Matthew Chapter 19: Divorce, Rich Young Ruler

Dec 31st, 2009 | By | Category: Matthew, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Matthew Chapter 19: Divorce, Rich Young Ruler

Matt. 19:1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;

Matt. 19:2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.

Jesus went down to the vicinity of Jerusalem. Great multitudes followed him, and he continued to do a healing work.

Matt. 19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

The Pharisees came to Jesus to bait him, to lead him into a trap. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” The word “every” sounds strange to us today.

Consequently, all the modern translations change “for every cause” to “for any cause” or an equivalent expression (see Phillips, RSV, New English, NIV, etc.). Modern translations are very helpful, but they are not always accurate, for they sometimes add or delete words improperly.

Here the King James Version is best, even though it sounds peculiar. The Pharisees deliberately phrased the question in this manner in order to trap Jesus and force him into a corner. In the Greek, the thought is “every” or “all,” that is, “for all reasons.” In effect, the Pharisees were saying, “The law of divorce has been so abused that it is used for every cause. Now what is your thought on this matter?”

How would we have replied to that question back there? The question was, “Is the divorce practice justifiable?” If Jesus answered “yes,” he would be going contrary to his own holy principles, and the scribes and Pharisees knew that he was holy and his conduct was above average. If Jesus answered “no,” it would mean he felt divorce was not allowable under any circumstances. The Pharisees thought Jesus’ gospel of love and mercy might cause him to answer “yes.” Either way—answering yes or no—they felt they would trap him. So what did Jesus do? He answered the question both ways: yes and no. First, he showed the importance of not being divorced (verses 4-6); then he gave the only grounds for divorce (verses 8 and 9).

Matt. 19:4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

Matt. 19:5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

Matt. 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Verses 4-6 were Jesus’ answer until the Pharisees asked him another question (verse 7) based on the Book of Genesis. “At the beginning [God] made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be … one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder [divorce].”

In other words, Jesus did not believe in divorce—period! As originally instituted, marriage was an abiding relationship.

However, while we may be strongly opposed to something, we may modify our statements with an exception. For example, we might say, “I do not believe in abortion.” Today there are two extreme positions on abortion: (1) There is to be no abortion under any circumstances because life is sacred, and (2) promiscuous abortion is permissible under all circumstances according to the decision of the mother. The true view is in between these extreme positions.

Abortion is wrong unless the mother’s life is in danger or the pregnancy was a result of incest or rape.

The same principle applied to the marriage-divorce question of the Pharisees. There were two extreme positions, and the truth was in between. Divorce is permissible only in the case of fornication. As originally instituted in Genesis, marriage is to be complete and lifelong, and fornication is the exception, as Jesus showed in his answer to the Pharisees’ next question.

Matt. 19:7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

The Pharisees said in effect, “Then why did Moses make exceptions? You are taking a stand against the Law by saying that man should not divorce.” Whatever Jesus answered (yes or no), the Pharisees were ready with further criticism. They reasoned that a man, if he so desired, could put away his wife on any occasion. All he had to do was to sign a bill of divorcement and give it to his wife. They maintained that divorce was permissible for any and every reason.

The “writing of divorcement” (Deut. 24:1) applied if an “uncleanness” was found in the wife. The uncleanness did not refer to adultery, for an adulterer was stoned to death. Also, the writing of divorcement was not to be used promiscuously; in other words, it was not “for every cause.”

The Pharisees intentionally phrased their questions in an unfavorable way to try to show that Jesus was either too strict and just or too lenient. The questions were stated in a tricky manner, not the way they should have been phrased.

Jesus’ original answer showed that the ideal was in Genesis. From the beginning, marriage was meant to be perpetual, but the writing of divorcement was introduced into the Law to provide a way out under certain circumstances because of the weakness of the flesh on the part of either husband or wife. Thus there had to be a justifiable cause in order to dissolve the marriage, and the Pharisees did not consider this stipulation in their question. Fornication and adultery are the only grounds for divorce, not incompatibility, mental cruelty, etc. Adultery would, in effect, break the marriage contract.

