Gospel Truths, Volume XIV, NUMBER 11 (November, 2003)
Posted with permission




By Maurice Barnett


“And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her: and if she herself shall put away her husband, and marry another, she committeth adultery.”

An article in this paper last month analyzed verse 11. I suggest that you reread that article. It was concluded there that the antecedent of the personal pronoun “her” was the second woman, the woman the man marries, the one contained in the word “another.” Enough evidence was presented in that article to show this to be true though all of the evidence was not presented there. I thought that it would not be necessary to go into so much detail. However, it appears that we must give more attention to these points.

Allos/another: Although allos is classified as a pronoun in the Gramcord system, its actual function varies. Gingrich and Danker Lexicon says it is an adjective and substantive. This is echoed in Zodhiates’ Complete Word Study Bible on Mark 10:11 where it is listed as an adjectival noun. We can see these uses of the word in various passages. It may describe a noun in that the noun is “another” numerically of something in the same class. Or the noun may be contained in the word allos, itself, and allos stands in the place of that unspecified noun. As Zodhiates says, it is both an adjective and a noun because it describes the noun contained in the word.

It continues to be boldly stated that neither a pronoun nor an adjective can be the antecedent of a personal pronoun and thus allos in Mark 10:11 could not be the antecedent of the pronoun “her” in that passage. It is asserted that only a noun can be the antecedent of a pronoun. Such a position is totally untrue.  This is very easily proven and we need go no further than the passages in the New Testament on the subject of divorce and remarriage to do this. Note:

“And I say unto you, Whosoever (hos, pronoun) shall put away his (autos, pronoun) wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery.” Matthew 19:9.

“And he saith unto them, Whosoever (hos, pronoun) shall put away his (autos, pronoun) wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.” Mark 10:11.

In both of these passages, the pronoun, hos, is the antecedent of the personal pronoun, autos.  In these passages, both hos and autos are masculine, singular, which identifies the connection between them.  And, need we point out that the personal pronoun, autos, is the same pronoun translated as “her” in Mark 10:11?  We can produce many passages in the New Testament where pronouns are the antecedents of pronouns but will not take up space here to do so.  But, there is more that we will look at.

“..but I say unto you, that every one (pas, adjective) that putteth away his (autos, pronoun) wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress.” Matthew 5:32.

“Every one (pas, adjective) that putteth away his (autos, pronoun) wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery.” Luke 16:18.

These two passages have the adjective, pas, as the antecedent of the personal pronoun, autos. Both are masculine, singular. And, as with pronouns as antecedents, there are many instances of adjectives as antecedents of personal pronouns in the New Testament. It does not matter whether or not allos functions as a pronoun, adjective or an adjectival noun, it is readily the antecedent of personal pronouns and the scriptures clearly prove that, as we will see.

Allos, and its related term, heteros, have no meaning apart from a person, place, thing, time period or the like.  The terms answer to who, what, when or where. They may refer to another person, another country, another boat, another day, another route, etc. Allos and heteros describe the person, place or thing as being another numerically from some other of the same class, along with a slight nuance of difference between the two terms in some passages, as we saw in the previous article. At times, the noun being referred to is specified in the original text along side allos or heteros and at times, it is contained within the words allos and heteros alone. Either way, one cannot separate allos or heteros from the noun that accompanies it, whether the noun is specified in the text or not.

We noted in the previous article that Matthew 26:69-71 tells us about Peter’s encounter with several people, while Jesus is before the chief priests. A maid identified Peter as a disciple, which he denied.  Then “another (allos)” maid said the same thing, which Peter again denied. The translators added the word “maid” in italics but it does not appear in the Greek text. Yet, that is exactly what allos, by itself, means in the passage, another maid. She was a slave girl just like the one mentioned in verse 69, another numerically. Now, to the parallel account in Luke 22:56-60,

“And a certain maid seeing him as he sat in the light of the fire, and looking stedfastly upon him, said, This man also was with him. 57 But he denied, saying, Woman, I know him not. 58 And after a little while another (heteros) saw him, and said, Thou also art one of them. But Peter said, Man, I am not. 59 And after the space of about one hour another (allos) confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this man also was with him; for he is a Galilaean. 60 But Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest.”

The first man mentioned is identified by heteros, another. It points to a second person numerically different from the woman previously mentioned. Yet, it indicates that though this is another numerically, there is also a difference in that it is now a man instead of a woman. In the second instance, verse 59, allos is used and translated another to indicate another numerically but he is also a man as was the person just mentioned. Peter responds to both of them by calling them “man.” There is no doubt that heteros and allos both, by themselves, mean man, or another-man. This is further indicated by the fact that both heteros and allos are masculine gender. Peter could have said it differently and the text would have then recorded it: “Peter said to him, I know not what thou sayest,” using a personal pronoun instead of the word “man.”  That would have made both heteros and allos antecedents of a personal pronoun.

