A Simple Lesson on Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

Intro—There is much confusion about what the Bible teaches on this subject.

A. Actually, the Bible is very clear and easy to understand. The difficulty some have is in obedience.

1. Experience shows that most who have left the truth on this are trying to justify an unscriptural marriage.

2. Men have devised many clever interpretations in search of a loophole.

3. When honestly studied, we find that God is very narrow-minded on MDR.

B. Our goal will be to look at all New Testament passages, define words & contexts, thereby coming to a knowledge of the truth.

I. Matt. 19:3-9; Mk. 10:2-12 (Our comments will focus on Matt. 19)

A. V.3 The intent of the question is to trap Jesus, to make Him side with one of the rabbinic schools.

B. Vs.4-6 Jesus answers by going back to the establishment of marriage. In essence, “No, a man cannot divorce for any reason.”

C. Vs.7-8 The Jews saw this as a contradiction. Jesus corrects this in two ways:

1. The Jews said that Moses “commanded,” Jesus said that Moses “permitted.”

2. The phrase “it was not so” is present perfect, signifying past action with a present consequence. God’s original desire for marriage was in effect from the beginning.

D. V.9 Christ’s law is clearly stated.

1. Definition of terms.

a. Fornication (Sexual immorality) means “Illicit sexual intercourse in general” - Thayer

1) Note the generic nature of the term.

2) This includes adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, etc.

b. Adultery means “to have unlawful intercourse with another’s wife.” - Thayer

c. Divorce is “used of divorce . . . To dismiss from the house, to repudiate.” - Thayer

2. If the exception clause were removed, God would not allow any cause for divorce.

a. The exception clause modifies “whoever divorces his wife.”

b. Therefore, the only allowable reason for divorce & remarriage-- fornication.

c. The only one who can remarry is the innocent spouse. (Mk. 10:11-12 applies this law equally to husbands and wives.)

3. Only the innocent spouse must be active in seeking the divorce if they are to be eligible for remarriage.

4. The guilty, divorced spouse cannot remarry and be acceptable to God.

II. Matt. 5:31-32

A. This refers to the guilt of the husband if his wife remarries after he unscripturally divorces her. He shares in her guilt.

B. Some have said that Jesus’ words in the gospels were to correct false notions in regard to the Law of Moses (i.e. His words are not meant for us). Not so! Fornication was punishable by death, not divorce.

III. Rom. 7:1-4

A. Paul’s primary purpose is to teach that we are bound to Christ, not to Moses. He uses the marriage relationship to illustrate that.

B. The word “marriage” describes a human relationship. “Marriages” can be according to God’s law or in violation of it.

C. The marriage “bond” is different from a marriage.

1. The bond is the obligation that God places through His law on each spouse.

2. “Bond” is from deo and is used here & in 1 Cor. 7:27, 39. It means, “to bind, i.e. put under obligation of law” (Thayer).

D. V.3 teaches that we can be married to one person while bound to another.

1. This was the case with Herod & Herodias. Mk. 6:17-19

2. Notice that Herodias was “Philip’s wife,” but Herod had “married her.” John described that marriage as “not lawful” (according to God’s law).

IV. 1 Cor. 7:10-16

A. Jesus dealt with the marriage relationship generally. Here Paul answers questions about the marriages of believers to unbelievers.

B. The principle is simple: do not divorce if the unbeliever is content to stay married.

C. Vs.14, 16 The environment brought into the family by the believer may lead to their salvation.

D. V.15 Some see in this verse a second cause for divorce & remarriage. Not so!

1. Remarriage is nowhere mentioned in the context.

2. “Bound” is a different word from Rom. 7:2-3. Here the word is douloo and means “to make a slave of, reduce to bondage” (Thayer).

3. The perfect tense means that they have never been under this kind of bondage.

4. Paul is stating that the believer is not the slave of an unbelieving spouse. The believer must remain faithful to the Lord.


The Bible’s teaching on MDR is simple to understand. What complicates our lives is sin.

A. Some may have to pay a heavy price in this life to overcome sin to receive the reward.

B. Do we love the Lord more than anything else, even family relationships? Matt. 10:34-39

By Dan Gatlin

Return to the Sermon Outlines page

Return to the MDR special study

Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /