Churches Of Christ/mdr


QUESTION: I read a answer you gave on MDR where you agree with robert waters but you change your mind when you debated very Educated and biblically knowlegdeable men that convinced you that apoluo meant divorce what did they say that change your mind. why didn't the translator's just use apostasion which means divorce instead of apoluo.

ANSWER: Hi Garry,

I am just guessing that you are in agreement with brother Robert Waters. If you are, that is fine. I still have great respect for brother Waters even though we no longer agree on the "apoluo" aspect. I had met Robert about 7 years ago and he was very convincing in his presentation of the MDR issue. I did learn much from him but yes I changed my mind about this "apoluo" thing. One person that I had debated and studied with on MDR had shown me historic evidence that it was common to use the word "apoluo" when referring to full divorce...even though apostasion is what is more literally means divorce.

Also, the more I studied and considered what brother Waters taught and compared what he taught with what I read in Matthew 19 and Matthew 5, his understanding did not ring true with the scriptures. You first asked me why didn't the translators just use apostasion...I think that what you meant to say was why didn't the inspired apostle, Matthew, use apostasion instead of apoluo. I think a better question you should be asking is this: Why would Jesus change the subject? Everyone (or almost everyone) fully admits that the Pharisees came to test Jesus on Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Moses gave the first instruction from God regarding how a Jewish man is to deal with ending a marriage. The topic brought before Jesus was divorce. There is no logical reason that Jesus would change the subject and give an answer for something other than divorce. Not only that, it makes no sense to me that Jesus would even feel a need to explain that if you put away your wife without giving her a certificate of divorce, then you are not free to marry someone new and would commit adultery if you did marry someone new. And the put away wife would commit adultery if she marries someone new because she had no bill of divorce and so in reality she and her husband were only separated. The Pharisees were clearly asking about full divorce. The schools of Hillel and Shammai taught differing views on divorce and remarriage and never taught anything about mere separation.

The more I tried to defend Robert's teaching regarding "apoluo" the more evident that it was flawed teaching and impossible to hold up to scrutiny. My current understanding of Matthew 19:9 is truly what I find to be in harmony with what is written and proper hermeneutics. It is very logical and I have not found anyone who teaches exactly what I teach on it. There are those who teach and believe parts of what I do but I have not found any who are 100% teaching what I do.

Matthew 19:9 says:

"And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."

So basically, if a man divorces his wife and marries another, he commits adultery...unless the reason for the divorce is "porneia" or fornication.

If anyone marries the woman who was divorced also commits adultery - and of course the Matthew 5:31,32 account indicate that in the act of divorcing his wife, he makes her guilty of adultery because there no longer remains a way for her to fulfill her marriage vows when she's been divorced and kicked out of the house. But of course the woman who is divorced and the man who marries her only commit adultery IF the reason for the initial divorce is NOT fornication.

So if the above is true when the reason for the divorce was NOT porneia (which we know could not have been adultery), the opposite must be true if the reason for the initial divorce was indeed porneia. So when the divorce is for porneia, no one would be guilty of adultery by either the initial divorce, or by any new marriage. (Yet this is all regarding the Law of Moses and none of what Jesus said on MDR applies to Christians today except for what was true since creation and will remain true. God intended for one man to join with one woman and become one flesh for life.

I am sure that I probably gave you a much longer answer than you expected or wanted, but I do hope it has been helpful to you.

Thank you for asking me your questions.

In Christian Love, Joe Norman

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: thank you for answering my question. No I'm not in agreement with anybody right now.I'm just getting your opinion and other's. When I said translator's I should made myself clear I meant the men who translated the bible from greek to English.In matt:5-31 apostasion is used for divorce why won't they have used apostasion instead of apoluo in the rest of matt:5-31-32.You say that adultery is a one time sin after you remarry why do you believe this. most in the coc teach  that committeth means a continual act.

ANSWER: Hello again,

The individual who used apoluo and apostasion in Matthew 19:9 and in Matthew 5:31,32 was the apostle Matthew who was guided by the Holy Spirit. The reason I believe apoluo is used is because Jesus was speaking of different parts of the divorce process. Yes, I partly agree with brother Waters in that Jesus said put away and when He quotes what the Pharisees taught, which was give her a bill of divorce, Jesus said apostasion because it was the only accurate word to refer to the bill of divorce - there is no such thing as a bill of put away. Regardless, it is pretty obvious that Jesus was speaking of full divorce and there were two main steps in that process - give the bill of divorce and put her away.

Now there are two main reasons I believe that "committeth" adultery means a one time act and not a continuous act is because it seems obvious by what Jesus said that the cause of their adultery was either the divorce or both the divorce and the marrying of someone else. Divorce is a one time action. Marry is a one time action - the result must be a one time action as well - commits adultery. No where does Jesus or anyone in the Bible say that to remain in that new marriage would be a constant continuous state of adultery. Also, although the Greek words we translate as "commits adultery (or committeth) are what they call a present tense and normally this would indicate a continuous act, it is not just present tense but it is what they call aurist which is expressing the idea of a fact without reference to progress.

Also, since the present tense of "commits adultery" can be used to argue in favor of either view, it
seems that the matter must be decided on the basis of other clear statements of Scripture.  Should
sexual intercourse between married partners cease?  No (1 Cor. 7:5).  Should marriage end in
divorce?  No (Mk. 10:9; Matt. 19:6).  By a process of elimination, it appears that to continue a
second marriage, though recognizing that it was entered into unlawfully, would be the best option
for a believer.

