Dr. McFall: Audio of Matthew 19:9

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What Does “Except/Excluding” Modify (Mt. 5:32)?

By Timothy Sparks
tdsparks77@yahoo.com
http://www.timothysparks.com

There is debate about the Greek grammar and word order of Mt. 5:32, “But I say to you that who, suppose, may have dismissed his wife, excluding an account of fornication, causes her to commit adultery; and who, suppose, may have married a dismissed woman commits adultery” (Mt. 5:32, translation mine). Based on the previously published article “What Is Jesus Saying in Mt. 5:32?”  (https://timothysparks.com/2015/03/06/what-is-jesus-saying-in-mt-532), I received a question (and my response below) that while few today may ask or consider, it is worth calling attention to the discussion.

Question:

“Is it not so, that in standard english the order of the words of proposition 1 would allow for it to be an exception to divorce? Is there something in the order of the words that make you feel sure that the parektos modifies the ’causes’ and not the ‘may have dismissed’? I mean, it makes meaningful sense, but is there an extra in the grammar or word order?”

Response:

The focus of the text of Mt. 5:31-32 is on what the man “causes/makes” (poiei) his wife do (“commit adultery”) when he dismisses her. The focus is not on allowing an “exception” (parektos, “excluding”) in which Jesus favorably authorizes divorce.

Additionally, notice the focus in the last phrase of what is also caused in the cascade of events, “and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery” (Mt. 5:32). No exception allowing for divorce there either.

Notice also that the man, whether (1) married, (2) divorced or (3) single (the text does not specify, but if he is married or divorced, he commits adultery with a woman regardless of her marital status), commits adultery when he marries a divorced woman. It does not matter why the woman is divorced. A man, whether (1) married, (2) divorced or (3) single commits adultery marrying a divorced woman regardless of why she is divorced. Later, Jesus says, “And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mk. 10:12).

Again, Jesus’ focus in Mt. 5:32 is that the husband who dismisses his wife causes her to commit adultery. One of the repeated and consistent statements of Jesus is, “and marries another commits adultery” (Mt. 19:9; Mk. 10:11-12; Lk. 16:18). Jesus clearly warns about the adulterous cascade of events. Within Scripture, God gives no exception favorably authorizing divorce or marriage to another.

 

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“Not Do Divide” (Mt. 19:6)

By Timothy Sparks
tdsparks77@yahoo.com
http://www.timothysparks.com

Many English versions of Mt. 19:6 have a reading similar to “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” A word-for-word translation of the Greek text is “So no more are they two, but one flesh. What therefore the God united, a human not do divide.”

Briefly addressing the Greek phrase μὴ χωριζέτω (“not do divide,” Mt. 19:6b) we have: μὴ (“not”) which negates the imperative χωριζέτω (“do divide”). So how do we translate and interpret “a human not do divide”? Does it mean: (1) a human has the ability to divide what God united but should not or (2) a human has neither the implied ability nor God’s sanction to attempt to do so?

Based on “So they are continuously never again two, but they are continuously one flesh” (please see https://timothysparks.com/2016/03/22/jesus-one-flesh-argument-mt-196) Jesus has already shown the impossibility of becoming two again. The two united into one will never be two again.

In view of what Jesus says, it is impossible to divide “what” (neuter gender, referring to “male” and “female”) God united back into the original two [please see What Is the “What” (Mt. 19:6)?, https://timothysparks.com/2016/03/25/what-is-the-what-mt-196/]. Therefore, Jesus is not merely saying “let not man divide” (as though Jesus may imply human ability to divide what God has united). Jesus does not imply that humans are able to accomplish a successful and approved severance of what God united. “What therefore God united, a human cannot divide.”

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The Institutions of God (Marriage & the Church)

By Timothy Sparks
tdsparks77@yahoo.com
http://www.timothysparks.com

Those who love God must be zealous for what God has created and must be eager to do God’s will. In discussing those things that God has created and what God’s will is, it is necessary for us to understand the institutions of God. We begin with a definition from Oxford Dictionaries of “institution”:

1 An organization founded for a religious, educational, professional, or social purpose.

‘an academic institution’

‘a certificate from a professional institution’

1.1 An organization providing residential care for people with special needs.

‘about 5 per cent of elderly people live in institutions’

1.2 An established official organization having an important role in a society, such as the Church or parliament.

‘the institutions of democratic government’

1.3 A large company or other organization involved in financial trading.

‘City institutions’

2 An established law or practice.

‘the institution of marriage’

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/institution

If an institution is from God, we should be able to answer these following five questions from Scripture:

(1) What is the institution?

