Re: 1 Corinthians 7:27,28

From: Ward Powers (
Date: Sun Aug 09 1998 - 23:18:23 EDT

At 08:52 98/08/06, Steve Amato wrote:
>Ward Powers writes:
>>In summary: In Scripture, a broken marriage is always wrong, always
>>contrary to God's perfect will (and there are no exceptions to this); but
>>the sin of a broken marriage, like any other sin, is forgivable. Moreover,
>>there are no prohibitions upon remarriage after divorce: Paul expressly
>>says that such remarriage is not a sin (1 Cor 7:28) and commands it when
>>the person who is now AGAMOS sees that he/she does not have the gift of
>>chastity and continence (1 Cor 7:9).
>Doesn't interpreting it that way nullify any application to:
>Mark 10
>11 He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman
>commits adultery against her.
>12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits
>Since, as you say, such remarriage is not sin?
>Steve AMato


I have already answered this to some extent in my previous post to your
earlier post to b-greek. However, a few comments on the specific passage
in Mark can add to the discussion.

We need to note what is is which Jesus is discussing, and what he says
about it.

What Jesus is discussion is a double-barrelled action: it is divorcing one
wife, to change her for another. It is turning from one sexual partner to
another. What Jesus is saying is that such behaviour constitutes adultery.

Now, it has always been acknowledged that to turn from one's wife to have
sexual intercourse with another woman is adultery. The situation which
Jesus is discussing is where this is exactly what is occurring, but it is
being done "legally": first you divorce Wife A, and then you marry Wife B.
Jesus is saying that observing the legal niceties in this way has not
changed the actual nature of what you are doing. Your behaviour is adulterous.

In this conversation Jesus is speaking with his own disciples in the house
afterwards, when they raised the question with him again (Mark 10:10). It
continues a discussion which the Pharisees had initiated with Jesus at an
earlier time (Mk 10:1-9). The Pharisees permitted this
divorce-and-remarriage procedure to change from one woman to another; Jesus
is discussing the morality of this before God.

Clearly, this course of behaviour is sin, because Jesus points out that in
its essence it is still adultery, and adultery is sin.

But it is not valid exegesis of Scripture to take a saying of Jesus which
refers to one specific, identified situation and draw from it the
conclusion that "all remarriage after divorce is adultery". There are many
instances of divorce (most?) where the divorce is not because one partner
is wanting to change from his/her existing spouse to someone else. Such
situations are not covered by what Jesus has been saying. They are however
covered by Paul's teaching in 1 Cor 7:28, where he expressly states that
for a divorcee to remarry is not sin, and 1 Cor 7:8-9, where he instructs
(the Greek uses an imperative) an AGAMOS person (which includes a divorcee)
to remarry if that person has made an attempt to live a single, chaste, and
continent life, and finds that he lacks the sexual self-control for this life.



Rev Dr B. Ward Powers Phone (International): 61-2-9799-7501
10 Grosvenor Crescent Phone (Australia): (02) 9799-7501
SUMMER HILL NSW 2130 email:

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