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Bible Commentaries

The Bible Study New Testament
Matthew 19



Verse 1

He left Galilee. He is leaving this area for the last time before his death. On the other side of the Jordan River. Jesus started from Galilee, and went down the eastern side of the Jordan River to finally reach Jerusalem in Judea. This teaching about divorce took place in Perea (see map).

Verse 2

Large crowds. He was now famous throughout all of Palestine.

Verse 3

Some Pharisees. These are some of the "Jews" who were always trying to trap him. Does our Law allow a man to divorce his wife? Hillel, the most famous of the Jewish Rabbis, taught that almost any reason at all would permit divorce. Even "burning the bread" was given as a reason. Josephus the historian says he "divorced his wife because he was not pleased with her manners."

Verse 4-5

Haven't you read this scripture? God's word gives the answer, In the beginning, one man and one woman were joined in marriage for life. For this reason. The marriage bond is stronger than the bond between parents and their children. The two will become one. "One flesh" in the sex act (compare 1 Corinthians 6:16), It is God's plan that the man and the woman form a "unity" which would continue unbroken until the death of one. God's original marriage law is found in Genesis 2:18. "And God the Eternal said: It is not good, that the man is alone: I will create him a companion-counterpart to him." [Zamenhof's version of the Masoretic text.] Compare what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.

Verse 6

What God has joined together. God's authority backs up the marriage bond.

Verse 7-8

Why, then, did Moses? They are saying that what Jesus says does not agree with what Moses said. Moses gave you permission. Moses [by God's authority] permitted some things to be done that were not good, yet which were necessary. The Law permitted some things which were below the standard of Christ [such as divorce for any reason; more than one wife; etc.] At the time of creation. God's original plan was for one man and one woman to be joined together for life.

Verse 9

I tell you. Here is Christ's law. And she has not been unfaithful. "Unfaithful" means guilty of a sex act involving someone rather than her spouse. [This would apply to the husband as well; and would include sex acts between woman and woman; between man and man; and between a woman and a man who are not married to each other. The technical term is "fornication."] Commits adultery if he marries some other woman. Because where the spouse was not "unfaithful," the original marriage bond is not broken. Alford (Greek Testament) says: "Notice, as on ch 19:32, APOLELUMENEN without the art, and thus logically confined to the case of her who has been divorced ME EPI PORNEIA [not been unfaithful]. This not having been seen, expositors have fallen into the mistake of supposing that the dictum applies to the marrying a woman divorced EPI PORNEIA [because of unfaithfulness], which grammatically would require TEN APOLELUMENEN. The proper English was of rendering the word as it now stands, would be, a woman thus divorced, viz, ME EPI PORNEIA [not been unfaithful]." A man who divorces his wife in spite of the fact that she has not been unfaithful to him, and marries another commits adultery, because he is still married to his former wife; also, if anyone marries this divorced woman, who was not unfaithful he marries another man's wife. [For a special case, see 1 Corinthians 7:15. ]

Verse 10

It is better not to many. This shows the attitude of the disciples. If a man could not get rid of his wife when be became tired of her, it was better not to marry in the first place—they said.

Verse 11-12

This teaching does not apply to everyone. What the disciples had just said in Matthew 19:10. Marriage is normal; celibacy is abnormal, and only those with a special "gift" should attempt to practice it. Jesus gives three examples: (1) one who is born sexless; (2) one who has been "desexed" [It was common in the ancient world to take healthy young male slaves and "desex" them. Often they were given high positions in the government, as the Eunuch in Acts 8:27]; (3) one who for religious reasons did not marry. Paul himself was such a one [although he was possibly a widower when be became a Christian]. NOTE THE OTHER APOSTLES WERE MARRIED— 1 Corinthians 9:5.

Verse 13

Some people brought children to Jesus. It was Jewish custom for people to bring their children to the synagogue on their first birthday, for the Rabbi to bless them. These thought of Jesus as the greatest Rabbi of all. But the disciples scolded those people. Women and children were "second class citizens." The disciples didn't want Jesus to waste his time on these children.

