Skip to content

Todd Bentley: Is Divorce and Remarriage Sin?

March 15, 2009

I’ve done a study on the subject of divorce and remarriage in scripture, but I hold no “credentials.” I found a study on the Greek and Hebrew behind the scriptures on divorce that draws the same conclusions that I came to with my primitive language skills.


Divorce, the Law, and Jesus

by Walter L. Callison

Divorce and remarriage are topics of much debate. The purpose of the following article is to invite the reader to reassess the church’s attitude toward remarriage.

We welcome your comments and opinions on the content of this article.

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17). Grace. Did grace come by Jesus Christ to those suffering marital tragedy, even as much grace as was provided by Old Testament law? Surely, we affirm, grace and truth did come by Jesus Christ. Then how does grace abound to those who have suffered the tragedy of a marriage failure and divorce?

Christ did more than teach with words. He also taught with his life. Christ brought new ideas to his followers, rejecting their ancient “eye for an eye” and “tooth for a tooth” doctrines, encouraging love for those not their own, lifting up women from the status of “things” to recognition as people. Yet he also taught respect for the old Jewish law.

When we study what he said about divorce, we must also study the life he lived among those of broken marriages, as well as what he taught about Jewish law, especially their divorce law.

But what about his words? If a divorced person is remarried, what about the words, “Whosoever putteth away his wife and marrieth another, committeth adultery” (Luke 16:18)? We could emulate the compassionate and forgiving nature of Christ, as he sent the woman at the well into Samaria to be his witness. But do his words deny his actions? Are people who are divorced and married to another living in adultery? Are they forbidden service to Christ?

We also must hear the words of the Apostle Paul, “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife” (1 Tim. 3:2). Does he speak of a person who has been divorced and remarried?

Luke records only one comment, and a very concise one, on this subject:

“And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one title of the law to fail. Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery”(Luke 16:17-18).

Concise. But Jesus did make it clear that the Old Testament had something significant to say.

There is a law! When asked by the Pharisees, in the Gospel of Mark, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?” (Mark 10:2), Jesus answered, “What did Moses command you?” (Mark 10:3). “They said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement” (Mark 10:4). There is a law.

The law is found in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, and at the time Christ lived, Flavius Josephus, who also lived then, paraphrased it and referred to it as the “law of the Jews”:

“He that desires to be divorced from his wife for any cause whatsoever, (and many such causes happen among men), let him in writing give assurance that he will never use her as his wife any more; for by this means she may be at liberty to marry another husband, although before this bill of divorce be given, she is not to be permitted so to do…”

(Antiquities of the Jews – The Life and Work of Flavius Josephus, Book IV, Ch. VIII, Sec. 23, p. 134; tr. Wm. Whiston; Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, NY).

Here is the law from Deuteronomy:

“When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife” (Deut. 24:1-2).

The law was still around in the time of Christ. We must, therefore, deal with the “tittles” of the law.

The Bible only records one divorce. God said he did it. In Jeremiah 3, God reminded Judah that she was heading for trouble. Israel had already been taken captive. God told Jeremiah to warn Judah that she had witnessed her sister Israel’s infidelity and had seen God give her a bill of divorce and send her away; and yet she did not fear (Jer. 3:6-8).

There were other things men did with their wives. Many men of old married more than one wife, and without bothering about divorce. Some of these were God’s servants: Solomon, David, Abraham, and Esau, for example. Heroes of God’s revelation, but also products of their culture.

If he did not divorce her, what did a man of those days do with a wife when he took another? He put her away. There is a word for that in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word shalach. It is different than the Hebrew word for divorce, which is keriythuwth. Keriythuwth (Jer. 3:8 above) literally means excision, a cutting of the marital bonds; legal divorce was written, as commanded in Deuteronomy 24, and permitted subsequent marriage. Shalach is usually translated “to put away.” Women were “put away” when their men married others, put away to be available if needed or wanted again, put away to become mere property, as slaves, or put away in total dismissal; it was a cruel day for women. They were “put away” in favor of another, but not given a divorce and the right to marry again. This word described a cruel tradition, common, but contrary to Jewish law.

Some of the hardships and terror experienced by women who were “put away” can be seen as this Hebrew word shalach is described in the Langenscheid Pocket Hebrew Dictionary (McGraw-Hill, 1969)-“to let loose, roaming at large, to be scared, abandoned, forsaken.”

J. B. Phillips, in his book of meditations For This Day (Word, 1975) wrote:

“The Christian faith took root and flourished in an atmosphere almost entirely pagan, where cruelty and sexual immorality were taken for granted, where slavery and the inferiority of women were almost universal, while superstition and rival religions with all kinds of bogus claims, existed on every hand.”

God hated this “putting away.” Malachi, the prophet, broken-heartedly pleaded with God’s people to stop the practice. Hear Malachi plead with them. The word translated “putting away” in Mal. 2:16 is not the Hebrew word for divorce but it is shalach, put away. Hear Malachi respond to leaders, who asked how they had dealt treacherously, and committed abomination in Israel, and profaned the holiness of the Lord.

“Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of the covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth “putting away” (Mal. 2:14-16).

And Jesus came. And his words do not deny his actions! He spoke of this when he said, “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). Whosoever does this commits adultery! This practice was cruel and was adulterous, but it was not divorce.

This New Testament word, translated “put away” in the King James Version, is a form of the Greek word apoluo. It is the word in Greek, the language of the New Testament, which parallels the Hebrew word shalach (put away).

