of sinners.  The choice of either view would involve Jesus in the Jewish party disputes.  If, however, as the Pharisees most likely expected, Jesus should reject both Hillel and Shammai and declare himself against all divorce, they could charge him with contradicting even the law stated in Deuteronomy 24:1.  Tha Pharisees felt quite certain that they had asked a question which Jesus could not answer without great harm to himself."


Matthew 19:4

Lenski in The Interpretation of Matthew (pp. 728-729) states here, "The way in which the Pharisees propounded their question by asking 'Is it lawful (exestintin)?' revealed that they considered marriage and its dissolution a matter of legislation.  They expected Jesus to enter into a discussion of Deuteronomy 24:1.  Marriage is bound up with the very creation of man...It was a one-sided reading of the Scriptures when the Pharisees wrangled about Deuteronomy 24:1, and overlooked Genesis 1:27."

Matthew 19:5

Jesus stated that the marriage bond was closer than one's connection with father or mother:  "and the two shall become one flesh."  Marriage is a covenant (Malachi 2:14).  Covenant is more binding than birth.  The covenant of marriage requires a change in a person's relationship with their father and mother so that covenant relationship may be recognized as supreme over any former family ties.  Although Adam made these comments concerning a man leaving his father and mother and being joined to his wife, it is clear that Jesus considers his words to reflect the very thought of God.

Matthew 19:6

Jesus emphasizes the permanence of marriage when He states, "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh."  They are no longer two as in father and son, mother and son, etc. but one flesh.  Lenski says in The Interpretation of Matthew, "The physical union consummated in marriage actually makes 'one flesh' of the two.  And it ought to be self-evident that, therefore, this union is to be permanent. But since this is vital for the question brought up by the Pharisees, Jesus states this deduction (oun) in so many words: 'What, therefore, God yoked together, let man not divide apart.'  When persons are involved, a neuter such a 'o' makes the reference abstract an general and thus stronger:  'anything' joined together by God.  The aorist is generally considered timeless, yet here it marks time antecedent to the main verb and is thus in place for this reason.  In connections such as this the English prefers the perfect, 'has yoked together.'  The implication is that any man who divides what God has thus by his own creation united into one, flies into the face of God and his will---a serious opposition, indeed.  How indissoluble marriage is according to God's own creation is thus made clear.  Did these Pharisees never read these words or Scripture and think on what they obviously declare?" (p. 730)

Matthew 19:7

The Pharisees illustrate here a false presumption that Moses did "command" that divorce take place.  They fail to realize that God never intended divorce to take place at all.  They were focusing on the legal procedure allowed by Moses but not on the will of God.


Matthew 19:8

Lenski in The Interpretation of Matthew states "What Jesus says is that the command of Moses was only a permission and nothing more.  Something had intervened since God, by creating man as he did, created marriage, namely sin, which wrought havoc, also in the marriage relation.  It produced the hardness of the heart which at times made marriage a bond that people wanted to dissolve...The regulation of Moses was nothing more than a concession to this evil condition and never went beyond this.  It thus consisted of nothing but a legal form of dissolving marriage.  It thus also bore testimony only to the hardness of so many hearts, and no man in his senses could conclude that by this Mosaic regulation God has altered his original intention concerning the permanency of marriage.  Any man who wanted to know God's will concerning marriage would not, therefore, examine only Deuteronomy 24:1; he would go back to Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 as Jesus had done.  He would have to see how it 'has been from the beginning.' 

          Note also 'your' hardness of heart, and again, permitted 'you,' both pronouns referring only to the Jews and Pharisees.  Godly Jews themselves made no use of the Mosaic permission but kept their marriages inviolate as God had intended.  These pronouns read as though Jesus disavows the permission of Moses as far as his disciples are concerned.  As true followers of Jesus no hardness of heart will develop in them that requires such a humiliating concession." (pp. 731-732)

Matthew 19:9

Lenski states in The Interpretation of Matthew, "From Mark 10:10, 11 one might conclude that Jesus spoke this word only to the disciples after they and Jesus had gone into the house; but this is not necessary.  We may assume that Jesus concluded this answer to the Pharisees with this final statement and then repeated it in the house during the discussion with the disciples, of whom Matthew also speaks in v. 10.

          'And I say to you,' here without emphatic egw, does not intend to contradict what Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 24:1; Jesus has already explained how this Mosaic regulation had been arranged because of the hardness of heart of the Jews.  With 'I say to you' Jesus contradicts the Pharisaic perversion of Deuteronomy 24:1, and goes back to Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 by which he has made the correction.  The statement itself differs only slightly from 5:32.  Therefore Jesus brings out the thought that the man who rids himself of his wife (save for fornication) commits a grave sin against her and thus also against any man who may later on marry her.  In 5:32 it is enough to say, 'Every man releasokgn his wife,' for already that, without his marrying another, constitutes the terrible wrong against her.  In Mark 10:11 this wronging of the wife is retained in the phrase ep authn, 'in regard to her.'  Matthew's simple moicatai without this phrase in no way ways that the wife is not wronged, for it is self-evident that she is; the unmodified verb stresses the wrong act committed by the man.

