The Hermas Series Part 3
Putting Away For Adultery
When I had prayed at home, and was sitting on the bed, a certain man come in to me with a reverent look, in the habit of a shepherd, clothed with a white cloak, having his bag upon his back, and his staff in his hand, and saluted me. I returned his salutation, and immediately he sat down by me and said to me, “I am sent by Yahweh to dwell with you all the remaining days of your life.”
But I thought that he was come to test me, and said to him, “Who are you? For I know to whom I am committed.” He said to me, “Do you not know me?” I answered “No.” “I am”, said he, “that shepherd to whose care you are delivered.”
While he was yet speaking, his shape was changed, and when I knew that it was he to whom I was committed, I was ashamed and a sudden fear came upon me, and I was utterly overcome with sadness because I had spoken so foolishly to him. But he said to me, “Do not be ashamed, but receive strength in your mind through the commands which I am about to deliver to you.”
“I command you therefore”, said He, “to keep yourself chaste, and that you do not allow any thought of any other marriage, or of fornication, to enter into your heart; for such a thought produces great sin.
But be at all times mindful of Yahweh , and you will never sin. If such an evil thought arises in your heart, you would be guilty of a great sin, for they who do such things follow the way of death.
Look therefore to yourself, and keep yourself from such a thought; for where chastity remains in the heart of a righteous man, there an evil thought ought never to arise.”
Of Putting Away
And I said to him, “Sir, permit me to speak a little to you.” He allowed me to speak, so I answered, “Sir, if a man who is faithful in Yahweh will have a wife, and will catch her in adultery, does a man sin who continues to still live with her?”
Compare with: “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” (Matthew 5:32)
And he said to me, “As long as he is ignorant of her sin, he commits no fault in living with her; but if a man will know his wife to have offended, and she will not repent of her sin, but go on still in her fornication, and a man will continue nevertheless to live with her, he will become guilty of her sin and partake with her in her adultery.”
And I said to him, “What therefore is to be done if the woman continues on in her sin?”
He answered,“Let her husband put her away and let him continue by himself. But if he will put away his wife, and marry another man's wife, he also commits adultery.”
Reunion Upon Repentance
And I said, “What if the woman who is so put away will repent and be willing to return to her husband, will she not be received by him?”He said to me, “Yes, and if her husband will not receive her, he will sin and commit a great offence against himself; but he ought to receive the offender, if she repents, only not often.For to the servants of Yahweh there is but one repentance. And for this reason a man who puts away his wife ought not to take another, because she may repent. This act is alike both in the man and in the woman.
Compare with: “And unto the married I command, [yet] not I, but Yahweh , Let not the wife depart from [her] husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to [her] husband: and let not the husband put away [his] wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Yahweh: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy... For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save [thy] husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save [thy] wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:10-16) If a couple cannot stay together, the two alternatives are to remain unmarried, that is, separated, or be reconciled. Paul also forbids remarriage while the first spouse is still living, and if the first spouse should die, then only to another believer: "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in Yahweh." (1 Cor. 7:39)
Now they commit adultery, not only who pollute their flesh, but who also make an image. If therefore a woman perseveres in anything of this kind, and repents not, depart from her, and live not with her, otherwise you also will be partaker of her sin. But it is therefore commanded that both the man and the woman should remain unmarried because such persons may repent. Nor do I in this administer any occasion for the doing of these things, but rather that whoever has offended should not offend any more. But for their former sins, Yahweh who has the power of healing will give a remedy, for he has the power of all things.”
More On Repentance
I asked him again and said, “Seeing Yahweh has thought me worthy that you should dwell with me continually, speak a few words to me, because I understand nothing, and my heart is hardened through my former way of life; open my understanding because I am very dull and comprehend nothing at all.”
And he answering said to me, “I am the minister of repentance and give understanding to all who repent. Does it not seem to you to be a very wise thing to repent? Because he that does so gets great understanding. For he is cognizant that he has sinned and done wickedly in the sight of Yahweh and remembers within himself that he has offended, repents and does no more wickedly, but does that which is good, and humbles his soul and afflicts it. You see therefore that repentance is great wisdom.”
And I said to him, “For this reason Sir, I inquire diligently into all things because I am a sinner, that I may know what I must do that I may live, because my sins are many.”
And he said to me, “You will live if you keep these my commandments. And whoever will hear and do these commands will live to Yahweh.
And I said to him, “I have even now heard from certain teachers that there is no other repentance beside that of baptism, when we go down into the water and receive the forgiveness of our sins; and that after that, we must sin no more, but live in purity.”
And he said to me, You have been rightly informed. Nevertheless seeing now you inquire diligently into all things, I will show this also to you: yet not so as to give any occasion of sinning either to those who will believe in the future, or to those who have already believed in Yahshua . For neither they who have newly believed, or who will believe later, have any repentance of sins, but forgiveness of them. But as to those who have been called to the faith and since then fall into any gross sin, Yahweh has appointed repentance, because Yahweh knows the thoughts of all men’s hearts, and their infirmities, and the manifold wickedness of the devil, who is always contriving something against servants of Yahweh and maliciously lays snares for them. (See 1 Timothy 3:7, 6:9; 2 Timothy 2:26) Therefore our merciful Creator had compassion towards his creature and appointed that repentance, and gave to me the power of it. And therefore I say to you if anyone, after that great and holy calling, will be tempted by the devil and sin, he has one repentance. But if he will often sin and repent, it will not profit him, for he will hardly ever live to Yahweh .”
And I said, “Sir, I am restored again to life since I have thus diligently hearkened to these commands. For I understand that if I shall not add any more to my sins from now on, I shall be saved.”
And he said, “You will be saved, and so will all others, as many as will observe these commandments.”
And again I said to him, “Sir, seeing you hear me patiently, show me yet one thing more.” He said, “Tell me what it is.” And I said, “If a husband or a wife dies, and the surviving party marries again, does he sin in so doing?
“He that marries”, he said, “does not sin. However if he remains single, he will by that means gain to himself great honor before Yahweh . (See Romans 7:3; 1 Cor. 7:40)
The Importance Of Purity
Keep therefore your chastity and modesty, and you will live to Yahweh . Observe from now on those things which I speak with you and command you to observe, from the time that I have been delivered to you to dwell in your house. So will your former sins be forgiven, if you will keep these my commandments. And in like manner will all others be forgiven, who will observe these my commandments.