Matthew 5:31 ...whoever shall put away his wife,

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

The Sermon on the Mount, "filling up" the law, and the topic of adultery and divorce.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

It has been promised, however, when one loosens his woman, he must hand her a "will be leaving".

KJV : 

Matthew 5:31 It has been said, whoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce:

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The introductory section is the third iteration of the catchphrase  for this section on "filling up the law." It is repeated three more times. Such repetition is a form of humor but the phrase also uses an uncommon, exaggerated word, which is another form of humor. The verb translated as "said/told" is uncommon for Jesus to use except in this phrase.  This verb has a more serious meaning, "to proclaim" or "to pronounce," and a lighter meaning "to be mentioned" and "to be pronounced." It is contrasted with the normal word for "tell" or "say" that Jesus uses to describe his viewpoint in the next verse.

The connection between adultery and giving a wife divorce papers comes via Jeremiah 3:8, which instructs a husband who discovers that his wife has committed adultery to give her divorce papers. The Septuagint version of that verse used the same Greek word describing those papers. Josephus describe the same document in Greek terms, and he does not use this word. The Greek name for these divorce papers is somewhat funny. It means "going-to-be-absent" or, since it is used as a noun "a going-to-be-absent" or as we would say in English, a "going to leave you note.".

The Greek word translated as "put away/divorce" does not mean "divorce."  The word means "to set loose" or "to set free." It seems to be used somewhat humorously.  There is a connection to the idea of a "loose" woman and a "free" woman in it, but the connection to divorce is more tenuous. The Greek word describing divorce in Deuteronomy and Jeremiah, the Greek word used means "send away" or "send out." Referring someone who is "sent out" as "set free" is also humorous.  The Greek word used in Matthew 19:6 and Mark 10:9 is a general Greek for divorce and it means "separate" and "divide."  A more specific word, used in Josephus to describe Jewish divorce, means "to dijoin."

NIV : 

Matthew 5:31  It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’

NLT : 

Matthew 5:31 You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’

Wordplay: 

 The word translated as "say" is from ero,  which sounds like "eros" that is, that is, the Greek word for romantic love and passionate love which is the topic of the post. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ἐρρέθη (3rd sg aor ind pass) "It hath been said," is from ero, which means "to speak", "to say", "to pronounce", "to tell", "to let suffice", "to announce", "to proclaim," (in passive) "to be pronounced", "to be mentioned", "to be specified", "to be agreed," and "to be promised."

δέ (partic) Untranslated is from de which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way but can also be a weak connective ("and") and explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

Ὃς (pron sg masc nom) "Whosoever" is hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

ἂν (conj) "If" is ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if) and an (might), which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event.

ἀπολύσῃ (3rd sg aor subj act) "Shall put away" might be from apolyo which means "to loose from" "to set free", "to release", "to acquit", "to divorce [a wife]", "to do away with," and "to begin to count." In the passive, it means "to be released", "to be separated [combatants]," "to be brought forth [a child]," and "to be delivered [of a mother]," and "to be undone." This is not the Greek word for divorce, which is διαζευχθῆναι

τὴν (article sg fem acc)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). --

γυναῖκα (noun sg fem acc) "Wife" is from gyne, which means "woman (as opposed to man)", "wife", "spouse", "mortal woman (as opposed to a goddess)," and "female mate (among animals)."

αὐτοῦ, (adj sg masc gen) "His" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

δότω (3rd imp aor act) "Let him give" is from didomi, which means "to give", "to grant", "to hand over", "appoint", "establish," and "to describe."

αὐτῇ (adj sg fem dat) "Her" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

ἀποστάσιον.” (part sg fut act neut acc) "A writing of divorcement" is from apostasion, which is most likely the future participle of the verb, aphesteco, which means "to be absent" or "to be away from."

KJV Analysis: 

It - This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

has -- (WT) This helping verb "have" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verbs here.

been -- This helping verb "been" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

said--  (CW) The verb translated as "it was said," means "to pronounce", "to mention", " "to announce", "to proclaim,"   and, in the passive as used here, "to be pronounced", "to be mentioned", "to be specified", "to be agreed," and "to be promised."  It is not two more common verbs translated as "say" and "tell"

untranslated "however"-- (MW) The untranslated word "however" means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". It joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.  

untranslated "when"-- (MW) The untranslated word "when" literally means "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is often how we use the word "when".

whoever -- The word translated as "whoever" is a demonstrative pronoun ("this" "that"), but it often acts as a pronoun ("the one that), especially a connective pronoun ("the one that") introducing a dependent clause.

shall -- (CW) This helping verb "shall" does not indicate the future tense, but that the verb describes a possibility, the subjunctive voice. A "might" or "should" in English is more appropriate, but is assumed in an "if" or "when" clause. Helping verbs are not needed in Greek since the main verb carries this information in its form.

put away -- (WW) The Greek verb translated as "put away" means "to loose from" "to set free", "to release", "to acquit",  and "to divorce [a wife]".  It is not the future tense, but the aorist which can refer to past, present, or future but indicates a specific point in time. This is not the usual Greek word for divorce

his -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

wife,-- The word translated as "wife" is the general word for "woman." However, saying "his woman" in Greek has the same general meaning as referring to a wife.

let -- This "let" is the helping verb used to translate the Greek form of the third-person command. In English all commands are in the second-person. This form is used as something like our word "must."

him  -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

give -- The word translated as "Let him give" is the Greek verb usually translated as "give." It also means "to grant" and "to hand over." It is in the form of a third person command, which we don't have in English because our commands are in the second person. In modern English, we would say, "he must give" to come closer to this idea.

her -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. The form is female and an indicated object.

