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Bible study: The divine institution of marriage

Updated on November 29, 2015

A lifelong commitment:

Marriage can be a very beautiful commitment when two people are faithful to each other throughout a thriving relationship. New life can flourish, happiness is shared, memories are cherished, and love becomes the foundation which sustains the couple through the most difficult tribulations life brings and the completion of their search for a soul-mate. Marriage is more than just a wedding ceremony, it is a unification of two human beings as the Bible describes. All aspects of life are ultimately mingled together. Why then do most marriages fail in our society? What causes people to divorce? What does the Bible say about marriage? Is it a a physical or a spiritual union which transcends beyond our perception? The Bible says more than we think it does.

Genesis 2:18-24

"18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

23 And Adam said:

“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman [ishshah],
Because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."

The word alone comes from the ancient Hebrew word "bad" meaning "a part of the body." It is possible that God gave man all of the animals for him to name so that he would realize his loneliness. All the other animals each had their kind to share their struggles with, except the man. Woman comes from the word "'ishshah" which is the irregular plural form of "nashiym." Man was the first being to be made in the image of God, hence why God said in Genesis 1:26-28

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Man comes from the word "Adam" which can mean an individual, but also mankind itself. "Zakuwr" is Hebrew for male and "nqebah" for female. Adam reflects the prototypical image of Christ, the visible representation of the invisible God, hence why the woman was made from his own flesh as a helper, a companion to share with his experiences and struggles. God did not make a woman in the same way as he made the man and we will see more clearly why later.

The woman was another human being just as the man and was therefore his other half. The love of parents cannot satisfy the emptiness that man has within his own soul for a mate because eventually, he will have to become independent and take the position of a ruler, a leader just as Adam was and a companion may be necessary to share in his path in this present life. This is why the text says "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother to be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.." The concept of being one is found within the trinity of God. The father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all in perfect agreement in all things. Not one dominates the other, but are in consistent harmony in their choices regarding humanity. The trinity should be the ultimate example by which a marriage should follow.

The man and woman were naked in Genesis 2:25 possibly because they had nothing, no sin or flaw to conceal from each other or God.

One possibility of the Serpent tempted the woman was because he knew that the Man was given the commandment to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 3:15, though God gave the woman a curse, he gave her a blessing by mentioning that Jesus, the redeemer of mankind, from her line. In verse 16, " 16 To the woman He said:

“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”

This illustrates the dependence on the man for the woman's offspring.

Genesis 3:20 "20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve [Chavvah], because she was the mother of all living."

Eve is derived from the Hebrew "Chavvah." The idea of Eve being the mother of all the people in the earth is shown by the concept of naming living things.

From the completed paradise, Man was exiled. Where once he was given one commandment, now he was forced to work very hard for his food and face death. As Israel tread the path to redemption, the law was given as a schoolmaster. The Levites were given the commandment to stay pure and undefiled as the priests of God to minister in God's presence.

Leviticus 21:7 " 7 They shall not take a wife who is a harlot or a defiled woman, nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for the priest is holy to his God."

According to the prototypical marriage of Adam and Eve, marriage was established to be between a faithful man and woman.

Exodus 20:17 “17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

The word "covet" in this context is widely misinterpreted with passive desire. The one who ruled a family unit was the man and in this commandment, what belonged to his neighbor was reserved for him and him alone. Based on the context, the proper translation ought to be "You shall not steal your neighbor's wife..." When Adam and Eve sinned, they acted upon their desire to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thus violating God's spoken Law. The mere act of passively desiring something is not in and of itself evil, but actively seeking to possess anything that belongs to your neighbor is a sin.

Now, i will establish several different parts of marriage in parts. Because of the vast complexity of marriage, it is best to simply forget everything you think you know about marriage when thoroughly studying the Bible because the social norms for marriage have drastically changed over the ages. For instance, marriage ceremonies did not exist in ancient Israel, only a commitment to remain faithful to a spouse for a lifetime. It is necessary to take the position that you know nothing of marriage to avoid confusion regarding the subject.

The age of accountability in Marriage:

It is often difficult to understand Biblical marriage when there are cultural biases introduced in studying this particular concept. At what age does a male become a man? What social rules were established to arrange matrimony?

In Judaism, boys could make religious vows at the age of 14 and girls at the age 12 strictly with parental permission.

Arranged marriages were done by family members of the same clan to ensure it's future survival. There are two ways people could get married. It was a unity between two families through the two representatives who would become married. During the period of engagement, the father lives with all of his sons single or married and unmarried daughter. Men would never move out since he would lose life-sustenance from both inside the house and outside. The women would move into the house of the husband's father with a gender-divided environment. The woman would be then taken to her groom's father, an oath was taken, and a blessing may have been spoken. The family and community then waited for proof of consummation or "tokens of virginity." The first is that when men gained their inheritance and own resources, marriage then became an open possibility. Girls could also become a wife as soon as they were able to have children.

Jewish rabbis then established that both sexes male and female could marry as soon as they reached puberty.

Biblical laws of marriage:

Deuteronomy 24:5 "5 “When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business [dabar] ; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness [Samach] to his wife whom he has taken."

