Divorce and Remarriage
Enter subtitle here

'Dr. Thomas was right..There are many who won't listen, and won't even take the time to prove whether those things are so. It truly is shocking to disagree over any matter without ever taking the time to dig for the Scriptural answers. Not everything is as "obvious" as it may appear'.

- by Sister Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA]    vmtmello@hotmail.com


The Bible says in several places that we are not to add or subtract from the Bible (Deut 4:2; Deut 12:32; Prov 30:6), and the strongest admonition may be read in Rev 22:18-19. Why? Because all of God's word is truth and pure (Psa 119:160; Prov 30:5)! Adding is not just about adding additional words, but is also about changing the words to mean what they don't according to the individual's personal bias. This is known as isogesis, which eventually leads to heresy. Exegesis, on the other hand, is to investigate all Scripture in order to extract its actual meaning. This is what every true student of the Bible must do.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2013 Reply to Valerie

 


"TO SUMMARIZE: The teachings of bre. Thomas, Roberts, Jannaway, and the whole brotherhood up till at least the 1920's is clearly established: Mt. 5:32 & 19:9 are part of Christ's law, and permit divorce and remarriage in case of adultery." (Divorce Circular, 1971)

Other Christadelphians, notably John Thomas, also believed that Paul also permitted divorce and remarriage if an unbelieving spouse departed from the marriage.

 - Brother Growcott

marriage with a divorced woman cannot be put in the category of adultery. 

Where the law recognises man and woman in any case as husband and wife, there can be no question of adultery. 


Brother Roberts - The Christadelphian, Dec 1891

        

THE FIRST MARRIAGE

When the Lord God presented the newly formed creature to her parent flesh, Adam said, "this is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Ishah (or Outman), because she was taken out of Ish, or man. Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:21-24).

Thus, Adam pronounced upon himself the sentence that was to bind them together for weal or woe, until death should dissolve the union, and set them free for ever. This was marriage. It was based upon the great fact of her formation out of man; and consisted in Adam taking her to himself with her unconstrained consent. There was no religious ceremonial to sanctify the institution; for the Lord Himself even abstained from pronouncing the union. No human ceremony can make marriage more holy than it is in the nature of things.

Superstition has made it "a sacrament," and, inconsistently enough, denied it, though "a holy sacrament," to the very priests she has appointed to administer it. But priests and superstition have no right to meddle with the matter; they only disturb the harmony, and destroy the beauty, of God's arrangements. A declaration in the presence of the Lord Elohim, and the consent of the woman, before religion was instituted, is the only ceremonial recorded in the case.

- ELPIS ISRAEL

"A man knowing the gospel and able to talk of it, but acting the part of a tyrant at home, is no brother of Christ, however he may pass current among men. He is what Paul calls 'sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.'

So of a woman having understanding of the ways of God, but acting an insubordinate unloving part in private, is no member of the sisterhood of Christ, however distinctly and decidedly she may be recognized as 'a sister' among the professors of the truth.

These things concern the spirit of Christ, and 'if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.'"

Brother Roberts

INTRODUCTION - EXPOSITION OF DEUTERONOMY 24; 1-5 



SECTION 1 - EXPOSITION OF MATT 5; 31-32


SECTION 2 - EXPOSITION OF MATT 19; 1-9


SECTION 3 - EXPOSITION OF 1 COR 7; 10-15


SECTION 4 - OBTAINING A LEGAL DIVORCE




                                  SECTION 5 - DIVISIONS CONSIDERED

                       

INTRODUCTION - EXPOSITION OF DEUTERONOMY 24; 1-5



"...her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled..."

When divorce first appeared in the Bible, the practice was already in existence. What God did through Moses was to regulate divorce in order to prevent its abuse. God acknowledged its existence and regulated it to prevent a bad situation from becoming worse. The fact that God did not lay down a specific law prohibiting divorce reveals His realistic approach to fallen human nature's failure. God shows His willingness to work redemptively on behalf of those who fail to live up to His ideal. Even though it was given because of the "hardness of heart" (Matt 19:8), it was, nonetheless, permitted and legal. A legal writ of divorce was probably prepared by the Scribes and perhaps also brought before a Magistrate.

The point of prohibiting the husband in remarrying his first wife was to discourage a hasty and frivolous divorce. If a divorce was too easy to obtain it could be abused. It was a custom with Israel's neighbours to divorce, marry, divorce, and then remarry their first spouse after their legal "affair." Such conduct was not conducive in strengthening a second marriage.

We know from verse 2 that the second marriage did not defile her and does not contradict verse 4. The remarriage of a divorced woman was not defiling, as so often claimed. Remarriage per se was not stigmatized as adulterous, nor was a remarried woman regarded as an adulteress. The Law did not require the divorced woman and her second husband be put to death. This consideration should lead us to exercise caution before stigmatizing remarriage as adulterous!

So, why was the former wife considered defiled? Well, it was the husband that declared his first wife unclean, and thus defiled as his excuse in divorcing her in the first place! Should this woman be divorced by her second husband or he died no permission was given for them to remarry each other. To break this law of the LORD was an "abomination." This begs the question: Why was this Law considered an "abomination"? If the husband could easily remarry the same woman, divorce would become nothing more than a "legal" form of adultery. Later prophetic writings confirm this truth set forth by Moses (Jer 3:1). God wanted both marriage and divorce to be seen as serious, permanent issues. One could not be married or divorced casually, and then remarried to each other again; it had to be carefully thought out. It is interesting to note that the Law honouring marriage immediately follows this verse.

Without doubt, divorce is a violation of God's original plan for mankind. Our respect for this fundamental principle demands that married couples seek to resolve marital conflicts, and if the situation becomes intolerable, separate as a purpose to provide opportunity to work towards a possible reconciliation. It is only when reconciliation is not possible that divorce and remarriage becomes permissible.

Addendum:

Verses 1-4 speak of giving a bill of divorcement, keriythuwth, # <3748>, "a cutting (of the matrimonial bond), i.e. divorce." The husband was to give his wife the divorce and then "send her out of his house." "Send" is, shalach, # <7971>, and means, "to send, or put away." Some wrongly claim that to send, or put away are synonymous with divorce, but the fact that a wife can be put away without having been given a bill of divorcement clearly refutes that false teaching. There are many wives, even today, who are separated from their husbands, but not divorced.

In those days, only the men could put away their wives. The women were completely depended on the men for support. To send or put away their wives was very hard-hearted of them (Matt 19:8)! Giving the bill of divorcement is a merciful act allowed by God to dissolve the marriage so that the ex-spouse is free to marry another (verse 2). God, through Moses, made a provision for the women who were put away to dissolve their marriage by divorce so that they could re-marry and be supported.

Her latter, or present husband is referred to as iysh, # <376>, "a husband." It is the same word as "Man" in Gen 2:23, referring to Adam from whose rib Eve was taken and she became his wife (Gen 2:24).

Her former, or ex-husband is referred to as baal, # <1167>, or ex "master, lord." What a sharp contrast in these two words! Her first marriage had been absolutely dissolved. Otherwise, she would have committed adultery if she became another man's wife, and both would have been stoned to death according to the Law (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22; John 8:4-5)! No, God did not legalize sin by allowing for divorce!

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] comment added in 2012 Reply to Valerie

Deut 24:1-4

A reader writes: "While all scripture is given for our learning & God & Moses SUFFERED a bill of divorcement, it certainly was not right & Christ did NOT endorce it for the Jews or our times."

My reply: Let me begin by saying the following is not intended to condone divorce, and Christ flatly denounced divorce for just "any cause," which the Pharisees and others were guilty of. Married couples especially those in Christadelphia must strive to make their marriage work because as couples their marriage ought to be a manifestation of Christ and his bride, but sometimes they do fail because of sinful flesh. It is something those responsible will have to give an account of at the judgment seat of Christ, and he will judge the situation since only he can because only he knows the thoughts and intents of the heart, not us. Divorce is not a sin. It is sin that leads to divorce. God would never give a law that was sinful, or as you put it, "not right," not then, not now, nor would He give a law simply because He had to, which the word "suffered" is often interpreted to be. "Suffered" simply means He allowed it! It is # <2010>, epitrepo "to turn over (transfer), i.e. allow..."

The reader further writes regarding Deut 24:2:"...wife is in italics" - implying this word is not in the original text.

Reply: The ellipsis is merely supplied here. The context clearly reveals it is none other. It does not imply a girlfriend or concubine.

Reader: "Verse 1 IS uncleanness, verse 4 IS defiled. Now verse 4 says "AFTER THAT". After what? After verse 2, when she went to another (#312 -strange) man. She is NOT defiled in verse 1. A true marriage does not defile.

Reply: Uncleanness in verse 1 is # <6172>, ervah, "nudity... nakedness, shame, unclean (-ness)." Defiled in verse 4 is # <2930>, tame, "... to be contaminated... pronounce unclean." Verse 4 is connected to verse 1 showing that if one is unclean, then one is defiled. It is not referring to the marriage; it is referring to a charge of an unfit condition brought against the wife. You ask, "After what?" concerning verse 4. My answer to that is after verse 1! Would God contradict Himself, or give permission to do something that would be defiling? The woman's remarriage was not defiling since she had married lawfully (verse 2). This law of prohibition in verse 4, if you will, concerned her first husband who divorced her in the first instance for some uncleanness (verse 1), and was, therefore, not permitted to take her back because of it! According to the Jewish Historian, Josephus, men divorced their wives, remarried and divorced for the dowries they received, and used any excuse to do so. It was "legal" adultery, and this whole concept of what they did was abominable in God's eyes and caused "the land to sin..." This latter part of verse 4 is so often over-looked.

Verse 2 does not say she went to an acher, "strange" man, but that "she may go and be another man's wife." In other words, it concerns a future marriage with a man whom she has not yet met.
Let me repeat: Her latter, or present husband is referred to as iysh, # <376>, "a husband." It is the same word as "Man" in Gen 2:23, referring to Adam from whose rib Eve was taken and she became his wife (Gen 2:24).

Her former, or ex-husband is now referred to as baal, # <1167>, or ex "master, lord." Her first marriage had been absolutely dissolved. Otherwise, she would have committed adultery if she became another man's wife, and she would have been stoned to death according to the Law (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22; John 8:4-5)! No, God did not legalize sin by allowing for divorce! The certificate of divorce had to be handed to the woman for her protection, that her former, or latter husband could not accuse her of adultery, which carried the death sentence, should she remarry. The certificate of divorce was clearly a humanitarian act that protected the women.

Why would God say in verse 2 that she may go and be another man's wife, and then in verse 4 say she has been defiled by remarrying? Does God give ordinances which then defile us? Absolutely not! Obviously, then, it cannot mean that.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2012

Deut 24:1-4

In the February issue of LOGOS Magazine, there is an article in it by Bro. Robert Roberts entitled, Understanding Romans Chapter 7. I recommend reading the article in its entirety. Robert Roberts acknowledges the passages as read in Rom 7 including vv. 1-4, as passages hard to be understood (2Pet 3:16). So then, if read vv. 1-4, as is, without its context, it would be a very simple and straight forward interpretation!

I quote: "There are statements in it that are only intelligible on a just apprehension of human nature in all its relations. Those who only grasp some of these, are baffled by some of those statements. It requires spiritual-mindedness to see their truth or understand them... The seventh chapter of Romans is particularly addressed 'to them that know the law {of Moses}' {v. 1}, because the argument to be employed was to hang on an illustration derived from the Law, and to relate to their position in reference to the Law. The first fact laid down is, that the jurisdiction of the Law over a man extended to the full term of his life. However long he might live, he could never reach an age when he would be free. 'The law hath dominion over a man so long as he liveth.' Death put an end to this dominion, for no law could reach dead men. This is illustrated by the case of a husband to whom a wife was bound so long as he lived, but at whose death she was free to be married to another. Her husband died really, and she died legally, to the law holding them in union as man and wife; and the woman was at liberty to form a new connection. Paul applies both features of the illustration to the case in hand: 'Ye, my brethren, are become dead to the Law.' How? 'By the body of Christ...'" (Highlight mine).

To understand these verses in their context according to those who know the Law, we need to understand the Law, and this takes us right back to Deut 24:1-4. We need to understand how Paul was transitioning them from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant.

Under the Old Covenant, Yahweh was Israel's (all 12 tribes) Husband (Isa 48:17, i.e. Redeemer/Husband; Isa 54:5). He divorced Israel, His bride (Jer 3:8), by this time - 10 tribes, but Yahweh did not divorce Judah and Benjamin, the remaining two tribes. Under the Law, God could not take back His divorced bride (Deut 24:4). We know Yahweh keeps His own Laws, and He could not take Israel back - hence, comes the New Covenant and Christ. Yahweh cannot die, so the law of the husband could only cease with the death of the redeemer/husband, Christ. Under the Law, the husband (Yahweh) could divorce his wife, but it is inconceivable that the wife would divorce the husband (Yahweh), and as with the spiritual, so it was with the natural. No Law was provided for the wife to divorce the husband!

Under Christ, their new husband, he could take back and make Israel his bride, and note in His New Covenant teachings, Christ re-iterated time and time again how he came to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel," i.e. the ten tribes to unite them all into him! Jerusalem was primarily the Kingdom of Yahudah (Judah) and Benjamin. Esther and Mordecai, Benjamites, saved natural Israel; the apostle Paul, a Benjamite, in his preaching as commissioned by Christ and through Christ, brought spiritual salvation to Israel (Rom 11:26).

But, I digress... According to the Law of the husband, Christ had to die. This opened the way for the 12 tribes, the House of Israel and the Kingdom of Yahudah (Judah) to be embraced together under the New Covenant as a bride under their new husband, the risen Christ.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2016

Deut 24:5

"When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken."

This Law is often referred to as a "miscellaneous law," but it is anything but that! This Law was God's way of honouring and blessing the marriage covenant in an effort to preserve the sanctity of marriage. Newly married men were exempt from military and other state services for one year so they could stay at home, grow in their love one to another, procreate, and be happy with one another.

This Law contained the provision for strengthening marriages and guard against divorce. Provision was made for the preservation of their love, and fitly follows after the Law concerning divorce. It is very important to prevent divorce and that love be kept up between the husband and wife. God wants couples to love one another, enjoy one another, be happy with one another, and stay with one another (1Pet 3:7). To do this they must continue to build their relationship. If anything, this Law was a compassionate law.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2012


It really irks my spirit when I read of such blatant misinterpretations of Scripture and by reason of this they have been known to ask couples who would come into the truth to divorce if there had been a previous divorce with a partner now remarried, or to separate and never to marry, a burden, which even Christ said not all could receive. Those who would have entered into the Kingdom, they hindered!

It is a grave mistake to take one verse and ignore all the others that follow, as in the case of Deut 24:1. We must compare Scripture with Scripture - Old and New Covenants.

Introducing the concept of a break up of an engagement is totally foreign to the text, and is totally foreign to the context of Matthew and Christ's debate with the Jews/Rabbis, and it is totally foreign to Deut 24.

If a person broke an engagement and went on and married, why would he/she be an adulterer? Does breaking an engagement now become adultery? No. The context of all these various Scriptures clearly touches on a consummated marriage.

Those who refer to Deut 24:1 as solely a separation or a broken engagement are the very ones who do not allow for divorce for any reason whatsoever.

To take the engagement concept and impose it upon a passage that deals strictly with marriage and divorce on the basis of its Old Covenant roots is really to add something that simply is not there, while subtracting what is there!

Deut 24 is not concerned about the engagement period, and if Christ had in mind the engagement period, he would be adding something to the Old Covenant standard, making his Sermon on the Mount inconsistent with what he had in mind and taught. Christ was reaffirming Yahweh's standard, which has not changed, but because of sin now in the flesh regulation was needed, thus, Deut 24. He is not adding to or taking from it! What Deut 24:1-4 teaches was contrary to what the rabbis were teaching in Christ's day - that being, they could divorce for any reason. Deut 24 did not teach this.

Deut 24 merely regulated the condition and manner for a divorce, which was much needed.

Flesh today is no different then the flesh then, and Christ and the apostle Paul, who was taught by Christ, taught how rare divorce should be, especially among those of the Household of Faith. Christ did not abrogate his Father's law. The son is not above the Father, which he plainly taught. He taught the law more perfectly, in that it is not just about the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law.

Actually, it was Adam who pronounced the ideal of marriage, as read in Gen 2:23,24 and that before he and Eve sinned. Having said that, it was Divinely sanctioned. This is what marriage ought to be, but it didn't turn out that way once sin entered the world. Christ would never undermine a law given by his Father when the ideal could not be met by reason of sin in the flesh.

The only restriction Paul gives is to marry in the Lord and even this is not always kept, yet the offending party is not disfellowshipped!

The fact that there was an injunction for a bishop to be the husband of one wife merely indicated that there were men who had multiple wives even during the apostles time. It does not deal with D/R. If it weren't such a serious issue, his conclusions would be laughable!

Without question, the ideal is to strive to save a marriage, and if both spouses are firmly committed to make the marriage work, it will. The problem arises when one partner isn't interested in saving the marriage for whatever reason. This is why the apostle Paul introduced by permission, 1Cor 7. His authority came directly from Christ and not man (Rom 1:1; Gal 1:1,11,12). The Holy Spirit revealed the things of God to Paul, so he taught in words the Spirit gave him just like the other apostles did, and as a result, he had the mind of Christ (2Cor 2:1-5,10-13,16).

