Text: Matthew 5:31-32
This is the second part of adultery that the Lord Jesus Christ addresses. The first part he addresses adultery done in the heart. That’s where the adultery starts anyway. Now the Lord addresses the act of adultery when it’s been justified by men, but not by God.
Unbelieving Jewish interpretation
- The unbelieving Jewish interpretation is as long as you get the divorce paperwork right you’re legal. They’d say, As soon as I can get the paperwork finished for my divorce we can get married. So there are people that believe they are divorced because the court said they were divorced, but God says they are still married.
- The scribes, Pharisees, and legislators of the law concocted “no fault divorce,” “irreconcilable differences,” and in doing so multiplied the number of adulterers before God Almighty.
- Marriage had descended into just a matter of paperwork. At that point it’s simply a burdensome formality.
- As people become reprobate in relation to God, the relationships God created make less sense to them. People live together. He works, she works. After living together she ends up pregnant. They get tired of each other. One moves out. And everybody repeats the process. And if they’re introduced to marriage he’d ask, what do I need marriage for? Marriage would ruin my life. He’d say, why would I want to get stuck with that crazy woman?
- The irony in Matthew recording Jesus Christ interpreting the law in stark contrast to the Pharisees interpretation is that this publican Matthew has more understanding of the law by the Lord Jesus Christ than the teachers of the law had.
The author’s interpretation
- Deuteronomy 24:1 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.
- The uncleanness is defined by the Lord as fornication in Matthew 5:32.
- Now, she doesn’t have to be put away, but if the husband finds out she’s been with another man, that is the reason given here for a divorce because the marriage has been broken.
- Matthew 19:3-12 further explains it.
- The disciples understand exactly what Jesus Christ is saying. Their response is exactly what you’d expect. They say then it’s better to not get married.
- If you thought you only had one shot at marriage and if it didn’t work you could never do it again, people would be a lot more careful with it.
- Disciples say in 19:10 that it’s better to stay single then. The Lord says that’s not exactly the case either in 19:11-12. Some men don’t need to be alone; it won’t be good for them. Just like God said with Adam, not good that man should be alone.
- Mark 10:2-12 explains it again
- People may make a stigma out of divorce, but the divorce isn’t the issue, it’s the remarriage when God said the couple is still bound by the first marriage.
- God Himself shows the marriage is broken after fornication has taken place. A divorced God.
- Isaiah 50:1 Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.
- Jeremiah 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
- Hosea 2:2 Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts;
- Treacherous men
- Jeremiah 9:2 Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men.
- Malachi 2:14-16, God not interested in them if they won’t get things right at home – treacherous person – if someone is willing to do this to someone they have vowed their life to, you can’t trust them around others they haven’t made any vows to
- David as an adulterer under the law
- Treacherous, willing to kill an innocent man to conceal his sin.
- Ends up forgiven by God based on the shedding of innocent blood – the baby. (God won’t accept filthy blood.)
- Consequences in his life are numerous and long lasting though he is forgiven.
Paul’s further explanation
- Now here’s the thing about the law. If the law has convicted you, you might say, “I’m under conviction” that’s what the law is supposed to do.
- Adultery is the subject here. Adultery is a work of the flesh. And Jesus Christ is bringing an indictment against the flesh and those justifying the works of the flesh with their traditions. You say, I’ve never been remarried. OK. Did 5:28 indict you? Listen, do you want a Savior? Then you’re going to have to get guilty in order to get saved.
- Romans 3:19-26
- The Lord Jesus Christ is condemning the works of the flesh, which is the job of the law, and pointing the way to righteousness that is acceptable to God.
- 1 Corinthians 7:7-16, 27-