(2) When did God institute it?

(3) Where did God institute it?

(4) Why did God institute it?

(5) How did God institute it?

From Scripture we can clearly identify at least two divine institutions:

(I) Marriage/Family (Genesis 1-2)

(II) The Church (Acts 2)

We can answer the questions what, when, where, why and how God instituted them:

(I)

(1) What is the institution?

Answer: Marriage/Family

(2) When did God institute it?

Answer: The Beginning, the sixth day of Creation (Genesis 1:26-31)

(3) Where did God institute it?

Answer: The Garden of Eden (Genesis 1-2)

(4) Why did God institute it?

Answer: Companionship and reproduction (Genesis 1-2)

(5) How did God institute it?

Answer: God brought the woman to the man (Gen. 2:22-23).

(II)

(1) What is the institution?

Answer: The Church

(2) When did God institute it?

Answer: The Day of Pentecost (Acts 2)

(3) Where did God institute it?

Answer: Jerusalem (Acts 2)

(4) Why did God institute it?

Answer: Human salvation and to glorify God (Acts 2; Ephesians 3)

(5) How did God institute it?

Answer: Based on the perfect life, sacrifice and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus, those who believed, repented and were immersed into the forgiveness of their sins God added to the church (Acts 2:36-47)

Can you think of other institutions that are from God?

Some have suggested the following two:

(I) Polygyny

Definition: “The practice of a man having more than one wife at the same time”

(II) Divorce for sexual immorality (fornication/adultery)

Many recognize that divorce is not an institution of God since God instituted marriage and humans cannot divide (with divorce) what God united (Mt. 19:6). Also, many realize the truth that God did not institute divorce and God actually hates such a human institution (Mal. 2:16). However, many believe God did start the practice of divorce in the case of an unfaithful, sexually immoral spouse.

In our following attempt to answer the questions of what, when, where, why and how to the two previously mentioned (as we seek to test whether or not they are from God), we will notice some difficulties in providing answers from Scripture:

(I)

(1) What is the institution?

Answer: Polygny

(2) When did God institute it?

Answer: ???

(3) Where did God institute it?

Answer: ???

(4) Why did God institute it?

Answer: ???

(5) How did God institute it?

Answer: ???

(II)

(1) What is the institution?

Answer: Divorce for sexual immorality (fornication/adultery)

(2) When did God institute it?

Answer: ??? The Beginning? Deuteronomy 24? Jeremiah 3 or Ezekiel 23? God did not institute it; men did?

(3) Where did God institute it?

Answer: ??? The Garden of Eden? The Wilderness Wanderings? God did not; men did?

(4) Why did God institute it?

Answer: ??? The hardness of human hearts? To punishment the sinner? To free the faithful spouse to remarry in order to be happy?

(5) How did God institute it?

Answer: ??? Through Moses? Through God’s Son Jesus? God did not; men did?

It should become clear that God did not institute polygyny or any other form of polygamy. It should be equally clear that God did not institute divorce or any of its forms, such as divorce for fornication. Polygamy and divorce are not institutions of God. They are not from God.

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God Gives No Exception for Fornication (Mt. 19:9)

By Timothy Sparks
tdsparks77@yahoo.com
http://www.timothysparks.com

Until a person is willing to wrestle with the fact that no Greek word in Mt. 19:9 correctly translates into the idea of “exception,” that person’s exegesis will remain flawed. In over 500 occurrences of μὴ (mē or mh, “not”) by itself with no accompanying particle such as εἰ (ei, “if”) or ἐὰν (ean, “if”), μὴ (mē, “not”) nowhere in the Greek New Testament indicates an “exception.”

Additionally, if a person concludes that divorce for fornication is justifiable because of Mt. 19:9, then he has to affirm an unstated negation, that is, that divorce is justifiable because of fornication. The negative inference fallacy occurs when the negative of Mt. 19:9 is assumed: “If a man divorces his wife because of fornication and marries another, then he does not commit adultery.” Jesus does not say that, thus, the fallacy.

