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Doctrine of Marriage and Divorce - VI

January 29, 2023 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Topic: Doctrine of Marriage and Divorce Scripture: Matthew 5:27–32, Matthew 19:3–9, Mark 10:2–10, Luke 16:18


As we saw last week, there was a controversial teaching in Judaism, which allowed for the putting away of the wives – the divorcing for any cause.

  • some were of the School of Shammai
  • some were of the School of Hillel
    • they were more lenient and licentious.
  • It was said that the school of Shammai binds; the school of Hillel looses.

But the standard our Lord sets here is stronger even than the school of Shammai.

The Region of Perea

As we come to Matthew 19, and Mark 10

  • the Lord is in an area called “Perea.”

Perea is a tract of land in the south part of the region.

  • between Galilee and Judea,
  • to the East of Samaria

Setting the Stage

Herod the Great divided his kingdom into 4 parts.

  • he was the one that tried to kill the infant Jesus.

One of his sons was Herod Antipas.

  • His wife was Herodias.
  • She was first married to his brother Philip.

History has that Herod had to divorce his current wife to marry Herodias.

Herodias had to divorce her husband to marry Herod.

  • John the Baptist said that it is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.
  • Not only was the matter of divorce at issue.
  • 21 And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless. 20.21

Now. guess where Herod reigned.

  • He reigned over the region of Perea.

Isn’t that interesting?

That when Christ was in Perea, the Pharisees chose to bring up shall a man divorce his wife for any cause.

In this region, the ruler of the region Herod, had married his brother’s wife and divorced his previous wife simply because he desired someone else.

  • Maybe they were trying to add a little bit of pressure and trap Christ in His answer.
    • knowing John the Baptist confronted Herod
    • knowing John the Baptist was beheaded.
  • We know that Christ could not be pressured.
    • but the wicked Pharisees did not

It is no coincidence the subject comes up in Perea.

Scripture Relationships

Mark 10 is a parallel passage to Matthew 19

  1. Matthew 5 one particular scene.
  2. Mark 10 and Matthew 19 is another scene.
  3. Luke 16 is the third scene.

These are parallel because of the circumstances.

  • He is in Perea
  • There is the interaction pertaining to Deut 24.1-4
  • There is a private talk with his disciples afterward.

Those 3 things tell us that we have the same circumstance described in Matthew 10 and Mark 19

  • Then why are the accounts not identical?
    • because Matthew and Mark are two different men.
  • Yes, they are under the inspiration of God's Spirit
    • But that inspiration does not take place in some kind of mechanical way.
    • Rather, it is in concurrence with their personalities.
  • The wording can be different.
  • The order can be a little bit different.
  • The questions and answers can be different.

Many times, in a conversation, paragraphs and sentences are repeated with slight changes.

  • It may be that if you put Matthew and Mark together, you could get a fully verbatim conversation of what took place between the scribes and Pharisees and Christ

But the message contained in both accounts is most certainly true.

  • these passages of Scripture complement one another, so we may understand what took place.

Christ Responds

Christ says to them, “Have you not read?

  • This is extremely important.

Similar to Matthew 12.3-5

  • Here, He is striking against the foundations of the way that they are questioning Him.

Back to Matthew 19.3-4

What's interesting about this passage is the way it progresses.

Mark describes it as, Is it lawful for a man to put him put away his wife, tempting him?

  • And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?
    • And they said, Moses suffered and so on.
    • And then Jesus said, For the hardness of your heart, but from the beginning of the creation of God, he made he made them male and female.

Let’s look at this to understand what is happening.

  1. They bring Herod to bear in this interaction by approaching Christ in the area where Herod, the ruler, had done the very thing they are asking if Christ approves.
  2. They are bringing up Moses in accusation against Him.
    • Jesus says, you shouldn't be putting away your wives for any cause.
    • And their answer is, well, then why did Moses give us a writing of divorcement?
    • Basically, they are attacking Christ saying,
      • Are you different from Moses?
      • Are you coming against Moses?
    • Now they're bringing Moses to bear on Christ's argument, in order to add that pressure.
      • for Him to be more lenient
      • for Him to give them what they want
      • for Him to give them licentiousness

Jesus responds by saying → Why do you set Moses against Moses?

He does this by referring to the creation account.

  • Because when Christ appeals to the creation account, He is appealing to Moses.
    • Do you see that?
    • Do you see how important it is then that when we come to the scriptures, we have to let the Scriptures speak for themselves?

When Christ says to them → from the beginning of creation, it was not so.

  • He's saying to them, you have refused to have the right look at the scriptures.
  • You have set the scripture against scripture.
  • You should have tried to understand what the Scriptures say in their totality.

This is a really important point of hermeneutics.

Jesus is teaching us how to do right hermeneutics.

Jesus is teaching how to interpret the Bible, by His own use of the scriptures.

