New Covenant Patriarchy

Friday, April 05, 2013

John 4 the Samaritan Woman and the One flesh Thesis


The following is a sample from my book, They Shall Be One Flesh, along with a comment from one of the members of our Yahoo group,

The Commentators: #3, Paul E. Steele and Charles C. Ryrie + Yahoo NCP post

Copyright 2010 by Tom Shipley

All Rights Reserved

3 He (Jesus) left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. 4 And he must needs go through Samaria. 5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink . 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink ; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst ; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw . 16 Jesus saith unto her, Go , call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said , I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said , I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

Another Dispensationalist treatment of the subject of marriage, divorce and remarriage, is Meant to Last, by Paul E. Steele and Charles C. Ryrie. This work may be considered in many ways the epitome of what I am critical of among Evangelical commentators and what I am arguing against in my thesis. Theirs is more of a popular treatment of the subject than a systematic inquiry. However, they are articulate writers and it is presented in a very organized and succinct manner. Steele and Ryrie do manage to cover a lot of ground in a relatively short thesis. They begin, reasonably enough, by asking the most fundamental question, “What is Marriage?” and by denying the fundamental proposition of this present work:

Living together or consummating the physical relationship does not in itself constitute marriage.

When Christ encountered the woman of Samaria, He asked her to go and call her husband. She denied that she had a husband and Christ countered with these words: “You have well said, ‘I have no husband’: for you have had five husbands; and the one whom you now have is not your husband” (John 4:17-18). In other words, though she was living with a man and having sexual relations with him, this did not constitute a marriage.

There are those today who purport the idea that when two people have a sexual relationship they become one flesh and that this is recognized by God as constituting marriage. Such an idea cannot be supported from Scripture.—pg. 8

Needless to say, I have shown in this present volume that this idea unquestionably is supported by Scripture—and with a great wealth of many passages to validate the thesis. I have already dealt with this objection earlier, but for the sake of responding specifically to Steele/Ryrie, let us reiterate what we can and cannot validly infer from the John 4 passage.

As I pointed out earlier, bringing the full weight of Scripture to bear upon the question avails us of only one possible conclusion: the woman at the well in John 4, though not with a husband, was still lawfully bound to her fifth husband. Jesus’ focus with the woman is on her factual living arrangement. When he tells her, “You have no husband,” he is not expounding a point of law to her, but demonstrating his knowledge to her of her actual circumstances, of her physical separation from her fifth husband. She does not have a husband as a matter of practical reality and living arrangement. She is not physically with her lawful husband. We see the thrust of Jesus’ interactions with her in her reaction:

<28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, 29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

We have seen both in the Law of Moses (Exo. 22:16-17, Deut. 21:13, Deut. 25:5, etc), and in the numerous examples examined of marriages commencing in the Scriptures, that the one flesh principle is unquestionably at the very heart of the marriage covenant. We saw this in regard to Abraham and Hagar, Jacob and Bilhah, Jacob and Zilpah, Onan and Tamar, etc. Unless we wish to propose a radical contradiction in the Bible’s teachings, Jesus must be referring to the woman’s physical separation from her lawful husband when he says she has no husband. Jesus is not speaking de jure, of law, but of situation and circumstance. Apparently she had left or put away her husband for the man she was then living with. In other words, this woman was an adulteress. So, we see that Steele’s and Ryrie’s objection and proposed meaning of the passage is simple to refute and requires no long, encyclopedic rationalization. The correct proposition here is very easy to understand and has a common sense rendering immediately relevant to the situation at hand.

This passage is routinely used by commentators with the end in view of exhorting young "unmarried" Christians to "get married" rather than to "live together," "cohabitate," or "shack up." It is routinely presupposed that the Samaritan woman to whom Christ spoke was either a widow or legitimately divorced from her fifth husband. The truth is, however, neither of these inferences can be logically deduced from the passage. Indeed, the weight of Scripture impels us to an entirely different conclusion: namely, that she was not legitimately divorced from her fifth husband. In other words, the Samaritan woman was an adulteress.

The Samaritan woman was still lawfully married to her fifth husband. Any other conclusion concerning her marital status sets this passage in contradiction to the entire corpus of biblical revelation on the topic of marriage. That the woman was still lawfully bound to her fifth husband is the only logical inference which can be drawn. To assert that this passage disapprobates cohabitation as marriage posits it to be in direct contradiction to Genesis 1:26-28, Genesis 2:23-24, Matthew 19:4-6, I Corinthians. 6:16, Ruth 3, Ezekiel 16:8, Exodus. 22:16-17, Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Deuteronomy 21:10-13, Deuteronomy 25:5-10, Genesis 16:1-4, Genesis 24: 67, Genesis 29:15-26, Genesis 29: 29-30, Genesis 30: 1-6, etc. All of these passages teach that cohabitation, that is, the one flesh union, constitutes marriage. It is simply irrational to deny this.

