Matthew Chapter 19

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  1. And it came to pass, when Jesus finished these words, He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.
  2. And many crowds followed Him, and He healed them there.
Marriage and Separation
  1. And some Pharisees approached Him, testing Him and saying; “Is it lawful for a man to send away[1]“send away” is literal here, though it’s typically translated divorce in this passage. The same word is used of Jesus “sending away” crowds and Pilate “sending away” (releasing) Barabbas. Paul uses a different Greek word when talking about divorce in 1 Corinthians. The Hebrew divorce procedure is found in Deut 24:1 and had three parts: 1) write a divorce certificate. 2) Give it to your wife. 3) Send her away from your house. However, if a man “sent her away” (kicked her out of his house) without a divorce certificate, in that culture she was destitute. She was still legally married because she didn’t have a divorce certificate, so she couldn’t marry anyone else without being an adulteress. Often, her only resort to feed herself was prostitution.  There was a debate as to whether this was lawful according to the Mosaic Law. This was one of the two great debates centering on divorce. (See following note for the other debate) The Pharisees cleverly asked about both in a single question here.  Jesus’ response makes it clear that spouses should live together as long as they are married. his wife for every[3]“every reason” is literal.  During Jesus day, there was a great debate between the rabbinic schools of Shammai and Hillel on what was an acceptable reason for a divorce (or merely “sending away”; see previous note).  The Hebrew divorce procedure is found in Deut 24:1 and includes this preamble: “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and she doesn’t find favor in his eyes because he finds some indecency in her…“.  The school of Shammai took the “indecency” part to mean there must be some kind of sexual indiscretion/exposure before a man could divorce her.  While Hillel’s school focused on the “not finding favor” part.  They said anything he didn’t like – even burning his dinner – could be grounds for divorce.  Essentially, Hillel’s school said a man could divorce his wife for “every reason”.  This was one of the two great debates centering on divorce. (See previous note for the other debate) The Pharisees cleverly asked about both in a single question here. reason?”[2]“reason” The Greek word here is usually used in the judicial sense of an accusation of a crime.
  2. Then answering, He said; “Haven’t you read that from the beginning, He who created them, made them male and female?[4]Quotation/allusion to Genesis 1:26-27
  3. “And He also said: for this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife.  And the two will become one flesh,[5]Quotation allusion to Genesis 2:24.  Jesus appears to be talking solely about a physical union here (not a spiritual one). Paul makes this clearer in 1 Corinthians 6:16, where the Genesis 2:24 is also applied to sex with prostitutes.
  4. “so then, they’re no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore, what God has yoked together,[6]“yoked together” is literal.  A “yoke” is a contoured wooden beam used to join two beast of burden (cows, oxen, etc.) together so they can pull a heavy load together. man must not separate.[7]Literally “let man not separate”, which is a 3rd person imperative command in the Greek, which we don’t have in English. The Greek word translated “separate” here literally means to depart, vacate, or “create space”; or to “place room between” (Strong’s).  See note on “send away” in verse 3. Paul uses this word in 1 Corinthians 7 in the section on divorce, but it’s not translated divorce there.  There, it’s typically translated “leave” instead.
  5. They said to Him; “Then why did Moses command to give her a scroll of divorce and to send her away?”[8]quotation/allusion to Deuteronomy 24:1, which lists the three things a man must do to divorce his wife. The final two parts of the divorce procedure were to give the wife a scroll of divorce and send her away from his house.
  6. He told them; “Moses allowed you to send away[9]see note on “send away” in verse 3. your wives because of your hard hearts.  But from the beginning it didn’t – and doesn’t – happen this way.
  7. “But I tell you: Whoever sends away[10]see note on “send away” in verse 3. his wife – except for sexual immorality – and marries another woman of the same kind[11]“another woman of the same kind” is one word in Greek, with that exact definition.  The “of the same kind” part likely refers to a woman who is merely “sent away” and not properly divorced. See note on “send away” in verse 3. is guilty of sex with another man’s wife.[12]“is guilty of sex with another man’s wife” is one word in the Greek, typically translated “commits adultery”. However, the Greek word (and Hebrew too) is more limited in scope than our English word adultery. In English, “adultery” means illicit sex between a married person – man or woman – and someone who isn’t their spouse. In Greek (and Hebrew also), it meant “a man having sex with another man’s wife”. A married man having sex with an unmarried woman was still a serious sin, but the not the specific sin of adultery. (See the Greek/Hebrew word definitions; or Easton’s Bible dictionary entry on adultery.) [[13]Some manuscripts add: [And the man who marries her who was – and is – merely sent away is guilty of sex with another man’s wife.]  This textual variant is absent from the earliest and best manuscripts, and quotes by the early church fathers support the shorter reading.  It is essentially identical to Mathew 5:32, and was probably copied over from there.  Therefore, it hasn’t been included in the main text of the BOS Bible.]
  8. His disciples said to Him; “If the accusation against[14]“accusation against” ; the Greek word here is usually used in the judicial sense of an accusation of a crime. a man and wife is like this, it’s better not to marry.”