Verse 14

Let the children come to me. Jesus treated women, children, and men the same way. All people were equally important to him. Because the Kingdom of heaven. The love, humility and trust of a child should be qualities of the one who claims to follow Christ. See Matthew 18:3. What Jesus says here, shows: (1) infants are not "totally depraved"; (2) that children can come to Christ [as soon as they have faith]; (3) that no one should forbid them from coming; (4) that parents should bring them to Jesus.

Verse 15

He placed his hands on them. He blessed them.

Verse 16

Teacher . . . what good thing? A young Prayer of Manasseh, who was a leader, and rich—ran to Jesus, knelt, and asked this question. He wants to know what work of merit will bring him eternal life. (Compare John 6:28-29).

Verse 17

Why do you ask me? Jesus says this because the young man is to some degree a religious fanatic, and self-righteous. There is only One who is good. Jesus, in the flesh, shared our weak human nature (Philippians 2:7) but without ever sinning (1 Peter 2:22). The young man wants to worship Jesus [as he is in human form], but God is the One who must be worshipped. Keep the commandments. Jesus had not yet died, and the Law was still in effect. Obeying the Law would bring eternal life—yet no one could obey the Law (James 2:10), so that really, no one could be "good" but God himself. [The Christian's "goodness" comes through Christ. See Romans 8:1-4]

Verse 18-19

18-19. What commandments? Jesus skips over the first four commandments, and gives those that deal with human activities. He does this to bring out the self-righteous spirit of the young man.

Verse 20

I have obeyed all these commandments. This young man was not a hypocrite. He had kept these commandments. Mark says: "Jesus looked straight at him with love." What else do I need? He still felt an "emptyness" in his life.

Verse 21

If you want to be perfect. What Jesus tells him brings out the fact that this young man has made an "idol" out of his riches. [It is the love of money which is sin (1 Timothy 6:10).] Sell all you have. Jesus did not tell this to the rich who had not made money their "god." [Zacchaeus— Luke 19:8. ] But this struck right to the heart of the young man's problem.

Verse 22

22. He went away sad. He really wanted to follow Jesus, but he thought the price was too high to pay. We are to give OURSELVES as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1-2).

Verse 23

Jesus then said to his disciples. Notice he does not say "impossible," but "very hard." A few versions add in Mark 10:24 "For those who trust in riches."

Verse 24

Than for a camel to go through. [This may have been a "saying" about a camel entering a courtyard through a low, narrow gate in the wall called the "eye of a needle." See also Matthew 7:13-14. ] The lesson is clear: the love of money will keep a person from entering the Kingdom. See Matthew 19:22.

Verse 25-26

25-26. Who can be saved, then? Human efforts alone can never save. Only God's grace can save! We reach out through faith to seize the sacrifice of Christ (see Colossians 2:12). "When anyone is joined to Christ he is a new being; the old has gone, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17). The "vision" of the Savior, Crucified, Risen—is stronger than any worldly ties! See John 3:14; John 8:28.

Verse 27

Look . . . we have felt everything. What had just happened with the rich young man makes Peter ask this. What will we have? Not "salvation," but "reward." Compare Mark 10:28-31. [Fullness of life now—is promised in this present age (John 10:10).]

Verse 28

28. In the New Age. The "New Age" is the "messianic community," the "Kingdom/church" which is still future as he says this; which could not begin until after his death, burial, and resurrection. The Twelve were to do a special work in this Kingdom. They would "judge" the twelve tribes of Israel (and Paul would be sent to the Gentiles). The apostles were given a special portion of the Holy Spirit and were taught everything which Jesus had said (see John 20:22-23 : Acts 1:1-2; 2 Peter 1:15). When Jesus comes again (Revelation 1:7), we look for this earth to be destroyed by fire, and then a new earth (2 Peter 3:10-13).

Verse 29

And every one. Not just the apostles. A hundred times more. Mark adds: "In this present age." God will bless in this present world, as well as in Eternity!

Verse 30

First will be last . . . last will be first. Some who are rich in this world, will be poor in the next. Some who are poor in this world, will be rich in the next. The one who loves Jesus enough to give everything he has, INCLUDING HIMSELF—to the work of the Kingdom (Matthew 10:34-39)—will not lose his reward!


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Matthew 19:4". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

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Saturday, December 5th, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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