Happiness in this verse comes from the Hebrew "Samach" which means to cheer up or make glad. Bringing happiness to a woman is essential for the nourishment of a marriage, thus doing anything to separate the union between a man and a woman was forbidden. In ancient times, Jews were extremely careful in newly wedded couples. A marriage was of high importance to the nation and more importantly, to God. Rather than be drafted into war to fight in the name of God, the man was told to stay in his household and have communion with his wife. The word business or "dabar" meaning matters was far from him because he was exempted from work. What does this reflect? The prototypical marriage of Adam and Eve. When they were in the garden of Eden, they were free from tilling the ground and dwelled in paradise in the presence of God. Adam found wholeness in the woman which was his other half. This is why marriage is unique because of the unity between Adam and Eve.

It is common among Christian circles to believe the pre-marital sex or sex before legal marriage is a sin when this is not supported anywhere in the Old Testament.

Exodus 22:16-17 "16 “If a man entices [pathah] a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the bride-price of virgins."

The Hebrew "pathah" or entice means allure, persuade, and deceive which is used differently from the context Jesus used the word "lust" in Matthew 5:28 in relation to adultery. Nowhere in the book of Leviticus is sex between two unmarried virgins sinful listed as an abomination. In these verses, the man is obligated to pay for the virgin.

Leviticus 18 describes the sexual immoralities that are forbidden to another man's wife.

Deuteronomy 21:10-14

10 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God delivers them into your hand, and you take them captive, 11 and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and desire [chashaq] her and would take her for your wife, 12 then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave [galach] her head and trim her nails. 13 She shall put off [cuwr] the clothes of her captivity, remain in your house, and mourn her father and her mother a full month; after that you may go in to her and be her husband [ba'al], and she shall be your wife. 14 And it shall be, if you have no delight [chaphets] in her, then you shall set her free, but you certainly shall not sell her for money; you shall not treat her brutally, because you have humbled [`anah] her."

The word used for desire is "chashaq" which means "To cling, join, to love, to have a delight." The phrase "take her.." comes from the Hebrew "laqach" meaning "to take or bring." "Galach" means "to fashion or make." "Cuwr" means "to remove. The term "Ba'al" used for husband comes from the verb "to take possession of." The phrase "to marry a wife" meant that the husband would become her master. She would still be the second most important in the household. "Caphets" gives the idea of "being inclined to or pleased with" and the Hebrew "'anah" means "to depress or bring low." This word has been used to describe a man who has forced his wife to have sex with him.

The captive women are permitted to live because they were at a distance from Canaan. This was harsh, but this was how women were treated in that particular society. In this time period, looking and desiring a beautiful woman was not sinful in itself, the woman were to provide companionship for the man, but still be treated with respect although she was a captive.

Deuteronomy 21:15-17

"15 “If a man has two wives, one loved ['ahab] and the other unloved [sane'], and they have borne him children, both the loved and the unloved, and if the firstborn son is of her who is unloved, 16 then it shall be, on the day he bequeaths his possessions to his sons, that he must not bestow firstborn status on the son of the loved wife in preference to the son of the unloved, the true firstborn. 17 But he shall acknowledge [nakar] the son of the unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double [shnayim] portion [ peh] of all that he has, for he is the beginning [re'shiyth] of his strength ['own]; the right of the firstborn is his."

The Hebrew term "'ahab" means "to have affection for sexually or otherwise" whereas the term "sane'" means "to hate personally.." Modern English has confused the meaning of these words and according to the ancient Hebrew context of the word "sane'", the proper translation should be that one wife was preferred over another. Compare the different translations.

Sumerian couple
Sumerian couple
Contemporary English
Darby translation
New English translation
The Voice
15 "Suppose a man has two wives and loves one more than the other.."
15 “A man might have two wives. He might love one wife more than the other.."
"15 Suppose a man has two wives, one whom he loves more than the other.."
15 Suppose a man has two wives, and he favors one over the other
 
 
 
 
This painting illustrates an arranged marriage
This painting illustrates an arranged marriage

Because this passage is speaking of the inheritance of the firstborn and a resolution between a wife loved more than the other, the word "nakar" in this context means "to scrutinize or look intently."

"Re'shiyth" means the chiefest part. Strength or "'own" can mean "generative power or wealth, goods, and substance." Fairness was executed between the loved and unloved wives despite the human tendency to love the son belonging to the one who was mostly loved rather than the one who was not loved as much.

Though it was not encouraged, polygamy was still permissible in ancient Israel. The firstborn son of the "unloved" wife had a birthright to the inheritance rather than the other one who was preferred over.

Deuteronomy 22:13-29

"13 “If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her, 14 and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, ‘I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin,’15 then the father and mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. 16 And the young woman’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man as wife, and he detests her. 17 Now he has charged her with shameful conduct, saying, “I found your daughter was not a virgin,” and yet these are the evidences of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. 18 Then the elders of that city shall take that man and punish him;19 and they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name on a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days. 20 “But if the thing is true, and evidences of virginity are not found for the young woman, 21 then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father’s house. So you shall put away the evil from among you.

The proof of the woman's virginity was probably a blood-stained sheet at the moment of intercourse. This was a common form of evidence in the near-east. To have sex with someone previously before marriage to another person was disgraceful because it was indeed fornication.

