Keith Hunt - Biblical Studies Restitution of All Things


                                Part One


                               Keith Hunt

   There are nearly as many DIVORCES in one year today as there
   Some say once a marriage is bound by God there can NEVER be a
DIVORCE under ANY circumstances. 
   Others say God does allow divorce and remarriage in ANY
   The ANSWERS to the question of DIVORCE and REMARRIAGE can be
found in the BIBLE. 
Let us prayerfully SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES and find those answers.
   So God created man in his own image... MALE and FEMALE he
created them  (Gen. 1:27).
   The Eternal made woman from mant s RIB and brought her unto
the man (Gen. 2:21,22).
     Therefore [because woman was created FOR man and FROM man]
shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall CLEAVE
unto his WIFE; and they shall be ONE FLESH (Gen. 2:24).
   Marriage was instituted when the first MAN and WOMAN were
   Now TWO questions will immediately arise : 1) Did God
originally purpose and intend that marriage between TWO people be
for LIFE, till death do them part? 2)Does the LAW of marriage
apply to ALL peoples of all societies?

                        THE ANSWER TO QUESTION ONE

   The account in Genesis does not give us a "Thus says the LORD"
answer to our first question, but when Jesus was asked
questions on marriage and divorce by the Pharisees, He took them
back to the account in Genesis that we just read and told them
that DIVORCE was PERMITTED under Moses' economy because of the
HARDNESS of the people's hearts, "....BUT FROM THE BEGINNING IT
WAS NOT SO" (Mat. 19:8).
   God never INTENDED originally for there to be DIVORCES. He did
intend for a couple to come together as husband and wife until
DEATH. That is the ideal -  marriage for life.
   Paul, using God's original, basic intent of the marriage law
to illustrate another point to his readers, said this, "Know you
not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law), how that
the law has dominion over a man AS LONG AS HE LIVES? For the
woman which has a husband is bound by the law to her husband so
LONG AS HE LIVES; but if the husband be DEAD, she is LOOSED from
the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she
be MARRIED TO ANOTHER man, she shall be called an ADULTERESS; but
if her husband be DEAD, she is FREE from the law, so that she is
NO ADULTERESS, though she be married to another man" (Rom.7:1-3).
   Paul understood God's original, overall intent and wish for
man and woman coming together as one flesh.
   God does not think lightly of DIVORCE! He says "....Therefore
TAKE HEED to your spirit, and let none deal TREACHEROUSLY
[UNFAITHFULLY] against the wife of his youth. FOR the Lord, the
God of Israel, saith that He HATES PUTTING AWAY ..." (Mal.
   We will look at THIS PASSAGE in some detail later.
   Under God's perfect government (as it was with ADAM and EVE
before SIN entered) there would be no divorce. Why?  Because
His Spirit would be upon everyone. Mothers and fathers would
raise their children in the way of the Lord  - they would teach
them the purpose of life, how to date and find the right mate and
enter a marriage that would be a lifelong joy. Under God's
government there would be NO NEED and NO DESIRE for DIVORCE.
   But the world is NOT under the government of God - that
government was taken away when SATAN enticed mankind to sin.
The world for the present is under the influence and sway of the
Satanic forces (see Mat. 4:1-2, 8-9; Eph. 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:4). There
is coming a RESTITUTION of ALL THINGS (Acts 3: 19-21), an AGE to
COME (Heb. 2:5) when MARRIAGE will be RESTORED to God's original
intent. (If you would like to know more about the prophesied NEW
WORLD to come, request our study lesson called, "ARMAGEDDON and
the NEW AGE").
   Jesus knew the Fathers's intention for marriage.
   He knew that from the BEGINNING the Father did not want and
did not intend for there to be DIVORCE, when He said, "....from
the BEGINNING it was not so." But Jesus also realized this
present world was not the Father's world, so He went on to say,
"....Whosoever shall put away his wife, EXCEPT it be for
fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery, and
whoever marries her which is put away does commit adultery" (Mat.
   Jesus did allow - in this present age - DIVORCE and REMARRIAGE
for either partner (God is no respecter of persons) if either
was guilty of FORNICATION. The question of what is meant by
fornication we shall look at in detail later.

