View Poll Results: In Matthew 5:31-32, is Jesus using hyperbole or is He being literal?

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  • Hyperbole

    4 8.89%
  • Literal

    33 73.33%
  • I don't know

    3 6.67%
  • Other

    5 11.11%
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Thread: Remarriage = Adultery: Hyperbole or Literal

  1. #1
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    Remarriage = Adultery: Hyperbole or Literal

    In Matthew 5:31-32, is Jesus using hyperbole or is He being literal when He says that remarriage after a groundless divorce is equivalent to adultery?

    Please offer an explanation for your answer. Thanks!

  2. #2
    I think under jewish law, you could only remarry and not commit adultery, if your partner died. I could be wrong.


    Quote Originally Posted by LookingUp View Post
    In Matthew 5:31-32, is Jesus using hyperbole or is He being literal when He says that remarriage after a groundless divorce is equivalent to adultery?

    Please offer an explanation for your answer. Thanks!

  3. #3
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    Neither. That's not what he's saying. (See the husband of one wife thread.)

  4. #4
    My question is why would anyone assume that Jesus is not speaking in a literal way? It's not a parable.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by chad View Post
    I think under jewish law, you could only remarry and not commit adultery, if your partner died. I could be wrong.
    Can you vote and give your explanation? Sounds like you would vote “literal.”

    Quote Originally Posted by PneumaPsucheSoma View Post
    Neither. That's not what he's saying. (See the husband of one wife thread.)
    Sounds like you would vote “other.” Can you vote and give your explanation for those who read this thread?

    Quote Originally Posted by embankmentlb View Post
    My question is why would anyone assume that Jesus is not speaking in a literal way? It's not a parable.....
    I assume you are the one who voted “literal” and your explanation is “Why would we assume otherwise?" Is that correct?

  6. #6
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    I think that remarriage after a groundless divorce does not literally equate to adultery. I chose “hyperbole.”

    This teaching of Jesus is in the same context as other teachings where Jesus is obviously using hyperbole (or exaggeration). Should we take those who are angry with their brothers in Christ to the supreme court (Mt. 5:22)? Should we approach a brother struggling with lust as an adulterer (Mt. 5:28) and tear out his eye (Mt. 5:29)? These are forms of hyperbole in order to make a point—in order to get to the heart of the matter. If you answer “no” to the above questions, then why should we treat someone who marries one who had a groundless divorce as an adulterer? Should we reprove and counsel this person the same way we would reprove and counsel a cheating spouse?

    I know Jesus is making us aware of a higher standard than what is actually written in the law, but I don’t think He did this so that we could have newer and stricter laws with which to judge each other. These issues in Matthew 5 all seem like private issues of the heart to me—anger, lust, untrustworthiness, lack of mercy, hate. Divorce is so complex and is often not the result of just one spouse. It’s often the result of unchecked heart issues (for one or both spouses) that go on far too long. And who is the judge of our hearts? I think Jesus’ point is that our hearts will be judged by God, not that anger should literally be treated as murder, not that lust should literally be treated as adultery, and not that remarriage should literally be treated as adultery.

  7. #7
    LU, that's a nice trick. I wish I had the guts to cherry pick passages I didn't agree with & just say " Jesus realy didn't mean that".

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    Quote Originally Posted by embankmentlb View Post
    LU, that's a nice trick. I wish I had the guts to cherry pick passages I didn't agree with & just say " Jesus realy didn't mean that".
    Thanks for your helpful reply.

  9. #9
    The 3 explinations I never buy into:
    - Jesus didn't realy say that
    - the original Greek word says this
    - so & so explained it this way.

    It might just be the Bible says what it means but you don't yet have a complete understanding...
    It was after all inspired by God.

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    I think he is literal here as he was in the Sermon on the Mount when he said the exact same thing (Matt 5:31)
    Quote Originally Posted by Job 34:19
    God is not partial to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of His hands.

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    To understand what Jesus is saying in Matt. 5:31-32, one must look at the previous verses in ch. 5 leading up to this teaching. The traditional meaning generally causes this to be a simple "read-over" without digging out the significance and context of what He's teaching. This also applies to Matt. 19 and its semi-parallels in Mark 10 and Luke 16.

    A simple English reading is what has given us an erroneous interpretation of what Jesus is referring to in this passage. Defining a few misunderstood words is essential, and that requires looking at the Greek words He chose when teaching.

