Saturday, April 20, 2019

From the beginning? Mat 19:3-8

One day, some Pharisees came to test Jesus. They brought him the question of divorce. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” (Mat 19:3) Jesus’ response was to remind them that, in the beginning, God made them male and female and joined them together in marriage. His response to those testing him was, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Mat 19:6) The Pharisees objected, reminding Jesus that Moses allowed husbands to simply give their wives a bill of divorce and to send her away. Jesus responds that Moses permitted it “because of your hardness of heart,” (Mat 19:8) but “from the beginning it has not been this way.” (Mat 19:8)

The Greek word translated here as “has not been” is the perfect tense of the Greek word that means to be or to become. The Greeks had four ways to refer to the past. One form is the Aorist which is an action that happened once in the past. It is a previous point action. If Jesus had used this tense, he would have said, “It was not like that at the beginning.” However, here Jesus uses the Perfect tense. The Perfect tense refers to an action which happened once in the past but whose effect continues to be experienced even to this day. In other words, what Jesus was saying is that what God had purposed at the beginning of time is still in force and still makes demands upon our lives even today. The purpose, plan, and morality of God which he set forth at the beginning has not passed away; rather it is still in force today. Societies morals may rise and fall with the passing fads of the day, but the truth of God remains forever. What God has set forth from the beginning is not ours to change at will, but rather transcends our modern morals and fancies.

Viewing this scripture in this way cause me to ask myself, “How much of what I believe and hold to is a result of the eternal and transcendent truths of God and how much is the result of the passing morals of the society around me?” In the end, only those truths that are eternal will remain — those things which have been so from the beginning.

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