   Jesus did give an EXCEPTION. We shall see later that there are
other exceptions also.

                       THE ANSWER TO QUESTION TWO

peoples - COMMON LAW or whatever other name is given to those
outside the "Christian church marriages"  RECOGNIZED by God? Is
it just as much a SIN for them to commit adultery as it is for
the Christian? Does the Seventh Commandment apply to them, or is
it only for those who follow the Bible?
   Down through history people have said that the SABBATH (the
Fourth Commandment) is for the JEW or Israelite only, and
the rest of mankind does not have to observe that day. Jesus
Christ must have anticipated this deceitful thought of man,
because He said, "The sabbath was made for MAN, and not man for
the sabbath: therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the
Sabbath" (Mark 2:27-28). No, the Sabbath was not made for the JEW
- it was not made for the "church in the wilderness" ONLY (Acts
7:38) or just the New Testament Church of God, but for ALL
MANKIND. The Sabbath was instituted by God at the creation of
man, for all mankind, before there ever was ONE converted human
being (Gen. 2:1-3). When a person repents and is baptized, he
repents of having broken God's laws - because those laws are in
full force and effect on his life and it is sin not to obey them
(I Jn. 3:4; Rom. 7:7).
   In becoming a true Christian, one has to repent of SIN -
which includes the breaking of the Sabbath, stealing and lying -
whether one knew those laws existed or not. If they were broken,
SIN was committed. As the saying goes, "ignorance of the law is
no excuse."
   The marriage law is as old as the Sabbath.
   Marriage was also created at the time when man was (Gen. 2:18,
24 and Mark 10:6-9). It was instituted BEFORE there was a church,
BEFORE there was one converted person, BEFORE there was any
Israelite. As with the Sabbath, marriage was also made for ALL
mankind. As the Scripture says, "Therefore shall a MAN (any man,
not just the converted) leave his father and his mother, and
shall cleave unto his WIFE; and they shall be one flesh" (Gen.
2:24). Furthermore, "WHOSOEVER shall put away his wife, except
it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth
adultery" (Mat. 19:9). If a person has violated God's marriage
laws before conversion, he must repent of those sins as much as
any other sin he has committed by breaking any of the other nine

   ABIMELECH the king of Gerar KNEW it was SIN to take another
man's wife. "But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and
said to him, Behold, you are but a DEAD man for the woman which
you have taken; for she is married to a husband(margin). But
Abimelech had not come near her (in sexual contact) .... And God
said unto him in a dream, Yes, I know that you did this in the
integrity of your heart; for I also withheld you from SINNING
against me; therefore I suffered you not to touch her" (Gen.
20:1-6). Even in ignorance, Abimelech would have sinned if he had
taken her in sexual union.
   When Isaac dwelt in Gerar, he also proclaimed that Rebekah was
only his sister and not his wife. The king Abimelech found out
Rebekah was Isaac's wife and said to him, "....What is this that
you have done unto US? ONE OF THE PEOPLE (any one) might lightly
have lain with your wife, and you would have brought GUILTINESS
upon us" (Gen. 26: 6-10).
   The laws of God were known before the FLOOD and after the
Flood by the nations of the world. The law of marriage was
binding on all peoples and it was SIN to have sexual relations 
with anyone other than your own husband or wife. 

   Even when God specifically chose a people, Israel, to do His
will and revealed His laws to them, there was still to be "ONE
LAW ... to him that is homeborn, and unto the STRANGER that
sojourneth among you" (Ex. 12:49).
   There are PHYSICAL LAWS that the Eternal God has set in
motion. The law of "gravity" effects ALL people on earth, whether
they know it exists or not, whether they believe in God or not,
whether they are a Christian or none Christian, black or brown or
white - English, French, Italian or German etc. all come under
the penalty of they break the law of gravity.