Having multiple wives ceased, for the most part, among the Israelites from the time of the Babylonian captivity (536 BC) onward. To have multiple wives was not considered adultery because contractual arrangements were entered each time, and the Law spelled out definite obligations that the husband had for a wife. The situation was not at all promiscuous. When the Israelites returned from Babylonian captivity, they had to, under Ezra, separate from foreign wives. Israelites were to marry Israelites or a proselyte; they were not to marry outside of “the faith.” This renewal took place right up to Jesus’ day, with the result that a people were prepared for Messiah. The nation had high principles, theoretically speaking, because the remnant returned from Babylon in a contrite attitude. Therefore, a relatively “holy” remnant was on the scene in Israel at the time of the First Advent. Of that class, Jesus called the apostles. That generation was fastidious about the Law compared to former times, that is, prior to the Babylonian captivity. The pendulum swung to a Pharisaical, puritanical, hypercritical attitude toward others (Samaritans, publicans, etc.).

Jesus showed the importance of marriage but left a way out when adultery or fornication occurred. He also stated that a man who married a wife who was put away (divorced) was committing adultery, but the implication was that she was put away for grounds of adultery or fornication. If, instead, her husband had committed adultery, she was free to remarry. If the wife had committed adultery, she could not remarry, and anyone who did marry her would be committing adultery.

This principle also applies to the Christian. If a class excommunicates a brother for fornication, and another class receives him without proper repentance, the second class would be seriously sinning. A divorce is serious. If a brother and sister are divorced because of adultery and a class receives the guilty party, that class is in error unless there is repentance and any wrong is undone as far as possible (including the renouncing of a second marriage, if it has occurred, by the adulterous one).

When brethren are divorced, we should know the grounds. If a consecrated individual is considering marriage to a divorced brother or sister, the grounds must be known regarding the divorce lest the first individual sin by carelessly marrying one not eligible for remarriage.

Jesus stressed the contractual obligation that is incumbent upon both marriage partners, but adultery would break the contractual arrangement and so would remarriage. Separation per se (perhaps because of incompatibility) is not a proof of adultery or of the breaking of the marriage vow, but remarriage is.

Marriage is a large and involved subject with different aspects. For example, certain acts may be committed before or after consecration, and depending on which it is, the advice might vary.

Matt. 19:8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

Matt. 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

In the final analysis, Jesus gave an in-between answer that met certain contingencies. Some erroneously feel that verses 8 and 9 favor only the man, but they apply equally both ways. When a divorce takes place, several things must be considered. Who initiated the divorce? We should examine this matter, even though the one who initiated the divorce might be the innocent party. Conversely, the guilty party may have instituted the divorce proceedings. We must also ask on what grounds the divorce was granted. Only then can we determine where the fault lies. A person might end up the victim of a divorce that he or she did not want and did not give just cause for.

And there is another complicating factor. Although a husband or wife may commit adultery, the spouse may be largely responsible for withholding physical marital rights. That would not excuse or justify the adultery, but the spouse would incur responsibility and should not remarry.

The woman has the right to divorce her husband and remarry if the husband commits adultery. The situation and conditions are stated in the masculine sense because the whole marriage and divorce picture is predicated on a type of Jesus and his Church. Jesus cannot be unfaithful (represented by the husband), yet he can divorce his Church (pictured by the wife) if “she” is unfaithful. We cannot “divorce” from our consecration, but Jesus can “divorce” us for unfaithfulness. Therefore, the masculine gender keeps the original picture intact. The man represents Christ; the woman pictures the Church.

Matters stated in the masculine often mean both male and female. For example, “To him that overcometh” (Rev. 2:7). Hence divorce is permitted for either the wife or the husband if the spouse commits adultery.

Matt. 19:10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

Jesus, in his reply to the Pharisees who tried to trap him, had just affirmed strongly the sacredness of the marriage vow, showing that it was instituted in Eden and that it was designed not to be broken. It was true that under the Law with Moses, there was a provision for procuring a divorce. And Jesus then gave a loophole for divorce, saying it was permitted when one party committed fornication. That was the one exception, for marriage was to be sacred.

