"Shall Become One Flesh" Is A Command
“Shall Become One Flesh [Body]” Is Essentially a Command.
The verbs shall leave, hold fast and become are all future indicative. This is referred to as the volitive case of the future indicative. This use of these verbs causes them to be essentially a command. From this we can conclude that God commanded men to leave their parents and cling to a woman and become one with her. When Genesis 2:24 says, ’. . . they shall become one flesh” it is not simply predicting the future, stating what is going to happen in human history. In those words God is giving a command.
Example: Matthew 4:7.
Matthew 4:7 is an example of this kind of thing where the future indicative is used as a command.
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
We would not take the position that the words here only assume people will not tempt God. There is no assumption here; this is an explicit command. The New Testament Greek here shows us that the Old Testament Hebrew is to be taken as a command.
In the same way, the words concerning becoming one flesh, better one body, need to be taken as a divine command.
In a later section we will take a look at the implications of the command to become one body.
The following response to this statement was received after the initial email went out. This response came from Rev. Martyn Van Essen and is posted with permission.
The idea that becoming one flesh or body is a command cannot be defended from the Hebrew. There are no imperatives in Genesis 2:24. The verbs used are an imperfect and waw conjuction plus perfects (which take on the sense of the imperfect). The sense of the imperfect is not future as such, but incompleted action -- in this case, an ongoing situation; as would happen in the past (imperfect), so it happens in the present (imperfect), and so it will be in the future (imperfect). It is not command, but explanation: i.e., this is why, because this is how God designed it.
The example given of an imperfect being translated as imperative in the positive sense ("you must/you shall") cannot be defended from the Hebrew, either. "You shall not put the LORD your God to the test" forms a particular syntactical construction. It is true an imperfect verb form is used, but it is preceded by the strong negative particle which, in Hebrew, is to be translated as a prohibition. This cannot be flipped around to so say, "Well, if the strong negative of the imperfect equals prohibition, then the positive of the imperfect must equal demand." It is true, sometimes the imperfect is to be translated as "must", but it is the context that dictates that. The context in Genesis 2:24 does not demand "must". Moreover, if we were to insist that a man is commanded to leave father and mother and be joined to a wife, then there are a lot of men who have lived and are living in disobedience to the LORD, including persons like the apostle Paul, and Jesus himself. And what, then, are we to make of Paul's instruction that it is better for a man to remain as he is, without a wife and children so that he is not encumbered with concern for them but free to serve the Lord?
Herb, many of us have accused Jim Brownson of trying to make the Word of God say what he wants it to say; let us not become guilty of the same thing in reverse.
Note: it is our opinion that Rev. Van Essen's position is correct and that it does refute the original Statement given above. Our thanks go to Rev. Van Essen.
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