   God's Ten Commandments are a SPIRITUAL law (Rom. 7:14). Spirit
is eternal - it is in full force at all times and affects ALL
people just as do the physical laws. The marriage law is one of
those spiritual laws - it does not matter what your race,
nationality, or ideological viewpoint, break that law and you
have sinned.
   It is interesting to note in passing, that history tells us
that for many centuries in the Roman Empire, it was not only
impossible to get a DIVORCE but was also looked upon as a SHAME.
By the time of the apostles and after, DIVORCE in the that Empire
had become just as prevalent as it is with our Western nations of
   God's laws are made not for the righteous, but  "..... for the
lawless and disobedient" (I Tim. 1:9-10).  They are made not only
to protect us from evil but to show EVERYONE where he/she has
SINNED and broken those laws (Rom.7:7), and that includes the
law of two persons coming together and being bound as husband and
wife in ONE flesh. 
   As I have said, ignorance is NO excuse!

   Paul was a BENJAMITE and a Pharisee - as pertaining to
JUDAISM, blameless (Phil 3:5,6). He was, as we would say today,
a good "minister of the cloth." He THOUGHT he knew the law of God
and was living it. It was not until Jesus struck him down on the
road to Damascus - revealed Himself to Paul, and gave him His
Spirit - that he began to UNDERSTAND the deep spirituality of the
law. Up to that time in his life, he was DECEIVED and IGNORANT
about SIN and death. I will PARAPHRASE what Paul said in Romans
7:8-11. "Sin, taking the opportunity by the vehicle of the
commandments, had performed all kinds of evil in my life.
Far not really understanding the depth of the law, I thought sin
did not exist in my life. I believed, in that condition of
ignorance, that I was spiritually alive and okay. But when the
full knowledge of the law came to me, then I knew sin was alive
in my life and I was sentenced to die. And the commandments,
which were given to produce a good life for people, I found were
condemning me to death. For sin had, as it were, taken the
commandments and DECEIVED me, kept me in ignorance as to truth,
and thereby put me on death row."
   Does God join together men and women who are not a part of the
body of Christ? Let Proverbs 2:16,17 answer. "Saving you also
from the loose woman, the harlot with her words so smooth, who
leaves her own husband, forgetting her married troth before
God" (Moffatt translation).

                         A PROPHECY FOR TODAY

   The book of Hosea contains a prophecy for the peoples of the
British Commonwealth and the USA. 
   For the identity of  Britain and the United States in Bible
prophecy you need to have the book entitled JUDAH S SCEPTRE 
AND JOSEPH S  BIRTHRIGHT by Allen, published by Destiny
Publishers, Merrimac, Mass.). 
   It is a prophecy for the "latter days" (Hos. 3:5). One of the
pivotal texts of the entire Bible is Hosea 4: 6, in which God
shows that HIS VERY PEOPLE "are destroyed for lack of knowledge."
It wasn't that they didn't HAVE the knowledge of God at one time.
They did! But they REJECTED and FORGOT God's law. Besides other
things, they are guilty of committing adultery and have the
"spirit of whoredoms" (Hos. 4:2. 12 and 5:4).
   In Hosea 8:12, God says, ".....I have written to him the great
things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing"
   Or as the LIVING BIBLE states: "Even if I gave her ten
thousand laws, she'd say they weren't for her - that they APPLIED
to SOMEONE FAR AWAY." Notice! In the last days some will say that
God's law or certain points of His law apply to others or no
longer apply to them! Yet God says His laws are for all who have
human nature and who sin (I Tim. 1: 9,10). And all mankind are
sinners (Rom. 3:10,19,23).

   God s law of marriage - the Seventh Commandment - applies to
ALL people at all times.

                       WHAT CONSTITUTES MARRIAGE?