22 “If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel. 23 “If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her,24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry out in the city, and the man because he humbled (or shamed) his neighbor’s wife; so you shall put away the evil from among you. 25 “But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter. 27 For he found her in the countryside, and the betrothed young woman cried out, but there was no one to save her. 28 “If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days."

Lying with someone else's spouse was adultery and was punishable by death.

Deuteronomy 25:5-10

"5 “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. 6 And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. 7 But if the man does not want to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate to the elders, and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to raise up a name to his brother in Israel; he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.’8 Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him. But if he stands firm and says, ‘I do not want to take her,’ 9 then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the presence of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, spit in his face, and answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who will not build up his brother’s house.’10 And his name shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal removed."

This kind of marriage was known as a Levirate marriage. It has been practiced by strong clans. Marriage with others outside of the clan was forbidden. It ensured protection of the widow. This was an important practice in ancient near eastern societies. Children ensured the inheritance of the land which then allowed security and status.

In the Old Testament, the sanctity of the line of Israel was to be kept in high regard as the other nations practiced horrendous sins.

"11 “If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, 12 then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall not pity [chuwc] her."

"Chuwc" could also be rendered as have compassion on her. Honor and dignity was to be revered for both genders even though there is a desperation to rescue a loved one from danger.

Matthew 22:23-33 "23 The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection [anastasis], came to Him and asked Him, 24 saying: “Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 25 Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. 26 Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh.27 Last of all the woman died also. 28 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power [planao] of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. 31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead [Nekros], but of the living [Zao].”33 And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching."

Mark 12:18-27 "18 Then some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him; and they asked Him, saying:19 “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, and leaves his wife behind, and leaves no children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife; and dying, he left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and he died; nor did he leave any offspring. And the third likewise. 22 So the seven had her and left no offspring. Last of all the woman died also.23 Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be? For all seven had her as wife." 24 Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.”

Luke 27:27-40 "27 Then some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, 28 saying: “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife, and he dies without children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second took her as wife, and he died childless. 31 Then the third took her, and in like manner the seven also; and they left no children, and died. 32 Last of all the woman died also.33 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become? For all seven had her as wife.” 34 Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36 nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.” 39 Then some of the scribes answered and said, “Teacher, You have spoken well.” 40 But after that they dared not question Him anymore."

This resurrection refers to the standing up again of the dead. The Sadducees only accepted the Torah, but rejected the rest of the books in the Old Testament, they did not believe in the Resurrection. This was because they believed that the rest of the old testament books were commentaries on the Torah since there is no mention of resurrection in the first five books of Moses in their eyes. They had pointed to the Levirate marriage which would ensure the continuation of a family line. They had attempted to trick Jesus into suggesting polygamy since there was no one in the tribe to continue the line and if God brought them back in the same state that they died in, causing confusion as to who the woman is going to marry. Jesus pointed to the passage in Exodus 3

"1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” 4 So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” 6 Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. 7 And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 8 So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. 9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.

10 Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” 13 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” 15 Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’ 16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, “I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt; 17 and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ 18 Then they will heed your voice; and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt; and you shall say to him, ‘The Lord God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’ 19 But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand. 20 So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed. 22 But every woman shall ask of her neighbor, namely, of her who dwells near her house, articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

Jesus assured that God was the God which belonged to Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, therefore because of their faith and relationship towards him, they are heirs of all the things God promised to them, showing that a Resurrection will take place. The burning bush was not consumed and God's name: I AM was revealed. The fathers of the Hebrews found God to be faithful, so the Hebrews should find Jesus Christ to be faithful even to the point of death. The purpose of keeping the line of the Jews pure was to make way for Jesus, the Messiah to lead the people into the after-life from mortality on this earth to immortality in the earth to come.

4 Maccabees 7:16 says this

" 19 since they believe that they, like our patriarchs Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, do not die to God, but live to God.ַ

4 Maccabees 16:25

"25 They knew also that those who die for the sake of God live to God, as do Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the patriarchs."

2 Maccabees 7:9

"9 And when he was at his last breath, he said, “You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.”

Faithful Jews who suffered for obeying God to death will be resurrected in the life to come, a view held by other Jews.

Divorce:

Divorce was typically initiated by the husband, if a woman wanted to be divorced, she demanded that her husband divorce her, but could not authorize a divorce. Divorce was a very serious act, it could lead to violence and bloodshed. The two families would be in a rivalry forever. When a man desired to divorce a woman, she could simply remove her outer garment, signifying that she ceased to be dependent on him. The decree of divorce was probably very similar to the one used of the Jews of the Diaspora which read as follows:

"On the ______ day of the week, the ______ day of the month ______, in the year ______ from the creation of the world, in the city of ______, I, ______, the son of ______, do willingly consent, being under no restraint, to release, to set free, and to put aside thee, my wife, ______, daughter of ______, who has been my wife from before. Thus I do set free, release thee, and put thee aside, in order that thou may have permission and the authority over thyself and to go and marry any man that thou may desire. No person may hinder thee from this day onward, and thou art permitted to every man. This shall be for thee from me a bill of dismissal, a letter of release, and a document of freedom, in accordance with the laws of Moses and Israel.

