Matthew 19:1-30 - Outline of Matthew (MENU page)
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;
19:2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.
Jesus has ended His ministry in Galilee, and is on His way to Jerusalem, and to the cross.
19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting {ie., testing} him, and saying unto him,
Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
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,
19:5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife:
and they twain
{ie., two} shall be one flesh? {Gen 1:27; 2:24}
19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain
{two}, but one flesh.
What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
19:7 They say unto him,
Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
19:8 He saith unto them,
Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered
{ie., allowed} you to put away your wives:
but from the beginning it was not so.
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.
he... made them male and female... they two shall be one flesh- (see refs. above)
Marriage is according to God's design. God purposed that a man and a woman would:
But divorce is contrary to His design, and is one of the results of sin.
what... God hath joined together {GK=suzeugnumi, yoked together}...-
See 2Cor 6:14 where 'unequally yoked' {GK=heterozugeo, dissimilarly yoked} refers to a union where there can be no true oneness. Such a union should not be entered into because it violates God's purpose that, in marriage, a man and a woman merge their identities to become one entity.
...let not man put asunder {GK=chorizo, separate, put space between}.-
When man presumes to undo what God has done, he is on dangerous ground. Psa 9:19
Why did Moses then command... divorcement?- cp. Deu 24:1-4; Lev 22:12,13
Moses did not ''command'' divorce, but he ''allowed'' it due to sinful hearts that refused to follow God's way. (See Mal 2:14-16)
I say unto you... except it be for fornication {GK=porneia, illicit sexual intercourse} -
Jesus allowed (but did not require) divorce, in the specific case where a spouse has been unfaithful. However, this exception is only mentioned in Matthew's gospel, perhaps with special reference to the situation which Joseph faced, when he discovered that Mary was pregnant, while they were promised in marriage to each other (by betrothal), but 'before they came together' (ie., before the marriage was consummated in sexual union). See the Notes at Mat 5:31,32.
whosover... shall marry another, committeth adultery-
According to Jesus, remarriage following divorce for other reasons amounts to sexual infidelity.
The marriage relationship is meant to illustrate the relationship of Christ to His Church. Eph 5:22-33
Believing spouses are to forgive and submit to one another, in much the same way that every believer is to attempt to maintain a good relationship with his brother (eg., Mat 18:15-20; Eph 4:31,32; 5:1-21).
    The God, who joins a man and a woman, is also the Source of all of the love, wisdom and grace that is needed to maintain their marriage (cp. Gal 5:22-24). There is hope for a marriage where husband and wife determine to seek the Lord (Heb 4:14-16), submit to Him and yield to each other.

For more on this subject, see 1Cor 7:1-17, where separation (but not remarriage) is prescribed in the case of believers who are unable to make their marriage work (1Cor 7:10,11), and where divorce is allowed in the case of a believer who is abandoned by an unbelieving spouse (1Cor 7:15, where: "A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases..." is understood by some, to allow remarriage, and by others, to be a statement of greater freedom to serve the Lord, as a single person who is not bound to a spouse. This freedom is the subject of 1Cor 7:18- to the end of that chapter.).
19:10 His disciples say unto him,
If the case of the man be so with [his] wife, it is not good to marry.
19:11 But he said unto them,
All [men] cannot receive this saying, save [they] to whom it is given.
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].
eunuch- ie., a man who has no capability of sexual activity, due to natural causes or surgical castration.
Or, as in the last case mentioned, a man who has sacrificially set aside sexual activity (ie., marriage) for a higher purpose. Examples:
  • Daniel was made a eunuch as a prisoner of war (Dan 1:1-8). Undistracted by fleshly matters, Daniel applied himself to seek the Lord and to understand His Word and His will. Therefore, to this 'man greatly beloved,' the Lord revealed prophetic truth outlining His purposes down through the ages (Dan 10:11-19).
  • The apostle Paul was voluntarily unmarried (1Cor 7:7,8,32-35; 9:5,15). It would have been usual for a Pharisee to be unmarried. Perhaps Paul had a wife (perhaps an elder Pharisee's daughter), who left him, when he turned to Christ. In any case, Paul chose to remain in the state in which he found himself, in order to more fully serve the Lord.
he that is able to receive it...- Celibacy is not for every man.
It should not be imposed upon any man. 1Tim 4:1-3; 1Cor 7:7-9
But if the Lord so directs and enables, a man may choose this path. 1Cor 7:17
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.
19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer
{ie., allow} little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me:
for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
19:15 And he laid [his] hands on them, and departed thence.
{allow} little children... to come unto me-
Children are naturally drawn to Jesus, if they hear the Bible truth about Him.
It is the adults who hinder them.
It is instructive that this incident follows the discussion regarding divorce. Many children have been turned away from Christ due to the divorce of their Christian parents.
''You say, 'I don't love my husband (or wife) anymore.' Well then, Do you love your children?'' [McGee]
of such is the kingdom of God- cp. Mat 18:3-11; 11:25; Joh 3:5; 1Pet 2:2
19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him,
Good Master
{ie., good teacher}, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
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.
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,
19:19 Honour thy father and [thy] mother: and,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
19:20 The young man saith unto him,
All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
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.
19:22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful:
for he had great possessions.
The rich young ruler had several misconceptions. (cp. Mark 10:17-27; Luk 18:18-27)
Jesus confronted each of them with the truth-
  1. good master...- he considered Jesus as merely a good man.
    Jesus says that His 'goodness' cannot be separated from His 'Godness'. v.17
    Either He is God, or He is not a good man. cp. Psa 25:8; Rom 2:4
  2. What good thing shall I do...?- he thought he could earn acceptance before God.
    Jesus says that to be acceptable before God, a man would need to ''keep the commandments.''