   This is a question that is often asked early in a study on
marriage and divorce. It needs to be answered. It is not the
purpose of this book to relate all the practices and customs of
marriage ceremonies as they developed in the history of man and
the pages of the Bible. For information and answers to those
questions, the readers are asked to consult BIBLE DICTIONARIES

   What does constitute a marriage in the eyes of God? There are
THREE BASIC ELEMENTS of the marriage law revealed in Genesis

   (1) Marriage involves the INTENT of leaving the parent's home
and authority to establish a new family. It is the beginning of
a new husband and wife relationship. Thus the statement,
"Therefore shall a man LEAVE his father and his mother."
   (2) Next, the man "shall CLEAVE unto his wife."
   They are to be joined together in a covenant relationship with
each other. With forethought and consent, they desire to live
together and establish a home together.
   (3) The last major element of the marriage law is that "they
shall be one flesh." This includes sexual intercourse, which in
marriage is honorable (Heb. 13:4) and commanded (Gen. 1:28; I
Cor. 7:3-5). It is holy and sacred to God when rightly used in
marriage, but an abomination to Him when perverted or used
outside marriage. Sex in marriage cements a couple together more
firmly as the years go by. It is that very personal and intimate
physical part of marriage between two persons of the opposite

                              CHAPTER TWO

                          DIVORCE UNDER MOSES

   Most of what I have written in this chapter is taken from the
book "Divorce and Re-marriage" by Ralph Woodrow.

   Jesus said that under Moses' economy God did ALLOW divorce and
remarriage. In fact it was allowed on a somewhat wide scale.
   In Exodus, if a man took a slave girl he had purchased for a
wife, and later decided to put her away, he was not to SELL her,
"seeing he has dealt deceitfully with her." And "if HE TAKES
ANOTHER WIFE, her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage,
shall he not diminish. If he does not these three unto her, then
she shall go out free" (Exodus 21:7-11). If he neglected her in
any of these three areas, she could be free from that marriage,
just as a released slave was free from slavery.
   In Deuteronomy, a man who put away his wife was to "let her go
whither she will" and he was not to "sell her at all for money"
(Deut. 21:13,14). A divorced woman was free to "go and be another
man's wife" (Deut. 24: 2). True, this was not the ideal - but as
Jesus said, it was ALLOWED by God, because of the HARDNESS of
man's heart (Mat. 19:8).

                              MALACHI 2:16

   "For the Lord, the God of Israel, says that he hates putting
away," or, as it is commonly summarized, God hates divorce - ALL
divorce, under any situation, shout some.

   This verse is often quoted by those who suppose ALL    divorce
is sinful, regardless of circumstances, but they fail to show
from the CONTEXT just WHAT KIND of divorce was meant.

   To say that God NEVER approves of divorce, that He hates ALL
divorce - and they quote this verse as a proof text. But we
shall now proceed to show this  is unscholarly.
   It can easily be seen within the Bible that God not only
permitted divorce under the Old Covenant (and Malachi was written
when still under the old dispensation) but in some situations He
actually COMMANDED IT! At one time "many" of the Jews  including
priests, religious singers, and others, had married foreign
wives. Children had been born as a result of those marriages. Yet
in a time of repentance - with prayer,  weeping, and trembling,
they were told to do God's pleasure and put away those wives! It
is all recorded in detail in Ezra 10.

   If the meaning in Malachi 2:16 is that ALL cases of divorce
were "hated" by God, how can we explain that divorce was His
"pleasure" in Ezra 10:11?
   Obviously, each passage must be understood WITHIN ITS CONTEXT.

   In the book of Ezra, Jewish men had married foreign wives,
contrary to the law that said:
   "Neither shall you make marriages with them (foreigners who
worshipped other gods): your daughter you shall not give unto
his son, nor his daughter shall you take for your son. FOR they
will turn away your son from following me, that they may serve
OTHER GODS" (Deut. 7:3-4). This issue was not so much racial as
   In Malachi's day, a similar situation existed in that Jewish
men had contracted marriages with foreign women, and had FORSAKEN
were marrying were DAUGHTERS OF A STRANGE GOD! Notice verse 11.
"Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed
in Israel ... for Judah ... has married the daughter of a strange
god."  I recommend you  read verses 11-17 in such translations as
STANDARD VERSION. Men were forsaking their wives for young,
foreign women who worshipped other gods! It was THIS KIND of
divorce that God hated. Taking verse 16 in context clarifies the
entire passage. We must not take this text out of its context and
conclude that ALL divorce is sinful, for (as we have seen)
divorce was permitted under the Old Covenant, and in some
circumstances it was commanded.

