Hebrews 13:4

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Hebrews 13:4

This verse is in the middle of a list of exhortations, imploring the reader to do certain things. Because of this, many translations supply the word “let” into its words, understanding that it is implied in the overall context. Thus, it would be a continued exhortation –

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (NASB)

This is probably the correct sense based on thoughts which come before and after this verse. The author has already noted fornication in Hebrews 12:16. Thus, this is an argument against that, and a call to holiness. And so he begins with “Marriage is honorable among all.” As noted, including the word “Let” is probably the true intent.

Either way, this is a direct statement that marriage is an acceptable practice for all, and that it is an honorable institution. Paul warned against those who forbid marriage in 1 Timothy 4:3. That warning has, unfortunately, been ignored even since the earliest times of the church, and it continues to be ignored by the Roman Catholic Church for their clergy. Other aberrant sects have forbidden it in various ways as well. Such practices have inevitably led to sexual perversion in countless ways.

The verse continues with, “and the bed undefiled.” Again, going with the thought of an exhortation, it would say, “and let the marriage bed be undefiled.” Purity within the marriage is what is expected, and faithfulness to one’s spouse is called for. God created man and woman, and He ordained that they would unite in marriage. In this, they are to be faithful to one another.

With this understanding, he continues with, “but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” The Greek reads with God being placed in the emphatic position. In this, we see that the general society may condone such acts, but God will still judge those things that others allow. It is His standard, and not our fallible societal allowances, which will be used as the measure for judgment.

This is especially important to remember, particularly in today’s world. Every type of perversion is now becoming societally acceptable (see Romans 1:32), but such things are strongly warned against in Scripture. Believers are to hold to God’s standards and to proclaim them regardless of what the larger society allows. Unfortunately, the majority of the church has all but failed in this. Entire denominations have fallen into line with the wicked allowances of society, and they have often even become the most vocal proponents of such vile behavior. God will judge them in righteousness.

Life application: We can infer that the first ordained rite between humans in history is that of marriage. Theologically, the account of Eve being taken from Adam’s side during his sleep is of much greater symbolic importance than most people realize.

Just as Eve came from Adam’s side in a death-like sleep, so the church came from Christ’s side as He was pierced in death. Out flowed the water and blood confirming His death and establishing the New Covenant. Therefore, just as “the marriage bed” is to be kept pure, the symbolism agrees with the purity of doctrine – never mixing any outside religious expression with biblical Christianity.

The Bible equates mingling false religion with adultery. Because this comparison is made, the absolute purity of being faithful to one’s spouse is of extreme importance to God. We cannot defile our marriage bed, nor our religious expression, and come out unscathed. If you are having either a sexual affair outside of marriage, or a religious affair (such as adding in Buddhism, horoscopes, etc.), you are on extremely shaky grounds and will be judged for your actions. Keep your marriage and your doctrine pure – to the honor of Christ.

Lord, thank You for the covenant of marriage; and thank you for the New Covenant in Christ Jesus’ blood. Give us wise and discerning eyes to look on our spouses with reverence and to conduct our married life in purity. Likewise, give us the same spiritual discernment in how we relate to You. These things we pray that You may be glorified, and that we will be acceptable to You. Amen.

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