1st November 2016 from Sister Valerie Mello 

Lev 21:7

"They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband..."

This passage of Scripture is often used to prove that divorce existed before the Law of Divorcement given by God in Deut 24:1-4! Moses, as God's servant, was responsible to give it to all of the people of Israel. Though often referred to as the Law of Moses, it was the Law of God given to Moses.

We have developed a mindset that when we read, "put away," we immediately think of divorce. Yet, time and time again, Scripture distinguishes between separation and divorce. "Put away" is the verb garash, Strong's # <1644>, and it is also found in Lev 21:14; Lev 22:13; Num 30:9. Garash means, "to drive away," and differs from shalach, "to put away," Strong's # <7971>, only in the intensity of the action. The Hebrew word for divorce is keriythuwth, Strong's # <3748>.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2011


Mal 2:14-16

"... For Yahweh, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away..."

Some modern translations substitute "putting away" for divorce. This is a mistranslation. The Hebrew text says, "putting away," shalach, <7971> as opposed to divorce, keriythuwth <3748>. They are not synonymous! A wife can be put away without having been given a bill of divorcement, which completely cuts of the marriage bond. While putting away is the sin that God hates, divorce is a merciful act given by God to Moses (Deut 24:1-4).

Even today, there are wives who are legally separated from their husbands, but are not divorced. In fact, in various provinces in Canada, they must be legally separated for one year before either one can file for divorce. Neither party is free to marry until receipt of their legal divorce papers. This time affords them the opportunity to reconsider their position and reconcile. If either party chooses not to reconcile after one year, then the divorce is granted.


A reader asks: "I was interested to read your comments on Mark 10:9-11. I would like to have read your further comments on Matt 5:32; 19:9 and Luke 16:18...My husband and I have been invited to a wedding. The groom is a divorced Brother and he is marrying a newly baptized divorced sister. My feeling is that I should not attend the wedding...However, my husband...asked the opinions of various people in 'the meeting' and they have advised that to attend is the right thing to do. Please have you any comments with regard to this?"

My reply: Let me begin by first mentioning that in both the Old and New Testaments, divorce and separation, or putting away use two distinct words distinguishing the one from the other. The LORD did it in Isa 50:1 wherein we find the word used for "divorcement" is keriythuwth, and "put away" is shalach. We find these distinctions time and time again in both Testaments. We find Jesus also makes the distinction in Mark 10:4 wherein "divorcement" is apostasion, and "put away" is apoluo. Jesus is quoting from Deut 24, where the same distinction was originally used. Moses wrote the bill of divorcement for the women, primarily, that they may remarry, especially in those days, when women were completely dependent on the men for their livelihood. He wrote this precept because the men were hard-hearted in throwing their wives out, keeping their dowries, and at the same time indulgenced in the lusts of their flesh without any care for their wives well-being! Hard-heartedness does not negate this principle; it was a merciful Law for the women.
This brings us to Mark 10:9-11, which is also covered under Matt 19: "Asunder" means to "depart or separate," not divorce. It is no more synonymous with divorce as separation is! What the Lord is saying is that the man should not put away (apoluo), or leave his wife. We also read in 1Cor 7:11-12, that women should not leave or separate (apoluo) from their husbands, but if she does let her remain unmarried, and try to reconcile. If they should remarry without a proper bill of divorcement (apostasion), being only separated, or apoluo, they commit adultery (Mark 10:11-12).
Regarding Mark 10:6, please read my notes on Matt 19, July 18th readings. It is the same with Luke 16:18. Whoever marries a person put away (apoluo) - separated, commits adultery, and whoever marries her that is just separated (apoluo) from her husband commits adultery against her husband.


The privilege of God giving divorce papers was not meant to be abused, but God realized the necessity of it when He, Himself, sanctioned it, and had Moses write it. We must not, indeed cannot, judge the circumstances of their divorce, otherwise we find ourselves being the judge and executioner! This line of thinking is often influenced by our pre-conceived prejudices. They in the meeting advised you correctly - it is the right thing to do.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2012 

Response (gleaned from Sister Mello's exposition) to a reader's question 

READER; 'Trying to comprehend how divorce is a merciful act'

RESPONSE; Before Deuteronomy 24 some Jewish men had been putting away their wives for any cause. Though marriage from the beginning was meant to be permanent according to Adam's proclamation which undoubtedly met with the approval of the elohim, Yahweh had not issued any laws prohibiting or regulating divorce to this point.

Some hard-hearted men were marrying wives casually and putting them away (but not divorcing) for frivolous reasons. [Yahweh introduced divorce regulation in Deut 24:1-4 to stop this iniquity].

For the woman this was a great hardship. It was a form of abandonment. Because she was only put away (shalach) she was not permitted to remarry - she was still married to the husband who had put her away - he could take her back to wife any time if he felt inclined, or leave her abandoned with no hope for the remainder of her life. (If she did remarry both she and her new husband would be stoned for committing adultery Lev 20:10). [The man could marry any number of women - as long as they were unmarried. During the pre-Messiah age polygamy was tolerated].

Unlike nowadays, women were entirely dependent upon the men for their homes, food and so on. A woman put away(shalach) was in a sad and tragic position, facing destitution. She would never be able to have children. So in Deuteronomy 24 Yahweh introduced new divorce (keriythuwth) laws to regulate the evil of putting away 'he hateth putting away' (shalach).

If a man chose to cast out his wife, he now had to give her a bill of divorcement (keriythuwth). This was a legal writ. This was a permanent and irreversible divorce absolute - he could never take her back, even if the new husband died - that would be an 'abomination' in the sight of Yahweh (Deut 24:4). So Yahweh forced the husband to recognise the seriousness of his actions and not to act hastily or frivolously in either marrying or divorcing.

The bill of divorcement was physical proof she was no longer in marriage bondage to her former husband (now referred to as Baal - Lord v4). It was indeed a merciful provision freeing her from tyranny. It was her protection (and her new husband's) against being stoned for adultery. Now, she could remarry and be supported and raise a family with her new husband (iysh - same as Gen 2:23-24). Her new marriage was in no sense defiling and was certainly not adultery - otherwise she and her new husband would have been stoned. Yahweh does not contradict his own laws!

He can use a woman to teach when men have failed - see 2Chron 34:22 . We believe Sister Mello has provided an authoritative (true to scripture), harmonious, consistent in depth exposition on the subject of divorce and remarriage which happens to coincide with the teaching of our beloved Brother John Thomas. He went to the grave leaving a true legacy of his labours in behalf of the truth‭! ‬ 

N. Kendall                                         


Lev 21:7 

"They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband..."

This passage of Scripture is often used to prove that divorce existed before the Law of Divorcement given by God in Deut 24:1-4! Moses, as God's servant, was responsible to give it to all of the people of Israel. Though often referred to as the Law of Moses, it was the Law of God given to Moses.

We have developed a mindset that when we read, "put away," we immediately think of divorce. Yet, time and time again, Scripture distinguishes between separation and divorce. "Put away" is the verb garash, Strong's # <1644>, and it is also found in Lev 21:14; Lev 22:13; Num 30:9. Garash means, "to drive away," and differs from shalach, "to put away," Strong's # <7971>, only in the intensity of the action. The Hebrew word for divorce is keriythuwth, Strong's # <3748>.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2011 


Isa 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."

Analogy is often used to reveal a truth. Zion is the mother; and God is the Husband-Father speaking to His children (Isa 54:5; 62:5; Jer 3:14)). The key to interpreting this analogy is to uncover the idea of the first text, which correlates with this situation. Isaiah here is referring to the Law of Deut 24:1-5.

"Put away" is Strong's # <7971>, shalach, and conveys the idea in modern parlance as being separated. On the other hand, "divorcement" is Strong's # <3748>, keriythuwth, and means a complete cutting off of the marital bonds - divorce. God "put her away" for a time, hoping to take her back upon repentance, and still had the right of the Husband. It was the rebellious children who sold themselves into slavery as a consequence of their own sin (Isa 52:3); did not repent (Jer 3:1), and ultimately God divorced them (Jer 3:8). Please read my notes on Jer 3:14. Thank you.

Sister Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2011 


Jer 3:14

"Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:"

Throughout the Bible, we encounter terms and metaphors relating to marriage and its vicissitudes. All of them relate to the intimate relationship God has made with Israel.

We read in verse 8 that God had put away (shalach) the children of Israel and gave her a bill of divorce (keriythuwth, a complete cutting off) yet; He says He is still married to them! How can this be? Please note that the word, "married" is Strong's # <1166>. baal, and is the same word used in Deut 24:4 for "her former husband," or ex-husband. Here the word, "husband" is Strong's # <1167>, from <1166>, baal. This is in sharp contrast to the "latter husband" in verse 3 where the present "husband" is Strong's # <376>, iysh (ish)! God is not saying He is married to them, but that He was married to them! He is their former husband; He was (past tense) "an husband unto them" (Jer 31:32).

This passage of Scripture literally reads thus: "For I have been married with (or to) thee." God explicitly tells Israel: "I married you," and charges that she turned away from her God, and her Husband by turning to spiritual adultery in worshipping other gods. Jeremiah citing the northern house of Israel's adulterous example, warned Judah, the southern house, to repent and return to God, or suffer the same fate. He warned Judah (verse 10) of how the former was given a "bill of divorcement and was "put away." To "turn" and "repent," they would have had to put away their idols and completely cut themselves off from worshipping other gods in order to be spiritually married to God. Otherwise, He would put them away and divorce them according to His own Law!

Those from both houses, who stayed rebellious and unrepentant, were completely cut off. Nevertheless, because of the promise God made to Abraham, these two nations shall not cease to exist, they shall once again be healed, and shall be united with each other and with their God when He makes a new Kingdom covenant with them (Jer 31:28,31-34).

Sister Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2011 

Rebutting the Randall Papers (Dawn) - 

The article says that Deut. 24: 1-4 is the only place in the Law (of Moses) where divorce was permissible. This is not correct. There are at least three other regulations involving divorce - Exodus 21:4 & 11 and Deut. 21:14

Matt. 19:8: The permission of Deut. 24:1-4 was for hardness of heart. Very true. Keep this well in mind, for the article proceeds to elaborate a theory about the meaning of Deut. 24:1-4, that inexorably narrows it's only possible application down to the exact circumstances of Joseph and Mary, and therefore forces us, if we accept the article, to the monstrous conclusion that Joseph, blessed of all generations on earth to be the foster father and to bring up the infant Jesus with a father's loving discipline, was a hard-hearted man. On the very contrary, God tells us he was "just" (dikaios, righteous - a term applied to God himself)

Bro Growcott

SECTION 1: 


Matthew 5:31-32


It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away (apoluo) his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement (apostasion): but I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away (apoluo) his wife, saving for the cause of fornication (porneia), causeth her to commit adultery (moichao): and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced (apoluo) committeth adultery (moichao)."

In these verses we read Christ say, "Ye have heard that it hath been said...but I say unto you..." By doing so, he was sharply contrasting his own teachings against the distorted teachings of the self-righteous Scribes and Pharisees. When Jesus referred to the Old Testament teachings, he used the formula, "it is written" (Matt 4:4).


A lot of confusion has arisen over the issue of divorce and remarriage, making it one of the most controversial and divisive subjects in the body of Messiah. This passage of Scripture is part of the "Sermon on the Mount." In verses 17-19, Jesus disclaimed the idea that he was trying to destroy or undermine the Law, and positively condemned those who would break the least commandment and teach others so.

"It hath been said." The Scribes and Pharisees fell short of the Law's righteous standard, and misinterpreted it in many ways (verses 21-44). When speaking of what the Law really said, Jesus used, "It is written."

"But I say unto you." Jesus is not changing or adding something new to the God's Law, given by God, Himself to Moses, but is showing the true and deeper meaning contained in the Law, which had been distorted. This is not to be construed to mean that Jesus is abrogating any of the Divine Laws, or that he is replacing them with something different. He is not discrediting the Law of God, but discrediting the Pharisaical false teachings to the people in their interpretation of the Law!

"Put away...put away...divorced (wrongly translated)..." is one word in the Greek - apoluo, #<630> in Strong's, and is the Hebrew equivalent of shalach, "to put away." It is only a part of the divorce process, and not synonymous with divorce as widely believed and taught. A margin note in the Geneva Bible translated from the Textus Receptus in 1560 about 50 years before the 1611 KJV, also translated from the Textus Receptus, writes concerning "put away:" "that is, was not lawfully divorced." "Put away" appears more than 65 times, but translated only once as "divorce, and that is here in verse 32!

"Divorcement" is apostasion, #<647>, and is the Hebrew equivalent of keriythuwth, "a complete cutting off of the marriage bond." If a separated woman remarried without legal divorce papers, she committed adultery. Many of them were not following the Law of Deut 24:1-4*. They were simply separating from their wives without giving a writing of divorcement because they wanted to keep the dowries.

*[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.

2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.

3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;

4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance].


"Saving for the cause of fornication." It is important to note the two distinct words Jesus used. "Adultery," moichao, Strong's #<3429>, is a word that describes illicit sexual relations involving at least one married person that violates a covenant, and "fornication," porneia, Strong's #<4202>, is any kind of illicit sexual activity without necessarily being in a covenant relationship. The context being of legally bound couples, what Jesus is saying is where there is no lawfully binding marriage contract in the first place, there is no need to appeal to the Law for divorce papers. Illicit sex does not legally bind anyone, and is a totally separate issue.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2011


A reader asks:

"What about the part that says, 'and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.'"

Note: Just reading this, we would have to conclude that it is only the man who commits the adultery. In actual fact, what is being conveyed here is that the man commits adultery against the husband of the woman because she is still married, though separated, but not divorced from her husband! This passage goes a lot deeper, and a mere isolated surface reading would only have us come to erroneous conclusions. This misinterpreted passage is so often used to ostracize, criticize, and demoralize those that have gone through just such an experience, and hinder those who would enter the Kingdom.

My reply:
In Matt 5:32, the word divorced is the Greek word apoluo, and simply conveys the idea of being separated! "Divorced" has been incorrectly translated here as Strong's Concordance will verify. The word in the Greek for divorced is apostasion. In other words, if you remarry without a proper legal divorce, you are committing adultery being still married. In our day, bigamy and polygamy, while overlooked during Old Testament times, is under the Law of Christ considered adultery. The problem sometimes concerning this issue is usually because it is taught wrongly by those who misunderstand this and other passages.
Please also read my notes for the July 31st readings on Rom 7 (section 4 below). The ecclesia is the bride of Christ, and what the apostle Paul is addressing and showing those who know the law, that you cannot be under the Law of Moses and Christ at the same time. Remember, that the Jews were married to God under the Law of Moses; they were His wife (see Jer 3:14 AV), and thus, the Jews could not accept being married to another, even Christ. In actual fact, it was now the other way around, as Paul tried to show them. That is all! These believers in Messiah whom Paul addressed were Judaisers who were trying to have it both ways, which is, indeed, spiritual adultery. Taken any other way, it would contradict numerous Scriptural passages. All the pieces of the puzzle MUST fit; if it does not then we know that we are missing the mark.
This passage is one of those passages that Peter wrote of Paul as, "hard to be understood" (see 2Pet 3:15-16), but can be understood if we study the Word and dig in deeply, "as for hid treasure." Then, and only then, will we understand this issue and interpret it in its proper context. I am not asking you to take my word for it, but I am asking you to study it for yourself, and then you decide.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2012 

 

Matt 5:31-32

The reader further asks:
"I am trying to understand what you have here, I looked up the one word you say means separation, but it said divorce as well.    Also, what about going to law to obtain a divorce. Is that right to go to man's court."

My reply:
The Concordance does insert the word, "divorce" along with "separation" because apoluo has been translated as divorce in the text by the translators. Separation is separation, divorce is divorce. We are not at liberty to pick and choose, which word suits best our beliefs. We have this mindset that if someone is put away, that they are divorced, but there is a distinction as ultimately Scripture reveals. The same situation occurs in the OT passages in Lev 21, Lev 22, Num 30:9, wherein the word, "divorced" is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word, garash, to "put away," the difference from shalach (also Hebrew, to put away) being that the separation was done in a forceful manner. Again, the Concordance includes the word, "divorce." The Law of Divorcement was not given till later in Deuteronomy! The actual Hebrew word for "divorce" is keriythuwth, a complete cutting off of the matrimonial bonds, and not found anywhere in the OT before Deut 24!

In Isa 50:1, "divorcement" is keriythuwth, and "put away" is shalach. The LORD (Yahweh), Himself, made the distinction between the two words. Likewise, in Jer 3:8. Yahweh followed His own decree as He gave to Moses! A careful study of the context and applying good hermeneutics will reveal that apoluo, as used by Jesus, did not mean divorce as defined by Moses, and as some understand it today.


 Consider the following: Jesus DID NOT use the Greek words for divorce, apostasion or lusis. Jesus used the word apoluo for put away, or separation. Why did Jesus use apoluo that those in his day new to be just a separation? The onus is on us to search ALL the passages (Prov 25:2), interpret them in their context, and then we will be able to put all the pieces together to see the complete picture.


