In the Gospel of Mark, Pharisees come to Jesus and ask him: “Can a man divorce a woman?” (Mark 10:1-12) In summing up his answer, Jesus states: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:12) This seems to be a statement that completely denies any legitimacy to divorce and remarriage altogether. But the Gospel of Matthew clarifies that this was not exactly the question asked.

Literally, no Israelite at the time of Jesus thought it possible that the Word of God given through Moses was completely wrong in permitting divorce at all (and they were right!). In fact, no one was debating if divorce was allowed, but rather how liberally (or not) it could be practiced. The Gospel of Mathew provides a fuller version of this question and therefore sets Jesus’ answer in its proper context. According to Mathew’s gospel, some Pharisees tested Jesus by asking him: “Can a man divorce a woman for any reason?” (Mathew 19:3-9)

The conservative Jewish approach understood “unfaithfulness”, “abuse”, or “abandonment” as the only valid grounds for divorce (Deut. 24:1-4; Exod. 21:10-11). This view was represented by the Pharisaic rabbi Shammai, while various more progressive Jewish interpreters argued that a man had the right to divorce his wife for any reason at all (Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 90a). The later view was represented by another Pharisaic rabbi named Hillel.

In other words, there were many illegitimate divorces granted in the Jewish community in the time of Jesus that were not consistent with God’s instructions in the Torah. It is in this divorce-for-any-reason environment Jesus is quoted as saying, “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.” (Luke 16:18, Mark 10:12)

If read in 21st century Christian context, it would seem that Jesus forbade all remarriage. If it is read in a first-century Jewish context, Jesus’ statement cannot be interpreted as a blanket statement condemning all remarriage, but only when illegitimate divorce was involved. When Jesus was faced with this question he rejected the idea taught by Pharisees of the house of Hillel (that divorce was permissible for any reason) and sided with both the Pharisees from the house of Shammai and the Essenes who taught the opposite.

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320 COMMENTS

  1. So Paul was not (as some have accused) contradicting Jesus when he said, “…are you bound to a wife? Seek not to be loosed, are you loosed from a wife, seek not a wife…” and “…but and if you marry, you have not sinned…”

    • Chuck, thanks. This is a slightly more difficult because Paul was in some way misinformed (I know how terrible this sounds, but go with me a little more here; remember noone knows the day or the hour). He honestly thought that Jesus was about to come back. So a lot of his comments had to do with his anticipation of very very very near return of Christ. In felt that this was the case in view of unprecedented developments in redemptive history – Gentiles being becoming co-heirs with the Jews WITHOUT proselyte (full) conversion to Judaism.

      • Should not the question of DIVORCE, be evaluated, with the CONTEXT of Jesus (GOD) being the Bride-Groom & the Church being the Bride? What if God decided to DIVORCE His Bride, so easily, as one would want to think? IMHO, MARRIAGE is so PRECIOUS, to GOG, that God decided to equate it, to His relationship, with His Bride The Church. This is not MEANT TO BE MEDDLED WITH, BY ANY (SO-CALLED) denomination or Rabii… Just a Thought! Thanks Very Much….. Blessings………..

      • Well what Marc said on 10:8-9 God see one flesh also to matew 19:5-6 if God see one when you get married became one flesh to me no one can separe right?

      • How can you think Paul was misinformed? I do not believe Paul thought of the coming of the Lord in his day. Jesus the events that led Saul to become Paul. How could Paul be misinformed? He is noted as the GREAT apostle! Nowhere does it resonate that Paul taught them wrong. Paul was correcting their fears. that is why such a long discussion. The Word of God is infallible. Paul chose to address the rapture and the Day of the Lord separate. Because the people were confused by the 2 statements, they understood them as one. God bless!

        • Debra, don’t be upset :-). He was a great Apostle, but he is not Jesus. Reread his letters carefully and you will see that he thought Jesus is coming back on his watch. I am bit that I need to tell you this, because this is a common knowledge. I invite you to take a Jewish Apostle Paul course a lot of these things that are so confusing about Paul will all of the sudden become very clear and your faith will grow!

          • Jesus also said that some of those who were with Him would see His return in glory (& not in Acts 1). You are not Preterist. Many of us are. In that case, Paul was absolutely correct. There is no need to re-invent the wheel here. The Parousia, by James Stuart Russell is a rather exhaustive study of this ancient eschatology. If you haven’t read it, I promise it won’t hurt. Russell is a scholar’s scholar. Even if you disagree, you cannot ignore the brainpower & godly effort that went into this work. https://www.preteristarchive.com/Books/pdf/1878_russell_parousia_1st-ed.pdf

            Peace out.

          • In my personal studies with my husband we realised that they did think our Lord was coming back soon. They didn’t know that The Jewish people were in part blind so that us gentiles would have a chance of His incedible redemption. That was when I found a real love for the Jewish people. At that time we left our loved church and joined a bible study who had also seen what we had seen. I can now love the Jewish people and love the Christians who disagree with me. The Bible is for gentiles but not necessarily about us.

        • I want to mention that Paul was writing to the Thessalonians when he told them not to be sad like others when their loved ones die. He told them “we, who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” (1 Thes. 4:16.17) This indicates that Dr. Eli is correct about this and that our dear brother Paul didn’t have a full understanding at this time of the timing of the coming of the Lord.

          • Well Paul seems to have a solid idea of the relative timing in 1 Thess. 1:10 as he congratulates some new arrivals who had turned from idols to serve the living and true God “and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”

            Obviously then, the church was expecting Jesus prior to the wrath of God. And the tribulation events of revelation are nine times referred to in that book as divine wrath – either the wrath of the lamb, God’s wrath, or their wrath – using the same Greek word (pronounced ‘Or-gay’). And their are a number of other passages which make a post-tribulation “rapture” unscriptural.

        • Revelation is frequently partial. Only God has the full picture. There is ample evidence that the disciples anticipated an immanent return of Jesus. John, for example believed he would live to see Jesus’ return.

        • Paul was not misinformed. Neither was John. Neither was Jesus when he told Peter by what means he would die and then also told him indicating John- “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.” Clarity comes in understanding the meaning of the second coming and from that when- much of it has to do with the destruction of the Temple. Jesus came the second time in clouds of glory. The kingdom is something we live in today. Believe it or not, its true. This doctrine eliminates so much confusion.

        • Paul was steeped in his Pharaseeical background and spoke many times by his own admission that it was not by the Spirit. Some of his Epistles weren’t his writtings, such as his strong teaching against women being in authority. Yet, he admonished many women for their leadership. So, which is it?

        • Paul was a LOT about bringing order in the Church. He would sometimes make a rule covering a contemporary controversy that was not necessarily an all-time teaching of the Holy Spirit (which he noted in 1 Cor. 7:12) . It is important to view some of his teaching on the role of women in the Church in this context as well. When he insisted that a woman should not teach a man (1 Tim. 2:12), he was obviously speaking of that time and place (Gentile Ephesus) because he violated his own rule with his approval of Jewish Priscilla teaching Apollos.

      • So then, in the event that a marrage is a very abusive relationship having little to no peace or love, what then is the council on this? DoThey remain or divorce and what is their place in God`s eyes?

        • Divorce is NOT the unpardonable sin! We are called to live in peace with one another, and if cannot find the grace to do that, better to leave than to be found dead. Sickness and disease comes from disharmony in the home mostly and there won’t be any crowns in heaven biting your tongue to stay in a abusive marriage that I can see. Each case is to be treated separately and in prayer to our Lord for direction. Also, could not as mere man keep covenants, that is why God the Father had to make covenant with Jesus.

      • So, in the event of a man and woman live in an abusive relationship having little to no peace or love, what then is the council on this? If the woman or the man files and seeks divorce, where does this leave the other? HowDoes this leave them in the sight of God?

        • This is already halahic question and I would not feel comfortable offering opinion without in-depth knowledge of situation.

        • My understanding of 1 cor. 7:15, is that if an unbelieving mate, departs, then you are released from your marriage vows..

      • I hold to the preterist belief that Jesus did return in 70 A.D. In that context Paul was NOT WRONG in his belief- no conflict.

        • As I mentioned in another post – its important to keep in mind that biblical prophecy is circular, not linear, in nature. Patterns repeat and escalate. Events in 70 CE did not exhaust the meaning of prophecies that will find their ultimate fulfillment at the end of the age.

      • I had a difficult time when my daughter was looking at remarriage. We believed it was a sin to divorce except if the other had committed adulty. My daughter was divorced and considering remarrying. I wrestled with this. I had counseled extensibly with my Son-in-law. But he was unwilling to work to heal their marriage. I finally layed it out for him and he walked away. I stopped working with him at that point and they divorced. The King James says only divorce for unfaithfulness which most Christians believe is adultry. However, he was unfaithful to his vow.