In view of Jesus’ strong defense of marriage, the disciples now said to him, “Well, if that is the situation—if a man who divorces his wife not because of fornication and marries another is committing adultery, and whoever marries his ex-wife is also committing adultery—then it is not good to marry.”

Matt. 19:11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.

In answering, “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given,” Jesus was strongly hinting that it is better for Christians not to marry. Because of the seriousness of the marriage vow, it is better to obviate the problems and not marry. However, it is important to note that Jesus did not frown on marriage, for marriage is honorable in all. Paul’s advice was, “I wish others could be single like me, but such is not the case, for some burn. For those it is good to marry, and marriage is honorable” (1 Cor. 7:8,9; Heb. 13:4).

Matt. 19:12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

There are three kinds of eunuchs: (1) those who are born that way, (2) those who are made such by others, and (3) those who are self-made. The main purpose or normal reason for marriage is procreation. However, not everyone can go without marrying because of the “burning” situation. Many have physical desires that are satisfied legitimately through marriage, and children are usually the product of this physical relationship.

Those who are “made eunuchs of [by] men” are castrated. For example, in ancient times, stewards over a household were made eunuchs to protect the master’s wife and daughters.

Subsequently, the eunuch was given quite a lot of authority commensurate with his ability, and he was, as it were, adopted into the household and given many privileges.

Some voluntarily make themselves eunuchs “for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.” This would be self-denial by making a vow or just purposing not to marry or, if marrying, unwisely vowing not to have physical relations. In reading this Scripture, Origen, an early church father and a man of profound understanding and learning, wanted to please the Lord greatly, so he literally castrated himself. That was a very painful thing to do.

“He that is able to receive it [this advice], let him receive it.” Jesus’ advice here is that if one can contain himself, it is better not to marry and thus to be a self-imposed eunuch. Consequently, since the “ideal” is not to marry, we should be careful not to chide or joke about a Christian who is not married, or to urge one to marry who has taken such a stand and made that sacrifice. It takes a particular type of man to remain a eunuch, however. And there is no question that in a good Christian marriage, husband and wife can help each other in their walk in the narrow way. Peter was married.

The advice is also given to try to remain in the state we are in when we consecrate. If married, we are to stay married (unless the unconsecrated spouse departs). If single, we should try to remain single. However, if we marry, we are to marry in the Lord (see 1 Corinthians 7). Young widows are advised to remarry; elderly ones are not. Thus there are many cases to consider on the subject of marriage, but here Jesus gave the general advice that it is better not to marry.

Matt. 19:13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.

Matt. 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Matt. 19:15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.

Verses 13-15 are an interesting event in Jesus’ life on earth. He put his hands on the heads of these little children and offered a prayer. The disciples were disturbed, thinking that the children were bothering him and that his teachings were for the adult mind. However, Jesus contradicted their attitude: “Suffer little children … to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Notice that Jesus did not go out of his way to bless the children. The situation just arose naturally.

Would we reason that all of these little children went on to consecrate? No. Therefore, the prayers on their behalf were for certain providences to occur to favorably dispose them to consecration. The parents would have initiated the request for prayer. However, how each child reacted to the favorable providences was an individual responsibility—that is, whether or not the child was amenable to the experiences and ultimately consecrated. And even if the child did not consecrate, the prayer would be that he remain tenderhearted and follow principles of truth and righteousness to the extent possible in his normal life.

Strangely, even unconsecrated parents sometimes realize that having a child is a responsibility and want their child to go to Sunday school, although they do not attend church themselves. They wish more happiness for their children than they have had. Here the parents just wanted their children to have a blessing from the Lord.

“For of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus was not endorsing infant baptism. Rather, the lesson is that Christians should emulate the good qualities of a child: humility, obedience, trust, compliance, teachableness, etc. We are to be “children” in malice but “men” in understanding (1 Cor. 14:20). In other words, we should minimize our faults as much as possible by overcoming them and maximize our good character points by developing them.

