Luke 16:18
Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
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(18) Whosoever putteth away his wife.—On the special points involved, see Notes on Matthew 5:31-32; Matthew 19:3-9. Here, again, the explanation that has been given of the parable of the Unjust Steward, offers the only satisfactory explanation of the introduction of a topic apparently so irrelevant. The doctrine and discipline of divorce which the Pharisees taught, lowering the sacredness of the life of home, and ministering to the growing laxity of men’s morals, was precisely what was meant by the steward’s bidding the debtors take their bill and write fifty, or fourscore measures, instead of the hundred. (See Note on Luke 16:6-7).

16:13-18 To this parable our Lord added a solemn warning. Ye cannot serve God and the world, so divided are the two interests. When our Lord spoke thus, the covetous Pharisees treated his instructions with contempt. But he warned them, that what they contended for as the law, was a wresting of its meaning: this our Lord showed in a case respecting divorce. There are many covetous sticklers for the forms of godliness, who are the bitterest enemies to its power, and try to set others against the truth.See the notes at Matthew 5:32. These verses occur in Matthew in a different order, and it is not improbable that they were spoken by our Saviour at different times. The design, here, seems to be to reprove the Pharisees for not observing the law of Moses, notwithstanding their great pretensions to external righteousness, and to show them that they had "really" departed from the law. 18. putteth away his wife, &c.—(See on [1680]Mt 19:3-9). Far from intending to weaken the force of the law, in these allusions to a new economy, our Lord, in this unexpected way, sends home its high requirements with a pungency which the Pharisees would not fail to feel. See Poole on "Matthew 5:32", where this is expounded; also, See Poole on "Matthew 19:9", and See Poole on "Mark 10:11".

Whosoever putteth away his wife,.... For any other cause than for adultery, as the Jews used to do upon every trifling occasion, and for every little disgust: by which instance our Lord shows, how the Jews abused and depraved the law, and as much as in them lay, caused it to fail; and how he, on the other hand, was so far from destroying and making it of none effect, that he maintained the purity and spirituality of it; putting them in mind of what he had formerly said, and of many other things of the like kind along with it; how that if a man divorces his wife, for any thing else but the defiling his bed,

and marrieth another, committeth adultery: with her that he marries: because his marriage with the former still continues, and cannot be made void by, such a divorce:

and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband; the phrase "from her husband", is omitted in the Syriac and Persic versions:

committeth adultery; with her that he marries, because notwithstanding her husband's divorce of her, and his after marriage with her, she still remains his lawful and proper wife; See Gill on Matthew 5:32. The Ethiopic version reads this last clause, quite different from all others, thus, "and whosoever puts away her husband, and joins to another, commits adultery", agreeably to See Gill on Mark 10:12.

Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her {g} that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.

(g) They that gather by this passage that a man cannot be married again after he has divorced his wife for adultery, while she lives, reason incorrectly: for Christ speaks of those divorces which the Jews had which were not because of adultery, for adulterers were put to death by the law.

Luke 16:18. See on Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9. Of what Christ has just said of the continual obligation of the law he now gives an isolated example, as Luke found it here already in his original source. For the choice of this place (not the original one) a special inducement must have been conceived of, which Luke does not mention; perhaps only, in general, the remembrance of the varieties of doctrine prevailing at that time on the question of divorce (see on Matthew 19:3); perhaps, also, the thought that among those Pharisees were such as had done that which the verse mentions (comp. Euthymius Zigabenus).

The saying, however, in the mind of Jesus, serves as a voucher for the obligation of the law without exception, on the ground of Genesis 2:24. See on Matthew 19:4 ff.; Mark 16:6 ff. Olshausen explains this of spiritual fornication,[205] that what God had joined together (i.e. the law according to its everlasting significance, Luke 16:17), the Pharisees had arbitrarily loosed (in that they loved money and wealth more than God), and that which God had loosed (i.e. the Old Testament theocracy in its temporary aspect, Luke 16:16), they wished to maintain as obligatory, and had thus practised a twofold spiritual adultery. How arbitrary, without the slightest hint in the text! The supposed meaning of the second member would be altogether without correspondence to the expressions, and the Pharisees might have used the first member directly for their justification, in order to confirm their prohibition of any accession to the Gospel. As to the obviousness of the exception which adultery makes in reference to the prohibition of divorce, see on Matthew 5:32.

[205] Comp. also H. Bauer, op. cit. p. 544, who thinks the meaning is that Israel is not to separate himself from the Mosaic law, and not to urge it upon the heathens.