        • How about the form of unfaithfulness when a spouse refuses to take care of a wife and the children which he had promised to take care of till death us do part? When a spouse becomes seriously ill and a husband (it’s usually the husband I’ve noticed) abandons them because he says he didn’t promise and ‘can’t cope’. I’ve had this first hand. This is also a scriptural reason for divorce. Physical or emotional abuse.

        • Thank you Bob, my husband said the he wanted a divorce a couple of days a go. I had tried and tried to get my husband to go to marriage counseling but he refused to go. I all so believed that was adultry. You have just clarified things for me. I understand from your statement that if I feel led by God and have a godly relationship with some one, then I am fee to marriage again. Thank you 😀

      • There was never a change in doctrine that all must become like Israel (circumcise etc,,baptise etc.) gentiles were never to become co-heirs with the jews WITHOUT FULL conversion. It was Act 15:20 but that we write to them that they should abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. Act 15:21 For Moses from ages past has those in every city proclaiming him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. See , they did not want to INITIALLY burden them with too much conversion actions until the Spirit worked in their convictions.

        • Hi Glenn, Thanks for joining the discussion. To be very clear, I do not believe that either Paul or God “requires” Gentiles to convert to Judaism and embrace a Torah observant lifestyle (in the same way that Jewish people are Torah observant)

        • Hi Glenn, I believe you may be reading something into the Jerusalem Council edict with the use of “initial.” The Gentile would never be required to become Jewish. Circumsion is what make a Jew..a Jew. The Law is what gave him his identity, social order, legal order, relational order with others, and, yes, his religious and spiritual order. The Jew would never be required to give up observance of the Law. It is a covenant. For the Jew to give up the Law meant to give up their “national identity”.

      • Then was you state here is that the Holy Spirit Himself was misinformed. Not a good admission I would think. Sort of puts all the rest of your teachings in the category of ‘suspect’! I’m not saying this to be contrary or accusatory, but when we know someone to be filled with and led by the Holy Spirit as Paul was, I find it VERY HARD to believe that he was misled by or somehow not informed properly by the Holy Spirit.

      • I’m not sure I I understand what relevance the coming of Christ has to do with Paul’s statements on being remarried. If you don’t mind please explain.

      • THANK YOU
        I am not of the jewish faith, but this brings to light, as question i asked of my pastor, he told me this same message,,,, i was married for almost 50 yr, ,,, victim of abuse,

      • Please comment on this passage below in relation to your topic.
        Romans 7
        1 Surely you know, brothers – for I am speaking to those who understand Torah – that the Torah has authority over a person only so long as he lives?

        2 For example, a married woman is bound by Torah to her husband while he is alive; but if the husband dies, she is released from the part of the Torah that deals with husbands.

      • Paul’s statement should not be misunderstood in the so called very, very, very near coming of Jesus because the real thrust of scripture in the NT is that Christ’s return in imminent. It could have happened centuries, decades, years, months or days ago. So, the authenticity, uniqueness and urgency of the Gospel remains unchanged.

      • Isn’t this the way our mindsets should be today? Was Paul misinformed, are we viewing the picture from the wrong side? They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:4

        If we remained in the same view as Paul then, I believe, Christianity would be completely different and more closely reflect the early church. Forgive me but wouldn’t it be closer that we are misinformed in our thinking that His coming is still far off?

      • The New Testament is full of indications that Jesus was returning soon. So soon, that it influenced the thoughts and actions of many. Such widespread agreement can only have been inspired by words from Jesus himself.

        Jesus was wrong. He is responsible for the hysteria that accompanies every significant turn of the calendar – no, that’s going a bit too far. People are responsible for their own hysteria, but, if you can’t believe Jesus, then who is worthy of being believed?

    • I always advise people “read it in context!” Read 1 Cor 7:25-29 and you’ll see Paul clearly says he had no answer from God, but was just stating his opinion. This would lend credence to Dr EL’s idea that Paul could be misinformed here. He had no revelation nor even spiritual unction on this topic; only an opinion. And Paul was despite all his education still human; he could be wrong, except where he was instructed by God. Here he was not, on his own word.

      • I don’t believe that Paul was misinformed in any way. All scriptures are given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The writers were moved by the Holy Spirit to write. The Holy Spirit would not have inspired them to write anything that could be from misinformation. After Paul said that he had no commandment from the Lord on the subject , he went on to say that it is his judgement as someone who has obtained mercy to be faithful. Meaning that what he advised was based on a good conscience and cannot be misleading.

        • Then you sir have a conundrum: if every word from Paul recorded in scripture is inspired, and Paul says he doesn’t know … see the problem you now face?

      • Dan, that’s spot on. Moreover, revelaiton is progressive. I have recently had revelation about scriptural paradigms that are mindblowing and I am 67 and a believer for morst of my life. Once you get a revelation from the word, you are surprised at yourself for what you believed up to that point. So to all the people who say that scripture is inerrant, true to that except when specifically noted it was a personal opinion, even that is true, but revelations gives dimensions of understanding which have been previously hidden and therefore we see through a glass dimly and subsequently also differently, depending on the revelations we have received either through personal study or from others, but rarely by casual skimming of the Word. Jesus Himself said in John 16:2 12I still have much to tell you, but you cannot yet bear to hear it. And so it is with progressive insight and revelation.

    • There are many examples in Bible where great people did wrong but Lord saw their clear mind for acceptance of their sins.So It is up to our Lord how to deal with human.Let us praise him.

  2. Thank you for this article, Eli. It’s on a subject that needs to be brought out and discussed in the religious community. It’s good to read that obviously Hashem does not want us to be miserable throughout life either being bound in an unhappy marriage or condemned in the event that divorce does occur. And Paul, who apparently never married, did not really understand the stresses of married life, in the same way that it is impossible really to comprehend what someone else is going through if one has not gone through it oneself.

    • It is unclear if Paul never married. Actually he seems to understand the stress of married life in telling others not to get married :-). Also “Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?” (1 Cor.9:5) may point us in another direction. But we can’t be sure if he is talking about himself or just collectively about his team.

      • Presumably he was talking about members of his entourage. It’s very difficult to imagine a wife accompanying him through all the horrors of beatings, stonings, prison, shipwreck, and the thousands of miles he trekked around the Mediterranean. Those journeys seem to preclude a wife. His life was far harder and far busier than the other first disciples; he seems to have had little time for the comforts of home. He never says “we”– but when he has a companion, that person is male and is named.

      • About 20 years ago, when I was in the US Navy, I used to have a book of “early church father” quotes on a variety of topics and interpretations. In this book, one of the things mentioned, by an “early church father” [I don’t remember which one, off hand – please forgive my poor memory.] that based on the passage in Phillipians 4.3, that the “true yokefellow” that Paul spoke of was his wife – which makes sense, in context, as he refers to the person to help those women who laboured with him.

      • I have followed the discussions regarding Paul’s “better not to marry”. No one has mentioned the tremendous persecution the church was enduring at the time he gave this advice. As a husband and father I could “be faithful unto death” but to watch my wife and children mistreated … I don’t know. It was much easier alone, unless sex became a preoccupation.

        • Yes and his anticipation that Jesus was going to return under his watch (he of course was not right).

  3. The ideal, of course, is that marriage should be between one man and one woman, and that upon marriage they should cling only to each other, leaving parents and their former lives as singles emotionally as well as physically. But we know this often is not the case. Jesus did point out that if a man leaves his wife (presumably for a frivolous reason) he is guilty of her subsequent adultery if she remarries. And I think you’re correct when you say that Paul and other first century Christians anticipated the imminent return of Christ.

  4. Human failure – even those born-again humans – is a guarantee. Jesus is about taking us where we are and what we are and making us better. Condemning those with failed marriages does not have a lot of merit with a loving Savior Who came to save us from all our sin. It certainly is not preferable to divorce but not at all unpardonable. I am enjoying your messages of grace and mercy from a loving God. There are no excuses for sin but certainly there is forgiveness.

  5. But Yeshua said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment! But from the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate!” Mark 10:5-9, also in Matthew. I think we need to be careful in our interpretation. We should be striving for God’s intent, not desires of our hardened hearts.

    • Shalom, Mary. Of course he did. But do you realize that Jesus is appealing to the Torah in doing so also? So how is it possible for him to cancel out Torah’s law above divorce by appealing to Torah? That is not at all that is He is doing. He is criticizing the practice of divorce for any reason here (DO NOT IGNORE THE TEXT!). Jesus is not asked here? Can a man divorce a woman. But Can a man divorce a woman for ANY REASON. He is arguing for STRICTER interpretation and for keeping to BIBLICAL laws about divorce

      • I take Matthew 19:8-9 to be saying, effectively, “Moses said you can divorce for unfaithfulness, abuse, or abandonment…But I say only fornication.” It seems to me that the ‘But I say’ is crucial here and follows the pattern in Matthew 5 where Jesus repeatedly quotes the Torah and then exercises His prerogative to update the law (5:22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44). He’s not engaging other second-temple Jewish interpretations of Torah but Torah itself. Your thoughts?

