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Vol.  9  No. 7 July 2007  Page 16
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Mike BensonWhat About Matthew 19:9?

By Mike Benson

    Question: “Did Jesus merely restate the Law of Moses in Matthew 19:9, or did he actually give a new law of his own? Since he taught this while the Old Law was in effect, is this passage applicable to us today? What do you think?”

    Answer: These are very important questions. Rather than pursuing my opinion, let’s study this passage and reason together:

    Jesus taught, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality [fornication-KJV], and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9). It is clear that Jesus was teaching something very different from the Old Testament law. Note the following contrasts:

1.        The Law of Christ permits divorce on the grounds of sexual infidelity; the Law of Moses permitted divorce for an “unseemly thing.” “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 [unseemly thing-ASV] in her; then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house” (Deuteronomy 24:1 KJV.)

2.          The Law of Christ forbids an adulterer to remarry; the Law of Moses commanded that an adulterer be put to death. “If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil person from Israel” (Deuteronomy 22:22).

3.               The Law of Christ is intended for “whoever”-Jews and Gentiles, or everyone this side of the cross (Matthew 28:19-20); the Law of Moses was intended only for the Jews (Deuteronomy 5:3; 1 Chronicles 22:13).

     While Jesus, in fact, lived under the Old Law (Galatians 4:4), he gave this legislation concerning divorce in anticipation of the time when his new law would go into effect in his [then] coming church/kingdom (Matthew 16:18-19; Mark 9:1; Colossians 2:14.) “Now Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23).

     Yes, Matthew 19:9 is, in fact, applicable to us today. “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him-the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48; 17:4-5).
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