The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ – Grace Sufficient – 2 Corinthians chp 8 vs 9 to 15

Just added, a new message preached by Dr J Stewart Gillespie from 2 Corinthians chapter 8 :


2 Corinthians chp 8 vs 9 to 15 – The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ – Grace Sufficient – JS Gillespie – 18032018


Seeking God beyond our Comfort Zone

Just added, a new message preached by Dr J Stewart Gillespie from Mark chapter 1:


Mark chapter 1 – Seeking God out of our Comfort Zone – JS Gillespie – 21012018


Hungry for God and for Happiness

Just added, a new message preached by Dr J Stewart Gillespie from Luke chapter 1:


Luke chp 1 vs 46 to 53 – A Hunger for God and for Happiness – JS Gillespie – 06082017


Easter 2015 – 3 bad Reasons for Unbelief

Just added – an new message for Easter 2015, preached by Dr J Stewart Gillespie:


Easter – 3 Bad Reasons for Unbelief – Luke Chp 24 – JS Gillespie – 05042015


Christ and Divorce – 1 Corinthians chp 7 vs 10 to 11 and Matthew chapter 19

Just added to our series of messages from 1 Corinthians; a new message preached by J Stewart Gillespie:

1 Corinthians chp 7 vs 10 to 11 and Matthew chp 19 – Christ on Divorce – JS Gillespie


Notes from this message:


We notice that as we approach Matthew chapter 19, Matthew introduces the ministry of the Lord on marriage and divorce by connecting it back to:

and it came to pass that when Jesus had finished these sayings” (19:1)

The teachings of Christ on divorce and remarriage are linked back to the preceding ministry in chapter 18 on:

  • forgiveness (18:21ff)
  • reconciliation (18:15ff)
  • restoration (18:10ff)


The Pharisees come to Christ with a question (19:3): ‘regarding marriage, how do you break it?’

A word of caution here; if you take a conservative view of marriage, you may be accused of being:

  • Hard hearted
  • Unspiritual
  • Resisting the Grace of God
  • Standing in the way of the gospel


Notice however from Matthew chapter 19 that it is not those who appreciate the unique and unbreakable nature of marriage who are hard hearted and unspiritual, but rather the Pharisees who approach the issue of marriage with the attitude of what are the rules for getting out of marriage?

Here is marriage, how do we break it?

The Pharisees completely miss the point!

At the root of many complex problems often lies a fundamental error and here in Matthew chp 19, is no exception.

The Pharisees are experts in law.

The Pharisees know little in theory of Gods Grace and even less in practice.

What is the fundamental error of the Pharisees?

The fundamental error of the Pharisees is to attempt to subject Gods Gracious provision for Adam and mankind to law; “is it lawful for a man..?” (19:3)

That constitutes 3 errors:

  1. God is not subject to law
  2. Grace is not subject to law
  3. Law does not have as its purpose the modification or limitation or adjustment of the work of God but rather the detection of sin and restriction of the effects of sin in men.


If after your studies in marriage you end up with a set of; conditions, clauses, rules and regulations, by which marriage might be broken, who have made the same error.

  1. God is not subject to law

Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God...” (Rom 3:19)

  1. Grace is not subject to law

Gods Grace cannot be subject to law:

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Rom 6:14)

Gods Grace surpasses law:

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:” (Rom 5:20)

This distinction, lies at the heart of the progress form the Old to New Testaments, not surprisingly the Pharisees missed it.

Marriage was Gods gracious provision for Adam:

And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.” (Gen 2:22)


  1. Law does not have as its purpose the modification or limitation or adjustment of the work of God but rather the detection of sin and restriction of the effects of sin in men.

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Rom 3:19-20)


Christs response 19:4ff.

The Lord will not only answer their question but will give them the reason for His answer (19:4-6):


  1. Origin – of God: “He which made them…” (v4)
  2. Ordinance – in Creation: “made them at the beginning...” (v4)
  3. Oneness – of the bond: “shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh…no more twain but one flesh…” (v5,v6)

So then:

  1. Origin – of God: “He which made them…” (v4)

Marriage is no:

  • social convention
  • legal contract
  • human convenience

Marriage is a Divine ordinance

We can no more pass laws or issue a decree nisi dissolving marriage than we can pass laws banning the rain from falling in New Cumnock in December.


