|<< Matt 18|
|<< Mark 9|
|<< Luke 18|
Matthew 19; Mark 10:1-31 Listen
In this passage, we see the following in Jesus' ministry:
Jesus is asked to take a position on divorce (Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12)
|1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;
2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.
3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mothers womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heavens sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
|1 And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again.
2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.
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.
5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.
6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.
11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
There's a key to understanding this passage in Matthew 19:3, "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?" With regard to the law, Jewish history tells us that there were two different positions taught in Jesus' day by the Pharisees regarding Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (see notes) and specifically verse 1, "When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house."
Hillel and Shammai
These were Jewish sages (rabbis) who had each established their own rival academies similar to our Harvard and Yale rivalry. On most issues of the law, these master teachers agreed. Their teachings are the basis for what we now know as the Talmud, the compilation of Jewish oral tradition into writing. Hillel was considered to be the more kind and gentle between the two. Shamai held a reputation of being harsh. Many Pharisees aligned themselves, with regard to the differences in teachings, with one of these rabbis or the other. With regard to divorce, it was Hillel who taught the greater latitude with regard to grounds for divorce. On the other hand, Shamai was very strict. Both positions were simply opinions based upon the Law of Moses, but they were, nonetheless, opinions that just happened to carry a lot of importance among Jewish scholars of the first century and afterward.
Among the Pharisees, two differing opinions about the legitimate grounds for divorce fell behind two prominent teachers (aka "sages" aka "rabbis") who were contemporaries (or perhaps a little before) with Jesus' ministry, Shammai and Hillel. Shammai and his followers interpreted the expression to refer to gross indecency, though not necessarily adultery. Hillel extended the meaning beyond sin to all kinds of real or imagined offenses, including an improperly cooked meal. The goal of the Pharisees in this discussion is to get Jesus to choose sides.
"So Jesus, who's right on this issue?" Jesus, the master teacher, points out, "Neither of you is correct!" In fact, he points out that the model for marriage is Genesis 2:24 (see notes), "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." The provision for divorce was provided in the law by Moses because of a rejection of God's plan. In other words, Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (see notes) addressed man's shortcoming of sin. After all, isn't that what all of the Law does? In fact, Jesus' decree in Matthew 19:9 is one that would appear to deviate from the written Law of Moses altogether, " And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." The Law of Moses is clear about the consequences of adultery in Leviticus 20:10 (see notes), "And the man that committeth adultery with another mans wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbours wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death." Since the Law provided that adulterers were to be stoned to death, it's curious that the Old Testament Law would list this as grounds for divorce. Given the choice between Deuteronomy 24:1 or Leviticus 20:10, which do you think an adulterous woman would choose?
That causes us to consider that the justification for divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1 may have been the woman's sexual activity prior to marriage, but only discovered afterwards. One such scenario is addressed in the Law of Moses as well in Deuteronomy 22:13-21 (see notes). However, in this case the deceitful woman is stoned to death as well. So, you can see why the Jews' oral traditions had parsed and double parsed these Old Testament laws. Since the Pharisees did not have the legal right under Roman rule to exercise executions, they may have revised these Old Testament laws to their times, a practice for which they were well known. One more point should be made here. There are at least a couple of scenarios that could arise under Mosaic Law where the woman might have a sexual history prior to marriage, but not be a candidate for stoning. See the notes on Deuteronomy 24:1-4 for this discussion.
Jesus' final word on the issue takes a position that complies with neither of the contemporary teachings among the Pharisees. His word in Matthew 19:9 seems to include as the only grounds for putting away one's wife through divorce her "fornication," a term more general than "adultery" that encompasses all kinds of sexual indiscretions. In other words, the Greek word for adultery, "moicheia," is a subset of the Greek word for fornication, "porneia." It is important to note here that Jesus had not gathered his disciples around to comprehensively teach them about grounds for divorce. Matthew 19:3 tells us that his brief comments on the issue were in response to a trick question by the Pharisees. That's evidenced by the fact that the doctrinal aspect of this discourse is obviously abbreviated.
In comparing these two passages, let's look more closely at the sequence of events on this discussion. It would appear that Jesus' word on this issue was given to the Pharisees in Matthew 19:8-9, but only to his disciples a second time after the confrontation with the Pharisees in Mark 10:10-12. In the private gathering away from the Pharisees recorded in Mark's account, Jesus does not even include the phrase "except for fornication" recorded by Matthew in verse 19:9. The object of Jesus' words here being recorded is obviously to expose the inconsistencies of the Pharisees in their application of the Law of Moses.
Jesus does comment on marriage and divorce in Luke 16:14-18 (see notes) also; there he is briefly noting the hypocrisy of the Pharisees on the issue. For a more comprehensive treatment of the issue of marriage, divorce and remarriage, see the notes on I Corinthians 7.
|13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.
|13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
|15 And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.