                           A VARIANT READING

   There is another aspect of Malachi 2:16 that has commonly been
overlooked. This verse happens to have a variant reading in
the oldest manuscripts. Where the text says, "For the Lord, the
God of Israel, says that He hates putting away" the KJV margin
(which gives the variant reading) says, "For the Lord, the God of
Israel, says, if he hate her, PUT HER AWAY"
   Needless to say, this puts a different slant on the whole
   Under the Old Covenant, if a man came to "hate" his wife, he
was to give her a "bill of divorcement" and then she could be
another man's wife (Deut. 24:1-4). According to Josephus, under
Jewish law a woman "could not of herself be married to another,
unless her husband put her away." Apparently what had become a
common practice at the time of Malachi was that a man would
merely CAST ASIDE his wife - cast her out without granting a bill
of divorce, for she was still referred to as his "companion, and
the wife of thy covenant" (verse 14). This verse could have meant
that if a man hated his wife, he should at least put her away
LEGALLY as prescribed by Moses. She could then go and become
another man's wife.

                      A NOTE ON STUDYING THE BIBLE

   As we endeavor to apply the words of any verse within the
context, there will be those who feel we are trying to "explain
away the Bible." They may claim that THEY take the Bible "just as
it is written"! But in taking the Bible just as it is written,
one must bear in mind that one verse can make a GENERAL
statement, and another verse may clarify or explain EXCEPTIONS to
that general statement. A few examples will make this plain to
   A person could read Luke 1:37, "With God nothing shall be
IMPOSSIBLE," and consider it an absolute. But another verse says
it is "IMPOSSIBLE for God to lie" (Heb. 6:18). Each statement is
true, of course, but each must be understood WITHIN ITS PROPER
   According to Matthew 17:1, it was "six days" after Jesus
taught certain things that he took Peter, James, and John up to
the Mount of Transfiguration. Luke's account says it was "about
an EIGHT days after these sayings" that this occurred (Luke
9:28). Was it six days or eight days? Taking only Matthew's
verse, a person might insist it was after SIX days. A person
reading the verse in Luke might dogmatically say it was EIGHT
days. Each would claim to be taking the Bible "just as it is
written," of course. Both these verses are correct - Matthew
records that it was AFTER six days, and Luke says "about" eight
days. This illustration is given to show that CONCLUSIONS should
not be based on PARTIAL evidence.
   True doctrines must be based on "every word of God" (Mat. 4:4)
- not on isolated verses, but on ALL verses relating to that
subject. Take, for example, the time the Pharisees asked Jesus
for a sign. According to Mark's gospel, Jesus said, "There shall
NO sign be given unto this generation" (Mark 8:12). Taking this
verse ALONE, it would be easy to conclude that NO SIGN WHATSOEVER
was given. But turning to Matthew's account, it is clear that the
statement was indeed GENERAL. "There shall no sign be given to it
[this generation], BUT the sign of the prophet Jonas" - the sign
of three days and three nights (Mat. 12: 39, 40).
   All scriptures must be found that pertain to a particular
topic before the TRUTH can be ascertained.

                    CAN ONLY DEATH SEVER A MARRIAGE?

   Those who would have people believe the Bible absolutely
forbids divorce and remarriage, rush to Romans 7:1-3 to reinforce
their claim that only DEATH can sever the marriage bond. "Know
you not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law) how
that the LAW has dominion over a man as long as he lives. For the
woman which has a husband is bound by the law to her husband
SO LONG AS HE LIVES; but if the husband be DEAD, she is loosed
from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives,
she be married to another man, she shall be called an ADULTERESS:
but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that
she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man."

   Bear in mind that Paul's illustration here was FROM THE LAW.
Paul is referring to the LAW. That this statement was only
GENERAL in nature is evident, for under the LAW (first five books
of Moses) a woman was NOT bound to her husband IF HE DIVORCED
HER! In that case, she COULD remarry and was NOT called an
"adulteress" while her former husband lived. She COULD "go and be
another man s wife" - a WIFE, not an adulteress (Deut. 24:1-4).