  1. Ordinance – in Creation: “made them at the beginning…” (v4)

Lets not miss the basic truth here; if God ordered His creation as male and female and ordered human relationships in this fashion, and if God delights in what He does then He cannot possibly desire nor delight in the destruction of what He has ordered.

God is in fact the destroyer of that which destroys His creatorial order:

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” (Heb 2:14)

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev 21:4)

And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev 21:27)

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22:2)


  1. Oneness – of the bond: “shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh…no more twain but one flesh…” (v5,v6)

Cleaving‘ and the ‘one flesh.’

It is difficult to imagine stronger language to describe a human bond, than that of ‘Cleaving‘ or ‘one flesh‘. In other words, divorce finds it parallel not in the separation or parting of once good friends but in amputation or excision of a part of our own being.

Eve how can you divorce Adam?

Simply hand him back his rib, intercostal muscle, subcostal nerve, artery and vein and costochondral cartilage.


cleave” in Genesis 2:24 is the Hebrew word ‘dawbak’ – it is a word used later in the scriptures of:

  • The human soul hanging onto God permanently, perpetually, and persistently throughout the whole of life (Deut 10:20; 11:12; 13:4; 30:20; Joshua 22:5; 23:8)
  • That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” (Deu 30:20)
  • But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Jos 22:5)
  • Of the example of Ruth: “And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.(Ruth 1:14)
  • Of the grip that leprosy will have on Gehazi; “The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.” (2Ki 5:27) – that is one sticky bond, the bond of Mycobacterium Leprae spreading through the flesh! Fancy trying to divorce it with a court order?
  • My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.” (Job 19:20)
  • Job speaking of the scales of Leviathian – a not so prehistoric monster, “They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.” (Job 41:17)


Don’t worry Gehazi – all you need to do to get rid of that leprosy is issue a court order!



The Pharisees have a good answer however (19:7)

Surely if Moses “commanded” divorce they have a strong case for continuing what God comanded in His Word.

Well they would have, had God or Moses “commanded” it!

Actually Deuteronomy 24 does not “command” divorce at all.

Deuteronomy 24 places certain obligations and restrictions upon those who do divorce.

To legislate on something is not the same as commanding that act.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is in fact a complex ‘if’ ‘then’ clause, with some very interesting implications in fact.

The clause is well brought out in the ESV:

When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.” (Deu 24:1-4)


Keil and Delitzsch (p950):

In these verses, however, divorce is not established as a right; all that is done is, that in case of a divorce, a reunion with the divorced wife is forbidden, if in the meantime she had married another man, even though the second husband had also put her away, or had died. The four verses form a period, in which v1-3 are the clauses of the protasis, which describe the matter treated about; and v4 contains the apodosis, with the law concerning the point in question. If a man married a wife, and he put her away with a letter of divorce, because she did not please him any longer, and the divorced woman married another man, and he either put her away in the same manner or died, the first husband could not taker her as his wife again.”


I would have to confess that the most natural way to read the English text of Matthew chapter 19:9, in isolation from the rest of the NT, would be to read it as providing for the one, or one of the few provisions for divorce and remarriage in the New Testament.


There are however 8 major problems with accepting an exception clause in Matthew chapter 19:


Problem 1:

  1. As hinted at by RT France it introduces a tremendous ‘tension’ in the text of Matthew chapter 19; which is surely a euphemism for ‘obvious contradiction’ in the teachings of Christ in Matthew 19, between the absolute ideal of God, established in creation, to which Christ refers back to in 19:4-6; and an acceptance of divorce and Remarriage by verse 9! A tension between the:
  • Divine Presidence over marriage (19:4); “He which made them” – marriage is not a social construct; ie it is not simply how we order our society out of convenience or to provide stability for families and for societies, nor is it primarily a legal contract it is a Divine ordinance. There are many implications which flow from this but the most pertinent and pressing one to note here in Matthew 19 and later in 1 Corinthians chp 7 is that I cannot come with man made laws and loop holes and trump what is a Divine ordinance. To paraphrase the message of 19:7-9; you can wave about any bit of paper that you like but that bit of paper does not dissolve a marriage. God is not subject to our bits of paper. Bits of paper have no more power to divorce husband from wife, than they have power to divorce rain from New Cumnock in September. Divine ordinances are NOT subject to human decrees. Divine creation is not subject to human courts.