  9. And He told them; “Not all receive this word, but only who it was – and is – given to.[15]“was – and is – given to” is one word in Greek.  It’s in the Greek perfect tense, which is (sort of) a combination of our past and present tenses.
  10. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb.  And there are eunuchs who were made into eunuchs by men.  And there are eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of the heavens. He who can accept this, let him accept it.
Let the Children Come
  1. Then some young children were brought to Him, so that He might lay hands on them and pray. However, the disciples scolded them.
  2. But Jesus said; “Let the young children go and don’t forbid them to come to Me.  For of such a kind is the kingdom of the heavens.
  3. And after laying hands on them, He departed from there.
The Rich Young Man
  1. And behold; after approaching Him, one man said; “What good might I do, so that I might have the life of ages?[16]“life of ages” is literal, and captures the duration as well as the quality of the life, which the traditional interpretation of “eternal life” doesn’t.  The word translated “ages” (αἰώνιον) is the adjective form of the Greek word “αἰών” (aion), which is used – for example – in Matthew 24:3 “what are the signs of your coming and the end of the age?”  Virtually all lexicons define αἰών (the noun form) as “age”, but some want to change the adjective form’s meaning to “eternal” instead of “age-long” or “of ages”.  This despite “of ages” conveying a similar – and more literally accurate – meaning.
  2. And He said to him; “Why do you ask Me about good?  Only one is good.  But if you wish to enter into the life, keep the commandments.”
  3. He said to Him; “What sort of commandment?”  And Jesus said; “You will not murder, you will not have sex with another man’s wife,[17]“have sex with another man’s wife” is one word in the Greek, typically translated “commit adultery”. However, the Greek word (and Hebrew too) is more limited in scope than our English word adultery. In English, “adultery” means illicit sex between a married person – man or woman – and someone who isn’t their spouse. In Greek (and Hebrew also), it meant “a man having sex with another man’s wife”. A married man having sex with an unmarried woman was typically called fornication or sexual immorality. you will not steal, you will not commit perjury.[18]quotation/allusion to Exodus 20:13-16
  4. you must honor your father and mother,[19]quotation/allusion to Exodus 20:12 and you will show preference[20]The Greek word used here is “ἀγαπάω” (agapao), which is the verb form of “ἀγάπη” (agape), typically translated “love”. However, unlike our English word “love” – which primarily speaks of affection and feelings – agape centers on preference.  In the verb form, it literally means “to prefer” or “show preference for”.  In the New Testament, that usually means “moral preference”, or “actively preferring what God prefers” in what we do, not just in what we feel.    It’s the “love” based on will, choice, and action; not merely feelings. to your neighbor as yourself.[21]quotation/allusion to Leviticus 19:18
  5. The young man said to Him; “I have carefully observed[22]“carefully observed” the Greek word means to guard something by keeping a close eye on it, often with the connotation of being careful to do, or not do, something. all of these.  What do I still lack?”
  6. Jesus was declaring to Him; “If you desire to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have stored up treasure in the heavens.  And come follow Me.
  7. But after hearing this word, the young man departed grieving, for he had[23]Literally “he was having” many properties.[24]The Greek word here can refer to possessions, but more properly refers to land or real estate with buildings.
  8. Then Jesus told His disciples; “Truly I tell you: A rich man will enter into the kingdom of the heavens with difficulty.
  9. “And again I tell you: It’s easier for a camel[25]“Camel”.  The Greek word for camel is almost identical to the Greek word for a rope. (“Καμιλου vs. καμήλου”) Some contest that Jesus said “rope.  However, there’s very little manuscript evidence for this and all of them are 9th century or later.  Others contest that Jesus was referring to a small gate – called a “eye of the needle” gate – in Jerusalem that was only large enough for an unladen camel to pass through.  The story goes, these smaller gates allowed entrance after dark when the main gates closed, but it was difficult because you had to unpack the camel before it could fit through the tiny “needle gate”.  However, there is no historical evidence for this and the story only dates to the 9th century at the earliest. to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
  10. And hearing this, the disciples were incredibly stunned, saying; “Then who’s able to be saved?”
  11. Then looking at[26]“looking at” is literal, however the Greek word can also mean to consider something. them, Jesus said; “with men, this is impossible; but with God, all things are possible.”
  12. Then answering, Peter said to Him; “Look, we left everything and followed you.  Therefore, what will we be?”
  13. And Jesus said to them; “Truly I tell you: in the renewal when the Son of Man sits down on His glorious throne, you men who followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
  14. And everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name’s sake will receive a hundredfold and will inherit the life of ages.”[27]“life of ages” is literal, and captures the duration as well as the quality of the life, which the traditional interpretation of “eternal life” doesn’t.  The word translated “ages” (αἰώνιον) is the adjective form of the Greek word “αἰών” (aion), which is used – for example – in Matthew 24:3 “what are the signs of your coming and the end of the age?”  Virtually all lexicons define αἰών (the noun form) as “age”, but some want to change the adjective form’s meaning to “eternal” instead of “age-long” or “of ages”.  This despite “of ages” conveying a similar – and more literally accurate – meaning.
  15. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.

 

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