Matt. 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

A rich, young ruler came to Jesus and asked, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (compare Luke 18:18-24). This ruler had many earthly possessions, yet he approached Jesus with a proper, respectful attitude and a sincere desire to have his question answered. His motive was pure compared to the evil intentions of the scribes and Pharisees to minimize Jesus’ influence and slander his character.

Notice that the word “good” was used twice: “Good Master” and “good thing.” The rich ruler was using natural logic. Since he wanted to know what good thing to do to inherit eternal life, he would go to a good person. This reasoning suggests not only that the ruler was humble and sincere, but also that he admired Jesus and thought well of him as being a very good person, prophet, etc., with great wisdom. Therefore, calling Jesus “Good Master” was admirable, for the ruler wanted to please God and get eternal life.

Matt. 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Jesus’ response is interesting, for it refutes the Trinity. “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” If Jesus were God, why would he say such a thing? Only God is good in the supreme sense. In everything Jesus did, he tried to call attention to God in one way or another (even if the account is silent). The Book of Revelation shows that one of Jesus’ characteristics is to worship God (Rev. 22:8,9). He was so intent on doing his Father’s will and in speaking the words the Father gave him—he so wholeheartedly exemplified “holiness to Jehovah”—that God was to be preferred and honored especially along the lines of adulation.

Adulation should be conferred on one higher than Jesus. The highest worship and praise go to God, even though Jesus is good too. Even in raising Lazarus, Jesus looked to heaven and

prayed aloud to the Father (John 11:41,42). Jesus always did his utmost to point to the Father.

Matt. 19:18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

Matt. 19:19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Matt. 19:20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

Matt. 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

Matt. 19:22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

Jesus saw very good qualities in the rich, young ruler, but the ruler had to make the decision. No matter how much we may like and admire another person and see many wonderful traits, there are some things he has to do of his own initiative.

Jesus’ reply must have been quite a shock: “Go and sell all that you have, and then come and follow me” (verse 21). Remember, the original question was, “What good thing shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus did not give this extreme answer right away but gave a milder reply first: “Obey the commandments” (verse 17). This reply is interesting. Since it is impossible for fallen man to keep the commandments perfectly and thereby gain eternal life, why did Jesus direct the rich, young ruler’s thinking into this vein? As Jesus enumerated certain commandments (“Thou shalt not murder,” “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” etc.), the young ruler, being highly principled, would have mentally answered each one, “Yes, I have obeyed.”

When Jesus came to the last commandment (“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”), the rich ruler would have thought, “I have also obeyed this one.” Therefore, Jesus got even more specific, implying that if the rich ruler really loved his neighbor as himself, he would go and sell all that he had and give the proceeds to the poor. And if he really loved God with all his heart, etc., having no other gods before the Almighty, he would “come and follow” Jesus.

The Gospels provide insight into the profound depth of wisdom Jesus could give instantaneously.

It is one thing to sit down and ponder and write and rewrite a matter, but for Jesus to be able to respond instantly with great wisdom to an unexpected question is amazing! His reply shows he had profoundly meditated on these principles so that when confronted with questions and taunts, he had an answer.

When the commandments were listed, of the two most important ones, one was omitted and the other was given last. However, Jesus had already introduced the rich ruler to the first commandment when he said, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but … God.” By selling all his goods to worship God with all his heart and then following Jesus, the ruler would be obeying both of the two most important commandments. He admitted that Jesus was the nearest person to God that he had seen. Therefore, since Jesus had a closeness with God, if the ruler really loved God, he would follow Jesus. Hence Jesus put the rich ruler to the test. Jesus had already pointed to God as the supremely good One. Then came the cost: “Sell what you have and follow me, distributing the proceeds to the poor [this would be loving his neighbor].”

Thus both of the two primary commandments were included, with the initial emphasis on the most important one to love God wholeheartedly.