    In the foregoing verses of chapter 5, Jesus follows the Beatitudes with the central teaching of His ministry in v17-20. He says He has not come to destroy the Law or prophets, but to fulfill. Not one jot/tittle shall pass 'til all be fulfilled; and whoever shall break one least commandment and teach men so, he shall be least in the kingdom, and vice versa for doing and teaching them for being great in the kingdom.

    Each of the next teachings shows what Jesus means by fulfill: exhaust the complete letter of the Law while adding an intensive that applies to the heart instead of mere ordinance. He carefully expresses the Law with no changes, adding ONLY a deeper accountability for true obedience over simple compliance. Adding or subtracting from the Law would destroy it rather than fulfill it.

    The topics begin with some version of "Ye have heard that it was said...", followed by "...But I say unto you...". He always upholds the OT Law, then applies its heart-meaning for accountability of INTENT in addition to ACTION. He's contrasting works with faith, among other things. BUT HE NEVER CHANGES THE LAW.

    There are 4 key words to look at in Matt. 5:31-32 for accurate interpretation:

    • put*away (apoluo G630)
    • writing*of*divorcement (apostasion G647)
    • fornication (porneia G4202 from 4203 from 4204 from 4205)
    • adultery (moichao G3429)

    Then we have to look at what the Law says about divorce/remarriage:

    • Deut. 24:1-4....non-adultery divorce and remarriage for both parties
    • Lev. 20:10....marital adultery with death penalty
    • Ex. 21:3-11....treatment and entitlement of slave wives
    • Num. 5:11-31...."Law of Jealousy" ritual for wives suspected of adultery

    (CONTINUED)

  12. #12
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    Much improved on the poll text.

    It's my opinion it's kind of both. On one hand, with perfection it absolutely is adultery to remarry after an unlawful divorce. However, the point of the SoTM here is that perfection in the law is impossible to achieve; God's grace covers a great deal of sin.

  13. #13
    CF, you got it. If we had the capability to Fulfill the law, that is be sinless, Jesus could have stayed home.

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    (CONTINUED)

    put*away (G630) refers to a verbal divorcement, practiced under Babylonian law and superceded by the written bill of divorcement in Deut. 24.

    bill*of*divorcement (G647) refers to a written divorcement, required by the Law.

    Jesus is addressing the entire written Law about divorce types in practice at that time. Men were changing wives like shoes by "putting them away" verbally. This meant they had no writ to prove they weren't an adulteress; and they were sent away with no possessions, often with the husband keeping her dowry and providing no financial support. Women were destitute and turning to harlotry to survive. Those who found another partner were "stuck" as adultresses, causing any new partner to also become an adulterer by the Law since they were still married. In short... husbands were verbally divorcing by Babylonian law to avoid the penalty of Jewish Law, leaving the wife in a "limbo" of perpetual hopeless adultery. The husbands were greedy, selfish, and heartless about these consequences imposed upon others.

    The only exception the Law gives that doesn't require a bill of divorcement is one that was based on fornication (G4202+), which is exclusively used in the NT to indicate idolatrous adultery: pagan wives, ritual prostitutes, homosexuals, and incestuous marriages. These were unlawful at inception and required no bill.

    Jesus is exhausting the detail of the Law by demanding a written bill of divorcement under Jewish Law, unless it was an idolatrous forbidden marriage. THEN He goes on to the heart accountability issue when addressing adultery (G3429). He is making the husbands culpable for their malicious intent in verbally putting away their wives. They bear the guilt of the adultery of their innocent wife and her future partner.

    • Deut. 24 allows non-adultery written divorcement.
    • Matt. 5 & Matt. 19 uphold that in Jesus' own teaching.

    Broken vows are an issue, but only on a stand-alone basis like any other broken vow to God.

    For those under condemnation of traditional erroneous misinterpretations on divorce and remarriage:

    "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32

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    Quote Originally Posted by embankmentlb View Post
    The 3 explinations I never buy into:
    - Jesus didn't realy say that
    - the original Greek word says this
    - so & so explained it this way.

    It might just be the Bible says what it means but you don't yet have a complete understanding...
    It was after all inspired by God.
    I will loan you the money to buy a CLUE.

    You evidently think Jesus' specific usage of words is insignificant and assign a superimposed exclusionary modern meaning to those words. He chose G630 and G647 to teach. He chose G4202 and G3429. They have pervasive meaning. Jesus didn't stutter.

    There is HUGE accountability in teaching the Word, especially an error that brings shame and condemnation to sooooooo many.

    "My brethren, be not many masters (teachers), knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation." - James 3:1

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