Monday, October 16, 2017

Hard Nut Questions For Hardshells

These are simple questions for Christians. They are not simple questions for Hardshell cultists.

1. Is faith necessary for eternal salvation?
2. What is faith?

Conviction - Evidence of New Birth?

Wrote Samuel Rutherford:

"All these foregoing endeavors and sweatings, being void of faithcannot please God, Heb. 11:6. These who act in the strength of them are yet in the flesh, and not in the Spirit, and so can do nothing acceptable to God, being yet out of Christ, Rom. 8:8, John 15:4-6. And the tree being corrupt, the fruit must be sour, and naught; humiliationsorrow for sindispleasure with ourselves, that go before conversion, can be no formal parts of conversion..."

"Those are not moral preparations which we perform beforeconversion, nor have they any promise of Christ annexed to them, as, He that is humbled under sin shall be drawn to Christ, or He that wisheth the Physician, shall be cured and called to repentance. We read of no such promise in the word..."

"Many have storms of conscience, as Cain and Judas, who go never one step further. When, therefore, Antinomians impute to us that we teach, That to desire to believe is faith, or desire to pray is prayer, they foully mistake. For raw desires, and wishes after conversion and Christ, are to us no more conversion, and the soul's being drawn to Christ, than Esau's weeping for the blessing was the blessing, or Balaam's wish to die the death of the righteous was the happy end of such as die in the Lord..."

"The humiliation and sorrow for sin, and desire of the Physician, by way of merit, or having the favor of a gospel promise, do no more render a soul nearer to Christ and saving grace, than the want of these dispositions..."  (As cited by me here)

Wrote Stephen Charnock:

"The soul must be beaten down by conviction before it be raised up by regeneration; there must be some apprehensions of the necessity of it. Yet sometimes the work of regeneration follows so close upon the heels of these precious preparations, that both must be acknowledged to be the work of one and the same hand."  (As cited by me here)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Good Policy

I agree with the following statement:

"I have a policy of not answering ambush questions. There's no right answer to the wrong question. I reserve the right to reformulate trick questions, loaded questions." (Steve Hays - see here)

I try to always answer legitimate questions, but I will not be gullible. I also ask a lot of questions, all designed to help a person reach the right conclusion, or the truth.

A Critique of a Pb Statement of Faith

The web page for Franklin Primitive Baptist Church or Thompson Memorial Primitive Baptist Church (see here), the church founded by father, there are these three statements of faith.

"The Primitive Baptists believe that if you have a fear of God and are mournful over your sins that you are showing evidence that God has already done something for you that is wonderful…being born again!"

This is what father believed, after he fell into Hardshell errors. It is also what most modern "Primitive Baptists" profess to believe. However, it is not the belief of the oldest Baptist churches nor is it biblical. I have written on this subject extensively, showing how heretical and harmful it is. See these postings:

On Conviction I
On Conviction II
On Conviction III
Wilson Thompson on Conviction
What Do You Say?
Hardshells Make The Spirit A Liar

On whether fear of God is in itself an evidence of rebirth, see these postings:

Hardshell Proof Texts X
The Gospel...
Fearing God

Next, the web page says:

"Many people teach that you have to accept the gift of eternal life, in order to make the atonement of Jesus Christ effective. We’re here to tell you that the gift of eternal life was already chosen, before the foundation of the world, for a great multitude of people. (Eph 1:4-6)"

I also have written much against the ideas put forth in these words. See these postings:

Hardshell Prayers
Hermeneutical Problems For Hardshells V
Saved By Faith?
Hermeneutical Problems For Hardshells VI
Hermeneutical Problems For Hardshells III
Demolishing Hardshell Reasoning

The idea that one can "have" eternal life without having "received" or "accepted" it! Absurd! The idea that men who reject eternal life have it any way! Universalism!

Next, the web page says:

"Eternal Salvation is a gift from God, not of man and certainly not of works. If you have to believe the gospel in order to be saved, that is a work! Believing and accepting that Jesus Christ died for your sins, is a work. Only Gods grace, delivered by the Holy Spirit, can save the dead sinner and bring him/her to spiritual life. (Eph 2:8-10)"

What a false dilemma is set up here! Faith is works! Salvation is not by faith for by grace excludes by faith! In response to this false proposition, see these postings:

Hardshell Presuppositions
Oliphant vs Pence

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Thoughts About Father

My father, Eddie K. Garrett Sr., passed away about a year and a half ago and I have thought of him many times. The Lord willing, I will meet him again in the third heaven. I have written some already about father, and my relationship with him. I have spoken of the things that we agreed upon as well as those we did not agree on. In this posting, I want to share some additional thoughts about him.

Father was firmly dedicated to his Christian faith. I am so glad that he was. I know he is in heaven because he was a "true believer" in the Bible, and in what it taught about God and about the world he created. Father did not miss going to church. In about sixty years of going to church I think he missed Sunday service one time, when he had open heart surgery. Bible study, praying, evangelizing, and other such Christian practices, were habit for father. They were not hobbies and sidelines.

When I think of the words that best describe father's Christian faith, his beliefs and practices, yea, his "spirit," these come first to mind: dogmatic, staunch, strict, intolerant, firm, resolute, unwavering, unmoved, uncompromising, hard-shell, stubborn, persevering, resilient, bold. I think of these words and I study them. I think - why did I not include love, mercy, gentleness, meekness, goodness, kindness, tolerance, etc., in the list? Did father not show these qualities? Yes, he did. Stories flood my mind when I think of the many times father exhibited those qualities and spirit. Father could be a lamb as well as a lion.

Father was at one time a believer in the very doctrines that I now hold dear. It was not till he converted to Hardshellism in the mid 60s that he began to seriously alter his beliefs on several important areas of bible doctrine. I have often considered how things would have been different for both him and me had he remained a sovereign grace missionary Baptist. I have also often thought about the reasons why father forsook the truth he once believed in order to embrace Hardshell heresies. Here are some of my responses to these questions.

Had father remained with the real primitive Baptists, the old time predestinarian Baptists, what would have been the results for his ministerial labors and for his religious beliefs?

Had father remained a sovereign grace Missionary Baptist


1. He would have been spared becoming a member of a cult.
2. He would have been kept from the "damnable heresies" of the Hardshells.
3. He would have been instrumental in the salvation of many more souls.
4. He would have experienced greater Christian growth.
5. The church he founded and pastored would have grown larger in number.
6. He would have preached the gospel to sinners.
7. He would have been spared all the trouble that came to him by the leaders of the cult.
8. His preaching would have been more Christ centered than church centered.
9. He would have been happier.
10. He would have been more gentle and forbearing.


1. He would not have preached as much among churches other than his own.
2. He would not have enjoyed as much praise and recognition among the Missionary churches.
3. His standing among his brethren would have been less, having more competition for position.

I have stated in my book on the Hardshells how that I believe that father was attracted to the cult because he felt like he would be more utilized among the Hardshells. I think he saw how elder Bradley was welcomed and given numerous opportunities to preach and desired the same. He saw his entrance into the Hardshell cult as a way for him to enlarge his labors, which were geared more to debating and apologetics than to soul winning.

Had father remained a Missionary Baptist, then it would have affected my life. I would not have become a Hardshell. I would not have married my first wife (who was a Hardshell). I would perhaps have gone to seminary, become a Missionary Baptist preacher, and then who knows how many other things would have been different?

Father believed in the five points of Calvinism as a Missionary Baptist. I would have embraced that just as I did as a Hardshell. Father believed in the perseverance of the saints as I do now. Father believed that regeneration and conversion occurred together, and that the preached word was the means, as I do now. Father also believed in the predestination of all things as I do now.

I remember listening to the debate that father had with Howard See of the "Church of Christ" back in the mid sixties, a year or so before he converted to Hardshellism. That debate was excellent! He preached and ably defended the very truths that I now hold dear, and are the very truths that the real "Primitive Baptists" have historically confessed. I use to ask father to send me that old debate (an old reel to reel) but he never would let me have it after I left the PBs!

I love my father and forgive him for having taught me errors in doctrine. He is in heaven and now holds to no errors. I rejoice in the great truths he did not turn away from but I will always regret his choice to join the Hardshells.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Problem in Interpretation

"But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat." (I Cor. 5: 11 KJV)

Many years ago I had great difficulty in regard to this passage. In a church in which I was a member we had a man and wife who were members and one of them (the wife) came under the condemnation of the church and the church was forced to deal with her after the manner prescribed by the apostle in the above passage. Each member of the church was forbidden "to eat" with that censured member, or to have fellowship with her. The problem? Was this to be done by the woman's husband? If it was, then was he forbidden to eat with his wife? To have fellowship with her? Some in the church thought that the husband was to obey the apostolic command. Others thought that it was not applicable to the husband, for if it was, then the husband doing so would mean that the husband could no longer obey the scripture's teaching on how a husband should treat his wife.

The issue becomes even more acute when the woman is excluded. The members of the church are to shun such a person and not to have any dealings with that member. But, how could the woman's husband obey such a command without violating his marital vows?

I concluded, though not without some struggles, that the husband could not refuse to eat with his excluded wife. Thus, the rule had an exception. The members should shun the woman, not eat with her, etc., but this could not be the case with the husband.

Some others disagreed, thinking that the woman's exclusion actually gave the man the right to divorce his wife. What think ye?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hardshells & The Adultery Question VII

In this posting we will begin to look at other places in the Gospels where Jesus taught on the subject of marriage and divorce. In "7. The Teaching of Jesus on Divorce — (Matthew 19:3-12, Mark 10:2-12)" (see here) Professor Luck wrote the following under the title "Second Confrontation with the Pharisees on the Morality of Divorce." He begins this subsection with the the words “Is It Lawful For A Man To Divorce His Wife For Any Reason?” (Matthew 19:3-12/Mark 10:2-12)." It is a good introduction to this posting that begins with a study of other passages in the Gospels that give the words of the Lord Jesus Christ on the subject of divorce, adultery, and remarriage. We will be giving attention to the two passages mentioned by Luck.

Wrote Professor Luck (emphasis mine):

"Our Lord’s primary teaching on divorce was in His great Sermon preached on a mountain to his disciples (Matthew 5). The focus of that was that men who treacherously divorce their wives in order to marry other woman or who are a party to breaking up someone else’s marriage in order to claim the newly released woman are guilty of adultery in the eyes of His Father. Subsequent to that He had an interchange with the Pharisees (Luke 16) in which He reaffirmed those teachings in an illustration showing to the religious leaders that they were poor stewards of God’s Law, especially as it related to its divorce teachings. We come now to an event, twice recorded (Matthew 19 and Mark 10) in which the Pharisees came to Jesus and queried Him about his beliefs regarding the subject. On most understandings of the chronology of the life of Christ, this confrontation is thought to come after the Sermon, and likely after the confrontation over stewardship. While Jesus says more in this dialogue than in the other incidents, many commentators focus upon it, reducing the prior teachings almost to a footnote. Heth/Wenham’s Jesus and Divorce is an example. It is a study of alternative views of the exception clause as found in Matthew 19:9. I believe the reverse, that this is a footnote on the Sermon, which Jesus would not have spoken, had the Pharisees not confronted Him on the matter."

I agree with Luck that the other passages in the Gospels are to be seen as enlargements of what Jesus previously taught in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5: 31-32.

Wrote Luck:

"Having studied exhaustively the teaching of the Lord in Matthew 5: 31-32, we will now turn our attention to other texts in the gospels that also give his teachings on the subject of divorce and remarriage. First, we will begin with Mark 10: 11-12 which in the KJV reads as follows:

"And he said unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery." 