  • They bring up Moses in Deuteronomy 24.1
  • He brings up Genesis 2
    • Not in opposition but with a look towards harmony and consistency

People today, like the Pharisees, are more willing to set the scriptures against the scriptures.

  • than they are to change their behavior.

People today are more willing to have the Scriptures support what they want.

  • and ignore the Scriptures when they teach what they don’t want or don’t like.

Christ Appeals to Scripture

Christ appeals to scripture to interpret the Scripture.

This is a good example of the hermeneutical principle of Analogia Scriptura (the analogy of scripture)

  • comparing Scripture with Scripture
  • rather than isolating scripture texts
  • rather than isolating scripture to feed the will.

The Pharisees were isolating scriptural texts.

  • They were allowing that single passage in Deuteronomy 24 to inform the entirety of their understanding of marriage.

But we have seen that Scripture speaks much more broadly than just Deuteronomy 24.

Christ chides the Pharisees for ignoring the foundation of marriage in general.

  • He goes all the way back to the creation of our race, and the institution of marriage at that time.

Remember that when we strive against marriage:

  • we strive against the institution that came from the hand of a loving Creator

When He asks them, “Have you not read?

  • The point is really that they had read ‘
  • But had they understood what Moses said from the beginning?

If they would understood, they would not have desired divorces for any cause in the first place.

Christ knows they have read the Scriptures.

Christ knows they have understood his inference, and that is, Have you not understood?

  • Has it not occurred to you?
  • Has it not informed your thinking?

If they had understood what Moses said

  • from the beginning, that God created them male and female, for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh

If they had understood, they wouldn't have asked about no fault divorce.


Let Scripture Interpret Scripture

Brothers and sisters, I believe that we're all guilty at one point or another, of being partisans and wanting our own way.

  • even to the setting scripture against scripture
  • even to the ignoring of passages we don't understand or that don't fit into our theology.

Rather than seeking to understand what God has said.

Many times, we adopt the method of the Pharisees.

  • we pigeonhole particular texts.
  • we exclude other texts.

Sometimes we refuse and at other times are reluctant to consider other passages because they're difficult or uncomfortable.

We often tend to emphasize Scriptures that are more comfortable.

Christ reminds us here that the scriptures are a unit.

  • The Scripture speak with a unified voice.

Christ reminds us that when some scriptures seem to speak against other scriptures.

  • it is our duty to harmonize and to understand the meaning behind the scriptures.

Christ reminds us there are no contradictory Scripture.

  • God is not yes and no.
  • God is not yea and nay.

When God says yes, it's always yes.

When God says no, it's always no.

  • There are no concessions made in the Scripture.

Christ reminds us here by appealing to Moses.

  • we are to interpret the scriptures in concert with one another not against one another.
  • we are to do what the scriptures teach.

Blessing is the Way of Obedience

What the Pharisees are doing here is they are coming to Scripture with a particular predilection

  • they are bringing a desire to the Bible and seeking to find that desire, ratified, verified and sanctified in the scriptures.

Let's not be so hard on them in that effort, because that happens all the time today.

  • the scriptures are misused in all kinds of ways to justify a particular practice.

For example:

  • I believe God is calling me out of my marriage.
  • I believe God is telling me to go into debt and by this car or house that I can’t afford.

And all these things are as unbiblical as they can be.

And for the assuaging of the conscience

  • they point to this scripture or that scripture.
  • they pigeonhole the scripture.
  • they rip scripture out of its context.

This is the procedure of the Pharisees who had a desire for no fault divorce.

  • because they’ve got Deuteronomy 24

This is the kind of confrontation brought before Christ

Christ tells them that the only reason they want to use Deuteronomy 24 is because they are hard hearted.

If we want to make the Scriptures a wax nose, in order to verify, justify, sanctify anything we want to do.

  • we will not be blessed.

The way of blessing is the way of obedience.

Most of the time, perhaps not all the time, because we can be deceived, we know we're doing this.

  • We know we're being willful.
  • We know we're misinterpreting the Bible.
  • We know we are justifying ourselves when we ought not to be.

We must remember we will stand before the Lord.

  • and tell Him why we moved outside Scripture.
  • and tell Him why we moved away from the guidance that he has given us from His Word
  • Whether that deals with a marriage
  • Whether it deals with what church we will attend
    • or if we attend
  • Whether it deals with where we will have our membership
    • Of if we have a membership
  • Whether it deals with who will be the pastor or the elders of a particular church

You see, all these questions must be answered from the totality of the Scriptures.

  • because the way of blessing is the way of obedience.

So often, we come to the Scriptures with a preconceived idea of where we want to go.

So often, we come to the Scriptures with a preconceived notion of what we want to do.

  • or how we want to get there.

This is what Christ chides the Pharisees for here.

This is what Christ is telling them and us today

  • that the way of obedience is the way of blessing. 

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