        • John, I think it would tragic if this is what Jesus was really saying. Because there are other situations in which the bounds of marriage are broken and it is not possible to continue in it such as abandonment and abuse.

        • The footnotes in my ESV says: “Matthew 19:9 Some manuscripts add and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery; other manuscripts except for sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” Since if Jesus taught against Torah it would have been sin, I’d go with the more simple explanation and Dr EL’s interpretation. You have to watch out for those different source documents in the New Testament.

        • Fair enough, but that does not answer my question. Jesus clearly understands Himself to have the prerogative to update Mosaic law (see Matthew 5), and He consistently signals he is doing so by using the formula ‘Moses said…But I say.’ It seems that our interpretation of this passage in Matthew 19 has to follow the same principle as that in Matthew 5, right?

        • Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven…”Adds clarity. Heaven&earth are still here 🙂

  6. If by chance Paul WAS married before conversion… Would his wife have had the option of divorcing him because of his conversion to”the way”… Could she have “considered him dead” because of conversion and as a widow been allowed to remarry?? Do you consider Paul a possible member of Sanhedrin or in essence an apostle of the Sanhedrin going to Damascus??

    • Member of Sanhedrin? Never heard that argued before. What are the facts?

      Paul’s conversion and his wife considering him dead? Probably not (but divorcing him or dying? Maybe). Remember Paul did not convert to Christianity :-). Mid first century there was no Christianity to convert to. If anything he became even more radicalized and certainly more marginally Jewish.

      • Granted the word “Christianity” did not yet exist when Saul/Paul was converted … but he was most certainly converted FROM a Jewish person who did not believe in Jesus/the Christ, to a Jewish person who DID believe in Jesus/the Christ. “…as zealous in His service as he once was as His foe…” Seems line that first counsel in Jerusalem (and Paul’s epistles) show that the Gentile believers were not converting to a watered down version of Judaism … that is a Judaism without legalisms.

      • This complex subject led me to take marriage much more seriously than ever before. Since the context of fulfill in the New Covenant really means to fill up and to make something a lot more meaningful, I believe that is how we must view all of the Torah. We must wrestle with it and apply ourselves diligently.

        “Mid first century there was no Christianity to convert to. If anything he became even more radicalized and certainly more marginally Jewish.”

        Exactly and not knowing this has lead to so many misinterpretations and falsehoods. Thus, fulfill doesn’t mean to abrogate.

  7. Dr Eli you said, ….”Paul was in some way misinformed …: “So a lot of his comments had to do with his anticipation of very very very near return of Christ” Are you suggesting that Paul was speaking of his own will in this instance? Paul’s conversion was by God”s direct intervention. If all that he said and did was through the Spirit of God, how could he be misinformed? I may be misunderstamding what your saying?

    • Its not nice that you are forcing your standards upon the standards of God’s Word. Not good. (Saying this with respect. Nothing personal).

      • I apologise if it seems like Im forcing my standards. Not my intention. Its what i understsnd and believe according to God’s standards. He Is Holy.

        • No I know you don’t mean bad :-), but I am saying that your theological thinking is in fact that and you should carefully reconsider it. Just as all of us should do from time to time.

        • Sha, your standards would have required me to stay married to a spouse who tried to stage an “accident” that should have resulted in my death. I did stay with him for a month longer, praying all the while to try to understand if God would somehow redeem the situation if I chose to remain with him. At the end of that month, I was 100% certain that remaining in that marriage would result in my death and perhaps the deaths of my children and the suicide of my husband. I chose to leave him.

    • So, Sha, my husband left me to live a gay lifestyle. I did not seek divorce. He initiated a divorce last summer so that he could marry another man. We were married for 12 years, separated for 14. Should I have refused the divorce? I don’t even think the law in my country would allow me to refuse, considering we had been separated so long. I have wondered about this passage, but came across Jer 3:8 where God gave Israel a certificate of divorce. God hates divorce, but there are clearly circumstances in which it is valid.

      • To continue. Divorce is horrible, devastating to the entire family, especially children! Divorce cannot be taken lightly. I think that is what Dr. Eli is emphasizing– Jesus forbids divorce FOR ANY REASON. However, if the marriage is worse than the horrible pain of divorce, such as in an abusive or adulterous marriage in which the guilty party refuses to repent, I cannot see our loving God as demanding that the marriage remain, or that the innocent party has to remain single forever. It is beneficial for children to be raised with two parents even if one is a (loving) step-parent.

        • Thank you Dr. Eli. I LOVE your blog posts and the tremendous insights you provide into the Scriptures! May God continue to abundantly bless your great work to His glory!

        • One more comment. When a marriage ends in divorce, you do feel like your soul has been ripped in two! The pain is indescribable! I have had very close friendships go sour, but the pain is nothing in comparison to divorce. When man does separate what God has joined together the consequences are horrible! There are many “Christians” who imitate the pattern of this world and divorce when things get hard or they “fall out of love.” The resulting anger, hatred and bitterness do not honor God or anyone else. Couples in these situations need to get help not divorce.

        • Amen Sister! While God is a loving God he is also a judging God – and I won’t go into the detail of what I mean by this – another discussion. I remarried due to an adulterous, non-repentive, ex-husband. The man I remarried is a God-fearing, loving, and faithful husband – both to me and God. God has blessed our life, home and children. We are both very active in church and love the Lord. I seriously doubt God would be blessing us if I were considered adulterous. On the other hand, if everyone, including myself the first go-around, cont….

        • cont… If we truly search for God’s will in our lives I think most marriages wouldn’t even have to face the possibility of divorce. It’s usually because we haven’t requested and searched for His will and choose a mate without His blessing. God will never steer us down a wrong path if we are patient to listen!

  8. Thank u Dr. Eli for your wisdom! I’m a pastor’s kid (now full time evangelist) and have dealt with the confusion and judgement from my parents’ divorce. This answers questions I have had for over 30 years! I now know how to answer the critics with His truth. The body of Christ has to rediscover the Jewish roots/context of what was written and why Jesus said what He said. So many followers of Christ base their lives and opinions upon faulty thinking and misconceptions from the Word. I will be sharing this wisdom with many in the days ahead.

      • Tim and others, you guys should become my students! This is just a tip of the iceberg. Take a class and you will what you’ve been missing! Go to Certificate (top of the page) and sign up to begin!

      • Sorry for the off topic question, but there was no reply button adjacent to your comment about someone having an Islamic understanding of what inspiration of the Scriptures mean and not a Jewish or Christian one. Are the very words of God inspired of God or are they not. Over the past 40 some odd years of Christian Ministry (Evangelism and Pastoral Staff and study) I have heard many novel ideas about what “Inspiration” means. What exactly is “Islamic Inspiration?” Since I find that term rather self-contradictive.

          • Really? I find that a bizarre comment from someone from a Jewish tradition.

            Do you really think ancient rabbis and Jewish scholars saw the texts as infallible and inerrant which are mainly modern western ways of thinking?

            I mean the ancient scribes and rabbis had no problem changing texts and disagreeing with them. That’s why we have different versions eg Joshua/Judges, Chronicles/Kings – not to mention problems such as Matthew 27:25, John 8:44 – (and doctrines such as original sin)

          • The feeling is mutual: I often find your comments bizarre also.
            I tend to think that the infallibility of the scriptures is from antiquity (John 10:35b) and carried over into modernity. Why else would literally all of the NT writers quote the scriptures to evidence and prove their claims unless they viewed the scriptures as their reliable source of truth?

  9. Am I looking at 1st century apologetics? I see different teachings (liberal & progressive). This seems to fall under binding and loosing (the right to legislate). Did Rabbi Shammai & Rabbi Hillel have the right to legislate (Matthew 16:17-19)? The 1st century debate seems to be about authority. Many of our modern apologetics have to do with language or doctrine definitions (predestination, speaking in tongues, creation). A lot to think about!

  10. “It is unclear if Paul never married.” – Do we know with certainty that Jesus himself never married? I hope not to offend with my question.

    • Leo, thanks. No we do not. We presume that he did not, because the gospels don’t seem to mention his spouse as a spouse (if he had one). Not having a spouse was normal for Jewish essenes for example, so it was not unprecedented.

  11. But as I understand it, until the Roman occupation, Judaism allowed plural marriage. A woman whom a man divorced was left penniless and had to be taken in by her father. After the Romans forced singular marriage, divorce and remarriage became the norm for those who could not make a go of it. Yeshua was trying to protect the institution of marriage and the well being of all parties to the marriage including the children who were third party beneficiaries. So long as the situation of plural marriage existed, there was no need to have divorce.

    • This is factually true (about Roman monogamy introduction), but I have to give it more thought as to your point. Can you explain it another way?