In other uses where the accompanying noun is specified in the text with pronouns following, John 18:15 mentions “another disciple” as antecedent to the pronoun ekeinos. In Matthew 21:36, it has “other servants” antecedent to the pronoun, autos. Matthew 4:21 has “other brethren” as antecedent to autos that twice follows. These are just some of the passages where the attendant noun is specified along with allos.

But, what about passages where allos stands alone, without a specific noun accompanying it? Well, note the following passages.

“For I also am a man set under authority, having under myself soldiers: and I say to this one, Go, and he goeth; and to another (allos), Come, and he (in verb) cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.”  Luke 7:8.

Here allos stands alone to mean another-soldier.  The personal pronoun, “he,” is contained in the 3rd person, singular verb, erkomai. That is what 3rd person, singular means in the verb form. Allos is the antecedent of the pesonal pronoun.

“I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another (allos) shall come in his own name, him (ekeinos) ye will receive.” John 5:43.

Here, again, allos stands alone to simply identify another-person.  It is the antecedent of the demonstrative pronoun, ekeinos. If one is interested in a passage that uses the related term, heteros, which is translated “another (woman)” in Luke 16:18, then look at Matthew 15:30,

“And there came unto him great multitudes, having with them the lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others (heteros), and they cast them (autos) down at his feet; and he healed them (autos).”

Here, heteros is the antecedent of the personal pronoun, autos, that appears twice after it in the passage.  However, the following passages are even more directly related to Mark 10:11 because allos stands alone as the antecedent of the personal pronoun autos. This is the very thing that some deny is even possible.  Let’s see.

“And others (allos) fell upon the thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked them (autos).”  Matthew 13:7.

“ And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others (allos) standing; and he saith unto them (autos), Why stand ye here all the day idle?” Matthew 20:6.

“I sent you to reap that whereon ye have not labored: others (allos) have labored, and ye are entered into their (autos) labor.” John 4:38

“ And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another (allos), committeth adultery against her (autos).”

In each of these passages, allos stands alone with the noun contained within the word allos, itself. A quibble has even been made regarding whether or not allos has a definite article attached to it, which is supposed to make some difference. In each of the above passages, there is no article with either allos or heteros.  It is obvious, however, that they are antecedents of the pronouns.  Whether allos is singular or plural makes no difference to the function of an antecedent. Likewise, the particular noun contained in the word has no bearing on the grammatical construct. In each of the above passages, allos is the antecedent of the personal pronoun, autos. In each passage, autos agrees with allos in gender and number, the necessary requirements for an antecedent. In each of these passages, allos is a substantive.  Seeing that allos in Mark 10 is the nearest substantive to the personal pronoun, then the “second-woman” is the antecedent of “her,” not the woman who was put away.

“Against” her: We took note in the previous article that when the preposition, epi, with the accusative case means “against” that it refers to violence or hostility against someone. To illustrate this, let’s look at John 8:3-7.  A woman is taken in adultery. The Law of Moses prescribed stoning to death in such an event. The Jews were trying to get Jesus to say whether she should be stoned or not. Either assertion by Him would have endangered Him with the people on one hand or the Roman authorities on the other.  His response was, “He that is without sin among you first cast a stone at her.”

The word for “woman” in verse three is the Greek word, gune, as in Mark 10:11.  In the statement of Jesus, “at her” is epi with the accusative case with the personal pronoun, autos, also as in Mark 10:11.  Gune, in verse 3, is no doubt the antecedent of the personal pronoun, autos, in verse 7. And, there is no doubt that to translate the prepositional phrase as “at (against) her” is correct in this placeStoning the woman would certainly be an act of violence, of hostility; she would be harmed by it. Now, this kind of instance is what is meant by Lexicons when they talk about epi with the accusative meaning “against” in some passages.

However, look at Mark 10:11. “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.”  Where in this passage is there even the slightest implication of violence or hostility against the put away woman such as illustrated in John 8? Such a position on Mark 10 exists only in the imagination.  It is a theological interpretation, an assertion of one’s opinion. There is nothing in the grammar, terms, overall statement or context that would require that conclusion. If so, where is it?

Will anyone deny that the man who puts away his wife without the cause of fornication and marries another commits unlawful sexual relations with the woman he marries? “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery with her” is true.  Verse 12 takes the same rule from the woman’s standpoint as follows, “and if she herself shall put away her husband, and marry another, she committeth adultery.”  With whom does she commit adultery?  She commits adultery with the man she marries.  If one still insists on “against” as the proper translation of the preposition, then it would only apply to the woman he marries seeing, first, that she is the antecedent of the pronoun, and second, he does, indeed, harm her by involving her in committing adultery. And, that is adultery that continues, Romans 7:2-3! As long as the put away woman lives, the woman he marries will be an adulteress just as he will be an adulterer. The man harms her when he marries her.

If this isn’t enough to establish the matter, there is more; we have not yet exhausted all of the information and evidence. I will state the conclusion, again. The evidence shows that the antecedent of the personal pronoun “her” in Mark 10:11 is the second woman, the one the man marries.

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Last Updated:  Thursday, January 26, 2006 12:41 PM