We will begin looking at the first statement in the Mark passage - “Whosoever shall put away (divorce) his wife, and marry another, commits adultery against her." This verse will be compared with Matthew 5:31a and the words - "whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, Causeth her to commit adultery." In what way are these sayings alike? How are they different?

Comparing Mark 10:11 & Matt. 5:31a

Matt. 5:31a - "whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, Causeth her to commit adultery."

Mark 10:11 - "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her."


Both passages

1. focus on the husband and his adultery and
2. have him unjustly and treacherously putting away (or divorcing) his wife and
3. have the man as the active one in the actions of divorce and adultery and
4. have the woman as a passive recipient of the above actions and
5. view the wife as an innocent victim who suffers as a direct result of her husband's action and
6. identify unlawful divorce and remarriage as examples of adultery


But, they are different because

1) Matt. 5:32a does not mention the husband marrying another (although it assumes it), and
2) Matt. 5: 32a does not as clearly say that the husband commits adultery (Mark 10:11 says that he "commits adultery") and
3) Mark 10: 11 says that the husband's adultery is committed "against" his wife (Matt. 5:32a says this indirectly in the words "makes her the victim of adultery") and
4) there is no exception clause in Mark 10:11 ("except it be for fornication")

As stated previously, Mark 10:11 makes illegal and treacherous divorce to be adulterous as did Matt. 5: 32b. Notice that the passage in Mark says that the man does two things that make him guilty of committing adultery. He 1) illegally divorces his wife and 2) marries another. Notice that in these two conditions there is no direct mention of sexual intercourse. Divorce does not involve it, for that is a legal proceeding. "Marrying" also does not directly involve it, as I showed in the previous posting. It will likely lead to it, of course, but Christ did not say "whoever divorces his wife, and marries another, and has sex with his new wife on the honeymoon."

When a man unlawfully divorces his wife in order to marry another, he commits adultery "against her" because he is making her the victim of his sin, separating what God has joined together. His act is sin "against" God and his law and "against" his wife.

Matthew 5:32a showed that one is guilty of committing adultery against his spouse when he divorces unlawfully, and this is so even if he does not remarry, because adultery is committed by unlawful divorce. A good paraphrase reading would be - “Whoever divorces his wife unlawfully to marry someone else makes his ex-wife the victim of his adultery.”

Wrote Luck:

"Nonetheless, there was within Jesus’ words a rather shocking implication. Jesus was saying that the man who took advantage of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and put away his wife was really guilty of the sin of adultery—though sexuality was not involved."

This is what many miss seeing in the teaching of Christ.

The Indictment of Wives

Mark 10:12 also indicts the woman who divorces her husband. Jesus added:

“And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

This harmonizes with Matthew 5:32b

The best translations of Matthew 5:32b show that it is the woman who unlawfully divorces her husband (for the purpose of becoming someone else's wife) who sins in remarriage. A good translation says - "And if a woman divorces her husband unlawfully in order to marry another man, she commits adultery.” There is then complete harmony between the Mark and the Matthew passages in regard to what they say about the woman who divorces her husband.

If we put Mark 10: 11 together with Matthew 5: 31a we have this:

"whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, makes her the victim of his adultery and if he marry another, he commits adultery against her."

Comparing Mark 10:12 & Matt. 5:31b

Mark 10:12 - “And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”  (KJV)

Matt. 5:31b - "and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." (KJV)

Having compared Mark 10:11 with Matthew 5: 31a and noted the similarities and differences, we will now compare Mark 10:12 with Matthew 5:31b. Mark 10:11 parallels Matthew 5:31a and Mark 10:12 parallels Matthew 5:31b. By comparing the above two clauses of Mark 10:12 and Matthew 5:31b, we see how they are more alike than different. This is seen especially if we give a better translation (than the KJV) to the Matthew 5:31b clause.

Mark 10:12 - “And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”  (KJV)

Matt. 5:31b - “And if someone marries a woman who herself has divorced (then) he himself is committing adultery.”

It needs to be pointed out how in Mark 10:12 the clause is given its own numbered verse status by Robert Stephanus (who in the mid sixteenth century gave us our verse divisions) but not so in the Matthew passage. Why make the words of Mark 10:12 a separate numbered "verse" in the one case but not in the other? Further, had Stephanus made Matthew 5: 31b a separate "verse" as he did with the clause in Mark, what would this say about the interpretation of the words of the text? And, how would this affect interpretation?

In our previous writings I have given good reasons why the two clauses in Matthew 5:31 should be viewed as separate independent clauses, and therefore could and should be viewed as separate sentences. I have opposed the view that the woman ("her") in Matthew 5:31b is the innocently divorced woman in the first clause of Matthew 5:31a. If two things had happened in the English translation (and remember the adding punctuation, including numbered verses, as well as choosing equivalent words, are part of the translation process) of Matthew 5:31, then many would not have adopted that fault. Those two things are:

1) The second clause had been translated more accurately to show that the second woman was not the divorced woman of the first clause, but a different woman who had herself initiated divorce (with the intent of marrying another) and,

2) The second clause had been given its own number as a separate verse.


When you look at the context, the history, the Greek, the grammar, and the overall tenor of these passages, it becomes clear what Jesus’ point is: Do not divorce unlawfully and do not be the complicit party/beneficiary of the unlawful divorce (i.e., homewrecker). If you do, then you are an adulterer.

As I mentioned earlier, there are varying positions in regards to the meaning of adultery and the exact nuance of every point Jesus makes. However, one point that the majority of scholarship is virtually unanimous on is that repentance does not demand further divorce, regardless of which subsequent marriage you may find yourself in. This fact, however, was not understood by my father, nor other PBs.

If you are a man or woman who divorced unlawfully, then you committed adultery. If you are a man or woman who was the beneficiary of the unlawful divorce (by being the one whom the person unlawfully divorced their spouse for), then you too are guilty of adultery by being a complicit party in the breaking up of a marriage. However, grace can be found and forgiveness can be given.

If you find yourself in a subsequent marriage after an unlawful divorce, understand that it is not God’s will for you to break up another marriage covenant. On the contrary, you need to sanctify your union by turning to God and realizing your past mistakes and look to no longer break wedlock in the future. Repentance does not demand divorce and even though you may have attained your marriage through an unlawful divorce, understand that it can and should be continued in righteousness.

Answering A Rebuttal

How can the man commit adultery against his wife in a remarriage after the divorce if the divorce ended her time as his wife?

That is a good question and one that needs to be addressed by those, as I, who see unlawful treacherous divorce as a case of adultery, or who see even unlawful divorce as the ending of a marriage, even in the eyes of God.

The argument stated in the "if, then" form:

If the remarriage is a sin, then the prior marriage must still be intact and unbroken; therefore, divorces tolerated by the laws of man are not divorces recognized or approved by God.

We cannot accept this reasoning and conclusion. We deny that all remarriages of divorced persons are acts of adultery committed against a former spouse. We have already denied that the innocent divorced woman of Matthew 5: 31a was forbidden to remarry if she wanted to avoid committing adultery. I do not doubt that some remarriages are acts of adultery. However, I categorically deny that all who were divorced for reasons other than fornication sin when they remarry.

It is true that the man in Mark 10:11 commits adultery "against" his wife even after he has divorced her and after the marriage has ended and that this seems to suggest that the divorce did not really void the marriage "in the eyes of God." But, if what Luck and others, and I also, have affirmed is correct, then the only person who sins in remarriage is the person who divorces with the purpose of marrying another. Some people divorce with no intent of remarrying, having no other person they desire as new spouses. Others divorce so that they can marry another person whom they have been coveting. In the former case there is no sin in the remarrying, but in the latter case there is sin in the remarrying. In the latter case, the remarriage often takes place soon after the divorce, showing that the divorce was obtained for the purpose of obtaining a particular new spouse. Oftentimes this new spouse is what we call the "homewrecker."

The Mark passage seems to suggest that two conditions are needed to constitute one an adulterer. It takes 1) divorcing for a reason other than fornication, and 2) remarrying another spouse after such an unjust divorce. But, this is not what Jesus is saying. Rather, he is affirming that both unjust divorce and the remarriage to the homewrecker are both instances of adultery. The man that does these two things commits adultery twice.

In the next posting we will continue our look at the marriage and divorce teachings of the Lord as given in the other passages in the Gospels.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Hardshells & The Adultery Question VI

With this posting, the sixth in our series, we will wrap up our analysis of Matthew 5: 31-32, which has been our focus for the past several postings. We began with this passage because it is the earliest teaching of Jesus on the subject, from his very first sermon, the famous "Sermon on the Mount," covering Matthew chapters 5-7. It sets the stage for all subsequent teaching by the Lord or his apostles.

To recap, we have mostly focused on the first clause of verse 32 that says "whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, Causeth her to commit adultery." (KJV) Now focus will be on the second clause that says "and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." (KJV) In the previous postings we have focused much on what is meant by "causes her to commit adultery." We hopefully saw how blindly trusting the KJV (or any given single translation for that matter) as a proper and completely accurate translation of the original Greek text, may cause one to misunderstand the true teaching of the text. We have had to do our own translating, or at least to test the accuracy of any given translation.

Preliminary Observations

Every Bible student (especially those who are teachers of doctrine or authors of commentaries) is responsible for his own interpretation of scripture. He can check all the commentaries and various translations, but the decision as to what a given text is saying or teaching is the responsibility of the bible student himself. Of course, some are more serious in their studies of the Bible, probably because they have a calling to teach it, or simply love and enjoy it, and so they will choose to spend more time in study than the average Christian who may read and study the Scriptures very little. Each Christian should seek to follow the example of the first Christians in the Book of Acts, of those in the city of Berea. Of them Luke the inspired historian wrote:

"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

To do deep study of the Scriptures requires lots of time and energy and many Christians don't have the time or will to devote the necessary time and energy to the effort. It requires labor and hard toil. In the eyes of the Lord, they are "counted worthy of double honour," of the highest esteem, "who labour in the word and doctrine." (I Tim. 5: 17) Hard and deep bible study is taxing on the body and the mind. After much reading the eyes become sore, and sitting in study can produce a sore bottom. In a word "much study is a weariness of the flesh." (Eccl. 12:12 KJV)

One of the reasons why many of the Hardshells, and some others too, opt to simply trust the KJV as being perfect, is that they think that they can avoid both the hard work and the personal responsibility of correctly interpreting holy scripture. But, the KJV is not perfect. It, like others, has some mistranslations, or at least some bad translations. Some errors in understanding are the result of faulty translations.

People should realize that a translation of the Scriptures is difficult because the languages of Scripture (ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and ancient Koine Greek) are dead languages today. The Hebrew and Greek spoken today is not much like that which was spoken in bible times. In the same manner we can say that the English of the early Middle Ages is not very much like the English of today. Therefore, to properly translate the bible requires linguistic scholars who understand both the original languages of the Scriptures and the languages into which they are being translated.

People should also realize that a given translation is an interpretation. We are not to put our trust in men, such as in the men who translated the KJV. We are each responsible for checking the translators/interpreters. How do we do this? We listen to each side in a debate about the original meaning of a given word, sentence, etc., in the original text of the bible, and make our decision with honesty of heart and in the fear of the Lord.

We have already seen how it was necessary to look at the original Greek text of Matthew 5:32 in regard to the first part that said "whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, Causeth her to commit adultery." It was seen how the main fault in this translation, and others similar to it, was 1) by adding the active verb "commit," and 2) by use of the word "adultery." Remember that the above translation makes use of three English words, "to," "commit," and "adultery," to give to English readers the idea that the KJV translators thought accurately conveyed the meaning of the single Greek verb "moikeuthanai."

Though a translator will attempt to give a literal translation, one word for one word, yet this is not always possible. Some languages, like the Greek, German, etc., make use of long compound words, and these can often only be translated into other languages by breaking them apart into smaller words.

Micheal W. Palmer in "Categories Conjunctions, Punctuation, Translation" wrote (see here - emphasis mine):

"Because Ancient Greek had a much more developed system of grammatical endings (for verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, etc.), it was possible to write sentences that were considerably longer than what would be understandable in English. Often the parts of such long sentences were held together by conjunctions like καί. There were, of course, many other such conjunctions, but καί was among the most common. Overly literal translations attempt to make English work like Greek and include all of those conjunctions rather than breaking the long sentences down into the smaller units that English usage requires. This results both in “ugly” sounding sentences and a significant loss of comprehensibility."

Thus the Greek, like the German, makes use of long compound words, while English generally does not.

The Greek scholar A. T. Robertson wrote:

"The Greek, like the German, easily makes compound words, and the tendency to long compound words grows with the history of language." ("A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research," page 546 - see here)

Having studied modern German in college for two years, and NT Greek for many years, I can truly same "amen" to this truth.

Palmer also wrote the following under title "Punctuation in Ancient Greek Texts, Part I" (see here - emphasis mine):

"The ancient Greeks did not have any equivalent to our modern device of punctuation. Sentence punctuation was invented several centuries after the time of Christ. The oldest copies of both the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament are written with no punctuation...When there is more than one possible way of dividing the words in a sentence or paragraph, or when there is more than one possible set of punctuation, we (bible students who are responsible for the decision in interpretation - SG) must look for clues as to what the author intended in order to correctly determine which is the correct division and what punctuation the author would have used if it had been available."

He also wrote:

"Of course there is an element of subjectivity in this process, but many scholars have dedicated the better part of their lives to reading the Biblical documents in the original languages and have come to have a good sense of the style and preferences of each author. As we develop this skill, it becomes easier to see what the author would most likely have intended in each of the few places where a sentence could be divided more than one way."

The reasons why we have translations that are different is because "there is an element of subjectivity" involved in the work of translating. Each scholar is attempting to ascertain the original meaning of the text that he is translating and then trying to convey that meaning into another language. God has not promised to inspire any one person, or group of persons, who do translating work. This belief is the error of the KJV onlyists.

Palmer also wrote:

"If you do not read Ancient Greek and Hebrew, it is important to compare various translations to see what the options for punctuation might be. Then you should ask yourself which punctuation results in something that the author would most likely have said. This may not always provide you with the correct answer, but it will be a valuable learning experience."

Again, I repeat, that the responsibility for translating, which would include adding punctuation, rests with the individual bible student. It is his responsibility to "compare various translations" and to see which best makes sense based upon the evidence and argumentation.

The difficulty in ascertaining the original meaning of the words of Scripture is no easy task, and translating it into other languages, especially English, is difficult. For all these reasons, simply translating the single Greek word "moikeuthanai" ("to commit adultery" KJV) is not an easy task.

Knowing that the Greek word is an infinitive we may, as translators, want to use the preposition "to." Most English infinitives, called "full infinitives," make use of this preposition. How infinitives are written, in either NT Greek or in modern English, for instance, are different. The Greeks would incorporate the idea of "to" in a single compound word. Recall how the NIV translators used three words to give the meaning of the single word "moikeuthanai," the words "victim of adultery." The KJV also used three words - "to commit adultery." But, each conveys different meanings. Who is right? How can we decide?

In "AN EXEGETICAL SUMMARY OF PHILIPPIANS" (Second Edition - see here), J. Harold Greenlee wrote (emphasis mine):

"Exegesis is concerned with the interpretation of a text. Exegesis of the New Testament involves determining the meaning of the Greek text. Translators must be especially careful and thorough in their exegesis of the New Testament in order to accurately communicate its message in the vocabulary, grammar, and literary devices of another language. Questions occurring to translators as they study the Greek text are answered by summarizing how scholars have interpreted the text. This is information that should be considered by translators as they make their own exegetical decisions regarding the message they will communicate in their translations."

People need to realize that the original text of the new testament did not have punctuation and that it was all written in capital letters; And it certainly did not have numbered divisions into chapters, paragraphs, and verses. There were not even spaces between sentences to help decide when one sentence began and ended. In the original NT text, there were no periods, commas, colons, semicolons, quotation marks, parentheses, etc. This being the case, it is a matter of interpretation, and scholarly judgment, to add such punctuation to a translation; And, the placing of such punctuation is often crucial in interpretation. Let us look at our text and notice the punctuation that the KJV translators chose to use in their translation of the original Greek of Matt. 5:32.

"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."

Now, picture this text without any punctuation or spaces between words, clauses, and phrases. How such a verse is punctuated will not only reflect the judgment of the translator (or interpreter) but will effect the interpretation of those who read the translation. In looking at the above punctuation, why did the KJV translators put a colon after the word "adultery" and before the word "and"? Why not a period instead? Further, is the second clause that begins with "and" ("kai" in the Greek) a part of one long sentence or is it the beginning of another sentence? How does the second clause - "and whosoever shall marry..." - relate, if at all, to the first clause?

The Man and Woman in the 2nd Independent Clause

In this exegesis we will be looking at the second clause of Matthew 5: 32 that says, in the KJV, "and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." The question for us to determine in regard to this clause is to discern what it literally says and means. The common assumption of many, in regard to it, is that the woman ("her") is the same woman mentioned in the first part of the verse who was divorced by her husband unjustly. In beginning our exegesis of this clause, let us begin by noticing some remarks by Professor Luck, who we have cited much already.

In article #8, "The Teachings of Jesus on Divorce — (Matthew 5:32b)" Luck (see here) made these comments on the second clause that reads - “And, whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery”:

"Treatment of the second divorce saying in the Sermon (Matt. 5:32b) seldom exceeds a paragraph or two, even among scholars. It is usually seen as presenting the occasion for the adultery committed by the woman in the first saying. That is, she is caused to commit adultery when she remarries, which is presumed to be discussed in the second saying. But, as we have seen, the first clause is independent and makes perfectly good sense without recourse to the second saying, though not the traditional sense."

This is correct. The woman in the second clause cannot be the woman in the first clause, as we will see. The woman in the first clause, who was divorced and adulterated by her husband, is free to remarry, and it can therefore be no sin for a man to marry her.

Wrote Luck:

"It is worth noting that the second saying is introduced by the words kai os ean. This is an unusual construction peculiar in the New Testament to Matthew, found only in 5:32b, 12:32 and 18:5. In each case the noted phrase precedes a subjunctive verb, in turn followed by an indicative verb. The verbs are found in clauses, having a form grammarians call a conditional statement. The first verb is in a clause which shows some uncertainty as to whether or not the action will take place. The mode of the first verb, which expresses this hesitancy is called subjunctive. This clause is also called the protasis, because it sets a condition which must exist before the truth of the next clause will hold. The “next” clause is called the apodosis. In the case of each of the kai os ean phrases, the verb in the apodosis is in the indicative mode, which expresses a statement of fact. Thus in each conditional saying, if something might (were to) happen, then something will be true."

The Greek language, like others, makes use of the "if, then" sentence or logical structure. Sometimes translators will translate such "if, then" sentences with those words. Sometimes, however, they will not, as in the case of the clause we are examining in Matt. 5:32, where they chose to translate the "if" part by the word "whoever." Sometimes, when a conditional statement is made, in either Greek or English, by use of the word "if," called the "protasis," there is not actual mention of the word "then," called the "apodosis." But, even in cases where the word "then" is not stated, it is always implied. For instance, I may say to my wife "If I had known that, I would have..." Notice that I left out the apodosis word "then." But, though left out, it is implied. It is understood as "If I had known that, then I would have..."

In the Greek there are four classes of conditional statements in the "if, then" structure. When you hear a Greek scholar say that one of these "if, then" statements is, for instance, a "first class condition," or perhaps a "third class condition," what do they mean? According the, there are four classes of conditional statements. Under the heading "Classification of Greek Conditional Sentences" they wrote (emphasis mine - see here):

"Greek has more ability than English in describing the kind of relationship between the protasis, and the apodosis. It is possible for the writer/speaker to indicate whether the protasis is true or not. Actually they can indicate if they are presenting the protasis as 'assumed true (or false) for the sake of argument'. In order to indicate this kind of relationship between the protasis and apodosis, Classical Greek traditional had four kinds of conditional sentences, based upon what tense and mood the verb occurs in and upon some helping words. These are much the same in Koine (Biblical) Greek, with slight variations."

Here is their breakdown and definition of these four classes of conditional statements:

First Class Condition - Is considered the 'Simple Condition' and assumes that the premise (protasis) is true for the sake of argument. The protasis is formed with the helping word ei ('if') with the main verb in the indicative mood, in any tense; with any mood and tense in the apodosis.

Second Class Condition - Is known as the 'Contrary-to-Fact Condition' and assumes the premise as false for the sake of argument. The protasis is again formed with the helping word ei ('if') and the main verb in the indicative mood. The tense of the verb (in the protasis) must also be in a past-time tense (aorist or imperfect). The apodosis will usually have the particle an as a marking word, showing some contingency.

Third Class Condition - Traditionally known as the 'More Probable Future Condition', the third class condition should actually be split into two different categories, the 'Future More Probable Condition' (indicating either a probable future action or a hypothetical situation) and the 'Present General Condition' (indicating a generic situation or universal truth at the present time). It is formed in the protasis using the word ean (ei plus an = 'if') and a verb in the subjunctive mood. The main verb of the protasis can be in any tense, but if the condition is a 'Present General', the verb must be in the present tense.

Fourth Class Condition - Is usually called the 'Less Probable Future Condition' and does not have a complete example in the New Testament. The fulfillment of this condition was considered even more remote than the Third Class Condition. It was formed with the helping word ei and the optative mood in the protasis. The apodosis had the helping word an and its verb was also in the optative mood."

Now let us return to the "if" conditional clause of Matthew 5: 32. Wrote Luck:

"Translators generally choose “and whoever” to render these words, although “and if…” captures the (third class) conditional construction a bit better, since the former treats the sentence like a simple relative clause, while the ean is a hallmark of the a third class conditional, which has the form of “and if.”"

I think it would have been better for translators to have used the "if, then" words to translate the conditional clause. The clause we are examining is a "third class conditional," stating what may or may not happen to be.

Wrote Luck:

"Additionally, the fact that the protasis of the saying introduced by the kai os ean phrase is in the subjunctive is further evidence that the second saying is not to be seen as causally interpretive of the first (she is caused to commit adultery when she remarries). If the traditional interpretation of the second saying claims that it gives us the occasion of the adultery of the first (then) such an event as the remarriage of a divorced woman would be expected to be in the indicative mode, the mode of positive assertion. This would be the case if the second saying began with a temporal clause introduced by a conjunction other than kai, such as oti (definite as to time) or otan (indefinite as to time). The subjunctive’s hesitancy seems an odd way indeed to provide the necessary situation in which the point of the first saying is to be made." 

