January 2006, Volume X,
Let Them Not Divorce (1)
We have seen in recent issues of the News that I Corinthians
7:1-9 teaches: (1) if you have the gift of sexual self-control, you should
remain single; (2) if you have not—the position of the vast majority—you should
get married; (3) if you are married, sexual intercourse is a debt you owe your
Divorce is spoken of five times in verses 10-13 with three
different English words (and two different Greek words). "Depart" occurs in
verses 10 and 11, "put away" in verses 11 and 12, and "leave" in verse 13. In
these verses, divorce is opposed in Christian marriages (10-11) and in mixed
marriages between a believer and an unbeliever (12-13).
Many abuse verses 10-12 to deny parts of the Bible as God’s
Word: "And unto the married 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. 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." "You see," they
say, "the Lord speaks some things and Paul merely (and not the Lord) says
others." Thus verses 12 and following are not inspired; they are merely Paul’s
personal opinion: "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord." If this is granted,
maybe there are other uninspired bits in Paul’s writings. What about a wife’s
submission to her husband or "I suffer not a woman to teach" (I Tim. 2:12) or
Paul’s teaching on creation (which excludes evolution) or Romans 9 on
unconditional election and reprobation? Maybe, then, there are uninspired bits
in the writing of John or Isaiah or Matthew, etc.?
Such views are contradicted even by Paul’s testimony in I
Corinthians. He is a God appointed teacher writing by the Spirit of God (7:17,
40). "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him
acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the
Lord" (I Cor. 14:37). Moreover, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God"
(II Tim. 3:16). Since I Corinthians is Scripture, I Corinthians is given by
inspiration of God.
Here is the true explanation. In I Corinthians 7:10-11, the
apostle is summarizing the teaching of the Lord Jesus while He was on earth:
"And unto the married 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." In other
words, this is what Jesus taught in His public ministry concerning marriage
between professing believers.
In I Corinthians 7:12-13, Paul addresses a situation which
did not arise during Christ’s ministry in Palestine. What about a mixed marriage
(in the Gentile world)? By now the gospel had gone out to many Gentile nations,
and sometimes one spouse was converted but not the other. Jesus did not have
occasion to speak to this subject during His earthly ministry. Thus the apostle
writes, "But to the rest [i.e., Gentile believers married to unbelievers] 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" (12).
It is not just in I Corinthians 7:10-11 that Paul cites
Christ’s teaching during His public ministry. The apostle writes, "The labourer
is worthy of his reward" (I Tim. 5:18) citing Luke 10:7. In Acts 20:35, Paul
urges the Ephesian elders "to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said,
It is more blessed to give than to receive." In I Corinthians 9:14, Paul
summarizes Christ’s teaching: "Even so hath the Lord ordained [i.e., commanded]
that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." Strikingly in all
three places, Paul refers to Christ’s teaching on giving to help gospel
ministers and needy believers.
Below are three quotations from our Lord on divorce, one from
each of the first three gospel accounts: "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 committeth adultery"
(Matt. 5:32). "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" (Mark 10:11-12). "Whosoever putteth away
his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her
that is put away from her husband committeth adultery" (Luke 16:18).
The apostle summarizes Christ’s teachings. First, do not
divorce: "Let not the wife depart from her husband … and let not the husband put
away his wife" (I Cor. 7:10-11). Second, what if your spouse leaves you and
obtains a divorce (on the biblical ground of fornication [Matt. 5:32] or
otherwise)? The Word of God gives you two options: either "remain unmarried"
(legally before the civil magistrate) or "be reconciled" to your husband or wife
(for you are still "one flesh" with him or her). Sacred Scripture does not
permit a third option. "But and if she depart," either "let her remain
unmarried" or "be reconciled to her husband" (11). Remarriage while one’s spouse
is living is not an option. Rev. Stewart
The Day of the Last Supper
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that
his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father,
having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And
supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot,
Simon’s son, to betray him ... (John 13:1-2).
A reader asks, "Did Jesus die on Thursday or Friday? That is,
was it the 14th of Nisan when the lambs were slain or the second day of
unleavened bread?" The question involves many more texts than the one quoted
above (including Matt. 26:20-25; Mark 14:17-21; Luke 22:14-15, 24-27; John 18:2;
19:14, 31, 42).