      • Jacob did not divorce Leach even though he loved Rachel more and because his marriage to Leach was fraudulent. He loved his children from Leach. Whether Leach was loved as much as Rachel becomes unimportant if there is no advantage to divorce. Only when the limit of wives imposed by monogamy put a premium on the wife one had did the issue of divorce and remarriage become important.

  12. Dr Eli. I am not a professor, a scholar, a pastor, pastors daughter…, just a nobody who seeks the whole Truth. I know not what theological thinking even means.Thank you for bringing to my attention a possible weakness in my thinking,(seriously).I will pray about it.

  13. It seems to me that the challenge of Jesus to his listeners is thrown down with the ‘Moses gave you divorce because of your hardness of heart’ in other words stop expecting to get your own way all the time – ie grow up, an expectation in the New Covenant in Jesus……………………..G-D doesn’t expect people to be miserable in marriage so one partner not respecting and valuing the other is being sinful and hardhearted. I think that type of behaviour is what Jesus condemned.

  14. There’s a difference between divorce and putting away. If a husband did not give his wife a bill of divorce she was still legally married even if put away and then she d be commiting adultery (or bigamy) if she went with another man. Check the original language for context.

      • Wow, that is a great point that I didn’t see before! “Putting away” one’s spouse could be synonymous with being “legally separated” from one’s spouse, which is a marital status that is different than being legally divorced. It makes sense that marrying someone else when you are only legally separated from your spouse and not divorced is committing adultery. Also, marrying someone who is legally separated but not divorced is committing adultery. Possibly there was a custom in which legal separation was allowed for circumstances that didn’t meet the stricter criteria of divorce. Jesus allowed legal separation only for fornication.

    • 1 Cor.7:10 “Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.” If the separation is not due to adultery (abuse or abandonment), which allows for divorce, this is perhaps a situation of perceived “irreconcilable differences”? Which seems to indicate that this was not acceptable grounds for divorce and remarriage, would you say?

  15. Amazing discussion, if I weren’t already completing a degree program I would be looking to enrol in a course here. I look forward to the day my degree is done.

  16. This discussion is very interesting but one perspective is omitted; absolute accurate translation and writing from scrolls in Hebrew, Arabic and Greek to Latin by the Church at Rome. Then “divine inspiration” of the Council at Nicea that selected the books to be used in the “Bible”. If all these facets were based on the divine inspiration of God then when in history is the Catholics lose their divine inspiration? Priests, monks and scribes of the Catholic church did the majority of transcribing for hundreds of years. Their workings conditions were not optimum.

        • yes of course, but translation in general is challenging. We can’t just say that if something is literal it is on a shaky ground, because there are too many other components involved in case by case basis.

        • I see there was no designated reply to my last comment. I presume you do not wish to discuss the validity of literal translation and accurate transcriptions through the generations. Let me also add I am a devout believer and an active participant in church services.

        • There are no “translations,” literal or otherwise. They are all transliterations, and thus accuracy is subject to the training and prejudices of he translator. The closest you’ll get to a literal translation is an interlinear. However with the New Testament especially even they can widely disagree depending on which source documents they use. But good luck understanding them! The most accurate way to read scripture is to take it all back to Torah. If it disagrees, something is wrong; usually your or the translators understanding.

    • Rom.3:3 “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2 Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.” From what I understand, the DeadSeaScrolls are proof that Jewish scribes did exactly that. With all due respect, Georgia, the Catholic Church was not given that role.

  17. Is there a statue of limitations so to speak when it comes to adultery in a marriage? If a wife cheats and there is no divorce, but a few years later the marriage just isn’t working, would divorce be sinful scripturally (understanding of course that God hates divorce)?

  18. When Jesus said except (μὴ) for πορνείᾳ, it is clear to me that whatever πορνείᾳ means is the only cause for which one may divorce one’s spouse and remarry without the act of remarriage constituting πορνείᾳ. If there is any other cause than πορνείᾳ for which one may divorce and remarry without constituting πορνείᾳ, then EXCEPT doesn’t mean EXCEPT. John 3:5 Jesus said EXCEPT (μὴ) one is born of water and the Sprit one cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. If there is more than one way to divorce and remarry, then more than one way to enter the Kingdom.

    • Not exactly… The question is what Hebrew word/phrase is the GREEK Pornia referring to when citing the Torah? Right? So yes except is except but you have to go back to Hebrew to understand it. If you take a course with us on this this is ideal, but the general idea is this – the Hebrew ARAVAT DAVAR (the Hebrew phrase behind the Greek in question) is unclear and can mean several things/kinds/sets of things. So only because pornia is connected to English words like “porn” does not mean it is ONLY sexual in nature in the original Hebrew and

      • My point was not about the meaning of pornia, but that whatever it means, that is the only cause for which one may divorce and remarry with out committing pornia in the act of remarriage. Just like whatever “born of water and the spirit” means is the only way to get into the kingdom of heaven. In either case, if there is more way than what is stated, then except does not mean except.

        • got it. BUT THAT IS THE POINT – pornia does not mean just one thing 🙂 ARAVAT DAVAR is difficult to translate DAVAR is easy (word/thing) ARAVA is something like unseemly/incident… so the debate among the proto-rabbis (which Jesus is forced to enter in the gospels) is exactly about this – what it is and what it isn’t. Depending on how you translate this your view will be more conservative or more liberal (to use modern terms).

          • I strongly believe that divorce is allowed in many ways. First the Christian relationship with God is likened to marriage. Jesus is married to the church. Secondly scripture says thst what God has put together let no man put asunder (Mathew 19:6 ; Mark 10:9) However I believe it’s not every marriage that emanates from God. We at times enter into marriage carnaly without seeking God’s approval. Once the marriage is not of God it will not stand and thus divorce will surely happen.
            Thank you.

          • Thanks for writing, Shadrach. Being unequally yoked for example is basically a lifelong sentence to fighting your spouse for what you believe is right, and that would be very difficult. But I would not say or pretend to know whether a marriage is “of God” simply because I just wouldn’t know how to prove that. Rather if both parties are in agreement to remain committed to the relationship and work to improve it, then I dare say that any marriage like this will stand. What do you think?

  19. what does Jesus mean by saving for the cause of fornication? Fornication has multiple meanings. And why did He say ” divorce was not so from the beginning”? I have been trying to understand this for years…… waiting on answer anxiously!

    • Debra, shalom please, see my earlier responce mentioning ARAVAT DAVAR as a Hebrew Background to the Greek PARNIA translated as sexual immorality.

      • Dr Eli There is the idea that the “sexual immorality” being referred to by Jesus maybe during the period between betrothal and marriage. This would explain Josephs thinking he should “divorce” Mary (Miriam) before they were married? What do you think on this idea in its jewish context, where I believe betrothal was seen as far more important then than it is today?

        • Hi Danny. You are correct. If a person was engaged to be married – and they had sexual contact with another person, they were considered to be guilty of adultery.

  20. Jesus was not concerned with marriage and divorce. It is important to love God and treat your brother well. Your greatest duty is to forgive, non judgement, love and seek peace.

    • Then why did Jesus himself say “divorce was not so from the beginning”? God himself sanctioned marriage. and in Genesis setting the idea it is one man with one woman. He gave Adam no choice. I recognize divorce happens. But both the Father and the Son are very concerned with marriage! Why Jesus himself is waiting for his bride to become perfect. You leave the idea of divorce all you want in my opinion. why so much in the Bible on marriage if Jesus was not concerned about it? WOW! Really?

      • exactly because Jewish authorities were granting divorces left and right so to speak for the reasons that Jesus counted (as we should too) as unbiblical. They were taking divorce too lightly. By the way to you suggest that if you husband was beating you near death (and/or your children) you should stay married to this kind of man and expose and your children to this kind of danger? I hope not. My point is that there are some reasonable intolerable things in life that marriage is NO LONGER marriage but abusive relationships with a stamp on paper.

    • I would have to vehemently disagree! Jesus obviously was concerned with divorce, and we are commanded to judge! John 7:24; 1 Cor 5:11-13; Rom 12:9, 16:17; Gal 1:8. If you don’t judge, how will you protect your congregation from false prophets or those falling away (Mat 24:10-11)? Or how will you know when divorce i Love, forgiveness and peace are important, but they are not the only things in the Bible. Jesus loved, but He also took the time to gather materials and fashion a scourge; then in a prolonged and very judgmental act of premeditated violence cleared the Temple.

  21. I partially agree with your interpretation..In regards to legitimate reasons for divorce, I am in agreement with. What I do not agree with is in regards to remarriage. Just because a person may be legitimately divorced does not condone remarriage.The one does not therefore open the door for the other, especially when we recall that Jesus also said that in the beginning it (divorce) was not so, but God in affect came to allow it because of the hardness of man’s heart. It was never in the heart of God to permit divorce. Remarriage is never stated to be condoned.

