Harmony of MDR and Jesus’ Clarification to His Disciples (Mk. 10:10-12)

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

Reading the accounts of the gospel within their historical contexts, it should be stressed that Mark and Luke write to those with Gentile background (Mark to the Romans; Luke to the Greeks). Matthew writes to those with Hebrew/Jewish background. This explains why Matthew records for the Jews the phrases “for every cause” (Mt. 19:3) and “not over fornication” (Mt. 19:9), while Mark and Luke do not record them for the Gentiles.

The Gentiles divorced for every reason (sexual and nonsexual). Mark and Luke reveal Jesus’ absolute standard for marriage (Mk. 10:11-12; Lk. 16:18). Jews did not practice the divorce penalty for sexual immorality as God’s Law was the death penalty (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22). The Pharisees’ question focused on God’s Law about divorce for every cause for which a Jewish man divorced his wife (Mt. 19:3). Since God commanded that a sexually immoral wife be put to death, a Jewish man did not divorce his wife for sexual immorality. A Jewish man divorced his wife only for nonsexual reasons (“not over fornication,” Mt. 19:9).

Matthew records Jesus’ complete condemnation of Jewish divorce and remarriage, with no exception to God’s standard from the beginning. Mark and Luke write to Gentiles. Matthew writes to Jews. All accounts reveal Jesus’ absolute teaching of marriage for life.

After Jesus’ question and answer session with the Pharisees (Mt. 19:3-9; Mk. 10:2-9), Mark records Jesus’ interaction with the disciples. “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, NKJV).

Jesus speaks clearly and definitively concerning the permanence of marriage for life in his answers to the Pharisees (Mt. 19:4-6, 8-9; Mk. 10:5-9). However, marriage for life is a hard teaching for many, including Jesus’ disciples, who ask him to address it again (Mk. 10:10). Jesus reinforces his absolute teaching against divorce of a God-joined union and against marriage to another while the God-joined spouse lives (Mk. 10:11-12). Upon understanding God’s teaching concerning marriage for life as it has existed from the beginning, the disciples exclaim, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry” (Mt. 19:10, NKJV).

If Jesus had intended any exception to his teaching, he would have made such clear to his disciples since Mark records Jesus’ clarification of marriage, divorce and remarriage. Jesus’ teaching goes back to the way God designed marriage from the beginning. Those who wish to put an exception in Jesus’ teaching must also address why Jesus says the beginning answers both questions the Pharisees ask (Mt. 19:4-6, 8).

Additionally, Luke clearly records an earlier account of Jesus’ teaching concerning the permanence of marriage for life (Lk. 16:18) than Matthew’s or Mark’s account of Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees (Matthew 19; Mark 10). For 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.

If Jesus meant for there to be an exception to his teaching, why would the meticulous inspired Luke have failed to record it in his documentation of an earlier occasion? Jesus emphatically states, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery” (Lk. 16:18, NKJV).

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Should We Read Matthew as a Gentile or as a Jew?

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

When we read the Book of Matthew in the context of being written to Jews with the background of Hebrew Scripture, we realize we should approach the Book of Matthew with that knowledge and not as an uninformed Gentile.

With that understanding, we then turn to the question and answer discussion of Matthew 19. Jesus considered “every cause” (κατὰ πᾶσαν αἰτίαν: “for every cause,” Mt. 19:3) for which Jews divorced. Jesus then responded according to God’s Law (Mt. 19:4-6). Jews did not divorce for sexual immorality (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22; Mt. 19:9). 

Please see additional articles addressing the discussion of Matthew 19: https://timothysparks.com/marriage.

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Do Only Single People Commit Fornication?

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

Some maintain that married people cannot commit fornication. Do you think that all the following passages are directed only to single individuals since πορνεία (porneia, fornication) is used?

“Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood” (Acts 15:19-20, NASB).

“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell” (Acts 15:28-29, NASB).

“But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication” (Acts 21:25, NASB).

“Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall bring to nought both it and them. But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body” (1 Cor. 6:13, ASV).

“Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself” (1 Cor. 6:18, NRSV).

“lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced” (2 Cor. 12:21, NKJV).

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from fornication; that each one of you know how to control your own body in holiness and honor, not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thess. 4:3-5, NRSV).

“But I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her fornication. Beware, I am throwing her on a bed, and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great distress, unless they repent of her doings” (Rev. 2:20-22, NRSV).

“The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts” (Rev. 9:20-21, NRSV).

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What Does “Except” Mean in Mt. 19:9?

