Matt. 5:31, 32
Matt. 5:31 "It hath
been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing
of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his
wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit
adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth
It was commonly
believed at that time that a man could put away his wife for any cause
and give her a writing of divorcement. The Lord dealt with this false
belief in the above passage and in Matt. 19:3 "The Pharisees also came
unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to
put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he answered and said unto them,
Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them
male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and
mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore, they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God
hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7 They say unto him, Why
did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her
away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts
suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not
so. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it
be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and
whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."
The Lord restricted
divorce to only one cause and that is fornication. Fornication is
broadly defined as harlotry, adultery, incest, sodomy, and premarital
sexual relations. Thus sexual infidelity towards ones spouse is the
only cause the Lord allowed for a lawful divorce. Furthermore, to
divorce for any other reason and remarry the Lord said is adultery as
well. In addition, the person who marries another who is divorced for
any reason other than sexual infidelity is an adulterer according to the
Matt. 5:33 "Again, ye
have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not
forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34 But I
say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's
throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by
Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou
swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is
more than these cometh of evil."
The word, "forswear,"
comes from the Greek, "epiorkeo," meaning "to commit perjury." In the
United States a person who gives testimony in a trial is required to
take an oath. Likewise, a person who enters into military service is
required to take an oath. In addition, a person who works for the
federal government is required to take an oath. Are these oaths wrong?
The answer is no that is not what the above passage is teaching.
What we must
understand is the Lord was dealing with a false belief among the people
that it was all right to lie, unless you had forsworn yourself. A
person under an oath was expected to tell the truth. What the Lord
seems to be teaching us is that we should be truthful in all of our
communications (Yea, yea; Nay, nay). To swear by something that belongs
to God, i.e., heaven, earth, city of the great King, etc. we have no
right to swear by. Also, to swear by something of ourself, such as our
head cannot change anything for we cannot make one hair black or white.
We are bound by the
commandment of God that says "thou shalt not bear false witness" and
taking an earth to perform that commandment is no greater bond than the
commandment already is.
Matt. 5:38 "Ye have
heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a
tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever
shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And
if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him
have thy cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go
with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would
borrow of thee turn not thou away."
The phrase "eye for
eye" is found three times in the Old Testament:
21:24 "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot"
24:20 "Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath
caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.
19:21 "And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for
eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."
The context of the
above scriptures is that they dealt with God's justice given to man to
exercise in his government of just recompense at law. This was
governmental recompense for crimes committed. Unfortunately, it had
become common belief that it was alright for men to avenge themselves
and used the "eye for eye" and "tooth for tooth" precept to justify
doing so. Clearly, the Lord warned us about taking personal vengeance:
19:18 "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children
of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the
12:19 "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto
wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the
32:35 "To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide
in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things
that shall come upon them make haste."
The Lord is the
avenger of evil. We are not to take vengeance into our own hands.
Furthermore, the Lord taught us that rather than resisting evil, we are
to reward evil with good. This is what verses 39 through 42 plainly
teach us. By turning the other cheek we are showing that we will not
resist evil. By giving them that take from us by law, we show that we
will do good to them regardless of their evil actions. By going the
extra mile with someone who has compelled us to go one mile, we are
showing we are willing to go with them rather than just being compelled
to go. By giving to those who would borrow from us we are going beyond
in our love toward them than what they could reasonably expect.
Matt. 5:43 "Ye have
heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate
thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that
curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children
of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the
evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the
publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye
more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore
perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
The Jewish people at
this time had taken to rationalization and thru their rationalization
they had added to the scriptures. The scriptures do indeed teach that
we are to "love thy neighbour:" Lev 19:18 "Thou shalt not avenge, nor
bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love
thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD." The Jews, however, had
rationalized that if you are supposed to love your neighbour, then you
should also hate your enemy. The Old Testament scriptures did not teach
us that we are to hate our enemies. The Lord was correcting this error
in the above passage.
The Lord went on to
tell us that not only are we not to hate our enemies, but we are to love
our enemies. The Lord has never taught us to do anything, but that he
has already set the example for us.
Children are to follow
the example of their Father. Let us see our Father's example that he
has set toward loving his enemies. The scriptures teach us that we were
5:8 "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by
his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when
we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,
much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."
1:21 "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by
wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh
through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in
When we were the very
enemies of God, both in our natural state and in our actions, God
reconciled us to himself by the death of his Son. Rather than hating us
because our actions, he manifest his love toward us and saved us from
following our heavenly Father's example, we are to love our enemies. We
are to bless them that curse us, even as our heavenly Father has blessed
us even when our vile mouths and actions spewed out cursings toward Him.
We are to do good to
them that hate us, even as our heavenly Father loved us and gave His
only begotten Son to die for us in our room and stead while we in our
fleshly nature were hating him.
We are to pray for
them that despitefully use us and persecute us, even as Jesus prayed for
those who crucified him: Luke 23:34 "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive
them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and
There are both evil
and good men that dwell on the earth at any time. At any given time,
there are those who are the elect of God who have also been born of the
Spirit. There are those who are the elect of God who have not yet been
born of the Spirit. There are those who are not of the elect of God who
will never be born of the Spirit. Yet God causes the sun to shine upon
both the evil and the good and causes the rain on the earth to bring
forth food to feed both the just and the unjust. We are to follow our
heavenly Father's example and love our enemies and not just those who
love us or who are of our kindred. If we just love them that love us
and do good to them that are our own relatives or brethren, what have we
done that even the very wicked have done likewise.
Rather we are to love
our enemies according to the example of our heavenly Father so that we
may be the children (manifest children) of our Father, which is in
heaven. Doing these things do not make us children, but rather loving
our enemies makes manifest that we are the children of God.