    • Shalom, Steven. “Condoning” remarriage :-). How sad to even hear it this way. Please, be kind enough to carefully read my responses to the previous comments presenting the same idea.

  22. “Then why did Jesus himself say “divorce was not so from the beginning”?” In fact, the the book Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, mentions this is all explained. As Dt Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg noted there already existed a debate on divorce at this time, that had already been going on between those who allowed divorce for “any reason” and those who allowed it only for “unfaithfulness”, “abuse”, or “abandonment” often cited this verse and gave this kind of argument for there position, the essenes are an example. So you cant assume this citation or argument has the meaning that divorce is always prohibited.

  23. Also: “Matthew 19:9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” EXCEPT for sexual immorality. So, clearly there is at least one circumstance where divorce and remarriage is allowed without the one divorcing and remarrying becoming an adulterer. OTOH, there is this: “Malachi 2: 14 Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously…let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. 16 For I hate divorce,”

    • Bill, greetings. Do read other comments and my responses to them already made. I think they will add to our thinking here.

    • Shaul/Paul mentioned also the situation of an unbelieving spouse leaving the believing spouse. Consider: 1Cor.7:12 “But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. 15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.”

  24. The application (whose authority) is difficult for me because I was unchurched. What helps me to understand is seeing Jesus building fences around the Torah in Mark 10:12. This lets be under a different authority/nation (similar to the Judean & Samaritans) yet have in common One Lord (Power ).

  25. My first marriage my wife was married twice before me, we got an disillusionment after seven years, My second wife was also married twice before and we were married 26 years when died of cancer. (The night before she died, I heard His voice saying to, “Get your house in ordered”) she died on May 23, 2013 on June 9th I rededicated my life to Christ. That same year I received an Vision, an “AWE”, in the presence of God, in His arms for 3 hours

  26. Hello. I am a newcomer to the Israel Bible Center. Regarding the question of divorce in the time of Jesus, I believe that Dr. Eli is basically correct on this question. It is clear from the social context that divorce had become widely spread for frivolous reasons in the time of Christ. What Yeshua was doing IMO was adjusting the law, as he did with the Sabbath day and Kashrut, that is, actually changing the law, to make it more consistent with the law of God as Jesus understood it and revealed it.

  27. Dr. Eli, I have been unable to determine on the internet what your religious affiliation is and your faith state. You live in Israel. I assume you are Jewish. You are a scholar of both Testaments. Is your interest in Christianity purely objective and academic? Do you accept any of the claims of Jesus of Nazareth as he revealed them in the Gospel? You are building bridges between Christians and Jews which is a wonderful mission. But it would help me to know what your personal beliefs are. Thanks from a non-Jew and non-Christian.

  28. in our presenrt time, when friday comes, we think of it as the “end of the week” friday to sunday, back then thurs was same as our frisay and from thurs to saturday shouldmean that the “week” was almost up ….?

  29. Then what’s to because of all the divorced people in the world ? Most men remarry quickly where as most women do not . I’m not trying to second guess the biblical teaching, being raised in the church of God in Christ I’ve read this passage in the bible , I’ve also known plenty of people who have divorced and remarried and say they’re devoted Christians.

  30. When dealing with divorce and remarriage it is worth understanding that although divorce was not part of G-d’s original plan. As a result of Adam & Eve’s fall life has become sub-optimal and we are often left facing a choice between the lesser of two evils. The man after G-d’s heart King David committed adultery and murder. Whilst he faced a curse on the rest of his life on earth that included the loss of his firstborn son born from that illicit relationship. God’s grace allowed King Solomon to succeed him and he wasn’t cut off.

  31. Thank you for this insight. It has helped me. I have struggled with this over the years. I know several ladies who although strong christians and had fought to make their marriage work could not stay in the marriage. After years of abuse they eventually had to leave. I was brought up in a strict evangelical family and was taught that divorce and remarriage were wrong. My parents ministry always taught this and yet I could see Christians who divorced and remarried. Your explanation and discussion has helped me to clarify my understanding of scripture. God bless

  32. Shalom,God bless you Dr Eli.Thank you for such a wonderful article.To the best of my knowledge the word religion comes from the Latin “religio” to religate or rebind or reunite.The presence of a creator also encompasses it or the belief/faith in God. From my life experience and education and study of nature I see that each animal and human must be independent and strong like the pillars of a temple(Rumi). In other words marriage isn’t the natural state in nature mostly.Peace,good health,freedom from fear and love to all.Sincerely Fiona.I do not wish to offend anyone ever

  33. What we have to remember here is that who Jesus was talking to. Under the law adultery was an offence, punishable by death; “stoning” (Leviticus 20:10). If true adultery had been committed, there would have been no need for divorce. This is why Mary Magdalene was accused, Jesus never condemned her. Since the fall of man in the garden of Eden man’s heart had become hardened. Sin starts in the heart (Matt 5:28, 19:8). Jesus here was setting boundaries; to consider our motives before we act, to examine our hearts, and lift ourselves to higher standards.

  34. Is the Doctor a Christian believer guided by the Holy spirit or still a Jew. Marriage like life itself is challenging, but we should give room for the fruit of the spirit to be exercised. Man Will always look for the easy way out: forgiveness, tolerance etc will have no room when there are other easier options. It was not always so from the beginning is a very paramount statement. It took me 2 years to restore my marriage through Patience, forgiveness & prayer & we are now Very happy again. We knew that once married always married!

  35. It is clear in the teaching of Jesus that the will of God is not divorce and that what Deuteronomy says about it was a concession that God allowed because of the hardness of the people’s hearts. Jesus makes clear what the will of God was from the beginning, prior to the law of Moses, and teaches his followers to go according to that will of God showing a more perfect path than the Mosaic law. The teachings of Jesus, the true “Rabbi” (Matthew 23.8), are beyond those of Hillel, Shammai and anyone else.

  36. My days of studying the teachings of Christ Jesus have lead me to what i believe today. I have learnt that He is a loving God and also a God of Justice. In Isaiah 55:8 He says ” For My thoughts are not your thoughts nor are your ways My ways” That statement alone tells me that we cannot fathom the extent of His Holiness.Holy is the Lord God Almighty. Only by and through the Holy Spirit can we even begin to understand His Will and Way. A study on Holiness would put into perspective God’s Word Will and Way.

  37. I say Amen, amen and amen to what Sha has just shared. Through prayer, submission, petition, etc..to God for whatever circumstances, God will make a way, HIS Way for the trusting child of God to heal the wounds. God’s Way; the fruits of the Holy Spirit, will make healing take place. Amen. Be blessed and Shalom. Peter Seah

  38. After 18 years of being a faithful, loving wife, my husband said that he wanted a divorce and I was heart-broken and couldn’t understand WHY? The four children suffered most, having to change schools and losing their home. However, the Lord comforted us and drew us all closer to Him and brought us through the financial struggles. Years later, I read the above mentioned scripture: ‘If the unbeliever wants to go – let him go, in which case the believer is not bound’ and I prayed and the Lord blessed me with a mate! Now married 28 years! Isa 35

  39. It is possible with Gods love anything can be forgiven. Forgive 7 times 70! If a mate will pray and stand for their mate…..as though they have never been hurt. Leave the door open for reconciliation and restoration for a broken marriage. In Christ all can change into his likeness.

  40. Fornication is an easy reason for divorce – it’s a one-on-one betrayal. But molestation and abuse of one’s own children, spouse-battering (usually in front of the children), torture and rape within marriage, these are horrific and traumatic situations in which it is absolutely impossible for a marriage to continue. And therein lies the dilemma of “to divorce or not to divorce” which is not fully addressed. I’ve worked with traumatized and battered married women for a long time and believe me, there can be forgiveness, but never reconciliation and restoration because megalomania and scars both run deep.

  41. As always, CONTEXT is decisive. Jesus initially commanded, “‘what God has joined together, let no one separate’”, with Adam and Eve as example. His embargo ONLY applies, therefore, to marriage blessed by God between compatible couples. He NEVER unites any couple if failure is inevitable, as often at that Little White Drive-in “Chapel” in California! It’s ridiculous that God automatically OBEYS the celebrant, even civil, whn he or she speaks the legal formula! What’s more, it’s as relevant in a divorce as in a first-time wedding that “‘It is not good for the man to be alone’”, Gen. 2:18a.

  42. When Jesus was asked about Divorce he didn’t take his audience back to what Moses decreed but He took them back to creation, God’s Original intention. “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” It’s obvious the rule is no divorce.

    • There is some fine print about this statement, – namely ‘Moses gave you divorce because of your hardness of heart’, found in Mark 10:5. Seems to me that the call is to conversion to the love of God, not the prohibition of divorce per se. In short, the hard work of growing up, being able to see situations from the spouse’s point of view. It is easy to think that Jesus was addressing a male audience here but the same applies to women.