    But since no one is good except God, no man can truly satisfy the demands of the Law. v.17; Rom 3:19,20; 10:1-5
    The question is not ''which'' commandments must I keep? but, can I keep them all? cp. Jam 2:10
  3. all these things have I kept... What lack I yet?- he considered himself to be righteous,
    when tested by the commandments which Jesus listed.
    Yet, he had a nagging sense that he still lacked merit, or did not quite meet the standard.
    • Note that Jesus had selected, from the Ten Commandments, five or six commands concerning external interaction with other men (v.18-20; Ex 20:12-17). (On another occasion, Jesus taught that true righteousness was not a matter of external actions, but of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Mat 5:21-48)
    • Further testing, against commandments concerning one's heart attitude toward God, revealed the man's failure. v.21,22, cp. Ex 20:2,3,17; Mat 22:37-40
he went away sorrowing...-
Tragically, his possessions were more important to him than God, or eternal life (v.16). Mat 6:33; 16:25,26
If only he had followed Jesus, he would have been led to the cross, to find righteousness apart from the works of the Law. Rom 3:21-26
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.
{See Mat 13:22; Psa 49:6,7; Prov 30:8,9; 1Tim 6:9,10}
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.
19:25 When his disciples heard [it], they were exceedingly amazed, saying,
Who then can be saved?
19:26 But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them,
With men this is impossible;
but with God all things are possible.
{Gen 18:14; Psa 3:8; Isa 59:1; Jer 32:17}
a camel... through the eye of a needle...- What does this mean?
  • A popular explanation - Adjacent to the main gate of a city, there was often a small 'man sized' gate (commonly called "the needle's eye"). This gate allowed entrance into the city, when the main gates were closed at night. A traveler who arrived in the evening, would have a great deal of difficulty getting his camel inside the city walls. First, its cargo must be unloaded, then it must crawl through on its knees, while the owner pushed and prodded. This is a powerful illustration that to enter the Kingdom, a man must humble himself and shed his 'baggage.'
    [However, there is no historical evidence that such a gate, by a similar name existed, in Jerusalem or elsewhere. This explanation seems to have arisen a few hundred years after Jesus spoke these words. It suggests that entrance, into the Kingdom of God, is difficult, but not impossible, by means of self-humiliation and self-improvement.]
  • Some suggest that v.24 was mis-copied or mis-translated, due to very similar Greek words for 'camel' {kamelos} and 'heavy rope' {kamilos}.
    [While neither item will pass through the eye of a sewing needle, the impossibility is emphatically obvious with a camel.]
  • Others note that the Babylonian Talmud employs a similar expression, to express the unthinkable ("...an elephant going through the eye of a needle").
  • In any case, notice the disciples' reaction to His words (v.25). They were 'exceedingly {GK=sphodra, violently} amazed {GK=ekplesso, lit., struck out}.' We might say: They were 'blown away' with astonishment... "Who then can be saved?" - To their minds, Jesus had described an impossible scenario. This was precisely Jesus' point:
with men this is impossible {GK=adunatos, without power, beyond ability}... (not merely difficult)-
It is impossible for us to become children of God on our own merits. There is nothing a man can do to gain entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven. Penance, self-reform and self-humiliation, self-deprivation, no matter how deep, cannot avail. Mat 5:20; 18:3; Joh 3:3,5
but with God all things are possible {Gk=dunatos, ie., within the realm of His power and ability} -
  • Salvation (and regeneration) is accomplished by God alone.
    Therefore, to acquire eternal life, a man's trust must be solely in the Savior, whom He has sent. Rom 10:4-13; 11:5-7; Joh 1:12,13
  • True treasure is found in God alone.
    The believer relinquishes the passing possesions and pleasures of earth (which he cannot keep), but gains an inheritance incorruptible, which is kept for him. cp. v.21; 1Cor 2:9; Php 3:7; Col 3:1-4; 1Pet 1:3-5
  • Saving faith is given by God alone.
    No man would turn from his self-righteousness and earthly riches, except for the power of God's Spirit and Word to convict him of the truth, and to change his heart. eg., Eph 2:8,9; Php 2:13; 1The 2:13
19:27 Then answered Peter and said unto him,
Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
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.
{cp. Isa 1:26}
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.
19:30 But many [that are] first shall be last; and the last [shall be] first.
...what shall we have therefore?- Note that Jesus did not rebuke Peter for this question.
Those who have paid a price to follow Him will be rewarded.
in the regeneration {GK=paliggenesia, lit., 'again birth,' renewal, re-creation}...-
  • This word, as used here, refers to the restoration of Israel at the establishment of Christ's future Kingdom, when all things will be made new. Isa 11:6-12; Mat 16:27; Acts 3:20,21; Rom 8:19-23
  • This word, as used in Titus 3:5, refers to the new birth of the believer.
    The new birth... -
    1. is prerequisite for entrance into the Kingdom, and
    2. is prerequisite for receiving rewards in the Kingdom, but
    3. is not a reward which can be earned.
    Rewards are received {GK=lambano, to take, to lay hold of, to claim, to procure} -
    in proportion to the costliness of the believer's service to Christ. v.29
    ''Everlasting life'' is inherited (not earned),
    based entirely on the death of the 'testator.' Heb 9:15-17; Joh 3:36
many... first shall be last, and the last... first.-
Many of those, who might have been expected to inherit eternal life and to receive rewards (because of their national or religious heritage and opportunity), will be surpassed, in the day of accounting, by hidden saints whose faith and sacrifices for Christ's sake were known only to Him. cp. Mat 8:11,12; 20:16; 25:40; Rom 9:30-33; Heb 6:10-12
In the next chapter, the Lord continues teaching concerning rewards for service.

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