   Another exception under the law was that a woman was not bound
to her husband IF, because or polygamy, he neglected her.She was
allowed to go free (Ex. 21:11). Paul knew these things, and so
did those to whom he wrote "who knew the law." But in making his
BASIC point, he simply did NOT  GO INTO DETAILS WITH THE
   Paul s GENERAL thought that he wanted to convey to his readers
in Romans 7:1-4 was that we were once bound to the law - bound to
die because the law had condemned us. But we died when Christ
took our death upon himself, and since the law only has dominion
over a person as long as he lives, we are now free to "be married
to another.....unto God" (verse 4).
    To illustrate this point Paul used the GENERAL analogy of a
woman being bound to her husband until death. Paul cited a
general principle of the law to explain his teaching. To have
included wording about possible EXCEPTIONS would have detracted
from the point he was making.

                          GENERAL STATEMENTS

   Language permits the use of GENERAL STATEMENTS such as Paul
made without branching out to all explanations or exceptions that
might be possible. Many examples could be given, but the
following should suffice.
   In contrast to the REPEATED sacrifices of the Old Testament,
the apostle says Christ  "ONCE appeared to put away sin by the
sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed unto men ONCE to
die.....So Christ was ONCE offered to bear the sins of many"
(Heb.9:26-28). The emphasis is on the word "ONCE" in this
familiar passage. Christ appeared ONCE to put away sin. To
illustrate this point the apostle likens it to the fact that it
is appointed unto men ONCE to die. In using this example, he does
not digress from his OVERALL POINT by explaining EXCEPTIONS. But
there were exceptions! ALL men did not die only once, for people
in the Bible who were raised from the dead and later died, died
TWICE! And, according to Paul, there will be others who will not
die even ONE time, if they are alive at the coming of Christ! (I
Cor. 15:51; I Thes. 4:16,17.) But to have included all of this
information in Hebrews 9:27 would only have clouded the general
point that was being made.

   This same principle applies to Paul's statement to the
Corinthians: "The wife is bound by THE LAW as long as her husband
lives; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be
married to whom she will; only in the Lord" (I Cor. 7:39). Paul
was giving a general statement only, as "the LAW"  did allow her
to marry again if divorced, as we have seen. But Paul was not
dealing with this side of the topic.
   The Corinthians, in questions they had written to Paul, had
asked if it was better for a person to be single, if a believer
should leave an unbeliever, and if a virgin should marry.
Apparently, they were even questioning whether a woman whose
husband was DEAD should remarry. Adam Clarke says that Paul's
statement "seems to be spoken in answer to some question of the
Corinthians to this effect: 'May a woman remarry whose husband is
dead?'......To which he replies, in general, that.....if the
husband die, she is free to remarry, but only in the Lord."
(Clarke s Commentary, vol. 6, p.228).

   The understanding of the use of "general statements" in the
Bible is one of the keys to correctly dividing the word of truth,
so we can be as Paul said, "a workman that needs not be ashamed"
studying to show ourselves approved unto God (2 Tim.2:15). 

   Another example of "general statements" is found in Ecc.11:5.
"As you knowest not what is the way of the spirit (breath,
wind,air) nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is
with child, even so you knowest not the works of God who makes
   That this is a general statement is seen from what we read in
Deut.29:29, "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but
those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our
children for ever, that we may do all the works of this law."

   Solomon in Ecclesiastes was merely pointing out that
generally speaking there are MANY things not revealed to us about
the way and workings of the Lord. As Paul put it, "we look
through a glass darkly" on many things about the Lord. But what
God wants us to know at this time is given to us, and revealed to
us. But generally speaking many things of the Lord we know not.

