Context for this letter
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Context for this letter. Paul had arrived in Corinth to plant a church 5 years previously Paul spent at least 18 months in Corinth investing in this audience This audience was made up of real people with sincere questions about how to live for Christ in practical areas

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Context for this letter

Context for this letter

  • Paul had arrived in Corinth to plant a church 5 years previously

  • Paul spent at least 18 months in Corinth investing in this audience

  • This audience was made up of real people with sincere questions about how to live for Christ in practical areas

  • This audience was living in a culture vastly different from our own in many respects


Greco roman marriages

Greco-Roman Marriages

“Roman marriages were for the most part arranged and involved little personal choice on the part of the participants, at least among the prosperous. The disposition of property was all-important, and marriage became a means of enhancing one’s property and status. Hence, one often reads that a cardinal characteristic of good Roman marriages was concordia, a state of peace or harmony between husband and wife, rather than great love or affection.”


Greco roman marriages1

Greco-Roman Marriages

“Though life was better for women during the empire than during the earlier period of the Roman Republic, marriage was still basically an asymmetrical relationship with the husband wielding greater power and authority. . . The relationship between husband and wife was often much like that between father and daughter or uncle and niece, because a man was often considerably older than his wife.”


Greco roman marriages2

Greco-Roman Marriages

“Tacitus intimates that for various men he knew, what was really critical was the public image of the marriage, not its inner life, since in the Roman hierarchy of values what made a marriage good was that it was ‘a source of social distinction and an aid to advancement.’ This was a male-centered point of view, and it comports with public honor being part of the male ideology of the culture.”


Greco roman marriages3

Greco-Roman Marriages

“Unlike modern Christian practice, the basis of a Roman marriage was the intent to live together in a marital state. It did not require a formal ceremony, though many preferred to have one. Equally, there was no public legal act required to dissolve a Roman marriage. Normally divorce occurred when the husband declared the formula ‘take your things and go’. Women had the same rights to divorce as men, at least officially.”


Greco roman marriages4

Greco-Roman Marriages

“Whether because of work or because of arranged marriages, Romans frequently looked outside the home for pleasure and for much else that we would associate with home and family. . . Christian groups, which met in homes, would have appeared to the outsider like the clubs and associations that were formed to foster social relationships.”

-Conflict & Community in Corinth by Ben Witherington III


Additional background

Additional Background

  • Women were essentially trapped in their marriages through social & economic pressure

  • Corinth was full of intense sexual immorality (almost exclusively men…many husbands…)

  • If the leader of the household changed religions, then everyone in the household followed suit

  • Men needed total transformation in their view of sexuality, marriage, & divorce

  • Women also needed transformation & instruction because some of them had become believers without their husbands following suit


Background on us

Background on us?

  • Marriage is on the chopping block in our culture

    • Same-sex marriage debates

    • Highest divorce rates in the world

    • Many marriages nothing more than contractual co-habitation for child rearing

  • Marriage baggage abounds in this room

    • Divorce has impacted nearly all of us

    • Marriage tensions aplenty

    • Many are hurting, hurting people


What does the bible teach about divorce remarriage

What does the bible teach about divorce & remarriage?

1 Corinthians 7


1 cor 7 10 11

1 Cor. 7:10-11

10 I command the married—not I, but the Lord—a wife is not to leave her husband. 11 But if she does leave, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband—and a husband is not to leave his wife. 

  • Addressing married believers (context that follows addresses spiritually-divided marriages)

  • “not I, but the Lord”???

    • Paul does not need to give a new ruling because Jesus has already spoken about this issue


What did jesus say about divorce

What did Jesus say about divorce?

Matthew 5:31-3231 “It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce. 32 But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.


What did jesus say about divorce1

What did Jesus say about divorce?

Matthew 19:3-113 Some Pharisees approached Him to test Him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on any grounds?” 4 “Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female,” 5 and He also said: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.” 7 “Why then,” they asked Him, “did Moses command us to give divorce papers and to send her away?”


What did jesus say about divorce2

What did Jesus say about divorce?

8 He told them, “Mosespermitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning. 9 And I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” 10 His disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of a man with his wife is like this, it’s better not to marry!” 11 But He told them, “Not everyone can accept this saying, but only those it has been given to.


What did jesus say about divorce3

What did Jesus say about divorce?

Mark 10:10-1210 Now in the house the disciples questioned Him again about this matter. 11 And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12 Also, if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Luke 16:18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and everyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.


So does jesus permit divorce or not

So does Jesus permit divorce or not?

  • View #1 – “Yes, in cases of marital unfaithfulness. Mark & Luke should be interpreted in light of Matthew because Matthew gives more info.”

  • View #2 – “Not in the way that we understand divorce. We need to understand why Matthew contains this special phrase, but Mark & Luke do not.”


What is going on in matthew 19

What is going on in Matthew 19?

Matt. 19:3 Some Pharisees approached Him to test Him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on any grounds?”

  • Testing Jesus’ view on a hotly debated topic

    • Hillel – would allow a man to divorce his wife if she did anything he disliked, even burning his food

    • Shammai – would allow divorce only for marital unfaithfulness (sexual adultery)


What is going on in matthew 191

What is going on in Matthew 19?

Matt. 19:4-64 “Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female,” 5 and He also said: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”

  • Goes back to God’s original design (prior to sin) to elevate the purpose & permanence of marriage


What is going on in matthew 192

What is going on in Matthew 19?

Matt. 19:77 “Why then,” they asked Him, “did Moses command us to give divorce papers and to send her away?”


What is going on in matthew 193

What is going on in Matthew 19?

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (ESV)  “When a man takes a wifeand marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, 2 and if she goes and becomes another man's wife, 3 and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.

Matt. 19:77 “Why then,” they asked Him, “did Moses command us to give divorce papers and to send her away?”


Jewish marriage practices

Jewish Marriage Practices


Jewish marriage practices1

Jewish Marriage Practices

Betrothal

Wedding


Jewish marriage practices2

Jewish Marriage Practices

Betrothal

Wedding

Marriage


Observations

Observations

  • Family patriarch decides when betrothed

  • Once betrothed, are committed in marriage to the other in Jewish law & worldview

  • If find some indecency during betrothal(deceptive about dowry, etc.), then can “divorce”

  • “some indecency” ≠ sexual immorality

  • Moses (OT) knew nothing of sexual divorce (divorce after sexual consummation)


Deuteronomy 22 13 19

Deuteronomy 22:13-19

13 “If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then hates her 14 and accuses her of misconduct and brings a bad name upon her, saying, ‘I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her evidence of virginity,’ 15 then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate. 16 And the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to marry, and he hates her;17 and behold, he has accused her of misconduct, saying, “I did not find in your daughter evidence of virginity.”


Deuteronomy 22 13 191

Deuteronomy 22:13-19

And yet this is the evidence of my daughter's virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloak before the elders of the city. 18 Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip him, 19 and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name upon a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife. He may not divorce her all his days.


Deuteronomy 22 20 21

Deuteronomy 22:20-21

20 But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, 21 then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to deathwith stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father's house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.


Deuteronomy 22 22 24a

Deuteronomy 22:22-24a

22 “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel. 23 “If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones


Conclusion

Conclusion

  • If people had sex outside of marriage, they were killed!!!

    • “some indecency” cannot refer to sexual sin

  • Thus, the rabbis of Jesus’ day had totally misinterpreted the Deut. 24:1-4 text

    • Moses never gave reason for simply divorcing your wife once the marriage had been consummated sexually…


What is going on in matthew 194

What is going on in Matthew 19?

Matt. 19:8-98 He told them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning. 9 And I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”Testing Jesus’ view on a hotly debated topic


Why use the phrase except for sexual immorality

Why use the phrase “except for sexual immorality”?

  • The phrase is the Greek translation of the Hebrew for “some indecency” found in Deut. 24:1

    • The problem is that the word porneia has an explicit sexual meaning

  • Jesus uses the phrase more in the sense of “not even for sexual immorality”

    • The problem is that it is a huge leap to get the Greek words translated “except for” to mean “not even”

  • He means what it sounds like He means…

    • Divorce is permitted if your spouse has been sexually unfaithful. Does this view stand up?


  • What is going on in matthew 195

    What is going on in Matthew 19?

    Matt. 19:10-1110 His disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of a man with his wife is like this, it’s better not to marry!” 11 But He told them, “Not everyone can accept this saying, but only those it has been given to.


    Why do the disciples react so strongly to what jesus says

    Why do the disciples react so strongly to what Jesus says?

    • If He meant that sexual unfaithfulness permits one to divorce a spouse then He would have been saying the same thing both of the popular rabbinical schools were saying

      • Nothing shocking about this…to be expected…

  • If He is ruling out divorce for any reason then this would certainly provoke a strong reaction

    • It is just hard to get the actual words to say this

  • It is clear that Jesus was raising the bar to a place that seemed overwhelming to His hearers


  • More data

    More data…

    • Remember that in Deuteronomy there were provisions made for dealing with sexual immorality & marital unfaithfulness

    • Jesus’ (and Paul’s) audience were not able to follow through with these OT instructions

    • Remember that Paul is addressing believing couples (and restating/applying Jesus’ instructions specifically to believing couples)

    • Notice that the Deuteronomy & Gospel texts address men exclusively


    More data1

    More data…

    • Notice Paul’s text primarily addresses women

      • 1 Cor. 7:10-1110 I command the married—not I, but the Lord—a wife is not to leave her husband. 11 But if she does leave, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband—and a husband is not to leave his wife. 

      • Why does Paul go out of his way to address believing women?

        • Because some were doing it!

