By Timothy Sparks
Rather than isolating Matthew 19:9, an examination of Matthew 5:32; 19:3-10, Mark 10:2-12 and Luke 16:18 provides a comprehensive framework for studying Jesus’ teaching on marriage, divorce and remarriage. Setting aside any translation issue for another discussion, this article seeks to put the events of the aforementioned accounts in the chronological order in which they appear to have taken place, adding depth to our understanding. Scripture quotations are taken from the NKJV.
1. But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. (Mt. 5:32)
2. Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery. (Lk. 16:18)1
3. The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” (Mt. 19:3)
3. The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him. (Mk. 10:2)
4. And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.” (Mk. 10:3-4)
5. And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mt. 19:4-6)
5. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mk. 10:5-9)
6. They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” (Mt. 19:7)
7. He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” (Mt. 19:8-9)
8. In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter. So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Mk. 10:10-12)
9. His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” (Mt. 19:10)
1For evidence of the chronological order of the events of Luke 16 occurring before Matthew 19 and Mark 10, compare Lk. 18:15-30, Mt. 19:13-30 and Mk. 10:13-31.