|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:27-32 Victory over the desires of the heart, must be attended with painful exertions. But it must be done. Every thing is bestowed to save us from our sins, not in them. All our senses and powers must be kept from those things which lead to transgression. Those who lead others into temptation to sin, by dress or in other ways, or leave them in it, or expose them to it, make themselves guilty of their sin, and will be accountable for it. If painful operations are submitted to, that our lives may be saved, what ought our minds to shrink from, when the salvation of our souls is concerned? There is tender mercy under all the Divine requirements, and the grace and consolations of the Spirit will enable us to attend to them.
Verse 32. - (For full notes, cf. Matthew 19:9.) Parallel passages: Mark 10:12; Luke 16:18; apparently the context of Mark represents Matthew 19:1-8, and the context of Luke rather represents Matthew 5:18. Notice here:
(1) Matthew alone, in both places, gives the exception of fornication.
(2) St. Paul refers in 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11 to this saying of our Lord's.
(3) The laxity in this matter of the Hillel school of the Pharisees is well known.
Their theory, indeed, sounds good, viz. that there should be perfect unity in the marriage state; but starting from this premiss they affirmed that if in any single respect the unity was not attained, divorce might follow. For examples, see Lightfoot ('Hor. Hebr.'). Our Lord upholds the school of Shammai. It is said that shameful laxity in divorce still exists among Oriental Jews. Fornication. The reference is to sin after marriage. Contrast Deuteronomy 22:20, 21, where the husband's action is not thought of as divorce. The more general word (πορνεία) is used, because it lays more stress on the physical character of the sin than μοιχεία would have laid. Causeth her to commit adultery; Revised Version, maketh her an adulteress, since the right reading, μοιχευθῆναι, connotes being sinned against rather than sinning (Received Text, μοιχᾶσθαι). (For the thought, cf. Romans 7:3.) And whosoever shall marry, etc. Bracketed by Westcott and Hort, as omitted by certain 'Western' authorities (especially D and Old Latin manuscripts). (On the importance of the 'Western' group in cases of omission, vide Westcott and Hort, 2. §§ 240-242; cf. also Matthew 9:34, note.) The clause closely resembles Luke 16:18b. Her that is divorced; i.e. under these wrong conditions, as Revised Version, her when put away. even though αὐτήν is not expressed. This interpretation, notwithstanding Weiss's stigma of it as "ganz willkurlich," is surely only a plain deduction from the preceding clause. The fact that no such limitation is to be found in Luke 16:18 must not prejudice our judgment here.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But I say unto you; that whosoever shall put away his wife,.... Christ does not infringe, or revoke the original grant, or permission of divorce; only frees it from the false interpretations, and ill use, the Pharisees made of it; and restores the ancient sense of it, in which only it was to be understood: for a divorce was allowable in no case,
saving for the cause of fornication; which must not be taken strictly for what is called fornication, but as including adultery, incest, or any unlawful copulation; and is opposed to the sense and practices of the Pharisees, who were on the side of Hillell: who admitted of divorce, upon the most foolish and frivolous pretences whatever; when Shammai and his followers insisted on it, that a man ought only to put away his wife for uncleanness; in which they agreed with Christ. For so it is written (i),
"The house of Shammai say, a man may not put away his wife, unless he finds some uncleanness in her, according to Deuteronomy 24:1 The house of Hillell say, if she should spoil his food, (that is, as Jarchi and Bartenora explain it, burns it either at the fire, or with salt, i.e. over roasts or over salts it,) who appeal also to Deuteronomy 24:1. R. Akiba says, if he finds another more beautiful than her, as it is said, Deuteronomy 24:1 "and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes."''
The commentators (k) on this passage say that the determination of the matter is, according to the school of Millell; so that, according to them, a woman might be put away for a very trivial thing: some difference is made by some of the Jewish doctors, between a first and second wife; the first wife, they say (l), might not be put away, but for adultery; but the second might be put away, if her husband hated her; or she was of ill behaviour, and impudent, and not modest, as the daughters of Israel. Now our Lord says, without any exception, that a man ought not to put away his wife, whether first or second, for any other reason than uncleanness; and that whoever does, upon any other account,
causeth her to commit adultery; that is, as much as in him lies: should she commit it, he is the cause of it, by exposing her, through a rejection of her, to the sinful embraces of others; and, indeed, should she marry another man, whilst he is alive, which her divorce allows her to do, she must be guilty of adultery; since she is his proper wife, the bond of marriage not being dissolved by such a divorce: and
whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery; because the divorced woman he marries, and takes to his bed; is legally the wife of another man; and it may be added, from Matthew 19:9 that her husband, who has put her away, upon any other account than fornication, should he marry another woman, would be guilty of the same crime.
(i) Misn. Gittin, c. 9. sect. 10. Vid. T. Hieros. Gittin, fol. 49. 4. & Sota, fol. 16. 2. & Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 9. fol. 195. 2.((k) Maimon. & Bartenora in Gittin, c. 9. sect. 10. (l) T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 90. 2. Maimon. Hilch. Gerushin, c. 10. sect. 21, 22.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
32. But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery—that is, drives her into it in case she marries again.
and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced—for anything short of conjugal infidelity.
committeth adultery—for if the commandment is broken by the one party, it must be by the other also. But see on Mt 19:4-9. Whether the innocent party, after a just divorce, may lawfully marry again, is not treated of here. The Church of Rome says, No; but the Greek and Protestant Churches allow it.
Same Subject Illustrated from the Third Commandment (Mt 5:33-37).
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