 When it comes to matters of marriage and divorce how can we justify those that teach apoluo means divorce, and further claim that Jesus taught that the divorced could never marry anyone other than remarry their former spouse? Why to do so, some would have to divorce again, which would require them going to court before a judge or magistrate, which they also oppose! What confusion!

Apoluo does not mean divorce. It means to put away, or send away from the home. It is a part of the divorce process set up by Moses and given by God. We read in Deut 24: "When a man taketh a wife,and marrieth her, then it shall be, if she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some unseemly thing in her, that he shall write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house." 

 Notice that in order for a man to obtain a legal divorce he had to do three things:

1) Write a bill of divorcement;

2) Give it to his wife;

3) Send her out of his house.

If all a man did was apoluo his wife (put away, or send - shalach, the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek, apoluo, her out of his house) then he was still legally married to that woman.
Moses also wrote the reason WHY a man was to follow these procedures: It was so that the woman WOULD BE FREE TO MARRY ANOTHER MAN: "And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife" (Deut 24:2).

Moses would never have allowed this if divorce and remarriage was adultery, which is punishable by death! Furthermore, bear in mind that the Law of Moses is the Law of God as handed down to Moses! Some would have us believe that Jesus CHANGED the Law of Moses, or the Law of His Father as given to Moses when he did no such thing. Jesus never contradicted his Father! The moral and ethical Laws did not change. Would Jesus then declare that one who divorces his spouse and remarries is guilty of the sin of continual adultery? Is this statement in agreement with what the Law of Moses said? Would Jesus have been rightly referred to as keeping the Law of Moses perfectly IF he had taught CONTRARY to the Law? I don't think so!


 For further evidence that put away is not divorce, consider this: A margin note in the Geneva Bible translated from the Textus Receptus in 1560 (51 years before the KJV) concerning the term put away, said, "that is, was not lawfully divorced." This margin note was in reference to Matt 19. These men were not following the Law by giving their wives a proper divorce because they wanted to keep their dowries. They were simply separating, without giving her a writing of divorcement. Imagine that it is this very thing that some teach, that they can separate, or put away, but not divorce, which very thing, shalach, God hates (Mal 2:16)! (This is not speaking about a temporary separation in hopes of reconciliation, if such a possibility should exist between the two parties.)

About going to court, (This subject is dealt with at length in section 4) I expect you are referring to the passage in 1 Cor 6. The context refers to lawsuits against those who cheat one another by fraud! If we are defrauded, we are to suffer the loss of material possessions, and not sue in a court of law to be recompensed, especially when it is believer to believer before an unbeliever. What kind of example is that! It is nothing short of shaming the Truth before unbelievers! We are to apply Matt 18:15-17 amongst each other. Christ said "if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also" (Matt 5:40). These disciples were suing and taking to court fellow believers for redresses in direct disobedience to Christ's command!

It does not make sense that it is permissible to obtain a writ of divorce, but then cannot go to a judge or magistrate to obtain it! It is confusion, and God is not the author of confusion. Merely filing for divorce papers in civil court is not suing at law for the purpose of redress. However, having said that, those of the world who apply for a divorce often do go for the jugular, and try to obtain not just a divorce, but go on to sue for property, money, and any and everything else they can grab when appealing to a judge. This, the disciples of Christ are forbidden to do. It is not unheard of that a believer may be summoned to court, and would have to comply by attending and possibly defending oneself. The court is to enforce the laws of the land, and which we are to obey, unless they are a direct violation of God's commands. The laws of the land are meant for our good, to protect us, and the court is not our enemy, as we tend to think. "For rulers (magistrates) are not a terror to good works, but to the evil... (Rom 13:3-4).

I hope you find this helpful.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2012 

 A reader writes on my in-depth study of the divorce and remarriage issue:

"I have a file of your comments saved on my PC to draw from as soon as you gave permission, hoping that you would... But just how to break the ice and ask for it had been alluding me until this last comment for Matt. 5 in 2012. I had been thinking for quite some time that you were on the right track... Your arguments and reasoning appear to be unassailable. I have looked for discrepancies. Of course I am quite fallible but I find them quite sound...

In reference to your statement, 'the conclusion I came to is consistent throughout both Old and New Testament, and one does not contradict the other', is to my way of thinking patently correct. How can the one being who fulfilled all of the Father's will be contradictory to what was taught in the Law. Quite right that the Lord Jesus did not change the Law but enhanced it. We all stumble so easily that many of us who have a difficult time with what may seem to be contradictions in Scripture look for havens in the storm where they may be found. So we take what trusted brethren say as being gospel. We doubt our own capability to perceive and comprehend. Our Father tells us over and over again that He will give us understanding if we seek it in the way He has drawn out for us. But we fail, because we believe not. One of my difficulties is that I constantly second guess. Is what I understand real and correct according to God's word... And I am guilty as well of taking what was said from the platform as being gospel when in fact it was not..."


Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2013 

"... Whosoever shall put away (# <630>, apoluo) his wife, let (Christ allowed) him give her a writing of divorcement (# <647> apostasion): But I (Christ) say unto you, That whosoever shall put away (# <630> apoluo) his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced (# <630>, apoluos) committeth adultery."

A reader writes: "... I don't see the difference, if you put someone away it is divorce..."

My reply: The fact that Strong's Concordance defined put away as also meaning "divorce" does not mean it is correct, and that put away may be used interchangeably with divorcement. We read in Matt 19:7: "... Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement (# <647>, and to put her away (# <630>)? Another example that differentiates between the two words is found in Mark 10:4: "... Moses suffered (Moses allowed) to write a bill of divorcement (# <647>), and to put her away (# <630>)." When we read Deut 23:1-4 where the law of divorce was given by God to Moses, and not just Moses' giving it, we learn the Hebrew word for divorcement is # <3748>, keriythuwth, and the Hebrew word for sent her away is # <7971>, shalach. Thus, it is very clear that these two different words are two separate acts. The fact that this is so is not a coincidence, but God-incidence!

Let me delve into another area, which perhaps will further help clarify the mistranslation of certain words: Another example of Strong's Concordance mistranslation is the Greek word, ekklesia, defining it as "assembly, congregation... and church"! They translated ekklesia 115 times as church! The only place ekklesia is correctly translated by them is found in Acts 19:32,39,41. Please read my notes on Acts 19, for May 7th for a further explanation on this.

We read in Heb 2:12: "... I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church..."

Church is # <1577>, ekklesia, "... community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both: assembly, church." By using church instead of assembly or congregation, it gave the context a totally different meaning. The apostle Paul quoted Psa 22:22. We read here: "I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee." Congregation is # <6951>, qahal, "... assembly, company, congregation, multitude."

Sadly, the compromise of knowingly mistranslating these words has continued the perpetration of false teachings. The fact is that the King James Bible translators, along with today's modern translators had the opportunity to correct these errors, but failed to do so. Their Catholic and Protestant teachings merely serve to expose their bias.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2013 

Another reader writes: "You say - comment on Matt 5:32 - 'We are not at liberty to pick & choose which word suits best our belief.' I agree, & I see clearly you are doing just that. The word used must agree with the positive commands as the word of Yahweh cannot contradict. They must agree as to context, time or aion."

Word definition is vital in any study and regarding any issue. There seems to be a lot of attention given to the word, put away as found in the KJV translation. Put away is derived from the Greek apoluo. Apoluo is translated "put away" in Matt 5:32 (clause A) and "divorced" in clause B. Apoluo means to, "let go or let loose" and Thayer says apoluo involves repudiation in the case of divorcement (Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words and Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, pg. 66). Apoluo appears about 69 times in the Greek New Testament, always with the same basic action of letting go. The Concordance here is misleading and incorrect in adding the word, "divorce." Apoluo is rendered "send away," "loosed," and "forgive" (Matt 14:15; 18:27; Luke 6:37). In every instance, there is an implied authority, someone who is empowered to release. Since Jesus used both the words apoluo and apostasion and ONE was in reference to "divorce" - apostasion, it logically follows that the OTHER word apoluo was used to mean something else (Matt 5:31). This, in fact, proves Jesus did not come preaching a new doctrine that differed from the Law of Deut 24:1-4!

When it comes to matters of marriage and divorce how can we sit by idly while many continue to teach that apoluo means divorce, and claim that Jesus taught that the divorced could never re-marry anyone other than their spouse?

It is nowhere in the Bible. It is a doctrine of men. Apoluo does not mean divorce! It means to put away, repudiate, or send away from the house. Denominationally influenced scholars say apoluo here means divorce to which you agree, but this is incorrect. Apoluo (send away) is a part of the divorce process set up by Moses in Deut 24 - "When a man taketh a wife, and marrieth her, then it shall be, if she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some unseemly thing in her, that he shall write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house."


 Notice that in order for a man to obtain a legal divorce he had to do three things:

1) Write a bill of divorcement;

2) Give it to his wife; and

3) Send her out of his house.

If all a man did was apoluo his wife (put away, or send her out of his house), then he was still legally married to that woman. With these facts in mind, Jesus' teaching in Matt 5:32; Matt 19:9 is not hard to understand or to accept.


 Moses wrote the reason why a man was to follow these procedures: It was so that the woman would be free to marry another man. "And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife" (Deut 24:2). The traditionalists would have us believe that Jesus changed this part of the Law of Moses, when he did not.


 If apoluo means divorce, as you claim, then its Hebrew equivalent must also mean divorce. The Hebrew equivalent of the Greek apoluo is shalach. Therefore, Deut 24:1 would have to be translated thus: "When a man taketh a wife, and marrieth her, then it shall be, if she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some unseemly thing in her, that he shall write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and divorce her." This sloppy translation would have the man divorcing his wife twice!

Unfortunately for those wishing to perpetuate the man-made doctrine that forbids those who are legally divorced from getting re-married, there will be a day of reckoning when it will be understood that their doctrine was NOT what Moses wrote, nor what Jesus said! Apostasion in the Greek (the writing of the bill of divorcement) is the same as kriythuwth in the Hebrew. One was not considered divorced simply by separating (sending from the house (shalach) in the Hebrew, anymore than one was considered divorced simply by separating (putting away, or sending from the house (apoluo) in the Greek. Even today we would not consider one divorced simply because one has separated!

It is also quite telling that the traditionalists tell us that the divorced must stay single, or if a man and woman who are divorced and married to another spouse must divorce in order to please God! Then and only then can they marry each other again!


 Some also conclude that Jesus declared that one who divorces his spouse and remarries is guilty of the sin of continual adultery. Is this statement in agreement with what the Law of Moses said? Would Jesus have been rightly referred to as keeping the Law of Moses perfectly IF he had taught contrary to the Law?

Jesus and Paul said some people do not have the gift of celibacy (Matt 19:10-12; 1Cor 7:9). Those who have it probably do not understand why everybody cannot be like them, but I am sure Jesus and Paul understood human nature enough to know what they were talking about.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA]

A reader comments: 'You would need to elaborate on the subject of Christ and the law of Moses.

The idea that He did not set out new laws on divorce is completely untenable.
We only have to read the Gospel records to see this clearly - e.g. "fornication"
was not a reason for divorce under the law - it was punishable by death.


My reply :Under the Law of Moses both fornication and adultery were punishable by death. See Deut 22:22. The only thing that changed under Christ was the death penalty for these sins. Christ, under the Law, told the woman caught in adultery, "Go and sin no more," while others wanted her stoned. This is the manifestation of the spirit of Christ, which we must cultivate if we are to be his in the day of reckoning.

The law of D&R as given in Deut 24 (given after Deut 22)would be hard pressed to explain if the divorced woman in remarrying committed adultery, as it is being taught by some Christadelphians, yet she was not stoned per the Law, but rather it says, "she may go and be another man's wife."

Sister Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] 


                                         SECTION 2:

1

Matthew 19


1, And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;

2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.

3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away (apoluo) his wife for every cause?

4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

"The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?"

Jesus in reply to the Pharisees' question (vv. 4-6) quoted Gen 2:24 to show them it was not lawful to put away a wife for just any reason. He brings up three very significant points which God gave from the beginning for a successful marriage.

Point 1: leaving (parents) speaks of the priority of marriage over parent/child relationships.

Point 2: cleaving (to the wife), which means to pursue hard to stick to/with the wife.

Point 3: becoming one flesh, which speaks of the Divine purpose of marriage.

We must have total commitment to make the marriage last, and it is this commitment that enables love to continue, not vice versa. Without a total commitment by either partner, the marriage will eventually disintegrate. It is about "If you leave me, I'm going with you," meaning that the principal aspect is to make up, not break up.

Becoming "one flesh" is much more than the physical act of love. It speaks of absolute openness and oneness without which the physical aspect of marriage loses its meaning and degenerates into the mere gratification of the flesh. "One flesh" is about appreciating the need for loving communication and sensitive loyal confrontation without any inhibitions that would prevent complete openness. Communication must not be rooted in selfishness, or ego trying to prove who is right. We are to attack the problem, not each other. These three combined acts of total commitment Scripture shows makes the couple, "one." How sad in this day and age many choose the easy way out of a marriage allowing 10% of their problems override their 90% successes!

Jesus in going back to Gen 2:24 did not teach that God prohibited separation or divorce, but rather God's instruction on how to keep our marriages together. The Pharisees were separating and divorcing for "every cause," but God said and Christ pointed out to them that from the very beginning it was God's intent for the husband to "cleave," or pursue hard to stick to his wife, which is what the word means. It was never stipulated in the beginning that a husband/wife could not terminate the marriage, but stipulated that we are to make it work, and work hard at it. Because of the hardness of the Pharisees' hearts, they did not strive to make their marriage work, but rather chose separation, later divorce for any and every cause. This aspect of separating or divorcing for any cause was never so, and this gives credence to the so-called, "exceptive clause," as read in verse 9 and Matt 5:32.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA]



6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (choreo).

This phrase is so often used at Christian wedding ceremonies, but the words, "till death do us part" has been added. An appropriate Scriptural vow would read more like this: "By God's grace, and through His strength, I give myself solely to you, to have and to hold, to love, honour and obey according to His will for us," for in ourselves we are weak. We cannot do it in our own strength.

The word, asunder, is # <5562>, choreo, and is a derivative of # <5563>, chorizo, "to go away, separate." The context is not about divorce, but separation within the body of Christ. The couple exchanged marital vows with one another, which they are to honour and not pull their marriage apart when problems arise. But man (either partner) does put asunder. To separate is not a sin, but the circumstances that lead to the separation are.

The whole tenor of the New Testament is forgiving those who sin against us. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves his ecclesia and gave himself for it, and wives are to love their husbands by submitting to them as unto the Lord, not lording over her husband (1Cor 11:3; Eph 5:22-27)! If this order were kept and in the right spirit by both partners, separations and divorces would never occur within the body of Christ.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA]




7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement (apostasion) , and to put her away (apoluo)  ?

8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away (apoluo) your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away (apoluo) his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away (apoluo) doth commit adultery.


Matt 19:3, 6-9

"What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 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. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."

This passage is not saying man cannot, but "let not." Forgiveness is always the best way to go.

"Asunder" is Strong's # <5562>, choreo, and means to "depart or separate." What the Lord is saying here is, as the apostle Paul understood it, that a woman should not "depart" (choreo, <5562>) from her husband. But if she does "depart"(choreo, <5562>) she must remain unmarried (because she left and was not divorced), or else be reconciled to her husband. And the husband should not put away (aphiemi, <863>) his wife (1Cor 7:11-12). "Asunder" does not mean divorce as so often taught!

"Hardness of heart" was not in divorcing, but in just sending the women away, though it can be both. From this, it should not be construed that divorce is a sin. What causes divorce, though, always involves sin. God introduced divorce and He would not have introduced sin to fight sin! If divorce were a sin and God allowed it for whatever reason, then God was legalising sin! This is not what Christ said. Rather, God through Moses, showed His mercy in providing a writ of divorcement that, "she may go and be another man's wife (Deut 24:1-2) Unlike today, women needed men for their livelihood.

"From the beginning it was not so." The Pharisees tempting Jesus in hopes of trapping him asked him if a man could put away (apoluo) his wife for any reason. Jesus, knowing their hearts, did not answer their question. Instead, Jesus' reply went back to when God created marriage before sin entered into the world. God did not design marriage to end in separation or divorce. God instituted the death penalty for first-degree murder. From the beginning this was not so, either, for God created us to live together in harmony. But for the hardness of men's hearts, it became a very necessary judgment to curb such violent crimes. Moses' precept in giving a writ of divorcement did not follow the "very good" order of creation that was set up at the beginning (Gen 1; 2), but became necessary after sin entered the world (Gen 3). Lamech was the first to introduce bigamy (Gen 4:19), and separations became increasingly rampant. Furthermore, God permitted polygamy/bigamy, though it was not so from the beginning! Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon all had multiple wives, and God in speaking to the prophet, Nathan said that He gave David his wives, etc. and "if that had been too little..." He would have given him more (2Sam 12:7-8)! Once this Law was given over 400 years after the patriarchs, you could no longer just send away your wives and re-marry. Ezra commanded that all the foreign wives be sent away "according to the law" of Deut 24:1-4 (Ezra 10:3)! You had to give them a divorce.