John 4 does not explicitly inform us of the marital status of the Samaritan woman at the time she spoke to Christ. Her marital status must be inferred from other passages relevant to the topic of marriage. Those passages are listed in the above paragraph and were exegeted in particular in the previous exposition (or will be later). That the woman was still married/bound to her fifth husband is consistent with those passages. We will now proceed to show how it is consistent with John 4 itself.

The objector will say, "But did not Jesus explicitly say that the woman had 'no husband'? And that she had 'had' five past husbands. How can you say that she had a husband when Jesus said that she had none?" The answer to this question is sufficiently and convincingly supplied by Romans 7:1-3:

1 Know ye not , brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth ? 2 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. 3So 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.

The woman in Romans 7 is spoken of as being "married" to another man and yet an "adulteress" at the same time. Well, if the woman of Romans 7 is truly married to another man, then how can she be said to be in adultery? How can a woman be in adultery with her own husband?

Note well: the logical dilemma here is identical to that created by the proposition that the woman in John 4 is still married to her fifth husband!! The only difference is that the apparent "contradiction" is explicit and on its face in Romans 7.

The solution to this dilemma lies in observing the distinction of language between that which is spoken of in a de facto (of fact) sense and that which is spoken of in a de jure (of law) sense. In Romans 7 Paul speaks of the woman who is married to another man (i.e., de facto) and yet still an adulteress (i.e., de jure). Legally, lawfully, the woman is still bound in marriage to her first husband; her marriage to another man is not a lawful marriage but adultery. Yet Paul speaks de facto of her being “married” to another man. An illegitimate divorce or mere factual separation does not constitute a lawful divorce. Thus, the verbal distinction between law and fact is a distinction of language used elsewhere in the New Testament, and, indeed, in regard to the exact same issue and circumstance addressed by Christ in John 4. Therefore, it is in vain to argue that this distinction of language could not have been employed by Christ himself in John. 4

When Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that she had had five husbands, past tense, he is speaking of the factual circumstances of her life. She was no longer living with them, or, more to the point here, with the fifth husband. When Jesus said that she had no husband, present tense, he again speaks to her factual circumstances. She was not living with a husband. She was without a husband, though still lawfully bound to one. She was living in an adulterous relationship with the man she was with, who could not lawfully have her. She was, in the words of Romans 7, an adulteress because she was married to another man while her husband yet lived. I conclude, therefore, based upon the scriptural testimony as a whole, that the Samaritan woman was either illegitimately divorced or simply separated from her fifth husband. In either case, she could legitimately be spoken of as "having no husband" (de facto), that is, of not living in marital union with her lawful husband.

John 4 is, therefore, no valid objection to the thesis of one-flesh as marriage.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> the following is a post from our Yahoo NCP discussion group on this issue in response to my post:

“We were doing an overview of 2 Samuel in Sunday School today and I noticed that when David retrieves his wife Michal from her husband Paltiel in 2 Samuel 3:14 & 15, the same language and terminology is employed as in John 4 and Romans 7. Here look:

"2 Samuel 3; 14 And David sent messengers to Ishbosheth Saul's son, saying , Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines.15 And Ishbosheth sent , and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish 16 And her husband went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim. Then said Abner unto him, Go, return And he returned

"This scripture above recognizes David's lawful marriage to Michal and at the same time recognizes her factual circumstances in the adulterous marriage to Paltiel. I see Saul and Paltiel as being the guilty parties, not Michal. Lest anyone suggest that David had not yet entered into sexual relations with Michal, this says otherwise. Here:

"2 Samuel 19 10 And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away out of Saul's presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night.11 Saul also sent messengers unto David's house, to watch him, and to slay him in the morning: and Michal David's wife told him, saying, If thou save not thy life tonight, tomorrow thou shalt be slain. 12 So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped.13 And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats' hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth.

Saul gave Michal to Paltiel after this escape.Here:

"1 Samuel 25 44 But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.

Going back a bit farther in Ch 18

"2 Samuel 18: 27 Wherefore David arose and went , he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law . And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife. 28 And Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal Saul's daughter loved him."

Posted by Tom Shipley on 04/05 at 02:05 PM
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