Online Bible Commentary
Marriage Should be Honored
Hebrews 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (NIV)
The writer of the book of Hebrews is in the process of giving exhortations for obedient living. In this passage, he is instructing us on obedient living in our home life.
He begins by addressing the subject of marriage. Looking at a literal translation of the original Greek often helps us to understand better the point that the writer is making. The literal Greek translation of verse four is: “Honorable marriage is in all, and the bed undefiled, but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
God created marriage. After creating man, he saw a need for man to have a “helper” (Gen. 2:18). He put Adam into a deep sleep, took one of his ribs, and made a helper for Adam (Gen. 2:21-22). He called this helper “woman”, which means “taken out of man” (Gen. 2:23).
God then said “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Notice that God created marriage as man “united to his wife”. God also created family. Man was to live with “his father and mother”. God ordained two parents, a man and a woman, and their children as the family unit.
The man and woman were created to “become one flesh”, a reference to sexuality. This union was blessed by God: “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Gen. 2:25). God created the “marriage bed” (v. 4b). The Greek word for bed is “koite”, which means “a couch, or bed, by extension cohabitation, by implication male sperm” (Strong’s).
So, the “marriage bed” defines God’s design for sex as being in the context of a man and woman who are married. Any other sex is outside of God’s design. It is described as adultery, or fornication (v. 4d). This marriage bed is to be “kept pure” (v. 4c), or “undefiled” (lit. Greek). This is what the writer calls “honorable marriage” (v. 4a). It is a marriage that honors God’s design. It is the only marriage, in God’s eyes.
“Fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (v. 4e, lit. Greek). Sex outside of God’s marriage is sin. If one dies while one is still a practicing “fornicator or adulterer”, he or she will be judged by God and condemned to Hell. This sin, as in the case of all sin, must be forgiven. If you think that God will forgive you while you purposely remain in the sin, think again. Repentance, renouncing the sin and turning away from the sinful lifestyle, is required for forgiveness. So, if you cannot control yourselves, you should marry (1Cor. 7:9).
Next, the writer turns to the subject of contentment. He writes: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have” (v. 5a). Paul previously wrote: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:11-13) and “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (1 Ti. 6:10).
So, God gives us the strength to be content. Also, contentment will keep us from wandering “from the faith”. In contrast, the love of money can cause us to wander from the faith, which causes “many griefs”. We should seek contentment over money, because our faith is the most precious commodity we could ever hope to have. God will provide everything else, if we keep our faith in Him. He has said “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (v. 5b). God will always be there for us. God will always provide.
The writer brings this point home by declaring “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (v. 6). Mortals can take things from us, even our very own lives. But only God can take our soul, which is the only part of us that lives eternally. We should fear disappointing God. We should not fear men, or the things of men.
These two subjects, adultery and money, are the two main causes of divorce. The writer has covered both in this short passage. We can go a long way towards divorce proofing our marriages if we follow God’s instruction on these two subjects. We must keep the “marriage bed” pure. Sex must be reserved only for our husband or wife. It is good, as are all of God’s creations.
Secondly, we must keep money in its proper perspective. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. It can cause us to bring evil, from worry to coveting to greed, into our marriages, destroying them. We must remember to put first things first. When we put God first in our marriage, He provides everything else that we need. When it comes to marriage God knows best, because He created it. Marriage should be honored.