The phrases, "put away," or "put her away" is correctly translated, apoluo, "to send away." In verse 7, "writing of divorcement," apostasion is correctly translated. Jesus did not say whosoever shall give his wife a bill of divorce (apostasion, <647>) and marry another commits adultery, but whosoever shall put away (apoluo, <630>) his wife (except for fornication) and shall marry another commits adultery (see Mark 10:10-12; Luke 16:18)!

"Except it be for fornication." See my note on Matt 5:31-32.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA]

 


A reader writes: "... Christ is answering the Pharisees regarding deut.24. It was not right & He showed them very clearly that there was NOTHING right about it. The husband was hard hearted, stubborn & by giving the writ of divorce#647, & BY that writ he was able to put her away#630. And by doing so, he tempted, caused her to defile herself by going to another man (ish). Remember,when He says "BUT I SAY." He is not contradicting his Father. He is contradicting the sadducees & the wrong that was permitted at that time as that is what THEY wanted."

Reply: Please refer to my notes on Deut 24:1-4 wherein I show the incorrect interpretation of verse 4 to which you are referring. The issue Christ had was that they were indeed, "putting away" without a "writ of divorce," and where there was a writ of divorce, their reasons were all wrong in obtaining it.

The apostle Paul would differ with you on this for he wrote the law is just and good! He did not say, "except for Deut 24." God would never give a law that had, "NOTHING right about it." Read what Paul wrote concerning the law in Rom 2:13; Rom 3:31; Rom 4:15; Rom 7:1,12; Rom 13:8; 1Cor 7:19. The New Testament is full of examples showing the need for Old Testament law. Dake's Annotated Reference Bible reveals 1,050 places where the Old Testament law is referred to in the New Testament! Their hardness of heart, or motives for getting rid of their wives was wrong, not the given law.

From the start of Christ's ministry (Matt 5-7), Christ clarified he did not come to destroy or annul any of God's moral laws - not even a "jot or tittle," but to fulfill, or complete the law (Matt 5:17-19). Christ confirmed the constancy of the law to even its smallest letter, which happened to compose the law! By saying, "but I say unto you," Christ went on to expound the changes of attitudes and approaches to God's law that we must acquire to exceed the righteousness of the pharisaical law-abiding people (Matt 5:20). He taught them not as the "letter of the law" Scribes and Pharisees did, but, "as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matt 7:28-29). Jesus saw past the rigid letter of the law, and went to the very heart and purpose of the law giving its true meaning and relevance to life (cf. 1Sam 15:22; Hos 6:6). Jesus amplified the law's meaning by expanding the scope of the law not just to physical actions, but to the very conditions, attitudes, and inclinations of the heart.

With Christ referring to the beginning, he referred to the very beginning before sin entered the world, a setting to which we will never be able to return to in this Age. By saying, "in the beginning it was not so," it was in answer to a question asked by the religious leaders (Matt 19:1-9) concerning the moral issue of divorce for every cause and so Christ takes them to the beginning of what marriage was intended to be. After the fall in the Garden of Eden, Scriptures show how the moral structure of mankind began to crumble through time up until the flood, then all the way to Mount Sinai, when hundreds of year later God gave Israel a marital law to guide their relationships and moral conduct. Jesus confronted those who were guilty of trying to cover up their way of living by using a private interpretation of what they wanted to believe Moses actually taught. Moses did not teach for "any reason," but for some "uncleanness," which some interpret has a sexual connotation to it.

Marriage was intended to be for life, nevertheless, Jesus did go on to show that Deut 24:1-4, the law of divorce, was introduced and granted much later because of moral decline. He, however, limited the reasons for a divorce, which the apostle Paul later expounded on, not just for the any reason excuse as taught by the perverted Pharisees! Note the response the disciples gave Jesus and his response in Matt 19:10-12. This is in keeping with its context.

When Jesus was asked, "which is the great commandment in the law," he replied in Matt 22:36-40: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, (This command is taken from Deut 6:4-9 and often referred to as the Shema) ...and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (This command is not taken from Lev 19:18). Why is this important? It confirms that the law of Moses, which is the law of God as handed down to Moses, is required of us even today! Christ shows us that to love him we must keep and obey his commandments, which he received of the Father (John 14:15,21; 15:10). The commandments spoken of refer to the commandments God delivered to Moses in the Old Testament. These are the standards we are to strive to work out in life as the children of God if we are to attain to the Kingdom of God. The people in Christ's day abused a privilege God gave, and may well be abused by His children in our day. Christ is not negating Deut 24:1-4, but shows how a marriage in Christ will work if both partners walk in the spirit and not in the flesh - here the husband could have forgiven his wife her "uncleanness," but chose not to.

Sister Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2012  



"Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery." Luke 16:18

 

"Putteth away," and "put away" are both # <630>, apoluo, the Greek word for a separation. The Greek word for divorce is # <647>, apostasion (cf. Mark 10:4). Jesus is saying that whosoever puts away, or separates from his wife and marries another (without a legal divorce), commits adultery.

To leave, or to put/send someone away is not divorce, though the word for separation has been wrongly and interchangeably used, and thus mis-interpreted time and time again for divorce. If we are separated from our spouse and re-marry, it is bigamy; we commit adultery. A person who marries a woman that is not properly divorced, but only separated from her spouse also commits adultery against the true husband because the marriage still continues!

Notwithstanding the great pretentiousness of the Pharisees, Jesus showed these covetous sticklers of the Law that they really had departed from the Law by merely separating from their wives, and then re-marrying contrary to the Law (Deut 24:1-4). They were, in fact, guilty of adultery themselves! A proper divorce followed by re-marriage is not adultery. Otherwise, God would not have given this Law to Moses. It does not make sense to allow for divorce for the purpose of making a possible re-marriage legal, and then risk being put to death for adultery (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22; John 8:4-5)!

To have a proper understanding of the context, it is important to understand the differences of these words. Many erroneous conclusions have resulted because of failure to do so. There is a reason why God used different words to distinguish separation from divorce both in the Old and New Testament, and the onus is on us to study these differences as they occur in our daily readings without any pre-conceived biases.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2012 

I searched the following on the "exceptive clause," which many deny exists on the basis that it was just conveniently put in and Yahoshua never uttered those words! Talk about "taking away" from the Word!

Up until 1925, D/R was not a matter of fellowship. It was first introduced by the Bereans and the ecclesia began to split and have so ever since. There can be no reconciliation without purity first. We are commanded to be of "one mind."

Matt 5:32

Those who deny the existence of the "exceptive clause" have taken the position of the Roman Catholic Church. Their Church law states: "A valid Christian marriage, if consummated, cannot be dissolved (as to the bond) by any human power or for any cause except death." This statement is deceptive because they do allow for the disannulment of a marriage and subsequent re-marriage if the parties are prominent enough, or have sufficient funds to pay for the annulment. The Duke of Marlborough and Consuelo Vanderbilt had their Catholic marriage annulled on the grounds that they were pressured into the union. At the time of their annulment, they had been married 33 years!

The following who had access to the Greek manuscripts wrote:

Josephus (ca. 37-95AD), in Ant 4.8.23, p. 253 writes: "He that desires to be divorced from his wife for any cause whatsoever (and many such causes happen among men), let him in writing give assurance that he will never use her as his wife any more; for by this means she may be at liberty to marry another husband, although before this bill of divorce be given, she is not to be permitted so to do; but if she be misused by him also, of if, when he is dead, her first husband would marry her again, it shall not be lawful for her to return to him."

Clement of Alexandria (ca. 195AD)-"You shall not put away your wife except for the cause of fornication."

Tertullian (ca. 207AD): "Jesus prohibits divorce except for the cause of fornication." Again, Christ "permits divorce when the marriage is spotted with unfaithfulness." He allows "divorce for no cause, except one."

Novatian (ca. 235AD): "Christ said that a wife must not be put away, except for the cause of adultery."

Origen (ca. 245AD): "The Savior does not at all permit the dissolution of marriages for any other sin than fornication alone."

Jerome (ca.383) "And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery."

Prior to 325 c.a., several Ante-Nicene "Church Fathers" refer to the texts containing Jesus' exception clause. "The exception clause is mentioned by most of the writers who comment upon the subject of divorce, for most take Matthew's Gospel as their main source. The clause is mentioned in Theophilus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, and Lactantius" (Divorce and Remarriage in the Early Church, Pat E. Harrell, p. 190). Those claiming that the exceptive clause was not inclusive have not adequately researched it. It is claimed that Erasmus, a Dutch Humanist who became a Catholic priest, (1466-1536) added it. What duplicity!

It is obvious Josephus, a Pharisee, embraced the School of Hillel interpretation to divorce for "every cause" (Matt 19:3), and what today is classed as "no-fault." Jesus denounced it as hard-hearted unlawful divorces (Matt 19:8).

There is no way the Jews in Christ time would have interpreted that permission for divorce did not allow for permission to remarry, as taught by some today! We must look at the statements (Matt 5:32; 9:32) in their Biblical and Historical context. If it would have differed, Jesus would have made it plain to them and for all those after them.

Also, I would like to bring your attention to a quote from RR, which those who advocate rejecting JT's writings on D/R to the point of making it a matter in the ECCLESIAL GUIDE and to rather embrace RR's teaching must not know about this quote as it appeared in the Christadelphian 1884 - or maybe conveniently chose not to use it as it did not fit their bias.

"Divorce is inadmissible according to the law of Christ, except in the case he mentions in Matt. xix. 9. Where this case arises, and the parties are divorced, they are at liberty to marry again, both my human law and divine. Objection may be well meant, but is without ground." RR upheld the teaching of Christ and did not countenance suing at law to clear anyone's character, nor to obtain financial or any other kind of redress for wrongs suffered.

Then, in ELPIS ISRAEL, the 14th edition, which I have, the revisionist deliberately left out the following highlighted statements as written by JT. This is an out and out SIN! Whoever did this does not fear Yahweh!

ELPIS ISRAEL, Special Edition 1904, pages 55-56

A GREAT MYSTERY "We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones."

"In writing to the disciples at Ephesus, the apostle illustrates the submission due from wives to their husbands by the obedience rendered to Christ by the community of the faithful in his day. "As the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." This was an injunction of absolute submission to their Christian husbands as unto the Lord Himself; because "the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the church." But, while he enjoins this unqualified obedience, he exhorts their husbands to return them due benevolence, not to treat them with bitterness, but to love them "even as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for it." IF THEIR WIVES, HOWEVER, WERE DISOBEDIENT AND PERVERSE, AND CHOSE TO DEPART, LET THEM; A BROTHER IS NOT UNDER BONDAGE IN SUCH CASES" (1 Cor. 7:15). THEY ARE LIKE THOSE WHO WILL NOT SUBMIT TO CHRIST. The love which should subsist between Christian brethren and sisters in the married state, is such as Christ manifested for the church by anticipation. "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us," says the apostle (Rom. v. 6-8). This is the greatest love a man can possibly show, that He should die for His enemies; and this is the kind of love which Paul (WHO BY THE BYE WAS NEVER TRIED BY A TERMAGANT WIFE) commends to the attention of the Ephesians; though always on the supposition, that the wives "adorn the hidden man of the heart with that which is incorruptible, even a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands: even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling Him Lord: whose daughters such women are, as long as they do well, and are not dismayed at any threat" (1 Peter 3:3-6)."

You can see from these examples how far brethren will go to manipulate the teachings of the pioneer brethren who delved deeply and searched out many matters that they, themselves, refuse to do!

 - Sister Valerie Mello


BROTHER GROWCOTT OPPOSING DAWN POSITION - INDISSOLUBILITY

"Therefore the only way either one or both could be received back into fellowship is to first separate from the sinful union, and then after repentance could be received into fellowship." 


A bold assertion, unproven and unprovable. In legislating that such couples must separate, and such families must be broken up, we are going beyond the command, and tampering with powers and forces far beyond our control. We are blithely legislating financial burdens and further needless disruption and sorrow, and lifelong physical abnormalities.

I find that the spirit of some in regard to this problem is condemning and punitive, rather than loving and compassionate, eager to run and meet the repentant sinner. Brethren write to me that these sinners must be "punished" - that they must by all means be deprived of the fruits of their sin. I find this harsh viewpoint very distressing. I cannot feel it is the spirit we are taught to have toward erring brethren. Our kindness and compassion must balance our purity and zeal, or we are but "holy" monsters. Christ was the purest and most zealous of all men. He was also the most compassionate and loving and understanding toward the weak and the sinner.

This new theory is, as bro. Roberts described a similar well-meaning but erroneous theory about the permanent exclusion of those who contract alien marriage, "monstrous". This theory is monstrous because it is out of touch with reality - because it legislates sorrow just for the sake of sorrow, to punish the sinner. It shuts the Ecclesial door of comfort and strength and love and companionship on a repentant sinner just when he needs them most.


If we had the power of God, if we could turn back the clock, if we could expunge solemn life-commitments, if we could restore virginity, if we could put children back in the womb, if we could undo actuality, then perhaps this theory might be realistic. But we cannot do these things. We cannot change facts. We can only with our tampering make a bad situation worse, and a sad situation sadder.


This theory requires both partners, innocent or guilty, to live the rest of their lives in what is for most people a sexually abnormal condition, under great temptation (1 Cor. 7:5) and it makes no provision for a normal family life for any children involved.


This theory involves an utter incongruity for which I have in vain sought a logical and Scriptural justification for thirty years. According to Clapham's clause B, the brother at present at issue in the controversy could never be received back as long as he maintains relations with his present wife. According to clause C, his present wife, if she pass a Scriptural examination, must be accepted while in her present relationship to him, and she must be told it is her duty to fulfil that covenant-relationship. This is an impossible situation.

If one cannot be accepted, it is on the grounds that, as this article claims, their present state is "adulterous". It is absurdity to say of a married couple that the state of one is adulterous and the state of the other is pure. To such confusion does adding to the word of God lead us. Honestly face this impossible anomaly, do not avoid it or turn from it, but think it through to the end, and it must force any sincere and reasonable mind to the conclusion that this theory cannot possibly be correct. There must be a solution with practical, wholesome hope on which a sound new future can be built. The teaching of Christ, as faithfully expounded by bre. Thomas and Roberts, present a simple solution to this impossible dilemma of this new theory. Adultery is a dreadful abomination, and divorce is a terribly sad evil, but the way of Christ is a facing of the facts, and of dealing with them, and of clearing away the broken remnants of the old failure, and of laying a new, cleared foundation with hope for the future.  


No to polygamy - not no to divorce!

1Tim 3:6 (cf. Titus 1:6-10) 

"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach."

A reader writes: "..."the husband of one wife," I wasn't comfortable with one of the comments (not yours) on the Readings web site and did a bit of digging and discovered that in contrast to what some hard-liners claim that any brother who's D&R {i.e. divorced and remarried} must not be allowed to perform any duty on the platform or speak, I found out that the Jewish Bible renders the phrase "the husband of one wife" as, "he must be faithful to his wife," which gives a whole different meaning! What do you think?"

My reply: Without question, there are those who use these verses that those divorced are not allowed to remarry or hold any kind of ecclesial office, or exhort. Yet, these verses do not teach either. This teaching originated from Roman Catholicism that divorce precluded one from serving the church in any leadership or ministerial capacity. Eventually the Roman Catholic Church's requirement became even more stringent, requiring celibacy for its clergy, some of which were comprised of divorced men (cf. 1Tim 4:3)!

What these verses do teach is that a bishop's character must be beyond reproach, that he is to be a "one woman man," mias gunaikos aneir, the emphasis being on the "one" (Concordant Greek Text), which means no polygamy. If polygamy was not an issue, it seems unlikely that Paul would have focused on that as he gave these instructions.

This is the correct translation because if the verse, which we translate as, "must be blameless, the husband of one wife" is correct, then the apostle Paul would have been disqualified. What one-woman man does speak to is the subject of fidelity in marriage, the character of the marriage, the true "oneness" of the husband and wife, not the marital status.

Let me raise this question: If a bishop was widowed, would he be allowed to remarry, as that would be wife # 2? If not, it would contradict 1Cor 7:39! Adam Clarke in his Commentary writes: "... must be the husband of one wife. He should be a married man, but he should be no polygamist; and have only one wife, i.e. one at a time. It does not mean that, if he has been married, and his wife die, he should never marry another."

If married, the bishop, elder, and deacon must be absolutely committed to his wife. Bigamy and polygamy existed under the Law even during apostolic times. We well know that provision was even made for wives who were sent away (Exo 21:10,11). It could not be so with those who desired the office of a Bishop.

In the teaching of the Torah and best of Jewish tradition, a man's responsibility to his wife and children was understood to be his first obligation to God, i.e., his first "priestly" responsibility. The apostle Paul teaches that godly leadership in one's personal family setting is expected and essential if a man is to be called to leadership in the extended family that is the ecclesia. After all, how can a man watch over, care for, and stand before the family of God as a model of Christ-like leadership, function as an "elder" or "overseer" if he does not do so with his immediate family already entrusted to him by God? If then such an above reproach standard is required in a bishop, elder, and deacon's home, how much more is it required for leadership in the house of God? The issue was not just about monogamy, but the relationship must also be a godly one.