          ...The real sin is beyond question the disruption of the marriage, which is caused by sending away the wife.  The man's marrying another is only the aggravating circumstance.  It is here added on the is account and because the Jews rid themselves of their wives for the very purpose of marrying another.

          ...'Except for fornication' is explained in 5:32.  The wording is different, but the sense is quite the same. The claim that nothing can be determined from these words regarding the man who releases his fornicatious wife and then marries another, is unwarranted.  The implication is too plain that if he marries again he is not rendered adulterous.  Jesus spoke to Jews whose law gave the right of divorce only to the husband and not to the wife.  When Mark in 10:11, 12 writes for former Gentiles he places husband and wife on the same level; for the sense of Jesus is that neither is to get rid of the other.  Since fornication by itself disrupting the marriage, forms the exception, this, like any exception, may or may not be added when the principle is stated;  thus in 5:32 and in 19:9 it is added, while in Mark 10:11,12 it is not.

          In all his utterances Jesus treats only the immorality involved in the disruption of marriage, whether this immorality emanates from the husband or from the wife, and not the legal actions of a court of law.  Even when he refers to Deuteronomy 24:1 and what was considered legal among the Jews (among whom, however no court action took place in dissolving a husband's marriage) Jesus treats only the moral side, namely the hardness of the heart and the consequent defection from God's original intention.  It leads only to confusion when we speak of 'divorce' and think of a court action and apply the utterance of Jesus to that.  The sin of destroying a marriage is in the heart and the action of the husband or of the wife (possibly in both); this is what destroys the marriage.  Going to the court for a legal edict is only a subsequent result and not the main point.  A disrupted marriage is a disrupted marriage and thus a vicious sin against the will, Word, and command of God, whether some court action is added, as in our day, or is not needed, as in Jesus' day.

          In the case of a disruption by fornication only the Roman Catholic Church and a few others deny remarriage to the innocent party.  In the case of a disruption from other causes many more deny remarriage to the innocent.  This denial cannot be based on 5:32 and its insertion into 19:9, but the translation:

causeth her to commit adultery' (i.e., by her marrying again).  The A.V. makes alos the man she marries 'commit adultery,' the R.V. has about the same meaning.  The point of the utterance of Jesus is his condemnation of the disruption no matter what the cause may have been.  The point should not be shifted to the cause of the disruption, whether this be grave or light.  Whatever the cause, a disrupted marriage is a disrupted marriage.  So Paul treats the class of disruptions that came within his experience, 1 Corinthians 7:15, and permits the innocent to remarry.  As regards the guilty one who causes the disruption, the way of repentance is surely open also for such a sinner as it is for any other who has caused an irreparable wrong to another." (pp. 732-735)


1 Corinthians 7:10

Lenski states in The Interpretation of I and II Corinthians, "We may note that Paul is not dealing with a case in which a Christian wife or husband commits fornication and thereby disrupts the marriage tie;  Jesus, too, disregards this in Matthew 5 as needing no comment since it eo ipso destroys the marriage.  It is likewise important to note that, like Jesus, Paul is not speaking of divorce in the sense of court action such as we connect with the word 'divorce.'  Marriage between Christians is to be permanent and neither spouse is to dissolve it.  The wife is not to permit anything to separate her from her husband, the husband is not to send away his wife, whether in addition either of them goes also to a secular court and has the disruption made legally permanent or not." (pp. 286-287)

1 Corinthians 7:12

"But to the rest" speaks of those who are in mixed marriages.  Jews were forbidden by Moses to make marriages with the heathen and unbelieving (Deuteronomy 7:3-4).  The same applies to Christians (1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14)  In fact, although divorce is something God hates, He did allow it in the days of Ezra (see Ezra 9) as a righteous act when the people of Israel disobeyed this command and took for themselves wives from among the people of the land.  The report to Ezra by the leaders was, "For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the people's of those lands." (Ezra 9:2)  The solution came when the people of Israel mourned their action and said to Ezra, "Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away (divorce) these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law." (Ezra 10:3)

          Here Paul is most likely addressing not those who have been disobedient to the command of the Lord, but to those who became believers after being married as unbelievers.  When a husband or wife becomes a believer and the other does not, there usually develops a great stress in the relationship caused by the new tension arising from the now two opposing value systems.  Paul states in these cases that the believing spouse should not divorce the unbelieving spouse if they are willing to live with them.  Paul does not intend that the believer compromise their walk with Christ in order to do so.  What he means is that if the unbelieving wife is willing to live with her now believing husband in light of the demands of his Christian faith, then the believing husband should remain in the marriage and not seek a divorce.  Thus the importance of marriage is upheld without the demand of compromise.  The issue of dissent is left in the hands of the unbeliever, not in the hands of the believer.

