Divorce and Adultery
Ronald B. Harvey II
Forward by Author:
18 years ago, I met the most wonderful woman in the world. I wanted to marry her but drew flack from almost every minister I knew, save my pastor. I was quoted many passages of scripture by them. Though each minister had a different opinion of what the verses meant, they insisted I would be committing sin and go to hell if I marred her.
I knew nothing about the subject to speak of except that which I had heard preached. I told my wife to be that; “If they are right, we cannot marry.” Thus began my research into this very delicate subject. I knew if they were correct I would have lost a good woman. She agreed that if they were right and the Bible did indeed forbid it, then we could not marry.
Within the following study, you will see what I found. I hope it convicts some hardhearted saints and frees from guilt others. The LAW of God is clear concerning this subject. How the subject became twisted through the years is beyond me.
What do you mean: Sin
I know of no other person in scripture that states the explanation to this question as plainly as the Apostle John:
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 1 John 3:4
If the LAW is truly done away with, how can a minister DARE accuse someone of sinning? The Apostle Paul makes it plain when he says:
Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Rom. 4:15
I am sure that for the majority of “Christianity at large” this is all the proof they need to justify their sinful lives and tell you, “don’t judge me.” For them, nothing is sin. But I am persuaded better things of you dear reader, including things that accompany salvation.
266 hamartia (ham-ar-tee-ah); from 264; a sin (properly abstract): KJV– offence, sin (-ful).
264 hamartano (ham-ar-tan’-o); perhaps from 1 (as a negative particle) and the base of 3313; properly, to miss the mark (and so not share in the prize), i.e. (figuratively) to err, especially (morally) to sin: KJV– for your faults, offend, sin, trespass.
This is John’s word, how else is it used?
Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? 2 Cor. 11:7
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16
Every where else it is translated SIN. There are so many different ways it is rendered in the Old Testament that we have to look at John’s word (sin) and see if we can find a direct quote from the Old Testament and then, look up that Hebrew word:
Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Rom 4:7, 8
This is a quote of…
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin (sin offering?) is covered.
Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. Ps 32:1-2
The Hebrew word for sin here is:
2401 chata’ah (khat-aw-aw’); feminine of 2399; an offence, or a sacrifice for it: KJV– sin (offering).
In Psalms 40:6 2401 is rendered: Sin Offering! The word rendered SIN in Romans 4:8 is 266 but, INIQUITY in Ps 32:2 is different from 2401: 5771 ‘avon (aw-vone’); or ‘avown (2 Kings 7:9; Psalm 51:5 ) (aw-vone’); from 5753; perversity, i.e. (moral) evil: KJV– fault, iniquity, mischief, punishment (of iniquity), sin.
* Punishment: Gen 4:13; Lev 26:41,43; 1 Sam 28:10; Lam 4:6; Ez. 14:10 (3 times)
* Mischief: 2 Kings 7:9
* Iniquity: Many times; get out your Strong’s and look.
* Fault: 2 Sam 3:8; Psa. 59:4
We can see here, at least, that the New Testament writers viewed the word (266) hamartia (sin, fault, offence) to be equivalent to at least two different Hebrew words. However, both Hebrew words indicate punishment or remedy as a result of the action against the Law. Example: You cry out, “he committed adultery!” the punishment for this crime was death. It had no remedy under the Law. Every one knew that.
Thou shalt not steal. Exod. 20:15
Now let’s say you stole from someone, say a truck. When you were caught, if the truck was okay, you paid the owner back two trucks. If though, you sold or wrecked it; you paid the owner 5 trucks. If you died trying to steal it, you paid with your life. If you survived the night you paid as though you got away with it and was caught with the truck in good shape. If you had no money, you were sold for the value and the money was given to the owner. (Ex 22:1-4).
Let me ask you this, why was their no sacrifice provided as a remedy? The reason is; Not all Law transgression is against God himself. Sometimes it is only against our fellow man! The Law of God is both civil and religious in its content. Transgressions against God and Man are included. In both cases some action (Judgment) is made to the injured one.
For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. Rom. 11:27. This verse is not a direct quote.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. Heb. 8:12
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin (sin offerings) no more. Jer. 31:33-34
2403 chatta’ah (khat-taw-aw’); or chatta’th (khat-tawth’); from 2398; an offence (sometimes habitual sinfulness), and its penalty, occasion, sacrifice, or expiation; also (concretely) an offender: KJV– punishment (of sin), purifying (-fication for sin), sin (-ner, offering).
This word in intricately connected with the sin offering. To forget their sin offerings is to not remember their sins! This word has no punishment but only remedy. To refuse the remedy is to invite death.
In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Heb 10:6
Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering (2401) hast thou not required. Psa. 40:6
Ok, ask yourself this:
1. Is the transgression between you and God or is the transgression between you and Man?
2. If it is between you and God, what is the judgment; Sacrifice, Death, or Restitution?
3. If it is between you and Man, what is the judgment; Sacrifice, Death, or Restitution?
Only if you know the Law of God can you know the answer.
Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
Adultery is both theft and murder
What is adultery and why is the Biblical punishment for it death? Why does God take such a dim view of it? Old Testament: Adultery, 5003 na’aph (naw-af); a primitive root; to commit adultery; figuratively, to apostatize: KJV– adulterer (-ess), commit (-ing) adultery, woman that breaketh wedlock. New Testament: Adultery, 3431 moicheuo (moy-khyoo’-o); from 3432; to commit adultery: KJV– commit adultery. Neither of these words reveal anything about the nature of the act. We therefore need to investigate the verses themselves to determine what adultery is.