This is very strong evidence that the divorced woman in the second clause is not the same divorced woman in the first clause. Were it the same woman, as Luck stated, "the remarriage" would have been "in the indicative mode," not in the subjunctive.

Wrote Luck:

"All scholars will grant Lenski that the participle is perfect as to tense. Most will grant that it is passive in voice. Many will agree that there is a relationship of identity between the women of the sayings. For my part, I question whether the participle is passive and deny that there is any necessary identity between the principal women of the sayings. I offer the following reasons:

The relevant participle, apolelumenan, being in the perfect tense, could be either passive or middle in voice. Most translators assume the passive, but there is no reason this has to be the case. The form is the same in either case, and the context has to determine which is meant."

It is a false assumption that "apolelumenan" (one having been loosed, i.e. divorced) is passive voice. If it were understood as passive voice, then it would tell us that the woman was not the one who initiated the divorce, as was the case with the first woman in the first clause, whose husband put her away. How can we decide if this second woman's divorce is the result of her action or of her husband's action? Clearly "apolelumenan" is either passive or middle voice. But which? The Greek will allow either to be the case, for as stated, both the passive and middle voices are written alike. So, a translator/interpreter must decide which. Many assume it is passive because they think the woman in the second clause is the same woman in the first clause. The woman in the first clause was not the initiator of the action of divorce but was the passive recipient of the divorce action. So, if one assumes that the woman in the second clause is the same woman, then obviously he will opt for the passive voice and translate accordingly.

How would one translate "apolelumenan" if passive voice? If middle voice? If passive it could be translated as "she who was divorced by her husband." If middle it could be translated as "she who divorced her husband." See the difference? In the one case the woman initiates the divorce, but in the other she does not.

Wrote Luck:

"Were the voice middle, the whole interpretative situation would be changed...If middle, the woman would, in one manner or another, be implicated in the divorce process that has been completed. The nature of her involvement would depend on what sort of a middle it is, for there are three major concepts that may be involved in the middle: reflex, intensification, and reciprocity. Of the three, we may rule out the last, as it only occurs with plural subjects. An intensive middle underscores the producing agent rather than the agent’s participation. The reflexive middle, which is the nearest to the basic idea of the voice, refers the result of the action directly to the one who did it, with an emphasis upon that person’s participation in the action. The following middle-translations would then be possible:

Reflexive middle: “she who has divorced herself”

Intensive middle: “she herself who has divorced”

In either case, the point to be noted is that the woman has been not a passive object, but the causal agent.

But is it middle or passive? The context decides, but the near context could abide either. It could be the woman of the preceding clause (passive), or it could be a woman, who, like the sinning divorcer of the first saying, has herself ended her marriage (middle)." 

So which is it? Want to trust a given translator's judgment? In the KJV translation, it could be either way. It says "her that is divorced." This translation does not say anything about who divorced who. It does not indicate whether the woman initiated the divorce or whether it was her husband.

Wrote Luck:

"His supposition that this woman is the innocent divorcee of 32a is wrong if the participle in 32b is a middle—thus rendering the woman the agent of the divorce and not the recipient of the former husband’s action." 

There is no good reason to assume that the innocent woman of the first clause is the same woman of the second clause. In fact, we have already seen how the women cannot be the same, the Greek grammar being against such an interpretation.

Wrote Luck:

"The issues become complex. Were the text to have stressed the woman by using a definite article, “the”, instead of merely putting the participle in the feminine singular, we would almost certainly have a grammatical indicator for tying this saying with the first and identifying this woman with the treacherously divorced woman in the first saying. But the article is missing. This is just “a” woman."

This is another good argument from the Greek grammar to show that the woman in the first clause is not the woman of the second. Not only is the fact that the second clause is in the subjunctive mood, not in the indicative, a proof that the women are not the same, but the absence of the definite article "the," or an adjectival "this" also proves it. Were Jesus referring to the same woman, the one who was the innocent victim of a treacherous divorce in the first clause, then he would have said "whoever marries the woman" or "whoever marries this woman." Said Luck, "The definite article is missing so as not to force us to think of this as the treacherously divorced woman in 32a." Exactly!

Next, under the sub heading "INTERPRETATIONS OF WHAT IT MEANS TO COMMIT ADULTERY IN MARRYING A DIVORCEE," Professor Luck is attempting to translate these words - καὶ ὃς ἐὰν ἀπολελυμένην γαμήσῃ μοιχᾶτα and says:

"As this portion of the verse reads in most translations, it seems to be saying that any man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery with her. In spite of the seeming obviousness of this interpretation, there are several views that scholars have taken of this saying."

It just does not seem right to think that it is always wrong to marry a divorced person, which the second clause of verse 32 seems to affirm. The following words are from the translators of the Revised Version for Matthew 5:32 (see here - emphasis mine):

"To properly understand Matthew 5:32, we must pay close attention to “who” the verse is speaking about, “what” the verse is actually saying, and also to the Greek verbs, which sadly have not been accurately translated in most English versions. Matthew 5:32 is one of the verses in the Bible that people do not really read accurately. Instead, most people read what they think it says. To rightly understand it, we must read what it actually says."

This is what I have been trying to demonstrate in this series. Thankfully there are men who have properly interpreted and translated the words of Jesus, men like the ones I have cited thus far in this series.

They say further:

"In the biblical culture, a man divorcing his wife almost always left her in a very difficult situation. The usually mostly-innocent woman had to suffer many things: the disgrace of being rejected by her husband; frequently, the terrible loss of her children; and the hardship of how to provide for herself unless her parents or a sibling would take her into their home. But Jesus seems to make her situation even worse—the way most English versions are translated. Jesus says that the woman is an adulteress! Furthermore, any man who married her, which would almost certainly be a huge help to her, became an adulterer. This just does not seem to make sense."

Yes, it does not make sense! It is out of character for the Lord to put the innocent woman into such straits by teaching that she is a marked woman, so that whoever marries her commits adultery! Such an interpretation just makes it worse for the poor woman! It is not sin for a man to marry such a woman! Like I said, he is more to be admired than made into a sinner. And, like the above citation also says, the man who marries the woman who was "kicked out" of her house unjustly and made the victim of adultery is rather "a huge help to her."

They say further:

"The way Matthew 5:32 is translated in most English versions, there are many things that should alert us to the fact that something is wrong. For one thing, although it was the husband who broke the original intention of God by divorcing his wife, there is nothing in the verse that says he did wrong or became an adulterer. The verse makes the wife guilty, not the husband, even though he is the guilty party."

These thoughts about the true teaching of Matthew 5: 32 also came into my head as I first began to seriously exegete the text. There were simply "many things that alerted me to the fact that something was wrong" indeed. The thing wrong was in the translations and in the majority interpretation of the commentaries.

They say further:

"Also, the way most English versions are translated, the woman is made to be an adulteress simply because her husband divorced her. For example, the NASB says, “everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery.” But why would being divorced make a woman an adulteress? Just because a man divorces a woman does not make her an adulteress; she could have been faithful to her husband before the divorce and then chosen to remain unmarried after the divorce. So why would her divorce make her an adulteress? It would not."

Those ought to be the thoughts of any honest soul as he reads the words of Matthew 5: 32 from the KJV and other English translations that seem to say that the marriage of an innocently divorced woman is a sin! The answer to the problem comes when one sees the errors of the translators/interpreters.

They say further:

"Most commentators explain away that fact by saying that in that culture, a man’s divorcing his wife basically forced her to remarry to survive in society, and thus commit adultery. But there are two big problems with that interpretation—it is not what Jesus actually said, and it does not fit the facts. Just being divorced does not make a woman an adulteress. There were women who were pure in their marriage and then did not remarry after their divorce. Some were taken back in by their families, and a few others, like Lydia in Acts 16, did well on their own. Thus we can see that Matthew 5:32 has been misunderstood and mistranslated."

There are indeed "big problems" with the traditional interpretation! I have already emphasized the fact that the text does not have the words "if she remarries." But such words are implied, we are told. They were certainly the meaning of the Lord, we are told. We are told that the words "makes her commit adultery" actually means "makes her commit adultery if she chooses to remarry." But, those added words are not in the text and their addition conveys false information. And, secondly, such views of the traditional interpretation do not "fit the facts."

Luck continued:

"...there are two questions to ask this position regarding its focus upon the second husband. Why exactly is he singled out, rather than the divorcing woman? And why, if her marriage bond is broken, is he hung with the tag “adulterer”?"

Yes, indeed, what about "the second husband"? Good questions! Why indeed is the second husband "singled out rather than the divorcing women"? Is he simply a man who married an innocently divorced woman? Or, could he be another kind of man, perhaps a man who is called an "home wrecker"? A man who perhaps instigated the adultery by wooing a married woman away from her husband?

Luck continued:

"The suggested answer to both is that the text at hand sees the second husband as an accomplice in the continuing rebellion of the guilty, perhaps even the cause of it. Several matters support this suspicion."

Yes, Jesus was not condemning a man who married the innocently divorced woman of the first clause, but was condemning the man who caused a married woman to divorce her husband so that he could have her himself.

Luck continued:

"The middle participle and the deponent passive verbs in this second saying of Jesus would seem to fit the historical facts nicely. Matthew 5:32b then reads: “And if someone marries a woman who herself has divorced he himself is committing adultery.” This fits the Herodias case precisely. The stress upon the man who marries such a woman would put the blame upon Herod even more than upon Herodias—the man being seen as morally responsible for her divorce. Those who think that this historical episode was not on the mind of our Lord, should consider, first that Jesus was aware of both the preaching career of His cousin, John, and as well as that of “that fox, Herod.”"

“And if someone marries a woman who herself has divorced (then) he himself is committing adultery.” That is a better translation. But, I would have put the apodosis "then" before the words "he himself" to keep the full idea of the conditional statement. So, I woud translate "and if someone marries a woman who herself has divorced, then he himself is committing adultery." Notice the absence of the definite article "the" before "woman" and the placement of the indefinite article "a" instead. That reflects the Greek. Had the woman been the innocently divorced woman there would have been the definite article.

Luck continued:

"Of course, Jesus is not simply condemning Herod, but all who, like Herod, would aid in or instigate treachery against their neighbor. Then as now, it is usually the man who lusts, clears the way for his next love, and wrests the woman away from any prior commitments. And then more than now, few women (who were prevented from holding most jobs) would think of divorcing their husbands without having a new spouse waiting in the wings. In such cases, the “adultery” of the second husband is clearer yet. He was a party to the sundering of the first marriage—a clear instance of adultery according to the spirit of the Mosaic Law, though it might not be precise to speak of him as an adulterer until he actually took possession of her."

My view exactly! The right view I believe.

Luck continued:

"Even were he not to have sexual intercourse with her before the legal divorce, he would not be free from the condemnation of One such as Christ, who could easily see when prevailing law was being used as a cloak for evil by such a trick. To have finally removed a previous covenant (perfect participle) by legalities cannot fool God. The guilty parties are, in their remarriage, about the business of adultery."

This fact I have already well proven I believe.

Luck continued:

"But does this interpretation fit the grammar? Here we return to the matter that the protasis is in the subjunctive. I believe that the fact that women seldom initiated divorce led to the grammatical hesitancy in the saying. Our verse would then read rather literally, “and he, if she who has herself divorced, is marrying, he is committing adultery.” Smoothing the grammar it becomes, “and if he is marrying a woman who has herself ended her marriage (though that is somewhat unlikely), he is committing adultery." It is not that marriage for a man is improbable, but that a man would marry a woman who had initiated the divorce, since few did that in a patriarchal society. On the other hand, it may not have been that uncommon for a man to marry a divorced woman. I am not aware of figures on remarriage, but we do have the text of John’s Gospel, which relates that the Samaritan woman had remarried four times."

