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Mark 10v1-31 Divorce

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Mark 10:1-31

The Question of divorce.                        v1-12

In any group discussion on this subject it is well to be aware that possibly, someone within the group has been through a divorce themselves; certainly most people have experience in their close family circle. Unwise and unloving remarks can cause deep hurt and do not help us get at Biblical truth./

The motivation in the question is clear to draw Jesus into controversy. There were then (as now) those who argued for the permitting of divorce for any reason however trivial. Others sought to ban it all together.

Historical comments

Only men could divorce their wives not vice versa.

In practice the rich could divorce for any reason.

The context of the passage seems clearly to be the debate between the followers of tow Rabbi’s Shammai and Hilliel over the permissible causes of divorce. “Is it permissible for any cause?” “Is it permissible for every cause?”

Shammai          -           only for “indecency”.

Hilliel                -           trivial grounds such as poor cooking.

This has varied in different ages and branches of the Church. The theological position that on very restricted grounds, divorce is permissible though always less than perfect, and that such divorce leaves the (innocent) party free to remarry, is the Protestant norm. The overwhelming number of evangelical commentators would interpret the relevant scriptures in that way!

The Westminster Confession of Faith, for instance acknowledges two causes for divorce: (1) “adultery”; and (2) “such wilful desertion as can in no way be remedied by the Church or civil magistrate.”

Comments on the passage

1)      v4 even the questioners use the word “permitted” indicating that it was neither “commanded” nor “encouraged”.

2)      Divorce was never the perfect will of God, at best only his permissive will.

3)      v6 God’s original intent and creation ordinance was lifelong either

a)      Lifelong, monogamous, heterosexual marriage               or

b)      Celibacy

4)      v7  Notice the importance of a man and woman “leaving their parents” as well as “cleaving” to each other.

5)      v 8+9 The sexual act makes them “one flesh” a bond that should not be broken.

6)      v11 The consequence of “unsanctioned divorce” is that those who then enter into fresh relationships are in an adulteress state.

Don’t forget Matthew

Matthew 19:9

9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”                   The New International Version

The King James Version,                    fornication

New King James Version                    sexual immorality

New American Standard                     immorality


The Greek word is porneiva/  (pornea) from which we get our word pornography. It always means sexual immorality of some sort.

And what about Paul

 1Corinthian 7:15

Here Paul says, “a wife is bound to her husband if he is willing to remain with her; but if he deserts her, she is free from him.”  That is, wilful desertion annuls the marriage bond.  This desertion, however, must be deliberate and final.  This is implied in the whole context.  The case contemplated is where the unbelieving husband refuses any longer to regard his believing partner as his wife.

Practical Questions

Q1       If we forbid remarriage on any ground are we exceeding the warrant of Scripture and failing to do what God does and take account of human frailty and sinfulness?

Q2       In the climate of “easy divorce” (though, there is perhaps no such thing, emotionally, for the people husband / wife / children / families / friends involved) how do we maintain the ideal of marriage set out above?

Q3       How can we help our children and young people so that they can defeat the present trend and have lasting marriages?

Jesus and the children.                                   v13-16

The Greek here is paidivon  (paidon) meaning infants or toddlers

Q4       In what practical ways can we “welcome and bless” little children within our church?

Q5       What are the characteristics of little children that make them a suitable illustration of real faith?

The rich young ruler.                                        v17-31

v18      Christ is giving this man a chance to do two things

1          Realise his own sinfulness                                  2          Accept the Deity of Jesus.

The reference to Jesus looking and loving would seem to indicate that the previous statement was neither a wilful lie nor an example of pride.

Q6       Why are riches such a snare?

Q7       Why did the disciples feel that if the rich couldn’t enter heaven no one could? (v25+26)

Q8       How do we make these gains in this present age? (v30)

Q9       Discuss this statement   -10:31 “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” NIV

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