Q: Why was the matter stated in such an extreme way? None of the other disciples had to sell all that they had in the way of material possessions.

A: Jesus replied in this manner because he knew that the real problem was the ruler’s riches. The ruler wanted to please God and get eternal life, but he did not realize the cost. Jesus repeatedly used this technique. Take the Parable of the Importunate Widow, for example. She besought the judge for help over and over. The judge finally gave in because of her continual pestering. The point is that Jesus liked to accentuate a desire that is good and maximize it. This rich, young ruler had a good streak, but in order to maximize that good streak, Jesus inflamed and encouraged it, and then put it to the test.

Similarly, the Syrophoenician woman kept after Jesus: “[Even] the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (Matt. 15:27). After that remark, Jesus could not deny her any longer; he healed her daughter. Imagine hearing this uneducated woman make such a profound statement! “Out of the mouth of babes….” is the principle (Matt. 21:16). By Jesus’ delaying tactic, the good was brought out in the woman. Too quick a response is not always best.

To the contrary, a delayed approach is sometimes better. Jesus knew that the Law could not give eternal life, but his method with the rich, young ruler delayed the answer and brought out a weakness. Thus Jesus was “working” on the ruler whether the ruler realized it or not, tenderizing him and leading up to a climax.

Jesus was a mastermind to be able to meet a situation like this so impromptu. If he could do this, what must the Heavenly Father be like? These incidents give us a tiny glimmer of the wisdom of the Father that is in the Son.

Jesus knew in advance what the young ruler would say: “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” Therefore, Jesus was preparing the ruler for an exposure of his weakness. The ruler even thought he had loved his neighbor as himself. And the obvious omission of the most important commandment to love God was startling. Jesus was leading up to his last remark, which brought in these two most important commandments at the same time: “Sell all you have, distribute to the poor, and follow me”; that is, “If you really want to worship God, put your earthly possessions behind you and follow me.”

Actually, all who consecrate put their earthly possessions behind them in principle but not literally. We become stewards of the Master’s goods and provide things decent and honest for our families. However, the principle of consecration should be that if obedience to God requires the giving up of all that we have, we will do so. A Christian in the true sense of the word would do this. Because Abraham worshipped and loved God supremely, he was willing to sacrifice Isaac. Incidentally, this test came to Abraham when he was mature. A Christian begins ideally by forsaking his father’s house, land, and family and going to a land where the Lord will lead him. As he grows in grace and knowledge, the tests get more severe. Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac was his most severe test in proving his love for God.

As Jesus enumerated the commandments to the rich ruler, there was a progression from the more concrete ones to the more nebulous ones. The ruler could positively say he had not murdered anyone, committed adultery, or stolen, but had he always honored his parents?

Perhaps once or twice he had slipped. As for loving his neighbor, sometimes he did and sometimes he did not, but mostly he did. The Apostle Paul was admirable for his wisdom and logic, but he was no comparison or match for Jesus!

The ruler had asked what he must do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus had said, “If thou wilt be perfect.” Only perfect obedience under the Law would give life, let alone consecration and following Jesus in the Gospel Age. The rich, young ruler went away sorrowfully, “for he had great possessions” (verse 22). The discussion terminated at that point, for a sensitive area had been touched.

Not many noble, wise, mighty, or rich are called (1 Cor. 1:26). The ruler’s neighbors probably considered him exemplary, but God does the calling. Usually He purposely calls those who are not so well esteemed in order to put to foolishness the wisdom of men. God can make something out of nothing, and He can make something into nothing. He calls the humble to put to nothingness that which men admire profoundly. As a result, no flesh will be able to glory in its own presence. Paul’s reasoning is like a sequel to this incident with the rich ruler. Those who know they are “sick” need a physician; those who feel whole are less likely to seek help.

Matt. 19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matt. 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Matt. 19:25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

Matt. 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Verses 23-26 are directly related to the incident with the rich ruler. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God. Scholars usually say this statement refers to the Needle’s Eye Gate, a smaller gate in the large city gate of Jerusalem. In olden times, a camel had to get down on its knees and be stripped, or unburdened, of its load in order to get through the gate. This explanation is a nice principle, but it does not answer these Scriptures. The principle would be like the rich man having to sell all his properties and possessions and distribute them to the poor, and then going and following Jesus. The actual lesson is even more poignant, as clues will show.