There are two main, related questions. First, what was the
day on which Jesus ate the last Passover with His disciples? Second, what was
the day on which He was crucified? Commentators, students of Scripture and
higher critics have written tomes on these questions and have argued endlessly
over them. (For a helpful summary of the arguments, one can consult William
Hendriksen’s Exposition of the Gospel According to John, vol. 2, pp.
The problem revolves around a question of harmonization
between the narratives of Matthew, Mark and Luke on the one hand and the
narrative of John on the other. They seem to contradict each other, and many
commentaries are all too willing to concede that they do contradict each other.
I see no purpose in going into all the arguments, laying out
the different interpretations, and giving exegesis of all the pertinent texts. I
intend to give my judgment on the matter, and the interested reader can enter
into the question in detail by consulting the commentaries.
It is necessary in a day when the sacred Scriptures are under
relentless attack to state the truth that the Bible is infallibly inspired and
is, therefore, without error. Hence, whether we can find the solution or not, we
hold to the truth that the so-called "synoptics" (Matthew, Mark and Luke) do not
contradict the gospel according to John. There is harmony whether we see it or
not. Our faith in the errorless character of the Bible is not based on inductive
evidence but on the testimony of Scripture itself and on the testimony of the
Spirit in our hearts.
Scripture was not written to be presented in a court of law
for a panel of judges to consider all the evidence and decide whether Scripture
is credible. God, on the pages of the book itself, says, in so many words, and
throughout all the Bible, "I wrote this book; you must believe what it says
because I speak truth. If you believe, you will be saved. If you reject what I
say, you will be damned."
This is not, as the critics claim, arguing in a circle. If I
pick up for the first time a first edition copy of Institutes of the Christian
Religion and see on the title page the name "John Calvin" as the author, then I
assume that this is true. When Scripture says, on nearly every page, that God
wrote this book, then faith assumes this to be true. This is not circular
Thus it is my conviction that there is perfect harmony
between the "synoptics" and John’s gospel narrative. If all the narratives are
understood correctly, we actually have a very beautiful account of the relation
between type and reality.
The Passover lamb was killed on the 14th of Nisan, a
Thursday. It was eaten that same day by Jesus and His disciples. At this last
feast our Lord changed the Old Testament Passover feast into the new
dispensation’s Lord’s Supper. The true Passover Lamb, Christ Himself, died the
next day, the 15th of Nisan, on Friday. This was also the great day of the
feast. Christ died, therefore, as the perfect fulfilment of the type, the
The firstfruits of the harvest in Canaan were waved before
the Lord as a wave offering on the 16th of Nisan. This wave offering signified
the beginning of the harvest. On this day our Lord was in the grave in the
garden of Joseph of Arimathea. That day was the Jewish Sabbath. Our Lord rose on
the 17th of Nisan, the day after the feast of firstfruits (as the firstfruits of
them that sleep; I Cor. 15:20, 23). He arose as the perfect fulfilment of the
firstfruits of the harvest in Canaan, for He is the firstfruits of the harvest
of the bodies of the redeemed.
On the 50th day after the feast of the firstfruits (on the
16th of Nisan), the feast of Pentecost was celebrated when Israel brought the
sheaf of the completed harvest to God as a thank offering. On the next day, the
Holy Spirit was poured out as the firstfruits of the finished harvest (Rom.
8:23). Acts 2:1 reads: "When the day of Pentecost was fully come ...," that is,
when the day of Pentecost had been completed, that is the day after Pentecost,
the 50th day after the resurrection of Christ. Those gathered by the Spirit on
Pentecost were the firstfruits of that finished harvest of the new dispensation
which shall be completed when the last elect is born and brought to faith in
Christ. Then Christ will come again.
Hence, we have the following scheme in which our Saviour is
set forth as the fulfilment of all the types and shadows of the Old Testament.
14th of Nisan -
Thursday - Passover - the Last Supper.
15th of Nisan -
Friday - the great day of the feast - the crucifixion of the Lord as the true
Lamb of God.
16th of Nisan -
Saturday - offering of the first sheaf - our Lord in the tomb.
17th of Nisan -
Sunday - the resurrection of the Lord as the firstfruits from the dead and the
fulfilment of the wave offering.
50 days after the
16th of Nisan - Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath - Jewish feast of Pentecost and the
first sheaf of the completed harvest.
50 days after the
resurrection of Christ - Sunday - the outpouring of the Spirit - the firstfruits
of the finished harvest of the gathering of the elect.
God’s ways are wise and perfect. His Son came as foreshadowed
by the Old Testament types. We can only marvel—and humbly give thanks! Prof.
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