If one wishes to justify divorce and remarriage because of fornication, then as seen from Mt. 19:8 the justification for divorce is the hardness of heart of the apparently unforgiving husband. But even justifying divorce based on righteous hardheartedness is refuted by Jesus’ clear teaching that God’s will for marriage from the beginning has always been and remains permanency for life. Notice the Greek perfect tense of Mt. 19:8, “from the beginning it has not existed this way.” The perfect tense indicates an action that occurred in the past with continuing effects to the present. God has always hated humanity’s attempt to divide what he united (Mal. 2:16; Mt. 19:6).

Paul Dixon notes, “The translation ‘except’ is not only lexically without merit, but it is especially unfortunate if it conjures up the negation to the English reader. But that is precisely why the translators render it such, and it gives away their assumption of the negation. Porter and Buchanan, however, have shown that even the English ‘except’ does not necessarily imply the negation. As an example, they say: ‘All centers, except those over 6 feet tall, will fail in the NBA.’ Clearly, this is saying nothing about the success or failure of centers over 6 feet tall. That consideration is excluded from discussion. The point, rather, is to assert something about centers under 6 feet tall.

There is no good reason why mh in Matthew 19:9 (mh epi porneia, ‘except for immorality’) should not be translated by its normal ‘not.’ Literally, the translation would be something like, ‘not for immorality,’ or ‘setting aside the matter of porneia,’ the idea being to exclude porneia or immorality from consideration at this point, but certainly not to imply its negation” (https://timothysparks.com/2018/01/26/mh-epi-and-the-negative-inference-fallacy-of-matthew-199-paul-dixon).

Dixon also points out, “If we take MH as it normally is taken, simply as ‘not’ giving ‘not for immorality,’ then the idea is simply that the case of the immoral wife is not being considered in v. 9.

How does logic have any bearing here? What is normally inferred here is the negation. In logic notation we have this being affirmed:

If A and B, then C (If a man remarries after divorcing his wife and his wife was not immoral, then he commits adultery). This is v. 9.

If A and not B, then not C (If a man remarries after divorcing his wife and his wife was immoral, then he does not commit adultery).

The last statement is an invalid inference from the first, v. 9. The verse neither says the second statement, nor does it imply it” (http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/archives/97-05/msg00718.html).

If μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ (MH EPI PORNEIA) implies the negation, how do you get it? Can anyone provide just one precedent in the Greek New Testament or the LXX?

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No Manuscript Support for “If” (Mt. 19:9)

By Timothy Sparks
tdsparks77@yahoo.com
http://www.timothysparks.com

There is no manuscript in existence that supports the Textus Receptus reading of εἰ (“if”) before μὴ (“not”) in Mt. 19:9. All the manuscript evidence supports the omission of εἰ. Based on overwhelming evidence, the correct reading is μὴ ἐπὶ (“not over”). The text is firmly μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ (“not over fornication”) and is the reading of the Majority Text (M-Text), the Greek New Testament (GNT) and all other texts that do not follow the Textus Receptus tradition. The following link contains a list of Greek texts:   http://biblehub.com/texts/matthew/19-9.htm.

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A Meaningful Difference Between Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9

By Timothy Sparks
tdsparks77@yahoo.com
http://www.timothysparks.com

Many seem to think that Jesus is saying the same thing in Mt. 5:32 and Mt. 19:9. Often the two passages are referred to as “parallel passages.” We stop to ask the obvious question: “Is Jesus saying the same thing in both passages?”

First, notice that “makes/causes” (ποιεῖ) occurs in Mt. 5:32 and does not occur in Mt. 19:9. In Mt. 5:32 Jesus is focused on what the husband causes his wife to do, namely to commit adultery. Jesus does not address the same scenario in Mt. 19:9 as he does in Mt. 5:32.

To observe additional differences please see the following:

https://timothysparks.com/2015/03/06/what-is-jesus-saying-in-mt-532/

https://timothysparks.com/2015/03/27/reasons-why-m%E1%BD%B4-e%CF%80%E1%BD%B6-mt-199-should-not-be-translated-except/

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