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

writing of divorce: The final word, however, is not a Greek word for "a writing of divorcement." It isn't a noun at all, but a verb meaning "to be absent" or "to be away from." It is in the form of an adjective, "going-to-be-absent" or, since it is used as a noun "a going-to-be-absent" or as we would say in English, a "going to leave you note.". This is the Greek word used in the Septuagint for divorce papers, starting with Deu 24:1.

The sense in the Greek here is that divorce is but one step away from adultery. There is even a connection to idolatry, which we will discuss in the next verse.

KJV Translation Issues: 

7
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "has" seems to indicate an action completed in the past, but the tense is something happening at a point in time past, present, or future.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "said" is not one of the common Greek words for said, but one that means "announce" or "mention."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "however" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "when" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "shall" does not mean the future tense.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "put away" should be "loosen."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "wife" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

It - This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

has -- (WT) This helping verb "have" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verbs here.

been -- This helping verb "been" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

said--  (CW) The verb translated as "it was said," means "to pronounce", "to mention", " "to announce", "to proclaim,"   and, in the passive as used here, "to be pronounced", "to be mentioned", "to be specified", "to be agreed," and "to be promised."  It is not two more common verbs translated as "say" and "tell"

untranslated "however"-- (MW) The untranslated word "however" means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". It joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.  

untranslated "when"-- (MW) The untranslated word "when" literally means "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is often how we use the word "when".

anyone  who-- The word translated as "anyone" is a demonstrative pronoun ("this" "that"), but it often acts as a pronoun ("the one that), especially a connective pronoun ("the one that") introducing a dependent clause.

divorces - (WW, WF) The Greek verb translated as "put away" means "to loose from" "to set free", "to release", "to acquit",  and "to divorce [a wife]".  It is not the future tense, but the aorist which can refer to past, present, or future but indicates a specific point in time. This is not the usual Greek word for divorce

his -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

wife,-- The word translated as "wife" is the general word for "woman." However, saying "his woman" in Greek has the same general meaning as referring to a wife.

must -- This "must" is the helping verb used to translate the Greek form of the third-person command. In English all commands are in the second-person. This form is used as something like our word "must."

give -- The word translated as "Let him give" is the Greek verb usually translated as "give." It also means "to grant" and "to hand over." It is in the form of a third person command, which we don't have in English because our commands are in the second person. In modern English, we would say, "he must give" to come closer to this idea.

her -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. The form is female and an indicated object.

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

certificate of divorce: The final word, however, is not a Greek word for "writing of divorcement." It isn't a noun at all, but a verb meaning "to be absent" or "to be away from." It is in the form of an adjective, "going-to-be-absent" or, since it is used as a noun "a going-to-be-absent" or as we would say in English, a "going to leave you note.". This is the Greek word used in the Septuagint for divorce papers, starting with Deu 24:1.

NIV Translation Issues: 

7
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "has" seems to indicate an action completed in the past, but the tense is something happening at a point in time past, present, or future.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "said" is not one of the common Greek words for said, but one that means "announce" or "mention."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "however" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "when" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "divorces" is in a form that requires a "should" or "might" if not in a conditional clause.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "divorce" should be "loosen."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "wife" is not shown in the English translation.

NLT Analysis: 

You have heard the law that

says --  (CW) The verb translated as "it was said," means "to pronounce", "to mention", " "to announce", "to proclaim,"   and, in the passive as used here, "to be pronounced", "to be mentioned", "to be specified", "to be agreed," and "to be promised."  It is not two more common verbs translated as "say" and "tell"

untranslated "however"-- (MW) The untranslated word "however" means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". It joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.  

untranslated "when"-- (MW) The untranslated word "when" literally means "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is often how we use the word "when".

‘A man - (WW) The word translated as "anyone" is a demonstrative pronoun ("this" "that"), but it often acts as a pronoun ("the one that), especially a connective pronoun ("the one that") introducing a dependent clause.

can -- (WW) The helping verb here should be either "should" or "might" because it comes from the subjunctive form of the verb.

divorce - (WW, WF) The Greek verb translated as "put away" means "to loose from" "to set free", "to release", "to acquit",  and "to divorce [a wife]".  It is not the future tense, but the aorist which can refer to past, present, or future but indicates a specific point in time. This is not the usual Greek word for divorce

his -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

wife,-- The word translated as "wife" is the general word for "woman." However, saying "his woman" in Greek has the same general meaning as referring to a wife.

giving -- (WF) The word translated as "Let him give" is the Greek verb usually translated as "give." It also means "to grant" and "to hand over." It is in the form of a third person command, which we don't have in English because our commands are in the second person. In modern English, we would say, "he must give" to come closer to this idea.

her -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. The form is female and an indicated object.

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

written notice of divorce: The final word, however, is not a Greek word for "written notice of divorce" It isn't a noun at all, but a verb meaning "to be absent" or "to be away from." It is in the form of an adjective, "going-to-be-absent" or, since it is used as a noun "a going-to-be-absent" or as we would say in English, a "going to leave you note.". This is the Greek word used in the Septuagint for divorce papers, starting with Deu 24:1.

NLT Translation Issues: 

10
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "has" seems to indicate an action completed in the past, but the tense is something happening at a point in time past, present, or future.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "said" is not one of the common Greek words for said, but one that means "announce" or "mention."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "however" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "when" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "anyone" should be "the one."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "can" should be "might."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "divorce" should be "loosen."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "wife" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "by merely" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "giving" is in the form "must give."

The Spoken Version: 

“So,” the speaker responded officially, “it has been proclaimed!”
The audience laughed harder.
But after thinking for a moment, he raised his hand for silence.
Then he again pretended to open a scroll and read in his old man voice, “Whoever possibly might cut loose that woman of his, let him give her a divorce notice.”

evidence: 

30.00

Front Page Date: 

May 7 2020