|<< Matt 18|
|<< Mark 9|
|<< Luke 18|
|This is the New King James text of the passages.|
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 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.
2 And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there.
3 ¶ The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
4 ¶ And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’
5 and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
7 ¶ They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
8 ¶ He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
10 ¶ His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
11 ¶ But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given:
12 For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
|1 Then He arose from there and came to the region of Judea by the other side of the Jordan. And multitudes gathered to Him again, and as He was accustomed, He taught them again.
2 ¶ The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him.
3 ¶ And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?”
4 ¶ They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.”
5 ¶ And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of 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 reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,
8 and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.
9 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
10 ¶ In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter.
11 So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.
12 And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
There's a key to understanding this passage in Matthew 19:3, "The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?'" 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 takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends 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 a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become 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 to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." The Law of Moses is clear about the consequences of adultery in Leviticus 20:10 (see notes), "The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s 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 "sexual immorality," 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 sexual immorality, "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.
Does the kingdom come by the force of united warriors? (Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17)
|13 ¶ Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them.
14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.
|13 ¶ Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.
15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
16 And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.
|15 ¶ Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.
16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.
17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
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.
Jesus addresses the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-26; Mark 10:17-27; Luke 18:18-27)
|16 ¶ Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
17 ¶ So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 ¶ He said to Him, “Which ones?” ¶ Jesus said, ““You shall not murder,’ “You shall not commit adultery,’ “You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’
19 “Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
20 ¶ The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
21 ¶ Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
22 ¶ But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 ¶ Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 ¶ When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
26 ¶ But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
|17 ¶ Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
18 ¶ So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.
19 You know the commandments: “Do not commit adultery,’ “Do not murder,’ “Do not steal,’ “Do not bear false witness,’ “Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”
20 ¶ And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.”
21 ¶ Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
22 ¶ But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 ¶ Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter 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 the kingdom of God.”
26 ¶ And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”
27 ¶ But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”
|18 ¶ Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 ¶ So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.
20 You know the commandments: “Do not commit adultery,’ “Do not murder,’ “Do not steal,’ “Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”
21 ¶ And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”
22 ¶ So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
23 ¶ But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.
24 ¶ And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!
25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 ¶ And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?”
27 ¶ But 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," including "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 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), "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: 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 to 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.
One-hundred fold reward (Matthew 19:27-30; Mark 10:28-31; Luke 18:28-30)
|27 ¶ Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”
28 ¶ So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.
30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
|28 ¶ Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.”
29 ¶ So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s,
30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
|28 ¶ Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.”
29 ¶ So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God,
30 who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
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 "age to come" in Luke 18:30. The KJV uses the term "world to come." The Greek word for "age" here is "aion." The Greek word, "cosmos," means "orderly arrangement" from which our English word "cosmetics" comes. It's also the Greek word for "world." The Greek word, "aion,"refers to a period of time 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 "you who have followed Me will also sit on 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 who are first will be last, and the last 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).