By Timothy Sparks
The Pharisees asked Jesus two questions (Mt. 19:3, 7). The question and answer format in Mt. 19:3-9 reveals that Jesus answered their questions. It is very important to know which answer goes with which question. Notice the simple format:
Question #1: “Is it lawful for a man to dismiss his wife for every cause?”* (Mt. 19:3)
Answer #1: “. . . . Therefore what God united, a human cannot divide” (Mt. 19:4-6)
Question #2: “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her?” (Mt. 19:7)
Answer #2: Moses gave no command to divorce. Moses allowed you to divorce your wives because of your hard hearts. “But from the beginning it has not existed this way. Whoever dismisses his wife not over fornication and marries another commits adultery. . . .” (Mt. 19:8-9)
After Jesus answers the first question, he does not later change his answer to their first question. The second answer is specific to the second question. Some, however, believe that what Jesus says in Mt. 19:9 affects the answer in Mt. 19:4-6 and changes Jesus’ answer. If we want to know what Jesus is answering, we first have to know the question.
*Unless otherwise stated, translations are mine.