______ the son of ______, witness.

______ the son of ______, witness."

Malachi was a prophet, the last of whom were inspired by God. He not only preached of the Messiah, but exposed the sins of God's people and warned them of the deserved wrath of God. Israel returned from exile in Babylon as a restored people in the land of Palestine, now returning to worship God. In the first passages, Malachi describes the infinite love of God and eternal mercy. Followed by this, God addresses the arrogant priests ordained according to the Torah and their wickedness towards the people. They had defiled themselves in marrying pagan wives, violating God's covenant with Israel. The people in He holds them accountable for causing his people to stumble in sin. God then warns the priests that unless they repent, they would utterly perish.

Malachi 2:13-16

"13 And this is the second thing you do:
You cover the altar of the Lord with tears,
With weeping and crying;
So He does not regard the offering anymore,
Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands.
14 Yet you say, “For what reason?”
Because the Lord has been witness
Between you and the wife of your youth,
With whom you have dealt treacherously;
Yet she is your companion
And your wife by covenant.
15 But did He not make them one,
Having a remnant of the Spirit [ruach]?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.
Therefore take heed to your spirit [ruach],
And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

16 “For the Lord God of Israel says
That He hates [sane'] divorce [shalach],
For it covers one’s garment with violence [chamac]”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“Therefore take heed to your spirit,
That you do not deal treacherously.”

The word "Sane'" is used in this passage just as in previous passages showing that God prefers that Israel not divorce him, yet still allows divorce. Remember that when Joshua spoke to the Israelites in chapter 24 verse 15, he said

"15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Other translations of verse 15 give a rather more clear meaning:

Proverbs on marriage

Proverbs 5:18-19

"18 Let your fountain [maqowr] be blessed ,
And rejoice [samach] with the wife [ishshah] of your youth [na`uwr] .
19 As a loving [ahab] deer and a graceful [chen] doe [ya`alah],
Let her breasts satisfy [ravah] you at all times;
And always [tamiyd] be enraptured [shagah] with her love."

20 For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral [zuwr] woman,
And be embraced [chabaq] in the arms of a seductress [nokriy]?

According to the Hebrew lexicon, the fountain is figurative of life and vigor. The Hebrew Samach means to rejoice and brighten up. Interestingly, the same Hebrew word used here is also used for God's love. Chen is also the Hebrew word used for God's grace. The pictograph for this word symbolizes the need to protect life. The doe being described here is a mountain goat. Ravah in Hebrew means to be in abundance, saturated, be full of, to be drunk of. Tamiyd is the Hebrew word meaning always, perpetually. Shagah in Hebrew means to be intoxicated in this context. Zuwr is a word used to describe a harlot, a woman whom you do not know. Chabaq means to be clasped. Nokiry also carries the meaning of an immoral woman.

Proverbs 12:4

"4 An excellent [chayil] wife is the crown of her husband [ba'al],
But she who causes shame is like rottenness [raqab] in his bones [etsem]."

Chayil in Hebrew means strong and virtuous. Raqab is the Hebrew used for rottenness and decay.

Proverbs 18:22

"A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains [puwq] favor [ratsown] from the LORD [YHWH]."

Good in Hebrew carries the idea of being functional. Puwq means "to bring out, furnish, promote, and go out." Ratsown is pleasure and delight as well as good will.

Proverbs 19:14

"House [beit] and riches [hown] are the inheritance [nachalah] of fathers: and a prudent [sakal] wife is from the LORD."

The inheritance was given to the first-born as they were seen as the strongest and purest of blood. Riches and privileges were also given. Sakal in Hebrew means "concerning, wisdom, and discernment."

The status of woman was not the same in every culture. Proverbs 31 lays the status of the virtuous woman in society. Ancient societies were more concerned with the family unit rather than individualism. Women had economic roles contrary to the stereotype of women being completely dependent on the man. Women directed choices in their own homes and none tried to dominate one another. They had their own source of entertainment. A matriarch was a woman with a family of high social standing. She had the most respect, responsible for each clan member, and resolved conflicts among women.

Proverbs 31:10

"A wife of noble character [chayil] who can find [matsa]? She is worth [meker] far more than rubies [paniyn]."

In the ancient near east, people loved to decorate themselves with Jewelry to beautify themselves and show their status,wealth, and authority in society. The author was essentially saying that a virtuous wife was worth far more than riches, wealth, status, and authority!

v. 11 "The heart of her husband safely trusts [batach] her;
So he will have no lack [chacer] of gain [shalal]."

Hebrew word batach is "to be firmly established and protected." Chacer means lacking. Shalal means spoil.

v. 12 "She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."

v. 13 "She finds wool and flax and busily spins it."

Flax was largely cultivated for linen, processes of drying, peeling, hacking, and spinning.

v. 14 "She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar."

The wife is engaged in enterprising.

15 "She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion [choq] for her maidservants [na'arah]."

Choq is a word meaning "statue, ordinance, or degree." It's used when something is owed.

16 "She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits [periy] she plants [nata] a vineyard."

Periy bears the meaning of "fruit." Nata is the idea of establishing a vineyard which was a permanent settlement and a symbol of prosperity.