There is an Old Testament Hebrew word for divorce, keriythuwth, and a New Testament Greek word, apostasion. The Arndt-Gingrich Lexicon of the New Testament cites usage of the word apostasion as the technical term for a bill or writing of divorce as far back as 258 B.C.

Apoluo, the Greek word for putting away, was not technically divorce, though often used synonomously. In that age of total male domination, men often took additional wives, and did not provide written release when they forsook wives and married others. The Jewish law demanding written divorce (Deut. 24:1-2) was largely ignored. If a man married another woman, so what? If a man “put away” (apoluo) his wife without bothering with a written divorce, who was going to object? The woman?

Jesus had some objections. Jesus even loved mistreated women! He told them that this earth would go up in smoke before the law requiring a written bill of divorce should fail (Lk. 16:17). And he said, when you put away a wife (without written divorce), and marry another (while still married), you are guilty of adultery (Lk. 16:17). Moreover, she who is put away is in real trouble. She has no divorce paper. She is abandoned, but still married. She would commit adultery if she married again (Lk. 16:18).

The distinction between “put away” and “divorce,” between the Greek apoluo and apostasion is critical. Apoluo indicated that women were enslaved, put away, with no rights, no recourse; deprived of the basic right to monogamous marriage. Apostasion ended marriage and permitted a legal subsequent marriage. The paper makes a difference. “Let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife” (Deut. 24:2). That was the law.

There are passages, other than Luke 16:17-18 (above) where Jesus spoke on this matter. They include Matt. 19:9, Mark 10:10-12 (where Mark records that Jesus laid down the same law for women as for men), and Matt. 5:32. Jesus used a form of the word apoluo eleven times in these passages. In every passage he forbade apoluo, putting away. He never forbade giving apostasion, written divorce, required by Jewish law.

Should the Greek word apoluo be translated divorce? Kenneth S. Wuest in The New Testament, an Expanded Translation always translated it “dismissed” or “put away,” never “divorced.” The old, and very literal American Standard Version always translated it “put away.” The King James Version translated it “put away” ten out of the eleven times Jesus used it. That eleventh instance seems to be the source of the problem. In 1611, in ONE place the King James translators wrote “divorced” instead of “put away.” In Matt. 5:32, they wrote, “and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” The word is not the Greek word apostasion (divorce), but is a form of that same Greek word apoluo which did not include a writing of divorce for the woman. She, technically, would still be married.

Matt. 19:3-10 records the Pharisees taunting Jesus about this matter, asking him, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” He responded that marriage is a permanent relationship, and said, “Whatsoever God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6).

They then asked, “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement (apostasion), and to put her away?” (Matt. 19:7). Jesus answered, “because of the hardness of your hearts!” (Matt. 19:8). The first basic human right God gave us was the right to be married. No other companionship was adequate. Hard-hearted men unilaterally put away women and married others, considering themselves divorced, but leaving the women without recourse and deprived of that first basic human right. Human rights were for men only in those days. Jesus changed that! He demanded obedience to the law; he demanded equal marriage rights for women. Grace does abound in Jesus Christ!

Jesus told those men that to put away a wife and to marry another was adultery! Adultery! The law (Deut. 22:22) called for the death penalty for adultery, for both the woman and the man! That was bitter medicine for men who did as they pleased with women. Matt. 19:10 records their shock: “If the case of a man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.” They did not live in a culture wherein a man was expected to live with only one woman for life, much less, give her equal rights if marriage failed.

How did we ever begin to read “whosoever divorces his wife” into those places where Jesus literally said “whosoever puts away, or abandons, his wife”?

It may be that the one place where apoluo was mis-translated “divorce” in 1611 started the whole process. The American Standard Version corrected the error in 1901. It never became popular enough to make much difference. Wuest was careful to avoid such mistakes, as noted earlier. But almost everything that has ever come off a printing press has been influenced by the King James Version of the Bible, even Greek-English lexicons, and most modern translators seem to be influenced by that one occurrence in it and translate apoluo “divorce,” even though the meaning of the word does not include a writing of divorce (apostasion). Now, tradition has taught us to record “divorced” in our minds though our eyes actually read “put away” in the King James Version.

Is written divorce, as commanded in Deuteronomy, the solution to the cruel practice of “putting away”? The twenty-fourth chapter of Deuteronomy is evidence that, even as God heard the groaning of his people in Egypt and provided deliverance from slavery, he also heard the groans of enslaved women and provided deliverance from abuse by means of that tragic necessity, divorce; tragic because it ends that which should never end, marriage; necessary to protect the victims of those who do not obey the rules of our creator, all-mighty God. Necessary, originally, because men “put away” women, trapping them in illegal and adulterous multiple marriages.

Divorce is a privilege, provided as a corrective for an intolerable situation. It is a privilege which can be, and often is, abused. Divorce is not a pretty picture in most cases. Loneliness, rejection, a deep sense of failure, loss of self-esteem, critical relatives, child care problems, property settlements-these concerns, and more confront the divorced.

Divorce can be more traumatic than the death of a mate. Grief following the death of a spouse is hard to bear, as is the grief of divorce. But a dead spouse does not keep coming back. The divorced one often does, thus prolonging and often renewing grief. Divorce is still only what it was in Jesus’ day, a partial solution to a serious and cruel situation; and maybe the only reasonable solution. It may be necessary, but it is always a tragedy!