No verse stands on its own, but is interconnected with every other verse and with the general theme of the Bible. That means to really understand the truth on any subject, we have to pay attention to how all the verses on the subject relate to each other, and that means we have to study the entire Bible!

It is important to note that Jesus is never recorded giving a complete teaching on marriage and divorce. Instead, he addressed the question he was asked and the cultural problem of his time (Josephus records Herod, himself, had 10 wives). He tried to get the people to look at the posture of their hearts and see the purpose of marriage from God's perspective (Matt 19:3). Jesus never meant his answer to be pulled from its cultural context and separated from the Law of Moses, which completed it, as evidenced by the fact that Jesus did not mention in his answer the rights granted to women under the Mosaic Law as cited in Exo 21. It wasn't necessary in order to emphasize God's heart for marital relationships. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it (Matt 5:17).

In 1Cor 4:6, Paul warned the people not to go beyond what is written. "Husband of one wife" is not a prohibition to divorce, and those who have issued a blanket prohibition of service on divorced men have imposed human rules on God's Word and that is no small matter (Rev 22:18,19).

SisteValerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2014

                                          SECTION 3:


Bro Thomas' teaching was that if an unbeliever abandons a believer, or is not willing to live peaceably in the marriage - the believer is not bound to remain married to the unbeliever. 1 Cor 7:15. A legal divorce must be obtained if there is intention to remarry. 

It was Brother Thomas' position that the term 'unbeliever' extends to those who have substantially departed from the faith either in beliefs, or being disobedient (disorderly walk/ withdrawn from by a faithful ecclesia).


Brother Roberts did not uphold Brother Thomas's teaching on the Pauline Privilege. It is essential to remember that it was Brother Thomas who revived the truth. It was Brother Thomas' teaching that constituted the Spirit of life from the Deity (Rev 11;11).



...'clearly on close study, Dr. Thomas was right. But, the most interesting of all this, they did not divide over this issue, but remained in loving fellowship. Of course, there are those who say both were wrong in doing so, and came up with their own personal opinions and biases in lieu of the Word to contradict their stance on D/R and fellowship'. -

- by Sister Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA]

1 Cor 7: 10-15

10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

Ezra 10:3,19

"Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God (Elohim) to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my Lord (Yahweh), and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law."

What is the law referred to here? It is the law as found in Deut 24:1-2. Barnes Notes on the Bible has this entry: "Let it be done according to the law - i. e., let a formal 'bill of divorcement' be given to each foreign wife, whereby she will be restored to the condition of an unmarried woman, and be free to marry another husband (see Deut 24:1-2). The facility of divorce among the Jews is well-known. According to many of the rabbis, a bill of divorcement might he given by the husband for the most trivial cause. Thus, no legal difficulty stood in the way of Shechaniah's proposition; and Ezra regarded it as necessary for the moral and religious welfare of the people." Note, though, that this counsel came from Yahweh!

These offspring from the mixed marriages in the Hebrew are called, mamzers, and Strong's # <4464> defines this word as: "the root of the word meaning, to alienate; a mongrel, i.e. born of a Jewish father and a heathen mother:-bastard." These mamzers or bastards are addressed under the law in Deut 23:2: "A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord." These mamzers corrupted the lineage of the people God set aside from which the Messiah would come through. This is why this command went forth.

"And they gave their hands that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their trespass."

They "gave their hands" was a solemn manner attesting to the fact that they would put away their strange wives according to the law, and acknowledged their mistake of making a covenant with them and offered a ram for their sin.

This was a very painful time for the congregation; for I am sure they had grown to love their wives and their children. But, this was the only way that God's blessings would be brought back to Israel. Though this sounds harsh and unfair in most people's opinion, where opinion differs from God's Word, it is that opinion that needs changing.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2012


Ezra 10:10-11

"And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel. Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives."

The breaking up of families may seem harsh and drastic to us, but Ezra understood why this was a necessary and important step to take. One of the reasons is directly in line with God's command for his people to remain separate from the idolatrous pagan nations around them. They were to be to Him a holy nation, (Deut 14:2;26:19;28:9), and such a liaison would not only lead them into paganism, but their children would be drawn into idolatry as well (Deut 7:1-4). As is often the case, heathen spouses would not be won over to the worship of Israel's God, but the other way around. To allow the corruption of the nation even by a small minority was to invite certain judgment upon all.

Ezra's action also preserved the bloodline from which Jesus descended. The Messiah could not descend from a polluted and wicked bloodline (see Jer 22:30).

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2011

1 Cor 7:27-28

"Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou has not sinned..."

The first, "loosed" is # <3089>, luo, "break (up), destroy, dissolve." The second "loosed" is # <3080>, lusis, "from <3089>; a loosening, i.e. (spec.) divorce:-to be loosed." "Wife" is # <1135>, gune, "a woman; spec. a wife." It is the same word Paul uses in verse 2, "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife (gune)." An engaged woman is not a married woman; she is not a wife, yet. The Holy Spirit filled apostle Paul chose to use these words, and what he said was: "If you are married, seek not a divorce, but if you are divorced, don't get another wife, but if you do marry again, you have not sinned."

Jesus used this same Greek word when he said, "...Destroy (luo) this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Peter wrote about the complete and total end of the Mosaic Age in 70 AD, which will parallel our day, when he wrote: "...seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved (luo)...the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved (luo)..." (2Pet 3:11-12). Clearly then, there can be no mistake that the apostle Paul here is speaking of a total dissolution of the marriage and that remarriage is not a sin!

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2012

 

1Cor 7:12-15

The reader further writes: "...The 'Pauline Priviledge has been occupying my mind quite a bit... we believe that in a divorce situation Christ would have authorised other causes and not just specifying "the one cause" . We do not read into Paul's words that he advocates taking action to divorce but rather allows the possibility of reconcilliation. If this is not forth coming the 'injured' party is not obliged to maintain the offender; and we must always consider the reasons for the departure..."

My reply: I understand why the PP (Pauline Privilege) would weigh on your mind... You do not expound on how we may read into it, so let me expound further on this divisive issue:

Regarding 1Cor 7:15, the entire argument of this controversial passage stems from the misunderstanding of the phrase, "is not under bondage." You believe that there cannot be another exception for a divorced person to remarry other than adultery as given by Christ in Matt 5:32; 19:9. For a correct reading of Matt 5:31-32, I refer you to Young's Literal Translation: "And it was said, That whoever may put away his wife, let him give to her a writing of divorce; but I -- I say to you, that whoever may put away his wife, save for the matter of whoredom, doth make her to commit adultery; and whoever may marry her who hath been put away doth commit adultery." In the original Greek, "put away" was correctly translated here. It is not talking about a divorced person, but a person who is only separated! In the Greek, "put away" is apoluo, "divorce" is apostasion or lusis. Two separate words with entirely two separate meanings. In the Hebrew we also find this: "put away" is shalach or garish (garish being a forceful separation), "divorce" is keriythuwth. This is not an accident; it is by design! The problem is we have put them all together to mean one and the same thing, which it does not. There is a reason for the different use of these words. The very fact that God introduced Deut 24:1-4, a law not prohibiting divorce speaks volumes about God's compassion toward fallen human nature.

Please bear in mind that during Biblical times only a man was permitted to put away and later divorce his wife; it was never vice versa. Please also bear in mind what Paul wrote in 1Cor 7:6 that what he spoke, he spoke by permission and further in verse 9 that if the "unmarried" (cp. verse 11, "unmarried") could "not contain" let she/he marry. Marriage was never intended to be a life of "slavery" - douloo. Was Paul contradicting Christ? No. We read in John 15:15 "... for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." We further read in 1Cor 2:16 wherein the Holy Spirit filled Apostle Paul said, "For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ." The apostles were given powers to bind or loose and it would be honoured by our Heavenly Father (Matt 16:2; 18:18). The Apostle Paul had the authority and permission to add another reason why divorce would be permissible, which he introduced only after this particular situation arose.

The question to ask concerning 1Cor 7:12-15 is why did this issue come up? A biblical precedent during the days of Ezra (Ezra 10:3) was set where the faithful Israelites married to unbelieving Pagans were not only permitted, but instructed to divorce them and send their children away too! There was the danger that a faithful partner may use this as an excuse to put away his wife and subsequently divorce her. If he just sent her away without a divorce, she could not remarry. It is true, Paul was advocating reconciliation in hopes not only in keeping the marriage together, but also in hopes of the unbeliever becoming a believer. It was only if after a period of separation the marriage was not savable, that divorce and remarriage was allowed. Nowhere in these passages is Paul, once a Pharisee of Pharisees who knew the Law, forbidding divorce (as some interpret) no more than Ezra did provided it was done according to the Law of Deut 24. If Paul did, then, he would have contradicted God and Christ! It is precisely for this reason that some deny the PP, while others have come up with the notion that the so-called exceptive clause does not exist and go to Catholic teachings and quote Bishops to prove it, which they really don't, and I have already expounded on concerning the Catholic "Decree of Nullity."

Separation and divorce was not in God's original plan for marriage as Christ pointed out to those who interpreted the Law loosely from the school of Hillel. It was a Divine Principle, not Law, otherwise, God would have had to cancel His original Law as a flaw and introduce another Law as read in Deut 24! What God did was regulate separation, divorce, and remarriage. God does not contradict any of His Laws, neither did Christ, and neither did Paul...

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2014

 

1Cor 7:13-15

A reader asks: "Have you any thoughts on the 'Paulene Priviledge' relating to 1 Corinthians 7, I have heard it has Roman Catholic origins?"
My reply: 1Cor 7 does not have Roman Catholic origins, rather the Roman Catholic church draws on 1Cor 7 to justify some of its actions to dissolve an otherwise indissoluble marriage per their Canon Law. While they will deny the existence of the "Exceptive Clause," the so-called Pauline Privilege affords them the privilege of annulling "real" marriages as defined by them, otherwise not possible, and for various reasons of their devising, while the Petrine Privilege was specifically used for a faithful believer to divorce the unbeliever. This was granted only by the Holy See from Rome and rarely requested.
Regarding 1Cor 7:15-16 wherein the believer is abandoned by the unbeliever, if the "bondage" does not refer to the marriage bond, then the believer would still be in bondage to it. To advocate that this passage solely means the believer is not bound to live or remain with the departed spouse would be a truism. The abandoned spouse obviously could not abide with the departed spouse. There are cases where the one doing the abandoning completely absconded!
The Holy Spirit filled apostle Paul declared the one abandoned, "not under bondage." The abandoned spouse found under these circumstances is free to legally divorce and re- marry per Deut 24, except that the divorce now is no longer for just any reason as loosely interpreted by the School of Hillel (as opposed to the School of Shammai who were a lot stricter) (cf. Deut 24:1 cp. Matt 5:32). The issue was not if they can divorce, but the allowable reasons for it, i.e. adultery and/or abandonment.

Going back to 1Cor 7, it cannot mean anything but this, otherwise, the party involved is not altogether "free" - the bondage of marriage would still exist. Just remaining separated still leaves the party in question in bondage to the marriage. Those advocating remaining separated are in direct opposition to God who declares, "The LORD hateth putting away" (separation), incorrectly translated to mean "divorce" in Mal 2:16.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA]


1Cor 7:8-11

"But I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn."

In this chapter the apostle Paul address four classes of people: 1) Virgins (single). 2) Unmarried. 3) Widows. 4) Married.

"Virgins" in verses 28,34,36,37 is <3933>, parthenos, the very word used to describe the virgin Mary in Luke 1:27.

"Unmarried" is <22>, agamos, and comes from the root, gamos, and <1062>. Gamos refers to someone that is married having gone through the wedding nuptials. By placing the letter "a" in front of gamos signifies someone who was married, but no longer is.

"Widows" is <5503>, chera, from the root chasma <5490>, an impassable vacancy, lacking a husband.

By the very definition of the word the Holy Spirit filled apostle Paul used for unmarried, agamos, it becomes clear that Paul is talking about some who were once married, but no longer are, therefore, legally divorced people. He is not talking about a betrothal because no sexual relations take place at this time. A betrothal, we call it engagement, is no more a marriage (1Cor 7:28) in its fullest sense as separation is a divorce in its fullest sense. A betrothed person came under the category of a virgin (Deut 22:23).

Note that in verse 8 he directly addresses the unmarried and widows and says that "if they cannot contain, let them marry"! This is exactly in line with what Jesus taught in Matt 19:10-12, when the disciples told him "... If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given...He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."

"Married" is <1060> gameo, to wed, marry, from <1062>, gamos. The married woman is not to depart (chorizo, <5563>) from her husband, but if she does depart (chorizo, <5563>)she must remain as unmarried (agamos, <22>), or else be reconciled to her husband, and the husband should not put away (aphiemi, <863>) his wife.

Paul is saying for the wife not to separate from her husband, but if she does separate she should not have a marriage relationship (sex) with anyone else, as well as not to marry someone else since she is only separated from her husband. Rather, she is to be reconciled with her husband. Divorce (aspostasion, <647>) is not used here. Paul is addressing the problem of separation, not divorce. Paul is not saying here that to "remain unmarried" you cannot get remarried if one is legally divorced. If the wife decides to reconcile with her husband, the husband is not to spitefully send her away.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA]

 

1Cor 7:10-11

Question:

"What about 1 Cor.7:10,11. Doesn't this give the woman (or man) an allowance to not have to suffer at the hands of an abuser?"

The context of these verses does not address the issue of divorce. "But," "And," "For," "But," "For," "But," of 1Cor 7:12-17 connect it to verses 10-11, the context being, as the following verses show, of not leaving an unbelieving spouse just because he/she does not share the same faith. Some believers, or perhaps even the believing spouse may have misunderstood about not being unequally yoked. Paul was not addressing already married couples, but spoke in general terms about not having friendships with the world (2Cor 6:14).

So often, these verses are quoted to show that if there is a separation, they are not to remarry. They are to either stay separate, or reconcile. Reconciliation is always the best approach, but not always possible. We have to keep in mind that women in those days could not initiate a divorce, so if the wife left, her alternatives were to stay separate or return to her husband. The husband, though, could give her a divorce. The "bill of divorcement" God gave to Moses gives us an idea what God considers moral and right. Moral issues were not abrogated under the Law of Christ.

It is possible that since the dynamics of the marriage changed, the environment in the home became dysfunctional, perhaps even abusive as in your case, and under those circumstances, the believing spouse is not bound to persist on reconciliation. After all, how can anyone function normally in a dysfunctional environment? We have been called to peace (verse 15), and ultimately, God has our salvation in mind.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA]

1Cor 7:12-15

"... But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace."

"Depart" is Strong's # <5562>, chorizo, and simply means "leaves" - with the idea of separation. Divorce (apostasion) is not under consideration here. There is a big difference in letting a person leave, and going ahead and divorcing and remarrying.

In the previous verses, Paul makes the distinction, but if there is a problem with the unbelieving spouse not wanting to stay, then let the person leave. The believing spouse is not under "bondage" (# <1402>, douloo, ("enslave") in that the believing spouse does not need to feel bound in persisting on reconciliation, which believers strive for (Rom 12:18; Eph 4:1-3; Heb 12:14, since God calls us to peace, and not to discord.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2011 Reply to Valerie

1Cor 7:13-16

"...For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy..."

Basically, to be "sanctified"(hagiazo, verb) and "holy" (hagios, noun) carries the idea of being set apart from something. To sanctify someone is to make one holy, or clean.

Biblically, the term is used in a variety of ways, depending upon the context. Examples are too numerous, but here are a few: the Israelites were set apart by God. The utensils used in the offerings were all set apart, or holy and were to be used solely for such purposes. God demanded He be sanctified (Num 20:12; Num 27:14; 1Pet 3:15), sanctification being here in a unique category of its own in that we have set apart God from all other gods, and look solely to Him as our authority. We are sanctified when we are baptized into Christ (1Cor 6:11); we are sanctified as we continue to walk in the Lord, trusting and applying God's promises in our personal lives (1Thess 5:23). Clearly, there are varying degrees of sanctification.

In this chapter, Paul is not teaching salvation of the unbelieving spouse and children, but rather that the family should stay together and not use one's faith as an excuse to separate or divorce (2Cor 6:14). If a believer is already married to an unbeliever they should remain married as long as the unbeliever consents to do so. Based on the faith of the believing spouse, the unbelieving spouse and children from that marriage are set apart and not considered in the same way as a believer being unequally yoked with unbelievers. They are not saved, but there is a lot more hope for them than would be if the family broke apart. The spiritual influence of the believer affords the opportunity of an actual conversion. This is clearly seen in the rhetorical question Paul asks in 1Cor 7:16 to which our answer is we do not know. To believe otherwise, is totally inconsistent and contrary to the overall teaching of Scripture on what we must do to be saved. God has not only appointed, or elected individuals to salvation, He has also ordained the means by which we will be saved, and that is hearing and responding in faith to the Gospel message. There is no other way!

Salvation is about personal obedience (Acts 3:39-41; Heb 5:9). Children set apart as holy, does not support the idea that they are saved. If it did, then the same principle would apply to the unbelieving spouse! As hard as it may be to accept, they are not saved at any age if they have not met God's requirements (Matt 7:13-14; Mark 16:16; Acts 13:48; Eph 2:8-10; Rom 9:7-8).