1 Corinthians 7:13

Paul here applies the principle of verse 12 to the case of a believing with who is married to an unbelieving husband. (see notes on verse 12)   Once again, if the unbelieving husband is content to live with his believing wife in light of the new demands of her Christian faith, then the believing wife should remain in the marriage to her husband.  The issue of dissent is left in the hands of the unbeliever, not in the hands of the believer.


1 Corinthians 7:14

Paul now gives the reason for his instruction for believing spouses to remain in their marriages to consenting unbelieving spouses.  Rather than the unbeliever contaminating the believing spouse, Paul indicates that the opposite is true.  He states that the unbelieving spouse is "sanctified" (made holy) by the believing spouse.  This does not mean that the unbeliever is personally sanctified.  All unbelievers are unsanctified personally.  However, Paul uses the passive "have been sanctified" and then the two en phrases which mean "in connection with his wife," "in connection with the husband."  There is an element of holiness that is conferred upon the unbelieving spouse by virtue of their connection in marriage to the believing spouse.  The unbelieving spouse is party to a Christian marriage and, therefore, reaps the blessings of such a union.  In the same way, the children born into such a marriage are also sanctified in the same way as the husband.  In such a marriage, the children are "holy" from the moment they are born.  The believing parent should take comfort in the realization that God sees their children as "holy" rather than contaminated and rejected by God due to such a marriage.

1 Corinthians 7:15

Lenski in The Interpretation of I and II Corinthians states "In verse 11 Paul uses the passives cwrisqhnai and cwrisqh.  One might regard cwrizetai and cwrizesqw as passives; but they are intended to be middle because the unbelieving husband separates himself.  He simply leaves his believing wife.  Whether he also process to procure a legal divorce makes no difference in the case whatsoever.  What disrupts and destroys the marriage is the fact that he keeps himself separated.  Paul uses a condition of reality and thus thinks of an actual case.  The two verbs are durative:  'If he keeps himself separate, let him keep himself separate.'  In the expression o anhr o apisto" the addition of the adjective by means of a second article emphasizes the adjective: 'the husband, the unbelieving one", and thus makes evident that it is his unbelief which causes him to abandon his wife and thus ends his marriage with her.

          Paul writes succinctly: cwrizesqw, 'let him keep himself separate!' Short and done with.  What can, indeed, be done when an unbeliever takes such action?  The marriage is ended; let it remain thus.  While Paul writes o anhp o apisto", we see that he has in mind both cases, an unbelieving husband deserting his believing wife, an unbelieving wife deserting her believing husband.  What is now the status of such a believing spouse?  'The brother or sister has not been placed in bondage en toi" toioutoi", in such circumstances.'  The verb is placed emphatically forward and is itself strong: 'not has been enslaved the brother or sister.'

          The perfect tense states more than the present tense in our versions.  The perfect reaches back to the day when the unbelieving spouse entered upon the desertion and states that from that moment onward the believing spouse has not been held bound.  From that day onward the fetters of the marriage tie have been broken and remain so, now and indefinitely.  The deserting spouse broke them.  No law binds the believing spouse.  Let us add that no odium on the part of Christians has a right to bind such a believing, deserted spouse.  It goes without saying that a believing spouse will by Christian kindness and persuasion do all that can be done to prevent a rupture.  But when these fail, Paul's verdict is: 'Thou art free!'

          Desertion is exactly like adultery in its effect.  Both disrupt the marriage tie.  For that matter, the case is the same as when in olden times a wife was forced out of the home by her husband.  The essence of marriage is union.  When this is disrupted, the union which God intended to be a permanent one is destroyed, sinfully destroyed.  There is only this difference in the case of adultery, the innocent spouse may forgive and continue the marriage, or may accept the dire result, the sundering of the marriage.  In the case of desertion the former is not possible;  the deserted spouse can no long continue the marriage, for none exists.  To speak, as is generally done, of 'two causes of divorce; is a mistake.  In the first place, neither Jesus nor Paul discusses what we term 'divorce,' namely legal court action; both speak about what destroys a marriage.  In the second place, just as a man may be murdered in various ways, the one frightful thing being that he is murdered, so no matter how a marriage is destroyed, the terrible thing is its destruction.