  43. I believe firstly that marraige is the earthly (shadow of what is to be) version of what God intends doing with His “bride” to be. It is supposed to be sacred. Man however hungers for the wordly and own fulfillment. Many people also grew up with so many different values in their different societies that it is not easy to understand and forgive these differences. The couple also struggles to know their identity in God let alone their position (like the man to be head and priest). Lastly no relationship can stand if not built on the Rock.

  44. Infidelity – Abandonment – Abuse Good reasons indeed for a legitimate separation but for ANY reason seems like a free for all – just like Mashiach taught the perfect law of AHAVA THANK-YOU D.R. Eli

  45. Shalom Dr. Eli, so we are talking about a marriage relationship under the law of Moses, versus a marriage relationship where both partners have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and should be fulfilling the Law through the spirit of love. Jesus tells us when divorce and remarriage is justified, and the Apostle Paul states that if the Christian couple cannot live together for whatever other reason, then they should separate, and try to reconcile their differences, or faults, so that if possible, they can restore the marriage. Love in Christ, Bill Martinez

    • Hi Bill, Thanks for sharing. Of course, it’s always God’s desire that we commit to our marriage and work tirelessly to preserve it.

  46. Jesus did indeed come again as he said he would before some of them had died. He also said I and my father…John 14:23. In the form of the Holy Spirit the advocate, Jesus and His father came. Hebrews 2:11 also confirms that if we walk in the Spirit we will have unity. Why do we not see this? On the issue of marriage…..”because of the hardness of your heart”. Matthew 19:8 Moses permitted…God did not intend it to be that way. Today..divorce..”because of the hardness of your heart”. God is our refuge our ever present help.

  47. I believe in the Jewish tradition or concept of Beshert, having one’s perfect soulmate for each human being. In this context, I really don’t know if I’ve ever met mine, maybe not, since the three gentlemen I defined as perfect soulmates are a little older than me. So given this belief I have and always have had, even though I never knew at a very young age that this was a Jewish belief, I just believed it from my own spirit…there’s nothing wrong with waiting for the right one, but you can’t wait forever!

  48. Well, I read many of the comments above from many people, and I do believe in two things. Firstly, divorce is absolutely necessary in an ABUSIVE marriage, whether the woman or man is being abused, and it works both ways. The woman could bad or the man could be bad. Either way, you CANNOT LIVE IN HELL. I’ve seen this with traditional families I have known in five couples, ALL BADLY MARRIED and ALL LIVING IN HELL. And they lived it to the end. How about that? Meanwhile, they made their kids totally miserable!

  49. After reading most comments above, my Second Point is, I do believe in the Concept of Beshert: Finding one’s perfect soulmate. Too often, people ignore this concept and end up in bad marriages and bad divorces. Think about it! Do you really want to be married to someone else’s soulmate and not your own? Crazy, isn’t it! But the problem is, maybe your perfect soulmate does not live in your area, but somewhere near or far away! And what if you have to take care of family and can’t marry?

  50. About having kids, do you want to have kids with someone you don’t really love? I would just be scandalized if I had a child with a man who’s not my soulmate. Utterly scandalized. That’s why I find arranged marriages to be shocking and barbaric!

  51. I am new to this site and this thread. As a Christian who wants to know the Word of God in all fullness of truth, I find it intriguing to consider the scriptures from the perspective of the first century audience as they would have understood it. On this topic, I looked up the reference from Matthew 19 in the Orthodox Jewish Bible and it used the word ‘zenut’ to describe the exception for allowing divorce. Looking up the word ‘zenut’ in the ‘Jewish Virtual Library’ it describes it as an extramarital act and coming within the definition of prostitution.

  52. Without dispute there are as many positions on “divorce” as there are sects in the “Christian” religion. BUT only 1 out of a 1000 spend any time clarifying the difference between “writ of divorce” G647 – Greek word: apostasion and “put away” G630 – Greek word: apoluō. It is clear when one studies the matter that Jesus was declaring His deep and abiding disapproval with the act of “putting away” without making the “Divorce” complete by providing a “writ of divorce”. The English translators were suspect in their translation.

  53. Dr Eli, l have been following this subject in discussion with various sighs. Personally, regarding the faith of the Saints, the love Christ taught, and the utmost intention of the Torah in consideration of Holiness and Love, l believe that God hates and detests divorce and if we could find the heavenly value of love in us, we can forgive no matter how hurt we be in a marriage. I am inclined to divert as well that we tend to rush into marriage mainly for material and fleshly reasons and not God’s purpose for marriage………..

  54. …and that’swhy we divorce because we’ve made a mistake, yet we can avoid the mistake of a “wrong helpmate” by finding one in God. Adam had many reasons to divorce Eve, so was Abraham or Sarah, but these were God-matched marriages, put together by Him and not human desire.What comes from God cannot drive you to a point of divorce or that thought for any matter.

  55. Had involved and follow many debates about this matter and found this topic always interesting. To fight for better and improved marriage relationship is good and needed for greater Christlike character. However, the context is different on the day of Paul in Gentiles area. Many husband or wife divorced by their unbelieving spouses because of their faith in Jesus Christ. For them, Paul said, if they have no gift of celibacy, it is better for them to remarriage rather than falling into sexual sins (cf. 1 Cor 7).

    • Thank you, Naek. Context is aways important but we need to be cautious about drawing dogmatic conclusions about the precise nature of that context.

      • Sure, I agree with you about context, Dr. Eli. Sometimes, conclusions could be draw as long as it is unified and harmonious with the core or central theme of the Bible, rather than being naturalist who never draw any conclusion and waiting for infinite facts to come. In this case, the purpose of Paul is clear. He wanted to protect the betrothed, widows, and the unmarried (who separated by their unbelieving partner) who have no gift of celibacy, to remarry, rather than burn into passion (cf. 1 Cor 7:9, 15, 39). This principle could be accepted as the progressive revelation

        • I appreciate your thoughtfulness here. We could write books about this issue, of course (and they have!). I think the key here is realize Paul’s comments do not box in what Jesus said about divorce in the Gospels. We need to interpret Paul’s statement in the context of I Corinthians – but that passage doesn’t exhaust every thing Jesus has to say on the subject.

  56. This is an interesting discussion and a very important one. I agree with Dr. Eli’s position on this. The Aramaic version has an important nuance in Matthew 5:31-32 that sheds some light on this. Divorce and remarriage became a very complex issue. The Rabbi’s debated the issue over the centuries and Christians still continue the debate today. Traditional Judaism interpreted the commandment against adultery in a manner that adultery could be committed only by a married woman. The husband was free to do as he wished with any woman unless it was specifically prohibited in the Torah. Cont’d below. .

  57. Cont’d from above post . . . The Aramaic Peshitta text uses two different words, D’SHARAY – to legally divorce, and SHWIQTA – to be separated. Here Jesus is teaching that a husband who sends his wife away will cause her to commit adultery unless she has done so already. Further, he is teaching that no man should take advantage of or attempt to marry a woman who has been put away without legal divorce. Jesus affirmed and strengthened the TORAH by allowing the provision for divorce and remarriage on the grounds of adultery but He condemned the arbitrary abandonment

  58. Cont’d from last 2 posts . . . arbitrary abandonment of wives which would have caused them to commit adultery. Divorce and remarriage was allowed but discouraged. Separations had to be handled with care. Regarding Paul’s writings, he did not expect all of his letters to be taken as inspired Holy Scripture. For the most part they were letters to specific congregations and individuals having specific issues. I know that is not what most of you learned in church but most scholars are well aware of it from studying the texts carefully.

  59. I have always read the passages in Mark and in Matthew to be slightly at odds with each other, but it has just occurred to me that they are talking about different things. Yes, in Mark the Pharisees ask about divorce but Jesus replies commenting on remarriage. Perhaps he knows what in really behind their question. But in Matthew, yes, he is indeed talking about divorce. The thrust would then seem to be – there is one ground for divorce (adultery) and no grounds for remarriage. ????

  60. I have read through every comment and I just wanted to mention a few things: 1. Jesus said that there is “no divorce in heaven” indicating that God the Father did not recognise divorce. 2. Jesus did state that it was because of the “hardness of men’s heart” why even divorce came about, women who were accused of adultery were litteraly killed, divorce was brought in to save the lives of women. 3.He also stated that to divorce and remarry would cause adultery to be committed. 4. When the diciple stated that this was “a harsh thing”, Jesus replied “Yes”

  61. continued: Regarding save “for fornication” a person does have the right to divorce for this reason, but there is no biblical evidence that 1 can remarry. Summary: Divorce whilst not acceptable to God is permitted but remarriage is not. We must remember that the marriage vow is a covenent and God does not break covenants. I personally sympathise for a lot of solid Christian people who have found themselves in abusive and dysfunctional marriages and I pray for all concerned that God through King Jesus will make a way.