The commandment: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Exod. 20:14
The judgment: And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. Lev. 20:10
Note: The act of adultery no doubt involves the act of intercourse, but just the act of intercourse does not make the act adultery. What makes it adultery is with whom one commits the act. It does not hinge on the marital condition of the man, but on the marital condition of the woman.
If she is single (and not engaged) it is rape (which does not always bring the death penalty) but if she is married or engaged it is adultery. It is also worthy to note that a man can never commit adultery against his wife. God allowed multiple wives for a man, but only one husband to a woman. A man’s wife commits adultery with another man against her husband. This makes the other man an adulterer and the wife an adulteress. A wife is the property of a man under God’s Law. Two commandments are broken in adultery
1. Exod. 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
2. Exod. 20:17 Thou shalt not covet… thy neighbour’s wife…
To covet is to lust:
… for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. Rom 7:7
Jesus said: Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Matt. 5:27, 28
The term “in his heart” does not mean he only thought about it. It means he set out to do it! “In his heart”: Gen. 8:21; 17:17; 27:41; Exod. 4:14; 35:34; Deut. 29:19; 1 Sam 21:12; 27:1; 2 Sam. 7:27; I King 10:24; 12:26; 1 Chr. 17:25; 2 Chr. 9:23; 32:31; Esth. 6:6; 7:5; Ps. 10:6,11,13; Ps. 14:1; Ps. 15:2; 37:31; 53:1; 55:21; Prov. 6:14; 23:7; 26:25; Isa. 10:7; 44:19; Ezek. 14:4,7; Dan. 1:8; 8:25; Obad. 1:3; Matt 5:28; 13:19; 24:48; Mark 11:23; Luke 12:45.
You might even argue that Jesus did not say “a wife” but “a woman.” The Greek does not contain a separate word for wife. The same word renders both wife and woman. The only sure way to know in the text is if the Greek word for husband is present. Based on the precedent set forth in Lev 20:10 there is no reason to suspect that this “woman” is anything other than married or engaged to another man.
“Looketh on a woman” This term refers to a stake out. And groups an adulterer with a murderer and thief. Job 24:13-16 They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof. The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief. The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me: and disguiseth his face. In the dark they (Murderer, Thief, and Adulterer) dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light.
When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Ps 50:18
But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it
destroyeth his own soul. Prov. 6:32
Some point to this verse as the man committing adultery with a harlot, read the next couple verses, see verse 34? This raging man is HER husband. Prov. 6:33-35: A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.
Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness. Prov. 30:20 This woman is contrasted with a maid (unmarried woman) in verse 19.
And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. Jer. 3:8, 9
God himself gave Israel both a bill of divorce and put her away. Now, the law says, she is free to marry another…
When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance. Deu. 24:1-4
What then about:
Matt. 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
Mark 10:11-12 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
Luke 16:16-19 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
Matt 5:30-33 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced (Strong’s 630 means to put away, not divorce) committeth adultery.
Q. Is not Jesus saying that if a man Divorces his wife and marries another woman, that he is committing adultery against his former wife?
A. No, notice that #1, He is only putting away his wife no bill of divorcement is issued. #2, he is marring another. Another what? The word is Strongs #243 which is another in class. Meaning, he has married another woman who is a put away wife and not divorced. Lest you misunderstand Jesus gives only one (1) cause for divorce; fornication! Not because you don’t like each other or what ever dumb reason you want.
So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Rom. 7:3
This verse in not referencing a divorced woman, but rather a wife who is only separated from her husband. Else why would the Apostle Paul then tell the Church at Corinth…
Believers: 1Cor 7:10-15
And unto the married (in the Lord) I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband; But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. (This is not a divorce but a separation).
Believers who have unbelieving spouses:
But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. Note: “let her not leave him” divorce is not at issue here.
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. What bondage? This word #1402 in Strong’s is one being enslaved or making themselves a slave. They are no longer in bondage to their ex-spouse and that relationship. They have no command to reconcile with that one that left; they are free to marry “only in the Lord.”
The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. 1 Cor. 7:39
Note: unbelievers are considered dead if they leave the relationship…
“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the (believing) wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the (believing) husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” If you do not know the law of God then you cannot understand the New Testament when it references it.
They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. John 8:4
Why did Jesus not condemn this woman? Note, John says: in verse 6 “This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.”
The law said…And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. Lev. 20:10
Deu. 22:20-30 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: (note: she was only engaged to a man and yet considered his wife) so thou shalt put away evil from among you.
Jesus could not judge her. They claimed she was found in the act, why then did not these men bring the man also? The Law of God could not be served because it was not followed! These men therefore took away from the word…
Deu. 4:1-2 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
James asks: For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. James 2:11
These men were transgressors of God’s Law in that they did not keep it, both statutes and judgments. Also, were they false witnesses? This is another violation of God’s Law, is it then no wonder that Jesus ask them in verse 7…
“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
Caught in their trap they could not fulfill the law in that they did not keep the Law.
This pamphlet only scratches the surface of this subject. Now that you are acquainted with the law on adultery and divorce you then can understand the verses that deal with it. Just remember the criteria that constitutes adultery and you will know if your marriage plans are lawful according to God’s law.
This article “Divorce and Adultery” is from Ronald B. Harvey II. Used by permission. It may be used for study & research purposes only.