What Does the Bible Say About…/Part 18
By: Dr. Thomas Figart
|By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2003|
|Topics of the questions this month include : Divorce, adultery, cloaks vs. jackets, gnats, judges, and the devil.|
Students from Manheim Christian Day School (PA) ask Questions About the Bible
Answered by Dr. Thomas Figart
- 1 Why is it committing adultery if a man marries a divorced woman, or vice-versa (from the Sermon on the Mount)?
- 2 Were cloaks different from modern day jackets? If so, how?
- 3 What does it mean when it says, ‘You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel’?
- 4 Who is the judge Jesus is referring to in John 12:48?
- 5 Why didn’t God defeat the devil when He could a long time ago? In other words, why is the devil still around today?
- 6 What’s up with John 16:26? I don’t understand.
Why is it committing adultery if a man marries a divorced woman, or vice-versa (from the Sermon on the Mount)?
Question from BN: “Why is it committing adultery if a man marries a divorced woman, or vice-versa (from the Sermon on the Mount)? Not that it’s right to divorce anyway, but I was just wondering.”
Answer: The passage in mind is Matthew 5:31,32: “And it was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of dismissal;’ but I say unto you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
In verse 31 Christ refers back to Deuteronomy 24:1-4 where Moses’ Law made this statement. So, in Matthew 19:7 when the Pharisees tried to trick Christ into taking sides with one of the two prominent rabbinical schools of thought (Shammai or Hillel), Jesus had a higher standard than either of those two schools of thought. He went back way before the Law of Moses to the original statement of God in Genesis 1:27; 2:23,24, and says in Matthew 19:8,9 that Moses gave permission for divorce (not a commandment), because of the hardness of their hearts. In other words, they would have done even worse things if Moses had not allowed divorce for certain things. But Christ says, “From the beginning it was not so.” God ordained marriage to be a permanent bond, a union, making the man and woman “one flesh.”
Since adultery is a union with another person than the true spouse, it breaks the bond, and it is the only cause for divorce. Under Mosaic Law, actual adultery was punishable with stoning to death (Deut. 22:21-24)! Christ gives only this one reason for divorce, sexual intercourse (porneia) which is union with someone other than the original spouse (wife or husband; see Mark 10:11,12), since it breaks the bond of marriage by sexual union with another.
Were cloaks different from modern day jackets? If so, how?
Question from BN: “Were cloaks different from modern day jackets? If so, how?”
Answer: The reference here is Matthew 5:40. The King James Version gives the opposite impression from what is intended: “And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat (kiton), let him have thy cloak (himation) also.” The New American Standard Version translates: “And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt (kiton), let him have your coat (himation) also.”
Today, we refer to our coat as the heavier outer garment and a cloak as something lighter, thrown about the shoulders. But the Greek word kiton is the inner garment, such as a shirt, a much lighter garment, and the himation, the longer, heavier garment worn on the outside. It was legal to take the shirt or kiton for a debt, but if you took a person’s himation, or cloak,
Deuteronomy warns, “When the sun goes down you shall surely return the pledge to him, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you.” So the cloak was a long robe, heavy enough to use as a blanket at night.
What does it mean when it says, ‘You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel’?
Question from BS: “What does it mean when it says, ‘You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel’?”
Answer: The verb duilidzo means “to rid wine of a gnat by filtering; to strain out a gnat.” The gnat was one of the smallest unclean “creeping things,” and the camel was the largest unclean animal. In Matthew 23:23,24 Jesus applied this to the Pharisees, who paid tithes of even the smallest things, to show how strictly they obeyed the rituals of the Law of Moses. But Jesus adds, that they “have neglected the weightier” provisions of the Law, justice and mercy and faithfulness. In other words, it would be like straining wine by removing the smallest things, and leaving the largest things to go through and swallowing them! This is an illustration, by way of the impossible, to make a point. The Pharisees were careful to pay the very last tithe of everything to make a show, but forgot about the very most important things, morally and spiritually.
Who is the judge Jesus is referring to in John 12:48?
Question from BS: “Who is the judge Jesus is referring to in John 12:48?”
Answer: This verse plainly states that it is the words spoken by Jesus which is the judge. He explains this in the two following verses. He did not speak these words of the Gospel on His own, but was sent by the Father, “Who sent me, has given me commandment what to say and what to speak, and I know that His commandment (the Word of God) is eternal life.” So, if they rejected this message of eternal life, the very message will judge them “at the last day.”
Why didn’t God defeat the devil when He could a long time ago? In other words, why is the devil still around today?
Question from VL: Why didn’t God defeat the devil when He could a long time ago? In other words, why is the devil still around today?
Answer: First John 3:8 answers the first part of this question: “The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” God’s plan included the first coming of Christ, so He could die for the sins of mankind. Therefore, Christ had to die and be resurrected from the dead to destroy the works of the devil. It just could not be done any other way.
Sin is still around today, and Satan is still around today because God’s purpose is not yet fulfilled. Even the Apostle Paul said, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24,25). Therefore, the second coming of Christ will destroy the devil and all of his followers. This second coming will have two parts: Jesus will come and take all believers up to heaven (1 Thess. 4:16-18). Then there will be 7 years of Great Tribulation; after this Christ will descend to earth and Satan will be bound for 1000 years, during the earthly kingdom of Christ on the earth. After the 1000 years, Satan will be loosed from the abyss, and he and all unbelievers will be cast into the Lake of Fire and brimstone and tormented forever (Rev. 20:1-10).
God’s entire purpose will be fulfilled; we are certain of this! But just when this will happen, is known only by the Godhead. When we get to heaven we will understand just why God waited so long. One good reason is that many more people will be saved and go to heaven. Aren’t you glad God waited until you were saved?
What’s up with John 16:26? I don’t understand.
Question from RT: “What’s up with John 16:26? I don’t understand.”
Answer: In John 16:23 Jesus said, “In that day you will ask me no question. Truly, truly I say unto you, if you shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in my name.” Then, in John 16:26,27 He added, “In that day you will ask in my name; and I do not say to you that I will request the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you love me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father.”
Jesus left them and went to the Father after His resurrection. In that day, they were unable to ask Him questions, but then they were able to go directly to their heavenly Father and ask, for the simple reason that the Father loves them because they believe on His Son. The Father will answer directly.
But there will always be things we do not realize we need, and thus, Jesus, today is seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us (1 John 2:1-2).