Two wrongs never make a right and divorce is always wrong even when done for what most consider the only real reason a Christian can divorce. I believe it is wrong to encourage any married couple (man and woman not closely related) to divorce for any reason. It would be just as wrong for a second marriage to end in divorce as it was for the first marriage.

I do hope I am helping you some.

Please let me know if you have more questions.

In Christian Love, Joe Norman

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I'm a little confuse with your answer about matthew. Matthew was't around when the bible was translate from greek to English. I'm talking about men at that time who did the translating. In the kjv they use putaway and divorce in the asv they use putaway in the nkjv use they divorce evs use's divorce in 5 : 31-32 which translation is right. On committeth you say it indicated a continuous act It's hard to argue  with the tradition view with that meaning.I don't agree with the traditional view just trying to get the fact's so I can argue my position. thank you for your answer's.

Hi Garry,

I am confused by your question because you keep speaking about the men who translated the Bible from Greek to English but then ask why they used apoluo in parts and apostasion in other parts. The translators were not choosing which Greek word to use...that was done by Matthew. As to which translation is correct in my view all are correct because put away and divorce are interchangeable because what Jesus was being asked about and tested on was what reasons a Jewish man can divorce his wife. Divorce was the topic of discussion so the whole thing that brother Waters focuses on is a waste of both time and energy in the wrong direction in my opinion.

I replied the way I did in my past two answers because although you mentioned the translators you were asking why the different Greek words were used. Apoluo and Apostasion were in your questions and you did not ask what you are now asking me. I do understand why it would confuse you to see the different versions not agreeing with whether to translate apoluo as put away or divorce..and aphemei as well sometimes they translate it as put away and other times they choose to translate it divorce. Again, although for some readers it can seem confusing and puzzling as to why they are not consistent. Part of the reason they are not consistent is that some believe it is more accurate to translate apoluo and aphemei as put away every time it's used and others think it is accurate to use either put away or divorce. I just don't get caught up in all that because I hold to what the context is and that keeps everything clear regardless of the words the translators choose - the topic is NOT separation. It is DIVORCE. It is NOT the process of putting away quietly a woman you are engaged to marry such as the case of Joseph and Mary the mother of Jesus. This was NOT what the Pharisees were questioning and testing Jesus on...they were testing him on DIVORCE. What was a legitimate reason under the LAW OF MOSES.

(I only capitalize words to add emphasis and not to yell at anyone. Please do not feel that I am yelling at you or angry. I most certainly am not angry or upset and never wish to come across this way to you or anyone else.)

Now, you claim above that I said committeth indicated a continuous act. That is not what I said to you in my last answer. I said that MANY believe and teach that "committeth" always means a continuous act. This is what most within the church of Christ believe and teach. It is inaccurate. As I tried to explain in my last answer, the words translated as "committeth adultery" are present tense which usually would mean a continuous act...except when it's in an aurist voice - which it is in an aurist voice when used in both Matthew accounts - chapter 5 and chapter 19. When it is aurist voice, it does NOT mean continuous. It means a one time action. I firmly believe Jesus meant it to be a one time action and the main reason I believe this is because according to what Jesus said, the cause of adultery was NOT sexual relations with someone else. It was the act of divorcing for reasons other than fornication...and the new marriage when the divorce was for reasons other than fornication. Both the act of divorce and the act of getting married are one time actions and so the result would also of necessity be a one time action. This is a basic rule of sentence structure.

I know that Greek scholars are not in agreement on whether or not committeth adultery refers to a continuous act or a one time act - and because of this I explained as well the following:

"the matter must be decided on the basis of other clear statements of Scripture.  Should
sexual intercourse between married partners cease?  No (1 Cor. 7:5).  Should marriage end in
divorce?  No (Mk. 10:9; Matt. 19:6).  By a process of elimination, it appears that to continue a
second marriage, though recognizing that it was entered into unlawfully, would be the best option
for a believer."

I do hope that I have helped clear up confusion and not increased it. I also apologize for not really understanding what you were asking previously as well. I do my best to understand what is being asked prior to writing an answer.

In Christian Love, Joe Norman  

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Joe Norman


I can answer questions regarding acceptable worship, organization of the church, or any apsect of the Christian life. I am the son of a preacher and have studied the Bible from cover to cover since I was 12 years old. I am strong in my research skills and do not follow teachings of men. Many will label me as conservative and some might label me as liberal, but I just seek to be biblical. I understand proper exegesis and hermeneutics and apply them. My desire is to share my knowledge of God's Word with others. Please always keep in mind that none of us who are listed as experts here are divinely inspired and therefore it is possible to get incorrect answers from any one of us. Study the Scriptures and decide for yourself if what is taught is true.


I am the 4th generation in my family to be a faithful member of the church of Christ. I was raised by a preacher and have studied the Bible everyday since I was twelve. I am 45 yrs old now. I am not a "scholar", but I am very familiar with the scriptures.

member of the church of Christ, served as a Deacon for a few years at LakeShore church of Christ in Waco, Tx. I currently live in the North Dallas area and am still very active within the church of Christ teaching, leading Bible Studies, and songleading as well. I am also actively involved in online ministry. I hope to open my own webpage eventually.

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