   The book of Proverbs in LOADED with "general statements." 
Take for example the verse that has given many a parent and many
a minister much trouble in trying to explain it, when it does not
seem to work in this life time: "Trian up a child in the way he
should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." I've
heard this bent into all kinds of ways to try and uphold that it
always works. The truth is that many children, after being taught
the ways of God or how they should live as respectful people, do
not follow those ways, and DIE the physical death in this life-
time before they ever follow the way they were taught.
   The problem is solved when you understand the key of "general
statements" as used in the Bible. GENERALLY speaking, in MANY
(but certainly not all) cases a child will be a respectful
person, living as a respectful member of society, when he/she
grows up, if the parents have taught them correctly from a

                             CHAPTER THREE
                        JESUS MAGNIFIED THE LAW

   Jesus Christ came to magnify God's law (Isa. 42:21), to make
it more binding by enlarging it from the physical letter to the
spiritual principle. He said, "Think not that I am come to
destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but
to fulfil"(Mat. 5:17). He came to perfectly fulfil and expand the
meaning of God's law. He did not destroy, loosen or water down
God's law. Christ is THE EXAMPLE. We are to live our lives the
same way He lived His (I John 2:6).

   The Sermon on the Mount summarizes the principles of Christian
living. Jesus magnified God's law, making it more strict, more
binding, and giving it a much broader application. For with God's
Spirit, as promised under the New Covenant, His laws are to be
kept IN THE SPIRIT, not just in the letter.
   He said, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time,
Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That
whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed
adultery with her already in his heart" (Mat. 5: 27,28).

   The Seventh Commandment was much more difficult to obey in the
spirit. Not only the physical ACT of adultery but also the
THOUGHT of adultery was forbidden. Instead of relaxing God's
laws, Christ made them more comprehensive, more inclusive.

   In Matthew 5:31,32, Christ addresses the subject of divorce
and remarriage. As He did with the other laws of God, He revealed
that the marriage laws were more strict and more difficult to
keep than under the Old Covenant of Moses' economy. "It hath been
said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a
writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That WHOSOEVER shall
put away his wife, SAVING FOR THE CAUSE OF FORNICATION, causeth
her to commit adultery: and WHOSOEVER shall marry her that is
divorced committeth adultery."


   In addition to His statement regarding divorce in the Sermon
on the Mount, Jesus again explained the spiritual intent of God's
marriage law in Matthew 19:3-12.
   We need to study this section of Scripture in some detail to
understand the situation in Jesus' day and His answer to the
Pharisees. I shall quote from various Bible Commentaries.

   What made our Lord's situation at present so critical in
respect to this question was: At the time there were two famous
divinity and philosophical SCHOOLS among the Jews, that of
SHAMMAI, and that of HILLEL. On the question of DIVORCE, the
school of SHAMMAI maintained that a man could not legally put
away his wife, except for WHOREDOM. The school of HILLEL taught
that a man might put away his wife for a multitude of other
causes, and when she did not FIND GRACE IN HIS SIGHT; i.e. when
he saw any other woman that pleased him better. See the case of
JOSEPHUS, mentioned in the note on chap. 5:30....." (Adam Clarke,
emphasis his).

   We shall for interest record here the case of JOSEPHUS (the
Jewish historian of the first century A.D.) as given by Clarke.

   "Josephus in HIS LIFE, tells us, with the utmost coolness and
indifference, 'About this time I put away my wife, WHO HAD
BORNE ME THREE CHILDREN, not being pleased with her manners"
(Emphasis is Adam Clarke's).

   Rabbi Akiba said, "If any man saw a woman handsomer than his
own wife, he might put his wife away; because it is said in
the law, IF SHE FIND NO FAVOR IN HIS EYES" (Deut. 24:1).

   The controversy between the two theological schools was how to
interpret Deuteronomy 24:1-2.