Salvation is an individual action (John 6:44-65). To refute this, Acts 11:14 is cited, but if we go back and read Acts 10:33, they were all present to hear Peter's Gospel message. Then we read in Acts 11:15-18 that they all believed and were baptized! Cornelius' household was saved because they heard the Gospel, believed it, and were baptized. They were consistent with God's plan of salvation, and were not saved because Cornelius became a believer. This same principle also applies with the Philippian jailer and his household (Acts 16:31), and wherein we read in verse 32 that, "they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house... and was baptized, he and all his straightway." They were not saved because they were a part of the jailer's household.

It is the knowledge of the Hope of Israel and its requirements that makes us responsible to resurrection and judgment. It is all about God manifestation, not human salvation. If we manifest God, human salvation follows, in that order without exception.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA]

1Cor 7:39

"The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord."

Under the Mosaic Law, a woman was not permitted to divorce her husband for any reason; only the husband under the Mosaic Law had the power to divorce! Furthermore, under the Law, as we read in Deut 25:5-10, a widow was permitted to remarry only the nearest unwed relative. The purpose for this ordinance was to enable a man who died before fathering an heir to obtain one and so perpetuate his name and estate. This practice was common during patriarchal times (Gen 38:1-10). Under the Law of Christ, this was no longer the case. A widow could marry whomever she wanted provided he is in Christ.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA]




1Cor 7:10,12,25

"And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife separate from her husband (cf. Matt 5:31,32read together, please)... But to the rest speak I, not the Lord... "Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment (opinion), as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful."

Yahweh's intent was to use prophets and apostles to directly communicate His will, His purpose, and reveal Himself to us (cf. Exo 20:22: Jer 27:7; Eze 2:7; Matt 22:31, etc). The apostles spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2Tim 3:16). The compilation of their writings known as the Bible, providentially preserved through the centuries, is Yahweh's communication to us.

Most of us believe in the full inspiration of the Bible, yet when it comes to these verses, it becomes questionable and out-and-out rejected by those very folks who believe the Bible is fully inspired! Whether they realize it or not, they are partial inspirationists - making Yahweh's design for His communication in a way that does not accurately convey His thoughts!

Partial inspiration gives the reader the authority of interpretation and guaranteed to lead to misunderstandings of Yahweh's plan by including their own ideas not being sure what Yahweh really intended to communicate! This is contrary to 2Pet 1:19-21! Partial inspiration implies Yahweh communicated His purpose in a confusing and ineffective way. Did errors creep in without Yahweh's knowledge? Was He unable to stop the errors and correct them and so leave us to our own devise? This is exactly what is implied by partial inspiration. The Bible is "God-breathed," (2Tim 3:16) and leaves no room for partial inspiration. It cannot be broken, Yahweh cannot be proved wrong. If we are unsure that each word of Scripture is from Yahweh, then we are tempted to take only those parts we like and leave the rest! Our beliefs and actions must be based on a sure foundation; Scripture must be compared with Scripture and they must fit.

The apostle Paul mentioned he spoke by permission though not a direct command from Christ (1Cor 7:6); Paul's judgments were based on his having the spirit of God (1Cor 7:40); Paul's commandments are the word of the Lord (cf. John 14:26; John 16:12,13; 1Cor 14:37; 1Thess 4:15); Paul, by the Spirit, revoked Ezra 10:3 in giving a direct command for a believer not to separate from an unbeliever if the unbeliever is pleased to stay in the marriage! In denying the veracity of Paul's statements, partial inspirationists put themselves on very dangerous ground!

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2017 Reply to Valerie

1Cor 7:6

"But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment."

"What Paul says 'by permission' cannot be of a 'lesser degree of importance' than what he says by the Lord's command, seeing it is the Lord's permission; for the Lord would not permit what he did not sanction. Paul claims importance for what he says in this way on the ground that he had the Spirit of God (1Cor. vii. 40). It may be asked, 'Why then the difference between the command and permission?' We need not trouble on this head. There are 'divers manners' in the working of inspiration: but the result is the same. In the case of the prophets, it is sometimes a direct 'Thus saith the Lord': and sometimes it is a word put into the prophet's mouth, as if the prophet were giving utterance to his own feelings and impressions. An illustration of the latter may be found in Jer. xiv. 17-19, "SAY THOU THIS WORD UNTO THEM: Let mine eyes run down with tears,' etc. In the case of the apostles, it is sometimes direct command, and sometimes the permitted judgment of a mind enlightened by inspiration, and guided in the utterance by the same. When the mind is once made up that the Bible is the work of inspiration, the 'divers manners' will be no obstacle." Robert Roberts, Christadelphian, 1891, p. 185.

Scriptural references given: 1Cor 7:40 and Jer 14:17-19. Regarding "divers manners" please see Heb 1:1.

Sister Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2017 


1Cor 7:12-15

"...But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace."

Brother Robert Roberts in the Ecclesia Guide, the marriage section, wrote: "The truth may come to man or woman in the married state: in that case, the man or woman is not to leave the unbelieving wife or husband if there be willingness on the part of the partner to continue the association. This, Paul plainly lays down (1 Cor. 7:12-13). But if the unbelievers depart, he says, 'Let them depart: a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: God hath called us to peace.' This departing, however, does not release from the matrimonial bond. 'Remain unmarried' is, in such a case, the apostolic command (verse 11)."

To "remain unmarried," divorce would have had to take place, which is a release from the matrimonial bond; otherwise, he/she is still married though separated. Unmarried is # <22>, agamos from the root, gamos # <1062>. Gamos refers to a married person, and by placing the letter "a" in front of gamos refers to someone who was at one time married, but no longer is (cf. 1Cor 7:8 - note v9). Brother Roberts comment is based on an incorrect premise in that he interprets unmarried as being separated. Also, Brother Roberts did not take into consideration these verses in his conclusion, and thus is contradictory if it is interpreted that they may not remarry. However, if he believed only a separation was involved, he would be correct. The apostle Paul recommended that those widowed or divorced remain alone as he, but at the same time did not make this a matter of command, but only wanted to spare them, "trouble in the flesh" (see vv. 27-28). Please also see my note on 1Cor 7:34 regarding the "unmarried."

Brother Dr. John Thomas in the Herald - 1860/61, page 202 wrote:

"...Paul says 'If any brother have a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away *** for the unbelieving wife is sanctified by her husband. But if the unbelieving depart let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage to such.' 'Art though loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife. But, and if thou marry, thou has not sinned.' 1 Corinthians 7:12, 14, 27, 28. This is of course for brethren in Christ-not outsiders; for, says Paul, 'what have I to do to judge them that are without?' Still, on the principle of being 'subject to the ordinances of men for the Lord's sake,' it would be necessary for such not to marry a second contemporary wife without a legal divorce."


 Brother Dr. John Thomas further wrote in the Ambassador of the Coming Age - May 1866, pages 92-94 Note particularly page 94! "...The Apostles, whose authority he declared equal to his own in teaching the things of the Deity, allowed divorce on another ground, and for the sake of peace in the Christian party. But to carry out this gospel liberty would place a man or woman as a criminal at the bar of Gentile justice and law. Therefore, Peter has said; 'Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake;' provided, of course, that in so doing, his precepts were not transgressed; this apostolic tradition applies also to their ordinances of marriage... Hence, a saint regulated by the word, would only have one wife at a time; he would seek divorce only on scriptural grounds, and avoid the 'social evil' as the plague..."


These pioneer brethren disagreed on verse 15, but did not make their differences a matter of division! They held each other in high esteem, a behaviour we ought to emulate. Isn't it amazing how those whose opinions are not supported by Dr. John Thomas conveniently leave him out! Why? Of course, ultimately, our conclusion must be on, "what saith the Scripture," rather than who taught what. It just so happens, that Dr. Thomas' conclusion aligns with both the Old and New Testament teachings on this subject.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA]

The abandoned spouses do not have to sit around 5-50 years and put their life on hold in case the former husband/wife decides to return! Where does this come from? not the Bible! How unmerciful to place such a burden on abandoned spouses! If, however, they choose to do so on their own volition, that is fine, but don't teach others to do so, and make them feel guilt-ridden if they have.

- Sister Valerie Mello

1860 "Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come" (Pg. 202) - Brother Thomas

concerning "scriptural" and "legal" divorce . . .


". . . The silly women in Paul's day 'were ever learning,' but in ours they never learn at all, nor do they seek to know anything but what serves the flesh in its various lusts and inclinations. Though 'never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth,' as Paul says, they are always ready to spew out their malice and give their opinion in matters they do not understand. With all the presumption in the world they undertake to define the nature of a 'Christian Spirit' and judge those who should be judged by no human, whether male or female. (1 Cor. 2:15) We have met such in our travels, and our experience of them perfectly agrees with Paul's. We also agree with Paul that their folly will be manifest to all, just like those who have turned aside to do Satan's will. Of this class of evil spirits, Paul says: 'If any brother has an unbelieving wife who is pleased to live with him, he should not put her away . . . for the unbelieving wife has been blessed because of her husband. But if the unbeliever leaves, let her go. A brother or sister is not bound in such a case.' 'Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek one. But if you marry, you have not sinned.'" (1 Cor. 7:12, 14, 27, 28) Does JT properly reflect Paul's intent the last sentence? We know it's always best to establish the context of a passage. So what does Paul actually say here? "Because of the present crisis, I think it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment (not engaged)? Do not look for a wife. If you do marry, though, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. However, those who marry will face many troubles in life, and I want to spare you this." (1 Cor. 7:26-28) And how is JT applying it? "This is for brethren in Christ, of course, not outsiders, for Paul says: 'What business is it of mine to judge those who are outside?'" Context again: 1 Cor. 5:11 - "What I mean is you should not associate with people who call themselves brothers or sisters in Christ who are (pornos) fornicators, are greedy, worship false gods, use abusive language, get drunk, or are dishonest. Do not even eat with such people. After all, who am I to judge those outside Christ? We are told to judge those inside. God will judge those outside. Remove that wicked person from among you." Perhaps another case of 'right church, wrong pew?' But to continue with JT's thought: "Still, on the principle of being 'subject to the ordinances of men for the Lord's sake,' it would be necessary for such a believer not to marry a second contemporary wife without a legal divorce."

"The world of outer darkness is a law to itself, and orders it to suit its own notions of right. The Law of Moses allowed a plurality of wives, and divorce, and punished the 'social evil' with death. Jesus, who was 'made under the law,' did not interfere with the law, but forbade divorce upon any other ground than the wife's unfaithfulness. The apostle, whose authority he declared equal to his own in teaching the things of the Deity, allowed divorce on another ground, and for the sake of peace to the Christian party. But to carry out this gospel liberty would place a man or woman as a criminal at the bar of Gentile justice and law.

 Therefore, Peter has said: 'submit yourself to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake' provided, of course, that in so doing, his precepts were not transgressed; this apostolic tradition applies also to their ordinances of marriage. They [the world] forbid two contemporary wives, allow divorce on unscriptural grounds, and tolerate the 'social evil' to any extent without punishment. Hence a saint, regulated by the word, would have only one wife at a time; he would seek divorce only on scriptural grounds, and avoid the 'social evil' as the plague."

- Brother Thomas (Ambassador, 1866, pg. 94)


From:

nigel@wycombe.demon.co.uk



Dear Bro. Nick,
Loving greetings the Elpis Israel.
Look what I've discovered:
It appears that the 1979 Christadelphian Office 'revised' reprint of the
fourteenth edition has had text deleted from the original 1848 edition in the
section "A Great Mystery" (page 55-ish).
"If their wives, however, were disobedient and perverse, and chose to depart,
"let them; a brother is not under bondage in such cases" (1 Cor. 7:15). THEY ARE
LIKE THOSE WHO WILL NOT SUBMIT TO CHRIST. The love which should subsist between
Christian brethren and sisters in the married state, is such as Christ
manifested for the church by anticipation. "While we were yet sinners Christ
died for us," says the apostle (Rom. v. 6-8)." "...and this is the kind of love
which Paul (WHO BY THE BYE WAS NEVER TRIED BY A TERMAGANT* WIFE) commends to the
attention of the Ephesians;..."
*quarrelsome, scolding, nagging and shrewish
Interestingly, the 'revised' fourteenth edition 'blue' reprint by the
Christadelphian Office in 1979 omits the text highlighted in caps above, whereas
the original 1849 edition, the 1904 edition and the 1980s Logos edition all
include it. By omitting this text, the publishers of the 'revised' fourteenth
edition have opened up Bro. Thomas' exposition to misinterpretation.
So it appears that Bro. Thomas and Bro. Roberts differed merely in their
definition of the "unbelieving" wife. Bro. Thomas makes the valid point that
anyone, whether brother, sister or unbelieving, can be classed as "unbelieving"
by the very act of abandoning their brother or sister spouse.
It appears then, that not only has one of the foundation expositions of our
community had text on this subject removed from it, some in our community appear
have gone even further by altering the Ecclesial Guide to teach that Bro.
Thomas' teaching on divorce & remarriage is to be rejected and their
interpretation of Bro. Robert Roberts' teaching is to be accepted. They cite
Romans 7:1-7; ..."

Response to the above...

2. "A Great Mystery". 1Cor.7.15. I was unaware that the Christadelphian office had tampered with the text. In the case of an unbelieving partner departing, a person is not under bondage. Clearly in the case of a lawless lapsed partner there has to be first a withdrawl of fellowship, then dissolution of marriage in a formal way. 


...5.  1Cor.5.17. This has to be considered on a case by case basis as to what is deemed to be constituting an unbelieving partner. A bro or sis has to take this responsibility upon themselves should they remarry having gone through formal channels as above in section 2. 

Brother Richard Lister


Dear Brethren,
The following paragraph is taken from the 1904 Special Edition of Elpis Israel by Bro. Thomas. The material that is bolded is material that has been altered in some fashion in the 1924 Edition and on. Hence, a very striking view of Bro. Thomas on the application of the Pauline Privilege in 1 Cor. 7, is totally eliminated. In fact, it has been so well eliminated that no one in all my years in Christadelphia has ever mentioned this application of this privilege in this fashion on any other occasion on which I have talked to them. It has always been to my knowledge a discussion, if it should ever take place, that involved what happens when a married couple becomes acquainted with the truth and only one becomes a baptised member. Bro. Thomas in the following passage where he is discussing the significance of marriage, applies it to the situation where two married believers arrive in the position where the wife is basically acting like an unbeliever (in spiritual adultery) and Bro. Thomas permits the believing spouse to obtain a divorce on this ground, just like the believing spouse is permitted when only one comes to the knowledge of the truth from the outside. Because many are currently looking at the marriage and divorce situtation, we felt compelled to make as many people aware of this understanding of Bro. Thomas' so that they can form a studied position on it. For those who are concerned about following Bro. Thomas' understanding of the Truth, that he arrived at as a providencially guided agent in Yahweh's hand, and therefore, representing as a result of this, Yahweh's point of view, we feel that they should be made aware of this position, for I am afraid that most of Christadelphia don't mind being at odds with Bro. Thomas on these issues. However, he is the one who has defined the parameters for bearing the name Christadelphian and anyone who does not want to maintain these parameters should quit the body of Christadelphians and coin their own name.
By Julio B. and Kim Scaramastro  

Comment on the above quote - from a Berean statement

 Paul didn't take away the ability to divorce for adultery. The Roman Catholic Church did, when she made marriage a "Holy Sacrament" and forbade divorce. Ultimately, she succeeded in having her laws incorporated into the national laws of the nations, and the brethren suffered the consequences of this, no less than they have suffered in other, more severe ways during the two thousand years history of the Catholic Church.

                                        SECTION 4:

Obtaining a a legal divorce -

The 'Berean Christadelphian' position found to be a cause of unnecessary  division

............................................................................................................................................................................

1Cor 6:1-8 defines in what sense believers, one with another, are not to sue at the law. It deals with one feeling he has been wronged, or defrauded. Their dispute dealt with the "smallest matters." If we were slandered, if we had something taken from us, as believers, we ought to be able to settle it per Matt 18 and not in Gentile courts.

The apostle Paul twice resorted to the law when he was wrongfully arrested under Roman law. He also threatened the use of Roman law, as read in Acts 16:37,38. It is one thing going to law and quite another taking it to trial where all the bickering takes place. This would bring great reproach and shame to Christ's ecclesia. Many of our tort laws are the modern comparable to Biblical laws based on Biblical passages! (e.g. cf. Exo 21:28,33; Deut 19:5; Num 35:22). The Bible does not forbid us going to law, but gives us much direction.

In the case of D/R between believers, it should never go to trial, but can be settled mutually according to the law of the land. This is Scriptural. If we are forbidden to go to law for any reason, then we are forbidden to go to law in its strictest sense, and if we are sued we cannot defend ourselves! This is not what 1 Cor 6 teaches.

by Sister Valerie Mello - mailto:vmtmello@hotmail.com

It does not make sense that it is permissible to obtain a writ of divorce, but then cannot go to a judge or magistrate to obtain it! It is confusion, and God is not the author of confusion. Merely filing for divorce papers in civil court is not suing at law for the purpose of redress. However, having said that, those of the world who apply for a divorce often do go for the jugular, and try to obtain not just a divorce, but go on to sue for property, money, and any and everything else they can grab when appealing to a judge. This, the disciples of Christ are forbidden to do. It is not unheard of that a believer may be summoned to court, and would have to comply by attending and possibly defending oneself. The court is to enforce the laws of the land, and which we are to obey, unless they are a direct violation of God's commands. The laws of the land are meant for our good, to protect us, and the court is not our enemy, as we tend to think. "For rulers (magistrates) are not a terror to good works, but to the evil... (Rom 13:3-4).