        • Because even Christian Corinthian males were struggling with sexual immorality


    More data2

    More data…

    • Remember that Paul believed in the transformative power of the Gospel & the church

      • He just wrote them about the value of church discipline

      • He really believed that change could occur & did not want couples to give up too quickly

      • 1 Cor. 7:12-1312 But I (not the Lord) say to the rest: If any brother has an unbelieving wife and she is willing to live with him, he must not leave her. 13 Also, if any woman has an unbelieving husband and he is willing to live with her, she must not leave her husband.


    Clear conclusions

    Clear Conclusions

    • The unquestioned biblical ideal is committed, exclusive marriage for life

    • Divorce has devastating, ongoing effects & is never an ideal option

    • God has the power to transform even the worst marriages


    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce remarriage

    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce & remarriage

    • Jesus’ teaching was radical

      • Divorce is permitted in the betrothal period, but only for blatant sexual immorality (not just for petty “indecencies”)

      • Divorce is not permitted after the marriage has been consummated because marriage is a sacred covenant

      • His purpose was not only to give a correct interpretation of the text but to challenge men to develop healthy, self-giving marriages


    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce remarriage1

    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce & remarriage

    • Paul’s teaching applied Jesus’ radical teaching to all Christian believers

      • Don’t turn to divorce when difficulties arise (once the marriage is consummated)

      • Rather, turn to God & the church together

        • Get help together

        • Don’t have death penalty to deal with sexual unfaithfulness or other issues

        • Do have grace of God, Holy Spirit, & the church of Jesus Christ!


    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce remarriage2

    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce & remarriage

    • Paul’s teaching applied Jesus’ radical teaching to all Christian believers

      • If one believing spouse won’t seek change, then the church is responsible to act

      • Bring discipline

        • Admonishment & rebuke

        • Excommunication (treat like an unbeliever)


    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce remarriage3

    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce & remarriage

    • Paul’s teaching applied Jesus’ radical teaching to all Christian believers

      • If discipline does not work, the believing spouse is still to remain in the marriage

        • Will require incredible help from the believing community (very difficult)

        • Separation may be needed


    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce remarriage4

    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce & remarriage

    • Paul’s teaching applied Jesus’ radical teaching to all Christian believers

      • If the unrepentant believing spouse wants to get out & divorce, the other spouse is free of any sin

        • Unrepentant one is acting like & should be treated like an unbeliever

        • If there is genuine evidence that the unrepentant one is a believer, then I think it is wise for the walking believer to stay single so as to keep the door of reconciliation open


    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce remarriage5

    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce & remarriage

    • Paul’s teaching applied Jesus’ radical teaching to all Christian believers

      • If the unrepentant believing spouse remarries, then the other spouse is free to re-marry as well because reconciliation is now impossible

        • “death” of a marriage similar to freedom given to re-marry if widowed or if unbelieving spouse divorces you because of Christ


    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce remarriage6

    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce & remarriage

    • What about a physically abusive marriage?

      • Not addressed directly, but principles apply to an extent…

      • If possible, still pursue reconciliation but…

        • Protect self & children!

        • Get out & separate

        • Get others involved directly

      • If severe & life-threatening go to police

      • Demand sustained repentance & observable change before entrusting self again


    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce remarriage7

    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce & remarriage

    • Marriage is intended to be a transformative picture of how God relates with us


    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce remarriage8

    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce & remarriage

    • Eph. 5:25-3225 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. 27 He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 since we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. 32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.

    • Marriage is intended to be a transformative picture of how God relates with us


    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce remarriage9

    My interpretation of the biblical view of divorce & remarriage

    • Rev. 19:6-96 Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying: Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty, has begun to reign! 7 Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself. 8 She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure. For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, “Write: Those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb are fortunate!” He also said to me, “These words of God are true.”

    • Marriage is intended to be a transformative picture of how God relates with us


    Some messy applications

    Some Messy Applications

    • “What if I am divorced in a way that violated these truths?”

      • Embrace repentance & grace

      • Pursue reconciliation if it is still possible!

      • If reconciliation is impossible then focus on becoming God’s man or woman


    Some messy applications1

    Some Messy Applications

    • “What if I am already remarried, but did so in a way that violated these truths?”

      • Embrace repentance & grace with your current spouse

      • Zealously pursue building your marriage in Christ


    Some messy applications2

    Some Messy Applications

    • “What if I am married (never divorced) or single (never divorced)?”

      • Build your life and marriage in Christ

      • “Divorce-proof” your current or potential future marriage by cultivating grace & self-giving love into your life


    Some messy applications3

    Some Messy Applications

    • For all of us…

      • We have a special opportunity & calling in our culture to intentionally care for those who have gone through the devastation of divorce

        • The former couple

        • Kids

      • Goal is to help all of us lay hold of grace!

        • Remember Romans 8:1


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