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Studies │ Remarriage after Divorce

Matthew 19:6, Page 1534

“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

1.5 Answer: What God Has Joined Together, Let No Man Separate.

Jesus taught that marriage changes a man and woman into one flesh. You see how Jesus handled the question of divorce. Because God has joined a male and female in marriage, they have now become one flesh. We know that God spoke of a sexual union here, as you can see in 1 Corinthians 6:17, page 1788. In that passage, Jesus spoke about a man becoming one flesh with a prostitute. A spiritual union results from sexual activity, even with a prostitute. You may intend to have only sex, but God revealed that a spiritual union also takes place through sex. In Matthew 19: 6, page 1534, Jesus described this sexual union as one flesh. God created this union in Genesis, as we saw above. Jesus then spoke about the implication. If God joined a male and female in marriage, resulting in a sexual and spiritual union, then no man should separate God’s work of joining the male and female together. In fact, we should rejoice over God’s plan for forming a strong, spiritual and sexual bond between one male and one female for life. 1Of course, we know that in heaven, we shall be like the angels, who are neither married nor given in marriage. See Luke 21:34-36.

Now, let us focus upon the notion that man may separate what God has joined together. Let us take this matter in parts. First, we have seen that God joins a male and a female in a sexual and spiritual union He called marriage. Second, God has taken all the initiative. He “joined” the male with the female. This term for “joined” has special significance in this passage. 2The Greek term for “joined” (“συνέζευξεν”) appears in the aorist tense. The aorist tense highlights the totality, finality, and completeness of the term “joined.” The subject of the verb is “God.” The verb also stands in the active voice, meaning that God, not a human, joined the the male and female in marriage. Finally, we should also observe the indicative mood. The indicative mood speaks of actual reality. So, Jesus taught that God, not man, completely and finally joined a male and female together, and they absolutely exist henceforth as one flesh. This term “joined” pinpointed God’s special activity. God joined one male to one female in marriage. Notice the heavy emphasis upon God doing all the work. He once and for all times joined one male and one female. So, the contrast could not be brighter when Jesus commanded all men never to separate what God has joined together. 3In the Greek text, Jesus phrased it so that you could translate it: “man shall not separate.” The technical details here matter. Just as God joined, so a “man” (ἄνθρωπος “) (notice the singular) shall not separate. This negative term “no”  (“μὴ“) indicated that under no circumstances (with the subjunctive verb) should the man separate what God joined together. Jesus could have used the other word for no (“οὐκ“) normally used with the indicative mood, but instead he used the normal “no” used with the subjunctive mood. In this context, however, Jesus apparently taught that “no” here means under no circumstances, no possibility of man separating. Jesus also emphasized the action of separation (“χωριζέτω“). This verb indicates moving apart, separating, divorcing. This same root word occurs in 1 Corinthians 7:15, page 1788: “Yet, if the unbelieving one leaves (“χωρίζεται), let him leave (“χωριζέσθω:“); the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.”  This same root word helps us understand both passages, because both passages speak about divorce as “separating” or “leaving.” The New American Standard translators did not use the same English words, but the Greek text helps you understand the close relationship between the act of “man separates,” just as the “unbeliever leaves,” but actually separates from the spouse in the sense of “divorce” in Matthew 19:6, page 1534. Notice that God joins one male and one female in marriage, but man separates what God has joined together. Jesus contrasted the blessed activity of God joining a male and female in marriage, with the sinful activity of man in separating what God has joined together. In essence, God joins and man separates. God never intended any form of separation, for any reason, ever. God never separates what He has joined together. We will see Jesus expand upon that basic premise in the next verses.

So, to summarize, Jesus did not permit divorce for any reason. He commanded man not to separate a man and a woman God had joined in marriage. Jesus based His command upon creation of man and woman, and God’s purpose in joining one man to one woman in marriage so that they became one flesh.

Now, Jesus will respond to the second question of the Pharisees. Jesus gave a very thorough answer stating that God never intended divorce, but only permitted it based upon the hardness of heart in certain sinful spouses. God intended that the marriage of one man to one woman results in those two people becoming one flesh in marriage. Jesus also taught that this union had spiritual dimensions and consequences. No man should separate by divorce what God had joined together in marriage. All marriage has spiritual roots in God’s activity in human lives, joining them together for life and blessing together.

References │ Page Numbers Below Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Of course, we know that in heaven, we shall be like the angels, who are neither married nor given in marriage. See Luke 21:34-36.
2. The Greek term for “joined” (“συνέζευξεν”) appears in the aorist tense. The aorist tense highlights the totality, finality, and completeness of the term “joined.” The subject of the verb is “God.” The verb also stands in the active voice, meaning that God, not a human, joined the the male and female in marriage. Finally, we should also observe the indicative mood. The indicative mood speaks of actual reality. So, Jesus taught that God, not man, completely and finally joined a male and female together, and they absolutely exist henceforth as one flesh.
3. In the Greek text, Jesus phrased it so that you could translate it: “man shall not separate.” The technical details here matter. Just as God joined, so a “man” (ἄνθρωπος “) (notice the singular) shall not separate. This negative term “no”  (“μὴ“) indicated that under no circumstances (with the subjunctive verb) should the man separate what God joined together. Jesus could have used the other word for no (“οὐκ“) normally used with the indicative mood, but instead he used the normal “no” used with the subjunctive mood. In this context, however, Jesus apparently taught that “no” here means under no circumstances, no possibility of man separating. Jesus also emphasized the action of separation (“χωριζέτω“). This verb indicates moving apart, separating, divorcing. This same root word occurs in 1 Corinthians 7:15, page 1788: “Yet, if the unbelieving one leaves (“χωρίζεται), let him leave (“χωριζέσθω:“); the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.”  This same root word helps us understand both passages, because both passages speak about divorce as “separating” or “leaving.” The New American Standard translators did not use the same English words, but the Greek text helps you understand the close relationship between the act of “man separates,” just as the “unbeliever leaves,” but actually separates from the spouse in the sense of “divorce” in Matthew 19:6, page 1534.