For one thing, the disciples, who were more familiar with these gates than we are, “were exceedingly amazed”; that is, they considered it impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle (see Mark 10:23-27). The Israelites had needles back there, so the disciples understood Jesus to be referring to a literal needle. In his own words, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Let us consider some helpful examples today. Life begins with a microscopic cell. The fetus grows in the woman’s womb, is born, grows, and matures to adulthood. A tiny seed planted in the ground comes out a giant melon. An acorn grows into a huge oak tree, etc. Scientists now realize that there is a genetic code in the nuclear arrangement of the cell. The genetic code is like a time clock that gives instructions to produce different things at different times, for example, an arm, a leg, or an eye with a human being, or blossoms and fruitage with a plant.

This genetic code in the cell can be reversed. The primary example was Jesus’ reduction from the great Logos to be implanted in the Virgin Mary’s womb without a cessation of life. That was a reversal. God can manipulate the atom and give it all its instructions.

While we speak of the death sentence as being passed on to all men through heredity, the sentence actually takes place through the genetic code. God altered the genetic code after the disobedience of Adam. Therefore, all die, unless they can partake of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden (as Enoch and Elijah are doing now). With death incorporated into the genetic code, the human race is falling more and more.

The point is that a camel can be reduced to such a small size that the chromosomes can go through the eye of a needle. This is humanly impossible but divinely possible. Therefore, even a rich man, if he has a right heart condition, can be made to do the impossible by the Lord. God can reduce him to nothing—to humility and perfect submission. Then he, too, can figuratively go through the eye of a needle (enter the Kingdom of heaven), although it is easier for a camel to be made to literally do this.

With God, all things are possible. He can put the camel or the rich man through the eye of a needle. In fact, He could put the earth through the eye of a needle if He wanted to! That is a mechanical action, whereas His dealing with the New Creation is as much above His doing this to a camel as the heavens are above the earth. There really is no comparison. It is much easier for God to put a literal camel through a literal needle than to take a person who has free moral agency in an evil world and instruct him to be fully obedient and submissive to Him. The latter is much more of a miracle. The account does not say that a rich man cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven but that it will be most difficult.

Many of the heroes of the Old Testament were “rich”—Abraham, Job, Moses, and David, for instance. Of those Christians who are rich and make their calling and election sure, their rewards will be proportionately greater. The rich who have thoroughly consecrated will get more, the principle being, “According as a man hath used shall it be given unto him” (Matt. 25:29; Luke 19:26). The top ten individuals of the Old Testament were rich for the most part, and their reward among the Ancient Worthies will also be greater. There are 144,000 each of the Little Flock and the Ancient Worthies.

Matt. 19:27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

Matt. 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jesus’ reply to Peter’s question was that in the regeneration in the judgment age, when he would be seated on his throne of glory, the 12 apostles would have the privilege of sharing in that government and sitting on their own 12 thrones. The Diaglott renders “regeneration” as “the new birth day.” The word “generate” means life-giving—that is, that life is generated. The prefix “re” means “again”; hence to “regenerate” means to give birth again, to bring to life again. When Jesus is seated in “the throne of his glory,” the Church will be with him, and this event is still future.

The regeneration is not necessarily the same time period as restitution, for the latter has several beginnings. The “times [plural] of restitution” began in 1874 with many inventions, the Harvest message, etc. (Acts 3:21). However, 1874 was only a technical beginning. Technically, midnight starts the day, but not until people get up to go to work are they aware that the day has come.

