Whose wife will she be? They asked Jesus. “Whose wife of the seven will she be?” They did not believe in a life after this life on earth. They lived for power and wealth of this world and not the next. So they came to Jesus and challenged Him with a difficult question. In their custom, marriage was to have sons to inherit the legacy left behind by their forefathers. If a man died without leaving a surviving son his brother had to marry the man’s widow in order to have a son for him for the purpose of the inheritance. This passage is very relevant today. What is the purpose of Marriage? What if a person cannot produce a son? We shall read other passages to see the big picture. Be surprised. Be open. Be led by the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 22:23 The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, 24 saying: “Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother…28 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.” (The poor widow had married seven brothers consecutively because they could not produce an offspring.)
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. 31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.
What did Jesus say?
1. Marriage is only for this earth. It has no relevance or importance in eternity.
2. Jesus’ ministry on earth focused on the eternal matters and not the earthly matters which Moses had already covered.
3. Think eternity when we read Jesus and the Bible (Scriptures)
4. Think the power of God in the big picture of eternity and not mere earth in the lifetime of a human.
Who instituted marriage laws? Moses. The purpose was to protect the weaker and less socially and economically advantaged groups like women, children, widows, orphans.
Here is what Jesus said about divorce.
7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 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.”
The apostle Paul gave a detailed teaching on the subject of marriage, divorce, and remaining single in 1 Corinthians 7.
1. Why marriage?
Principles of Marriage
7 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me:
It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; 9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
2. Why not divorce?
12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.
3. Can one remain as he is (married/divorced/single)? Who is happier, married or single? Paul’s answer is there is an assigned and established condition and you stay at it and be happy. How do you know you are there, at the right place? The key word is “REMAIN” where you already are when you are called.
17 But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches.
23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.
26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is: 35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.
40 But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment—and I think I also have the Spirit of God.
4. Lastly, is any one more superior by being married or single?
6 But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. 7 For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.
Paul’s conclusion: Marital status is a gift. Being single and practice celibacy requires self-discipline and self-control.
Jesus has spoken on the same matter of celibacy in Matthew 19. Celibacy is a gift. Not all men can have it.
10 His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
Jesus Teaches on Celibacy
11 But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: 12 For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
Coming back to the subject of marriage, we can see that it is indeed a serious and lifelong matter. Once you are in you cannot get out as you wish. Does marriage really work in today’s scenario when people no longer care about having sons to carry on their name and inherit their legacy? Are there happy marriages that last a life time? Just look around, and you will be surprised. Marriages are for lifetime happiness. The Bible started with Adam and Eve and they had a really long marriage. The marriage of Sarah and Abraham too was long and lifelong. Love was the main focus in the stories of the first several couples of mention in the Bible: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachael.
A final word on how God views marriage: It is both spiritual and physical. what one does in the physical impacts the spiritual. There is a spiritual beginning and end. A record in heaven.
Malachi 2:15 But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.