Matthew 5:32 and the Adultery by the 2nd Man: There are Sinful Marriages, DM


Some marriages are unscriptural according to many verses, but particularly from what Jesus says in Matthew 5:32. In the verse, the innocent woman is unjustly put away. Yet Jesus says the husband makes her to commit adultery. The sin of adultery is committed by her only if she does something. The something is to remarry. And Jesus goes on to say to the 2nd man that if he marries her, he ALSO commits adultery. This sin on the part of the second man is possible only because the marriage is not recognized by God. To marry such a put away woman is sinful. You cannot marry her. She cannot marry either. Do not commit adultery. There are sinful marriages.

Moses was old law. That was direction for hard-hearted people. The divorce was allowed only in extreme case as Shammai camp rightly understood. The Hillel camp allowed divorce (and remarriage) for any cause. But in Deuteronomy, the woman twice married could not go back to the first husband. It is another example of a forbidden marriage. The first husband could not take her back. It was a forbidden marriage for him. Today, we do not use Deut. 24 as our guidance as Jesus even said, “You have heard it said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE‘, but I say unto you….” Jesus is clearly differentiating the original “from the beginning” from the hard-hearted approach the Pharisees took on divorce. What was from the beginning was marriage for life and what God joined together “let no one” (a command) separate.

The metaphorical meaning of a word is determined by the literal meaning of the word.

In Matthew 5:32, the woman is not merely guilty of unfaithfulness. How did she become unfaithful? The last phrase shows that the 2nd man who marries her is also guilty. Of what? Adultery. It is not unfaithfulness on his part. He wasn’t married to the first husband. She clearly married and shared a marriage bed with him. That is how they both commit adultery.

Again, the metaphorical meaning of the Greek for adultery is determined by the literal, not the other way around. Passages like Mt 12:39; James 4:4; Mt. 16:4 are metaphorical uses of adultery because the people have turned away from God, their “husband/groom” (Isa. 54:5; Eph. 5:25ff). They were unfaithful because they metaphorically went to bed with the world and false gods.

Terms like fight, dance, wink, sex, drink, eat, drive, write, and even adultery, and like terms have literal and metaphorical meanings.

To fight the good fight. To dance with the devil. To wink at sin. To drink the blood and eat the flesh. To drive the team. To commit adultery with pagan gods. We only understand the meaning of these terms in their context by understand the literal meaning.

The false teachers on the divorce and remarriage issue try to redefine adultery to be a one time act of ‘unfaithfulness” or “breaking of the covenant”. But that does not square with the literal meaning of the term. As a figure of speech, spiritual adultery is having sex with false gods and being unfaithful to the true husband, God. Even the adultery in the heart is the lustful acting out of the literal sex act. 

Do not listen to those who stand with the Pharisees who justified divorce for any cause. They who tested Jesus in Matthew 19 were hard-hearted. But just read what Jesus replies to them that you clearly may not divorce for any cause and if you remarry, you commit adultery.

Every faithful teacher will have to tell people there are times they cannot marry. This is not forbidding of marriage. This is forbidding of sinful marriage. To close, look again at Matthew 5:32 and ask why that man in the last phrase commits adultery. How does he commit adultery unless the marriage bond between the first husband and wife are still intact?

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