We might be able to prevent some divorces by tightening our divorce laws or by religious prohibitions against divorce, but such actions would not prevent broken marriages. When couples stay together only because of fear of the notoriety required by divorce laws, or because of church prohibitions, or “for the sake of the children,” tragedy can result. Disastrous marital triangles, domestic cruelty, child abuse, murder, and suicide are some of the documented consequences of marriage which had failed but was not terminated. What a fearful choice! A broken home is a tragedy, but I will never forget a young man who put a gun barrel in his mouth and ended his marriage, his alternative to divorce. His church had forbidden divorce.

Our high divorce rate is not the real problem. Marriage failure comes first, and then divorce. The divorce rate is only an indicator of our high bad marriage rate. To correct this, we must do more than preach against divorce! It will be more difficult. It is easy to preach against divorce, but difficult for a church to be constructive in providing preparation for marriage and strengthening of marriages. Our challenge lies here!

Can a divorced person be ordained as a deacon or a preacher? The Apostle Paul, an educated man, knew the Greek word for divorce (apostasion) and knew his culture. He also knew Christ would accept anyone, even him, the “chiefest of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). Unquestionably some early converts had multiple wives, slave wives, and concubines. Each of these relationships, though given the nicer title, polygamy, was adultery. Paul rejected the heads of such households as leaders in the church. The command to give a writing of divorcement in Deuteronomy 24 limited a man to only one wife and thus prohibited polygamy and the adultery inherent in it. Paul seemed to concur fully when he said, “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife” (1 Tim. 3:2). He rejected polygamy, not divorce.

Despite serious abuse, the divorce law (Deuteronomy 24) still has validity. Divorce is a radical solution to insurmountable marital problems. It ends all hope that the marriage might be saved, and declares publicly that the marriage has failed. This moment of truth can be shattering. Sin, related to this failure, must be confessed if there is to be any forgiveness, any peace with God. “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This includes forgiveness for marital failure.

As opposed to putting away, written divorce, commanded by the law, provided a degree of human dignity for women subjected to cruel abuse, adulterous polygamy, and the whims of hardhearted men. Nothing so flimsy as an oral “I divorce you” would do. Divorce declared the legal end of a marriage, thereby precluding any charge of adultery or bigamy should either party ever marry again. Divorce severed all marital ties and all control by the former spouse. Divorce demanded strict monogamy. Divorce prevented unilateral dismissal and preserved the basic right to be married. Divorce does the same today. Abandonment, desertion, putting away, or whatever one calls that hard-hearted forsaking of a wife for another, without divorce, was and is forbidden by the Lord Jesus himself (Mt. 19:9, Mt. 5:32, Mk. 10:11-12, Lk. 16:18).

For centuries much of the Christian community has interpreted these teachings of Jesus to say: 1) Divorce is absolutely not permitted, or at best, is permitted only in the case of admitted or proven adultery. 2) A divorced person is not allowed to marry again. 3) A divorced person who does marry again lives in adultery. 4) A person who is divorced cannot be ordained as a deacon or a minister. Every one of these beliefs could be wrong. The first three are contrary to Mosaic Law and are based on scripture in which Jesus did not even use the Greek word for divorce (apostasion); the fourth is based on scripture in which Paul did not use it. The word Jesus used was apoluo, to put away. This was the problem with which he dealt, not divorce.

A divorced person must have great grace and determination to serve in a church which holds to the four positions listed above. How can this be, when the church is the body of Christ on earth, to function and to serve as he did, in person?

Christ, who once wept over Jerusalem, must look down from heaven and weep over us. He came and called Simon the Zealot, a radical anti-Roman, and Matthew, a hated lackey of Rome, a pair as incompatible as any you could find in America today; but he put them to work, together, in his kingdom. Then he went to Samaria, revealed himself to a woman with a shameful background of marital failures, and sent her out to share the revelation of God in Christ as if she were as good as anyone else. He must weep when he sees us wasting our time trying to figure out whom we can disbar from serving him in his church.

Jesus openly ministered to all who came to him. Yet many of our divorced friends are afraid of our churches. They know what we say the Bible teaches about divorce. Can we be right and so unlike Christ? Do our traditional interpretations separate us from people whom Christ would have received? If so, we must be wrong. He came to save sinners. The only people he ever rejected were the self-righteously religious. Is our understanding of his words correct if it does not square with his life? Divorced people are real people! For centuries churches have excluded these people from fellowship and usefulness, from joy and equality, even from salvation; people for whom Christ died. Whether or not divorce is sin, this certainly is! May God grant us the grace to mediate that grace which did come in Jesus Christ to the divorced.

(This article appeared in the May/June 1986 edition of Your Church. Walter L. Callison is a Baptist minister from Iowa City, IA. He is a graduate of Park College and the Midwestern Baptist Theology Seminary. He served previously as director of missions for the Bethel Baptist Association.