"And if he is marrying a woman who has herself ended her marriage, (then) he is committing adultery." That would be another good translation.

Luck continued:

"But if it is unlikely for a man to marry a woman who has initiated her divorce, why make a saying about it at all? The answer, again, is that Herodias had divorced her husband, and Herod Antipas had married her. In other words, that which was unlikely according to Jewish custom, was still happening in the experience of Jesus’ hearers. The silence of the Pharisees on the subject implied that what Herod had done was acceptable because Herodias did, after all, have a legal writ. The verse emphasizes the guilt of the man, because, I believe, the man is assumed to have played a primary role in the woman divorcing her husband. Why would she place herself in economic jeopardy by divorcing unless she had a “golden parachute” with which to save herself once she was cut off from her husband’s provision?"

Again, this interpretation seems to be the teaching of Christ and is far better than the common traditional interpretation that makes it a sin to marry the innocent woman who is put away by her husband.

Luck continued:

"Notice also that this provides a nice parallel to the first saying. There the husband destroys his own marriage trusting in the divorce writ he produces by which to cut off his innocent wife. In the second he trusts in the divorce writ a woman has acquired for herself, by which she destroys her own marriage. Both sayings, in different ways, express a rebuke to those who are involved in the destruction of marriage, trusting in prevailing legalities rather the revealed moral necessity of covenant keeping."

Excellent commentary! Makes perfect sense.

Luck continued:

"Believing that Jesus is condemning those who, with their neighbor’s wives, are treacherous against their neighbor, I do not agree that 32b is “unqualified.” Jesus is not interested in introducing new legislation that prohibits the remarriage of every divorced female. Such an idea would contradict the essence of Deuteronomy 24 and Exodus 21, both of which protect the abused wife by granting her freedom which does not exclude remarriage." 

Again, this is obviously the proper interpretation of the words of Jesus.

Luck continued:

"The interpretation that any remarriage is adultery or that remarriage to an innocent divorced woman is adultery is not a clarification of the law; it would annul several of them, and that is something Jesus specifically said He was not going to do (Matt. 5:17 ff.)."

I agree wholeheartedly.

Luck continued:

"...what do we make of a case in which the “guilty” divorced woman has seen the error of her ways and sought to return to her husband, only to find that he is unable or unwilling to take her back?"

Good question! Those like my father, the strict view, would say that she must return to her husband even though the OT forbid it! They would also condemn her to a life without a husband, a life where she had to fend for herself!

Luck continued:

"To sum up the “academic” words of Christ, we could say that He affirms the Old Testament teaching that covenant breaking as treachery (Mal. 2). Treachery in the heart is adultery. Treacherous divorce is a species of adultery. Treachery fulfilled in remarriage is adultery. Just not doing it in bed will not fool God. Just because the prevailing laws say a writ of divorce ends (moral) responsibility to the first covenant does not mean that God will fall into line. The prevailing laws and teachings be damned. The received teaching of the Old Testament is that divorce without grounds is treacherous. The only proper use of divorce is as a discipline for actions that by their nature breach the essentials of the marriage covenant. Since that is so, the man, who has pledged to provide for his wife, has committed adultery against his wife by divorcing her, has publicly spoken his treachery. No remarriage need take place for this adultery to occur, and Jesus mentions none nor alludes to none in Matthew 32a. Further, since divorce is only to be used as a discipline, the watching public may well (falsely) suppose that the innocent woman was actually guilty. Thus, this man actually defames her with his own sinful acts—an offense specifically proscribed in the Law. In the first saying of the divorce couplet, Jesus is seeking merely to restore to its fullness the meaning of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 as further disclosed by Deuteronomy 22:13 ff. and Malachi 2:15."

Again, I believe this is the correct interpretation. Luck makes his case well.

Luck continued:

"Having said that groundless divorce is adulterous against the spouse in the case of the male, it is unnecessary to say it regarding a female, for any legal annulment of the vows is covenant breaking by definition. The woman who groundlessly divorces is also guilty of adulterizing her husband and stigmatizing him as guilty of breaking his vows to her. Those who don’t realize that the law is reciprocal on this point need only listen to the nuances of Matthew 5:32b, when Jesus speaks of a woman who has ended her own covenant."

My view exactly.

Luck continued:

"In the second saying, Jesus wished to point out that her compliance with prevailing (Roman) law, which permitted morally groundless divorce, did not free her from the sin of adultery. She intended to break her vow of monogamy. That is why she divorced her husband—she wished to have relations with another. The spirit of the Old Testament should not be difficult to discern in such a case, but there would probably be a need to pinpoint the adultery of her partner in the crime of vow-breaking: the man who as a result takes her. This man, who dared not to take her while she was still legally married to her husband, trusted in the legal divorce to grant him the right to bed her. Jesus wishes to rebuke such trust. This point is the burden of the second saying."

That is what I believe is the teaching of Jesus in the second clause, the clause that has been so much misunderstood.

Luck next writes some good things under the title


He wrote:

"One position goes beyond the basic statement by absolutizing the prohibition. It says that all remarriage is prohibited by this saying. The logic behind this expansion seems to be the following: remarriage is denied the divorced woman because the consummation of the second wedding defiles her bond with her first husband. (The presumption here is that the marriage bond is unbreakable, and the first union still intact.) Moreover, if she is still bound to her first husband, he must still be bound to her. If he is still bound to her, then he too is not free to consummate a relationship with another."

But, in being put away, the woman is free to marry again. The treacherous divorce by the husband is itself an act of adultery. The law forbids her to return to her husband!

Luck continued:

"This no-remarriage view does not require any relationship between 5:32a and 5:32b. Generally, this interpretation is given in the context of such verses as Luke 16:18a and supported by the idea that for a man to divorce his wife and marry another is adultery.

Concerning the support of this interpretation by verses identifying a divorcing and remarrying man as committing adultery, I shall withhold criticism until we analyze Luke 16:18. Instead, we here turn our attention to the two basic assumptions of this position: first, that a continuing bond is the only way to explain how the man can be said to commit adultery with the divorced woman when they marry and, second, that polygyny was immoral impermissible when the verse was written."

Also, the idea that the innocently divorced woman of the first clause cannot remarry without sinning simply makes her suffer even more!

Next, Luck wrote the following under the title of


"The no-remarriage-for-the-innocent view, exemplified by Murray, is a part of the Erasmian position. The view holds that the union of marriage is not dissolved by the divorce, but by sexual infidelity. Erasmians hold that in 5:32b Jesus is presenting a saying limited to cases in which this bond has not been broken. The woman of that clause is the innocent woman of the preceding saying. Though legally divorced, she is still bound to her former husband. Until that bond is broken by an act of sexual infidelity on the part of either original spouse, each is morally obligated to remain celibate. The legalities of the second marriage no more justify its consummation than the legalities of the divorce did. The verse does not mean to inhibit the marriage of an “innocent” spouse once the bond has been broken by sexual infidelity of the “former spouse,” but proscribes a marriage in which an “innocent” spouse who has been treacherously divorced would become guilty of breaking their continuing bond by consummating a second marriage. Those guilty of groundlessly divorcing their partner are not for that reason guilty of adultery (that is a sexual sin), but would be guilty of adultery if they remarried (before their offended partner?)."

This was the view of my father and the view of many Hardshells. But, I don't think it is what the Lord was teaching. The view of Luck is far better, giving what is the correct interpretation.

Luck wrote:

"Third, I believe that Murray’s view is determined by his assumption that the marriage bond is broken only by sexual infidelity. I believe that assumption is ill grounded in the Scriptures. The divorce of the innocent woman breaks the promise of the husband to continuously provide for her (Exod. 21). To presume that the remarriage of such a woman is adultery flies in the face of Deuteronomy 24 in a way that not even a dispensational argument can explain."

I also agree that it is a false "assumption" to say that "the marriage bond is broken only by sexual infidelity." It is indeed "ill grounded in the Scriptures."

Next, Luck wrote the following under the heading


"The essence of the no-remarriage-to-the-guilty view is that 32b prohibits the remarriage of a treacherous spouse, in this case the woman who divorced her husband. Since it permits the remarriage of an innocent divorced person, this view must deny that the marriage bond lasts past the divorce. Like the previous view, it would most likely argue that whatever moral obligation exists in marriage ends with the offense that determined the guilty party to be such. The most consistent statement of such a position would argue that, if no moral grounds predate the divorce, the divorce itself becomes such grounds. This is not to be construed as saying that the innocent party will always be the one divorced, for sometimes the innocent party will be a disciplining divorcer. Guilt is determined by the unfaithful (not necessarily sexually understood) action of one spouse. When the innocent party divorces as a discipline, it is to serve notice that the moral bond, which the spouse has broken, should be restored by a renewal of the covenant."

Again, I believe that this is the correct view and is well defended by such men as Professor Luck.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Need For Colleagues

Christian bible students need colleagues, especially those who become scholars and teachers of the word of God. They need to be able to discuss bible topics and passages with those who are on the same level with them or with those who know more and can help them. That is why I enjoy the correspondence I have with other teachers and preachers. Father and I use to have the blessing of being able to discuss doctrine on a high level. I am glad that some others call me from time to time and I am able to discuss the deep things of God with them. It is sad that many preachers don't have colleagues with whom they can discuss freely their difficulties in understanding certain scriptures or to just share thoughts. So many times I have hungered for the opportunity to discuss bible topics with men of learning. I am glad for those I have had such a relationship. I am hopeful to have more and better colleagues in the word in the future.

Everlasting Task For Hardshells

There is a well known book titled "Everlasting Task For Arminians" By William Gadsby. Many Hardshells have historically promoted this book. I want to use that title as a basis for this short posting "Everlasting Task For Hardshells."

What is the everlasting task for the Hardshells? It is the task of trying to take all the scriptures that speak of the results of evangelical faith and to make them speak only of a temporal salvation or blessing!

On The Justification Regeneration Ordo Debate

One of the blogs I read is by Steve Hays, a voluminous writer who often has good articles and who defends Calvinism. However, he is a Hyper Calvinist in his placing regeneration before conversion and justification. I have constantly written against those Calvinists who put regeneration before justification and have shown how the first Reformers, John Calvin et als, did not do so. Hays recently had a post titled "Repentance, remission, and justification" (see here) and I wish to quote some things Hays said and respond to them. Hays said (his words in black and the Catholic in red - emphasis mine):

"A recent exchange I had with a Catholic apologist (indeed, a sedevacantist!):

Here St. Paul says that washing of regeneration (i.e. internal change within the believer done by the Holy Spirit) is how God justifies the sinner. This means that justification involves an ontological change within the believer, not merely a legal declaration. This also refutes the Protestant claim that sanctification is separated from justification and happens after it - to the contrary, in Titus 3:4-7 St. Paul says that sanctification is the basis for justification.

It has been my contention that it is the Catholics who put regeneration before justification and that the Protestants have put justification before regeneration. See my posting Justification precedes Regeneration for instance. Those Calvinists therefore who put regeneration before faith and justification are in league with the Pelagian Catholics and have deviated from Calvin and the first Reformers.