18. Whosoever putteth away his wife] At first sight this verse (which also occurs with an important limitation in Matthew 5:32) appears so loosely connected with the former as to lead the Dutch theologian Van der Palm to suppose that St Luke was merely utilising a spare fragment on the page by inserting isolated words of Christ. But compressed as the discourse is, we see that this verse illustrates, no less than the others, the spirit of the Pharisees. They professed to reverence the Law and the Prophets, yet divorce (so alien to the primitive institution of marriage) was so shamefully lax among them that great Rabbis in the Talmud practically abolished all the sacredness of marriage in direct contradiction to Malachi 2:15-16. Even Hillel said a man might divorce his wife if she over-salted his soup. They made the whole discussion turn, not on eternal truths, but on a mere narrow verbal disquisition about the meaning of two words ervath dabhar, ‘some uncleanness’ (lit. ‘matter of nakedness’), in Deuteronomy 24:1-2. Not only Hillel, but even the son of Sirach (Sir 25:26) and Josephus (Anil. iv. 8, § 23), interpreted this to mean ‘for any or every cause.’ (Matthew 19:3-12; Mark 10:2-12.) Besides this shameful laxity the Pharisees had never had the courage to denounce the adulterous marriage and disgraceful divorce of which Herod Antipas had been guilty.

Luke 16:18. Πᾶς ὁ ἀπολύων, every one who putteth away) The cause also of divorce either on the part of him who put away his wife, or on the part of the Pharisees and Judges, may have been “covetousness,” Luke 16:14, for the sake of the gain derived from the writing of divorcement. This abuse at that time prevailed to a great degree. [The express exception[174] (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9) in the case of one put away on account of adultery did not belong to this place: for in that case it is not the husband but the unfaithful party (wife) who by the very act separates her own self from him.—V. g.]

[174] The Ed. Tert. Tubing. 1835, has ‘deserta,’ evidently a misprint for ‘diserta,’ as the Germ. Vers. has ausdrückliche.—E. and T.

Verse 18. - Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband, committeth adultery. The teaching of the rabbis in the time of our Lord on the question of the marriage he was exceedingly lax, and tended to grave immorality in the family life. In the late unlawful marriage of Herod Antipas with Herodias, in which so many sacred and family ties were rudely torn asunder, no rabbi or doctor in Israel but one had raised his voice in indignant protest, and that one was the friend and connection of Jesus of Nazareth, the prophet John the Baptist. Divorce for the most trivial causes was sanctioned by the rabbis, and even such men as Hillel, the grandfather of that Gamaliel whom tradition speaks of as the rabbi whose lectures were listened to by the Boy Jesus, taught that a man might divorce his wife if in the cooking she burnt his dinner or even over salted his soup (see Talmud, treatise 'Gittin,' 9:10). SS. Luke and Paul, different to the great masters of profane history, like Thucydides, or Livy, or Xenophon, were evidently at no pains to round off their narratives. They give us the account of the Lord's words and works very much as they had them from the first listeners and eye-witnesses. When the notes and memories were very scant and fragmentary, as appear to have been the case in the Lord's discourse which St. Luke interposes between the parable of the steward and that of Dives and Lazarus, the fragmentary notes are reproduced without any attempt to round off the condensed, and at first sight apparently disconnected, utterances. So here, directly after the fragmentary report of certain sayings of Jesus, the great parable of Lazarus and Dives is introduced with somewhat startling abruptness; nothing of St. Luke's is added - simply the original report as Luke or Paul received it is reproduced. The following is probably the connection in which the famous parable was spoken. When the Lord spoke the parable-story of the unjust steward, he pressed home to the listeners, as its great lesson, the necessity of providing against the day of death, and he showed how, by the practice of kindness here towards the poor, the weak, and the suffering, they would make to themselves friends who would in their turn be of use to them - who would, in their hour of sore need, when death swept them out of this life, receive them into everlasting habitations. We believe that the Master, as he spoke these things, purposed - either on that very occasion, or very shortly after, when his listeners were again gathered together - supplementing this important teaching by another parable, in which the good of having friends in the world to come should be clearly shown. The parable of Lazarus as Dives, then, may be regarded as a piece of teaching following on to and closely connected with the parable of the unjust steward. Nine verses, however, as we have seen are inserted between the two parables. Of these, vers. 10-13 are simply some reflections of the Master on the parable of the steward just spoken. Then comes ver. 14 - a scornful interruption on the part of the Pharisee listeners. Our Lord replies to this (vers. 15-18), and then goes on, either then or very soon after, to the same auditory, with the parable of Lazarus and Dives, which is, in fact, a direct sequel to the parable of the unjust steward, and which St. Luke proceeds to relate without any further preamble. Luke 16:18
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