Questions about Divorce
1After Jesus finished teaching them, he left Galilee and made his way toward the district of Judea, east of the Jordan River. 2Massive crowds followed him and he healed all who were sick. # 19:2 As translated from the Hebrew Matthew. 3The Pharisees were intent on putting Jesus to the test with difficult questions, so they approached him and asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce # 19:3 The Greek word used for divorce (apolyo) here and in this chapter can also mean “to loose,” “to dismiss,” “to send away.” his wife for any reason?” # 19:3 This a clever test by the Pharisees. Jesus was now in Judea and under the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas, the one who had John beheaded over challenging his divorce. They were hoping Jesus would say something that could get him arrested and killed by Herod. Their question was based on Deut. 24:1. Jewish divorce law had a “for any reason” clause that made divorce legal. They were pressing Jesus for his interpretation of this “for any reason” law.
4“Haven’t you read the Scriptures about creation?” Jesus replied. “The Creator made us male and female from the very beginning, # 19:4 See Gen. 1:27; 5:2. Notice that Jesus highlights gender difference in the context of marriage. 5and ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and live with his wife. # 19:5 Or “cling to his wife.” And the two will become one flesh.’ # 19:5 See Gen. 2:24. 6From then on, they are no longer two, but united as one. So what God unites let no one divide!”
7They responded, “So then why did Moses command us to give a certificate of divorce and it would be lawful?”
8Jesus said, “Moses permitted you to divorce because your hearts are so hard and stubborn, # 19:8 That is, in a fallen world with frail human beings, God allowed divorce to accommodate broken humanity. Jesus restates divorce as being permitted only in the case of immorality. Adultery breaks the bond of marriage and requires God’s healing grace. Those testing Jesus were attempting to trap him by getting him to say something against Moses, their venerated historical leader. but originally there was no such thing. 9But I say to you, whoever leaves his wife for any reason other than immorality, then takes another wife is living in adultery. And whoever takes a divorced woman in marriage is also living in adultery.” # 19:9 As translated from the Hebrew Matthew, Aramaic, and some Greek manuscripts. The majority of Greek manuscripts do not include the last sentence.
10His disciples spoke up and said, “If this is the standard, then it seems better to never get married.”
11“Not everyone is meant to remain single—only those whom God gives grace to be unmarried. # 19:11 Or “This doesn’t apply to everyone, but only to those to whom it [grace for singleness]has been given.” 12For some are born to celibacy; others have been made eunuchs by others. And there are some who have chosen to live in celibacy for the sacred purpose of heaven’s kingdom realm. # 19:12 Three types of “celibates” are mentioned. First, there are those who from birth have grace to remain celibate. Second, sometimes a male was castrated, usually before puberty, which would greatly affect the hormonal changes of a boy becoming an adult. In biblical times, these eunuchs were chosen to be male servants of a king, having been castrated in order to ensure they don’t have sex with the king’s harem. Third, this is a metaphorical class of people (male and female) who are like “spiritual eunuchs,” having been chosen to never use the bride of Christ for their own purposes. Jesus gives us a parable of God’s servants who will lead the church but never harm or use the bride of Christ for their own desires. They will always point the bride to her Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. They have made themselves “eunuchs” and are determined to extend God’s kingdom, not their own. The rare Greek verb for “make themselves eunuchs” can also refer to being “always watchful, sleepless, diligent.” To become a “spiritual eunuch” has nothing to do with sex, but with always watching out for the interests of our King, and not taking for ourselves what only belongs to him in order to serve our own desires. Let those who can, accept this truth for themselves.”
Jesus and Little Children
13Then they brought little children to Jesus so that he would lay his hands on them, bless them, and pray for them. # 19:13 See Gen. 48:14. But the disciples scolded those who brought the children, saying, “Don’t bother him with this now!”
14Jesus overheard them and said, “I want little children to come to me, so never interfere with them when they want to come, for heaven’s kingdom realm is composed of beloved ones # 19:14 As translated from the Aramaic, which uses the word for “beloved,” found only twice in the New Testament. The Greek is “little children.” God receives little children into his kingdom. like these! Listen to this truth: No one will enter the kingdom realm of heaven unless he becomes like one of these!” # 19:14 As translated from the Hebrew Matthew. This last sentence is missing in the Greek text. 15Then he laid his hands on each of them and went on his way.
A Rich Young Man Questions Jesus
16Then a young man approached Jesus and bowed before him, # 19:16 As translated from the Hebrew Matthew. This is missing from the Majority Text. saying, “Wonderful teacher # 19:16 As translated from the Aramaic, which uses the word tawa, meaning “wonderful, good, gifted.” Some Greek manuscripts have only “teacher” (rabbi). —is there a good work I have to do to obtain eternal life?”
17Jesus answered, “Why would you call me wonderful? God alone is wonderful. # 19:17 At least one of the earliest Greek manuscripts reads “There is no one good but my Father in the heavens.” And why would you ask what good work you need to do? Keep the commandments and you’ll enter into the life of God.”
18“Which ones?” he asked.
Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, 19honor your father and mother, and love those around you as you love yourself.” # 19:19 See Ex. 20:12–17; Lev. 19:18. Notice that Jesus left out the commandment “Don’t covet.” He addresses this with the young man in v. 21 and exposes the need to abandon all to follow Jesus.
20“But I’ve always obeyed every one of them without fail,” the young man replied. “What else do I lack?”
21Jesus said to him, “If you really want to be perfect, # 19:21 Or “fully developed morally,” “mature.” go now and sell everything you own. Give your money to the poor and your treasure will be transferred into heaven. Then come back and follow me for the rest of your life.”
22When the young man heard these words, he walked away sad, # 19:22 The Hebrew Matthew reads “angry.” for he had great wealth.
23Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “Listen. Do you understand how difficult it is for the rich to enter into heaven’s kingdom realm? 24In fact, it’s easier to stuff a heavy rope # 19:24 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “to stuff a camel through the eye of a needle.” The Aramaic word for both “rope” and “camel” is the homonym gamla. This could be an instance of the Aramaic text being misread by the Greek translators as “camel” instead of “rope.” Regardless, this becomes a metaphor for something impossible. It would be like saying, “It’s as hard as making pigs fly!” See also Luke 18:25. through the eye of a needle than it is for the wealthy to enter into God’s kingdom realm!”
25Stunned and bewildered, his disciples asked, “Then who in the world can possibly be saved?”
26Looking into their eyes, Jesus replied, “Humanly speaking, no one, because no one can save himself. But what seems impossible to you is never impossible to God!”
27Then Peter blurted out, “Here we are. We’ve given up everything to follow you. What reward will there be for us?”
28Jesus responded, “Listen to the truth: In the age of the restoration of all things, # 19:28 Or “in the second birth” (Hebrew Matthew) or “in the new realm” (Aramaic). The Greek word palingenesia is only used one other time in the New Testament (Titus 3:5) and refers to our rebirth. See also Acts 3:21; 2 Cor. 5:17; Rev. 3:21. when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will have twelve thrones of your own, and you will govern # 19:28 Or “judge.” the twelve tribes of Israel. 29For anyone who has left behind their home and property, # 19:29 Or “fields.” leaving family—brothers or sisters, mothers or fathers, # 19:29 The Aramaic and a few Greek manuscripts include “or wife.” The majority of reliable Greek manuscripts do not include it. or children—for my sake, they will be repaid a hundred times over and will inherit eternal life. 30But many who push themselves to be first will find themselves last. And those who are willing to be last will find themselves to be first.” # 19:30 Or “Many of the first ones will be last and many of the last ones will be first.”