For Bible Study Nerds

For Bible Study Nerds

Matthew 5:31-32; Divorce (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ literal intolerance for the practice of divorce, as displayed in his Sermon on the Mount, takes on new meaning when viewed through a symbolic lens.

Consider:

Throughout the New Testament, Christ is presented figuratively as a bridegroom, and all his followers throughout the ages (the Church) are collectively seen as his bride (John 3:29, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:25-27, Revelation 19:6-9). Or, as theologian John F. Walvoord describes it, “a bride not yet joined to her Husband.” In this spiritual relationship, Christ is the betrothed husband who has already paid the “dowry” through his death and resurrection (John 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 6:17-20, Hebrews 13:12), and is now preparing a place for his bride (John 14:2)—and preparing his bride for an eternal “marriage” to him (Ephesians 5:25-27, Revelation 19:6-9).

In this context, Jesus’ stringent teaching on divorce in Matthew 5:31-32 carries wonderful new significance. Jesus Christ, our eternal Bridegroom, hates divorce. He is therefore unequivocally, relentlessly committed to love and care for his Church (you and me) through any obstacle, in spite of any sin, and beyond the reaches of time itself.

Amen!

Works Cited:

[JCL, 250-253]

 

ΩΩΩ

About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Matthew 5:31-32; Divorce (Bible Difficulties)

posted by Mike Nappa

It’s hard to overlook the uncomfortable truth that, according to Jesus, a divorced woman is considered an adulterer in God’s eyes—merely by the fact that her husband divorced her.

“Whoever divorces his wife,” Christ said, “for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery” (Matthew 5:32 NKJV).

It’s also difficult to overlook the fact that Jesus didn’t accuse the divorcing husband of committing adultery. After all, in that day and age, the husband was the one who would instigate a divorce; shouldn’t he be equally guilty of adultery in that situation?

Theologian, Craig S. Keener, suggests that the omission of the husband here was cultural in its application, not eternal in its view. “Under Jewish law,” he says, “’adultery’ referred only to the wife’s misbehavior, not the husband’s. Matthew does not agree with this view (5:28), but because his readers must obey the law of their communities, he deals only with the issues of the wife.”

Additionally, although he doesn’t state it plainly, it can be inferred that Jesus considered a divorced man to be guilty of perhaps a worse offense: Causing another person—his wife—to commit sin (see Mark 9:42, Luke 17:1, 1 Corinthians 8:12-13).

In that patriarchal society, it was very difficult for a woman to survive without a husband or father as a caretaker. That meant, in order to eat and gain shelter, a divorced woman would almost certainly have to remarry. The sexual requirements of that remarriage would, in an eternal sense, be acts of adultery that violated her original marriage vows. Thus by divorcing his wife without true justification, the divorced man became the catalyst that “cause[d] her to commit adultery.”

As Jesus would later say, “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come” (Luke 17:1 NIV).

Works Cited:

[BBC, 59; IBC 1125]

 

ΩΩΩ

About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Matthew 5:31-32; Divorce (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

You may be surprised to discover that Old Testament Law did not codify the practice of divorce. In fact, biblical history indicates that divorce predated the time of Moses. As such, it was acknowledged by the Law (see Deuteronomy 24:1), but not created by it.

Divorce in Jewish society was generally frowned upon, but as far as men were concerned, “No-Fault Divorce” was already firmly in place—and had been for millennia. The accepted reasoning in ancient Israel was that a man could divorce his wife for being “displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her” (Deuteronomy 24:1). Of course, that left the definition of “something indecent” up for broad interpretation.

Rabbinical teaching by Jesus’ time offered wide-ranging justifications for a husband to divorce his wife. If she claimed to be a virgin before betrothal and marriage and was subsequently found to not be virginal (either during betrothal or after the wedding), that was cause for divorce. If a wife overcooked her husband’s food, that was cause for divorce. If a husband decided his wife was “less beautiful” than another woman, that was cause for divorce. Basically, as long as a man could point to any reason why his wife was “displeasing to him,” that was counted as “something indecent” and a legitimate cause for divorce. The wife, though, was not afforded any justification for divorcing her husband.

It was in the context of these lax social mores that Jesus made this radical statement: “Whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery” (Matthew 5:32 NKJV).

That opinion would have been shocking to most of Jesus’ audience—perhaps labeled extreme, intolerant, and unrealistic, as it is today. For some reason, though, Jesus was unconcerned about how people would react to this hard teaching of his.

Works Cited:

[HSJ, 56-57, 59]

 

ΩΩΩ

About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Matthew 5:27-30; Adultery (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

The accusation of adultery in ancient Israel was no light thing, so it was significant that Jesus emphasized it in this portion of his Sermon on the Mount. In effect, Christ said to his audience, “I accuse you of adultery. Your inward sinfulness is criminally damning—regardless of your outward appearances of obedience.”

Given the seriousness of the crime of adultery in that time, that message must have been sobering for many. Consider:

• Adultery, according to Jewish law, was punishable by death, usually stoning (a grisly way to die).

• The husband whose wife had been unfaithful could legally demand the execution of both his wife and her lover.

• If the offended husband were merciful, he could have only his wife killed and accept a ransom payment from the wife’s lover in exchange for that man’s life.

• The offended husband, if he were even more merciful, might also opt simply to divorce his unfaithful wife instead of killing her—although that also meant cutting her off economically, socially, and religiously from her community. The result for women in this situation was often oppressive, unrelenting poverty.

• Even the accusation of adultery carried legal and personal consequences in that time. A wife accused of adultery was often given a trial by ordeal where she’d be forced to drink a mysterious, disgusting “potion.” If she got sick from drinking that potion, she would be declared guilty…and stoned to death.

Works Cited:

[BKW, 213; JHT, 92]

 

ΩΩΩ

About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Previous Posts

Matthew 7:13-14; The Narrow and Wide Gates (Geographical Backgrounds)
“Broad is the road that leads to destruction,” Jesus said near the end of his Sermon on the Mount. As with other references in this sermon, Jesus likely used a literal, visual cue as a symbolic example when he made this statement. In a general sense, most roads in ancient Palestine were commo

posted 12:00:38pm Nov. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 7:13-14; The Narrow and Wide Gates (Word Study)
Here’s a quick overview of a few keywords from Matthew 7:-13-14, along with their brief meanings in the original Greek text: • Enter (eisérchomai): To go or come into. Also, to go about one’s daily life. • Narrow (stenós): This is a Greek term that means both “narrow” and “straight

posted 12:00:36pm Nov. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 7:7-12; Ask, Seek, Knock (Literary Influences)
Found where it in Matthew 7:12, the “Golden Rule” seems an awkward contextual placement. In modern Bibles, it’s lumped in with Matthew 7:7-11, appearing as the final sentence in this section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This is particularly perplexing because verse 12 in the NIV begins wit

posted 12:00:54pm Nov. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 7:7-12; Ask, Seek, Knock (Cultural Commentary)
Jesus frequently pointed to God’s place as our Father to emphasize the idea that God cares for us—but that imagery meant something different to his first-century hearers than it does to our so-called “progressive” 21st-century culture. In today’s American culture, the father is importan

posted 12:00:53pm Nov. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 7:7-12; Ask, Seek, Knock (Theological Commentary)
Jesus’ exhortation to “ask, seek, knock” in prayer seems a carte blanche promise that God will give anything you or I ask for in prayer. The normal Christian life, on the other hand, seems to discredit this promise on a daily basis. So what gives? Was Jesus lying, or mistaken, or exaggerati

posted 12:00:51pm Nov. 17, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.