This article appears on the Lisa David site.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2009 6:41 pm

    Jesus was very clear that in spite of a divorce, adultery occurred with a remarriage. Paul was very clear that marriage IS (not should be) for life. Even if a woman divorced her husband and married another, she was not free from the original marriage—hence she would be called an adulteress. In scripture we find that neither a divorce, nor a remarriage, nor adultery of any kind dissolves the ONE flesh GOD joins together. Herodias divorcing Philip did not negate Philip as her lawful husband. Her taking new vows with a new husband did not negate Philip as her husband. Her committing adultery with Herod did not dissolve her marriage with Philip. John stood firm that Herodias belonged to Philip, not to Herod, her second husband. In the same vein, we see that Michal, though marrying another man (making new vows, have sexual relations with)did not negate her ONE FLESH bond with David. Hence his right to take her away from her second husband. In Mal. 2 we see that a second marriage does not negate the force of the original covenant in the eyes of God—-God says the first wife IS the wife of the covenant…….and tears/weeping at the altar will not change that fact.

    • rahabsplace permalink*
      March 15, 2009 9:50 pm

      Cindy, you should at least read the article. It is very clearly outlined in the Greek that this is not what Jesus was saying at all.

      Herodias’ marriage to Herod Agrippa was illegal under Jewish law because she divorced Herod II, according to Josephus. Under Jewish law, she did not have the right to divorce her husband. Only a man can initiate a divorce. She in essence, put her husband away. She was not legally divorced from Herod II when she married Agrippa. Agrippa himself was still married to his first wife when he married Herodias. Neither party was legally divorced, and that’s what John was nailing.

      God created divorce and God himself is divorced according to scripture (Jeremiah 3:1), so in your view, God is in sin. You really need to reexamine that one.

      Michal was never divorced from David. Only David could initiate divorce from her and he had not done so. She was living with a man she was not married to and David chose to reclaim her.

      DIvorce is not a sin. It is the result of sin. It’s just like someone contracting AIDS from sexual promiscuity. AIDS is not the sin, the sexual promiscuity is the sin. AIDS is the consequence of the sin. Divorce is a consequence of sin and failure. But God created it, not man. When God divorced Israel, it was because of Israel’s promiscuity in chasing after foreign gods. He was not guilty of sin by doing so. He broke what was supposed to be an everlasting covenant with Israel.

      By the way, please show me where you found that only the first wife is the wife of the covenant.

  2. chelly permalink
    March 16, 2009 9:40 pm

    I read the above article on divorce with interest. I guess my problem is that I choose to believe the Word as it is written, and I choose to ask for grace to help me through the difficulty that would arise in the process. I am the first to admit that it could be very difficult and trying but that’s part of the maturing process. This is not about anyone’s action for I am not qualified to judge but it is about what I believe. I believe that the Christian marriage is a very important aspect of human relationships and that it models the relationship between the Church and her Lord, and that God will work through whichever party that is willing to bring healing and restoration. I also know that He does this through the one who is willing to exercise the Christian virtues, patience and long suffering. I am not saying that all bad marriages are savable but the Church should set the right standard for the world to follow. God knew when He ordained marriage that He would be bringing two people together, male and female, whose backgrounds can be very diverse to make a unit. He knew the difficulties that would arise and I believe He released grace sufficient enough to overcome the problems. I believe God when He asked: “Is anything too difficult for me?” I believe the Word when it tells me that all things are possible with God. May be I am too gullible hence I believe, and when it’s not working I know its not that the Word is powerless, I know that which is fickle.

    How can I tell the world of the God that is able to cause a virgin to bear a Son, the God who raised a man who was in the grave for 3 days and propelled him into the highest heaven and placed him beside Him (God) to rule as God? How can I tell of this God who can transform lives, heal the sick without medical intervention, deliver the bound and set free the drug addict? How can I tell of the God who caused a 90 year old woman to have a son, created an expressway through the sea for people to pass through, and led them miraculously through the wilderness and brought them to their destination without map quest or GPS? How can I tell them that He spoke and the universe came into being and everything that exists including me is as a result of Him? Do I tell them that He had the power to create me but does not have the ability to change me or my spouse? Do I tell them the same word by which He created everything does not have power in my life? Do I tell them that He can work in their lives but not in mine? Am I not asked to go be a witness? Is my life not the living witness? How can I reduce His standard by judging it by the fall?

    The author of the article in question is very learned and an authority in the scriptures but my problem is that I am not, I just try to understand what I read and work to agree with it so I can believe it. But also in the same Matt 19 he quoted, Jesus concluded with the following words which I quote from the NASB:

    “4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE,


    6″So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

    Some have accused God of being guilty of divorce and as such that gives us the license to go in and out of marriages thoughtlessly, forgetting that it is more than a contract, it is a covenant relationship hence in the eyes of the scriptures this 1+1=1. This is God’s math, excuse me, Jesus mathematics not mine. How do you divide one and still get a whole? I am a back bencher in church, no title, no position, no degrees but it is evident from scriptures that even though God said He divorced Israel in Jer 3, He restored her back in the same book of Jeremiah. What do you do with the restoration scriptures such as Jer 31 that refer specifically to the restoration of Israel back to her God. How do you explain God’s dealings with Israel till today? If God divorced Israel and threw her out who did He remarry? Who is His second wife? Did He stay single or did He choose another wife for Himself? Remember, of the 120 in the Upper Room that received the baptism of the Holy Spirit I am not aware of any Gentile among them. Of the 27 books of the New Testament only 2 were written by the same Gentile believer. What am I missing? Is this divorce as we know it? We can also say that what happened to man at the Fall when he was separated from God and thrown out of his home in Eden was equivalent to a divorce. Remember he too willfully surrendered himself to another but as with Israel God came to the Earth seeking man, died to restore him back to Himself. This is why the Bible in Ephesians shows the man how to love his wife referring him to the love of Christ for His Bride. Why was it the man that has to die for his wife and not the wife for the husband? This is because the Law gave the man the right to divorce the wife but the New Testament says why divorce her when you can die for her and call out that inner beauty that is in her, the Christ that is in every believer by the power of the Word . The Law gave the man the power to initiate the divorce but the work of redemption gave the man a much more powerful tool, a redemptive tool, the Word. ‘Wash her’, says the Word, ‘with the washing of the Word’ and remove the wrinkles, the spots and the blemishes. This is a creative power the Word has given to the man as the authority over his own house to create his own world while the woman is to submit, except perhaps where the Word is for others and not for us.

