I – INTRODUCTION Historical and Contextual background Based on Old Testament prophecy a Messiah or a king was predicted to come and establish his kingdom. When Jesus came and presented himself as the Messiah and the King, the Jews thought he was finally going to come and rescue them from Roman oppression and setup his earthly kingdom. True, Jesus was the Messiah and King but his Kingdom was not of this earth but a spiritual Kingdom. The Jews, being eager to get into the kingdom wanted to hear how this could be achieved. In Mathew 5 to 7, known collectively as the sermon on the mount, Jesus describes the characteristics of Kingdom citizens (verses1 to 12), the function of Kingdom citizens (13 to 16) and the basis of conduct of Kingdom citizens which is God’s laws (13 to 17) He clarified to them that the standard of righteousness required to get into the Kingdom anchored on God’s laws but is primarily internal. (vs. 20) He gives them six illustrations to show them what he means and how they missed the point. (Verse 21 to 48) In verses 31 & 32, Jesus gives here the third illustration on divorce.
I – THE TEACHING OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEEES ON DIVORCE “ It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:” (vs. 31) "Giingon usab, `Bisan kinsa nga mobulag sa iyang asawa, kinahanglan iyang hatagan siyag usa ka sulat-pamatuod sa pakigbulag The Basis of the teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees – The basis for their doctrine on divorce is found in Deuteronomy 24:1 to 4
“ When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement , and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” – Deuteronomy 24: 1 to 4
24:1 ¶ Sa diha nga ang tawo magapili ug asawa ug mangasawa kaniya, siya dili moayon kaniya tungod kay nakakaplag siya kaniya ug butang nga dili maputli, magasulat siya kaniya ug sulat sa pagpakigbulag, ug igahatag niya sa iyang kamot , ug pagapagulaon niya siya sa iyang balay. 24:2 Ug sa mahigula na siya sa iyang balay, makalakaw siya ug mahimong asawa sa lain nga lalake. 24:3 Ug kong ang ulahi nga bana masilag kaniya, ug magasulat kaniya ug sulat sa pagpakigbulag, ug igahatag niya kini sa iyang kamot, ug iyang pagapagulaon siya sa iyang balay; o kong mamatay ang ulahi nga lalake nga mikuha kaniya aron maiyang asawa, 24:4 Ang iyang unang bana nga nagpagula kaniya dili magkuha kaniya pag-usab aron nga kini maasawa niya, sa human na siya mahugawi; kay kini dulumtanan sa atubangan ni Jehova; ug dili mo hatagan ug higayon sa pagpakasala ang yuta nga gihatag kanimo ni Jehova nga imong Dios sa pagkapanulondon. (Cebuano translation)
II – GOD’S POSITION ON DIVORCE GOD HATES DIVORCE ! A.) God’s hates divorce because it is contrary to his intentions – God’s intention for marriage was to be a monogamous, indissoluble lifelong union between husband and wife. “ Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24 “ Tungod niini, ang lalake magabiya sa iyang amahan ug sa iyang inahan, ug moipon siya sa iyang asawa, ug sila mahimong usa ka unod.” (Cebuano)
B.) God hates divorce because it is treacherous "This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. "Yet you say, 'For what reason?' Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. "But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. "For I hate divorce," says the LORD, the God of Israel, "and him who covers his garment with wrong," says the LORD of hosts. "So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.“ – Malachi 2: 13 to 16 (NASB)
2:13 Ug kini usab inyong gibuhat: sa mga luha gitabonan ninyo ang halaran ni Jehova, uban ang paghilak, ug uban ang pagpanghay-hay, sa pagkaagi nga siya wala na magtagad sa halad, ni pagadawaton kini sa maayong kabubut-on gikan sa inyong kamot. 2:14 Apan kamo nagaingon: Ngano man? Tungod kay si Jehova nagpamatuod sa taliwala nimo ug sa asawa sa imong pagkabatan-on, batok kang kinsa ikaw nagmaluibon, bisan matuod nga siya maoy imong kauban, ug ang asawa sa imong tugon. 2:15 Ug wala ba siya maghimo ug usa, bisan siya adunay nahabilin sa Espiritu? Ug ngano nga usa? Siya nangita ug diosnong kaliwat. Busa magbantay kamo sa inyong espiritu, ug ayaw itugot nga adunay usa nga magbuhat sa pagkamaluibon batok sa asawa sa inyong pagkabatan-on. 2:16 Kay gidumtan ko ang pagbinulagay , nagaingon si Jehova, ang Dios sa Israel, ug kaniya nga nagatabon sa iyang bisti pinaagi sa pagpanlupig, nagaingon si Jehova sa mga panon: busa magbantay kamo sa inyong espiritu, aron kamo dili magmaluibon. (Cebuano)
If God’s position on divorce was that he hates it then why does Deuteronomy 24 seems to approve of getting a divorce on the ground of uncleanness ? Let’s take a closer look at the Hebrew construction of the text . . .
When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement , and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. - Deutornomy 24:1 KJV The text should read like this instead . . . 1"When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, 2and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man's wife, 3and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, 4then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.” Deutoronomy 24:1 to 4 - NASB
The Scribes and Pharisees has also misinterpreted the text thinking that’s why Jesus rebukes them in Mathew 5:31 a.) The focus of that Deuteronomy 24:1 to 4 is not the question of whether or not divorce is permitted. It does not provide for divorce nor commands it. It is a statement that was given to deal with the matter of adultery. It shows how improper divorce leads to adultery which results in defilement. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” – Mathew 19:3 to 8 b.) The certificate of divorce did not make the divorce right but only gave the woman some protection from slander and provided proof of her legal freedom form her former husband and legal proof of her right to remarry. c.) God’s primary purpose in Deuteronomy 24 was not to give an excuse for divorce but to show the potential evil of divorce which is adultery.
III – JESUS POSITION ON DIVORCE 1.) Jesus echoes what God is saying “ The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” – Mathew 19:3 to 8
19:3 ¶ Ug dihay mga Fariseo nga miduol kaniya ug misulay kaniya pinaagi sa pagpangutana nga nag-ingon, "Alang sa usa ka lalaki, uyon ba sa kasugoan ang pagpakigbulag niya sa iyang asawa sa bisan unsang hinungdan?" 19:4 Siya mitubag nga nag-ingon, "Wala ba ninyo hibasahi nga ang nagbuhat kanila sukad sa sinugdan nagbuhat kanila nga lalaki ug babaye, 19:5 ug nag-ingon, `Tungod niining maong hinungdan kinahanglan pagabiyaan sa lalaki ang iyang amahan ug ang iyang inahan ug makig-ipon siya sa iyang asawa, ug silang duha mahimong usa? 19:6 Tungod niana, dili na sila duruha kondili usa. Busa, ang sa Dios gihiusa, sa tawo dili pagbulagon sila." 19:7 Sila miingon kaniya, "Nganong nagsugo man lagi si Moises sa pagpahatag ug sulat-pamatuod sa pakigbulag, ug sa ingon niana ang lalaki makabulag na sa iyang asawa?" 19:8 Kanila mitubag siya nga nag-ingon, "Tungod sa kasagutsoton ninyog kasingkasing, gitugotan na lang kamo ni Moises sa pagbulag sa inyong mga asawa, apan sukad sa sinugdan dili mao kini. (Cebuano)
2.) Jesus said the only justifiable reason for divorce is adultery “ 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.” The Old Testament does not specifically mentions. But since Jesus is not adding or annulling the New Testament but affirming it (Mathew 5:17 - 19) He mentions this justifiable reason because God in his mercy chose not to enforce the death penalty. Also death through stoning as the penalty for adultery cannot be carried out anymore since the Romans took away the right of the Jews to impose the death penalty. However take note that divorce was never commanded. It was always a last resort to be used only when unrepentant immorality has exhausted the patience of the innocent spouse and the guilty one would not be restored.
III – PAUL’S TEACHING ON DIVORCE “ But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.” – 1 Corinthians 7:12 - 14 “ Ngadto sa uban ako magaingon, dili ang Ginoo, nga kon kita adunay igsoon nga may asawang dili magtotoo, ug kini siya buot ra nga makigpuyo kaniya, kini siya dili gayud niya pagbulagan. Ug kon ang usa ka babaye may bana nga dili magtotoo, ug kini siya buot ra nga makigpuyo uban kaniya, kini siya dili gayud niya pagbulagan.Kay ang bana nga dili magtotoo ginabalaan pinaagi sa iyang asawa nga magtotoo, ug ang asawa nga dili magtotoo ginabalaan pinaagi sa iyang bana. Kay kon wala pa, nan, ang inyong mga anak dili unta mga binalaan, apan kini sila karon mga binalaan.Apan kon ang gikatiayon nga dili magtotoo buot man makigbulag, nan, pabulaga siya; kay ang bana o asawa nga magtotoo wala maulipon sa maong kaminyoon. Kay kita gipanagtawag sa Dios ngadto sa pagdinaitay.” (Cebuano)
CONLUSION The Pharisees, because of their concerns for the external once again failed to see what was God’s real intention with regards to divorce. Jesus cites this second example to show them that the righteous standards of God could only be complied with if we concern ourselves with what is internal and what is truly the intention of God when He gives a command. God position on divorce is that He hates divorce, God’s ideals is that marriage be an indissoluble lifelong union. The only two reasons allowed in the Bible for divorce is only if there is adultery committed by one spouse or that in the case of an unbelieving spouse who abandons his or her Christian spouse. These reasons must not be used recklessly as God’s has such a high view of marriage that he wants the relationship restored if possible. The justifiable circumstances are only provided because of God’s mercy but God’s ideal is always an indissoluble lifelong monogamous marriage.
Most of the Notes in this slide are lifted from John MacArthur’s Bible Commentary on the book of Mathew. For Bible study Guide notes, sermon notes and the audio message of this series by John MacArthur visit www.gty.org . Other inputs and notes are done by Zigfred Diaz To download other slides that can be used for sermons visit the Master’s Community Fellowship website at www.tmcf.zdiaz.com