16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
In this short passage, Jesus points out that the Kingdom of God will come as people respond to Jesus as little children when he says, "...for of such is the kingdom of God." The Jews in Jesus' day were thinking that the Kingdom of God would be established by warfare against Rome, not with the attitudes of children. It is important to understand what is in view here. The "Kingdom of God" here is a reference to the Old Testament prophecy that the Messiah would establish the rule of King David over the entire earth. Many like to use this passage to prove the salvation of small children. I don't find that teaching here, although suggestions are made here regarding the innocence of children. If you are interested in knowing what the Bible says about the salvation of small children, click here.
|16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
|17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
|18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.
20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.
21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.
22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
24 And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needles eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
26 And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved?
27 And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
When taken out of context, this is a very confusing passage. The greatest confusion arises out of the actual question asked by the rich young ruler, "...what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" His question, per se, misses the point of Jesus' teaching on the Kingdom of God with regard to children in the preceding verses and the subsequent teaching on the Kingdom of God/Heaven that follows his question. Remember, the Pharisees felt that their religious standing would merit a place of prominence in the newly-established Kingdom of God on earth under the Messiah when established. Throughout this passage, the Messianic kingdom on earth is in view - not Heaven itself. That's what the Jews in that day were looking forward to. This obviously is the back drop behind this question from the rich young ruler as well. Being rich, it makes sense to him that a law-abiding rich guy should fit nicely into the framework of this Kingdom of God which he equates with eternal life. Jesus' reply is similar to his other calls for discipleship. Take a look at the notes regarding discipleship by clicking here. In actuality, no one I know suggests that one can only be saved by selling everything and following Jesus in full-time Christian service. Therefore, it is clear here that this discussion isn't really about going to Heaven, but rather kingdom-on-earth living. Even though the man is asking about eternal life (perhaps thinking he already had a clinch on it), Jesus clearly states conditions for this special-purpose discipleship he dealt with in Luke 14:25-35 (see notes). So you see, you do not need to take a vow of poverty to be saved.
It is interesting to note here that this man professes to have kept all the commandments from his "youth up," including "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." If that is truly the case, giving his wealth to the poor shouldn't require a second thought. Hey! That's not one of the ten commandments anyway! No, but it is clearly stated in Leviticus 19:18 (see notes), "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD." Then, we see it is used to summarize commandments 5 through 10 in this passage, as well as Matthew 22:39 (see notes), Mark 12:31 (see notes), Romans 13:9 (see notes), Galatians 5:14 (see notes) and James 2:8 (see notes). It's the essence of the commandments that deal with one's relationship with others. Let's face it; it's an ideal, but who truly fulfills the essence of this commandment except for Jesus himself. Obviously, this is a prideful man that comes to Jesus with an impressive resume, only to find that his personal accomplishments have no eternal implications.
Another aspect of Jesus' exchange with this man is the fact that Jesus had special insight into this man's thinking as he did in John 2:24 (see notes), "But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men," Jesus knew what was the man's motivation in asking his questions and literally what was in his heart. That probably accounts for the harsh treatment by Jesus. It is not reasonable to assume that Jesus issues a special condition for salvation to this man unlike those required of anyone else. There obviously was a deeper issue on the stage here. Subsequently, notice the comments from his disciples in the next passage demonstrating what they had gleaned from Jesus' conversation with this "rich young ruler." It would appear, therefore, that his intent is to buy his way into a prominent ruling position in the newly-founded kingdom. That being the case, the conversation between Jesus and himself was not really about going to Heaven after all.
|27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my names sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
|28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.
29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospels,
30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.
|28 Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.
29 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of Gods sake,
30 Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
The disciples understand the teaching of Jesus in the preceding verses to be about ruling. It is obvious from their question, and Jesus addresses their question accordingly. He deals with a ruling structure in the Messianic rule on earth. He uses the term "world to come" in Luke 18:30. The Greek word for "world" here is different from several other occurrences in the King James Version. Here the word is "aion" (translated various ways) instead of "cosmos" (always translated "world" except in I Peter 3:3 where it is translated "adorning"). "Cosmos" means "orderly arrangement" from which our English word "cosmetics" comes. "Aion" is translated a number of ways including "world," but holds the context of a period of time (or eternity) rather than a place. Jesus is making reference to an "age" to come i.e. the Kingdom of God on earth. Matthew's account drives this message home when he notes that Jesus included this promise to his disciples in verse 28 "ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." That takes place on earth during the millennium and in the New Jerusalem after that. It's not a Heaven thing at all! It is interesting that this passage only accommodates 12 Apostles. Many discussions take place in theological circles regarding who should be considered the twelfth Apostle, Matthias or Paul. For greater insight on this issue, see the notes on Acts 1:12-26 by clicking here.
Matthew 19 ends with verse 30 where Jesus says, "But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." There he's addressing the issue of man-contrived impressions with regard to whom is most deserving to enter the Kingdom of God (verses 24-25). As stated in the previous section, these Pharisees felt that their religious standing should merit a place of prominence in the newly-established Kingdom of God on earth under the Messiah when established. Jesus continues this discussion into Matthew 20 (see notes).