This elevates marriage above the status of a merely human convenience or legal convention or social construction. This is Divine constitution in origin and creatorial in its establishment. Men passing laws over what the God of heaven has done is like spitting in the wind, or passing laws over the weather or standing like King Canute commanding the tides to go back; ‘Henry of Huntingdon tells the story as one of three examples of Canute’s “graceful and magnificent” behaviour In Huntingdon’s account, Canute set his throne by the sea shore and commanded the incoming tide to halt and not wet his feet and robes.

Yet “continuing to rise as usual [the tide] dashed over his feet and legs without respect to his royal person. Then the king leapt backwards, saying: ‘Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.’ He then hung his gold crown on a crucifix, and never wore it again “to the honour of God the almighty King”. It would seem however, that despite Christ carefully establishing marriage as this Divine bastion, impenetrable to all human authority, and, governed by eternal laws, that on further prompting by the Pharisees He then back tracks with an exception clause or two. Put very simply God made them “male and female” to bring them together and not to pull them apart

Put simply we don’t read through all of that and then expect to find an exception clause at the end! Having read through all of that, the last thing I expect to find, is the Lord saying; ‘and here is how you can get divorced.’

It dilutes Christs point concerning the CONCESSION of Moses in verses 7,8. Having explained that Moses teaching on divorce was a concession to hard hearted sinners rather than a Divine commandment to divorce, Christ seems then to make the same concession, according to some. In which case perhaps we really haven’t moved on much beyond the law. Having removed Moses exception clause Christ simply introduces His own exception clauses.


Problem 2:


More importantly this provision for ‘hard hearts’ (19:8); also seems, at least in part to transfer to Christs disciples, as a provision for our hard hearts too! What is the problem with that?


  • And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:” (Eze 11:19)
  • Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Eze 18:31)
  • A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” (Eze 36:26)
  • Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (Joh 3:3)
  • Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2Co 5:17)


If Christ has to make provision for hard hearts, redeemed and regenerate by Grace, I’m not sure that this Gospel is much worth preaching at all! This regeneration being offered by Christ, is a regeneration with a view to failure. If Christ has no confidence in His Gospel, how can I?


Problem 3:

  1. If the text under discussion is that of Deuteronomy chapter 24 (19:7) and Christ makes the interpretation ‘stricter’ as some would have it, to allow divorce and remarriage only for adultery, then either
  • Christ misinterprets the law; for Deuteronomy 24 does not prescribe nor permit divorce for adultery, the law commanded death for adultery! This is a point often made, of which admittedly more could be said.


  • we have here in Matthew chp 19 a unique scenario in the whole of the New Testament in which Christ changes the law and then places the believer under that altered law. We have the law modified that the believer may be subjected to it! This is a point often forgotten / ignored or missed by proponents of an exception clause or clauses. This may seem a strange, almost obscure point to make, but it is in fact critically important. The attitude of Christ to the law in Matthews Gospel, is to intensify the appreciation of the righteous demands of the law (Matthew chp 5); the righteousness of the law stands, undiluted from Moses; “For truly I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matt 5:18); with the true righteousness behind it amplified (Matt 5:21ff; 27ff; 31ff; 33ff). The position of the apostle Paul is to free us from the delusion that by achieving that standard we will earn salvation. Nowhere, but nowhere does Christ or the apostles dilute the righteousness of the law, nor alter it that they might then place the believer under it! Because of this, a belief in an exception clause or clauses leads inevitably to something: arguments abouts laws, rules and loopholes – legalism.


Problem 4:

  1. It fails to explain the significance of the interchange of terminology in 19:9, between the 2 words “fornication” and “adultery. ” Under Jewish law a married woman who had a relationship out with her marriage was guilty of adultery. Why use the more general word “fornication” then if adultery is in fact meant?


Problem 5:

If this is an exception clause, and as such the only clear exception clause in the gospels why is it omitted by Mark (Mk 10:1-12) and Luke (16:18). It is not that a truth needs to be repeated 3 or 4 times in the Word of God to make it true. Mark is clearly dealing with the same incident (Mk 10:1ff) and yet he omits the ‘exception clause’! Why omit something so important? Bear in mind too that it would be another 20 to 30 years at least before the NT would be complete, this would mean, that whilst early Jewish converts to Christ, with their Hebrew Gospel of Matthew had an exception clause, that gentile converts converted under the preaching of Paul, Barbara and Mark didn’t!