17 "She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks."

18 "She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night."

19 "In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers."

A handspindle was a tool used to twist or turn fibers into yarn. There are two types of spindles. One is a dropspindle having thread formed from spindle spins as gravity pulled it to the ground. The other is a suspended spindle where the spindle is spun on the surface like a top and the thread is made by pulling the fiber away from the spindle.

20 "She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy"

Arms and stretching of the hands represent empowerment and influence.

21 "When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed;she is clothed in fine linen and purple."

Scarlet and purple were symbols of royalty.

23 " Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land"

A city gate was where commerce and trade took place. Offices of city administration and wise council were also offered there.

24 "She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes."

25 She is clothed with strength [oz] and dignity [hadar];
she can laugh at the days to come."

Oz is a Hebrew word signifying material or social strength. Hadar is the Hebrew word meaning splendor and majesty.

26 She opens her mouth with wisdom [chockmah], and in her tongue is the law [Torah] of kindness [chesed]

Wisdom or chockmah is the ability to make the right choices at the appropriate time in what you say and do. Torah bears the meaning of wise instruction and Chesed carries the notion of loving-kindness.

27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed [ashar]; her husband also, and he praiseth [halal] her.

Ashar is a Hebrew word meaning "straight in advance." The Hebrew "halal" is to make a show of.

29 Many daughters have done virtuously [chayil], but thou excellest them all."

"Chayil" is a Hebrew word for strength and efficiency.

30 Favour [chen] is deceitful, and beauty is vain [hebel]: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.

Hebel is the idea of vapor. Having the favor of people and beauty only lasts for a moment but reverence for God is recognized.

31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

This chapter paints a realistic picture of an ideal wife. She is trustworthy, courageous, wise, a leader, independent, loving, and confident in her abilities. Although the book of Proverbs never expects one woman to fulfill all of these qualities, we can take inspiration from them.

Amplified Bible
Expanded Bible
Revised standard version
"15 And did not God make [you and your wife] one [flesh]? Did not One make you and preserve your spirit alive? And why [did God make you two] one? Because He sought a godly offspring [from your union]. Therefore take heed to yourselves, and let no one deal treacherously and be faithless to the wife of his youth."
"15 God made [Did not God make…?] husbands and wives to become one body and one spirit for his purpose—so they would have ·children who are true to God [godly offspring]. So be careful [guard yourself in your spirit], and do not ·break your promise [be unfaithful] to the wife ·you married when you were young [of your youth]."
"15 Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life? And what does he desire? Godly offspring. So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth."

God was referring to the original design of marriage from creation. He kept the Israelites alive and gave the analogy of the unity between the man and the woman with the unity between Israel and himself. The main problem was that the Israelites were marrying foreign wives which was strictly forbidden in the Torah, thus being unfaithful by worshiping pagan gods.

The next verse appears to state that God hates divorce altogether, but once again, this is most likely an inaccurate translation. The original Hebrew does not include the pronoun "I" nor does it allow for indirect speech such as "Malachi said that he doesn't like.." but it says as follows:

"For he hated to divorce says YHWH, God of Israel.."

Compare them with these verses of other versions:

Amplified Version
Expanded Bible
Revised standard version
New revised standard version
NIV
16 For the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I hate divorce and marital separation and him who covers his garment [his wife] with violence. Therefore keep a watch upon your spirit [that it may be controlled by My Spirit], that you deal not treacherously and faithlessly [with your marriage mate].
"16 The Lord God of Israel says, “·I hate divorce. And I hate the person who [or The one who hates and divorces] does cruel things as easily as he puts on clothes [covers his clothes in violence],” says the Lord ·All-Powerful [Almighty; of Heaven’s Armies; of hosts]. So be ·careful [on your guard]. And do not ·break your trust [be unfaithful]."
"16 16 “For I hate divorce, says the Lord the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.”
"16 For I hate[a] divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless."
"16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard,and do not be unfaithful."
A Roman couple joining hands. The bride's belt tied in a knot symbolized the husband's unification with her.
A Roman couple joining hands. The bride's belt tied in a knot symbolized the husband's unification with her.
According to Roman law, each person could only have spouse at a time, while the elites could have many. Both parties need parental and legal consent to get married.
According to Roman law, each person could only have spouse at a time, while the elites could have many. Both parties need parental and legal consent to get married.

The word for divorce in this passage is "shalach" which means "to send or put away" which is quite different from the word used in Deuteronomy 24 which is "kriythuwth" meaning "a cutting of the matrimonial bond. The act of sending away literally means that a husband drives his wife out without a certificate of divorce, a violation of the commandment in Deuteronomy 24. God detested this act, but not the actual act of dissolving a marriage. Violence in this context means wrong and because the removal of the garment symbolized divorce, the covering of the garment represents evil because there is no certificate of divorce to make it permissible to remarry. Without the proper dissolution of a relationship, both are still obligated to heed the commandments written in the Torah.

Matthew 19:3-10

" 3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing [periazo] Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce [apolyo] his wife for just any reason?” 4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together [syzeugnymi], let not man separate [chōrizō].” 7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce [apostasion], and to put her away [apolyō]?” 8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce [apolyō] your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces [apolyō] his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced [apolyō] commits adultery." 10 His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”

Deuteronomy 24:1-4

“1 When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some [dabar] uncleanness [ervah] in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce [kriythuwth], puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, 2 when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, 4 then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance."

There were strict rules regarding divorce. A woman without a child could very likely be divorced since childlessness was seen as a sign of displease from God. Divorce was considered a gentile custom and because of the strength of the family, divorce was uncommon among the Jews. Either party could divorce their spouse by simply declaring "She is not my wife and i am not her husband." Moses was limiting divorce, not defining what was permissible for divorce. "Dabar" conveys the idea of speech, but also of a matter or a business. "Ervah" conveys the idea of nakedness and prostitution in many cases. Comparing Deuteronomy 24 and Matthew 19, the uncleanness seemed to be defined by any Jewish husband and therefore divorce was warranted. Another usage of "some uncleanness" is found in Deuteronomy 23:9-14

“9 When the army goes out against your enemies, then keep yourself from every wicked thing. 10 If there is any man among you who becomes unclean by some occurrence in the night, then he shall go outside the camp; he shall not come inside the camp. 11 But it shall be, when evening comes, that he shall wash with water; and when the sun sets, he may come into the camp. 12 “Also you shall have a place outside the camp, where you may go out; 13 and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse.14 For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you."

There was a debate between two schools: the house of Shammai and the house of Hillel on the interpretation of this passage. Hillel argued that a man could divorce his wife for any reason while Shammai argued that it was strictly because of sexual immorality that divorce was permissible. Jesus took the side of Shammai rather than rabbinic interpretations pointing to God's original prototypical marriage since the creation of Adam and Eve.

Jesus was in obedience to the Torah, not inventing a new system. The word "apolyō" means "to put away" while apostasion denotes the official process of divorcement. There is a difference between the two words. "apolyō" illustrates someone separating from their spouse as if they never were married, the same transgression that Judah committed earlier in the book of Malachi. Jesus pointed to the original marriage in creation and stated "What God hath joined together, let no man separate." "Syzeugnymi" in the Greek means "to yoke together, to unite." This word is used in this passage to only mean joining two people together. Another usage of this word is found in Ephesians 4:16

"16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together [sunarmologeo] by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."

The phrase "Put asunder" is "Chorizo" meaning "to depart" rather than "to separate." Jesus was ultimately establishing the institution of marriage since the beginning of humanity, the union of the Man (Adam) and the Woman (Eve).

The Pharisees questioned him not to seek righteousness, but to make him stumble and transgress the Torah based on his answers regarding marriage. Jesus was expounding on what was already written regarding marriage for legitimate reasons. He did not state that divorce was completely forbidden.

Before 1 Corinthians was composed, Paul had received reports from Chloe's household. Paul spoke of a letter from the Corinthians that Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaicus probably sent. No copies of this missing letter exist today, but very likely center around subjects such as marriage, worship, food sacrificed to idols, and the resurrection. The phrases "Now for.." and "Now about.." indicates a new topic. It is unclear as to whether Paul was correcting a Corinthian teaching when quoting them or merely reflecting his own teaching in some cases.

1 Corinthians 7:10-11

"10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart [Chorizo] from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce [aphiēmi] his wife."

12-16 speak clearly about a believing spouse who recently converted, but is married to an unbeliever. Just as we have studied in earlier passages, Paul makes it clear that divorce is permissible, but remarriage to another person isn't recommended.

Is it a sin to marry non-Christians?

Exodus 34:10-16 "10 And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. 11 Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I am driving out from before you the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.12 Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. 13 But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images 14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), 15 lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods."

Deuteronomy 7:1-4 "“When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, 2 and when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. 3 Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. 4 For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the Lord will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly."

From what was already established, God knew the outcome of marrying pagan wives. The main reason for this commandment was because an intermarriage would cause Israel to stray from the true God of Israel. The Jewish bloodline was to remain pure and undefiled.

After Jesus came and ascended to heaven, there was no longer any distinction between Jew and Gentile, thus the barrier of separation between them became broken, but what about the distinction between Christians and non-believers?

1 Corinthians 7:12-16

"12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?"

1 Corinthians 7:39 "39 A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord."

Some use this verse to say that it is forbidden to marry non-believers, however the phrase "in the Lord" has a quite different meaning from what we believe it has. Compare it to Ephesians 6:1 which says

"1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."

If a Christian could only marry another believer then by analogy, only believers are obligated to obey their parents which is inconsistent with the Bible. We are to obey our parents because of the Lord. Jesus did not teach as to whether a believer could marry a sinner nor did Paul rebuke other believers in marrying non-Christians. Paul was advising that these mixed marriages should not split, nevertheless, divorce was permitted in such cases.

2 Corinthians 6:11-18

11 " O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”

17 Therefore

“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
18 “I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”

Some will often quote this passage to say that marriage with non-believers is forbidden, but this passage does not refer to marriage. In it's historical context, it is referring to a union of preaching with false apostles who pervert the Gospel.

Marrying wives who are non-believers is not sinful in itself, but it is not recommended. Careful consideration of their spirituality and reception towards the Gospel should be strictly considered.

Why is it deadly to marry a harlot?

1 Corinthians 7:1-9

"1 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me:

It is good [kalos] for a man not to touch [haptomi] a woman. 2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality [porneia], let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render [apodidōmi] to his wife the affection [eunoia] due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority [exousiazō] over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive [apostereō] one another except with consent [symphōnos] for a time, that you may give yourselves [scholazō] to fasting and prayer; and come together again [synerchomai] so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 But I say this as a concession [syggnōmē], not as a commandment [epitagē]. 7 For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.

8 But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; 9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion."

The word "Kalos" can mean "noble, virtuous, literally or morally good, noble, beautiful, commendable, and approved." "Haptomi" does not refer to literally light touching, but to clinging and attaching one's self to another person. "Porneia" refers to prostitution. It is deeply rooted in the term "to sell" and then was applied to adultery. Porneia was then defined to refer to all kinds of sexual immortality together, so based on the context, it can reference a specific kind of sexual sin. "Apodidōmi" means "to deliver, to recompense, to give away for one's profit to what is one's own, to sell, to pay off what is due." "Eunoia" means "good will and kindness." "Exousiazo" refers to control and the ability to exercise authority upon. "Apostereō" refers to keeping back what rightfully belongs to the other person and can also mean to cheat, defraud, deny, or withhold. "Symphōnos" refers to an agreement made. "Scholazō" refers to be free of labor. "Synerchomai" means "to assemble." "Syggnōmē" refers to fellow knowledge and indulgence. "Epitagē" refers to an authoritative decree.

"It is good not to touch a woman." This idiom occurs ten times in Greek literature and mostly refer to sexual relations. Paul cited a slogan the Corinthians used to justify their actions to which Paul agrees in part, but disagrees when it is used to support abstinence within marriage. Both the man and the woman are in debt to each other. The phrase "burn with passion" refers to unfulfilled sexual passion. In the second verse, examples of immorality involved the Temple of Aphrodite on the Acrocorinth, the rocky eminence above Corinth which at one point in time had 1,000 priestess prostitutes who were dedicated to the goddess of love and sex, Aphrodite. When a man and a woman unite, they are to surrender their bodies to the other person. The body of the man belongs to the woman and the body of the woman belongs to the man. Refusal to fulfill the sexual needs of your partner is to cheat them because as a married couple, you two have made an agreement to become one. There existed the exception to abstain from sex for a while in order to make time to devote one's self to God through prayer and fasting, but Paul was explaining that the flesh needs to find fulfillment in it's sexual desires. Satan knows this and would tempt them to commit sexual immoralities for their lack of self-control.

What is the advice given to the unmarried and widows?

1 Corinthians 7:25-38

" 25 Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. 26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress [anagkē] —that it is good for a man to remain as he is: 27 Are you bound [deō] to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed [lysis]. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned [hamartanō]; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble [thlipsis] in the flesh, but I would spare you. 29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away. 32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please [areskō] his wife. 34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction. 36 But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. 38 So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better."

The distress spoken of here or "anagke" in Greek refers to a necessity imposed by a situation or by law of duty regarding to one's advantage, custom, and argument.Being bound to a wife means placing yourself under obligation and duty and commitment to your spouse. In contrast, being loosed refers to a dissolved relationship in a couple. "Hamartano" can mean "To miss the mark and to not have share of the prize." "Thlipsis" means "afflicted, anguished, or burdened." "Areskō" means "to accommodate the self to the interests, opinions, and desires of others."

There was a persecution of Christians in Corinth, this is why Paul did not recommend marriage. Paul used a Jewish term known as "bound." When a Jew did not know if and how God's Torah was applied to their situation, they would ask a Jewish scribe so that he could declare them bound or loose to specific commandments in the Torah. The man being spoken of in verse 36 is not the man going to marry the virgin, but the father of the virgin who has the power to arrange a marriage. Marriage in the face of persecution could be a distraction to the believer seeking to do God's will without worrying about the concerns of their family.

Love in marriage:

Ephesians 5:22-33

" 22 Wives, submit [hypotassō] to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head [kephalē] of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love [agapaō] your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated [miseō] his own flesh, but nourishes [ektrephō] and cherishes [thalpō] it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."

"Hypotassō" means "to be obedient and put yourself under subjection under." "Hypotassō" was a military term meaning "to arrange troops in a military fashion under a commander or leader." The non-military usage of the word renders the word to mean "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, being responsible, and carrying burdens." The word head can be a metaphor for anything chief, supreme, and important. "Agapaō" refers to a social and moral kind of love. It is the commitment of the self and a self-sacrifice for a greater purpose. The Greek root word of "Miseo" means "exclusion or separation" from harmful things. "Ektrephō" means "to bring up in maturity." "Thalpō" refers to cherishing with tender love.

In Jewish and Christian culture, the male figure represented his descendants. Headship does not refer to the man being the sole authority, but the growth of the woman. The latin phrase "pater familias" signified the Roman's father's place in the head of the family. Roman writers discussed family life in terms of three fundamental sets of relationships: Husbands and wives, parents and children, and masters and slaves. The organizational pattern "house-hold code" was hierarchical, so by following this code, the patriarch adhered to the accepted "proper way" to rule his household in Roman culture. People understood the stability and structure of society depended on the family's structure. The Roman empire itself was hierarchical, a great family unit where the emperor stood at the top level while everyone else had a designated place in society. Fathers were expected to provide for their families even though mothers often imparted the most direct moral influence on their children. As their son grew older, it became the father's responsibility to provide for his education and discipline. The Roman mother held a high place of honor in society and was expected to behave with honor and chastity. She handled daily responsibilities of her household, held the house-hold keys and managed any domestic servants. Beginning with the Augustan age, Roman women who had at least three children was free to do business on her own. Some Roman women were renowned for their own wisdom and virtue. The Roman statesman Cicero read and admired the letters of the famous Roman matron, Cornelia. Although Roman women had fewer rights than men, they and their children had rights and enjoyed deep affection from their husbands and fathers. Cicero was devastated when his daughter Tullia died since he had a close relationship with her. Pliny, the younder, wrote with tender love to his wife, Calpurnia. Greek and Roman epitaphs recorded great sorrow and affection for dead wives and daughters. Epitaphs written for dead husbands are mostly equally tender. One mourning widow described how she and her husband had been found by love from the moment they met.

The Latin Vulgate translates "mystery" as sacramentum which in classical times was used in two key senses: 1)A legal term to denote the sum of money that the two parties to a suit deposited in a temple of which the winner had his part given back, while the loser gave up his to the temple treasury. 2) It was a technical military term used to designate the oath of obedience of a soldier to his commanding officer. In the New Testament, there is no word to describe sacramentum, nor do we find the word used in the earliest history of Christianity to refer to certain rites of the church, Pliny, the Younger used the term in connection with Christianity in a famous letter which he stated that the Christians of Bithynia bound themselves "by a sacramentum to commit no binds of crime." It is doubtful that he was using the term to describe any distinctive and special Christian meaning. Sacramentum was used with a Christian meaning for the first time in the Old Latin Bible and in Tertullian. In the Old Latin and Vulgate, it was translated from the Greek "mysterion." It was used not only to religious rites, but to doctrines and facts. In Greek, this term is used to describe a religious secret or formula of a hidden knowledge in the universe confided only to the chosen and withheld from ordinary mortals.

Wives are to voluntarily give themselves to their husbands in full cooperation and bearing the burdens of responsibility just as the church, the bride of Jesus Christ submits themselves to our head, the growth of the body, Jesus himself. In the same way Jesus Christ loved us as he sacrificed himself for God's people just as he loved his own flesh in order to bring the elect to maturity and nourish it within himself.

1 Peter 3:1-7

"1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey [apeitheō] the word [logos], they, without a word, may be won by the conduct [anastrophē] of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste [hagnos] conduct accompanied by fear [phobos]. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart [kardia], with the incorruptible [aphthartos] beauty of a gentle [praÿs] and quiet [hēsychios] spirit, which is very precious in the sight [enōpion] of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned [kosmeō] themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord [kyrios], whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid [phobeō] with any terror. 7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor [timē] to the wife, as to the weaker [asthenēs] vessel [skeuos], and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered [ekkoptō].

The Word or "Logos" has been identified as Jesus, God incarnated into human flesh. "Anastrophē" refers to the behavior. "Hagnos" refers to being innocent. "Phobos" does not mean natural fear in this sense, but reverence for one's husband. "Kardia" is defined as the thoughts and feelings of the mind. "Aphthartos" means "immortal and undecaying in essence." "Praÿs" is the concept of meekness. "Hēsychios" means "peaceable and quiet." "Enōpion" means "Presence." "Kosmeō" refers to the concept of gaining honor. The concept of Lordship involves ruling over possessions. "Phobeō" means "to put to flight in terror." "Timē" refers to a fixed price or price paid and received from a person or thing sold. "Skeuos" can mean a possession, but also used for a person. "Ekkoptō" in Greek means "to cut off."

Peter encountered many women who's husbands were not yet Christians. His goal was to win their husbands to Christ by Godly conduct so he gave these instructions. The Greek word for the phrase "be submissive" is translated as "the submission to recognized authority." The context here is expounding that if a person is married to someone from a different religion, it was seen as a sign of the lack of authority. Peter desired that Christians were to conduct themselves honorably among the Gentiles by being submissive to human institutions, so that Gentiles may see Christian behavior and become a convert to glorify God. The arrangement of the hair and wearing gold was an ancient practice in Peter's time. Women would braid their hair, interweaving them into golden spangles and threads which would glitter and tinkle every time the head moved. The ancient writer, Xenon of Ephesus, described this way of adornment as a form of worship deemed erotically attractive towards the goddess Artemis which was not the way of the Christian woman.

There is so much more to know about marriage that it could not possibly be covered in this article.Nevertheless, since we are made in God's image, most of who God is and what he does for us as his people should be an archetype of what our marriage should reflect. The fate of marriage should be sealed with a commitment to remain faithful to each other to the very end. Divorce is permissible for the sake of one's own well-being if their spouse refuses to commit to the relationship. Marriage should ultimately center around God's love, intimacy, peace, joy, and goodness until there is an infinite abundance of them in the next life for all eternity.

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