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

Many seem to believe that the word “except” always creates an “exception.” Perhaps this is especially true when it comes to Mt. 19:9. Along the same lines, there is a lot of confusion when many believe that “unless” (definition: “except if”) is a perfectly good synonym for “except” (definition: “excluding”). However, a study of the word “except” in English (and the Greek phrase mh epi1) may be helpful. As seen below in Merriam-Webster’s definition2, “except” can be used as a preposition, conjunction or verb:

preposition 

Definition of except for English Language Learners

: not including (someone or something) : other than (something or someone)

verb

Definition of except for English Language Learners

: to leave out (someone or something) : to not include (someone or something)

conjunction

Definition of except for English Language Learners

—used to introduce a statement that indicates the only person or thing that is not included in or referred to by a previous statement

—used to introduce a statement that explains the reason why something is not possible, will not happen, etc.

In the text of Mt. 19:9, epi (“over”) in the Greek phrase mh epi (“not over”) [as well as “except” in English] is used as a preposition, not as a conjunction. Therefore, we should not read “except” as a conjunction, which would create an exception to what Christ said. We should read “except” as a preposition, which is used to exclude fornication from the action of dismissal.3 Understanding the difference between a preposition and a conjunction can help us understand that Jesus was only addressing a dismissal that was “not over” (mh epi) fornication (a non-fornication dismissal).

If we wish to know the historical context of God’s law at the time Jesus spoke the words contained in Matthew 19, we can learn quickly that under Hebrew law (the law under which Christ lived and died), God stated the death penalty, not the divorce penalty for consensual sexual immorality (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:13-24). Jesus was in no way trying to create an exception to the rule he had previously concluded: “What therefore God united, a human do not divide” (Mt. 19:6, translation mine).4 Jesus was not trying to state something different than the way God established marriage in the beginning. Jesus clearly states concerning divorce: “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to dismiss your wives, but from the beginning it has not existed this way” (Mt. 19:8, translation mine).5

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1For further study of mh epi and “except,” please see the following articles:
2https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/except
3For a more technical analysis, please see Matthew 19:9 English Parallel to Greek Diagram.
4See also:
5For a brief study of Mt. 19:8 and the Greek perfect tense, please see: Bound for Life, Released Only by Death.

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The Name “Christian” (Acts 11:26)

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

Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the Gentiles is significant for our current study: “The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will name” (Is. 62:2, NKJV). After the Gentiles saw God’s righteousness (Acts 10), God called his people “Christians.” The NKJV renders Acts 11:26 as follows: “And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”

Notice the phrases “they assembled,” “taught” and “were called.” Digging a little deeper, all three Greek words are infinitives, the first is passive and the other two are active infinitives. Translated into English we have: “to be assembled,” “to teach” and “to call.” From the immediate context (vv. 22-25), it is Barnabas and Saul who “assembled,” “taught” and “called.” In the New Testament, the Greek word translated “to call” carries with it the force of a divine calling, so that while Barnabas and Saul applied the name, it came from God. God gave the name “Christians,” not the Lord’s enemies, contrary to a “popular opinion.” A more accurate translation is: “And it happened that for a whole year they assembled with the church, taught a considerable crowd, and divinely called the disciples Christians first in Antioch.” Three times the name occurs in Scripture (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16). It is alluded to at least once: “that noble name by which you are called” (Jas. 2:7).

Since the name always occurs in Scripture as a noun, never as an adjective, we would do well to “clean up” our terminology. No doubt, people will have a terribly hard time breaking the habit of using the name as an adjective, as in the following phrases: “Christian man,” “Christian woman,” “Christian College,” “Christian Church,” “Christian home,” “Christian books,” etc. So, I wouldn’t dare ask just anybody to give it an A+ effort . . . I’m just asking you. 🙂 Admittedly, I had a hard time “breaking the habit,” but with time and a willing attitude it can be done. In coaching distance running, I used to put it this way, “If there’s a will, there’s a way, and if there is no will, there is no way.” Do we think we can try harder to “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11)? Sure we can.

Far more attention needs to be given to what it really means to be a Christian. The Greek lexical definition is “a follower of Christ.” Sadly, many who were once part of Christ’s body no longer follow Christ. As a result, they are not Christians. To be a Christian one must be faithful to Christ. A Christian is a person who is going where Christ would go and is doing what Christ would do (Rom. 8:9).

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Colossians (Presentation)

Colossians (Presentation) https://timothysparks.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/colossians.pdf

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Philippians (Presentation)

Philippians

https://timothysparks.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/philippians.pdf

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