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Principles Governing Marriage First Corinthians Seven
In First Corinthians seven Paul answered some of the matters about which these brethren had questioned him. ( 1Co_7:1 ) The Holy Spirit used Paul to write about both married life and single life. In studying this chapter we must be careful to observe that part of what was written grew out of what Paul called the "present distress." ( 1Co_7:26 )
First Corinthians seven begins with the words "It is good for a man not to touch a woman." ( 1Co_7:1 ) This was not a statement Paul made but rather the statement he was responding to. They had asked Paul if it is best for people not to marry. Paul's view was that because of the present distress that these brethren would be better off not to seek a change in their marital status. However, Paul viewed marriage as God-ordained and perfectly appropriate for Christians.
Paul also dealt with the difficult question of divorce. He said that Christians should stay married. He especially taught that a Christians should not divorce their unbelieving spouses. A Christian can have a sanctifying influence on the family. Paul proved that changing your status concerning circumcision or slavery does not change your spiritual status. In these areas Paul wanted it understood that it was not a choice between good and evil but between good and better.
Concerning the married life 1Co_7:1-9 : Paul was questioned as to whether people should even marry at all. He begins, "Now I will answer the questions that you asked in your letter. You asked, "Is it best for people not to marry?" ( 1Co_7:1 ) Corinth was a city with a high divorce rate and a very low moral standard. These new Christians had to be taught that they were to only have sexual relations within the boundaries of marriage. Others that were trying to be very spiritual had to learn that you can be spiritual and at the same time have physical relationships with your spouse.
Celibacy was not a command of God. He had said, "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth." ( Gen_1:28 ) Marriage is the answer to the problem of immorality. Paul wrote that "to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." ( 1Co_7:2 ) In our age of open immorality Paul's instructions still fit, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.
Marriage is to be a permanent relationship. We must put the "till death you do part" back into marriage. Marriage is not to be a polygamous relationship. Marriage is a wonderful partnership where mutual needs are met. ( 1Co_7:3-4 ) Paul realized that celibacy is not for everyone. "I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn." ( 1Co_7:8-9 ) Paul saw that being single has some advantages but that being single is not for everyone.
Concerning behavior for the married 1Co_7:10-16 : Paul instructed people to stay married. He said, "Let not the wife depart from her husband." ( 1Co_7:10 ) Christians may have problems but they have to be committed to each other and to their marriage. The church has to be a place where hurting families can find help. We must remember the words of the Lord, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." ( Mat_19:6 ) Inspiration also said, "But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife." ( 1Co_7:11 ) Sadly divorce might be unavoidable for some Christians. In the case where no adultery is involved the only two possibilities are restoration of the broken marriage or remaining single.
Some Christians are married to unbelievers. The Bible warns against Christians marrying non-Christians. We should marry only those that will help us get to heaven. At Corinth there were some that were already married and only one became a Christian. This created many differences. If the unbeliever is willing to stay the believer should not seek a divorce. There are some cases were the unbeliever may chose to leave the believer. "A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace." ( 1Co_7:15 ) I do not take this to mean that he or she is now free to remarry. Rather the believer is free from the responsibility of destroying the marriage. The goal of the believer should be to save the marriage and the soul of the unbelieving spouse.
Concerning God's call 1Co_7:17-24 : The Bible teaches that we should be content in whatever situation we are in. Paul said, "As the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches." ( 1Co_7:17 ) Whatever your circumstances may be you should learn to be content. "It is possible to be a Christian within any social strata. You do not have to be poor to be a Christian. You do not have to be rich to be a Christian. You do not have to be single or married, free or a slave to be a Christian."
It does not make you less spiritual to be either circumcised or uncircumcised. The same is true about married or unmarried. If you are married you can serve God faithfully; if you are un-married the same is true. If you are free you can serve as a faithful Christian; but a slave can also serve God. Let us remember that God is in control of every situation. Let us approach life from the standpoint that God can use me where I am! Every Christian is valuable because we are bought with a price; the precious blood of Jesus.
Concerning being single or remarried 1Co_7:25-40 : The present distress lead Paul to believe that being single was preferred to marriage at that time. There was severe persecution and being single would make it easier to deal with such. Those that are single need to be content and to realize that they can render a great service to God. The single person misses lots of joy, but also misses some pain. Divorce, disappointment and death of a mate do not have to be dealt with by singles. Jesus did not tell everyone to marry or to remain single and neither did Paul. Happiness depends upon your relationship with God, not upon your marriage status.
Inspiration also deals with the matter of remarriage of widows. ( 1Co_7:39-40 ) Marriage is to last until the death of the spouse. When you are single you have the choice to marry or stay single. When you marry you no longer have that choice. If remarriage is a part of their life the Christian widow or widower should only marry another Christian.
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Box, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7". "Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16