Problem 6:

The introduction of an exception clause to an ideal and original view of marriage is as fatal a flaw as the Pharisitical interpretation of Deuteronomy 24. If this is an exception to the high standards and authoritative teaching of Christ on divorce, then watch what happens when it comes in to effect. A couple separate, perhaps over something which cold have been resolved, personality issues, family stresses, arguments and finance etc. No one is guilty of any adultery and thus according to the teaching of Christ neither can get remarried. Let us suppose that one of those partners wishes to get remarried. He is aware that the word of God prohibits it. So what does he do? Wait! All he needs to do is wait. In having encountered many of these difficult and trying circumstances over the years, I can think only of 1 marital break down where one or other of the partners have not ultimately found someone else. In other words all of the high standards, all of the radical interpretation of the OT text, all of the moral high ground which seems to be taken by Christ, degenerates into this: ‘divorce and Remarriage is ok so long as you don’ t do it first! ‘ Or to put it another way you are permitted to break the 7th commandment so long as someone has done it before you! That is an utterly astounding teaching! That is practically no different whatsoever from Moses teaching in Deuteronomy chapter 24.


Problem 7:


If Matthew chapter 19:9 is an exception clause permitting remarriage after divorce for adultery; it explicitly only gives permission for a man so to do. Invariably this is ignored and glossed over in any commentary which interprets this text as an exception clause to divorce and remarriage after adultery; that the supposed permission to remarry in the event of adultery is explicitly given only to the husband! Invariably those who infer an exception clause here are then forced to add to the verse an exception clause likewise for a woman whose husband commits adultery. Such an exception is not given.


Problem 8:


What happens to the woman put away for adultery? Since it would appear by this interpretation of Matthew 19 the only occasion in which a man might put away his wife is for adultery then the woman who is put away at the end of the verse must be the woman put away for adultery. She is not permitted to remarry; but why? In so doing she is party to adultery! In other words she is still married to her first husband! The Lord has given the husband permission to remarry! Has the Lord then given the husband permission for polygamy?


Problem 9:


  • If this is an exception clause permitting divorce and remarriage after or because of adultery; then this exception clause effectively permits divorce and remarriage for everyone at any time. It completely and immediately deregulates all marriage. Do you believe in the inspiration of Matthews Gospel? Do you believe that Christs commentary on the law of Moses, in the sermon on the mount was inspired? Do you believe that His insight into Gods view of sin, which goes beyond the merely external and legal is true, real and accurate? cf. Matt 5:20; 21-22; now consider Matt 5:27-28. If divorce and remarriage are permissible for adultery. We need to remember how Christ actually defined adultery and leave behind narrow legal definitions of adultery! Did you know that under Jewish law at the time, that a married man only was guilty of adultery if the woman he was having an affair with was also married? If divorce and remarriage is permissible for adultery there is not a marriage which cannot be dissolved on those grounds!




This is an EXCEPTIONAL mess!


There are at least 4 ways of reconciling this text with a consistent view of marriage and its indissolubility:


  1. Marriage within prohibited degrees: eg 1 Corinthians chp 5:1-2; the case of Herod and Herodias – FF Bruce
  2. The setting is that of betrothal – John Heading
  3. That the exception applies only to the first condition and not the second

Not surprisingly then the earliest expositions of Matthew 19:9 understood this verse in quite a different way; this seems in part to be due to the very unusual if not unique grammatical structure of the verse. The almost universal opinion of early Christian writers; including around 25 so called church fathers; was that verse 9 was to be understood in the light of Matthew chp5; Mark chp 10 and Luke chp 16. Those early writers understood the unusual construction of the Greek verse better than you or I could understand it.

DuPont (in Wenham and Heth p51) notes that verse 9 is a;

double conditional clause in which an elliptical phrase is placed immediately after the first condition, ‘to put away’. The elliptical phrase – ‘except for immorality’ – does not contain a verb, and one must be supplied from the context. The only verb which has already been stated for the reader to understand is the one immediately preceding the exception clause – ‘put away’ – the verb Matthew’s readers just passed over. Matthew 19:9 would then read:

‘If a man puts away his wife, if it is not for immorality that he puts her away, and marries another, he commits adultery.’

