Matthew 5:31-35
Mat 5:31 (KJB)
It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
Now Jesus teaches on divorce and remarriage. (Deu 24:1 KJV) 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. In the time of Moses, the law stated that a man could divorce his wife if he had found any uncleanness in her. It was to be given to her in the full view of witnesses. Then once she received that bill of divorce, she is then to leave the house. This is what had been practiced since the time of Moses and this is what the people listening to Jesus had come to understand from prior teachings by the rabbis.
Mat 5:32 (KJB)
But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
If you remember the story of Mary and Joseph, that when he found out that she was with child, he wanted to give her a writ of divorce. However, they were not even married yet. Under Jewish law the time of betrothal was as binding as the actual marriage itself. So Joseph was acting under the Deuteronomy 24 statutes. Now the Mary and Joseph scenario gives us the best understanding of Matthew 5:32 and the “saving for the cause of fornication” phrase. Jesus is stating here that a man puts away his wife for any reason other than fornication will cause her to commit adultery. In the case of Mary and Joseph, Joseph had thought that she had already committed adultery and that is why she was with child until God explained it to him in a dream. So to understand the first part of this verse in its entirety is thus. If a man puts away his wife for any reason other than fornication, then he sets her up in a position to commit adultery because even though there was a bill of divorce given, it did not change the fact that they are one flesh. In the case of fornication or adultery, the phrase, “saving for the cause of fornication” means that the adultery has already taken place, so she is already an adulteress.
If she is divorced because her husband does not like her, then she is not yet an adulteress but is in a position to become one if she marries again while her husband still lives. (Rom 7:2-3 KJV) For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. {3} So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. So the phrase “saving for the cause of fornication” is a question of timing in that the adultery has taken place before the writing of the divorce papers. If a man divorces his wife for a frivolous reason and gives her the writing of the divorce papers, then the adultery takes place after the divorce has happened. So either way, divorce sets up each one as either an adulterer or adulteress.
Mat 5:33 (KJB)
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
Thou shalt…forswear thyself - Swear falsely or break one’s oath
(Lev 19:12 KJV) And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD. There were those who would swear by the name of the Lord that they would do something or give something and then they would renege on that oath. The admonition here is that whenever you make a vow unto the Lord or make a vow by the name of the Lord, then you are to fulfill the vow. This happens in courts of law every day when people swear to tell the truth and they do not. (Eccl 5:4-5 KJV) When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. {5} Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. When one vows or makes an oath in the Lord’s name and does not fulfill that oath, then they are profaning the name of the Lord because He deals only in truth and if His people make lies in His name, then it will look like He condones that practice and His name will be treated like the false gods of the surrounding area. The word profane means to make common or to be irreverent to something sacred, and God is high above all the earth. (Num 30:2 KJV) If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.
Mat 5:34 (KJB)
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
Jesus is now discouraging the people who use the oath with God’s name in it to cease and stop that erroneous practice. To swear by invoking the name of Heaven is also wrong because that is the place of God’s abode which means that you are not lessening the authority of what you are swearing by since God rules Heaven. Swearing by the throne is swearing by all the authority that it represents, including the fact of pure truth. In fact, Jesus is telling His disciples that they should not even make any oath at all. This does not discount the fact that one must take an oath in a court of law because that is a matter of law. If one swears in a court of law to tell the truth and they do not, they could be charged with perjury.
Mat 5:35 (KJB)
Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
(Isa 66:1 KJV) Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? You must never swear by the earth because it is the footstool of God meaning it is an extension of his power and authority. They were also to stop swearing by Jerusalem. (2 Chr 6:6 KJV) But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel. This was the city where God chose to place His name and it was the place where the temple was which represented the presence of God. If they swore by Jerusalem, then they were also invoking the name of God because of His presence.