Posts Tagged ‘uncleanness’

What the Bible says about divorce.

September 23, 2016
Deut. 24:1 says a man is permitted to put away his wife for “uncleanness.” It was universally accepted that women were not allowed to put away their husband according to the Law for most of this era. Jesus said if you put away your wife, if not for pornea (a rare Greek word that was used to describe a prostitute’s immoral actions in the Septuagint by the Jews from the Old Testament as they translated it from Hebrew into Greek for the King of Egypt’s great Alexandrian Library) then marry another you commit adultery. Paul spoke about Jesus’ command for the wife not to separate from her husband and the man not to divorce his wife in 1 Cor. 7:10-11. Since the woman was not allowed to divorce her husband, according to Scripture, Paul used the very common Greek word “separate” which comes from the Greek root word used by Jesus when he said, “Do not separate what God has joined together.” But, since the man was permitted in scripture to put away his wife for pornea, Paul used the rare and formal Greek word seen for a more traditional style Roman divorce in 1 Cor. 7:11b. Josephus used both these words in his writing about a couple who divorced showing that “separate” meant the leaving process or a more informal type of Greco-Roman divorce while the “divorce” word seen in 1 Cor. 7:11b was used by the Jewish Greeks who wished to obtain a Get (Wit of Divorcement) in order to be free to marry another. Since the man did have allowance for remarriage Paul did not tell him to “remain unmarried or to be reconciled” as he did the wife in 1 Cor. 7:11. 1 Cor. 7:12-15 was the Corinthian’s understanding and application of the Law of Ezra 10:3 when the Jews were commanded to put away their wives and the children that were born unto them. We know this because Paul says in 1 Cor. 7:14 that the children would otherwise be “unclean.” The believers were similarly told to separate from the unbelievers being “unequally yoked” in 2 Cor. 6 and not to have fellowship with them. But even then, Paul said if the unbeliever wished to stay married than let them remain. 1 Cor. 7:15 “separate” is in the present tense and shows the only allowance to divorce an unbeliever is if they have already initiated the divorce process according to Roman laws.
Difficult sayings in the Bible concerning divorce: 1) The reason Mark has an account of a woman putting away her husband in 10:12 is because this book was a letter that was written to the Gentiles living in Rome. Because it emphasized that this was a “private” account of Jesus’ saying we can understanding the author is speaking directly to the Gentile audience which allowed divorces initiated by the woman (evident by Harold marrying his brother Phillip’s wife- Herodias probably divorced Phillip for Harold). 2) The reason Paul uses the formal Greek word for divorce in both 1 Cor. 7:12 and verse 13 is that it was evident that the women had an improper understanding of gender equality in this church (1 Cor. 11:2-16 and 1 Cor. 14:34-36). It was obvious that they must have felt that they had every right to divorce as a man in certain situations. So, when the question about the Law of Ezra 10:3 came up among these believers the women thought they could use, or commanded to obey, this Law as a means to put away their unbelieving husband as the men were told to put away their unbelieving wife in order to keep the seed pure. And the reason Paul uses the word “separate” in both accounts in 1 Cor. 7:15 is that Paul was demonstrating that the divorce by the unbeliever was not according to scripture and Paul commands the believer to allow their unbelieving spouse this type of unscriptural divorce.
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The Cure For Divorce

March 17, 2010