I hope you find this helpful.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2012


Sister Valerie's exposition continues after the next section which has been researched in detail by a brother in the Pioneer Christadelphian Fellowship, and examines the case where upon the Berean fellowship has justified its position and incorrectly determined that it is supported by Brother Roberts.

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The 1898 Melbourne Divorce Case


              https://www.pioneerchristadelphians.org/The-1898-Melbourne-Divorce-Case.htm



In view of our comments concerning divorce in pages 1 and 2, some have wondered about the Melbourne divorce which took place in 1898. They point out that Robert Roberts, who was in that southern Australian city at the time, condemns it in no uncertain terms. We agree with him.

To understand why Robert Roberts denounced this divorce, it is necessary to know the facts about the case, which has been rightly termed "notorious". It is also necessary to understand the prevailing anti-divorce sentiment in the Melbourne ecclesia, which resulted in division over this matter in 1905. and the previous consistent comments made by Robert Roberts over a long period of time.

The Facts

Let us begin by quoting the following references to the 1898 divorce case in 'The Christadelphian' -August 1898 p.363 - Intelligence, Melbourne.

"We regret that we have had occasion to withdrawn from bro. Middleton, on account of his maintaining

the principle that he was justified in petitioning before a Gentile court of law for divorce from his wife".

September 1898 p.377/8 - Robert Roberts.

"We returned to Melbourne on Fri., May 6. The Melbourne meetings are well maintained. Some pain has been caused by the shocking misbehaviour of one brother and the highly unscriptural action of another in connection with it, in seeking redress in the Divorce Court. The incident has discouraged the brethren somewhat. They have not, however, the cause for shame that they would have if they tolerated or countenanced such infractions of the divine law. When brethren confess their sins and forsake them, they are entitled to forgiveness; but when they defend and vindicate them, they stand in the way of their own mercy".

To confirm the above facts, read these quotations from 'The Argus', Melbourne 11 May 1898 p.6.

"Mr Justice A'Beckett, in delivering judgment, explained that the dissolution of the marriage was sought from the respondent on the grounds of adultery...I...have to consider whether this co-respondent has brought before the Court evidence which should induce me to withhold that relief from the husband petitioner which he seeks...the evidence...is not such as would warrant the court in refusing the relief he seeks for...and that being so, I pronounce a decree for the dissolution of marriage, and without the slightest hesitation give costs against the co-respondent".

It should be pointed out here that there was no compulsion upon the plaintiff to seek damages and costs.

He petitioned in the legal form as required for "costs...and other relief". We are in possession of the official court documents concerning this case, thus leaving no room for doubt about the facts.

(Cp 'Matrimonial Causes and Marriage' (5) DAMAGES and (6) COSTS - pages 602/3 and 694/5).

Therefore the contention of some that the plaintiff was compelled to act as he did to obtain a legal divorce is completely untenable. The aim of such false claims, i.e. to try to prove that all divorce is not permissible to believers, is therefore shown to be without any legal foundation. It was entirely the voluntary act of the plaintiff (note above "the relief he seeks") to ask for and receive damages & costs.

Three interpretations have been placed upon the words of Robert Roberts, as follows:

1. He was disagreeing with divorce for any cause, including the obtaining of it by legal proceedings.

2. He was not disagreeing with divorce per se for scriptural cause, but was against legal divorce.

3. He was not disagreeing with divorce per se for scriptural cause, but was against the suing of another for damages and costs in a court of law.

On this page, we will present conclusive evidence that No. 3 is correct. This will be found to be borne out by the facts of the case, as recorded in the actual court proceedings above, the anti-divorce sentiment in Melbourne at that time, and the previous consistent comments of Robert Roberts.

The Melbourne ecclesia and divorce


It is evident that in those years the false Catholic teaching denying divorce and re-marriage for scriptural cause  was present in the Melbourne ecclesia. This is not surprising, because like other heresies it has appeared amongst disciples since not long after the re-discovery of the Truth. In the purpose of God, Israel was commanded not to go to the left (weakness, toleration) nor to the right (extremity, isolation). This vital subject is explored in our appeal letter.

Whereas toleration of many heresies especially "clean flesh" is common today in "Christadelphia" on the left, the anti-divorce heresy seems to have been used by the Lord to isolate those on the right who, like the Pharisees of old, wish to place their own bondage on others. This might well make them feel content, but it causes great suffering to others, "for they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers...in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" - Matthew 23v4; 15v9.

The following appeared in 'The Christadelphian' February 1905 p.94 - Intelligence.

MELBOURNE.---The interminable strife over the question of marriage and divorce, raised by the misdeeds of some years ago, has reached another acute stage. Brother H. Gordon encloses a typewritten circular giving extracts from brother Roberts' writings on the subject, extending over a number of years. The views expressed, which are according to scripture and common-sense, regard marriage as "indissoluble", "saving for the cause of fornication" (Matt. v. 32). An extreme party in Melbourne wishes to regard marriage as indissoluble absolutely, and has advertised its unwisdom in the Age newspaper, and apparently division has taken place. Faithful men and women in Melbourne have much need to remember that four souls were led by angels out of Sodom, and what the Lord says of the one who looked back ---ED. C.


Concerning the background to this case, to understand the meaning which Robert Roberts had in mind when making his remarks, we must refer to his consistent teachings over a period of more than twenty years. When we do so, the above suggestions we have made are completely corroborated.


Robert Roberts, legal divorce & the terminology 'legal redress"

Robert Roberts wrote in 'The Christadelphian' November 1875 p.517.

"The commandment to be subject to the ordinances of men does not give liberty to sue debtors at law if that course is inconsistent with the Spirit of Christ. If it does give liberty to sue strangers, it gives liberty to sue brethren, for "the ordinances of men' would allow this. Why, then, do those who advocate the liberty of legal redress against strangers, on the plea of "the ordinances of men", admit it is wrong to apply it to brethren? They are right in this admission; but a similar process of reasoning will show it is wrong as applied to the alien, for if the permission of "the ordinances of men" can give us no liberty to proceed against the brethren, neither can that permission be used as a liberty against strangers in view of Christ's command, "Of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again". - (Luke vi.30.)

Our comment: It is evident that the terminology "legal redress" in the above (repeated in substance by Robert Roberts as "redress in the Divorce Court" in 1898) equals "to sue debtors at law" (i.e. for material gain). This is the very kernel of what later happened in the Melbourne divorce case. And this is what he objected to, as do we. Being at one time a court reporter, Robert Roberts was exact in his use of such terminology. On another occasion he maintained that words should always be used to convey only their correct meanings, and any other use always resulted in confusion and incorrect conclusions.

And to further underline the difference in his mind between normal use of law and suing for gain

Robert Roberts wrote in 'The Christadelphian' November 1872 p.530/1.

We are permitted to escape from evil...or to accept the protection of the constituted authorities...That which appears beyond our liberty at present is the resort to any mode of defence or vindication which involves the subjection of others to violence at our hands".

He also wrote in 'The Christadelphian' October 1872 p.491.

"What is going to law, but resorting to the utmost extremity of personal violence and coercion?...You get the judgment of the law in your favour; and let us suppose the debtor is unable to pay. What happens? Your servants...the agents of the law are your servants...enter his house and sell his bed, and cast him homeless on the street".

This was the exact situation in 1898, when the brother who was sued could not pay and went bankrupt. The reason recorded at the time was "pressure of creditors who obtained an order against insolvent for cost of divorce case". From this evidence, it must be obvious to any unbiased reader why Robert Roberts objected to the 1898 divorce case. It was not the divorce itself, but the suing for material gain, which is a transgression of the commandments of Christ.

On many occasions Robert Roberts recorded his agreement with legal divorce for scriptural cause.                    

The following examples from 'The Christadelphian' could be multiplied:

1883 p.31 - "Can Christadelphians lawfully disannul the marriage contract, and marry again for any other reason than that given in Matt.5:32?" "Nothing disannuls the marriage contract but death or adultery".

1884 IFC - "Divorce is inadmissible according to the law of Christ, except in the case he mentions in Matt. 19:9. Where this case arises, and the parties are divorced, they are at liberty to marry again, both by human law and divine. Objection may be well meant, but it is without ground".

1891 IFC - "Christ...recognises no divorce as lawful "save for the cause of fornication". This severs the bond. Human law recognises this, and we are commanded to submit to human law where it does not conflict with Divine law".  

John Thomas wrote in 'The Ambassador Of The Coming Age'* January 1866 p.94 -

(*re-named 'The Christadelphian' in 1870 - Robert Roberts was the editor of both publications)

"Jesus...forbad divorce upon any other ground than the wife's unfaithfulness. The apostles, whose authority he declared equal to his own in teaching the things of Deity, allowed divorce on another ground, and for the sake of peace to the Christian party...Peter has said: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake;" provided, of course, that in so doing, his precepts were not transgressed: this apostolic tradition applies also to their ordinances of marriage...Hence, a saint regulated by the word, would have only one wife at a time; he would seek divorce only on scriptural grounds, and avoid the "social evil" as the plague."


He also wrote in the 'Herald Of The Kingdom And Age To Come' September 1860 p.202 -

"Still, on the principle of being "subject to the ordinances of men for the Lord's sake", it would be necessary for such not to marry a second contemporary wife without a legal divorce".

As an example of the practice of early Christadelphians, here is a quotation from A. H. Jannaway, in a personal letter dated 17 October 1957 - "...the teaching of brother R. Roberts was quoted as the recognised Christadelphian position...That this was the position of the South London ecclesia on Christ's permission for divorce is further confirmed by a case which occurred in the Meeting in the 1890's. A brother of standing in the Truth divorced his unfaithful wife, and later married again. Not only did the ecclesia find no fault with his action, but he was appointed to the office of Managing brother, his wife also was appointed to an important work of ministering to the needs of the brethren and sisters".

Some not with us have objected to the above by quoting 1st Corinthians 6v1-8. However this quotation does not mention divorce, and Paul was obviously referring to matters upon which the ecclesia had the power to make judgment - cp v2 - "are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" & v4 - "Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you...that shall be able to judge between his brethren?". In the days of Israel, the nation, under God, regulated divorce, but today we live in a different dispensation.

When a marriage has irretrievably broken down, and there is scriptural provision for divorce, it is necessary to appeal to the authorities for a legal recognition of the divorce. Cp Romans 13v1; Titus 3v1; 1st Peter 2v13,14; Acts 25v10,11. We must bear in mind that legal divorce for scriptural cause is simply a recognition by the authorities of something which has already taken place - i.e. the irretrievable breakdown (by scriptural definition) of a marriage. As Robert Roberts wrote above - "Human law recognises this, and we are commanded to submit to human law where it does not conflict with Divine law". We should accept his wise counsel on this matter, and not be part of an unscriptural division.

1Cor 6:1

"Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?

In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul addresses problems of strife, envy, and division which had entered the ecclesia. Christ's disciples were arguing over issues that involved defrauding one another and choosing sides against one another. In fact, the problem became so prevalent that believers were going to the unbelievers in heathen courts to settle their disputes with other believers!

In this section of Scripture, Paul is exhorting believers to wake up and see a reality greater than their own petty grievances. He was concerned that their witnessing of Christ was being undermined by the practice of handling personal and ecclesial disputes among believers before the unbelievers. Paul knew their behaviour was indeed undermining the Truth as it is in Jesus and because of it they denied Christ's teaching. It was a sad witness to the Truth.

Sis Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2012

Rom 7:1-4

"Know ye not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law), how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth...?

These passages, along with 1Cor 7, are often quoted as veritable show stoppers regarding divorce and remarriage. But the fact is no verse stands on its own, but is interconnected with every other verse. The entire Bible has to fit together on any subject, and this is certainly the case here. "... If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:31).

Paul addresses these brethren as, "Are ye ignorant brethren (AV)," for "know" in this verse is, agnoeo # <50> "not to know", who ought to know, ginosko # <1097> the law? Ginosko is associated with a deep intimate knowledge and understanding that comes from experience, or collection of information via acquisition of the facts. Paul here is addressing the Jews and not the believing Gentiles. "Law" appears twice in verses 1 and 2, and once in verse 3, for a total of 5 times in these 3 verses! Paul was very well versed in the Torah (Gal 1:14), so what is Paul trying to teach?

The beginning of this chapter is a continuation of Rom 6, wherein he explains that sin shall not rule over us, because we are not under law (Rom 6:14-15), but have been freed from the law. This was not a release from the righteousness, which is taught in the law, but a release from its rigid ceremonial requirements, and from the curse, or judgment, which followed.

What Paul is doing is showing by analogy that the law represented the "husband," and the Jews represented the "woman," the key point being that freedom from one relationship of law allows a person to establish a new one. This is the very point Paul makes in Rom 7:4! The bondage of law was done away through Christ's death and resurrection.

What Paul is saying in verses 1-4 is: 1) The Jews were bound to the law - "A married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives." 2) But, the Jews were found to be adulterous to God - "She will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive." 3) Now free from the law because we are not under the law, but under grace - "But if her husband dies, she is released from the law of the husband." 4). Now they are in a new relationship and bound to Christ - "if she marries another." 5) In Christ, they are no longer adulterous - "she is not an adulteress." Some of the Jews were trying to have it both ways! Paul illustrated how the Jews may transition from under the law and be joined to Christ without being treacherous to Moses. You cannot be "married" to both (see 2Cor 11:2).

To believe otherwise, was to indict Jesus, himself, as an adulterous husband to all the Jews (woman/bride) who accepted him! In this case, it is the death of the New Testament testator, but it still illustrates how the Jews may come out from under the law (former husband that "died."), and now be married to Messiah. "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter" (Rom 7:6).

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA]

Rom 7:4

"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."

The apostle Paul asked a question to those who knew the Law (v. 1), and pointed out that they were now dead to the Law and alive to Christ. Under the Law of Moses, God was a "Husband" to Israel (Isa 54:5).

Being dead to the Law and now under the Law of Christ, God is no longer their "Husband," but Christ. While God was referred to by many names and titles, he was never referred to as "Father." Christ instructed all true believers to address God now as "our Father" (Matt 6:9). How could God be a Father and Husband to us? He was not. The title of "husband," had been transferred to Christ. We are now married to Christ (cf. 2Cor 11:2).

The Old had to make way for the New; they could not be mixed (cf. Luke 5:36-38). And, of course, many have tried just that because, "No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better." But, the old was not better and mixing the Old with the New was spiritual adultery.

This is the context of what Paul was teaching in vv. 1-5, otherwise, he would have been contradicting Deut 24:1-4! Paul concluded that they were, "delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter" (v. 6).

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2014


I quote (Brother Roberts): "There are statements in it that are only intelligible on a just apprehension of human nature in all its relations. Those who only grasp some of these, are baffled by some of those statements. It requires spiritual-mindedness to see their truth or understand them... The seventh chapter of Romans is particularly addressed 'to them that know the law {of Moses}' {v. 1}, because the argument to be employed was to hang on an illustration derived from the Law, and to relate to their position in reference to the Law. The first fact laid down is, that the jurisdiction of the Law over a man extended to the full term of his life. However long he might live, he could never reach an age when he would be free. 'The law hath dominion over a man so long as he liveth.' Death put an end to this dominion, for no law could reach dead men. This is illustrated by the case of a husband to whom a wife was bound so long as he lived, but at whose death she was free to be married to another. Her husband died really, and she died legally, to the law holding them in union as man and wife; and the woman was at liberty to form a new connection. Paul applies both features of the illustration to the case in hand: 'Ye, my brethren, are become dead to the Law.' How? 'By the body of Christ...'" (Highlight mine).

To understand these verses in their context according to those who know the Law, we need to understand the Law, and this takes us right back to Deut 24:1-4. We need to understand how Paul was transitioning them from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant.

Under the Old Covenant, Yahweh was Israel's (all 12 tribes) Husband (Isa 48:17, i.e. Redeemer/Husband; Isa 54:5). He divorced Israel, His bride (Jer 3:8) - by this time - 10 tribes, but Yahweh did not divorce Judah and Benjamin, the remaining two tribes. Under the Law, God could not take back His divorced bride (Deut 24:4). We know Yahweh keeps His own Laws, and He could not take Israel back - hence, comes the New Covenant and Christ. Yahweh cannot die, so the law of the husband could only cease with the death of the redeemer/husband, Christ. Under the Law, the husband (Yahweh) could divorce his wife, but it is inconceivable that the wife would divorce the husband (Yahweh), and as with the spiritual, so it was with the natural. No Law was provided for the wife to divorce the husband!

Under Christ, their new husband, he could take back and make Israel his bride, and note in His New Covenant teachings, Christ re-iterated time and time again how he came to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel," i.e. the ten tribes to unite them all into him! Jerusalem was primarily the Kingdom of Yahudah (Judah) and Benjamin. Esther and Mordecai, both Benjamites, saved natural Israel; the apostle Paul, a Benjamite, in his preaching as commissioned by Christ and through Christ, brought spiritual salvation to Israel (Rom 11:26).

But, I digress... According to the Law of the husband, Christ had to die. This opened the way for the 12 tribes, the House of Israel and the Kingdom of Yahudah (Judah) to be embraced together under the New Covenant as a bride under their new husband, the risen Christ.

Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA]

SECTION 5 - DIVISIONS CONSIDERED 

Family Journal

Following the 1923 division from the Temperance Hall fellowship, those who maintained that a brother or sister could obtain a legal divorce formed a group called "Family Journal."

The Dawn Division

In the very late 20s, an ecclesia in California experienced a situation where a brother whose wife had committed adultery and left him, remarried, and applied for membership. The ecclesia ultimately voted not to receive him back into fellowship. 

The new concept (indisollubility of marriage) was foisted upon the Berean fellowship in the early 1940s by those who rejected Brother Thomas' teaching. They constructed a four-point statement to which they demanded all agree. This stated there could be no remarriage after divorce while the spouse was still alive, regardless of the circumstances. This statement was a contradiction to Matt. 5:37, 19:9, and to the writings of the pioneer Christadelphians. It was rejected by the Bereans, and there was a division. The new body was called the "Dawn Fellowship."

A PLEA TO RESIST THE MOVE TOWARDS

INDISSOLUBILITY


THE BEREAN/ DAWN DIVISION



This is an urgent and fervent plea for unity on the sound basis of the teaching of our pioneer brethren Thomas and Roberts and the whole Christadelphian Brotherhood from its very beginning down to at least the 1920's.
About thirty years ago, a new theory on Divorce and Remarriage was introduced, and laid down as a law and a first principle that all must subscribe to. Faithful brethren of that day - bre. Dowling of Worcester, Gwalchnai of London, Sommerville of Hawley, and others - perceived the destructive and unscriptural implications of this new theory, and fought against it.
Some of us, being young and inexperienced, did not realise the danger of this new theory, and we did not fully appreciate the great efforts the more experienced brethren, some of whom had been personally associated with bro. Roberts, made to oppose it.
A doctrine that locks the door (in all practical senses) on a repentant sinner - this is a terrible doctrine, an impossible doctrine. It is a doctrine of well-meaning people completely out of touch with life and reality and the true spirit of Christ. It is a doctrine of people who do not understand the whole instructive, developing, transforming, educating purpose of our present existence. It is a panic reaction that the corruptions of the world are going to overwhelm us. This danger is always very real, but the safety and solution is not in new and unscriptural rules, but renewal of our inner life and personal dedication.
If we approached even approximately close to the fulfilment of the divine requirements for the Bride of Christ, we would need have no fear from the danger and example of
re-admitted and repentant sinners, however weak in the faith they might be.
We have shut our eyes to reality, to human needs. This is why we have dried up spiritually. When the original living fire and internal first-love strength of a community starts to dry up, it has to raise harsh barriers to keep the world from being sucked into its vacuum.
Sadly, I find very many Christadelphians more ready to condemn and expel than to take the trouble in compassion to disturb their own comfortable little lives and to actually put aside their own interests and pleasures and get out and really try to help the weak, and share their burdens and problems and sorrows. This has been a great source of shame, embarrassment and distress to me.
We have been remiss in the past in keeping the clear simple Scriptural teachings of our pioneer brethren on this subject clearly before the Brotherhood. Perhaps if we had, this sad repetition of 1953 would not be upon us.
I thank God we have at least been forced to face this problem, and to perceive the Pharisaism of running away from reality and the problems of others, and "passing by on the other side" of a repentant sinner, just as if we were not all pitiful sinners ourselves, wholly dependant on the boundless mercies of God.
I thank God that faithful brethren proclaimed and defended the true principles of forgiveness and reconciliation, even when I could not clearly perceive them myself, because of inexperience in the spirit of Christ and the realities of life.
This message is, primarily, an answer to a six page article being circulated among you, entitled: "Scriptural Teachings Concerning Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage, Part One." This article is obviously extracted, sometimes word for word, from Clapham literature, so I have at times digressed to answer Clapham arguments, and point out Clapham unsoundness, not contained in the article.
But first, I would like to give the true Scriptural stand of bro. Roberts on the subject, teaching with which bro. Thomas was in harmony, and which bro. Jannaway shows to have been the accepted and unquestioned belief of the Christadelphian Body at least into the 1920's. It was subsequent to that time that this new error was introduced. The following are all the statements by bro. Roberts on Divorce and Remarriage that I have ever been able to find.
* * *
Note from No.'s 3 & 11 (10 years apart) that bro. Roberts not only had absolutely no doubt of the meaning of Matt. 5:32, but that he could see no room for anyone having any doubt about it. To his clear discernment, it was inescapably obvious. Some of us with less discernment have taken longer to see it.
The following is by bro. Jannaway, "Christadelphian Answers", an oft consulted standard work among us (published in 1920) Pg. 212.
"For one reason, and only one reason, does the Lord permit divorce, and that reason he gives is adultery (Matt. 5:32). In certain circumstances the parties are permitted to separate, but they must not form any other alliance. (1 Cor. 7:11)
* * *
I would like to add two quotations not directly related to divorce and remarriage because it is obvious, from both reason and experience, that the more divorce and remarriage are discussed among us, the more important it is to keep the basic Edenic marriage law clearly before the mind. One is by bro. Thomas, 1848, before all the above quotations, one from 1895, after most of them.
1848: Elpis Israel, Pg. 50: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Thus Adam pronounced upon himself the sentence that was to bind them together for weal or woe, until death should dissolve the union. This was marriage.
1895, Chdn, Jan. (Law of Moses): Marry whom you will, but once married, man and woman are one flesh by divine law, and "What God hath joined, let not man put asunder."
Now bro. Thomas in 1866* said that "Jesus forbad divorce upon any other ground than wife's unfaithfulness." So if we see contradiction between these two brethren's statements (1848 & 1895) of the basic marriage law, on the one hand, and their specific teachings on
*On the basis of a statement in this 1866 article, an attempt is invariably made by the promoters of this new theory to imply contradiction between bro. Thomas and bro. Roberts (Guide #45) on the ''Pauline privilege''. It seems that one of the saddest and most prominent aspects of this new theory is to try to show contradiction within the writings of these two brethren, and between each other.
"Divorce & Remarriage" - p. 4
the Exceptive Clause on the other, then we must assume that both these highly qualified and highly stable brethren - providentially raised-up brethren - completely reversed themselves each at the end of their lives, one one way and one the other! This is absurd.
Bro. Thomas' statement is too brief and passing to assert with certainty that he taught remarriage was permissible for this cause alone. Without much clearer evidence of "contradiction" we must assume in fairness that these two brethren were in agreement. It is absolutely certain they were in agreement on the primary issue before us, the Exceptive Clause, and so was bro. Jannaway, many years later.
There is not a current brother that I know, or whose writings I have read, that has a tenth of the Scriptural knowledge that these pioneer brethren had, and I freely and happily include myself in this comparison. The comparison is so lop-sided it is pitiful. There is no comparison. If we did not have the brilliant, stable, providentially-provided light of the works of these brethren - if we had to depend for help on the poor little flickering candles in the earth today - what pitiful straits we would be in!
Bre. Thomas and Roberts knew the Scriptures as few men have ever known them, and they entered fully into their beautiful and transforming spirit - a thousand times better than those who now repudiate their teaching. Many years ago I came to the firm conviction, daily strengthened ever since, that bre. Thomas and Roberts were divinely and providentially raised up to revive the Truth of God and the Body of Christ in these last days, and that they laid a sound foundation of Truth - all the Truth - as regards fellowship and salvation.
They were not inspired. They were not perfect. They were not always right in everything. But when it comes to the basic beliefs involving fellowship and salvation, it is my ever increasing conviction that, in the providence of God, they gave us a complete and sound foundation. This present controversy has greatly strengthened my conviction of this, and to this extent I am therefore thankful to God for this controversy. We must be forced by bitter circumstances to learn more deeply, and the false often is effectual in bringing out more clearly the true.
In this matter, and in anything sufficiently serious to involve fellowship (and the proponents of this new theory themselves contend it is a matter of fellowship, and therefore a first principle), I stand with bre. Thomas and Roberts, just as bro. Roberts in turn expressed his unity with bro. Thomas:
1893, Pg. 128: "To the charge of holding 'that the knowledge of Scripture, in the writings of Dr. Thomas, have reached a finality', we plead guilty. Our judgement is distinctly to the effect imputed - that in the writings of Dr. Thomas the Truth is developed as a finality, and that they are a depot of the Christian doctrine. In this sense we are "committed to Dr. Thomas". God used him in the doing of His work. In His sight and with His help, we shall hold fast to the Truth brought to light by his means." (End of quotation).
Forty five years of gradually getting closer and closer to these two wonderful men, of repeatedly learning by experience their tremendous and invaluable help in maintaining balance and stability, and getting closer to the spirit of the Scriptures, and correcting the natural tendency of the flesh to crotchets and extremes - has adamantly convinced me that I could never take a fellowship stand about anything that would condemn them in their firmly stated and long-held convictions. If they were so wrong as to be unworthy of fellowship, what hope has anyone? If this matter involves fellowship, and if we consider this new theory the only sound and Scriptural one, then we have no right to call ourselves Christadelphians and claim we represent the Truth brought to light by the labours of these brethren. Rather we are a new group in the earth, claiming we have new light essential for salvation, that they did not have.

I have read many things in the works of bre. Thomas and Roberts that have grated upon me at first. Almost invariably (I believe I could safely say invariably without qualification) I have with further study and experience and the passage of time gradually come closer to them and have perceived that my own view was immature and out of balance. I have gone through exactly the stage these young brethren in Houston are going through, but thankfully I held fast to bre. Thomas and Roberts as far as fellowship is concerned, until my own understanding developed.
This cry we hear so much today in defence of this new theory, raised against the teachings of bre. Thomas and Roberts, "We want the Scriptures, not the teachings of men!" this has been the battle-cry of error right from the beginning. When you hear that piously proclaimed, be well on guard!

- BY BROTHER GROWCOTT

We all have much to learn about spiritual things, about what love and compassion really are and really call for in help and service to the weak and straying. This present problem and controversy is to teach us many things, if we will face it and learn. At best we perceive the divine beauty of the Christ character as through a glass darkly. We are all, like the unconverted Paul, self righteous Pharisees at heart, especially if we are, or fancy ourselves to be, zealous for "purity" - that is, other people's purity. If we were so zealous for purity in ourselves - real deep-down purity of heart and thought and emptying of self and of service unto others - purity from all the daily-repeated ugliness and selfishness of the flesh - what divine and heavenly places the Ecclesias would be!
Finally, beloved brethren and sisters, may I very strongly urge this. It is much easier, and more exciting, and more spectacular, to break down than to build, to scatter and stampede a flock than to gather it together in love. We have laboured together for years to build.
Before you support any new movement to break up the Berean Brotherhood on this the very verge of the Master's return, give to the convictions of our bre. Thomas and Roberts all the weight which their deep knowledge, and spirituality, and lifelong service to the truth, deserve. If they were wrong in vital matters of fellowship, what hope have we, who depend on their God-provided help so greatly. Could we write Eureka, or Elpis Israel or Christendom Astray? Look at the puny efforts of all who have tried to supplant them.
These brethren were not ignorant men, they were not changeable men, they were outstandingly consistent men, stable men, and they left a consistent record throughout lives of complete dedication to the service of the Truth. They did not (in the words of this article), "Seek to subvert God's Word to satisfy their own desires or to excuse some close to them."
On the contrary, they were spiritually minded men, deeply versed in the true spirit of the Scriptures; they were compassionate and realistic men. They had no emotional orthodox fetishes about marriage. They recognised that God who appointed marriage could regulate as He chose, and as He did in such a great variety of ways in the past, clearly manifesting that He was not blindly bound to the technicalities of His own ordinances, but adjusted them to man's needs in wisdom and in love.
These brethren recognised that God alone could solve its problems and promulgate its laws to bring the greatest good and least evil out of what is simply a passing provision for the present weak, stumbling mortal existence - "In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage."
Do not be misled into an unsound position that rejects these brethren and all who believe like them as unfit for fellowship. Consider their teachings, and the teachings of Scripture, prayerfully and with an unbiased mind. Let us examine the processes of our own thinking, and free ourselves as much as possible from blind and unreasoning emotion, and from
"Divorce & Remarriage" - p. 46
fetishes and prejudices unconsciously absorbed from worldly and orthodox sources.
I for one deeply value, and daily thank God for, the providentially-provided help and guidance of these two brethren, apart from whom I would never have known the glorious saving Truth of God, and I stand with them until the end.
G.V. Growcott, July, 1971.

Quotes from The Christadelphian Magazine under Brother Roberts editorial

1879, Aug., Inside front cover: We regret being (un*)able to think you did right by marrying, first wife being yet alive. *The "un" in parenthesis is not in the original - I suspect it's omission is an error.
1882, Apr., Inside front cover: There is nothing in the law of Christ to interfere with the remarriage of a man and a woman who have been previously divorced from one another. The law of Christ rather favours every kind of reconciliation and triumph of peace.
1883, Pg. 31: Question: Can Christadelphians lawfully disannul the marriage contract and marry for any other reason than that given in Matt. 5:32? If a husband or wife renounce the Truth, does that free the other from the marriage tie, so that he may marry again?
Answer: No. "The Lord hateth putting away" (Mal. 2:15). The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth: but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will: only in the Lord." (1 Cor. 7:39). Nothing disannuls the marriage contract but death or adultery. Incompatibility, from belief or other cause may lead to separation, but the separated parties must remain unmarried. (1 Cor. 7:11).
1884, Mar., Inside front cover: Divorce is inadmissible according to the law of Christ, except in the case he mentions in Matt. 19:9. Where this case arises, and the parties are divorced, they are at liberty to marry again, both by human law and divine. Objection may be well meant, but it is without ground.
1885, Sept., Inside front cover: There is nothing in human law or divine to prevent a man marrying again, from whom his wife has been divorced for unfaithfulness.
1883, May., Inside front cover: Marriage is the voluntary, professed, and consummated companionship of man and woman for life, recognisable, and (if necessary) enforceable by the community in which they may dwell.
1888, June., Inside front cover: The law - at least in England - will punish neglect, but divorce is only granted for cruelty or adultery.
1888, July., Inside front cover: It is a man's prerogative to pardon the worst offence in his wife. If a brother chooses to exercise this prerogative, his brethren are not called upon to interfere. If he becomes a partaker in her wickedness, that would be a different thing.
1891, Nov., Inside front cover: The safest way, in the doubtful position of the case, would be to receive the brother back. Adultery is not to be compromised on any terms, but marriage with a divorced woman cannot be put in this category. It was wrong to marry an unbeliever. If the brother admits the wrong, receive him, and let the Lord judge.
1891, Dec., Inside front cover: Question: I have been requested to ask your explanation of Matt. 5:32 & Luke 16:18 in view of your statement on cover of last Christadelphian that marriage with a divorced woman cannot be put in the category of adultery.
Answer: Christ's words relate to divorce for insufficient cause (as was at that time common among the Jews). He recognises no divorce as lawful "save for the cause of fornication." This severs the bond. Human law recognises this, and we are commanded to submit to human law where it does not conflict with Divine Law. Where the law recognises man and woman in any case as husband and wife, there can be no question of adultery.
1892, Pg. 422: There seems nothing difficult about Matt. 5:31 & 32. The words of Christ amount to this, that his law recognises no cause of separation between husband and wife except conjugal infidelity. Human law in his day recognised many other causes, and even allowed a man to put away his wife if he had lost taste for her. By the law of Christ, a wife put away from any cause "saving for the cause of fornication" is the man's wife still, and anyone marrying her is guilty of adultery. He does not mean that if divorced from a proper cause, a woman may not marry again. His words must be taken in their connection.
1898, Pg. 377: We returned to Melbourne on Fri. May 6th. Some pain has been caused by the shocking misbehaviour of one brother, and the highly unscriptural action of another in connection with it, in seeking redress in the Divorce Court. The incident has discouraged the brethren somewhat. They have not, however, the cause for shame
"Divorce & Remarriage" - p. 3
that they would have if they tolerated or countenanced such infractions of the divine law. When brethren confess their sins and forsake them, they are entitled to forgiveness; but when they defend and vindicate them, they stand in the way of their own mercy.
(The following is the Melbourne intelligence relating to this matter in "The Christadelphian" - 1898, Pg. 363 - the previous month.
"We regret that we have had occasion to withdraw from bro. Middleton, on account of his maintaining the principle that he was justified in petitioning before a Gentile court of law for divorce from his wife. Bro. & sis. Roberts sailed for New Zealand on May 25th.
1898, Aug., Inside front cover: If it is right for a sister to be married to an alien (which will not be maintained by those who are enlightened in the law of the Lord), it is not wrong for a sister to be married to a divorced husband
1898, Sept., Inside front cover: It was the children of a "mixed marriage" that were the subjects of a passing allusion in 1 Cor. 7:14, and the "cleanness" and "holiness" had reference to legitimacy.
End of Robert Roberts quotes.