    I am not judging anyone. I am still a work in progress myself but that article is way too dangerous in a church where the world has become the template by which we build our lives. How the Lord must grieve for His Church. Are we not co-laborers with Him in the restoration process. Why would we compromise our authority by our inability to submit to the Word. Rather than seeking to justify divorce, we should mourn and seek God to destroy its effect in the Church. The Church has been severely traumatized by this evil. The Church is full of spiritual amputees and this is one of the reasons why we are the ruled rather than the ruler. This is an evil that affects not only the couple involved, but also the children and the Body as a whole. It destroys lives and breeds pain, unforgiveness and bitterness. People in this state cannot walk in victory. The Church needs to reexamine her doctrines and do what the Owner of the Church would do — wash her with washing of the Word ie the Truth.

    • rahabsplace permalink*
      March 17, 2009 4:19 am

      Hi Chelly!

      Divorce is a bad thing, and I think that Todd believes that more now than ever. The point I had in posting is that the church has turned divorce into something it never was supposed to be. Marriage is not the litmus test for ministry.

      Divorce is the product of failure and sin in people’s lives. it is a horribly destructive thing, but it is not beyond the healing power of the blood of Jesus. I don’t justify divorce any more than I justify cancer. It just is. It’s part of the fallen nature of man. But 50% of the church is divorced and we cannot write half of the body of Christ off when scripture doesn’t support it.

      Divorce is not forbidden in scripture, but like all things not forbidden in Scripture, the Father has shown us a better way. All things are permissible, but not all things are profitable. DIvorce is permissible. It doesn’t mean it ‘s the best and highest God has for us. If the hearts of people did not harden, we would not need divorce. It’s like grace. If we could walk in sinless perfection, we wouldn’t need grace and forgiveness. But since we aren’t perfect, God made provision for us for when we fail.

      Thank God for people like Rick Joyner and Bill Johnson, who have been happily married to the wife of their youth forever. I am glad that those marriages do exist, and my prayer is that we will raise a generation to emulate that example.

      But the reality is that there are more divorced people in church than people who have only had one marriage. Scripture does not allow us to treat them as second class citizens in the Kingdom.

  3. chelly permalink
    March 17, 2009 7:10 am

    Thanks Rahabsplace. This is not about Todd. I became a partner in his ministry after attending one of his meetings. I was in Lake Land and that was my third time in his meetings.I knew what I saw the first time I set eyes on him, but I also saw grace in action. I supported his ministry over the years not because he was perfect but I saw grace. Part of the problems of our leaders in the Church is us the followers. We quickly make superstars of our leaders and place them on pedestals where they do not belong, making them vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. People that attack Todd and his actions should look beyond the superstar on the stage and try to see the flesh and blood that is the man.

    What happened in lakeland was historical. God visited one small city in Florida and touched the whole earth at the same time, this is too threatening to be left alone. We did not pray enough for those at the forefront. We still do not pray enough for our leaders. Whenever we see the move of God starting anywhere we should make the leaders the subjects of strong intercession. If they are wounded the whole Body suffers.

    God planned for us before time began. The enemy also is a long time planner, but his plans are time and earth bound. The enemy starts strategizing against the elect long before he gives his life to the Lord. Todd, his marriage, ministry and everything about him have long been a concern of hell. So it is with anyone who would be used by God to confront darkness. Do you realize that there are people on the other side who fast to break Christian marriages? Why is hell so concerned about the Christian marriage if its just another relationship? Darkness understands the power in this relationship, and that is why the Church has to lay emphasis on the importance of marriage, and encourage pre-marriage counseling. If the satanists are fasting to break our marriages we should do more to make them work.

    God who designed for two imperfect people to come together to make one has the power to cement their relationship. In every relationship there is always the one who makes the sacrifice to keep the peace, so also in marriage. The institution of marriage should be given more attention in the Church and people should be given the tools to make it work.

    I am thankful and encouraged that Rick Joyner and others have stepped up to help restore Todd. I have a lot of respect for these leaders and I pray that God would use them to bring forth His eternal purposes for everyone concerned.

  4. Shauna permalink
    March 24, 2009 5:07 pm

    Hello all!! I really believe this is a great discussion and wish more and more people gave more thought and devotion to what God wants from their life and chrsitian walk.

    I am no scholar, I couldnt write a thesis on a book in the bible, but I read it daily and all I can share is my own testimony to what have learned from where God has brought me and what HE has saved me from. What I have learned, How HE has changed me and how I see so much of what I went through way back when, how HE has brought, JOY and so much GOOD as he promises us when we REPENT and fall before HIM.

    God is a God of Grace, Love, Patience, Understanding and above all Forgiveness. This is why HE sent HIS son, He knew we would be Broken, sinful and fallen.