Hays wrote this in response:

i) At most, your conclusion only follows if the relationship between v6 and v7 is chronological, where justification is the effect of spiritual renewal. But more likely Paul is saying that inheriting eternal life is the combined effect of spiritual renewal and justification by grace.

ii) And even if there's a chronological sequence, that's entirely consistent with Calvinism: justification is contingent on faith while faith is contingent on regeneration.

Notice how Hays agrees with the Catholic on the point! He says regeneration precedes justification! Further, he claims that "Calvinism" has such an ordo salutis! Yet, the truth is, it is the Hyper Calvinist who puts regeneration before justification and is in league with the Pelagians!

Wrote the Catholic:

"This is also why Paul says in Romans 6:16 that obedience leads to righteousness - exactly as the Catholic Church teaches."

"But Reformed theology insists that regeneration (i.e. the internal change done by the Holy Spirit within the believer) comes after justification."

Responded Hays:

"I have no idea where you came up with that. In Reformed theology, justification is a consequence of faith while faith is a consequence of regeneration. So you've got the causal sequence out of order.

ii) I don't know where you get the idea that in Reformed theology, sanctification is the result of justification. Rather, sanctification is an outgrowth of regeneration. Justification is categorically different from regeneration or sanctification in Reformed theology. Justification is an ascribed status whereas sanctification is a process of moral and spiritual transformation."

Hays is wrong when he says that the Reformers put regeneration before justification! It is not the Calvinists who put regeneration before justification but it is the Hyper Calvinists who are in league with the Pelagian Catholics!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Hardshells Decry the Gospel's Power

Recently I wrote an article titled "Hardshell Anti Faith Preaching" in which I observed that the Hardshells have deviated far away from their historical roots, from their forefathers who endorsed the Philadelphia Baptist Confession and who founded their separate denomination under the dual names of "Old School Baptists" or "Primitive Baptists" in the 1830s. Their forefathers sang of the power of faith, but today's Hardshells only speak of its impotency.

Those old Baptist forefathers also often spoke of the POWER of the gospel, of what it was "able" to do when attended with the blessing of God, and with "the hand of God," and were often crediting it with being the instrument of their internal change of heart that was the essence of rebirth. They seemed to not be able to stop heaping up enough praise to the glory, beauty, and conquering power of the gospel when preached with the Holy Ghost. In fact, two of the favorite verses of those forefathers (as anyone who is familiar with the writings of the Hardshell forefathers will agree) was to cite the words of Paul who spoke of the gospel being spoken "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power" (I Cor. 2:4 KJV) and who said "for our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance." (I Thess. 1:4 KJV) They were often citing the words of Paul who said that "the gospel of the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth." (Romans 1:16 KJV) Another apostolic statement about the place of the gospel in the scheme of salvation, that they often quoted, were the words of Paul in II Thess. 2: 13 - "chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."

Today's Hardshells, instead of speaking of the power of the gospel, of how it has made saints of sinners, has awakened sinners, has revealed Christ, and has regenerated, birthed, saved, converted, and transformed them, and how it is God's means in their preservation in Christ and in their necessary perseverance in the faith of the gospel, will rather decry how the gospel has no power to do these things. It only has power for the living, we are told, and not for the dead. It only has power to those who are already born and saved. This is what characterizes their preaching today. It is obvious that their views regarding the gospel's power is quite different in comparison to that of their forefathers. They not only are "anti faith" in their views regarding this Christian grace, and in their talks about the nature and power of faith, but are "anti gospel" in their views about the power and efficacy of the gospel when preached in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I would love to see things change in the ranks of my Hardshell brethren. I would love for them to repent of their anti means view of salvation and begin again to sing the praises about the gospel's power as did their forefathers. If they do not retrace their steps on this issue, to the place where they went wrong on this issue, and throw off their novel view, and adopt the true historic view of their forefathers, they will dwindle and die. It seems to me that they would love to see sinner's effected by the power of gospel preaching.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Hardshells & The Adultery Question V

In the previous postings we began to consider the teaching of Jesus concerning marriage, divorce, remarriage, and what constitutes "adultery" or "living in adultery." In the immediate previous posting I began with a close examination of Matthew 5: 31-32, a portion of the Sermon on the Mount. Focus was on verse 32 where Jesus said:

"...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." (KJV)

In looking at this text, I did not discuss what is meant by the word "fornication" (Greek poinei) because it is not an issue with my targeted audience. I did not address why Jesus did not use the word "adultery" instead of "fornication" in the exception clause. Why did Jesus not say "except it be for adultery" instead of "except it be for fornication"? Isn't the fornicating act of a married person an act of adultery? This becomes an issue to address when in discussion with those who think that all divorce is illegal and against the will of God. These people believe that only death dissolves a marriage and frees the married partner to marry again. They think that there is nothing, including adultery or fornication, that dissolves a marriage. Many Catholics believe this, as well as some Protestants. John Piper, a well known Baptist pastor and theologian, holds to this view. (see here)

These folks will argue that "fornication" is what occurs before a marriage, while one is single, and would be grounds for breaking a betrothal but not a marriage. They bring up the case of Joseph, who thought about "putting away" Mary, during their engagement, thinking that her pregnancy proved her guilty of "fornication." Of course, I reject that view, and so do the Hardshells. So, I am not going to deal with it, except to say that by such reasoning it makes God do wrong when he divorced Israel. (See Jeremiah 3:8)

I do believe that the word "fornication" (poinei, from which we get our word "porn" or "porno") is a broad term used for all kinds of forbidden sexual activity, and that the word "adultery" (Greek moicheia) is less broad, falling within the general category of fornication, a case of genus and difference.

Recap of Matthew 5: 32

In the previous posting I dealt at length with the first part of Matthew 5:32 and particularly on what is meant by the husband, who divorces for an unjust cause (not because of fornication), "causing" his divorced innocent wife to "commit adultery." I showed that the NIV translation was much closer to the truth in translating the words of Jesus as "makes her the victim of adultery." In this posting I want to give some further argumentation to uphold this view.

In the previous posting I also began to give what I consider to be the correct interpretation of the latter part of verse 32, a separate independent clause from the first part of the verse, where it is translated in the KJV as "and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." I want to enlarge upon what was stated in the end of the last posting, in regard to that clause, and to further demonstrate that the woman in this clause is not the same woman who was divorced unjustly in the first part of the verse, who was the "victim of adultery," as many falsely assume.

I will also in this posting consider whether the "committing adultery" by the man who marries a divorced woman is a one time act or whether it is a continuous state of sin, or a case of "living in adultery." If it is a one time act, then to repent of it would involve confessing the sin, and expressing sorrow for it, with a resolve not to do it again. If it is a continuous state, then to repent of it would involve divorcing the spouse, dissolving the unlawful union, and either remaining single and celibate or returning to the previous spouse, who is judged to still be the lawful spouse in spite of a divorce.

Recall that I was demonstrating that the common view about these questions was false. That view says that the woman actively sins, or commits adultery, when and if she marries another before her husband, who divorced her, A) commits adultery (by either 1. having sexual relations or 2. by marrying another) or B) dies. It was shown that such a view is false because 1) the woman is viewed as passive in being "made an adulteress" or in being a "victim of adultery," and 2) the text does not say "perhaps causes her to commit adultery," nor "sometimes causes her to commit adultery," which it would say if the popular view was correct, and 3) the text does not deny that the woman is actually divorced and thus allowed to marry again, and 4) affirms that the "committing adultery" occurs at the same time that the "putting away" and "causing" and not at some later time.

In the previous posting it was shown that "causeth (or maketh) her to commit adultery" (kjv) was a misleading translation in that it seems to indicate that the adultery of the woman, who is the victim of an unlawful divorce, is not a mere victim but rather a sinner, who commits adultery actively. Though this translation does put some blame upon the man who divorces his wife by the use of the word "causeth," nevertheless implicates the woman by adding the word "commit" in translation (interpretation). It was argued that the NIV translation best translates ποιεῖ αὐτὴν μοιχᾶσθαι by the words "makes her the victim of adultery."

It is possible to keep a translation such as "making her an adulteress" (Philips Translation) as long as one interprets the words as not denoting the actual making of an adulteress but only making one so in appearance. Recall that I cited from Starling on this point, who said - "Jesus is saying the woman divorced without cause becomes an adulteress in the same sense we make God a liar when we say we have not sinned." (I John 5: 10) The husband who unlawfully divorced his wife in Matthew 5: 32 "makes his wife an adulterer" in the same way John said that hypocrites and false teachers "make God a liar."

It has also been stated that an unlawful divorce may in itself be an act of infidelity or adultery. But, let me enlarge upon this a little here.

Unlawful Marriages & Divorces = Adultery

If an husband causes his wife to be an adulteress, or to commit adultery, or to be the victim of adultery, by his divorcing her, then he is implicated in her being such. It is a case similar to our "felony murder doctrine." This rule of law is defined as - "The felony murder rule is a rule that allows a defendant to be charged with first-degree murder for a killing that occurs during a dangerous felony, even if the defendant is not the killer." Those who illegally divorce their spouses may be said, in like fashion, to be guilty of adultery even though there may not be a prior instance of actual sexual activity.

Keep in mind also that many times a husband will divorce his innocent wife because he has already mentally committed adultery in his heart and mind, and has formulated plans to actually do it once the divorce is finalized.

Most Christians probably do not think of "adultery" as sometimes denoting acts that are non sexual. If we have a case of adultery in a remarriage, when was it first committed? When the marriage was effected in the wedding ceremony? Or later when there was sexual intercourse for the first time? If we say the former, that the act of remarrying is also adultery, then we have not limited the definition to sexual acts.

What if an old man, who is impotent, and cannot have sexual relations, marries the "divorced woman" of Matthew 5: 32? Does he escape being guilty of "committing adultery" by not having sexual relations with his wife? Of course not. Obviously the Scriptures do not define marital adultery as necessitating a forbidden sexual act. Therefore, we argue that since the definition of the sin of "adultery" may denote an act of "marriage," so an act of "divorce" may also be an act of adultery. Both unlawful marriages and unlawful divorces are viewed as violations of the command not to commit adultery. Remember Matthew 5: 32 says "whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." Unlawful marriage is a "committing adultery" even if there is no sexual intercourse. (See also Matt. 19:9; Mark 10:11; Luke 16: 18)

In APPENDIX D - On the Possibility of Nonsexual Adultery (see here), Luck wrote:

"In his commentary on Matthew 19:9, D. A. Carson says that if the remarriage clause is excluded, the thought becomes nonsensical: “Anyone who divorces his wife, except for porneia, commits adultery”—surely untrue unless he remarries."

"Is this the case? Is it nonsense to speak of “nonsexual adultery”? I believe not. Consider first the difference between adultery, fornication, and marital sex. All may involve sexual acts, but what makes them different is their relationship to the matter of covenant. The sex of marital sex is moral since covered by covenant. The sex of fornication is a sin because it is not. And the sex of adultery is sin because it breaks the covenantal bonds. The essence of adultery is unfaithfulness. Adultery never takes place unless someone’s marriage vow has been broken."

"But does an act of sex have to take place in order for the breaking of a vow to be considered adulterous? In one sense, no. According to Jesus in Matthew 5:27-28, an unfaithful thought or, more precisely, a thought of unfaithful sex merits the offense-term adultery. Although it is true that the thought is about sexual relations, Jesus’ revolutionary saying contradicts the Pharisaical teaching exactly at the point at issue: must sexual acts be committed in order for the term adultery to be merited? Thinking of sexual acts is not in itself a sexual act; it is a mental act...Jesus is at pains to say that the man does not have to actually commit an act of sex to be guilty of sin."