Thus the dawning of the Millennial day is different from the beginning of that day. We are in the Millennial morning and have been since the 1874 midnight, but it is still pitch dark. At dawn, the sun will rise and the world will awaken—and that will be the regeneration time. We are interested in the technical beginning because that is when Christ came. The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins takes place before the inauguration of the Kingdom in regard to the “midnight cry,” the door being shut, etc. Later in that same chapter (Matthew 25) is the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, which tells about Jesus’ sitting on the throne of glory in the regeneration time. Times of restitution and seasons of refreshing—plural—show there are different time segments of restitution.

Matt. 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

Jesus continued his reply to Peter: “Those who forsake other ties that may be in opposition to the Lord—and doing so would cost something—will be more than compensated.” In principle, they receive “an hundredfold”—not numerically but from the standpoint of value. The things of value that a Christian gets even in the present life are abundantly more than what he gives up.

The dual blessings (those in the present life as well as getting life eternal in the next age) are stated more clearly in Mark 10:30 and Luke 18:30. One is to exercise faith in making the commitment of consecration, and very few consecrate considering the billions of humanity.

Consider the context. The rich, young ruler had just come to Jesus asking what good thing he could do to inherit eternal life. When Jesus said to sell all his possessions and give the proceeds to the poor and then come and follow him, the rich ruler went away sadly. Thus it was very logical for Peter to now say, “We have forsaken all and followed you, so what will we get therefore?” The apostles had left their businesses and occupations to follow Jesus on foot for a period of 3 1/2 years. Whatever he did, wherever he went, they went. Of course they did not necessarily have to liquidate everything, but Jesus was trying to press the rich, young ruler in his sensitive area. He had come to inquire and then finally got the lesson. Jesus introduced the lesson gently, taking a little time before touching the “sore spot.” The ruler went away sorrowfully because he saw the price that had to be paid.

Matt. 19:30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

This verse really belongs in the next chapter to start the Parable of the Penny. Thus the parable begins and ends with the statement “the last shall be first, and the first last” (Matt. 20:16). Also, this statement ties in the whole panorama. Matthew demonstrated this principle by putting together the incidents of the rich, young ruler’s question; the apostle’s question (“What about us now that we have forsaken all to follow you?”); and the Parable of the Penny.

(1983–1985 study plus 1985 and 1997 discourses)

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  1. 50 years ago the majority of Christians would have been livid if someone would have suggested that marriage was not permanent. The world has now fallen for one of Satan’s greatest deceptions.

    “A wife is married to her husband as long as he lives.”
    1 Corinthians 7:39

    “For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.”
    Romans 7:2-3

    “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery and the man who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” –Jesus Christ

    “Look at the legalized adultery we call divorce. Men marry one wife after another and are still admitted into good society; and women do likewise. There are thousands of supposedly respectable men in American living with other men’s wives, and thousands of supposedly respectable women living with other women’s husbands.” — R. A. Torrey

    R.A. Torrey (1856-1928)
    Pastor and graduate of Yale University
    Superintendent of Moody Bible Institute for 19 years

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  2. Hello! You quoted Matt 19.17 and I want to comment about that verse.

    A logical analysis (found here: http://www.netzarim.co.il) of the earliest manusscripts (including the logical implications of the research by Ben-Gurion Univ. Prof. of Linguistics Elisha Qimron of Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT) of “the gospel of Matthew”, implies that Ribi Yehoshua was a Perushi (Pharisee). Ribi Yehoshua was called a Ribi and only the Perushim (Pharisees) had Ribis.

    Thus a reconstruction of “Matthew” is needed. A reconstruction using a scientific and logical methodology implies that Ribi Yehoshua taught this:
    (The Netzarim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityahu (NHM) 19.17):
    “Ribi Yehoshua said to him, “Why do you ask me about ‘good?’ One [referring to ha-Sheim] is Good. If you wish to come into life, keep shomeir (watchguard, over the) mitzwot.”

    The above website proves that Ribi Yehoshua ha-Mashiakh (the Messiah) required Torah-observance by his followers. Doing ones sincerest to keep the mitzwot (commandments) in Torah is necessary to follow Ribi Yehoshua.

    Regards, Anders Branderud

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  3. […] Matthew Chapter 19 […]

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