Journey to Jerusalem. Concerning Divorce.
^A Matt. XIX.1-12; ^B Mark X.1-12.

^a 1 And it came to pass when Jesus had finished these words [the words contained in Matt. xviii., which are the last teachings in Galilee recorded by any of the Evangelists, p.435 and p.439 he departed from Galilee [Having come into the borders of it again from Ephraim. It seems likely that Matthew takes in at one view both departures from Galilee, viz.: that mentioned on p.441 and that at [4]Sec. XCV., for Matthew records none of the intervening events and Jesus spent no time in Galilee between the two journeys, merely returning to the border of the land and making a second journey thence to Jerusalem. He now left Galilee to return thither no more until after the resurrection -- Matt. xxviii.16, 17; John xxi.1], ^b 1 And he arose from thence, and cometh { ^a came} ^b into the borders of Judæa and beyond the Jordan [The land beyond the Jordan was called Peræa. See p.176. It was no part of Judæa, but belonged to the tetrarchy of Herod. It and the river Jordan bordered Judæa on the east]: ^a 2 and multitudes ^b come together unto him again; ^a followed him; ^b and, as he was wont, he taught them again. [The teachings of this journey will be found in Sections XCVIII-CI.] ^a and he healed them there. [No doubt bands of pilgrims on their way to the Passover helped to swell the multitudes which now surrounded the Lord.] ^b 2 And there came unto him Pharisees, and asked him, ^a saying, ^b Is it lawful for a man ^a to put away his wife for every cause? [I.e., for every cause satisfactory to the husband.] ^b trying him. [Knowing that Jesus had modified the law of Moses, the Pharisees asked this question, seeking to entrap him. If he had reaffirmed his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. v.32), they hoped to make it appear that he despised the authority of Moses. But if he ratified the law of Moses, then they would show that he was contradicting his former teaching, and hence too inconsistent to be worthy of credit. For the Lord's teaching concerning divorce see p.242.] 3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? 4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. ^a 4 And he answered and said, Have ye not read, that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall be one flesh? 6 So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. [Jesus went back to the original law propounded by God and recorded by Moses, and shows from it: 1. That marriage is a fundamental principle of social order, God having it in view from the creation, and hence making them male and female.2. That the relation of marriage is superior even to the parental relation.3. That by it the pair become one flesh, so that a man is as much joined to his wife as he is to his own body. Now, since a man can only be separated from his parental relations or from his own body by death, which is an act of God, so it follows that the superior or similar relation of marriage can only be dissolved by the act of God. Thus Jesus draws the conclusion that no man or body of men, whether acting in private, civil, or ecclesiastical capacity, can dissolve marriage otherwise than according to the decrees of God.] 7 They say unto him, Why then did Moses command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? [Seeing that Jesus reaffirmed his former teaching, the Jews proceed to show that he is in conflict with the law of Moses, apparently failing to note that Jesus has merely cited Scripture, and that therefore the issue is really Moses against Moses.] ^b 5 But Jesus said { ^a saith} unto them, Moses for your hardness of heart ^b wrote you this commandment. ^a suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it hath not been so. ^b 6 But from the beginning of the creation, Male and female made he them. [Thus Jesus replies that Moses did not command but suffered or permitted (the word "commandment" used by Mark having reference not to the matter but the manner; i. e., commanding it to be done by giving a writing) men to put away their wives because at the time when the law was given the wickedness of men made such a concession beneficial. Had the law propounded at creation been re-enacted by Moses, many would have refused to marry at all, preferring an illicit life to the hazard of matrimony under a stringent law, and others finding themselves unhappily married would have secretly murdered their wives to gain their liberty. As a choice of two evils, God therefore temporarily modified the law out of compassion for women. It was expected that as the hearts of men softened they would recognize the wisdom, justice and wholesomeness of the original law, and cease to take advantage of their permission to evade it. But men had not done this, and Christ himself had brought this concession to an end, and since then it has been the most daring interference with the divine prerogative, for men to venture on a continuance of the same concession, as though they were possessed of divine authority.] 10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of this matter.11 And he saith unto them, ^a 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: ^b against her; ^a and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery. ^b 12 and if she herself shall put away her husband, and marry another, she committeth adultery. [Thus Jesus reaffirms the teaching at Matt. v.32.] ^a 10 The disciples say unto him, If the case of the man is so with his wife, it is not expedient to marry. [The disciples illustrate not only the hardness of heart of which Jesus spoke, but also the wisdom of allowing divorce under the law of Moses.] 11 But he said unto them, Not all men can receive this saying, but they to whom it is given.12 For there are eunuchs, that were so born from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, that were made eunuchs of men: and there are eunuchs, that made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. ["This saying" is the saying which Jesus himself had just uttered concerning divorce: and his teaching is that the prohibition of divorce does not apply to eunuchs. If a woman finds herself married to a eunuch, she is not bound to him. So with a man married to a hermaphrodite. [8] ]


[8] * NOTE.--I dissent from the above interpretation for many reasons: If the cases be confined to the two instances given, the rule presents nothing but what every man and woman would gladly receive, which is contrary to what Jesus says about the saying. But, if the cases be extended to cover those who make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake, and it be contended that evangelists and others who sacrifice their home ties for the good of the cause thereby give to their wives a right of divorce, the saying becomes on the other hand too hard for any to receive. My understanding of the passage is this: The disciples, startled by the Lord's declaration as to the indissolubility of marriage, declared that marriage was inexpedient. Jesus accepts their sayings as a logical deducation from his teaching; but a difficult saying, because applicable to but three cases. Jesus is therefore speaking with regard to celibacy and not divorce. He says that eunuchs are unfit for marriage, whether made so by nature or by the violence of man. The two first--the physical eunuch--are introduced to illustrate the last or spiritual eunuch--the man whose intense interest in the affairs of the kingdom of heaven makes him prefer the celibate state. The saying with regard to him is indeed hard to receive, for it borders on the abnormal and unnatural, and hence it is no command save to those who, being in that abnormal and almost unnatural condition, are in a shape to receive it. Marriage is the natural condition of man, and celibacy is abnormal, but to some extent Biblically countenanced. The trend of Scripture shows that Jesus here speaks about celibacy and not about divorce, for it has much to say about the celibate principle involved here--those who prefer to be eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake, and nothing to say about women obtaining divorces because of their husbands' sacrifices for the kingdom of heaven. The Scripture everywhere treats of celibacy as a difficult problem, and the teaching is this: When any in the kingdom of heaven feel called to such extreme labors therein as render marriage impracticable ( Acts 13:2; I. Cor. ix. 4, 5), they are permitted to abstain from marriage; and when seasons of persecution seriously interfere with the regular order and course of life among Christians, they may find it expedient to live as eunuchs (I. Cor. vii. 25-34 ). But in no case must celibacy be practiced unless it can be done so without the sin of incontinency (I. Cor. vii. 1-9). The Bible nowhere countenances any celibate vow, for it teaches that celibacy is to be continued only so long as it is expedient. Much less does it give countenance to the doctrine that a church can pass laws enforcing celibacy on the whole class of clergy, without any regard for their natural constitution, their spiritual powers, or their faithful continuance.--P. Y. P.

xcvii parable of the pharisee
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