"Matthew 5:32 speaks of a man adulterizing his wife by unjustly divorcing her. The adulterization takes place whether or not that woman remarries."

Remember that the sin of adultery is said to occur at the time of marriage, not at the time of the honeymoon when physical intercourse begins. "Whoever marries her that is divorced," said Jesus, "commits adultery." He did not say "whoever marries and has intercourse."

Luck also wrote:

"The next clause (of Matt. 5: 32b - "whoever marries her that is divorced commits adultery" SG) is, as argued in chapter 7, independent of the first. If so, the New Testament is consistent with Malachi in identifying a nonsexual form of adultery, that is, the covenant breaking of unjust divorce. It is treachery, clear and simple. And it remains the sin of adultery whether or not either or both of the former partners remarry...seeing marital breach as “adultery” regardless of whether it involves sex...Unjust divorce (or desertion) is a form of adultery; adultery is a form of porneia; and porneia is justifiable grounds for divorce and remarriage."

Yes, it is important to see "marital breach" as an instance of "adultery," and that "whether it involves sex" or not. "Unjust divorce" indeed "is a form of adultery." Thus, the hard hearted husband who puts away his innocent wife for reasons other than fornication, is committing adultery and making his wife a victim of it.

Luck also wrote:

"Rather than concur that nonsexual adultery is linguistic nonsense, I argue that the idea is eminently sensible and biblically sound. On the contrary, what is nonsense is arguing that remarriage must take place for adultery to occur."

How anyone can say that non sexual adultery is nonsense in light of the words of Jesus is amazing. He clearly said that unlawful marriages are instances of adultery.

Definition of the Greek verb moicheuō (commit adultery)

The KJV, according to Strong, translates the verb in the following manner: commit adultery (13x), in adultery (1x).

to commit adultery
to be an adulterer
to commit adultery with, have unlawful intercourse with another's wife
of the wife: to suffer adultery, be debauched
A Hebrew idiom, the word is used of those who at a woman's solicitation are drawn away to idolatry, i.e. to the eating of things sacrificed to idols

Thayer also, as has been previously stated, gave "to suffer adultery" and "be debauched" in cases like Matthew 5: 32a where the word is written in the passive voice form.

On the uniqueness of the way the Greek word for "adultery" is given in Matt. 5: 32a Luck wrote:

1. The verb moikeuthanai in the text of Matthew 5:32 is an aorist passive/middle infinitive. As an infinitive, it is a verbal substantive. The question is, which (verbal or substantive) predominates this verse? The infinitive in question seems to be the direct object of the main verb, in our case, “to make” or “cause “ It identifies what the divorcing man makes her to experience.

Recall that we cited from Dr. Phil Johnson in the first article in this series who argued that the "aorist" tense, being "punctiliar," does not generally denote continuous or linear action. Many argue that since the present tense is mostly used to describe the action of adultery in the pertinent passages, it must therefore describe a continuous "state" of adultery because most often the present tense is linear, not denoting a specific point in time as does the aorist tense. But more on that later.

Luck continued:

2. As to voice, its force may be presumed to be not as strong as that of the main verb, but it cannot be ignored. In the case of our infinitive, the voice is passive or middle. If middle, there is a stress upon personal interest in the actor, in this case the treacherously divorced woman. It would emphasize her part in committing the sin of adultery. Since such interest would seem to displace the interest which the text clearly places upon the man who divorces her without grounds, the selection of this voice is generally ignored by interpreters in favor of a simple active force. If it is a passive, then the woman becomes the recipient of the adultery which is caused (main verb) by the divorcing husband. She suffers the sin of adultery, not commits itThe presumption rests with the passive, since the middle voice is more rare, and since the middle places a wrong emphasis upon the woman’s culpability rather than that of her former husband.

As we have stated, verbs in the passive and middle voice are written alike in Greek. So, it is possible, though unlikely for contextual reasons, that "commit adultery" be middle voice; And, if so, then the woman certainly would be implicated. She would then be viewed, after her unjust divorce, as not only actively sinning in remarrying but doing it for her own benefit. She would be not only the actor but the recipient of the action. But, as Luck says, "the selection of this voice is generally ignored by interpreters," though they offer an active voice interpretation to what is a passive voice word. She obviously is not committing adultery with or on herself!

Luck continued:

3. The exception to this presumption is when the verb is defective. Such a defective verb, called “deponent” by Greek scholars, would have to be one of a short list of such verbs which had, through the process of the evolution of the language, lost their active voice forms. Moikeuthanai is not one of those verbs, therefore, the presumption remains in favor of the passive interpretation and anyone suggesting otherwise has the burden of proof if he suggests another voice/force, namely active. The translation preferred would be either “he causes her to be adulterized” or “he causes her to suffer adultery.”

Those are two good translations, far better than those which imply that the woman herself sins by committing adultery.

Luck rightly points out that the act of the husband makes the innocent wife "AN ADULTERIZED WOMAN." He wrote:

"If a person is morally permitted only to divorce his wife on the grounds of “unchastity” (and in most instances this would entail adultery), but instead divorces her without these grounds, what does the divorce imply about this woman? The watching world will see the divorce and assume that the woman is guilty of adultery. This in effect puts the sin of the husband upon the head of the woman! He broke his vow of provision by divorcing her (a non-sexual form of adultery or treachery; see appendix D) and framed her with the stigma of being guilty of the only grounds for divorce allowed in the kingdom: sexual adultery. Thus, the woman is treated like a piece of property that has received the stamp “DEFECTIVE,” when in fact, it is the “stamper” who is morally defective. Moreover, grammatically, if the idea of the infinitive as a purpose of the main verb is stressed, it makes sense to say that the aim of his divorcing her is to render her adulterized, or “as an adulteress.” This might even be stronger if the infinitive were rendered as a noun: “He makes her an adulteress.”"

This is a better interpretation of Matthew 5: 32a than is commonly given in the commentaries, for it gets closer to the truth. Yet, it still comes short of what the words of the text are saying. Luck will demonstrate that truth.

Luck continued:

"But the likelihood is that the adulterization that the text wishes to express is not his “making her out to be” an adulteress (so Lenski), but rather that his act of divorcing makes her adulterized. In other words, it seeks to identify her husband as an adulterer. After all, the chief problem with the prevailing Pharasaical teachings on Deuteronomy 24:1-4 was their implication that the husband was guiltless. But as I believe I have shown in chapter 3, the text of Deuteronomy intends nothing of the kind; it was intended to protect the woman from such a man. How ironic that Murray and others have preserved the exact Pharasaical mistake by insisting that the woman is “implicated in adultery.” Rather, it is the husband who is guilty of adultery in the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:31 f."

It is indeed the husband who is guilty of adultery by his divorcing his wife without lawful grounds. As I have shown, "adultery" does not necessitate an actual sexual act, but an unlawful divorce or marriage are examples of it. Luck correctly says "it is the husband who is guilty of adultery."

When Does The Innocent Woman "Commit Adultery"?

Two questions need to be answered in regard to the woman who was put away by a hard-hearted husband and who is said to "commit adultery" (KJV and others) as a result. First, how, or in what way, does the innocent woman "commit adultery" in being unjustly divorced? Second, when does the innocent woman who has been divorced wrongfully become a victim of adultery?

Luck continued:

"As to when the act occurs, that is determined by the main verb, “to cause.” But the tense of the clause is present and must be supplemented by some other wording to identify when this causing is occurring. For that, the immediate context provides the explanation: when the divorcing takes place."

When does the husband cause his wife to commit adultery, or to be adulterized? It is at the time of the divorce. The Greek makes that very clear. This being so, it makes it totally untenable to say that the woman is made to commit adultery in a subsequent remarriage. Yet, in spite of this argumentation, many commentators continue to say that the woman is made to commit adultery when she remarries sometime later than the divorce. These facts are detrimental to those interpreters who interpret the words "causes her to commit adultery" (KJV) as being fulfilled at a time later than the time of the divorce and when the woman supposedly unlawfully remarries another man.

Luck continued:

5. The participle (“he who is divorcing”), which matches the main verb as to tense (present), voice (active) and mode (indicative) is predicative (essential to the meaning of the sentence), making a statement about the subject of the sentence, namely the divorcing man. It is possible that both the verb and the participle are present tense verbals functioning as perfects. That is with a stress more on the state of the action as being complete, rather than durative or continuing actions. But, in either option (present or perfect) the time of the participle is determined by the main verb and is presumed to be inexorably tied to it as to time. The “causing” the man does, occurs when the divorcing takes place, not at some subsequent time, such as her speculated remarriage.

Again, such reasoning destroys the idea that the woman commits adultery at a time later than the divorcing.

Luck continued:

Thus, in sum: “the one who is divorcing without the cause of fornication is causing his wife to be adulterized’ or “the one who is divorcing without the grounds of fornication is making his wife to suffer adultery”—or simply, when he groundlessly divorces her he makes her suffer adultery. He has broken his vows to her to care for her.

The woman was made the victim of the man's adultery when she was divorced. The two verbs "divorcing" and "making" are joined together and cannot be separated as to time.

Luck continued:

"Though they emphasize different sides of the coin, the main intent of both Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and Matthew 5:31-32 is to protect the woman from a hard-hearted husband who is treacherously inclined to treat her like chattel property. Deuteronomy 24 emphasizes the protection of the innocent wife. Matthew 5 emphasizes the culpability of the divorcing husband. Deuteronomy is not trying to exonerate the husband of the guilt of a form of adultery; Matthew is not trying to implicate the wife in adultery. Deuteronomy is not trying to offer a legal way out of a broken marriage; Matthew is not trying to prohibit the legal ending of a broken marriage. And by the same token, it is not the main purpose of Matthew to teach a legal way out of marriage. The exception clause is only an aside to the main point: implicating the treacherous male as an adulterer in the eyes of God over and against a Pharasaical, chauvinistic society."

It is important to realize, as Luck states, that Jesus, in the words of Matthew 5: 32, "is not trying to implicate the wife in adultery," although commentators and latter day interpreters try to do so.

Luck wrote:

"The grammar of the key verb form (“he who is divorcing”) is a present active participle, masculine singular. The Greeks seem to have loved participles, and a good number of that verb form are found in key divorce passages. Summers describes a participle as a verbal adjective. Being present active, the idea of continuous action is underscored. But, as Summers is quick to add, ‘The time of action in participles is indicated in the relation of the action of the participle to the action of the main verb.” He goes on to say, ‘The present participle indicates action which is contemporaneous with the action of the main verb.” And again, “… it is sufficient to know that the present participle indicates continuous action which takes place at the same time as the action of the main verb.” Thus, in our verse, the divorcing of the woman occurs at the time when he causes or makes his wife to experience adultery. This participle appears to be used in the attributive position and therefore should be given a relative translation: “The one who divorces…is the one who is causing…” It is, therefore, not proper to imply, as many interpreters seem to do, that the divorcing subsequently leads to the causing of the woman to commit adultery, when she remarries. The divorcing occurs at the time of the causing, not previously to it."

Clearly Luck shows the error in finding the fulfillment of "commit adultery" in a subsequent remarriage that occurs at a time later than the time of divorce.

Next, Luck wrote:

"R. C. H. Lenski had previously challenged this traditional interpretive framework as poorly analyzed by it proponents. In 1943 Lenski argued the following points:

1. The woman of 5:32a is innocent of wrong. It is her husband who has destroyed the marriage by the divorce-rendering her unable to fulfill her marital commitments. It is improper grammatically to find the responsible agent for her “adultery” in a second, hypothetical husband, for the causal agent of an infinitive must precede it.

I believe this to be so. The "cause" for the woman being an adulteress, or the victim of adultery, is not in her remarrying, but is in the act of her husband divorcing her. His divorcing her is the "causal agent" that precedes her being adulterated. It cannot be that her subsequent remarriage is what causes her to "commit adultery" for that act comes after the infinitive.

All commentators who find that the woman "commits adultery" in her remarriage make her to do it actively and not passively, but such is not possible by the Greek grammar, unless it be taken as a case of the middle voice, which nearly all agree would be out of context to do. It is true that "commit adultery" is a valid translation of most occurrences of the Greek verb because they are in the active voice, but such is not the case in Matthew 5:32a, which gives the verb in either the passive or middle voice.

Luck continued:

"Thus, in sum: “the one who is divorcing without the cause of fornication is causing his wife to be adulterized" or “the one who is divorcing without the grounds of fornication is making his wife to suffer adultery”—or simply, when he groundlessly divorces her he makes her suffer adultery. He has broken his vows to her to care for her."

That is correct. The man who put away his wife for reasons other than fornication is the one guilty of adultery. And, if this is so, then of course the woman has a right to remarry.

Is The Unlawfully Divorced Woman Free To Remarry?

One of the chief questions to determine in regard to the innocent woman in Matthew 5: 32a is whether she is really "divorced," that is, divorced "in the eyes of God." Or, is she, as many affirm, still married (in the eyes of God) to her husband who divorced her without cause? Of course, if the latter is true, then of course she cannot remarry but must 1) be reunited with the husband who divorced her, or 2) remain unmarried until her former husband frees her by his own act of adultery. If, however, the former is true, that she is truly divorced in the eyes of God by the act of her husband, then it cannot be a sin for her to remarry, nor a sin for a man to marry her.

Kevin Pendergrass wrote the following in his article "MARRIAGE IS DISSOLVED BY DIVORCE" (see here emphasis mine):

"There are some who teach that marriage can’t be dissolved except through death or a lawful divorce. The reality is that marriage is in fact dissolved through divorce (regardless of the reason) and death. The Bible teaches, in both the Old and New Testament, that marriage is dissolved through divorce, even if it is unlawful divorce."

This is the error of those, like my father, who think that most marriages are not ended by divorce. And, if they are not ended by divorce, "in the eyes of God," then of course a remarriage would be instances of adultery.

Wrote Pendergrass:

"In Deuteronomy 24:1-4, under the Law of Moses, the Bible teaches that if a man divorced his wife and she went and became another man’s wife, then she couldn’t return back to her original husband even if her current husband was to die. This was to protect the woman."

This reasoning completely annihilates the reasoning of those, like father, who think that unlawful divorces are not really divorces, and that people remain married "in the eyes of God" even though they are divorced. If the husband unlawfully divorces his wife (for a reason other than fornication), the strict view would say that the man must seek the return of his divorced wife, and that the divorced wife must also seek to be returned to her estranged former husband, but this text forbids such a thing. Ergo, the strict view is shown to be false. Divorce, even unjustified divorce, severs the marriage.

Wrote Pendergrass:

"Jesus also taught that marriage can be dissolved. In John 4:17-18, Jesus recognized that the woman at the well had been married to 5 husbands and was currently living with someone she wasn’t even married to."

Exactly so!

Wrote Pendergrass:

"If marriage was not dissolved through divorce, then Jesus would have told the woman to return to her original spouse, or He would have told her to return to the last man to whom she was scripturally married. However, that wasn’t what Jesus said. Instead, Jesus acknowledged that the woman had been married 5 times. Jesus taught that the woman had no husband (Jn. 4:17). Divorce, even unlawfully, dissolves marriage according to Jesus."

Again, this is correct and is against the strict view of father and many Hardshells and Campbellites that affirms that people who remarry after an illegal divorce "live in a state of adultery."

Wrote Pendergrass:

"Not only did Moses and Jesus teach that marriage can be dissolved, but Paul also taught that marriage can be dissolved. According to 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, man can separate what God has joined together. Even though someone may divorce unlawfully, Paul taught that divorce severs the marriage. The apostle Paul says that when a wife departs from her husband they are unmarried. The word for depart/divorces is the same word used in Matthew 19:6, translated separate or put asunder. Thus, one can separate what God has joined together according to Paul. Some believe that Paul is referring to mere separation. However, that position can not be sustained. Paul uses the exact same word Jesus used. Furthermore, Paul is clearly referring to divorce in this context (1 Cor. 7:11b)."

Again, this is correct. We will hopefully expand on some of this when we look at the Matthew 19 and I Corinthian 7 passages.

Is The Adultery Continuous?

Luck wrote:

4. The tense of the infinitive is aorist. This tense implies “punctiliar action,” action which is conceptually complete, not a continuing activity." 

Infinitives in English are generally recognized by the use of the preposition "to" (at least what are called "full infinitives"). We don't use them as much in English as do other languages, including NT koine Greek. When we say "to swim is fun," we have used an infinitive. The Greek word moikeuthanai is therefore translated properly in English as "to commit adultery" or "to be adulterized," or "to be the victim of adultery."

The Greek verb moikeuthanai in the text of Matthew 5:32 is an aorist passive/middle infinitive. "Commit adultery" is twice mentioned in Matt. 5: 32, but only in the first instance is the tense aorist, while the latter is in the present tense, its normal tense in the NT. As stated, many argue that "commit adultery" is a state, and not a single act, and say that the present tense shows this to be so, since present tense is "linear" and denotes continuous action. But, there are some problems with this line of reasoning. First, it is not always true that the present tense denotes ongoing action, though it generally does. Second, though it may denote linear action, it does not denote action that has no end. Third, why is the aorist tense used in the first instance of "commit adultery"? Generally, the aorist tense speaks of events that are not linear! This is what Dr. Phil Johnson argued in the first posting. The woman who suffers adultery is not said to suffer it continuously.

Wrote Luck:

"The tense of the infinitive for the act of adultery is aorist, which stresses punctiliar action. “Punctiliar” means specific action, indefinite or undefined as to the time it occurs. If you want further to pin the time down for the infinitive, you have to refer to the time sense of the main verb. Compare this with Acts 15:37, where Barnabas proposes to take Mark on the pending missionary journey. Thus, the debated phrase relating to the divorce woman and adultery, would seem to be saying that the point-act of adultery happens when he causes it, which, in turn happens when the divorce takes place. All of this supports our previous conclusion that recourse to the second, independent saying should not be taken, but the first saying should be interpreted on its own. And, it would seem that only an interpretation such as we have offered here, “causes her to be adulterized,” or perhaps, “causes her to suffer adultery” will do justice to the grammar."

Wrote Pendergrass in "MATTHEW 19:9 AND THE PRESENT INDICATIVE" (see here):

"In the Greek language, the phrase “commits adultery” is present indicative in Matthew 19:9. In the Greek, the present indicative usually carries with it the force of continuation. Some have made the argument based upon the Greek language that one is continuing in adultery as long as they continue in a subsequent marriage after their divorce. In this article, I am going to explain why such is not the case."

But, as stated, "commit adultery" is not always in the "present tense"; the words "makes her to commit adultery," for instance, are in the aorist tense. Though it is true that "the present indicative usually carries with it the force of continuation," it is not universally so.

Wrote Pendergrass:

"First, the present indicative doesn’t necessitate continued action and can refer to a completed action. Professor Osburn states it this way:

“…Greek syntax requires that each occurrence of the present indicative be understood in terms of its context to determine whether continuity is involved. The context of Matt. 19:3-12 involves a discussion of general truth, as a ‘gnomic present’ in which continuity is not under consideration…” (Carroll Osburn, The Present Indicative in Matt. 19:9. Restoration Quarterly Corporation, Abilene, Taxes, Vol. 24, No. 4, 1981. p. 193; See also: Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 517; Robertson, The Grammar of the Greek New Testament In Light of Historical Research, Nashville, Tenn,; Broadman Press, 1934, p. 864-865).

Therefore, it is erroneous to assume that an action must be continual just because it is in the present indicative."

Exactly so, and therefore, the burden of proof is on those who insist that a state of adultery continues when it has been initially committed by an act of adultery.

Wrote Pendergrass:

"The tenses found in the marital teachings of Jesus are anything but uniform. Let me explain.

For example, in Matthew 5:32a, the divorcing is present tense and the adultery committed is aorist. In Matthew 5:32b, the divorcing is in the perfect tense, the remarrying is aorist, and the adultery is in the present.

Below I have broken it down by action:

Divorce (Present: Mt. 5:32a; Lk. 16:18a; Perfect: Mt. 5:32b; Lk. 16:18b; Mk. 10:10-12; Mt. 19:9a; Mt. 19:9b). Marries Another (Aorist: Mt. 5:32b; Mt. 19:9b; Present: Lk. 16:18a; Lk. 16:18b; Perfect: Mk. 10:10-12; Mt. 19:9a). Commits Adultery (Aorist: Mt. 5:32a; Present: Mt. 5:32b; Lk. 16:18a; Lk. 16:18b; Mk. 10:10-12; Mt. 19:9a; Mt. 19:9b).

As one can tell, when we compare the narratives, there is little uniformity among the tenses in the marital teachings."

Again, all this shows that the argumentation for a state of adultery based upon the use of the Greek present tense for the verb translated "commit adultery" is not sound or convincing.

Wrote Pendergrass under the heading "INCONSISTENT APPLICATION":

"If one wants to reason that the adultery is an ongoing state in Matthew 19:9 simply on the basis of the present indicative, then one would also have to reason that the divorce attained unlawfully is an ongoing state of sin as well since it is in the present indicative in Matthew 5:32 and Luke 16:18. When one divorces (or was divorced) unlawfully, even if they remain single, they are in a constant state of separating what God has joined together (Mt. 19:6), regardless if they remarry. Yet, this doesn’t mean one can’t remain single after an unlawful divorce just because it is in the present indicative anymore than it would mean one can’t remain in their new marriage after an unlawful divorce just because it is in the present indicative.

This is sound reasoning!

Wrote Pendergrass:

"In other words, if one wants to base their argument solely upon this faulty understanding of the present tense, then remaining single after obtaining an unlawful divorce is just as sinful as remarrying after obtaining an unlawful divorce since both actions (divorce and adultery) are seen in the present indicative in the marital teachings of Jesus. Obviously, this conclusion is nonsensical and demonstrates why one should abstain from making Greek tense arguments when dealing with hypothetical time."

Again, such reasoning completely overthrows the argumentation that the present tense linear supports the idea that adultery is not a single act but a continuous state.

Wrote Pendergrass under "THE ONGOING EFFECT":

"Let’s say someone rejected all of the above information and still wanted to base their argument on the present indicative, believing that it is continual. If such were the case, then the present indicative at best would show how the effects of the unlawful divorce and marriage are continual. Consider a murderer who takes a man’s life. He can repent, but the effects of that action will always be continuous. He will always be deemed a “murderer.” If a man mistreats his wife and divorces her, there will be an ongoing effect that he was a bad husband. The same is true if someone divorces unlawfully to marry someone else. Sure, they can be forgiven, but those effects will always be there."

Again, this is sound reasoning.

In the next posting we will continue our look at Matthew 5: 32 and particularly the latter part of the verse that says "and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."

I was intending to include this look at the latter part of the verse in this posting, but seeing it is long enough, will do so in the next.