    I married in Highschool, got pregnant and was not a christian, I was not raised in a christan home. We had 2 kids and had no clue that are lives were not really ours. We found a church together in hopes of maybe saving our terrible marriage…..but we werent ready to get right with Christ. Actually back then I dont think we knew what that meant.
    We divorced…..remarkably we both found christian guidance and help. We restored our lives to Christ repented and found and offered forgiveness.
    We both remarried, he found without a doubt the woman we know God picked out to be the step mom to our children. I however married a man without seekng Chist completely…I followed my heart not Christ. We suffer consequences when we dont follow Christ…. I am divorced, I was devastated, ashamed and broken. So mad that GOD let me give up. I loved him, I knew scripture was against divorce and this greatly saddend Jesus. My husband was abusive, verbally and Physically, I stayed because of scripture, because of my faith, I knew if I had faith like a mustard seed God would keep me and my children safe. I cried many nights for protection, HE answered! My husband then found a girlfriend, but didnt want a divorce,this gave me hope, he just hid his affair the best he could. I stood firm in the Lord, I watched my teenage daughter start to be angry ALL the time, my 11 year old son scared, and sad.
    I was determined to not leave my husband. I prayed, I told God I would not leave until I felt the peace from him that he was releasing me. I HAD BIBLICAL reason to leave. (hundreds of bible studies on this)
    Then found out I was pregnant again, My husband said “Abortion or Divorce” I said I would not choose it was sin either way. He tried to kill me that night, my children locked themselves in a bedroom, by Gods Grace and Mercy, I was able to wiggle free and somehow dial 911. Now almost 3 years later, I know I have the peace of Christ that released me from that marriage. He was taken to jail, I was unconscious and rushed to the hospital, I lost one child, I was pregnant wth twins.

    God does not make mistakes, he does not condone divorce, HE HAS the master plan. When we turn to HIM, ask forgiveness HE wipes it clean. My daughters name was written in the book of life BEFORE my 1st divorce, I chose to not follow HIM, thankfully I found HIM. I went through terrible struggle and strife, some of which were to my own poor choices. BUT my daughter is the JOY and Grace that God promises from strife, from our sin. She is my hope and future that Jeremiah talks about.

    I now have since studied numerous bible studies for answers to this question….Can I re-marry?
    Gods forgiveness is not conditional. He does give biblical reason for divorce, Being married to an unbeliever, or adultry.

    God can restore broken marriages, he can restore anything IF ITS HIS WLL. It was not HIS will for me, HE had so much to teach me, to teach my children and because of my poor choices I got taught so many lessons from hardships…..THANKFULLY GOD was there protecting me and whispering to me

    From what I read in my bible, the NAS…..after numerous bible studies, YES I believe HIS word does have the answer. My husband was not a believer, He was having an affair…..I am released. I am dating a wonderful Christian man who has done a few of these studies with me, for he knows my desire to honor CHRIST in all I do. We both agree along with the pastors at our church, when God gives us the peace about this, then yes we can marry.

    • rahabsplace permalink*
      March 24, 2009 5:44 pm

      Shauna, the first thing that God said was not good in all of creation was for man to be alone. I am going to post another study soon about biblical grounds for divorce. They are a little broader than adultery. God in Exodus required some things of a man in marriage.

      I’m glad you have found a godly man, and I hope you are able to build a wonderful, loving relationship with him.

      Abusive relationships are never of God. If you or your children are being abused, LEAVE. LEAVE NOW and don’t look back. If your godly influence was going to help him find Jesus, he would have done so by now. You can pray for him in a safe house just as effectively.

      DO NOT got back to him unless he has faithfully served the Lord in a separate church from you for at least a year and he has made a public confession of his abusive sins so that the community of believers can hold him accountable. God forgives sin, not excuses. Public confession is a good indication of a true repentance and inward change.

  5. Cautious permalink
    March 26, 2009 10:00 am

    Using scriptures that indicate that “God divorced” his people is like using God’s directive to the Isrealites to kill everyone as they marched through the promised land as an excuss to kill unbelievers. Come on! Get real and be honest! You can twist scripture to say pretty much anything you want it to say.

    • rahabsplace permalink*
      March 26, 2009 11:19 pm

      It’s not a twisting of scripture, it’s exactly what the Word of God says. Divorce is a severing of a covenant relationship, which is exactly what God did with the Northern Kingdom. It’s a straightforward reading of the words on the page. He gave them a certificate of divorce (he ended his covenant relationship with them) and sent them away. The Northern Kingdom ceased to exist at that point and was never restored. It became the land of the Samaritans, a land and people despised by the Jews.

  6. RaiulBaztepo permalink
    March 30, 2009 2:30 am

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  7. Search Your Bible permalink
    April 3, 2009 1:08 am


    Divorce + Remarriage = Adultery

    • rahabsplace permalink*
      April 3, 2009 6:53 am

      Then please explain why the Father didn’t nail David for his multiple marriages when he nailed him for his adultery with Bathsheba. Not a word did Nathan say about that. In fact, the Lord said to David that if the wives he had were not enough, God would have given him more. That’s what the Word of God says. And the Lord never rebuked Israel for his multiple wives. As a matter of fact, from his polygamy came the 12 tribes. Oh, and the Father says that he was married to both Judah and Israel, and that he divorced Israel and sent her away in Jeremiah.