  62. This is for… LovesBigFool Christ has NOT come the second time! When He comes the Bible says that every eye shall see Him. There is no secret rapture because the word of God says that the trumpet of the lord will sound and a trumpet is not silent but very loud and it will be the trumpet of the lord which will be louder than anything we have here on earth.

  63. Dear Anita Many people quote that and yet they say the 4th commandment is not to be kept by Christians because it is for the Jews only. But if you read Genesis 2:2-3 you will notice that God rested on the 7th day and hallowed it and so if God rested on the 7th day shouldn’t we do the same. And before you say the commandments were done away with at the cross you must realize that it was the Sacrificial laws that were done away with. Also Exodus 20:11 just confirms what Genesis says.

  64. Why is it that Paul said it is dishonoring for a man to cover his head when the Jewish custom has been for the men to wear a hat of some kind on their head? Why is it considered to be wrong for a woman not to cover her head? Also is it supposed to be something that dishonors God or is it something that dishonors the men if the women don’t wear head coverings?

  65. First: The kippa is a very recent “tradition” with no biblical reason. Second: Why believe Matthew more than Mark? Why set Hillel or Shammai in a context to Jesus? Even the exception in Moses’ Thora may be a later addiction… Look at the – I know no good enough derogative for him – contemporary to Jesus Flavius Josephus – he sent away his wife, who gave him three children, for nearly no reason, he did not like her any more… Anyway: We know only the answer, in translation, given by Jesus, and that is clear. No talmudic blahblah needed.

  66. Well, I have to admit, I am a native German (Austrian-German) Speaker. But: I use the original Greek resp. Latin for the NT, and for the old texts the Septuagint, the Samaritan text, and the Peshitta. The texts in English are the Revised K.J.-Edition, and some others I don’t know by heart. Plus an Hebrew-German Interlinear…. You use

  67. Someone very close to my wife and I was very reluctant to remarry because of her difficulty understanding the very verses you mention in your blog. Your explanation is very helpful. Thank you. However, there was another passage that was difficult to understand as well. Could you comment on how [1Ti 5:11-12] should be understood?
    11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; 12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
    While the woman was not a widow she found it difficult not to feel like she was betraying Christ when she remarried.
    Is Greek Χριστός (Christos) really referring to Christ?
    What is meant by “first faith”?
    Why does such a woman have “damnation”?
    I find this passage very perplexing. Any insight would be a great help.

  68. I am divorced from a man who had professed to be a Jewish Messianic Believer. We were married 20+ years. He was adddicted to pornography. It makes men callous and insensitive to their wives. Eventually it led to him acting out. Although I did not believe in enableing this behavior, I told him after discovery and confession that I’d give him a year of showing true remorse, repentance and change to be able to build trust and faith in our marriage.Scripture was my guide. I read about the parable of the tree that was to be cut down. The gardener said to fertilize it for a year to see if it brings fruit, if it doesn’t cut it down. That tree was my marriage. Not only did not bear fruit, there was another incident. The answer was clear, cut it down. Another story the Holy Spriit pointed out to me was Johnah, when he took the opposite route of what the Lord had commanded him. As he went in the ship , he had to be tossed out to get the ship safely to the other shore. The direction for me was to toss Jonah out of my boat (life) and I had get peacefully to the other shore. I did as directed and peace has been my portion .

    • Dear Ellen, not sure your texts have anything to do with your situation (best I can tell), but certainly sexual immorality is a approved reasons for biblical divorce.

  69. Did Jesus forbid remarriage? Yes absolutely. Except when marriage has ended through the death of a spouse because marriage is a lifelong Covenant given by God.

    • Dr. Eli, I respectfully disagree with you. Jesus was very clear, He said that Moses allowed a men to divorce their wives due to the hardness of their hearts but it was not so from the beginning. What God has joined together, let no man tear asunder. In Genesis 1:27, scripture says tha God created Adam in His own image, “male and female He created him.” So Adam was created to be boith male and female. When God creasted Eve He took the female part of Adam out of the man to crerate the woman. In Mark 10:8,9 “And the 2 will become 1 flesh. What God has joined together, let no man tear assunder,”
      Whether we are a man or a woman we are only 1/2 of a human being. When a man and a woman get married to whom God has chosen they become the full human that desires them to be.

      • Albert I am truly pro-marriage :-), but I think you will acknowledge that there are many situations where divorce is in fact justified in every way.

          • Response to Dr. Eli on comment below….
            I can understand the cultural thinking, but if Yehovah created us to be like him, indeed, to be a picture to the world of what Yehovah thinks and is like, then it seems that we should take into consideration that while divorce may be necessary if the other mate has been unfaithful or is abusive, etc., Yehovah never remarried or took another wife. Instead he demonstrated to the world an undying compassion and love for his erring, now divorced wife, and in the fullness of time, He intended to reclaim her for his own…as Hosea is such a beautiful picture of. Yehovah never completely gave up on his erring wife. She was his forever and He didn’t have wandering eyes and an unfaithful heart that was looking for someone else to fill her place.
            I guess the reason I say this is not only because of the example of Hosea, but the personal friend’s example of a wife with a little girl, whose husband left her. She was so committed to the Lord, that she never married again in obedience to Him, but was a shining example of faith and dependence on God to meet her in her need. She interceded daily for this man that God would give him repentance to return back to God, which took several decades. That is the faithfulness of Yehovah demonstrated in His servant. I know it is possible for I saw it happen to her and to another woman whose husband was also unfaithful and left her, yet she prayed for him for 30 years and remained unmarried and committed to him, and he came to a whole-hearted repentance and faith in Christ before he died, broken by her steadfast love for him and for God.
            And then there is Hosea. Thank Yehovah for that precious book, but if one even mentions these things to someone who wants to give up on the one they made a vow to, he is looked at as if he is nuts. I think the Lord showed the true heart when He called it ‘hardness of heart.’ The Love of God in a person never gives up. So yes, I don’t think Jesus supported remarriage at all, even while leaving room for the possibility that there may need to be a divorce for safety or other reasons. And Paul also supports this in 1 Cor. 7:10-11.
            But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
            NASU

            But thank you for listening. That is all I will say on the matter. I know this is not a popular subject, but do we consider such a thing for the Kingdom of God? These three examples did and what a picture they have been to my soul of our loving and faithful and long-suffering God who will never give up on his wife but will hang in there until everything He desired for her comes to pass…becoming a pure and chaste lover of God. Marriage is not the ultimate. But loving God with all ones heart and becoming a part of His Kingdom is. There is a reason God put us with a certain person…so that our soul may intercede for them and love them as Christ loved us…even unto death.

  70. If an abusive husband of 10 years abandoned his 6months old infant child and home without his spouse knowing that he would leave to reside in another home and repeatedly told his spouse that he would not returned for any reasons. would God still call this a sin for the other spouse to divorce her husband to remarry? Or would the spouse have to wait until her husband is dead to remarry?

      • it may be ground for divorce in the eyes of the Jewish people but does God see it that way in the Bible? Also, can this person get married again in the sight of God even when they were not the one who left the marital home and abandoned the family?

  71. In my opinion only: What made divorce bad was the breaking of a vow. The word for adultery also means “idolatry” and the word translated fornication means “sold out” which is why Esau is condemned for it in Jude.

  72. Definitely agree with the Conservative view as it describes the narrowness of the Gate, the walking in the Law and Spirit, but also I think Corinthians is highly important to mention, and understanding that if the partner takes you away from Christ, let them leave.
    Principles of Marriage
    …14For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15But if the unbeliever leaves, let him go. The believing brother or sister is not bound in such cases. God has called you to live in peace. 16How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?…

    • The “gate” is Jesus…praise God that He is the “way”. He said “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.” We would all be lost if not for His grace, for he has proclaimed that His grace is sufficient for us, for what sin is better or worse than another. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. I choose to put all of my hope, my trust, and my sins upon Jesus’ precious blood.

  73. Let us not forget that the Bible, both Testaments, are actually the words of men and women. God, if God exists, wrote not a single syllable. One may aver that the Bible, a collection of miscellaneous works, exists solely because men and women created the documents of which it is composed. Furthermore, one must remain mindful of the fact that there are different Bibles Jew, Roman Catholic, and the various Protestant denominations, all of which in one way another selected or adopted the scriptures that their various Bibles contain. Ask, too, what texts were omitted and why were they? Shalom.

    • Andrew, we have a phrase in Russian language (my mother tongue). He hears the ring, but does not know where it is coming from.

  74. Thank you Dr. for your bravery in always opening a can of worms for discussion and thought. After some current time constraints are relived I am contemplating on taking some of your courses. Thank you for all you do. Blessings!

    • Richard, don’t contemplate any further! 🙂 Just do it. You will love it! Can’t wait to join our learning community.

  75. Hardness of heart is sin… Matthew 19:8 KJV [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. Mark 10:5,9,11-12 KJV [5] And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. [9] What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. [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

  76. I think we are all taking issues surrounding marriage and divorce on a carnal or physical level, have you stopped to look at it spiritually because God does. Even when he created us in the beginning it was first spiritual and then we were “one” male and female in other words “married” Gen 1:27. We recreate this union when we marry and true when the Lord Jesus says it was not so from the beginning. There is reference being made to God giving Israel a divorce consider this, what God went through with Israel from Egypt to the promised(continued)

  77. God forgives Israel so many times and even after the divorce redeems her by his blood, God literally goes to hell and back for his beloved Israel and has her purified. Admittedly there are terrible things that happen in marriages that only true love can conquer. Its embodied in vows we make and its all spiritual. “What God has joined together let no man put asunder” and perhaps take note here, unless you are like God and can literally because of the love you have for your bride go to hell and redeem them DO NOT DARE TO DIVORCE HIM/HER

  78. Your interpretation of the conservative Jewish view gave me great peace. Conservative Christians tend to fall out on the side of adultery-only as grounds for divorce and remarriage. The view that abandonment, adultery and abuse as legal grounds makes a lot more sense. Thank you!

  79. Speaking for myself, I for one have finally come to the conclusion that the biblical view concerning marriage was never instituted by God. My reason for this conclusion follows. If in the Jewish as well as Christian views, God sanctions marriage. But then, what about marriages, be them Islamic, Buddhist, pagan, Hindu, Scientology, and including any other religion or belief system that is not biblically based. Does God recognize a marriage that isn’t in line with the beliefs of Judaism and Christianity?

  80. Paul said that his hope was in the resurrection. The inference is that he knew that he would rest (die physically) in the Lord and that one day a resurrection would occur to his body to be reunited with his spirit again. He teaching was for all generations of believers to anticipate the coming of the Lord as (like) a thief in the night meaning suddenly at any time. That message (warning) is to all believers to live as if the Lord will return at any time because at some predestined time He will. He means to live Godly lives.

    • Thank you, Bob, for your comment. Where does Paul say that his hope was in the resurrection? In 1Cor 15:19 he says his hope is in Messiah.

  81. I have been around churches my whole 55 years of life and have watched church leaders and members flirt with this topic from time to time. Recently I have done a u turn on this issue. I’m not a remarriage believer anymore. As unpopular and confronting as this may be, remarriage for the children affected is not necessarily a wonderful happily ever after. In fact it be a ghastly existence. I guess that makes me not much of a post modern church thinker but i have to be honest in what I’ve seen and experienced in my lifetime.
    Biblical thoughts?

    • Moses allowed for divorce (Deu 24:1) but stipulates that a divorcee after remarrying another cannot return to the first spouse (Deu 24:1-4). What constitutes legitimate cause for divorce was a hot debate topic among rabbis during the late second temple period, and Yeshua sided with Shammai that only infidelity was sufficient cause for divorce (Mat 19:9). (Clearly abuse would be sufficient as well, otherwise the husband would not be fulfilling his marital contract called a Ketuba to his wife, but that would have been obvious to both sides.) Afterwards, if the divorcee wishes to devote him/herself to the Lord, then Paul speaks for himself that s/he should remain unmarried (1Cor 7:10-11). But if the divorcee lacks self-control and would burn with passion then s/he should remarry, and they do not sin (1Cor 7:9).

        • Matthew’s Jesus says if a person divorces for a reason other than infidelity then they are not divorcing for a legitimate reason. So naturally whoever marries the divorcee is really marrying a married person: adultery. The issue, Shane, is what constitutes a legitimate reason for divorce. Jesus gave his perush, his interpretation.

    • Galen, please don’t misunderstand, I am not “honoring” divorce. The question (to Yeshua) was what condition is sufficient grounds for divorce (and he said infidelity was), and (to Paul) what happens afterward. Concerning your citation, I would invite you to read the entire chapter of Malachi 2. God hates when a man “breaks faith with the wife of his youth” (v. 15), which was by metaphor saying that Judah broke faith with the true God and ran after “the daughter of a foreign god” (v. 11). Obviously the ideal is that a man and woman would be happily married for their whole lives, but this side of eternity just is not perfect, and these issues need to be wrestled with.

  82. I don’t believe God gives us a mandate to judge others on the question of adultery. Jesus said he will judge the adulterers. We are to judge not lest we be judged. It’s like the same with vengeance. Jesus said vengeance is mine Jesus will repay. We can judge all things for ourselves and we will judge angels if we reign with Jesus but all of us have fallen short of the looking after a woman to lust after her so we are all adulterers at heart. If we want Jesus to write our sins with fingers in the sand

    • Be sure to quote the whole verse, Cole. He does not forbid judging, but rather warns that by the judgment that we use, we will be judged by.

  83. Thank goodness you weren’t the one who would answer the questions that the pharisees gave Jesus. You should read St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. You’ll learn a lot.

  84. I think there’s more to it than that especially with regard to how women were seen.

    Eg married men did not commit adultery under Torah….unless it was with another man’s wife.
    And women could not divorce a man AT ALL….in fact women had to ask men for a divorce

    eg Mark 10 11 And He *said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

    Jesus clearly violates the Torah’s teaching on divorce and adultery especially the Shammaites.

  85. Sir, help me on this case of divorces, our church has put a law of prohibited those who had divorce not to be leader of a church. For exemple: A man or women leave a husband or wife goes and marry to someone elso, family and church try to solve the problema but they fail, passing 5 to 7 years, one who was abandoned marries he or she cannot to be a leader of the church?

    • Clearly the ideal is that couples remain married even if one spouse is unbelieving. That being said, Paul rules that if an unbelieving spouse separates, then the believer is not in bondage. This means that they are legally not bound in marriage to the unbeliever that left. This should solve your dilemma (based on how you explained it).
      But this is just what the Bible says, but clearly your congregation needs to adopt a standard that everyone will find amicable, even if it is more stringent than this. But my question is this, are there so many divorced people in your congregation that this is a pertinent issue? Can the person that you mentioned not serve in other ways if the congregation has established such a rule?

    • I’d find another church.

      That’s ridiculous.

      Jesus said if you thought about someone lustfully then you’ve committed adultery which would wipe out every person in your congregation from leadership as well as give ‘biblical’ grounds for divorce.

      Why does religion and the church like to add to the pain of victims of divorce?

  86. “The Word of G-d is Jewish not christian”, really, Jo Ann? I don’t think so; it’s neither. Yes, it’s written in one of the human languages on earth called Hebrew, but God or his Word is not Jewish.

    • It sounds like you are speaking past each other by using different definitions. In what way is or is not the Word of God Jewish, Christian or neither?

  87. I have understood Yeshua’s words as He hates putting away- putting away left usually the woman in a non legal status – of unmarried but actually still legally married. Resulting in a major Vulnerability for the woman. She could legally be stoned or the case where the first husband takes her back causing an abominable condition. Isn’t there two different words being used one for divorce and one for being put away?

  88. It may be helpful to define marriage. Is it a legal, certified definition? Is it a matter of two persons joining in heart and soul to be one in living together? It often looks to me that people may be legally married, but have disconnected the marital joining while living together. Once a person goes a separate way that does not consider the one to whom the vows were spoken, then it seems the marriage has been broken. The legal disconnect only comes later.

  89. If Jesus applied a rule. Then the rule must be applied. Because Jesus is God then God laws must be adhere to. We cant just listen to men on earth. If he never saw the heaven. There is only One who was in heaven and return to His kingdom. No other men can rule. One King and one ruler with HIS law that we must obey. It only Basic Instruction that we must follow Before Leaving Earth.

  90. Jesus standard for marriage in Genesis 2:24 is that a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife. What God has joined together let no man put asunder. For the hard hearted Jews Moses no Jehovah permitted divorce. Do you think Paul is misinformed? What he wrote was by divine revelation just like the inspired O T prophets. Do you have a problem with 2Tim.3:16? All scripture including all Paul’s NT writings are scripture like the TANAK.

    • As inspired as the New Testament is, Amos, just remember that the New Testament did not exist when Paul wrote 2Tim.3:16. He was probably referring to Tanakh.

  91. JESUS (GOD in the flesh) clearly stated remarriage is forbidden except in case of fornication. If you try to twist that we could consider you false a teacher…

    Remarriage is a sin if its not caused by fornication.

  92. As a sinner, I was called in October 2017 to follow Christ. For 2 months I pondered what to do with my 3 wives. Then God put it in my heart to “Go to Him just as I was”. So I wasted no time and called the Pastors to lead me to Christ in December 2017. All these time I was seeking for ways to release (divorce) two of them. But two days ago, I came across this scripture 1 Corinthians 7:27 “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed”.
    God is my righteous judge.

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