Matthew 5:27 says “you heard it said You shall not commit adultery.” Jesus is quoting from The Ten Commandments. What is this adultery and are there any clues to help us understand what the nature of the sin is? The Greek word is MOIKOUSEIS, μοιχεύσεις, “shall not commit adultery”. a declarative verb in the future tense.
Leviticus 20:10 says, “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress must surely be put to death.” The context shows that the nature of the sin is sexual. This is also evident by what Jesus follows up with, saying, “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Mt. 5:28.
To lust over a woman is adultery in the mind, the sexual sin, acted out in the mind. It is a sin. By Jesus words we understand the nature of the sin of adultery, that the law says we are not to commit.
DIVORCE CONTRIBUTES TO THE SIN OF ADULTERY
Many of the Jews had a casual, laissez-faire, attitude about marriage and ease of divorce. He quotes their go to verse in Deuteronomy 24 verse 1.
In contrast to this attitude many Jews had concerning marriage and divorce, Jesus shows the attitude of a true disciple saying, “It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, ἀπολύσῃ, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’;” Mt. 5:31. We know that Jesus is teaching a spiritual and mature perspective the Christians are to have on their approach to divorce which the unrighteous and carnal Jewish leaders did not exhibit.
What did Jesus say to enlighten the disciples?
Jesus said, “but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Mt.5:32.
So Moses did give the parameters for divorce. Again Deut. 24:1 says a man can give a certificate of divorce to his wife IF he finds something unseemly in her. This unseemliness is grounds for divorce and cannot be something trivial. If there is nothing unseemly about the wife, the man is in no position to divorce. It was believed that this word connotes something sexual and pictures nakedness in other places the word is used.
Unseemly, Hebrew ERWAT, out of the 52 or so times the word is used in the Old Testament, 48 translate “nakedness”. The Jews with a conservative approach to divorce held that the idea is that the husband found his wife was sexually immoral.
So Jesus calls attention to the allowance in the Law for divorce to occur, but He then gives the spiritual twist for His disciples. Jesus says if you divorce your wife you contribute to her committing adultery and the man who marries her also will be guilty of breaking the commandment, “you shall not commit adultery.
The spiritual turn Jesus gives is to show how the casual and cavalier attitude many had was unjustified and they were participants in the adultery the wife would commit should she marry another. This teaching of Jesus greatly curtails who can divorce and it also makes it clear that the future marriages by the wife would be sinful.
If we are spiritual, we have to tell people they have no grounds for divorce. Well, Jesus did give grounds for divorce, which happens to be the same as what the Law allowed, something unseemly, which is unfaithfulness by the spouse by her committing fornication. But divorces on the grounds of things like “irreconcilable differences” or something else non-sexual, will make the man giving the divorce papers to be a contributor to the future sin of adultery. This adultery only happens if she marries another.
Marry well and stay married. Most people have no grounds for divorce and cannot marry again. Protect your marriage..Live your spouse and be faithful because God will judge fornicators and adulterers, Heb. 13:4.