   The most prevalent and popular interpretation was that of the
school of HILLEL: DIVORCE can be given for every conceivable

   "Thus Jesus was being asked, 'Do you agree with the most
prevalent interpretation (HILLEL'S)'?" (Wycliffe Bible

   To give the reader an even better picture of the marital life
of the Jews in Jesus' time, I will quote from the historian
George F. Jowett:
   "At the time of our Lord it is stated that marital conditions
among the Jews were at their LOWEST ebb. Women were regarded
as mere CHATTELS. Divorce was PREVALENT and declared at WILL
without resort to LAW, with seldom any provision made for the
divorced woman. It is recorded that it was common for a Jew to
consort with SEVERAL WOMEN to the knowledge of his so-called
LEGAL WIFE. It amused and angered the Romans to note the
HYPOCRITICAL, puritanical attitude of the Jewish male toward
adultery. A woman, be it one of his own CONSORTS or not, was apt
to be stoned to death if found guilty of adultery (The Jews were
not, however, enforcing the death penalty at this time in their
history - Keith Hunt). The SUSPICION of it would cause her to be
branded. The Jewish brand of adultery was to cause the woman to
wear her hair in BRAIDS to be reviled and SHUNNED by both
Jewish sexes. There was no FORGIVENESS in the Jewish male heart"
(Drama of the Lost Disciples, page 90, emphasis mine.)
   Instead of referring to the opinions of either party, Jesus
called their attention to the ORIGINAL design of marriage, to the
authority of MOSES - an authority acknowledged by them BOTH.
   The argument of Jesus here is, that since they are so
intimately united as to be one, and since in the beginning God
made but one woman for one man, it follows that they cannot be
separated but by the AUTHORITY OF GOD. Man may NOT put away his
wife for EVERY CAUSE.....In this decision He REALLY decided in
favor of one of the parties; and it shows that when it was
proper, Jesus answered questions, from whatever cause they might
have been proposed, and however much difficulty it might involve
Him in. Our Lord in this, also showed consummate WISDOM. He
answered the question not from HILLEL or SHAMMAI, their teachers,
but from MOSES; and thus defeated their malice" (Barnes'  Notes
on the New Testament, emphasis his and mine.)

   He urged scriptural reason against divorce, they allege
scriptural authority for it" (Matthew Henry's Commentary).
   "To this they objected that MOSES had allowed such divorces
(Deut. 24:1) and if HE had allowed them, they inferred that they
could not be unlawful" (Barnes'  Notes on the New Testament,
emphasis his).

commanded nothing but WHAT HE RECEIVED FROM THE LORD; but as to
the thing itself, what they call a COMMAND was only an ALLOWANCE
(Deut. 24:1) and designed rather to restrain the exorbitance of
it than to give countenance to the thing itself.....He rectifies
their mistake concerning the law of Moses; they called it a
COMMAND, Christ calls it but a PERMISSION, A TOLERATION....Christ
tells them there was a reason for this toleration, not at all for
you were permitted to PUT AWAY YOUR WIVES. Moses complained of
the people of Israel in his time, that THEIR HEARTS WERE HARDENED
(Deut. 9:6; 31:27), hardened against God....which way soever they
took, both in their appetites and in their passions; and
therefore if they had not been allowed to put away their wives,
when they had conceived a dislike of them, they would have used
them cruelly, would have beaten and abused them, and perhaps have
murdered them....The Jews it seems, were infamous for this, and
therefore were allowed to put them away; better divorce them than
TEARS, Mal. 2:13....He reduces them to the original institution;
BUT FROM THE BEGINNING IT WAS NOT SO. Note, corruptions that are
crept into any ordinance of God, must be purged out by having
recourse to the primitive institution. If the copy be vicious,
it must be examined and corrected by the original...."  (Matthew
Henry's Commentary, emphasis his).
   "This, says our Savior, was a PERMISSION growing out of a
particular state of things, and designed to remedy prevailing
evil. But at first it was not so. God intended that marriage
should be between one man and one woman, and they were only to be
(Barnes' Notes on the New Testament, emphasis mine).

ADULTERY.....Emphasis should be laid here on the word 'I'. This
was the opinion of Jesus this He proclaimed to be the law of His
kingdom - this the command of God ever afterwards. Indulgence had
been given by the laws of Moses; but that indulgence was to
cease, and the marriage relation TO BE BROUGHT BACK TO ITS
ORIGINAL INTENTION. Only ONE offence was to make divorce lawful
...." (Barnes' Notes on the New Testament, emphasis his).

End of part one

Written in 1984   

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