          It is a separate matter as to what the innocent spouse does by way of obtaining the civil court action regarding his or her status in civil law in regard to property rights and the like.  Court action may be most necessary after a marriage is wrecked but it should not be considered the all-important thing, nor should it be confused with what has actually destroyed the marriage.  In the case of desertion, when a spouse runs away, a special question arises: 'Will the one has deserted perhaps change his (her) mind and return?'  Both the church and the courts have rightly set time limits as to how long the innocent party should wait until a formal pronouncement is made to the effect that the desertion is, indeed, permanent.  While setting such a time limit is a human matter, ecclesiastical or legally secular, it harmonizes with Paul's decision

          When Paul adds: 'but God has called us to peace,' he refers to the peace with our fellow men.  The perfect tense 'has called' points to the enduring state of the Christians as people who are now living under God's gracious and effective gospel call, a call that is connected with 'peace,' which is not merely the opposite of strife but includes the idea of well-being.  The implication is that a deserting spouse shall not destroy this 'peace.' Paul at once adds a plain explanation that is intended to protect this peace against the false legalistic ideas of Christians who are inclined to go to extremes." (pp. 294-296)


1 Corinthians 7:16

Lenski comments in The Interpretation of I and II Corinthians, "This explanation (gar) is directed against the one point that might be urged by a s deserted Christian's conscience against peacefully accepting such desertion, namely the thought of thus losing all opportunity of saving the unbelieving spouse.  For how knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband?  or how knowest thou, O husband, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

          The vocatives make the questions highly personal and thus the more effective.  If here or there a spouse grieved over such a supposed lost opportunity, Paul brushes such grief aside.  A Christian wife will, indeed, try to win an unbelieving husband, 1 Peter 3:1: 'That, even if any obey not the Word, they may without the Word be gained by the behavior of their wives.'  A Christian husband will do the same.  But what opportunity can be found when a spouse is so adverse as eventually to separate himself or herself entirely?  Thus the two questions answer themselves: 'How knowest thou?' ti, adverbial accusative: 'in what respect.'  The wife and the husband will have to answer: ' I have no way of knowing.'  And Paul's implied reply is: 'Then dismiss the matter.'  After all, the business of saving a soul belongs to God; he alone determines the human instruments as well as all other providential aids which he will employ.  Let not even a spouse assume too readily that she or he is the God-chosen instrument.

          These questions have been understood in the exactly opposite sense.  Such a sense may be obtained by making verse 15 a parenthesis and thus connecting verse 16 with the phrase 'in peace' in verse 15; the Christian, being called in peace, will convert the non-Christian spouse to this same peace.  Both combinations are artificial, and both rest on a preconception, namely that the believing spouse will save the unbelieving---the very thing which Paul questions, the very thing which often did not happen, unbelieving spouses even going so far as to desert the believing for the very reason that they believed.  There is no need to make verse 15 a parenthesis; no casual reader could surmise that this is Paul's intention.  To attach verse 16 to a subordinate clause in verse 15 is unsatisfactory, since it fits the chief thought exactly:  the Christian spouse is not bound. Nor does ei mean ob nicht, 'whether not,' in the New Testament, ei = 'whether.'


1 Corinthians 7:27

Lenski comments in The Interpretation of I and II Corinthians, "The two perfect tenses employed in the two questions, literally: 'has thou been bound' and 'hast thou been released,' refer to the present conditions as a result of a past act.  Didst thou marry at one time, and art thou thus married now?  Wast thou in some way released from the marriage tie at some past time, and art thou still thus released?  The questions are direct, personal, and thus stronger than mere conditional clauses would be.  Paul addresses men, for he speaks about being bound to a wife or being released from a wife.  Yet this is true in the case of women as well as in the case of men.  In fact, both the questions and the answers include the women as well as the men, nor could the men possibly be treated as exceptions...But if a person is not as yet married, Paul's advice applies not to seek marriage because of the present distress." (pp. 313-314)


1 Corinthians 7:28

Lenski comments in The Interpretation of I and II Corinthians, "'If thou shalt marry' is addressed to a man although it, of course, involves also some unmarried women to whom he is to be married.  Because, however, the question at issue is one concerning unmarried girls, Paul singles out such an individual in particular: 'and if the maiden shall marry.'  He twice uses the condition that expresses expectancy.  For some reason already stated in verse 9 marriages of all types will necessarily take place, and Paul himself writes: 'Let them marry!'  In the first protasis some texts have ghmh", others gamhsh", which is only a later form of the aorist.  The aorist is used in both conditional clauses because the rite is a single act, but the subjunctive refers to the future: if thou 'shalt marry'; if she 'shall marry.'  Yet both of the apodoses have aorist indicatives which refer to the past: 'thou didst not sin,' 'she did not sin.' This is matter of viewpoint: a future act is considered from the standpoint of its completion and is then spoken of as if it were already done.

          Viewing these coming marriages in this manner, Paul declares in regard to all of them, including in particular that of a maiden: there was no sin in forming these marriages.  The whole matter of marrying in spite of the present distress or of not marrying because of the present distress has nothing to do with committing or with avoiding sin.  No one must entertain such an idea or draw conclusions from such an idea." (p. 315)


Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage by Keith Hassell

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