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 adultery."


            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 Lord.



Matt. 5:33-37


            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. 5:38-42


            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:


                        1.  Exo 21:24 "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot"

                        2.  Lev 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.

                        3.  Deu 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:


                        1.  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."

                        2.  Rom. 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 Lord."

                        3.  Deu. 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. 5:43-48


            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 his enemies:


                        1.  Rom. 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."


                        2.  Col. 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 his sight:"


            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 our sins.


            Therefore, by 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 cast lots." 


            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.