‘The exception clause is thus stating an exception to the first condition, ‘If a man puts away his wife.’

Also Grundy in Wenham and Heth p51:

‘the exceptive phrase applies only to divorce. In the word order of 19:9 the exceptive phrase immediately follows the mention of divorce but preceeds the mention of remarriage by the husband. Had Matthew been concerned to establish the right of the husband to remarry under the exception, he would hardly have omitted remarriage here in 5:32 and then put the exception only after the matter of divorce in 19:9. To be sure the Jews took the right of remarriage after divorce as a matter of course. But it is not for nothing that Matthew’s Jesus demands a surpassing sort of Righteousness’

‘Dupont admits that it might be possible for the exception to qualify the second clause, ‘and marries another.’ But he also says that it is not likely here because the precise question posed by the Pharisees is, ‘what reason justifies divorce?’ The Phrase ‘for any cause at all’ in Matthew 19:3 anticipates the answer ‘except for immorality’ in verse 9, and both are peculiar to Matthew’s Gospel. We should therefore have expected Jesus to reply to this issue eventually and in a manner consistent with His earlier remarks in 5:32. Thus 19:9 could be paraphrased on this interpretation, ‘No cause, save unchastity, justifies divorce, and even then remarriage is adultery.’ This makes Jesus give an explicit reply to the Pharisees that is consistent with His earlier remarks allowing no real divorce but only separation.

Is there anything in the text that would help us decide wither or not the exception applies to one or both conditions?

I would suggest that if Matt 19:9 is taken as an exception clause, the clause can apply ONLY to the first condition; ‘shall put away his wife’ and cannot logically apply to the second; ‘and shall marry another.’ Here is why:

  • If we take Matt 19:9 as permission to put away a wife for adultery and permission for the innocent party (husband) to remarry what do we take from this verse is to happen to the wife?
  • Does the wife put away for adultery have permission in this verse to remarry?
  • As the only person who is put away in this verse with Divine endorsement, surely the last sentence of verse 9 must apply to the guilty party put away?
  • So by the double exception the innocent party can remarry and the guilty can’t.
  • That seems straight forward and fair!
  • Just a minute why can’t the guilty party remarry? Because that would be “adultery” (19:9) – in other words the guilty party put away is still married to her original husband, who according to those who advocate the double exception and permission to divorce and remarry, has just married another wife and thus the Lord has just given permission for the innocent party to become a bigamist!


Whilst the above view is certainly feasible it is perhaps simpler and it perhaps succeeds in answering more questions if we see that:


  1. The exception here is for premarital fornication in the context of Deuteronomy chp 22.
  • The ‘exception’ mentioned here is not ‘adultery’ but rather ‘fornication’. This is interesting, for adultery is used here in Matt19:9; Matt 5:32; Mark 10:11-12 and Luke 16:18 for illicit relationships out with the marriage bond, whereas fornication has a broader meaning including sexual relationships when unmarried.
  • The Matthew 19 exception appears only in Matthew, which has a Jewish audience and in a discussion with the Pharisees
  • As well as the provision for divorce in Deuteronomy 24 there was a further provision for the dissolution of marriage in Deuteronomy chp 22.
  • This interpretation also explains why in Matt 19:9 the right to put away and possibly remarry is given only to the man, for the detection of fornication at the beginning of the marriage, is in the terms of Deuteronomy chp 22 only detectable in the woman.


A Bomb in a Basket

Sometimes we might be tempted to look at the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ and at those who preach the Son of God, crucified, buried, rejected and resurrected, and to scratch our head and wonder; ‘Is that it?’

God was about to change the world forever, through the service of a converted persecutor of the church;Saul of Tarsus. In Acts chapter 9 Pauls ministry gets off to an ignoble start as he is bundled into a basket and lowered down a city wall at night! Is this the man that will turn the western world upside down? Where is the power in that? The ‘dynamite’ of God lay not in who Paul was but in what he had found in Jesus Christ! This was a Bomb in a Basket. Taken from :

The Bomb in the Basket