Summary: Discussion of divorce from Jesus in Matthew 19 and then give some applications to various groups (Material adapted from Andreas J. Köstenberger's book, God, Marriage, and Family)


A young man was looking for a used car when he came upon an ad for a brand new Jaguar being sold for only $50. This must be a typo he thought, but when he called the phone number he was assured that $50 was correct. The next day he went by to see the car and to his amazement found the automobile to be in excellent condition. Asking the woman why she was selling a $150,000 car for only $50 the woman said, “A year ago my husband began to go through a mid life crisis. That’s when he bought this car. About a month ago he ran off with his 23 year old secretary. A week ago he called to say he was running short on cash and asked me to sell his Jag and send him the money. So that’s exactly what I’m doing.”


A. Matthew 19:3- 6 review. About a month ago we talked about these Scriptures and we began talking about covenant marriage. Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman instituted by and publicly entered into before God. Marriage is permanent (as long as we both shall live), sacred (more than a contract), intimate (one flesh), mutual (free self giving of one human being to another), and exclusive (no other human relationship should interfere with marriage).

We find in these verses that the Pharisees want to talk about divorce while Jesus wants to talk about God’s original design of marriage.

Notice their question in vs. 3. Two schools of thought among the rabbis about divorce at that time. One school, Shammai, taught that the only reason for divorce is impurity and/or sexual immorality in the woman. The other school, Hillel, taught that the man could divorce a woman for any and every reason. These reasons could include if a woman is a bad cook or if the man found a prettier and/or younger woman to be his wife. In that culture a woman could never divorce a man. Only a man could divorce, never a woman. Women had few rights.

B. Matthew 19:7-9

Vs. 7- Pharisees want Jesus to give his view on divorce. By the way, most of the Pharisees sided with the school of Hillel on divorce. The Scripture they are referring to is in Deuteronomy 24: If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

Several reasons Moses through the HS gave this Scripture:

1) Wife swopping, divorced and married another man cannot go back to original husband

2) There needed to be a procedure for divorce

3) If no procedure for divorce then violence and/or murder usually on the woman. In a way God was protecting women in this sinful world.

The debate among the rabbis was about this word “indecent.” The Hebrew word is just as unclear as our English word so little help there. Some like to bring up the issue that in the Law adultery was punishable by stoning. This is true. However, how many times was this done? We find this among Jesus parent’s (in that day of arranged marriages, a pledge to be married was considered marriage even though no consummation yet), “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. (Joseph assumed adultery) Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace (take before elders at city gate and have her stoned), he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream… Matthew 1:18-20

Also need to know that polygamy was uncommon in the days of Jesus.

Vs. 8- Moses permitted you- Notice that Jesus says, wait a minute, Moses did not command this but offered this as a compromise.

to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. Moses through HS gave this permission to divorce because of humanity’s sinful ways. Divorce shows sin. Much like God’s law shows us our sin and our need for Jesus Christ.

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