Questions From Readers
● Previous to my studying the Bible, my wife and I were divorced, not due to immorality but because we just did not get along. Now I have become a Christian. Biblically, am I free to remarry?
Whether a person in the situation you describe would be Scripturally free to remarry depends on whether the marriage came to an end in the sight of God.
Your marriage was legally terminated before you became a Christian, perhaps on a legal ground such as incompatibility. That ended the marriage from the government’s standpoint. But you properly are concerned with whether the Universal Lawgiver still views you and your former wife as “one flesh.”—Gen. 2:22-24.
Jesus said something that helps us here. After acknowledging that divorces had been obtained on various grounds, he added: “Whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication [Greek, porneía], and marries another commits adultery.” (Matt. 19:9; 5:32) Thus, the only Biblical basis for a divorce that would free one to remarry is “fornication” or porneía, which includes adultery and other gross sexual immorality.
Thus, had your wife been guilty of adultery, you would have had a Scriptural basis for getting a divorce. If you did so, whether on the ground of adultery or some other truthful legal ground, you would no longer have been “one flesh.” Conversely, had you been adulterous and had your wife chosen not to forgive you and had she obtained a divorce, you both would be Scripturally free.
You say, however, that immorality had not occurred before the divorce. Hence, in view of what Jesus said, what reason would there be to believe that the divorce automatically dissolved the marriage in the sight of God? Though, when becoming a Christian, a person can ask God’s forgiveness for past sins, that does not mean that all past obligations and commitments are canceled. (1 John 1:7; 1 Cor. 6:9-11) To illustrate: You may have borrowed money from a friend, agreeing to make regular payments on that debt. Then you became a Christian. Would that cancel your debt? Hardly. On learning God’s view about paying debts, you probably would feel your obligation more keenly. (Ps. 37:21; 15:4; 112:5) It can be similar in regard to a marriage. When you got married, God began to view the two of you as “one flesh.” So ask yourself: Is there any basis for God to have stopped viewing you as that?
There might be. Something may have occurred since the divorce that could have ended the marriage in God’s sight. We can appreciate why this is so by considering the matter in the light of what Jesus said, as recorded at Matthew 19:9. Though you had not committed immorality, if your wife divorced you and later you did commit “fornication,” the marriage could be considered ended. She rejected you, and there was the later Biblical basis for your no longer being “one flesh.” On the other hand, perhaps it was she who was guilty of post-divorce “fornication.” As Jesus allowed, under those circumstances the marriage could be viewed as ended in the sight of God, for there is a divorce and now you, the innocent mate, have established that she has been immoral.
Consequently, in a case such as you present, what has or has not occurred since the divorce may be the determining factor in ascertaining whether in the eyes of God the two of you are still “one flesh.”
If you determine that from God’s viewpoint you are not Scripturally free to remarry, what can you do? One possibility would be to try sharing the Bible truth you know with your now-divorced mate. You might be able to help her to see that the Bible can transform personalities and bring happiness to individuals whose lives were formerly troubled. But if you two chose to come together again, it would be fitting to get legally married so that your union is honorable in the sight of all.—Heb. 13:4.
If she presently is not open to reconciliation, continue to live a morally chaste life, as you evidently have been doing. (Jas. 3:17; 1 Thess. 4:3-5) The apostle Paul explained that those living without a mate are in position to use their time and freedom in a fine way by pursuing true worship.a (1 Cor. 7:29-35) Continued association with the Christian congregation and keeping busy in the preaching and teaching of God’s Word will bring much satisfaction and many blessings.
● Does not 2 John 7 show that Jesus would return in the flesh?
No, this verse does not speak of a future return in the flesh.
Note the particular verb form used in The New English Bible and other modern versions: “Many deceivers have gone out into the world, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. These are the persons described as the Antichrist.”—2 John 7.
Someone might read into this verse the idea that it is speaking of the future (as if it read, “Jesus Christ as yet to come in the flesh”). But another person could hold that it was talking just about a past event. Thus the Good News Bible renders it: “Jesus Christ came as a human being.” And others translate it, “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” (New International Version; Riverside New Testament) Yet the apostle John actually used the present participle, which is more accurately rendered in English with a timeless sense, for instance, “as coming in the flesh.”—The New American Bible; New World Translation; New American Standard Bible, Weymouth; Barclay.
In his first letter, John also spoke of a ‘coming’ of Jesus but in that instance the apostle used the perfect participle, which is accurately rendered: “You gain the knowledge of the inspired expression from God by this: Every inspired expression that confesses Jesus Christ as having come in the flesh originates with God.” (1 John 4:2) There John is stating that Jesus had come as a man in the flesh.
At his first coming, Jesus did not become just a man of flesh and blood. He also became the Christ, God’s anointed one. Under inspiration, John knew that there were and would be persons spreading deceptive teachings about this. Some might deny that Jesus ever lived. Others might admit that a human named Jesus lived, but they do not confess that he had been supernaturally anointed with holy spirit to become and continue to be the Christ. Such deceptive ideas would undercut Jesus Christ’s role as ransomer and his heavenly position present and future. John could rightly identify as deceivers those “persons not confessing Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.”—2 John 7.
Regarding a future “coming,” Jesus himself made it plain that at his second coming he would not be in the flesh, visible to humans. He was resurrected as a spirit, no more to be a man of flesh and blood. (John 14:18-22; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 Cor. 15:45) Because of that, Jesus told his followers of many visible evidences by which they could recognize his invisible presence.—Matt. 24:3-14.