  8. John Tebboth permalink
    April 3, 2009 6:01 am

    I came across your article, and read it with great interest. For many years I have preached and taught the traditional interpretation of the Scriptures on this subject, but have always been very mindful that it is a hard line to take (both through observing the heartaches of others, and experiencing big problems in my own marriage). Again and again I have gone back to the Biblical text, wondering if I was right to take this line, but never seeing any other interpretation. I am not a Hebrew/Greek scholar, however, so when I read your article I was very open to believe that I could have been wrong.

    I therefore checked out the assertions made, using the simple tools of a Hebrew/Greek interlinear Bible and Vine’s Dictionary of Bible words – and, within a few minutes, the theories in your article completely crumbled! Here’s why…

    1. The article claims that the Greek word “apoluo” parallels the Hebrew word shalach (both sometimes translated “put away”). Whereas the Hebrew word is used about 850 times, and has a huge variety of meanings from sending someone on their way with your full support, through to informally ditching your wife … the Greek word is only used about 12 times, and only ever used when speaking about marriage. And, according to Vine, it means “set free” or “let go” – which doesn’t seem to fit with the ditching concept!

    2. The first mention of “apoluo” is in Matt 1:19, where it tells us that Joseph, being a just man was going to apoluo Mary. At the time, of course, he believed Mary had committed adultery, so divorce would have been a perfectly acceptable action. To suggest that “apoluo” means something dishonourable cannot be reconciled with the commentary that he did this because he was a just man!

    3. Then, in Matt 5:31, Jesus quotes Deut 24:1 by saying that whoever wants to “apoluo” his wife should give her a written divorce – so the “apoluo” action is equated with a formal divorce!

    4. In the very next verse, Jesus says “But I say unto you…”. He is saying different from Moses!

    5. In Matthew 19:3 onwards, the Pharisees ask Jesus whether it is lawful to “apoluo” one’s wife for any reason, and His initial response suggests “no”, but they then refer to Deut 24:1: “Why did Moses command to give a written divorce and to ‘apoluo’?” They are using this word as synonymous with a written divorce, not to indicate some shady action taken without the latter. Jesus goes along with this understanding and says “Moses allowed you to ‘apoluo’…” Moses ALLOWED “apoluo”.. the very thing your article says he forbade!! (but only because it is used to mean one and the same thing as a written divorce; of course, your article is correct in saying that Moses forbade a man to informally ditch his wife). Jesus then continues, as in Matthew 5, to state that he is saying something different from Moses, and that whoever “apoluo”(s) his wife except for adultery commits adultery, etc. Everything that goes before indicates he is using “apoluo” to refer to written divorce.

    6. Finally, let me refer you to Romans 7:1-3. This passage is nothing to do with marriage, divorce, or adultery, but Paul is simply using an illustration for another topic. Any lawyer can tell you that, in a courtroom, you can argue endlessly about what somebody said or did that relates to the crime – one side interprets it one way, the other twists it to mean something else completely – but often a casual remark or action, not directly related to the crime, reveals the truth. So it is with Scripture … you can argue endlessly about what Moses said, what the Pharisees said, and what Jesus said about this subject … and twist it to suit your preference – then one “casual” reference in this passage makes it abundantly clear what Paul’s interpretation was! It refers to a woman who has a husband being bound to him for life – if the man dies, she is free to marry, otherwise she commits adultery. Full stop. If Paul wanted to promote the teaching contained in your article (and wrongly attributed to Jesus), there is no way he would have written this.

    After about half an hour of study, I was so grateful that I had come across your article as, despite approaching it with an open mind, nothing has ever made me more convinced that the traditional interpretation is correct. I have never posted anything on a website before, but hope others may benefit from my study and not be fooled by what seem to be convincing arguments.

    By the way, despite years of ongoing problems, I am more committed to, and more deeply in love with my wife than ever. Jesus HAS given grace to me (and her)!

    • rahabsplace permalink*
      April 3, 2009 6:48 am

      1. The thing is, when Jesus spoke about a bill of divorcement, he used the word apostasion. Why then would he change to a completely different word, apoluo, and then consistently use that word throughout the rest of his discourse? Apoluo is a compound word – apo is “from” and luo “to loose.” Jesus used the word in other contexts that had nothing to do with marriage – Matt 15:32 he says that he would not send away (apoluo) the multitude fasting. It’s actually used about 76 times in the New Testament to mean separation, to set at liberty, release, to send away.

      2. Joseph – The law required Joseph to have Mary publicly stoned. It is my understanding that if he had divorced her for adultery, she would have been publicly stoned and he would have had no say in the matter. By putting her away and not divorcing her, he was sparing her life and protecting her from public disgrace and death. That made him a just man. He would be free to remarry because it was perfectly legal for Jewish men to have multiple wives.

      3. No, Jesus is saying if you are going to send her away, give her a formal divorce. By stating the need for a formal divorce he is showing that putting away is NOT a divorce.

      4. Jesus never said different from Moses. In fact, he said in Matt 5:18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Jesus did not change one iota of the Law, he fulfilled it. Marriage will not have its true fulfillment until the marriage supper of the Lamb.

      5. They are not using the terms synonymously. To divorce is not to send away. They are two separate actions. How many times in your city has someone had to call the cops to remove their spouse from the house?

