Matthew 19:11 "This saying"

From: Bret Hicks (
Date: Wed Aug 26 1998 - 10:48:21 EDT

    In Matthew 19:11 Jesus says "Ou pantes chrousin ton logon touton
alla hois dedotai" (Not everyone receives this word but the ones to whom
it has been given). In this statement, to what does ton logon touton
refer? Does it refer to:

a) the disciples statement in verse 10 (if Jesus teaching on divorce is
true, it is better not to get married)

b) Jesus teaching on divorce and remarriage in verses 3-9 (that those
who get divorced except for adultery and then get remarried actually
commit adultery)

   Several commentators I have consulted argue that the referent is
actually Jesus saying on divorce (option b above). Are there any
grammatical grounds for stating this? This seems a little unnatural to
me given the fact that the saying of the disciples in verse 10 would be
a much closer referent. These commentators seem to take the meaning to
be that not everyone will accept Jesus' teaching on marriage, divorce
and remarriage, either because they are not true disciples, or they
simply are disobedient disciples.
    However, it seems to me that the most natural referent for ton logon
touton is the disciples saying which immediately precedes Jesus answer.
This seems to be the more natural reading due to the close proximity of
the two, as well as the words of Jesus in verse 12, explaining different
reasons why men might not get married. In this case, it would seem that
Jesus is qualifying the disciples statement. In essence then, the
meaning would be that it is only better for some people not to marry.
This would include those born as eunuchs, those made to be eunuchs, and
those who renounce marriage (unless you read it literally as Origen did
- an option I prefer not follow!) for the kingodm of heaven. This third
group would then be "given" the saying of the disciples. Their gift
would be that of celibacy for the kingdom of heaven. Is this plausible,
or am I missing something?
     Any help would be greatly appreciated!

In Christ the Lord,

Bret A. Hicks
Pastor, Bay Ridge Christian Church
Annapolis Maryland

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