      6. Paul didn’t say a divorced woman. He said a married woman (a woman which hath a husband – KJV). Why did he use a woman in this illustration and not a man? Because men could have multiple wives, but women could not. A man could take a second wife legally. A woman could not take a second husband.

      I am glad that you are committed to your wife. Divorce is not a good thing and God has made it clear that it was not His highest and best for His children. But He did make provision for it. And for those who, for whatever reason have made this choice, it is important to know that there is healing and restoration available to you in Jesus.

      One thing I find interesting is that when you divorced, you did not have to bring a sin offering before the Lord in the Old Testament.

  9. John Tebboth permalink
    April 3, 2009 12:36 pm

    Thank you for your reply to my post. Just two further comments…

    1. Clearly I made a mistake in saying APOLUO is only used a dozen times in the New Testament but, as you yourself say, its meanings include ‘set at liberty’ and ‘release’. As I said before, I am not a Greek scholar, but looking at a few reference books tells me that many Greek scholars are happy to include “divorce” as one of the meanings, synonymous with “send away”.

    2. When I said that Jesus said something DIFFERENT FROM Moses, a better choice of words would have been BETTER THAN … but DIFFERENT isn’t wrong. ‘Turn the other cheek’ is better than ‘an eye for an eye’ … but it is also different… and it is in this context (in Matt 5:32) that Jesus announces his new law. Are you following the ‘eye for an eye’ law, or the ‘turn the other cheek’ law? I hope you are following the latter, so why follow Moses’ law on divorce when Jesus has made a better one.

    The rest of your reply, frankly, is not worthy of comment. Anyone can read the passages in question and judge which of us is reading what’s there, and who is distorting it (but maybe not consciously).

    • rahabsplace permalink*
      April 3, 2009 5:07 pm

      You see, I did take Greek and I hung out with true Greek scholars, and I learned enough from them to realize that when you look at secular documents from the first through the third centuries, a lot of our comfortable, traditional translations of scripture doesn’t hold water. We have thousands of documents now from the era of the NT and what true scholars are finding is that NT translations are very influenced by the theology of the translators instead of what the words actually say.

      Greek is an incredibly expressive, beautiful language. It has tremendous nuances that are hard to pick up because the terms don’t come into English.

      When you properly understand scripture, there is no either or to it. There is not a division between the old and the new, but rather a beautify tapestry of God’s unfolding revelation to man. God did not have a 400 year long nervous breakdown and them come back with Revelation 2.0 in Jesus. It’s all one.

      I’m sorry that your answer to disagreement is accusation rather than dialog. When you say something is not worthy of comment, what you are actually saying is that you are superior and your understanding is superior. That kind of legalistic arrogance is what is wounding God’s children and driving them from the church. Fully 50% of professing Christians do not attend church because they want no part of what is going on there. And in all honesty, I can’t blame them.

  10. April 3, 2009 1:55 pm


    I never said that all divorce is sin. What I said was the divorce of COVENANT marriage partners is sin. I have studied the greek and hebrew and the fact remains, when we study the original languages in the CONTEXT of the rest of what Jesus says, put away (what God hates) has nothing to do with sending a wife away without a paper. Nowhere does Jesus EVER mention that if we do it right (divorce with papers) THEN we will be AOK with Him. God hates the divorce of covenant partners………..however, all divorce is not sin. For example, putting away an ADULTEROUS marriage partner (like Jessa) is repentance, not sin. God does not hate that divorce because in such instances, one/both are repenting from adultery(forsaking having relations with one God did not JOIN them to)……….see Ezra 9-10 where the men had transgressed God’s marriage law and in repentance put away their illicit wives/children. We can see that ALL divorce is not sin—-some divorce is the “fruit” of repentance.

    As for Michal/David, yes, there was no divorce initiated by David. They were still married when she married another man (polygamy on her part). Her new “marriage” did not nullify her previous marriage, nor did sexual relations with her new “husband” dissolve her marriage to David. She STILL belonged to David.

    Jesus taught that a divorce does NOT dissolve a marriage joined by Him, hence it is adultery to join with another AFTER a divorce. I notice that the author kept going back to the OT PERMISSION given by Moses due to the HARDHEARTEDNESS of man. Jesus did affirm that “permission/toleration”. What did Jesus take us to? He brought us all the way back to the CREATION intent for marriage—one man/one woman for life—-where any relationship outside of that is adultery (Rom. 7:2-3).

    Oh, and concerning Jer. 3, notice that AFTER God says He divorced Israel, He calls her his wife and encourages her to come back……….so divorce, even in the OT, is not shown to be something that DISSOLVES what has been joined together by God………and this is very much reaffirmed in Jesus’ teachings.

    • rahabsplace permalink*
      April 3, 2009 4:46 pm

      No, Jesus just said he wasn’t there to change the Law of Moses, which did permit divorce.

      David had a whole slew of wives. He was married to Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, Abigail the Carmelitess, Maachah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur, Haggith, Abital, Eglah, Michal, and Bathshua the daughter of Ammiel. Why didn’t God rebuke him for his polygamy? And he had concubines as well. There was no marriage there. So why didn’t God judge him for that?

      Jesus actually gave us a higher way, which was not to marry at all. He said that was the preferred state and that those who could accept it should. So those who choose marriage, choose a lesser way. Marriage should be discouraged. That would solve the divorce problem in the church. Just follow what Jesus said was better.


  1. Posts about Todd Bentley as of March 27, 2009 | PRAYtheREVOLUTION

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: